“You always make your closest friends right before you or they leave.”
~Air Force Wife~
It’s been an interesting year here in Germany. One where I’ve cried a lot about lost friendships. One where I’ve feigned the illusion of closeness while hoping to find or retain the actual deal. One where I feel like my friendship meter has been borderline empty the whole time. There have been intense moments of refilling and then bomb blasts of emptiness.
For the first part of the year here, I was so uncertain.
I was a new bride trying to find my ground.Taking our relationship from once a month to living together to married and in a new country was intense. It was totally worth it, but it was intense. I went through phases of not wanting to do anything without B and not wanting to do anything with anyone but B. I was so ecstatic to have him to myself that I didn’t want to share at all.
I missed everyone that I had left behind. I was away from my nuclear family and close friends for the first time in my life. The transition from close friend to raw acquaintance has been difficult. There are so many people that I feel like I barely know anymore. I’ve gone from being so involved with my family to being the last to know about anything. I didn’t want replacement friends. I wanted the ones I had.
I missed out on so many friendships. I was so busy looking backwards and looking inwards that I missed the opportunity to make friends. Sometimes, all I could see were their flaws. I saw what they didn’t like about living here and hated them for reminding me that I didn’t always like living here either. I saw them with the friendships they had forged and labeled them as exclusive so that I didn’t have to try to make friends that I was just going to lose again.
I closed my heart to friendships. Not completely, not all the way. But just a little bit. My blogging friends were the only ones I felt I could count on.
The change happened when we met the couple that I’ve dubbed Jack and Jill on here. Jack and Jill did everything together. If Jack had a guy’s night than either Jill had to have a girl’s night or he wouldn’t go. I loved that about them. Even typing that now makes me shake my head, but it’s true. I was tired of B having all the friends and ready for more gender inclusive get togethers. So ready, that I ignored every red flag, at least at first.
The funny thing is, that my getting fed up with Jack and Jill’s immature and petty behavior is what finally let me completely reopen my heart. It was their crappy treatment of us that caused me to want to throw more good out into the universe. And that is what helped me to see the friend potential in every person I met again.
I invited WonderWoman to dinner while Superman was in the States. As couples, we’ve had dinner twice a week since then. That friendship that I never thought I could have with her has blossomed. And in a month they move to LA and we move to Turkey.
The quote at the top of the post came from one of the mom’s that I taught for this last year. It’s stuck in my head ever since she casually tossed it into a conversation. I think there may be a trap that we fall into as military families, one that we don’t even see or realize is there.
See, even those of us who embrace moving and change, it’s still a big adjustment. Even moves within the US involve complete uprooting, new jobs, new home, new friends. I wonder how many of us start out at our new base with our hearts somewhat shut down. We don’t want new friends because we just want the old ones back. Add in the murky waters of fraternization and you have to be careful with whom you make friends.
But the longer you are there, the more you open up to your new location. The more others open up to their location. So that when you’re least expecting it you find your friends. And then you move. And the pattern begins again.
I’m going to challenge you. Whether you’ve moved recently or never. Whether you will ever move or not. Whether you have the biggest group of friends or none at all.
Open your heart.
You probably have a good reason for having closed it down a bit. Goodness knows that I did. But, unless you open it back up, you’re going to miss out on some great people and some great opportunities.
It took me two brushes with friendship heart break to re-open my heart. It took losing two new friends and irrevocably changing an old friendship to realize that me with an open heart would get further than me with a closed one. It took opening up to the idea of throwing positivity into the universe via random acts of kindness to open my heart up in general. Once I had warmed up to the idea of reaching out to others, it was like an ice cube melting in boiling water.
Last night, I sat surrounded by people that I now consider good friends. People that just six weeks ago I’d have never imagined having over for dinner once a month much less spending time with them several times a week. An open heart led me to this place. And I like this one better. I’m going to try hard to keep my heart open from the beginning at the next base. Goodness knows I can use all the friends I can get.