I just got off the phone with a dear friend of mine who was feeling a little down and needed to chat. We talked for an hour about life and growing up and how it takes effort to be happy, but once you are, it's so much easier than you ever thought possible. Having spent a good chunk of my life depressed, I often equate depression to a comforting warm blanket. It's always there, ready at a moment's notice to snuggle with as you lay in bed and do nothing with your life. Now that I have spent the past few years being happy I can now say that happiness (and those know how much I do not like the heat will find this ironic) is like the sunshine. It is effortlessly warm and awakens energy you didn't know you had. But usually you're so busy lying in bed to open the door and go outside to let it into your life.
When I got off the phone I couldn't help but smile. Nick is away on a business trip this week and I guess when I'm so busy working, doing homework, and generally running around like a crazy person, sometimes I forget how lonely it is to be home alone with just the cats. I needed to talk to her a lot more than I think either of us realized.
Hot off my puppies and rainbows, I browsed through some wedding pictures (the only time we have all ever been in one place together) to see if I could find one with just me and my three best friends in it and it made me start thinking of how lucky I am to have such good friends. It made me think of my earlier conversation on the phone, and the process of learning to love one's self and an exercise my grandmother's therapist made her do every day when she was grieving the eventual loss of her husband to cancer. At the end of every day, write down 5 things you're thankful for. I'm pretty sure Oprah came up with that, it seems like something she'd do. But I think in terms of loving oneself, which is something that most if not all people struggle with at some point in their lives, it's a good practice.
Loving oneself does not happen over night. It takes years. You have to force yourself to look at the good, forget about the bad, accept love from those around you, and it takes a lot of effort. Sometimes you are lucky enough to do it on your own, and sometimes it takes the help of other good and amazing people in your life. The cognitive behavioral psychologist in me was thinking it would be a really good practice to write down five different things you love about yourself every night. In doing so, it'll force you to look at the good in you and the great things you have in your life. Maybe, eventually, you'll realize how many there things there are that are wonderful and that you deserve every one of them.
For today, here are my five:
1. I love to laugh and make others laugh. Nothing makes me happier than causing a smile on other people's faces.
2. I am a firecracker. Once you get me started there's no stopping me. Jokes, curses, loyalty, cooking. It doesn't matter. I love to be riled up, run around and be crazy, and have fun.
3. I am a great hugger. When you are down in the dumps, I am the person to come to for a hug. I won't let you go until you're better. And I'm so incredibly lucky that I have a man who I love, who loves hugs (and to hug me) just as much as I do.
4. Even if I do not get straight A's, I am smart and not a failure. As a friend once said to me, "I know that when you set your mind to doing something. It will get done, no matter how small, or how big." I might complain, be stressed out, and cry along the way. But I know, with my intelligence, skill, and drive if I want something bad enough, I will make it happen. As another old friend once said, "I know you, no matter what your mind may think at any given point, you've never let anything stand in your way. You may actually be one of the most determined people I know and it is one of the things I admire you most for." It took me a really long time to realize that and I still struggle with it. I have high expectations of myself that I do not always meet. I just need to remember the end goal, and that nothing stands in the way of it and me. I guess I just needed to remind myself this.
5. Considering I've been really lucky to talk to all three of my best friends in some fashion over the last two days I am really happy right now. We live in four different places, in three different time zones, and all have insane schedules. I'm lucky if I can do more than a quick email with any of them every other week. I envy women who can emulate the Sex and the City ladies, having brunch with three girlfriends every Sunday. But I wouldn't trade my best friends for anything. These women make me a better person. When I need to be selfish and vent, they listen even when they think I'm annoying. They know how to tell me the truth and they know how to take it as well. Best of all, they're all the kinds of friends who truly know and accept me, flaws and all. And I couldn't love these girls anymore if I tried.