Fusing Friendships

One of the biggest challenges when I moved to Philly years ago was leaving what I was comfortable being around. I was used to my set of friends. I was used to my town. I knew how to get everywhere. Lancaster was small enough for me to navigate my life and it was fine. Fast forward to getting engaged to my husband and I knew that I would have to move. In the beginning I was excited to start this new life but I didn’t think about the challenges.  The biggest challenge was friends and wanting to have my own sense of community like I had in Lancaster. As much as people want to leave Lancaster, one of the biggest things about leaving that you can’t deny is community.

Friend Factor

Being that I was comfortable with my friends, I never thought about what would happen when I moved. I didn’t invite anyone to visit me in Philadelphia. I always just went back to Lancaster. Lancaster is home. It feels right. I can go back today and fit right in with zero issues. Friendships matter to me. Having a core set of friends even if they aren’t from Lancaster has always been my saving grace. When I was single and not attached I could take a trip and have girl time with any of them. My biggest hurdle was being pregnant with a toddler in a city I had NO friends in.  At first I focused on making sure my toddler was secure. I made that my number one priority. Then making sure the new baby I was carrying was safe and healthy.  Then I would go back and forth traveling either pregnant, or with a toddler and newborn baby.  When I think about it now there needed to be balance in that. No way should I have made that into one sided trips. Anyone who follows my blogs know the reason I kept going to Lancaster was my refusal to be in Philadelphia and attempt to make things happen.

Fusing Friends

The issue I have less now of but definitely more when I first moved was when my husband wanted me to fuse relationships with his friends. He never asked me to but he would tell me to be open to relationships. My response was so super negative and I wasn’t able to take his advice at face value. Even now some of his friends wives who I think are completely awesome I don’t see myself getting as close to. I never wanted to have my friends to only be an extension of him. Meaning I didn’t want to get in a situation where his friends or their significant others felt obligated to be nice to me out of respect for him. I don’t keep friends like that. I only and always ask for respect and I give it.  I do not expect people to extend themselves to me to save face.  So even know I have met a great level of friends through him but I refuse to force myself on any of them. It’s hard for me at times to push past anxiety.

When I do often times I find folks aren’t as receptive.  Let me give an example. I reached out to one via text. I still have yet to hear back. Like not for nothing I’m in a better place. Petty Toi would be super stank when I see her in the future but why?! Now when I see the same person (s), it’s always hey let’s get together. To my husband he thinks they are being nice. To what actually happens is after a few text messages, the real of let’s get together to be nice in public and the real of let’s get together in real life don’t match. I am the person that will take you at what your action says over what you say to save face.  This isn’t to say they are fake or they don’t like me. It’s the fact that this is the real of what happens when you come into someone else’s circle. It takes time to build a relationship or if you are honest, as a wife no one is obligated to be friends with me just because they are friends with him.  Having my husband be the only thing in common isn’t enough to fuse a relationship. This thought process takes growth.

So anyone who has ever dealt with social anxiety knows it takes a large level of bravery to put yourself out to others. The Toi that I was when I first moved here was a lot more cut throat than I am now. I have completely softened but not to the point of stupidity. Back in the day when I needed to feel apart I was more hurt and out of that hurt I would cut a person off. Now I don’t worry about vibes that don’t return to me. I get that I am coming into already long lasting relationships and for that I don’t get moved as much.  I don’t over extend myself to people. There is a fine line between hey girl, and feeling like after 4-5 attempts and not getting the message. We all have lives. I am married. I have 3 kids. I blog. I work a full and a part time job. I am not looking for someone to be an instant bestie.

Here are my tips when you struggle to make new friends in an established group:

  • Be yourself
  • Always be cordial
  • Attempt to make yourself a friend
  • Don’t get caught up when the friendly relationship is only when you see certain folks
  • Look to find your own friends by getting out in social events
  • Do not feel obligated to overextend yourself to others if they show you who they are-believe them
  • Don’t take things personal
  • Work on you this will bring others that are supposed to be around you
  • Remember you are awesome

Be gentle with yourself as you fuse into a new life, new city, etc

It’s hard to figure out the life balance. You don’t have to have all of the answers.

Know that you will get better as you practice self care, take risks, put yourself out to be a friend, etc

It’s not the number of friends you have but the ones who are super solid! They outweigh having large entourages any day.

Shout out to my friends new and old who are all around awesome!! You have made this transition in your own way, better.

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Ask Toi: Do you think people should go to counseling before having Children?

