3rd Miracle: Solutions
When friendship doesn't work
Things sure had gotten quiet around here since Peter and Nora Johnson moved away. “Flowing downstream with the depression, it’s easier that way,” Pete had remarked when Truman caught him in the act of putting up a “For Sale by Owner” sign.
Come to think of it, hadn’t the loneliness started long before then? Wouldn’t one have to conclude that his current state of solitude was an outer manifestation, because years ago he had chosen to live this way? So far away from it all. Why had he done this, if not based upon a semi-conscious wish to isolate himself? Many people suffocated slowly from suburban drudgery; it wasn’t uncommon to dream about a comfortable life in the sub-divisions, only to be disappointed. But Truman had gone a long step further by settling down on the edges of an insignificant village.
A self-proclaimed lover of nature and aesthetics, he believed that these qualities had been decisive for his choice. Although the friends he had left behind took note of his values, they found his arguments unconvincing, because they associated such a young person - he had been 34 at the time - with something outgoing and ambitious.
The truth? He was rather shy. His shyness felt like a heavy coat he could only take off while working. Then he was outgoing and attentive, playing a role which made him feel sure of himself. But when the day’s work was done, he became himself once again and instinctively turned inward.
“Self-pity can actually be a good thing, because it mobilizes your inner powers and resources,” the therapist said. “But you’ve got to carry on. Don’t let it stick, do not dwell upon the past.”
Truman nodded because he had read something similar in the discussion forums, but no one had yet given an answer to his next question.
“Move on, but to what? The fact is I have no friends. Larger-than-life Peter Johnson was all I ever needed, and now he’s gone. So what should I do?”
“Take a break with the friendship thing,” the psychiatrist suggested. “You’ve better find someone who cares for you more deeply, a girlfriend, then she can help you build a larger circle of friends.”
“I've had enough of friendship for the time being. I mean, Peter and Nora just packed up and left, I haven’t heard from them since. No one is to be trusted, not when push comes to shove.”
“Maybe you expected too much,” the psychiatrist said. “Nice people sometimes let others down when they are struggling, and times are tough right now. Besides, what do you think friendship is for? It’s not the same as love, friendships between grown-ups are more situation-specific. Why sit around your house and be lonely when you could be having fun with your new girlfriend?”
Truman shrugged. “I suppose. I’d just expected something more from Peter after all these years, something deeper.”
“Try love,” the psychiatrist went on. “Friendship and love are like food and water. You can go without food and friends for quite awhile, but you cannot live very long without water and love. The friendships can wait, they’ll come down the road, first go out and find your true love.”
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