By Cathy McNally
In the second half of this year I have made new friends. Three particular new male friends in this mix. My wise friend Maria Gomori, aged 96, advised me in August to reach out and explore relationships with these people, and others. “Be villing to make compromise, Caty!” she encouraged me, in her wonderful Hungarian accent. “Ven ve get older, der is more loneliness. You find someone now.” I assured her I would explore. She knew my late husband Ernie before I did, and is one of the first people we told about the beginning of our relationship.
So, on to my new male friends. And me.
As I am getting to know them, I am surprised at how I move from one end of various continuums to the other end. I am sometimes confident, relaxed, genuine … only to leap—in mere moments—to anxious, tense, and hunting for an adequate role to hide out in. Ouch! Old patterns are not comfortable when I spot them! Thoughts like “Oh no! Am I still doing that?!” or “What am I saying that for?!” flash across my mind.
One of these men is brilliant, one a deep thinker and writer. All three are great conversationalists (speakers and listeners). All three are loving and heartful contributors in their community. Two are moving through their own grieving. One is keeping secrets. All like to dance. (Yay!)
So as I am doing my exploring, what is showing up most is my awareness of what is important in my life. I like that.
After Ernie died, I sat down with myself and revisited values that really matter to me. Top spot is integrity. So, I had a conversation with the person keeping secrets to let them know that this is an issue for me.
When I had been hanging out with this man, there was a ‘hard to put my finger on it’ feeling of discomfort. This went away entirely when I found out about the secret-keeping: everything made sense then. After I spoke with him about my value of integrity, our friendship felt changed. I am closer and more open. I would not hesitate to say what is up for me. Way more relaxing.
The caliber of our conversation was remarkable. I love how this happens. The courage to say the ‘unpopular’ or ‘not comfortable’ thing so often builds a bridge of honesty and deep connection. Indeed, my friend welcomed the conversation, and thanked me at the end.
Further comments about my exploring journey are that I realize I fear how the degree of honesty I am looking for will be received. I think it is this ‘fear’ that tugs me back to a somehow younger, anxious place. I wonder “When I merely blurt…will it work out? Or should I wait until I settle and be more adult, then speak?” Well, I think that is a splendid self-justification for hesitating – something I recognize. You know, one of those old not-comfortable patterns! So I think just blurting—and then cleaning up any mess well—may have to suffice!
Meanwhile I am treasuring the experience of checking in with myself in the moment. Putting into action the “be present” advice that I frequently invite others to follow.
I am also realizing that when I do step forward, don’t edit or hesitate, I am indeed presenting me to the world – including to a potential ‘special someone’ in my life.
For a very long time, as the year draws to a close, I choose a word that represents a direction or intention for the coming year. So my word for 2017 is: PRESENT
And this is both in the ‘being present’ sense, plus ‘present myself’ sense.
By the end of each year, the word I chose has new richness and meaning that I have gleaned through my experiences. I wonder what I will have learned by December 31 2017?
Happy New Year to you all!
With loving and best wishes,