Galentine’s and girls night: Thoughts on friendship, love and happiness

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February. Valentine’s Day. Ugh.

The day (and month) every singleton dreads because it is basically a celebration of everything we’re not. And for those who are yearning for a relationship, the build up to the day and the day itself are just salt on an open wound. Double ugh.

This year I’m quite happy at being single. Genuinely. Maybe for the very first time in my life EVER I feel at peace and excited about facing this next year alone.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve dedicated the remainder of this year to my own ‘Happiness Project’ and that my theme for 2018 is ‘Discovery’. I’ve also decided that, similar to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, I intend to dedicate each month to a subject. Something to explore and experiment with and discover something new about myself.

So .. it’s fitting, even if cliché, that I should dedicate February to relationships and love.

Triple ugh. Just kidding.

I actually think the idea of focusing on love and relationships, even as a single person, is the best way to celebrate this month. I’m a firm believer in Galentine’s and female solidarity. And my intentions for this month (and this year in general) are to deepen and strengthen existing friendships, while being open to new ones.

It’s been said that you’re a culmination of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I have to say I really truly believe that and I know that, after the rocky time I had last year, I’m a lot more careful and guarded with who I allow into that sphere of influence.

Last year, I lost what I had hoped was becoming a solid, lifelong friend in a pretty volatile and traumatic way. After reflecting on that relationship for the past 9+ months I realized it was indeed a blessing from the universe. We were imbalanced and honestly a little toxic. However, I’ve found that as an adult, good friends are sometimes hard to find and even harder to maintain. So to lose one that had become close was pretty heartbreaking in its own way. She went on to make a whole new crew of friends, all brand new and beautiful. I went a different route.

I don’t know that I’ve written about this yet .. but last year, around my birthday, I lost my first muy thai coach and someone who’d been a huge influence in my life … to suicide. He and his girlfriend had actually given me a place to stay when I first separated from my ex. He was an incredible motivator and he was the reason I kept working out even though I was so SEVERELY out of shape and overweight when I started his classes. He and his girlfriend loved me unconditionally and were so supportive to me during one of the toughest seasons of my life.

Then, as often happens in adult friendships, we drifted. We lost touch. He and his girlfriend, who I had also been close with, broke up. I went off and did my own thing assuming we’d reconnect one day or maybe they were just friends for a season.

He reached out to me a few times in the year before his death. I am ashamed to say I was so lost in my own turmoil with Andy (Mr. Unavailable) and my heartbreak that I kept putting it off. We kept saying tomorrow. We did meet once … in January last year. I told him about what happened with Andy and how I was pretty broken up. He told me that I was going to be ok and that I wouldn’t stay single for long. Well he was right about the first thing, not about the second, but I knew what he was meaning. He wanted to encourage me, lift me up and he never once really let on that he was hurting … but I see now he must’ve been.

I didn’t realize it was coming, no one does. I honestly thought he was beyond me and was just being kind in reaching out. It was only after the fact that I recognized how lonely he was, how much he was asking for support though he never made it seem that way.

The silver lining in that loss, as awful and shocking as it was, is that it brought my old group of gym friends back together. In those first days right after his death, we gathered in his recent ex’s, but long-time girlfriend’s home to cry and remember and hug each other. She and my coach had still been close friends up until the very night he ended his life. I slept over at her place a few nights, keeping her company. So much time had passed and yet it hadn’t. We were right back there at the place where we’d been before we’d drifted.

It was a brutally heartbreaking way to rekindle these friendships but also so incredibly beautiful.

Ray did it again. He gave us these friendships in the first place and then he brought us all back together. I will forever be grateful for him and his influence in my life.

Losing Ray made me realize how important it is to make room for people. You never know how much time you have left with someone. You never know how much a simple phone call or text or hug could really lift someone’s spirit. I know he wouldn’t want us to blame ourselves, though I know a lot of us did initially. It was just a sobering moment to recognize that I didn’t take every chance I could to let him know how much I cared for him and how much he meant to me when he was still here.  I hope he knew. I told him as often as I saw him, but in the end, we’d simply stopped making time to see each other.

The thing is? When we drifted I just assumed it was because he had better things to do. What I learned from that situation is I always want to let someone know how much they mean to me, even if it means risking embarrassment if they truly have just moved on. It matters that we tell people how we feel, regardless of how that person feels in return. It is always a good thing to love and to be open emotionally.

Sometimes as adults we do drift apart. And that’s ok. Life is complicated and full and mired. And we’re all just trying to figure it out. But I’ve certainly realized that having these friendships in my life is worth the effort.

For me, relationships are a key ingredient for my overall happiness.

It’s worth reaching out even if you haven’t seen or heard from that person in a very long time. It’s worth making the effort, even if you’re tired, to go see your friend or relative or whoever even if it means you will be even more tired the next day.

Case in point: my best friend and I implemented a permanent girls night a little over two years ago. It’s every Friday night. When we first started it, we were both single so we were kind of on the prowl. We’d get dolled up and go out and scope out dudes. She quickly found a pretty great guy, ugh (just kidding, he’s the best and I’m so very happy for her). But even though she’s in a relationship, we’ve still managed to keep girls night almost every week. We miss some here and there because of life and responsibilities but we always make the effort to pick it back up the next week. I will say, it has strengthened our friendship in so many ways. She sometimes comes to my neck of the woods which is quite the drive for her or we meet in the middle (because she lives in a town where there is literally NO WHERE to meet, ha). But it’s worth the drive, worth the effort. Always. I don’t have a boyfriend or love interest, but I have something better. My person. She’s my person and I feel incredibly lucky to have her in my life.

So as I’m reflecting on love and relationships for the month of February I’m taking time to recognize just how important they really are. And I’m going to make an effort to focus my positive energy on being grateful for them and showing those in my life how much they do mean to me.

I don’t have a male significant other but I have some amazing friendships with pretty great people. And this month I’m going to focus on deepening the existing friendships I have while doing my best to let these people know how much they mean to me.

So here’s to the month of love and the upcoming Galentine’s day! Here’s to being single and happy and grateful for the strong female (and male) friendships in my life who I’m so lucky to have, for as long as I have them. May I never forget to cherish them and hold them close every day of the year. May we always make time for each other, even when life gets tough.

And may we all grow old together.

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