I’m in the middle of some much needed vacation time this week. Part of the vacation will be spent in Las Vegas, a typical vacation destination, but the first part has been in a somewhat non-typical vacation destination, Columbus, Ohio.
Of course, Columbus is the area I lived in for over 20 years, and where much of my family still lives, so it does make sense that I would spend time here, and over the last few days I’ve been blessed with the chance to catch up with many good friends over a coffee, dinner, beer, lunch, etc. So while I won’t be getting a tan here, I am getting something much more valuable to me, a connection with the people who I don’t get to see and catch up anywhere near as often as I would like!
It’s been these interactions, though that have me thinking a lot about friendship, and support networks, especially about how the network around us changes and develops over time. For abuse survivors, I’ve always noticed a very real struggle when it comes to relationships and change. We tend not to be fans of change. Change is scary, change requires us to make adjustments, and maybe even to stretch ourselves and learn new things.
Yuck, who wants that? 😉
Yet when I think about the people I have seen over the last few days, and the people I’ll be seeing over the next few days, and then in Vegas over the weekend, I’m amazed not just at the number of people who want to spend time with me, but the wide variety of who they are and where I met them. They truly represent people that I’ve picked up along the way in my life. One I’ve known longer than I’ve known my wife. Another, we met when we lived in South Carolina a couple of years ago, and has since moved to Columbus. One works for the same company as I do now, but happens to live in Columbus, others I met through my wife, or worked with me, and one I met in training and who just happened to be in Columbus for work this week.
Truly, even though I’m now living in Oregon, and on the road all the time, each one of these folks is still part of my life, and I can’t think of a better way to describe them than as people who’ve gotten on the train of my life, and have stayed, regardless of the distance between us. We managed to pick each other up along the way. All of that though, has required us to navigate changes. I didn’t get to start the train 20-25 years ago with a group of people who never changed and always stayed on the train, yet I find many people who expect their relationships to go just like that.
Life doesn’t work that way, and really, I wouldn’t like it if it did. Part of the excitement of spending time catching up with these folks is all of the interesting stuff they do, the accomplishments they’ve had, the struggles they’ve had, and so on. All of those things come from being out in the world, living their lives, the same way I am. They are growing as individuals, as I am, and when we do get to see each other, we get to share in that growth together. (And seriously, some of the folks I’ve known for awhile have grown so much, and I’m so proud of who they are…) But if nothing changes, that growth doesn’t happen either. If none of my relationships changed, and grew, they would actually get pretty stale.
There would be the comfort of things that never change, but growth that comes from change, and the struggle for that growth makes it so much more interesting.
So the next time you feel panic at the thought of something changing in one of your friendships, instead look forward to the growth that may come from it for both of you, and also be on the lookout for new people to add to your journey. They’ll help you grow too, if you’re not too busy trying to keep everything the same.