Friday, August 31, 2012

Let’s Have Lunch

It’s been several years, and by several I mean like twenty.  Yet, those mornings still stand out even though not one of those men is active in my life anymore.  Once a week, usually a Thursday morning, we would meet at Burger King, order a sausage biscuit, hash rounds, and a strong, steaming cup of coffee.  After getting settled into our window booth, the food opened up and the coffee tugging our eyelids awake, we would spend the next hour just talking.  Our time wasn’t structured.  There was never a topic.  Most mornings we would just follow one tangent after another, chasing rabbit trails of our thoughts until another path appeared and then we’d take that one.  However, quite a few mornings we would sit there, sip our coffee and unburden our hearts.

The topics would bounce from struggles at work to troubles in the marriage, and then on to how not to kill our kids who seemed bent on driving us to murder.  We were each other’s support and encouragement, sounding board and sometimes conscience.  We were close because we shared things with each other that only our wives knew.  The Thursday morning group was sacred and we looked forward to it every week.

Everyone needs those types of friends.  Life can be a pain in the ass sometimes and a support group is a sanctuary to help take the sting away.  Whether it’s over breakfast, lunch, a cup of coffee, or your favorite cocktail, getting together with someone, or a couple of someones, to listen and share what’s going on in each other’s lives can be the padding you need when life tries to spank you.

Our little group back then succeeded because we followed a few Golden Rules.  It helped us to feel safe with each other, which is the environment you need if you’re going to open up.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the saying goes, and that’s rule number one.  It’s important that people know whatever is said within the group is going to stay in the group.  Nothing will break down trust and close hearts faster than hearing something that was said in confidence from an outside source.  No one wants the matters of their heart to be a subject of gossip.

One for all and all for one.  While one member of the support group may need a little extra attention once in awhile, everyone is there for each other.  That means each friend gives and each receives.  This is hard at first.  Not everyone is good at opening up and many of us have been hurt by “friends” in the past.  However, if you want the people in your group to trust you, then you have to trust them.

No hitting below the belt.   While you should never take cheap shots at these friends, don’t pull any punches, either.  These people want you to be honest with them just as you want them to be honest with you.  At least, I hope you do.  Otherwise, the group is pointless.  You need to hear the truth if you are going to not only grow as a person, but also to get out of whatever mess you may find yourself in.    While it is always easier to blame other people, sometimes the fault is ours.  We need friends who will be honest with us and not sugarcoat the truth.  An honest friend is a valuable friend.

Size matters.  It’s true, and in this case smaller is better.  I recommend two to four, because once the group gets too big then it’s harder for everyone to participate and get their needs met.  Each member needs a chance to encourage as well as be encouraged.

“Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.”  Okay, the place can change, but the regularity should stay the same.  Once every week or every other week is good, so that things don’t build up and a weekend is needed instead of an hour.  It also gives everyone something to look forward to without forgetting about it.

No man is an island and we need friends, close friends.  We were never meant to go through this life along and the journey is made sweeter by the people we surround ourselves with.  I’m fortunate, because I have an abundance of friends.  However, what makes me rich is that small handful I can truly bare my soul to without fear of rejection or recrimination.  These people not only make life worth living, but help me survive it as well.

How about you?  Do you have that strong circle of friends that will protect you even from yourself?  I truly hope so.

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  1. Another one to ponder, Robbie. It sounds like you have a great support system and are surrounded by good quality people. I would have to say I am currently lacking in that department, mostly my choice. I found that the friends I was surrounding myself with refused to grow up and those things that are fun at 25 aren't so much fun at 46, life evolves and I think we have to as well. I'm certainly not trying to have a holier than thou attitude, I guess I just took a different path recently and I'm happier. I'm starting to build a new healthier network of friends because as you said, it's important not to try and go it alone. One step at a time it's evolving and I guess I am right where I am supposed to be at this moment. Thanks for another great post.

    1. I think it takes us all a period of time to get things where we need to be. I haven't always been so lucky, unfortunately. Lessons in life learned, but the path I have walked has brought some great people across my path and I wouldn't trade any of them.

      I'm glad you are working on a healthier you. In the end, that's all we can do. Work on who we are.