I am an active 70+ year old, who through financial circumstances, must keep working. As you can imagine, my salary now is not what it was when I worked for Corporate America, and what I do now is very physically challenging. The problem is with my friends, some of whom are now former friends. For the past six years, I have repeatedly told them that I cannot take out of the country vacations, or any other sort of vacation for that matter, I cannot go out to eat very often, I do not have money for fancy holistic remedies, plastic surgery and facial fillers. I am desperately trying to pay rent, keep my car on the road, and am just skating on thin ice financially. They don't seem to get it. These well-off retirees constantly ask me to spend money I don't have in order to socialize with them, which I can no longer do. Do I just avoid them totally? Is there any better way I can get my point across?
Thin Ice Skater
Dear Thin Ice Skater,
Author John O'Donohue, from the book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, wrote “One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.” We can sometimes share with friends that we are going through this or that circumstance yet some do not hear the “hidden silences” and the “depth” of what you are experiencing. It seems that you have shared your circumstances yet some friends still have not heard you--still do not understand the depth of your circumstance. You asked if you should avoid them totally.
Well, not knowing your exact relationship with each of your friendships, it is safe to say that you can establish boundaries with friends. However, before any decision is made about avoiding friendships, let’s first ask--are there any friends that you do feel connected to—that you feel understand even what is not being said? Identify who those friends are. Think about what you are able to do given your financial circumstance and time available and invite those friends to join you in the things you are able to do. Could you invite them to go on a picnic, walk in the park, have dinner at home, watch a movie? Tell them what you need, what you desire. Teach them what feels supportive to you. Perhaps they are inviting you because they want to include you, not knowing, even though you’ve shared with them, that it’s creating a wedge. We hope that you feel heard and supported—and that you can find some solid ground with a few friends vs. skating on thin ice with many.
I’m in love. I have met and amazing woman and can’t get her out of my mind. We’ve been dating for 9 months and my feeling for her just grow and grow. She says the feelings are mutual and I feel that to be true. We are both mature, have gone through life experiences, marriages, grown children, our own fair share of personal growth… so, my question is how do I know this is real? How do I know that I’m just not in lust? I’ve never had this feeling before—this head-over-heels feeling coupled with life experience and understanding about real challenges relationships. Although I feel fairly confident that she is The One, I am also slightly cautious.
In Love and Wondering
Dear In Love,
What a glorious feeling—to be in love!! We are so happy for you yet, also, understand the caution you have. It sounds like through life experience you are not naïve when it comes to the fact that relationship challenges are real and no amount of being in love can prevent that. Being in love is real. In the book “Sacred Relationships” by Anaiya Sophia and Padma Aon Prakasha, the authors describe a relationship as a container where “two come together to share combined energies for a common set of purposes.”
Will you both be able to co-create a life together that can nurture that love and share a common set of purposes? Have you both spoken about the future and how it will be to merge your lives? We encourage you to have deep dialogue about the details—and not with your eyes wide shut. If you find those discussions taking the two of you to the next level, we suggest you consider the many options available for pre-marital and/or couples counseling support that can provide you with more clarity about whether this relationship can be sustainable and how to make it last in the long term. Wishing you the love and happiness you deserve, In Love!
Pegge Riley, LPC and Angela Wacht, LPC are Counselors and Directors of Sage Center: Counseling, Consulting, and Creative Community Wellness. They are here to provide suggestions and guidance about everyday life. To submit a question or concern to Sage Advice go to www.SageCenterAtlanta.com and click on the Sage Advice tab. The advice in this column is general and is not intended as actual counseling for specific issues or concerns. If you need to address more specific issues requiring more intensive focus, please contact Sage Center at 404-419-6221 or visit our website at www.SageCenterAtlanta.com