Yes and no. I think that if you have had things happen in your childhood that affects your ability to raise your children then yes. If once you have children you notice things that come up, by all means run don’t walk and go to counseling. If you feel like your childhood wasn’t an issue than no. Not everyone has bad childhoods. If you feel like you did or as an adult even before having children, you yourself know or can feel triggers. Also regardless of being a parent or not, you can see a counselor to help you get better at self-care. Everyone I believe can benefit if that is a choice they take from speaking to a licensed professional.  Having children will test you in ways that no one can prepare for. It takes a lot more than knowing how to keep a child alive, feeding, or housing them to be a parent. Each child is here on this Earth for a purpose but some people don’t realize that the child rearing years can push them further away from their purpose if you don’t keep a clear mind and watch how you treat them. What we say, how we talk, what consequences we give matters. They aren’t just dolls for us to take care of and show off. They are humans who need guidance and we as parents are responsible in how we do it.

What I know is that regardless of children or not, I for one felt triggered having my kids. Part of that was going through postpartum depression. I have said openly that I went to counseling and took medication to work through my own issues.  During that time of counseling things that I hadn’t talked about or dealt with came out. I worked through them and continue to work through them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that my childhood was awful.  It meant that I found as an adult things that I would rather deal with to be a better parent.  For me my ultimate goal is to be the best parent for my kids. All three of them have different needs. I didn’t have to feel after going to counseling that I had to treat them the same as far as giving them the same exact method in how they receive correction.   It’s my job to find out what works best for them to be their best. It’s not about me, my ego, what my parents said goes, what my husband’s mom said goes, it’s about them and being to them what they need, period.

I for one don’t like yelling. However as a parent I find that if I am not mindful I will do it. I don’t want my kids raised in a home with yelling so when I was in counseling its something that I worked on to eliminate it. I don’t even take my kids around folks that do a lot of arguing or fighting. Should I find that we are in that type of environment I will immediately remove my kids from it. I think yelling is unnecessary. As a parent I can speak to my kids and give them respect and expect it from them without yelling to get my point across. It doesn’t mean that my patience tank as I call it is always full. When I find that it’s not I apologize and work with my kids to be understanding. This I found out how to do in counseling. I had to let a friend of mine know who was keeping my kids why one of my kids responded the way they do to yelling. It’s not that I want to keep my kids in a bubble but I do feel an in control parent can watch how they speak and that’s just as important to the message.

I have talked to other parents who stated that things in their childhood didn’t come out until they had children. I would say be proactive in dealing with it. I know I am not perfect but if I am constantly checking myself and willing to tweak what I do where my kids are concerned, I know and pray they have a good outcome from that. Sometimes I also think, if my voice is their voice would I want my kids to yell unnecessarily to my grandkids in the future?  If I am putting them down, who is going to pull them up?  There are parents who belittle their kids and then when their kids do “great” things they take the credit? I don’t want that. I want them to shine because their support system behind them helps them shine! All adults need to have an outlet whether they are parents or not. If anything is on our heart and mind and talking to a licensed professional is a good thing for self-care.

Having kids will bring out things in your childhood if its left unchecked. That is a good and bad thing. To fuse two different upbringing from my husband and I and knowing that we can take from both and find what works for us with our own takes a lot of finesse. I would say if you are talking about having kids that you have some real conversations on how those kids will be raised. It’s not the time to wait until they arrive.  Counseling is another way of helping to deal with those difficult decisions for any part of your life not just parenting. Also be prepared for those around you specifically parents to say things like you weren’t raised that way. It is true.  A lot of the things that we do for our children don’t mirror my parents or his mom. However end of day you have to take into consideration resources available, times, and your kids personalities and they way they learn. I would rather support their way of learning and have them find ways to be that much better than to only do what I was taught to please any one of the sets of parents. Parenting for where my husband and I are right now is a lot of meshing. We mesh both sides and what we see and what we deal with when dealing with our kids.

If you are concerned with if counseling will work, I would say go to a few sessions and find out for yourself. I find that I feel better equipped for the time I went to counseling. I was given tools to work through me which in the end of the day will help in how I deal and heal with my kids. They are the best parts of me. I see myself in all 3 and I would hope the things that I didn’t master they master. I would hope that the things I wanted in my childhood I make sure they have and its beyond material things. I want them to feel secure in being them. I want them to be able to not hide who they are. I know they will not fit what I think they should be. I hope as they figure out who they are that they can count on me and my husband to love them through it. I pray constantly that I would choose my words carefully when interacting with them.

