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Aug 17, 2008

Who's your best friend?

Now that sounds like a real obvious question, that I asked in the title. It's not. Mainly because I'm going to build an argument for someone that you might not have considered. I think at some point in our adult lives, all of us realize that there's only one person we can really count on. One person that will never leave us. One person who truly cares about our welfare. No, not your parents, your sibling, your spouse, your children. None of these people people, despite how much you love each other is the person I think should come to mind. I'm going to propose that we need to be our own best friend.

Think of the best friend you've had. Do you have fun with them? Were they positive people who made you feel good about yourself? Would you ever do anything but try to make them feel good about themselves? Were you kind to each other and helpful? Think of the qualities that makes someone a best friend. Helpful, thoughtful, listens to you, compassionate, fun, and etc. Do you shun at looking at yourself in the mirror, and when you see yourself, immediately criticize your appearance? Would you do that to your best friend? When you see your best friend, you're never noticing the wrinkles, the messy hair, or anything else. You're usually noticing the smile, the good humor, and all the things you like about them. We need to do the same to ourselves.

I've gone from criticizing myself in the mirror to seeing the face of a friend! It can happen. Every time I see myself in the mirror, I give myself a big smile! I notice the nice things about myself. It's taken time and years to work on self-esteem, to work on being positive about myself, and to dismiss the negative judgements that others make about me. The negative opinions of some in my life regarding me or my character doesn't matter. The only person who's opinion matters is mine! I've gotten so much better at handling the judgements thrown my way, because I truly know who I am and who I am working to be. I also take care of myself and my emotional well being instead of being hard on myself.

One of the common things I've heard people do, is to "break a diet" and then tear themselves apart for their lapse. Of course I don't believe in diets, or in labeling food as good food and bad food, then judging ourselves if we ate bad food. However, I've seen people do this and put themselves in a tail spin over that. Would you tell your friend that the food they just ate was bad for them, they ruined their diet, and they have no will power? Never, not if you're a good best friend. I always eat what I want, no judgements ever, and then work it into my program, in whatever way I can. I'm not a bad person if I ate the home made cookie that my niece made, or the cinnamon roll in the bakery or whatever it was that is not in my program. I'm not lacking will power because I ate that. No, I just wanted a cookie, cinnamon roll or what not. No judgements needed. Instead of wasting time and energy with a "broken diet negativity " (which I've never done since by my definition, I'm not on a diet), I just make adjustment to my program and figure out how to either make room for it that day, or to continue to stick with the program with the next meal or snack. This is one way of treating yourself just as compassonately as you would your best friend.

I have another example from about 20 years ago. I wasn't as far along in terms of a positive self-esteem as I am now, but here and there I did an awesome job of being my own best friend. One day I was really upset about something that happened as a result of my deafness. This was pre-cochlear implants, so I really had many more struggles then. I was left out, lost, confused and really hurt by the isolation that was happening to me in a social situation. It was not a single situation that made me cry and feel broken-hearted, but rather, just the straw that broke the camel's back. That day, when I went home, I stood in front of the mirror and talked to myself for about an hour. Seeing myself in the mirror made me see me as a person to be treasured, rather than as someone to be upset with or be negative about. I can still see myself as I looked then. I started trying to find a positive spin what was upsetting to me, to counsel the person bawling in the mirror, the same way I do when someone (best friend, student or family member) is upset. I listened to my problems, then I tried to find a positive way to look at the situation and not tear myself apart.

As a result, I ended up giving myself one of the greatest pep talks I ever had. By the time the hour had gone by, instead of a bawling, falling apart mess, I was laughing. My skin still splotchy and swollen from the crying jag that preceded it, but the laughter, the smile and etc. breaking through. While looking at myself in the mirror, I saw so many positive things about me that I never would have seen if I hadn't been looking in the mirror and seen a person that needed my help and compassion. I even complimented myself on how good that I looked that day, even crying and all! I never forgot about that.

I didn't remember that and follow that example for much of my life. Had I worked to always take care of myself, seen myself as a valuable person in the mirror, like I did that day; I might have avoided some pretty depressing years. I might have not needed to renovate my life, like I am now. There is no blame there though. I've obviously been on a journey through life, and need to learn and to grow. I'm on the path now to something great, it doesn't matter how long it's taking me to get there or how many times I've fallen down on the way. All of it is making me who I am today. I'm grateful for who I am today.

