Monday, June 18, 2012

Far Apart but Close at Heart

Long Distance Friendships

Coping with Loneliness

I think one of the most difficult issues for me to deal with is friendships and holding onto them even when I am separate from my friends by great distances or lengths of time. I often think about the irony of my life- I have built so many friendships with a variety of different people yet I'm always alone- despite having tons of friends I seem to by myself nearly all of the time. The reason for this constant alone time is because most of my friends live great distances from me for a number of reason- either we met at college or in the hospital and never lived near to each other, or we once lived in the same area but they have moved because of jobs or school, or simply our schedules don't seem to mesh even if we live moderately close to one another (and by moderately close I mean less than 2 hours away.) It's hard to cope with feelings of loneliness and do not let these feelings transform into depression or self-doubt. I have the tendency to assume that because I haven't seen or heard from someone in a long time it is because the friendship is unimportant to them or they have forgotten me. I have chosen a number of Winnie-the-Pooh quotes to address this topic. The first-

“Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would, I'd never leave.” 
- A.A. Milne

It's so important to remember that just because we are not with our friends constantly does not mean they have forgotten us. Sometimes circumstances, such as distance, just aren't in our favor and prevent us from spending as much time as we want with the ones we love and who love us in return. True friends won't forget no matter how long you go without seeing one another. In fact I not only do I consciously think about friends who are far from me I often dream about them, especially if I'm deeply missing them. This notion is where the second quote comes in-

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” 

- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Do you ever have a dream and wake up unsure of whether or not it actually happened? Dreams can be very powerful things. For instance last night I dreamt about a number of friends some of whom I haven't spoken to in years. The dream felt so real and even this morning I feel as if I just saw them. I know I didn't but even the small dose of imagined contact can bolster my mood. Dreams also can serve as great reminders to contact someone you haven't thought of lucidly or reached out to in quite a while. The last quote I came across may be the most important and meaningful of all-

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” 
- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Saying goodbye and missing people is one of the most difficult emotions I have to deal with. I hate separating from friends who love and care about so strongly and recognizing that our great time together is coming to end. Sometimes when I return home back to my normal my life I'll even sink into an overwhelming sadness because I miss they happiness that experienced when I was spending time with my friend or friends! But what if we can turn this around like A.A. Milne suggests and see this as a gift. How much more upsetting would it be if there was no one in this world that we had such a strong connection with that saying goodbye was effortless and brought about no emotions at all? I guess it is true that I am lucky to be blessed with a number of friends who want the best for me as much as I do them. I have friendships that our so true and profound that saying farewell, even just for a brief period of time, frequently provokes tears. But knowing that I will see them again and that when we reunite the excitement we feel is equal to or stronger than the unpleasant emotions that arise when we separate makes the friendship more than worth it. It's hard to not feel lonely if you're often alone but the only way to combat it is to remember that you do have friends even if you're not surrounded by them all the time. This knowledge will probably not make you feel completely better or alleviate all your feelings of loneliness or upset but it may just be enough to hold you over until you are able to see your friends again. It may be appropriate to even use this cliche statement- "Distance makes the heart grow fonder."

Try to actively combat lonely feelings and contact a friend today,

You've Got a Friend in Me, Randy Newman, Toy Story

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