Thoughts by Richard Bleil
A new friend of mine kind of broke my heart tonight. Not intentionally, of course. On her social media page, she said that she doesn’t have any girlfriends to hang out with and that, because of that, she’s feeling lonely. It hurts me to read that, not because I’m the kind of friend with whom she would hang out, and I’m certainly not a girlfriend (I kind of have the wrong “equipment” to be so), but I understand what she means. She is very young, and newly married, so I’m sure that she is probably spending all of her time with her new husband, and they’ve probably not settled into a routine just yet that can include independence and outside friends. I’ve no doubt that they’ll find that rhythm, but having been married myself, I do know that stage, too.
Honestly, I’m not sure if I should write this to her, or to my friends. As I said, I really do understand the feeling of loneliness and, worse than that, isolation. Sometimes, even today, I feel friendless, and I owe my friends an apology for feeling like that, especially if I have ever hurt them by feeling so. I know I have friends. I have great friends who I know love me, but sometimes that’s not enough. Most of them live very far away from me (that, too, is my own fault), and are emotionally not as close as I would like (also my own fault). So, when I’m feeling lonely, I’m feeling isolated.
Being out of touch with my friends, and with my lifestyle of self-isolation, it’s exactly at times like that when it becomes my responsibility to reach out to my friends, be it a text, a call, or an invitation to actually do something. Maybe they’ll be too busy, and usually they are since they’ve moved on with their lives without me, but it feels good to make an effort, and I hope they feel good knowing that they’re still in my heart.
The point is that, even for a pathetic lonely old codger like me, I’m not truly alone. I am loved, and I know it. I have friends that I know I have hurt and abandoned, and I know it’s my fault. I don’t know how to rebuild those bridges, but fortunately, for my friends, it’s not really necessary. A week from today, I will be reunited with many of them at the Renaissance Fair in Sioux Falls, and I can hardly wait to see them and steal hugs. And hugs I will steal indeed.
I have no advice for my new friend. She is so charming, and she is so cute with her husband. I know there is love there, and hope they’re not struggling (which, frankly, feeling isolated does not require that they be having a rough patch). It’s just one of the things new couples have to get past. In Catholic weddings, there is a part of the ceremony when they take two smaller candles, representing the two individual and they use it to light a larger “unity” candle. It’s a beautiful gesture representing the creation of a new entity in their marriage, but then they tend to blow out the individual candles. Being married is not the end of the individuals, and it’s just as important to continue to grow as such even when married. Certainly, there are limits as to what this means once you’ve promised yourself to another, but any healthy relationship allows for each individual to retain friends, and unique interests, and even to spend a little bit of time away from the other. That doesn’t mean they’re not together. In their hearts and spirits, they’re not apart, and that’s a beautiful thing.
A therapist once told me that two couples will collide. It’s part of nature. When two people share the same small space together, either physically or metaphorically, they’ll sometimes collide with each other. It’s important sometimes to just get away, and a girl’s night out, or a guy’s night out, and just recharge a bit.
For my older friends, I’m truly sorry. I hope I’ve not hurt you. In my deepest funk, in my loneliest hours, I know you all are with me in spirit, and never have I lost you in my heart. I know you literally saved my life, and I know we can pick it back up at any time. I hope you know that I am here for you as I know you are there for me. I love you all!