Head & Heart

On the news, I heard the anchorman say that people live longer if they have ten or more friends. I'm assuming it had to do with more social interacting to lead healthier lifestyles. I wonder if they even mentioned a word about some of those ten friends being the toxic types of people we tend to avoid. "They" also used to say that if you can count your friends on one hand, then you were indeed, very lucky - and that it was better to have three good friends than a bunch of acquaintances or friends that were, umm, toxic. So, I guess they never really grasped on what kind of friends we should have, but I'm guessing overall, it's our socializing that makes us more complete - more opportunities - more networking.  And then we have social media where, wow, we have over 5,000 "friends". So, what does "friend" mean to the newscaster reporting this? And what does "friend" mean to you reading this right now? For me, if a friend can make me laugh, keep 'light' of things and stay within a certain hedge of boundaries, I'm in. I'm not putting stipulations and rules on a friendship, but when someone tries to complicate my life, rather than compliment it, I'm outa' there. Life's too short to deal with complicated drama-filled friends.

I know a zillion people. I'm friends with maybe seven or eight of them. Possibly nine, but not enough to assure the anchorman that my lifestyle is "healthy".  I also consider my family as my friends. My three sisters are my best friends. I also include my in-laws to be my friends. So does that make me acquire more than the necessary amount for the majority of healthy people? And of course, my little Chihuahua is my absolute best friend and psychotherapist. Do dogs count?  I also have seasonal friends - where I only see them when I travel. And that's fine because we have so much to catch up on and we always pick up where we left off. It's great. I have 'friends' in my line of work where we share ideas and brainstorm new ways to make our work better. There are so many varieties of friendships that I'm not quite sure if any of us have that BFF we had back when we were in high school. I know for myself, I don't let anyone get that close enough to become my "BFF", except for my wife of course.

Weeks before and a couple of weeks after my father's death, I distanced myself from everyone except for my family. I wanted to focus on them, help them, cook for them, do anything I can. It helped to ease the pain of the shock of Dad's absence. And now, one month later, I'm finding the delayed mourning period where I wake up at night because I heard Dad scream out, "Heyyyyyy!" I always grab Madelene's arm and she always asks me, "You heard him again, huh?" It always happens around 2:30 am, the same time he used to wake up to have his coffee. And of course, it may just be my subconscious and internal clock playing tricks on me - but at that very moment, it's very real. It's traumatizing actually. I'm not ready for that sort of thing. I need time to adjust first. So these nightmares (sorry Dad) - they're driving me nuts because after his "Heyyyyy" -- I'm up crying for another good hour. My anxiety attacks have worsened and my sleeping patterns are all screwed up. My lack of socializing lately stems from not being able to be 'good company' right now, especially for my mom. Last night my mother and sister asked me to have dinner with them. I happily agreed, but then felt a rush of sadness, and said, "No, maybe tomorrow. I'm not feeling well." I wanted to so badly, but emotionally I couldn't. I even canceled a party I was planning in September. I just don't feel ready to 'party', although I know it's something that may be healthy for me to do. But I can't.

I hope my friends don't think I'm pushing them away. I just don't have it in me right now to be good company. I'm tired and drained and my laughter has simmered down to just a smirk, but I'll be better soon, I think.... And odd as this sounds, I feel most alone when I'm surrounded by many people. And when I'm alone, I feel content and more grounded. Maybe I'll end up being some hermit on top of that big ol' hill up in the woods. Or maybe I'll crawl out on my own terms, which to me is perfectly fine to take time for myself to recover from this past year. Some may feel, "Well I'm going through the same thing too and I'm fine" -- but this is 'me' and being 'me' isn't the same as being you. People handle things differently. I know some of my friends and family are concerned that I'm not socializing as much or 'partying' as much as I should. To me, it would only shuffle me into a lost crowd full of people who really don't know me well enough to realize I 'want out'...just for now, and also, that I'll be back again, just in time to 'be me'; to be the social butterfly they once knew. So for now, I'm going to bow out gracefully, decline a few invites and take care of me for the time being, in hopes that I'm welcomed back when my head and heart are back together.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.