🌟 It’s Share-My-Story Monday! 🌟 Because of GOTG I have heard countless stories from women demonstrating their strength and resilience. I felt strongly that others needed to hear these stories as well. We need to connect with each other through our humanity. I hope you read the stories and see the connection you have with other women. See your shared humanity. See your similarities. See the courage. See the strength. See yourself in each story.
I have always enjoyed the outdoors, nature and connecting with it. There is just something about it that refreshes and clears my mind. I honestly am happy anytime I can hike, bike, run or just be outside in general. I love waking up every morning to the sun coming up over the beautiful Wasatch mountains. I spent time sharing this with my kids and somewhere along the way I forgot about how much I enjoyed nature. I don’t really know what happened looking back, I guess just getting busy with life and kids and all their activities and being married to someone who didn’t love nature like I did. I lost myself.
One day I walked past the mirror in my bathroom and didn’t even recognize the person I had become. I was the heaviest I had ever been, in an unfulfilling marriage and my kids were well on their way to adulthood. How did this happen? Who am I? I began to do A LOT of soul searching which lead my right back to nature and all the things I had once loved. I started to spend more time outdoors, incorporating friends who also love the outdoors.
I don’t really know how I found Get Out There Girl, I think it was on Facebook. I’m not sure if was an advertisement or someone else’s post but it was for a retreat in Zion. Perfect!! One my most favorite places!! I signed up with no expectations and by myself and thought no matter what happens I will be able to enjoy some of my favorite places. It was incredible!! I met some amazing people and had so much fun making new friends and connections. I loved that they accepted me, and I didn’t have to be anything more than me. I also went on the snowmobile retreat in January. I’m still learning to be vulnerable and open. On the way to the retreat in January I was driving with some amazing ladies who I didn’t know before this retreat. I felt compelled to share with them, not sure why. They listened to me and gave me valuable feedback, they allowed me to be vulnerable and showed me so much compassion and love. I can’t say enough about Brittany and these retreats! I absolutely love going, I love and value the friendships that I’ve made. Get Out There Girl is much more than some fruffy retreats, it’s a sisterhood I’m happy to be a part of.
Six and half years ago I moved from Virginia to Utah. It was winter and I was 8 months pregnant with baby #3. I had my baby and fell into postpartum depression. I felt alone. I didn’t have a support system or any friends. After struggling for several months my husband urged me to go see a counselor. I started seeing a woman named Joan Landes and she was absolutely wonderful. She validated me, listened to me, and gave me the necessary tools to fight my depression. One of the things I remember the most was her advice about making new friends. Real, genuine friends.
She advised me to try, what I termed, a friend test. She recommended I share something small and vulnerable about myself and see how my new friend responds. Does she move on and talk about herself? Does she change the subject? Or, does she listen and respond to my vulnerability with her own?
I am aware there are no perfect friends and even great friends may respond poorly sometimes. However, this test is a great indicator of whether or not you have a friend that you can be real, raw and open with.
Here is an example.
I am at Beth’s house for an arranged playdate. Our kids are playing outside and the opportunity to share something small and vulnerable comes up during our conversation. I mention the fact that when I moved to a new state, I did not have a support system after having a baby and I felt very alone. That’s it, I don’t go into details about my depression or how it wreaked havoc on my life. I keep it simple, short and just vulnerable enough to open the door.
Possible reaction #1:
Beth’s body language tenses up a little bit. She mentions how messy her kids are and picks up a few toys before changing the subject. I opened the vulnerability door and she didn’t walk in. I don’t give up on her as a friend, I just know that she might not be the friend that I can really open up with. She might be the friend I take shopping or workout with and she might be the friend who makes me laugh the hardest. The point is, she could become a great friend. However, if every time I try to share something vulnerable with her she closes off and changes the subject, that is my que. It obviously makes her uncomfortable and I won’t continue going there with her. Not only to protect myself, but also out of respect for her.
Possible reaction #2:
On the flip side, if Beth responds to my small and vulnerable info with a listening ear and follow up questions, then I know it doesn’t make her uncomfortable. The chances are high that she will open up and share her story with me as well. I’ve found a friend I don’t need to hide the real me from. I can be real, open and vulnerable. I opened the door and she walked in.
Try the friend test. Share something small and vulnerable with a friend and pay attention to how they respond.
I also encourage you to examine yourself and see what type of friend you are. How do you respond to a friend when they are vulnerable with you? Does it make you uncomfortable? Do you change the subject or do you listen intently and see the opportunity to connect in a deeper way? Are you a friend that someone can be open and vulnerable with?
I personally don’t stop being friends with someone if they fail the vulnerability test. I just know that they are not the person I’m going to call when I’m struggling and need a listening ear. It’s that simple. I try really hard to be the friend that people can call and open up to. When someone needs a shoulder to cry on, an ear to rant to, or a friend to validate them, I hope they call me or knock on my door. I hope they know I’m here for them because I’ve shown up in the past when they issued their own friend test.