Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In Good Company

The Gift of a Strong Connection

Relationships: Build, Maintain, Appreciate

Three's Company, (1976-1984)
Over the past week or so I have become acutely aware of the different relationships in my life. We all have numerous people- friends, acquaintances, teachers, doctors, family members, co-workers- who we connect with on a daily basis. However we often neglect to notice these relationships, the effort it takes to sustain them, and their significance. Relationships require work in order to build and maintain them. Too often we forget to acknowledge the amount of effort that we have put in in order to form a connection with someone. Likewise we frequently neglect to take the time to sit back and appreciate the relationships that we have been able to create. It is time that we recognize that a strong connection is truly a gift and should not be taken for granted. I have been attempting to increase my consciousness regarding the variety of relationships that I have. 
"[My Mom and I] have a special relationship."
Last week I enjoyed a calm and delicious dinner at my apartment with my Mom. I sat back and savored the time that we were able to spend together. We have a special relationship; I am completely honest with her and can talk to her about nearly anything- my eating disorder, sex, trouble with friends, my fears. I know that our connection is strong and unique; not all daughters are able to confide in their mothers to the degree that I can. 
Yesterday I ran into a professor who's class I was in last fall. Over the course of the semester I worked diligently, participated in class discussions, regularly attended office hours, and earned high marks. I was able to build a connection with this professor because of my work ethic and level of dedication. This connection served me well later on in the semester when I needed to take a medical leave of absence. My professor was sympathetic, gave me a hug (although it was against University policy), and expressed both care and concern for me and my well-being. I was thankful for the relationship that I had been able to build with her because she provided me with exactly what I needed- kindness, comfort, and support- during a time of weakness and pain. 
"Yesterday I ran into a professor..."
Over the past year I have not done a great job at maintaining the relationship that we had. But, when I saw her yesterday, we interacted as if no time had passed. She expressed the same interest, concern, and care for me that she had displayed over a year ago. We both asserted that we will be sure to be in contact in the near future in order to catch up and I am certain that I will stay true to my word in order to maintain our strong connection. I had already appreciated the way she helped me when I was struggling and needed to leave school; but, after our run-in yesterday I gained an even greater appreciation for our relationship. It is rewarding for me to know that my professor genuinely respects and cares about me because of the way I presented myself as a student in her classroom. 
Building relationships and connections-
Today I had the pleasure of engaging with a potential new friend. A girl in one of my classes recognized me from other classes that we have had together. We began talking after class and it seemed as if we had an instant connection. The conversation flowed effortlessly and before we separated we exchanged numbers. Right now we are merely acquaintances but I can foresee that we could easily become friends if I work toward building a relationship with her. So why is it that I am providing you with a series of accounts regarding my personal interactions? Well, I guess I am trying to show you that relationships and strong connections can come in a variety of forms. We can't rule someone out because they don't appear to be the type of person we usually relate to. (One of my best friends is nearly 40 years old and is a college professor with her doctorates. Another of my best friends is only 17 years old and lives in Canada.) If we are open to the possibility of forming a relationship than our opportunities to do so are endless. 
"We all have numerous people who we connect with on a daily basis."

"Man is a knot into which relationships are tied."

- Antoine de Saint

I chose this quote because it expresses how fundamental relationships are to our essence, our well-being, and our lives. We cannot exist alone, isolated from the world. We learn about ourselves by interacting with other people. We are able to recognize our likes and dislikes. Relations introduce new things- foods, books, ideas- to us. And these people can remind us of things about ourselves that we may have forgotten.
Recently I have been spending a huge amount of time with a new friend. We both instantaneously felt a strong connection and I view her presence in my life as a gift and I strongly believe that this feeling is mutual. In our case building the friendship was quick work and maintaining it has been just as easy. Now we have reached the glorious period in relationships when you are able to relax and appreciate. I am so thankful to have her as a friend because when I am with her I always feel that I am in good company. 
Our Pinot of choice-
We can talk for hours about all topics- school, eating disorder shit, boys, family, worries, future plans. We both share a strong liking for Pinot Grigio and Parliament Light cigarettes (the 100s). And our connection is strong because we can relate on so many different levels. We trust each other and are able to have serious and honest conversations when we need to. We can go out together drinking, partying, and causing a ruckus. But we are also able to enjoy low key nights, sitting in my apartment, sharing a bottle of wine, chain smoking cigarettes, and talking for hours on end. 
"...chain smoking cigarettes..."
I think about the time that we have spent together so far and I am so appreciative of every single moment- each laughing fit, every conversation, each secret divulged, and every commonality discovered. She has been staying with me quite often recently and it is nice to have some company after living alone for the past few months. It is a comfort to know that I have someone to debrief with at the end of the day; but, more importantly, it is a blessing to be certain that I will be going to sleep happy and smiling every night.

"Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings."

- Miles Franklin

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all need people, connections, relationships. I suppose we could exist without them but it seems to me that doing so would result in a very miserable and depressing life. Don't get me wrong, I love my alone time, but there comes a point in all of our lives when we need and/or want someone who we can talk to, share experiences with, care about, and love. Sometimes thinking about relationships can be exhausting. Whether it's a friendship, a familial relationship, or an intimate relationship there is no doubt that all relationships take a degree of effort. First, you need to find a person that you relate to on some basic level. Once you have determined that you are interested in forming a relationship with this person you need to put in the work in order to build the foundation and structure of it. And even after a solid bond has been formed you must continue to work in order to maintain the relationship. But once all the dirty work is done, and you've created a strong connection, you are able to discover that your efforts were not futile or exerted for naught. Honestly, nothing can compare to a true friend, a close relationship, or a strong connection; they are gifts that should be treasure and appreciated. Relationships are dynamic, miraculous entities that can supply us with an infinite number of gifts- self-worth, sense of calm, fun, self-acceptance, sense of safety, knowledge, feelings of belonging and/or acceptance, happiness. It can be difficult at first when attempting to create new relationships; but when you are sitting among friends, in good company, you come to realize that it is well worth the effort. 

"Most of us don't need a psychiatric therapist as much a friend to be silly with."

- Robert Brault

Relationships are gifts from G-d that sustain, fulfill, and enrich us and our lives. No matter the type of relationship- friendship, spouse, sibling- take the time and effort to build, maintain, and appreciate it because nothing is more valuable than a person who you can share your life with.

Take a moment and reach out in order to connect,

"But when you are sitting among come to realize that is was well worth the effort."

You've Got a Friend in Me, Randy Newman in Disney's animated film, Toy Story (1995)


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