Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An Afternoon With an Old Friend and Some Thoughts on Self-Care

This past Monday, my mum and I spent the afternoon with my best friend from college (who I hadn’t seen in almost ten years), plus her mum and three children.

Melissa was my first ‘adult’ friend - the first friend I chose. You know when you’re in elementary and high school, your friends are classmates and maybe neighbours? They’re friends of convenience and proximity. You may have absolutely nothing in common except for the fact you go to the same school or live near each other. That’s not to say those friendships aren’t important; many of my early friends shaped who I am, were there for me through countless ups and downs, and meant the world to me. But those friendships are different from the ones you form as an adult. The friendships you form based on common interests, values, beliefs, etc. The friendships you can choose to walk away from if they become toxic, whereas you don’t usually have that option as a child because you’re stuck.

Anyway, Melissa was the first friend I chose as an adult (or adult-type person, all of eighteen years old and just starting college). Our relationship was completely different from any other friendship I’ve had before or since. We went through so much together. I’m not sure how I would have survived college without her. The year after we graduated, she went with my mum and me out of town when my mum had surgery. I was scared out of my mind, and I don’t know what I would have done without her. We slowly grew apart after that (mostly because of distance; she lived an hour away, then moved four hours away and now lives about 2.5 hours away), but I was at her bachelorette party and wedding, and I attended a baby shower for her second child. In the last nine or so years, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of her and missed her. The two years we spent together in college and the time we had together before she moved away had a huge impact on me.

The other day, Melissa messaged me to say she and her kids were visiting her mother, and she wondered if my mum and I would be available to meet for a day at the park. Her mum picked us up, and from the moment we drove into the parking lot of the park and I saw Melissa, I started getting choked up. I scrambled out of the car and wrapped my arms around her and started to sob. I was horrified and embarrassed, but I couldn’t stop. It took me a few minutes to get myself under control. I guess between all the things that have been going on in my life lately and the fact part of me thought I might never see her again made me weepy. It was amazing to meet her kids (I’d previously only met her daughter, and that was when she was a year old) and to see her mum again. We talked non-stop for hours, and I cried a few more times, but I also laughed harder than I have in ages. It was like being back in college, as if nothing had changed, even though a million things have changed. I needed that. I needed to reconnect with an old friend, talk about serious things and nonsense, vent, reminisce, and catch up on what’s been happening in our lives for the last decade.

Yes, we look alike. No, we're not related. Yes, we got asked that a lot in college. No, we didn't mind. ;-)
You may be wondering why I’m writing an entire post about this. Well, like I said, there’s been a lot going on lately. I’ve been feeling incredibly overwhelmed by life, circumstances, work. I’m exhausted mentally and physically, but have just kept plugging away, thinking if I could check a few more things off my never-ending to-do list I could take a break. Take a day or maybe even a couple days off. But I never do.

My mini emotional breakdown with Melissa showed me I need to take some time for myself. We all need to take time off sometimes, no matter how busy we are or how overwhelmed we’re feeling. Especially then. You need to feel your feelings. I’ve been alternately burying mine and pushing them aside, not wanting to take the time to acknowledge and address them, deal with them in healthy ways. As someone who’s dealt with depression and anxiety for nearly half her life, I should know better.

It’s important not only to take care of yourself, but also to take time for yourself. The world isn’t going to end if you take an afternoon off, or better yet, a whole day. Monday was a reminder of that for me. In the morning before I left, all I could think about was the things I needed to do and how I’d probably work all the rest of the day once I got home. I was worried it would prevent me from being fully present. But from the moment I wrapped my arms around Melissa, I forgot about work. I forgot about how tired I am, how stressed. I was able to talk about all the crap that’s been bothering me, all the things in my life that are weighing me down. And I felt lighter afterward. When I got home, instead of working the rest of the evening like I’d planned, I hung out with my mum, read, and went to bed early (something I rarely do, but man those 9 hours were much needed). I'm going to try to do more of that from now on.

The absolutely stunning sunset on Monday night ♥

Do you ever get so overwhelmed or bottle up your emotions so much and for so long that it all just explodes? Are you as bad as I am at taking time for yourself? What are some things you do to take care of yourself and de-stress?
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