People give counseling a bad name. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you have issues with everyone, you’re weak, you are unstable and any other negative word choices people give it. The notion of keeping your business to yourself is the reason why people respond to life the way you do. You should be open to speak honestly about things without fear that if you do something is going to happen. Getting help is not a problem. You should be getting help and in that shows strength. If you are someone who needs a counselor regardless if you are a parent or not or if you are being triggered or not, go and get that help. I would rather someone be in counseling than to treat a child wrongfully indirectly because they were taught not to speak up.

Monday Motivation: Mario Kart Life

Today is a day like any day to make the best out of our situations. Let’s not front and act as if everyone woke up with their affairs in order. You might have gotten up this morning with stress on your heart and feeling overwhelmed. I sympathize with you. I want you to know that no matter what’s going on in your life, mind, or heart we have to press through. There may not be someone to come and save you but don’t have to let your situation overtake you.

I know you’re saying that it may be easy for me to say but it’s not. Most days lately have been pure crazy. If I could touch on the things you would be like wow. I know that life happens to all of us. I know that even with crazy life circumstances, what will pull me through is resetting myself daily. It’s going to take me being in charge of what I entertain in my mind and who I allow around me. Your thoughts matter. It’s the first line of defense in how you continue in your day. If all you speak is negativity and worry that’s all you look to see. Even in bad situations I’m like what’s the lesson and where is the good that can come out of this. I know I’ve been in worst situations and I know some how I’ve come out. That’s the reassurance that motivates me to wake up and intentionally push.

Some mornings especially in this holiday season I can feel grieve and sadness around me. So I do what I need to do for me to push out of it. Prayer is how I start, music and speaking to my children is also how I push through. Sometimes journaling. Whatever you need, grab it while your situations work themselves out. Take care of you while life happens. The worst thing you can do is fall apart and while life is happening to you. The stress of life is going to be there. Losing your mind or losing yourself is not worth it.

man climbing on gray concrete peak at daytime

Photo by Rodrigo on Pexels.com

Take Monday by the horns and have a great day on purpose. You ever play Mario Kart?  In the game all kinds of objects are being thrown. The objective is to dodge the objectives and keep going. Sometimes life is like that. I think about that when I am driving in Philly and trying to avoid the potholes. Life is like that sometimes. You have everything being thrown to you at one time only to find that some you miss and others you don’t. The objective is to keep going and win. It didn’t say it would be easy. It didn’t say it would work out, life is about not quitting. Usually regardless of skill set, resources, and help the person who wins in life is the one who doesn’t give up. They are the ones that push through.  How about you?

Ask Toi: How Do You Deal with Being Uncomfortable Bumping Into Someone you Dated?

This encounter no matter how brief is always uncomfortable. I think its always in good gesture to if you can’t avoid seeing them to be gracious. If you don’t want to get into any heavy conversation to control the conversation and exit as soon as possible.

Also keep in mind the level of relationship. Dating someone may not necessarily mean that you were in a committed relationship. If that is the case, you may not have built up a strong enough relationship and that in itself can take the sting of the encounter down a bit. If this is someone you were in a committed relationship and they are an ex, it could get sticky. No matter who is at fault for ending things, you should remain calm, smile and again control the conversation. It’s perfectly fine to not have “time” to talk. This casual encounter should never to air out greivances unless both parties want to. It should be casual. If you see an ex or even someone you dated that caused you grief and you can’t be mature about it due to an issue that took place during your encounter together, its best to let them know that you would prefer that you keep it on a hi or a bye and then keep it moving.

Always know you are in control. Seeing someone that you haven’t seen may bring a plethora of feelings back but you are in control in how those feelings are managed. I have a few ex boyfriends and every time I control the tempo of the conversation and know that I am in control. I always remember that so when I don’t want to hear the mess that I left in the first place, I just roll. Now its easier since my kids are with me all the time. I have run into a few inside of a grocery store, and my kids are an automatic get out of a conversation card with just about anyone to be honest. With kids or no kids, you don’t owe anyone more time than your willing to give. Also know the encounter is going to linger inside of your head especially if very little conversation is had. I always hit the ex boyfriends with the basic, hey how are? How is your family? Let them ask me and then say it was nice to see you and roll. That’s really all it takes. Anything else and that means you wanted the conversation to linger. Turn the uncomfortable into a workable situation for you.

