I was recently talking with a group of long-time friends. We are all going through something: grief, joy, anxiety… all in the many experiences and emotions that come from being a parent and a child, and just a human being living life.
We were reminiscing about our time with very little littles, before we knew each other, and how hard and lonely it was. My husband and I moved to Holland on July 4, 2001, the day I found out I was pregnant with our first child. He was starting a new job, but I was still looking. We knew no one except the few people he met through work. It was an exciting, but also isolating, time.
When Callum was born the following March, I knew some really awesome work colleagues, but most were single and didn’t have a newborn. Six weeks later, Cal was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, and needed to wear a corrective harness for several months. I felt out of my depth, scared, and alone.
At this recent get-together, one of us had just lost a father. Two were celebrating (and grieving) the graduation of their youngest children. One friend’s child has significant health issues requiring invasive testing and upcoming surgeries. And another is navigating an autoimmune diagnosis.
But now, even though we still have life to navigate, at least we have each other too. It reminded me of a blog I wrote last fall about the importance of friends in talking out the stressors and traumas of our life. Since then, I’ve read What Happened to You? by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey and picked up this nugget:
the therapeutic web of loving, sensitive people in your life offers you therapeutic dosing to talk about a trauma that’s bothering you for a brief time before backing off and laughing about something else. Thousands of these doses over time help to heal trauma. You’ve released it and gotten heard and reassured. This positive human interaction is nurturing, rewarding, regulating, and bonding and reinforces the idea that “hey, I’m not crazy, I’m feeling this way because of something that happened to me and I’m having a reasonable reaction.” You are validated, and in seeing you, they regulate you.
As my conversation with friends meandered, we ended up talking about our upcoming book club selection, Awe by Dacher Keltner. After reading the book description, we agreed that this was going to be the Summer of Awe.
Up until fifteen years ago, there was no science of awe, the feeling we experience when we encounter vast mysteries that transcend our understanding of the world… Revolutionary thinking, though, has brought into focus how, through the span of evolution, we’ve met our most basic needs socially. We’ve survived thanks to our capacities to cooperate, form communities, and create culture that strengthens our sense of shared identity—actions that are sparked and spurred by awe…. Keltner shows us how cultivating awe in our everyday life leads us to appreciate what is most humane in our human nature.
I look forward to reading the book, even if it doesn’t measure up to the hype. it has at least helped us realize the awe we feel in having each other and has brought our group a new means of community in seeking our own everyday moments of awe to share with each other.
Go out and find yours too!