“The process of transformation is a journey where we look inside ourselves and reconnect with what’s always been there but often hidden — an enormous power that reconnects us with our confidence and our courage.” ~ Debbie Ford
This is a great quote about transformation which brings up a funny distinction in my transformation and the impact it had on my friendships.
I have a fair amount of friends. A number of friends have known me for a very long time (some since elementary school) and some have known me less than two years.
Because I have two friends with the same name and the one I knew the longest really didn’t want to be known as my “old friend” vs. my “new friend,” I started calling them Gold Friend and Silver Friend to distinguish the two. And before you think the metal is a value of worth, don’t go there. I made the distinction from the childhood song, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.” (Extra points if you sang that.)
In terms of my transformation, my gold friends watched me go from a healthy and well person (many, many moons ago) and travel through the darkest depression you can imagine (for more than 20 years), then slowly come out the other side, and gradually start to reconnect with my true self. They are — and have always been — supportive of me as I began to shine my light. They knew this light was always in me and they are so happy to have “the real me” back and shining my light once again.
While these friends supported me through the hard times (including the loss of both of my parents) because they are healthy themselves, some of these friends had to distance themselves from me at times for their own self-preservation. It’s hard to continue to support someone who is unwell — especially when there’s no progress toward wellness.
To be quite honest, I didn’t really care to get well for a very long time. Because of this, a few of my gold friends had a hard time supporting my continued choice not to take better care of myself. One friend recently commented, “I warned you. I tried to stop you from going to the depths of hell, but once you were there, the person I knew to be you was no longer there. You weren’t home and I could no longer participate in your life.”
My silver friends (and my therapist) traveled with me through some very tough life transitions of grief and loss. They “met” me — in more ways than one — during the dark days of depression. These people saved my life and I’m forever grateful to them. One of the greatest blessings from these friends was the connection to dancing, which has become a true passion and stress reliever for me.
With my silver friends though, when I rose from the depths of despair, they saw a new being — someone they didn’t know. They were not aware of the light that was already within me — because it certainly wasn’t shining when they met me. And I sometimes wonder if they were more comfortable with the non-enlightened version of me, because they didn’t seem to appreciate my bright, shiny light in the same way my gold friends did. They backed away and backed down. In fact, many of them just stopped coming around all together.
A constant burden in my life with my silver group of friends was a chronic, undiagnosed digestive dis-ease. Every time I ate, I would get violently ill and I could not keep food in my body. There was very little I could eat, and most of what I ate went right through me. As a result, I quickly lost 110 pounds. This caused me to have to renegotiate my relationship with food, clothes, the opposite sex and sadly, my friends. This happened at the same time I was recovering from depression. Through my recovery, I was smiling a lot and my light was beginning to shine through. Happiness is attractive, and as a result, I began getting attention from men.
Previously, when we went to the bar to dance, we simply danced. Men weren’t part of the equation — except maybe for a friendly smack on the ass on the dance floor. But suddenly, I was receiving a lot of attention from men (and sometimes women).
My silver friends didn’t seem to like it.
One night one of my silver friends left in tears because a man she had talked to asked for my number. (She has a live-in boyfriend by the way.) When I asked one of my other silver friends what was wrong, she stated to me, “We want our fat friend back.”
My silver friends were clearly not okay with my light.
While that was the worst thing anyone has ever said to me, I forgave her. Then I loved her from a distance.
I’m okay with the fact that we didn’t spend time together for a long time. I know for certain that now that I am enlightened, I will not go back to being that prior, dark version of myself. If my silver friends are not okay with my light, I’m just going to keep on shining (and dancing) anyway.
And yet there’s another group of friends — shifters, maybe. These people know me now. Well, healthy, alive, brilliant, vibrant and shining. When I showed one of my best friends from this group a picture of me from my dark days, she replied, “Nope. I don’t know that person. She doesn’t exist for me. Don’t ever go back there.”
While I have no intentions of going “back there,” I think it’s important to acknowledge who we are/were and where we’ve been. If for no other reason than to recognize that it’s a place we don’t want to revisit. I don’t think it’s important for this particular friend to know that person, but she will always be a part of me.
There are so many facets to each of us, and each of our friendships. They are all unique and valuable in their own way. I am grateful for all of the experiences that brought me to this point in time — and I look forward to the next set of experiences that will bring me to the next level.
I am grateful for all of my friends and all of the value that they bring to my life. Not every friend is meant to be a friend for life, and sometimes friendships go dormant for a while (as some of my gold friendships did while I was in a dark period and some of my silver friendships did when I was first recovering). If you’re lucky, they reconnect and all is forgiven in order to move forward in a new way.
I used to cut quotes out of magazines. I have thousands of them. This one is right above my computer and has been for years. I’m sorry that I cannot find an author to attribute it to.
“That’s the problem with circumstantial relationships. They don’t survive a change of circumstances.”
Author: Melissa Drake
Editor: Erin Lawson
Images: Flickr/Sarah // Flickr/Helga Weber
Read 18 comments and reply