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Also they may attempt to not see you in that case, you won. If they see you and decide to not have a conversation which is possible too, keep moving. Do not I repeat make the situation more uncomfortable. This goes for folks in a fresh breakup-give that person the space they and you need! Get out!

Ask Toi: Follow up To the Wife who’s Husband’s Mother paid him to leave her

So this was a suggestion from a reader to find out what happened to the couple whose mother paid the husband to leave his wife and he took the money:

If you didn’t get a chance to read the original article, get it here

The update is that they are happily divorced. They hadn’t been married that long and the mother in law was an issue throughout the relationship. The wife once she knew that he had taken the money, stayed about 6 months so she could save money to move out. She moved out and filed for divorced the same day. She is currently not dating but in school and focusing on what she wants to do. She stated that leaving was the  hardest yet best decision she could have made. She knew that her mother in law was messy but not that messy. She said that the part that hurt the most was that he took the money stating he was going to use the money for them to buy a house together.

I asked her about any red flags and she stated the following:

The mother in law definitely had a vote in what the couple did. The husband would talk to the mother in law every time an argument or disagreement was had. She also noticed that the son had been giving the mother in law large amounts of money and would be late paying bills. The mother in law was always told and then the money was borrowed back. She also noticed that the mother in law spent all of her time at the couple’s home. She would insist she needed to see her son daily. Anytime she would assert herself in her own home, the mother in law would tell the son that she was being disrespectful towards her.

I think this was by far the worst of a mother in law story I have heard to date. I have never personally experienced anything so horrible. I will say that a marriage needs to be about the husband and wife and not letting everyone in.  No one has more of a vote than the two individuals that made the covenant. Being balanced is knowing when to vent and when to learn to heal and deal with your spouse. I have always said be careful of the information that you give to others about your relationship. You will get over things quicker than the outsider. Mother in-laws should always be respected and so should wives. There should be attempts to resolve issues where both can be honored. However if a mother is disrespecting your wife you should speak up.

I am so sorry that you had to go through that but when people show you who you are its wise to believe them. I wish you much success in school and that you continue to develop into the woman you are meant to be.  It sounds like you really weren’t going to win in this situation. If divorce was for you and you’re happy I wish you much more happiness in all that you do. There is someone who is going to be on the same page of life and relationship when you get to that point of wanting to get back out and date. In the mean time, study hard and enjoy!

Ask Toi: What do you do if you reach out to a friend and they constantly ghost you?

Stop reaching out to them. They could have things going on or they could just not be in the space to talk at all or specifically to you. There is no way of knowing. However its okay to reach out a few times to someone. After the ghosting continues, just go on. I know it sounds super harsh that I wouldn’t encourage you to chase people but in 2018, give people space to process their lives. The ghosting may not be about you but there is no reason to chase an adult around for any reason. You can always pick up with a person if they had stuff going on that prevented them from being a good friend. When you see that adult being super cool with another person in the midst of ghosting you, than just leave it be. Who is supposed to be in your life will be. I also belief in provision. If you need a friend and you continue to be a good friend, God, the universe etc. will send you what you need to replace. This is why I always believe you never really lose friends.  So acknowledge how frustrated you are and then release that person and the relationship.  Also do not feel obligated if you see that person in person to do more than a hi and bye. You don’t have to do acrobats to get that person’s attention. People are allowed to process life, go on in life, befriend who they need to. You also have every right to continue on in your life and be at peace. Part of peace is about preserving your spirit.

Monday Motivation: Keeping Space

So here we are on another Monday. Tired from the weekend and dreading another manic Monday. However instead of playing the I don’t want to go out and adult game, change your perspective. Start today or even reset your day with how you think about the tasks at hand.

You can’t get to glorious Friday unless you go through the week. All of the challenges will be overwhelming at points but in the end you will make it through. Start your Monday in the right head space. I have had the toughest few weeks I’ve seen in a long while. However my attitude has been hands down the deciding factor on pushing through or feeling pushed over. I am in control of my responses and my reactions. So if you’re struggling this Monday morning, no worries don’t let that mindset stay with you all day or all week.

I was listening to a podcast and it talked about how moments don’t gave to run our lives. We live in moments too long that we could have dealt with and moved on. Bad traffic in the morning shouting be still on your mind by lunch time. Your kids messing up with the morning commute shouldn’t be on your mind at dinner time. So change your moments and make them the best that you can!! Change your mindset and change your day!!