The Healing Freedom of Being with Friends

Last night Peter and I had dinner with two of our favorite friends.  It had been too long since we were together for a good visit, and there was plenty to catch up on: the usual how are your daughters?; how are ours?; how are your grandchildren; how are ours?, and the recent traumas of our individual lives. Trauma’s? Yes. Her younger brother died last month from a too-late-diagnosed aggressive cancer.  On the heals of that his 92-year-old beloved-by-all-who-knew-her mother died from an advanced cancer also. And then there was her recent back surgery to discuss, and my broken clavicle. Mark Epstein, MD, in The Trauma of Everyday Life (a book I just finished reading which had been given to me by another favorite friend) says “Trauma happens to everyone. The potential for it is part of the precariousness of human existence.  Some trauma’s – loss, death, accidents, disease, and abuse – are explicit; others – like the emotional deprivation of an unloved child – are more subtle, and some…seem to come from nowhere.”

I often feel a tremendous sense of gratitude when I look back on the most difficult periods of my life and recall the dear friends who helped me through. Dr. Epstein says “Trauma becomes sufferable, even illuminating, when there is a relational home to hold it in.” How true…especially when that home is filled with compassion and a shared history.  When I’m with dear friends I can feel my body relax as I’m embraced by the warmth of their deep respect and caring. There’s a reciprocity of attunement between us that activates the healing power of love.

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