Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 22 “Transitions and Friendships”

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, one of the action steps to take in your moving transition is to stay in touch with your friends and let them help you ease into your new reality.

If you are anything like me, your relationships are important and you pour a lot of time and effort into those relationships.  I create strong bonds with my friends and having to say goodbye to them has been very difficult.  Here is how I deal with transitioning away from my friends:
I start to prepare in advance.  Before moving from Oahu to Texas, I had over a year to prepare.  And even before I moved one of my other military spouses was moving two months before me.  We did two things to help us with this change – we planned a girl’s weekend and we made sure that we spent as much time together as possible.  We had to be intentional about this and treat it as important as a doctor’s appointment or going to work would be.  One habit that I have been cultivating for years is planning lunch with a friend around our errands.  This means we either drive together and run our errands together and then enjoy lunch or we meet for lunch and run our errands together afterwards.  My friend Jenny and I would drive together; eat lunch at California Pizza kitchen; and then walk to our local Whole Foods to do our monthly shopping.  We chose to do this the same Friday each month so that she could plan for a baby sitter and so I could plan ahead as well.  We knew we could count on each other to “show up” for this appointment and while we got to hang out and chat we were also being productive.  I started this habit years ago and it seems to be catching on.  Now neither the girl’s weekend, nor the monthly outings for lunch and grocery shopping, have helped me miss Jenny any less.  However, I know that we spent as much time together as we could and we have fun memories of those times to get us through the lonely transition of moving away from each other.
(Ginger blogs too - find her here!)

Another way I connected with my friends was through setting one day aside to gather at one of our homes and work on stuff.  This habit started out as a scrap booking group in Okinawa with several of us.  However, other friends who didn't scrapbook wanted to hang out with us so they would bring their own projects to work on.  I also did this in Hawaii where a friend, or friends, would come to my house and we would work on our albums and eat lunch at my house.  When that particular friend moved, several others of us turned it into a productivity day and switched between two different houses.  No matter what you are doing, you are at least doing it together and doing it every week.
I also work on staying connected during the transition.  I do this through Facebook, texting, or setting up times to chat.  This was especially difficult as the hubs and I spent over 60 days on the road between leaving Oahu and arriving in Texas.  However, I would do the best I could by texting my friends the minute I thought about them.  They also knew they could count on me to post on Facebook where I was and what I was doing so they still felt connected to me.
I prayed for my future, new friends, in Texas and trusted God in this process.  I have always had an easy time making friends and since I know God created me to be a connector and encourager I know that new friendships are always on the horizon.  I don’t force this process as the friendships that develop naturally have been my favorites.  I have made friends at church, of course, at women’s Bible studies, through my husband’s job when he was active duty, in my neighborhood, at scrap booking stores, at Curves, at salons while getting a pedicure, through my home-based businesses, by attending CAbi shows, Pampered Chef shows, and at 31 Parties.  I have made friends with a sweet nurse while my husband was having a 4.5 lb. tumor removed a few years ago.  I am friends with the owners of the rental house we use to live in.  I have even made friends in prison though I have never been convicted of a crime – more on that one later.  No place is off limits for meeting new people.   I think one way that makes it easy for me to make friends is that I “show up” to places.  You have all heard the saying that half the battle is “suiting up and showing up” and I really believe that is true.  However, showing up can be scary when you are the “new kid on the block”.  As an extrovert, my desire to meet people overrides these uncomfortable feeling of being new.  Yes, extroverts are afraid as well, we just hide it and move forward because friendships are that important to us!!!
Lastly, I continue to be intentional in spending time with my far away friends.  This helps during my transition as these friends are familiar, they know me, and I can be real with them.  I do this with several of my friends by scheduling appointments with them.  I have one friend who I Face Time with the first Monday of every month.  She is an introvert and doesn't enjoy talking on the phone as much as I do but she desires to stay connected to me so she makes the effort as well.  I have another friend who loves talking on the phone and we talk at least once a week and we text each other a lot on the other days.  I use to call another friend on my way home from the prison ministry I was a part of when I lived on Oahu.  She was up late and I had at least 20 minutes in the car – via my Bluetooth of course.  Because we all communicate differently, we all have different life situations, and because my friends are important to me, I try to communicate with them the way that works best for them.  My friends who go to bed early do not get 10 pm phone calls.  The ones who stay up late to study while going to school are the ones that welcome late night chats.  This is how we make different time zones work for us!
And the last thing I do, which is the hardest, is to accept that things are going to change with some of your friends once you move.  The even harder part of this step is not taking it personally.  It’s one of the harsh realities that military wives face a lot.  I have had several friends in my life who just admit, almost up front, that they are horrible at staying in touch via the phone, via e-mail, or even via Facebook.  I don’t like that but I have to accept it.  What I have learned over the years is that some relationships are worth the extra effort it takes to stay connected.  This is where allowing things to happen naturally can be helpful.  I have a few friends who have gone through a lot over the years while I have been many miles away.  We don’t talk often, sometimes not even once a year, and then things change in their lives and they become more available.  The bottom line is that I don’t write everyone off the minute they stop staying in touch and sometimes we reconnect and our relationship is even stronger than before.  And other times, our relationship never gets back to where it was and I have to be ok with that.  I have learned to enjoy the people I have around me during the time that we live in the same city and I know that some of those relationships will go on for our lifetime and others will naturally fade away.  I am working on not chasing after those who choose not to stay in touch beyond the occasional Facebook interaction and I focus on those who are reaching out and wanting to stay in touch.  I would love for everything to stay the same between me and my friends but that is just not how it works and it does me no good to dwell in areas that don’t serve me well.  Just remember that, no matter what, friendships are worth everything you have to go through to make and keep them – whether you are a military spouse and you move a lot or if you have stayed in the same place for many years!!
There are so many great people in this world, just waiting to be your friend, so suit up, show up, be the type of friend God created you to be and enjoy every minute that you have with your friends!


Julie Clark said...

Thank you so much for posting this, Larissa!You have great ideas for embracing both old and new friendships. I am so thankful that we live in the technology that we do with Facebook, Skype, email, and texting to easily remind our friends that we still think fo them and love them no matter how many miles separate us!

Laura Schofield said...

Thank you for this! After 2 years in a new duty station, I feel like I finally have friends who know me. And now that our time here is drawing to a close, I'm getting that lonely feeling creeping up! Thank you for the reminder to be intentional. One thing we did do is set up a monthly dessert night. Not everyone crafts, or wants a book club, but everyone eats dessert!!

Shellie said...

Being intentional, that is so true! I have to really work at that in my life. We have moved many times. "Accept things will change" another hard one for me. I have learned some friendships are for a season of life and sometimes they come back around. Excellent post today!

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney said...

Loving this series Larissa! So many helpful tips for when you are in transition (and aren't we always in transition?!) Thanks!

thetoothlessgrin said...

This is so comprehensive! Thank you for your insights. I have had to go through many transitions as an adult that I didn't go through for my first 23 years of life and had zero guidance for how to do it well. I have struggled with the changes in my friendships and you spoke to so many of the things I have experienced. As an introvert, I have a more difficult time keeping in touch (it unfortunately takes a lot of energy for introverts to make a phone call), but reconnecting is like heaven! Thank you for sharing this on my post in 31 Dayers!