Making new friends is hard as an adult! We’ve been hurt. We’ve changed and outgrown old ways. So how do we find new friends? And how do we learn to trust after trust has been broken?
Today, I’m joined by 2 of my new friends, Aundi Kolber and Dr. Monique Gadson, as we discuss how to overcome past hurts and brave the work of finding new friends. This episode is packed with practical tips, and I was so touched by the raw emotion that surfaced at the end as we each reflect on our own experiences.
Here’s what we cover:
1. Friendship red flags
2. Green flags that indicate safety
3. The impact of trauma on friendships
4. Breaking free from people pleasing
5. How to “break up” with a potential friend
6. Is friendship about quality or quantity?
Do you have questions about friendship for Dr. Alison? Leave them here.
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Sound editing by Kelly Kramarik
While Dr. Cook is a counselor, the content of this podcast and any of the products provided by Dr. Cook are not specific counseling advice nor are they a substitute for individual counseling. The content and products provided on this podcast are for informational purposes only.
Try Softer by Aundi Kolber
Strong Like Water by Aundi Kolber
Finding Hope in a Dark Place by Clarence Schuler and Dr. Monique Gadson
Related Podcast Episodes:
Episode 14: The Fawn Response and the Hidden Root of People Pleasing
Episode 33 with Dr. Monique Gadson
Episode 58: How to Find Friends Who Bring out the Best of You, Why it Matters, and How a Good Friend Can Transform Your Life
Episode 59: Finding Your People, Overcoming Past Hurt, & Deepening Friendships Through Intentional Community
The Best of You Podcast:
With Dr. Alison Cook with Guests Aundi Kolber and Dr. Monique Gadson
Episode 60: Friends on Friendships
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Hey, everyone. I'm Dr. Alison, and I'm so glad you're here to discover what brings out the best of you. This podcast is all about breaking free from painful patterns, mending the past, and discovering our true selves in God. I can't wait to get started, as we learn together how to become the best version of who we are with God's help.
Hey, everyone, and welcome back to this week's episode of The Best of You podcast, where we are in a series on friendship. We're talking with friends about friendship, and this week's episode is really special to me. I've invited two new friends, that I've made within the last couple of years onto the episode to talk about what it's like to make a new friend later in life, as an adult. And there are a couple of things that are hard about making new friends as an adult.
Number one, it can be challenging because if you've had a lot of old friends. If you've enjoyed longevity in your friendships. Let's say you move to a new location, and you're starting over, and it can feel hard at first. Like "I've left friends behind who knew me so well. How am I going to establish that level of depth, that level of intimacy with a new friend?" And that can feel overwhelming to people. I hear that from people all the time.
And, then, secondly, another thing that's hard is many of us have been hurt in friendships, frankly. By the time you've lived a few decades on this planet, you've experienced hurt, no doubt by a friend. And, so, it can be hard to learn how to trust again, as an adult. When we've all had a few wounds from prior friendships.
So, today, I asked two of my new friends on. So that we could talk about these two things. How do we go deep with new friends? How do we establish new rhythms with them?
And how do we determine trustworthiness in someone? When we're a little bit older, we're, maybe, a little bit wiser. We're maybe not quite as ready to trust as quickly. So how do we establish trustworthiness? How do we discern it in a new friend?
I'm super excited for this episode with my friends Aundi Kolber and Monique Gadson. You know both of them. They've both been on the podcast before. Aundi Kolber is a therapist and the author of two books, Try Softer and Strong Like Water. She's a trauma-informed therapist, and writes from the lens of helping people who've experienced trauma to discover deep healing.
And the other friend of mine is Dr. Monique Gadson. She is also a therapist who has worked primarily in church settings, throughout her career. She's the co-author of a book, Finding Hope in a Dark Place with Clarence Shuler, and she's a professor at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. I'm so excited for you to join me for this conversation with my friends Aundi and Monique.[00:04:22] < Music >
Hi, friends. It is good to see your faces. I feel like I have to take that in for a second because I talk to you, both, but I don't see your faces that often. So I'm so excited to have you both here today. I asked both of you because I've known each of you just a few years. You really qualify as these sort of new friends and that's really what we're talking about.
You're both therapists. I love that you both have that background, all three of us do. You're both people who I have found a way to overcome those obstacles to making a new friend. Monique, you were conducting a prayer, a live prayer, via your IG Stories when you first caught my attention.