Today after I got off work, I needed something. I was hankering for a best friend to go to dinner with, go to the movies or the mall and hang out with. I wanted something fun to end my weekend that is never really fun, since I work the entire weekend and the entire week. I have lots of good friends and people I would have loved to be with. However, just about every one of them has a family, spouses and other responsibilities. It's not like my early 20's when all my friends were single and unattached, and at the spur of the moment, we could get together and do things. Now, doing things have to be planned in advance, and there are times even those plans fall apart because of responsibilities going on in my friend's lives. So instead of being melancholy about the fact that I'm still single and unattached and wanting some companionship, where there was none avaiilable at the spur of the moment, I decided to be my own best friend tonight.

I took myself out to dinner. I hung around with myself while I tried to find things that I wanted to do. Unfortunately, not everything worked out, but I did try a few things. I tried the mall, but it was closing up. I wanted to find a new park to go walking in, but instead, found the place the map on my iPhone was leading me to was a building that was a recreational center, run by the city Park's department! :) I ended up near a theater and and almost took myself to the movies, but decided at the last minute, that there wasn't anything I wanted to see that was showing there before 10:00 p.m. That would be much too late for my schedule. However, just trying to hang with myself, find something fun to do, just helped my mood, and made me feel I was important, even if most things didn't pan out. I also resolved in the future to find more things going on in the world around me to do, and do them. It doesn't matter if I do everything alone. I always will have my best friend with me!

Most of the weekends, when I'm doing 7 day work weeks, I have tended to try to give myself some "me" time by closing the door to my apartment after I get off work and spending time alone. However, I realized how much I missed the kids now that I'm working and gone more. I know at least one of the kids (yep Dalia) wants to be down here with me much of the time when I'm home, which isn't much now. However, because I'd taken care of trying to meet my needs, failed attempts and all; my emotional equilibrium was much more balanced when I finally came home. I was ready to greet the little kids that were waiting when I got home, and spend any time with them that they wanted and to want it too! Dalia was at the door when I came home, as excited to see me as I was to see her, and wanting to come downstairs with me. Since I was "balanced" (due to my best friend trying to take care of me) I was able to be enthused and excited to be with her and to hang with her downstairs, instead of thinking I needed "me" time.

We can be our own best friend, and in doing so bring out our best selves. When we have people around to share in our lives, we can enjoy every moment with them. However, if there's no one else there, we still have a great and valuable friend around, if we just learn to be kind to ourselves and to value ourselves. When we love ourselves, our reservoir is filled. When it's filled we are able to give of ourselves unselfishly, treasure and truly love others.

Gratitude log:
  1. I'm grateful for little Dalia. I truly had a wonderful time in the hour or so I spent with her between getting home and bedtime.
  2. I'm also grateful for little Mackie. He came down wearing his sister's dress and giving me a good laugh. He is so cute, no matter what he wears or doesn't wear!
  3. I'm grateful for the journey I'm on. It's awesome to no longer feel my life is stagnating and falling apart, but rather that it's a joyous and wondrous jouorney to a future I'm eagerly anticipating.
  4. I'm grateful for the end of my post office work week. It's always nice when it's over and I have 5 days off before I go back again.
  5. I'm grateful for my best friend, me! As you can tell, she's really been and awesome friend lately and I appreciate that. I may sound schizophrenic, but I really am grateful. She's a pretty cool lady! :)


Ang said...

I really do learn so much from you. I so admire your attitude. Sounds like such a fun day. It is so good to be your own best friend. It can be quite the strugle most of the time for me. How great to be able to talk to yourself and come out feeling good. What a good idea.

cami said...

Wow Ann...that was great!!!!!!!!! My best friend needs to make sure I get more sleep!

Hey...I tagged you...I better see your entry!

Ann said...

Yes, your best friend does need to make sure you get more sleep. I decided my best friends needs to get me to bed VERY soon too!

Yes, I saw you tagged me! Awwwwwww....now I just have to find time to do a post on those items. Appearing soon on this blog, Cami's tagging assignment!

Ann said...

Hey Cami, I haven't forgotten that I've been tagged! I've just had several days in a row that I've not gotten home until around 9:00 and not had time to think about it!

cami said...

Wow, you are busy!!!!! I hope you get a break soon!

Ang said...

Just thinking of you!! :)

cami said...

Ann, Ann, where art thou ann?

Ann said...

Oh my!!! I do need to put in an appearance when I start to be missed!!!