The first, by my stepfather after he and my mother divorced.
The second, in my early twenties by a best friend.
The third in my thirties by another close friend.
And recently by another lifelong friend.
Each time I racked my brain for answers. What had I done? How was I responsible?
If you know me at all, you know that I love learning. I am an open book and daily, I shine the light on myself and all of my imperfections.
As a sought-after keynote speaker, my mother frequently listened to motivational leaders on our family road trips, long before TVs or phones in a car. So, I listened to them too.
And what was drilled into me then has never left me: Only I am responsible for my actions. In each and every decision, I have a choice on how I will respond. If I am wrong, when I make a mistake, it is up to me to figure out what happened and how I can learn from it so that I can grow into the best version of myself. Growth cannot happen without mistakes and mistakes aren’t mistakes unless I didn’t learn from them. They are lessons!
I remember so clearly the pain I felt the first three times. I felt misunderstood and desperately wanted to defend myself.
After this last time, I asked my husband and other friends, “Please, tell me. What is wrong with me? If this has happened this many times in twenty years, surely this is on me. What do I need to do to fix myself? To be a better daughter, friend or version of myself?”
And then, without them saying, I knew.
I knew exactly what was wrong with me.
I realized how wrong I had been to take responsibility for something and someone I was not. responsible. for.
That these people are human, too. That they make mistakes and it is their responsibility to learn from their own, not mine to try and fix the damage of the abandonment by proving myself worthy.
My mistake is my lack of self-confidence in knowing that I am already worthy. I am loved by God, my husband, my children and the rest of my family and friends.
And for those who choose to inexplicably check out of our relationship, well, they can keep on walking.
I saw her. A quick flash passing through the blinds. I knew I had to move fast. No time for shoes. I wrangled open the stubborn door from the kitchen to the garage, flew down the steps and threw open the door to our driveway. She was almost to the corner of the street when I yelled, “Hey! Hi! My name is Lauren and we just moved here a few weeks ago!” My target was hugely pregnant, which is precisely why I had marked her. “We’ve got two little girls, ages 6 months and 2 years. We can be friends!”
Since then, I introduced myself to a young family sitting on their front stoop at Halloween and, on bicycle, high-speed pursued another mother strolling her twins in the back of our neighborhood. All three have become some of the very best friends I’ve ever had.
Having moved from a very close-knit community full of young families, my husband and I feared we had made a huge mistake by moving to an older, established neighborhood. While the lack of sidewalks and larger lots added desirable privacy, they also secluded us. We were an island, until I swam.
I spent the majority of my childhood as a loner. I had friends here and there, but had never experienced the love and support of a group like others on sports teams and sororities. I saw group photos on Facebook and longed for my own.
Perhaps all it took was my desperation as a stay-at-mother to force me to seek. After meeting my new friends, I organized monthly socials to be held at each of our respective houses, providing an opportunity for us to familiarize our tastes, our stories. It worked.
With the addition of a friend I used to teach with, I’ve finally found my group and it is everything I had ever hoped it would be.
When my husband and I had to leave for the hospital at 4 AM to deliver our fourth daughter, it was that first pregnant neighbor who rushed over to stay at home with our three girls. It was my school friend who relieved her. It was the mother I met at Halloween who took my kindergartner to school and the mother of the twins who watched our others while I labored on. Together, they seamlessly took my place as we welcomed sweet Elizabeth into the world.
Matthew 7:7 reads “Seek and ye shall find.”
I was lonely until I overcame my insecurities and Ran. Pedaled. Tried. And it was there that I smiled, laughed and exhaled for finding what I had been looking for all along. My friends.
A solution is what we seek. Diagnose the condition, and prescribe the cure. Black and white. Case closed. A temporary disturbance, a minor annoyance in the grand scheme but please, not this. Not a problem that has no “fix”. Continue reading →