A couple of years ago, I think it was a year and a half ago, but I stopped to pray with you a few nights online. I was feeling a little jaded doing my scrolling, and there you were just so sincerely praying, and that meant a lot to me. And then through that, we connected offline, I just sensed a real Holy Spirit connection with you. You are so real, and you've just shared with me just so sincerely.
We come from really different contexts. You're a Black woman from the Deep South, from Atlanta. I grew up in a very White context in rural Wyoming. We come from very different backgrounds. And, yet, there was something, it meant so much to me that you sensed safety in me. That you invested trust in me. I know that takes a lot to do, and I've so appreciated getting to know you. Learning so much from you, and just so grateful for you and the ways we've gotten to know each other.
Aundi, you caught my eye online. Again, you're two friends I made online, which is not the moral of this story. That we go on social media to make new friends. But in my case, I'm so grateful for both of you that that's how this happened. You and I were, both, you had just published Try Softer. I had published Boundaries for Your Soul, we were both new to this. We're therapists, now, all of a sudden, we're authors. We have a growing platform.
We began to connect offline and just developed an incredible rhythm and depth, very quickly, to our friendship that has lasted now a couple of years. So that's why I invited you both on. I'm so grateful that you're here to have this conversation with me. I would love to hear from both of you, just your perspective on what I've shared, on making new friends. How that's been hard for you as an adult? What potentially you've had to overcome in order to do that in your lives.
Monique: Oh, yes, it's been a little bit disorienting and in some ways liberating. I do believe being an adult and being an older adult, now, wisdom has taught a lot. And aging process, if you will, teaches us how to recognize and cut around some things a little bit quicker, process, if you will. And I think that that's what's been liberating, for me, that I have not had to go through the, "Oh, I've done all of this." And get to the end of the rainbow, and it's not the healthiness or whatever the case may be.
But it is disorienting in that, as you say, we're all therapists, and we all have done therapy as well, our own personal therapy. And through that process of becoming more self-aware and growing, it is disorienting when you do learn that maybe a lot of those attachments you made were made from those more unhealthy places.
So it is a little bit disorienting to think, "Oh, wow, maybe this is why this has drifted apart." Or "This is why now that I have shifted and things seem awkward, maybe that's why." So it's a little bit of disorientation that has taken place in terms of just thinking like, "Wow, it's not as it used to be." But there is this liberation that I feel that I don't, necessarily, have to go through some of the bumps and the bruises to land on a more healthy relationship.
Alison: I love that, both, disorienting and liberating. I want to hear about how you learn to discern more quickly those potential pitfalls, those red flags. So let's circle back to that. Aundi, how about you? What's it been like for you to establish newer friendships as an adult?
Aundi: Yes, well, first I just want to say it's fun to hear how you two connected, a little bit more. Just because I think I had known you, Dr. Monique, in a different context. But I love hearing how that developed also between two women that I really respect and I love to hear that because we don't always hear those stories. So I just wanted to say that.
But, yes, it has been quite an adventure to make friends as an adult. I mean, part of my story is that I am a trauma survivor, and I would say I'm a survivor of complex PTSD. And that has impacted so many parts of my life and that includes friendships. And I would say, probably, similar to you, Dr. Monique, like seeing some of the choices I made, the connections that I made, when I was young. I can see some of the dynamics of how my trauma impacted those connections.
And, for me, particularly, it's really interesting as I've done a lot more of my own attachment work. I've noticed that my dad, my relationship with him, there was a lot of fear. There was a lot of panic. There was a lot of fawning. And what I have noticed is that I would say, oftentimes, my friendships were rooted more in not so much like, overtly, feeling afraid. But really having to live from a place where it's like, "If I can just keep them happy." And that was very much rooted in that trauma history.
Like, "I just need to keep you happy." But the cost of that was that it was really hard for it to connect to deep places in my own self. And I would say that because of that, a lot of those friendships, what I ended up finding, not all, and I certainly will say that, not all.
But there were some experiences that I had where I was, unfortunately, put in some really vulnerable situations because of that dynamic in myself, and it's taken years. It's taken years and lots of self-compassion and lots of repair to be able to turn towards those dynamics, in myself, and to, lovingly, reparent the dynamics.
So that the friendships that I'm picking, I'm able to, I would say, similarly, again, to you, Dr. Monique, notice more quickly, oh, that's a no go for me. God bless you, but we're not going to probably go much deeper here and I'm going to just put my energy somewhere else. And, then, alternately, those places that there is nourishment, there is goodness, I feel a lot more capacity to follow through on that. And to believe myself, believe my own body, when my body is like, "Yes, that person is a yes." And it's been quite the journey.
