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The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face us with the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares. -Henry Nouwen, Dutch-born priest and writer

Our feelings are very important. They count. They matter. The emotional part of us is special. – Melody Beattie, Author of Codependent No More – How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Learning to "friend" yourself pays great rewards

Learning to “friend” yourself pays great rewards

Maybe it’s the transition from summer to autumn, but lately nearly everyone I know is carrying a heavy sack of problems that keeps life from being fulfilling. I’ve always prided myself in being a good friend “in time of need,” a resourceful adviser, stalwart and supportive pal, a woman who listens without judging. My wonderful community of “amigas” are much cherished, and we support one another in many ways.

Why, then, do I find it hard to be a friend to myself?  Clearly, a barrier is that old grief that began with the initial wound of adoption. Nancy Verrier in her book by the same title calls it The Wounded Heart.  I’ve come a long way on the road to adoption recovery. No matter how hard I resist, however, when life becomes too challenging the thought seeps in: “My mother gave me away because I wasn’t good enough.” Children believe that they are the cause of everything around them, and adopted children often become their own worst enemies.

Adult adoptees need to guard against the old grief, the invisible wounds, the doubts that spring from having been adopted. It takes special effort to befriend oneself. Here’s a list of ways to nurture and appreciate that adopted self:

1. Be gentle. If you were advising your dearest, most cherished pal about a situation, what would you say or do? Treat yourself as kindly as you would that best friend.

2. Stop depending on external validation and approval. Such seeking is Ego-based and tends to break your heart. Comparing yourself with others is bound to end up badly. (Here, as throughout my post, I can relate only my own experience).

3. When troubles pour down, remember that, like rainstorms, they will pass. Think about this: If you fast-forwarded to a year ahead, many of today’s problems would not even be remembered. Those ills, would, of course, be replaced by new ones, which in turn would be replaced by others. To be alive is to have problems. As you face them, be a kind, loving friend – TO YOURSELF.

4. Spend time in nature and appreciate the beauty of every season. Whatever your favorite outdoor activity, try to do it five times a week. Biking, walking, running or hiking: They are good for not only cardiovascular health but also for ones emotional state.

5. Fine tune your sense of humor, especially the ability to laugh at your own foibles.

No one ever promised us that life would be easy, but it is made richer and more enjoyable with the help of friends. There just might be someone who is waiting to be your new best friend: YOU. Try including that new friend in your thoughts and actions. Practice befriending yourself this month and see what happens. You just might gain a new BFF!

Join me every week for reflections on adoption and life!

Join Elaine every Monday for reflections on adoption and life.