A few days ago I had coffee with a good friend. She’s a relatively new friend and someone who I see frequently but never on a one to one. She’s bright, engaging, confident and fun to be around so I was truly looking forward to sitting across a table from her.
If I’m being honest, I was selfishly anticipating taking much more away from the date than she would. I was hoping to tap into her experience and wisdom to help me make some decisions about my own life once both kids are safely ensconced in the school system.
We met in a cool little coffee shop, a little way off the beaten track, and already I was adding this snippet to her character in my head. Seeing her out of context was lovely and (being a self-confessed reassurance-seeker) I was secretly quite flattered that she even wanted catch up away from our usual group (#saddotryingtobecool alert).
What transpired over the course of the conversation took me by surprise. I found myself talking about things I haven’t even told my best friend. Perhaps it was the safety of the almost anonymity or just that she provided a clarity of thought that is so very often missing. As I rattled on (it was more of a monologue at this point!) I pieced together emotions and reactions and felt happy in my conclusions (contrary to the ugly crying!)
It was then that I saw it. The raw, pained sadness in her face. For years she had struggled with mental health issues, throwing herself into project after project to try and distract her troubled mind. As her stories tumbled out, I saw her shoulders physically lower. The pain she had carried on her own for so long had lifted slightly and I was humbled by what she was telling me.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t some Eureka moment for either of us. It was a coming together of intelligent (vaguely in my case!) women with a shared need for clarity. Our conversation won’t change our situations but it did lift the burden somewhat and created a support that wasn’t there before.
I have no doubt that when we see each other in the new year, nothing will have changed between us. There will be no judgement of weakness or exchange of sickly sympathies. Maybe just a silent acknowledgement that there is always someone there if they’re needed.
I wish you all a truly wonderful Christmas and look forward to boring you all a lot more in 2018.
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