Alison: I just want to say I love what you're saying. I've had conversations with both of you offline and on the podcast about this fawn response. And I still, to this day, have to do so much work, inside of myself, to discern, "Am I doing this out of a fear response, because I cannot disappoint anybody? I cannot make somebody mad? Or am I doing this because I, genuinely, want to invest in this friendship or in this person?" That still takes me a lot of work, internally.
And, so, I just want to name that. These are hard responses to shift out of. They're so conditioned in us, I think, especially, as women. I want to ask you, both, because you've touched on this. How do you discern? What are some of those concrete, I hate to use the word red flags because it's so cliché. But how do you begin to discern? You're beginning to walk into a friendship, and you begin to go, "Oh, this isn't feeling quite right. It just means I'm not going to invest my energy here."
What are some of the things that you notice that give you those cues to proceed with caution or to take a U-turn out of the situation? And, also, how might you help a client? This is both from your own personal experience and how might you help clients begin to see those red flags?
Monique: I think I'll speak from because I am sitting with someone, currently. Well, we're, probably, sitting with many someones, currently. But I am thinking of one specific client where we're having to do that work now. To be able to say, "Do you recognize how you are replicating that dynamic in this relationship?"
And, again, like you say, it's so subtle and it's so easy to deceive ourselves. But with this particular person, I'm having to point to "What are you hoping is going to be the outcome here?" And, especially, because it is a relationship that she's trying to hold on to with that dynamic, and has already begun to recognize that there are some very toxic places in that relationship.
So it is one of those, "What are you hoping? What is the outcome here?" That's where I'm trying to get her focused. And, for myself, I've had to go there, too, to ask myself those hard questions. "Is this a person that you're hoping will validate you?"
"Is this a person that you do feel some sense or some need to say, 'Hey, I'm good, and will you like me?'" And you and I have talked, a lot, about the people-pleasing being, the PK growing up. So that is still very much a thing that I have to recognize and I have to really battle. And, to Aundi's point, a minute or two ago, it's exhausting when you have recognized that you have put your emotional energies in places where it's not been reciprocated. And when you get there, you're thinking, "Oh, my God, I'm exhausted and I'm lonely.
So, for me, having to ask those questions, first and foremost, and, also, being quite aware that if this is not going to be, mutually, beneficial in terms of us kind of iron sharpening iron or being nourishing and emotionally healthy. I think, for me, that's one of the clues that I'm saying, maybe, I need to start backpedaling out of this and looking at it from a broader perspective to determine, "Okay, yes, I can go in."
Or "Maybe, I need to deviate to another path."
Alison: As a therapist, do you feel like, at times, what can happen is you can walk into a friendship where someone wants everything you have to give but doesn't reciprocate it?
Monique: Oh, absolutely.
Alison: So that's the red flag, is when you realize, "I'm giving a lot here and not a lot is coming back." When it's my turn to say, "Wow, I had a hard day." There's not much coming back, "I'm wanted if I'm there for them." That makes a lot of sense. I hear that one a lot, as well. And that can take a lot inside to recognize, "Oh, no, I'm worth more than that. I'm worth this two-way investment of relationships." How about you, Aundi?
Aundi: Yes, well, I think you make some really great points, Dr. Monique, and I agree. I think that outcome piece is so good. Stepping back and seeing, like, "Okay, where will this go?"
"What will this produce?" I think that's so helpful. Oftentimes, and I would say this, both, clinically, but also personally, things like the automatic responses to the person, I think, can tell a lot of information. So this feeling like, "Oh, if I don't do X, I predict this response from this person."
And, now, certainly, there's some room there for caveats. Sometimes that's part of our own stories, too. Sometimes we're picking up cues that remind us of something, but it's not, necessarily, fully based in the present, so there's a lot of nuance. But, also, our bodies are very wise.
And, so, one I think about is, oftentimes, those reactions to the feeling of why are you doing what you're doing? And it speaks a little bit, Alison, to that fawn response, too. I'm being generous to this person, but I'm doing it because I know that if I don't, I feel like I might be punished. Is a great example of the behavior itself is not bad, being generous is a good thing.
But if we feel like we have to be generous because the consequence will be that we'll be punished. There's an issue there and that speaks to the actual friendship,
and if it's a healthy friendship itself. Or this person is in crisis, maybe, this person is in crisis a lot, and you can have compassion for that. But it's that feeling like, "I am the only one who can help them and I've been put in the situation to be the only one that can help them. All other offers or boundaries or anything else is rejected, and it's putting me in a situation where it's really hurting my mental health, it's hurting my well-being."
