“Friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest…it’s about who came, and never left your side…”
I am a fan of reading Harvey Mackay’s column in the Atlanta Business Chronicle each week. I think he offers really practical insights on a variety of topics. I find myself nodding my head in affirmation as I read his advice or his commentary each week.
A few weeks ago, he wrote a column entitled, “What I’d do if I had my life to live over…” I expected a bit of what I will call the “normal” things to be on a list like this. Things like, “I would have studied abroad. My parents were right when they told me that travel is a great teacher,” and “I would have interviewed my parents and grandparents and learned more about our family history and genealogy.” Great advice, for sure!
But, what really stuck out for me was the number one thing he put on his list of 11 items. It said, “I would have been more available whenever a friend was in trouble or was going through a tough time due to divorce,” … (and then added, “or financial trouble, job loss, or even DUI.”)
Wow! I was so impressed that when Harvey wrote about being available to friends in need that the first thing he called out were friends who were going through divorce. I think we naturally think about other situations where our friends would need us, such as dealing with the death of a parent, or job loss (as he did mention!). To put the first focus on friends going though divorce was impactful to me.
I suspect this made his list because he has personal experience dealing with friends going through divorce. Presumably, he feels he wasn’t “available enough” for them in order for that comment to make his list.
If I have said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: I would not have gotten through my divorce without my amazing friends rallying around me. My friends each filled their own unique niche in keeping me positive and getting me through the emotional and physical toll of divorce. Some made me laugh; some cried with me; some knew how to help (whether with the never-ending yard work, or by watching my kids for a few hours so I could have some alone time); some sent me cards each week as the months wore on just to let me know they were thinking about me, or whisked me off to Starbucks for a coffee and some girl talk.
One friend who I met at camp when I was in 8th grade (and then have only seen less than ten times since because we live in different parts of the country) sent me the most wonderful care package. It arrived on a day when I really, really, really needed a pick-me-up. You know how some days in the divorce process are particularly painful and ugly? I arrived home from that day to open the mailbox and find a great and totally unexpected package.
This care package had a variety of items in it, each with a note about why it was in the box: a coffee cup “because I would love to sit and talk with you over a nice cup of coffee,” a tube of hand lotion “because I would hold your hand and tell you everything is going to be all right,” a package of tissues “because I would help to wipe the tears away when you are sad,” and my favorite item (which bought a huge smile to my face) was a bottle of flashy bright red nail polish “because even in our saddest and darkest moments, there is nothing like some bright red toe nails to brighten our spirits!”
What have I learned from all of this? I compare it to when a loved one passes away. People are very concerned and responsive at first, but as the weeks wear on, people get back to their own lives, and tend to forget the person grieving. Those “firsts” of everything that happen can be really tough, and it’s nice to know people, your friends, still remember and care for you.
It’s the same with divorce. When a pending divorce is first announced, people respond. But as the months wear on, people tend to go back to their own lives, forgetting that the ugly divorce process is likely taking it’s toll on the individual. I try to stay connected with people not just in the beginning, but throughout the divorce process, and even afterwards. And, just as my friends did for me, I try to find my “niche” as a friend, and determine what each person needs from me at that point in time. Do they need a listening ear? A dose of humor? An adventure to take their mind off divorce? A person to sit quietly with them? A card? A coffee? A bottle of bright red nail polish? As Harvey said, it’s all about “being more available” to your friends who need you.
What about you? Are you making yourself available for friends going through divorce and other tough situations in life? Are you there for them, not just in the beginning, but as the months draw on as well?
Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys.