The Things I Carry: Do you have friends? (Part 8)


I’ve been burned.

I’ve been burned by “friends” and “family”. As a result I have difficulty trusting people. As a result I sometimes burn others. My track record in relationships – both male and female – is spotty at best. I have difficulty with the intimacies of friendship, of family, of community and of life. There are only one or two people who I am spiritually close with – who I’ve cried with or shared my pain and joys with. I’d like there to be more but at 41 it’s hard to change my spots.

The first time I came across this poem from Walt Whitman I fell to my knees in agony. It broke my heart because I truly understood the loneliness, the bitterness and the envy.

It is best to read it aloud.

When I peruse the conquer’d fame of heroes, and the victories of mighty generals, I do not envy the generals, Nor the President in his Presidency, nor the rich in his great house; But when I hear of the brotherhood of lovers, how it was with them, How through life, through dangers, odium, unchanging, long and long, Through youth, and through middle and old age, how unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful they were, Then I am pensive—I hastily walk away, fill’d with the bitterest envy.

Walt Whitman, (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900

Call your friend. Let someone know you care. Let them know that they are not alone. In this way you never will be.

9 Comments

  1. This is a powerful post, Sean. I believe it will strike a chord with many. So many people feel the pain but don’t have the courage to look in the mirror unflinchingly and own what they see – anger, envy, loneliness, pettiness, whatever – the shadow stuff. In doing so, you’ve opened yourself to heal. You’ve also given others permission to do the same.

    Remain grounded in your honesty and obvious strength and you may eventually smile at the ephemeral nature of relationships without bitterness, envy or even their kinder sister, longing. That’s when the ones you seek will find you. As above, so below. As within, so without.

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  2. I spent many years keeping people out, numbing myself to the pain and disappointment of openness and vulnerability, wondering where did everyone go. I can surely see them, but as I reached out my hand to touch, it’s as if it had all been a mirage. Then one day, I noticed that I had created the illusion of seperateness and realized that the person I had kept out of my life was me. So I have returned caring and keeping myself company which surely is the care and company that radiates out now to you…

    Thanks Sean for sharing this!

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  3. If your friends are true friends – you won’t have to change your spots…even at 81. Thank you for an honest look into your heart!!

    Warm {{HUGS}}
    @spreadingJOY

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  4. I have been hurt many times in my life. Instead of closing myself off, I fight to keep myself open, honest and giving. This world has so much to offer if you allow yourself to both hurt and heal. It’s worth the risk. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Just listened to a psychologist talk on different types of attachment. Hope it is helpful. Somatic Experiencing therapists can help you get healthy with this.

    Avoidance Attachment. Social need to attach to whoever our primary caregivers are. When that doesn’t go well, Parent is distant, not very helpful, vacant, disassociated. Insensitive to child’s needs. Not realistic ideas of what child can do. Language and facial expressions don’t fit and cause confusing emotional reactions. When parent would be there and leave. On reunion, children hardly noticed when such parents came back in the room. Why go back to restaurant when food or service is bad? Big Point: This is not a choice, but an adaptation. When trauma hits, the feel not very able to seek support because they don’t have a template that reaching out for help works. Client stops seeking nearness. Dismisses others.

    Anxious Attachment. Your parents can be present, loving, etc., tho inconsistent. Can’t rely on it. Child over- focuses on the other person. “When am I going to get this love again.” Not relaxed. Not an easy flow between connection and aloneness. Over focused on Self and underfocused on Other. Or Over focused on others but underfocused on Self.

    DisOrganized Attachment Avoidance is a deactivation of the attachment. Anxiety is an over-stimulated, preoccupation with relationship. In disorganized attachment Avoidance and Anxious both exist in a chaotic way. Parenting creates something in the behavior when they are relating in an overly chaotic manner. (this is passed on generationally).

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  6. “When your friend are there, then everything’s alright.” – Elton John
    So true. We need friends to help us through the hard times and to share our joys in life…Not power, not stuff, just air, water, food, shelter and the closeness of true friends…thanks for this.

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