Not only do you not have to do this alone, you SHOULD NOT do this alone.
I don’t generally like using the word “should” because I think of it as a dirty, guilt-invoking word. Once I start using “shoulds” I start “shoulding” all over myself. But in this case I will make an exception because I believe in this step so strongly.
Where would I be without my friends?
Probably still laying somewhere in the back of my closet (a place I actually found rather comforting for a while after my STBX left). They were my strength, my distraction, my comfort, my companions, my human tissues and on several occasions warm body placeholders on the other side of my bed.
I didn’t have the courage, stamina or ability to make all the initial phone calls. Fortunately I had a best friend, who as luck would have it also happened to be my sister, who stepped up and made most of the calls for me. I will never know at what cost to herself — after all she had also just lost my husband, the man who had become not just like her brother, but actually had been adopted in her heart as a brother. She could no more fathom his sudden about-face than I could. But she was also armed with anger, and she seemed to channel it productively from the get-go.
I know that not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have that kind of support so close. But my sister also lives thousands of miles away from me, and although I initially fled back to home, and dragged her with me upon my return toToronto, she could not stay. All she could do was get the ball rolling.
You just call out my name
After she left, I got out a piece of paper and made a list of the people in my life I could call for support: friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, anyone who in any way played a role in my life went down on that list. Then I made sublists for friend I could call to cry to (both near and far), friends I could call to make plans like grab a coffee with (especially friends who had kids), and finally a list of people I could go OUT with for fun (ie, single friends). This list was by far the shortest. Being a woman weeks shy of her 30th birthday, this is not a surprise. I didn’t address this immediately, but I did resolve to tune in when friends talked about other friends who were single and started requesting introductions. I found people were remarkably receptive to this and more than happy to connect two single women together – hey, it meant less guilt for them when they said no to going out dancing on Saturday night!
New habits for when you’re living hard
As the first few weeks after my separation went on, I developed a new habit of looking at my calendar for the upcoming week and if I noticed to much unplanned time coming up, I started sending mass emails and group text messages asking people what they were up to. Invariably this lead to more invitations than my mood or energy could possible allow me to accept…but was I ever grateful for the options.
Sure, I have some friends who I didn’t feel as comfortable falling apart in front of, but to that I said good! It forced me to practice keeping it together in time-limited situations. And if I happened to be overcome by emotion while with them, it was not the end of the world.
So call in the cavalry. And ask them to call in their cavalry. If there was ever a time it was needed it is now. And there is no shame in needing a little – or a lot – of support to get through it. Heck they’ve even written song about it!
When you’re down and troubled
and you need a helping hand
and nothing – nothing is going right.
You just call out my name
and you know wherever I am
I´ll come running, to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
all you got to do is call
and I’ll be there, yes I will.
You’ve got a friend.
Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend.