The Power of Connection

I had a wonderful connecting weekend.  A dear friend who moved out of state came to visit and we created our own girls’ weekend with two other local friends.  The original plan had been to  meet in the middle of our two states, but logistics didn’t allow for that, so we created our own resort right here at home.

The first night consisted of cocktails and hor dourves in the resort’s flowing gardens  my kitchen,  followed by a fantastic Indian meal in, none other than, downtown Herndon.   We then gathered  back at the resort, aka my living room for silly silly talk and dessert.  When I am with these women, I laugh until my stomach hurts, again and again.  We finally rolled into bed (grown  up sleepover) at about 1:00 am.

Saturday  morning we walked to our local farm market, bought peaches, yogurt and scones and enjoyed  breakfast on Lake Anne.  We later found ourselves in Arlington sitting outside at a cute little Mexican place amongst the 20-something pierced and tattoo-ed crowd.  We held our own as 40-something moms toasting our margaritas and enjoying our time together.  This meal involved some heavy talk; ailing parents, finances and parenting our own children.   We  were completely comfortable sharing  our most private thoughts and concerns amongst the safety of our group.  We have built a strong trust amongst ourselves as we have weathered many collective life challenges and celebrations to  include one difficult pregnancy and subsequent wonderful birth, two adoptions,  a scary childhood mental health issue and a tragic death of a parent as well as four Bar Mitzvahs, countless birthday parties and the first of many high school graduations. This is who we are and what we do; we connect, we laugh and we cry together.

I work with many women who enjoy close connecting friendships, but I have worked with many who struggle with loneliness and isolation. Some of these women do have close friends, but are uncomfortable with showing vulnerability so holdback in the friendship. I try to help them  become comfortable with their  insecurities and realize that by sharing with a close friend, not only do their insecurities lose much of their power because the friend is accepting, loving and validating, but also the friendship reaches a richer understanding and closeness.

Other women find that they don’t have good female companions.  They may be new in the area, are prone to isolating or just lack a comfort level necessary to seek out a friendship.  With those clients I try to help them to identify what it is that  keeps them solitary and what would help them to ease into a close and mutual friendship.   Many times it can be as simple as reaching out to a neighbor, asking a co-worker to lunch or joining a group at one’s synagogue or church. Many women find that they can make friends via their children’s schools with other parents. Often, what seems simple to one woman can be an anxiety filled ordeal for others.  “How do I reach out?”, “What if they don’t like me?”, “They already have friends, why would they want to spend time with me?”   In therapy we  gently examine these fears and explore what it is about one’s emotional core that encourages such self-doubt.  This can be scary and overwhelming, like most big issues in therapy, but the end result can be the birth of an amazing experience: a true friend, someone with whom  you can laugh, cry and share, one of the true gems in life.

Our day ended with a much needed trip to DSW and TJ Maxx to be silly and help to boost the local economy:

Some crazy orange shoes that did NOT come home with us

More shoes that no one could walk in

A local star spotted in TJ Maxx

My hope for you is to celebrate your friendships for they are truly a gift.  If you are one of the many that are seeking a close and wonderful relationship with a friend, but aren’t sure how to start, give me a call, I would love to help  get you on your way.

Laurie

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