I think that sense of needing to be the caregiver, or for a client, they are being put in a position of being a caregiver. And a couple of others I think of is like situations where a friend is always wanting to fix it. You articulate just how you're doing and the person runs in and cuts you off at the pass, and it's like "Here's your three answers." Those experiences of, no, I just want to be a person. I just want to name how I'm doing. But all of these things remind me, ultimately, also how I feel when I'm with someone, and to me that's almost like the bigger thing.
Do I feel like I can exhale?
Does my body feel settled?
Am I always clenching? Things like that sometimes get me to those other pieces a little bit sooner, if I can pay attention.[00:19:15] < Music >
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[00:00:00] < Music >
Alison: It's so interesting, and it can be subtle, the health or the safety can actually be subtle, and I say this to people a lot. Sometimes the sizzle is very deceptive. I don't want to say someone with a lot of charisma can't end up being a great friend. However, what I've noticed is that sizzle, that allure, isn't always the ingredient of a healthy friendship.
Just the other night, my husband and I noticed we were with another couple, and when we left, we were like, it was just what you said, Aundi, we both thought, "Gosh, that was so weird." I just felt like I could totally be myself, and it was so subtle. It wasn't like we'd had the world's best conversation. It was more just we left going, "Wow, that was just easy. It was relaxing." There's something there that I've learned to name and go, "Oh, that's interesting."
Because you don't always feel that way with people. And when you've spent a lifetime being in that state, that activated state of, "Let me please you, let me show up." It takes a minute to detox from that and go, "Gosh, health actually just feels light."
The other thing I want to add, I've noticed, I've thought about this, is another paradoxical counterintuitive green flag, green light, is that if I feel the freedom to get frustrated. Or to feel like, "Oh, that's annoying, I've got to think about how to approach that with someone." Oddly enough, there's, typically, some safety there. If it's not safe to feel because that's normal in human relationships, in friendships. I've noticed, the less I feel safe to name something as, "Oh, that's a little annoying."
Or "I don't know if I like that." That fawn part of me has reared up and says, "It is not safe. You have to only please this person." Which means I cannot even entertain a potentially negative, or a potentially frustrated thought about that person, and that was mind-blowing, to me, when I realized that, if that makes sense.
That if my system it's doing what you were describing, Aundi, that anticipatory, "I know how they respond, so I will just be this, this, and this." It's doing that calculated thing that's a huge red flag. As opposed to those normal human emotions. Where it's not like I unleash on somebody, but it's where there's safety enough for me to feel the full range of emotions inside my own body, about the relationship.
Aundi: Yes, I think that's such a good point. I mean, I think about the safety that is needed to be able to repair, or to name just a reality. I often think about from a green flag perspective, people who give enough space, they give cues like, "But if you think differently, I'm open to that."
Or "You might see this differently."
Or "I'd be open to talking about that."
Or "What are your thoughts on that?" All of those things, I feel like, invite a sense of, of course, you might think differently, and that's totally okay, and that just feels so safe to me.
Alison: I love that. I think I experience a lot of that with both of you. I've noticed even, especially, Aundi, a couple of times, you and I will each feel some,
I love you, you've used the word complicated emotions. Not necessarily about each other, but about something we're sharing, and that's such a neat way to name. That stirs up complicated emotions in me, which is me owning my own experience. But it also cues you to say, "This is a sensitive topic. Let's proceed, tenderly, with each other on it." I love that naming. That's been such a helpful naming, for me, in discerning trustworthiness.
Monique: Mh-hmm. And I would say that that's what I discerned in you, Alison. I mean, and you know, as of right now, we've not met each other in person. So I often even think about that, that there has not been this embodied experience in real-time, if you will.
But even the ways that we have connected, that's exactly what I have gotten from you. And you know I told you, not too long ago, I said, "I just already feel like the day I meet you in person, I'm probably going to hug you and just boohoo." You're the one my soul has been looking for, kind of that feeling. Because the things that we talk about are very complicated.
Alison: Yes, they are.
Monique: And even when we had begun to engage deeper conversation, I said to you, "I'm almost in need of this corrective emotional type of experience." And I felt like, "Oh, God, I just threw a big burden in her lap." And I was like, "Oh, okay." But, to Aundi's point, you have the capacity to be able to say, "Wow, I'm okay with walking with you through this."
As opposed to, "Oh, girl, you just got too much going on, and let me try to figure out a way to just, Mm, no." And, I think, that, to name it, as a green flag. You have the capacity. You have that emotional capacity. Meaning, for me, you're healthy enough to say, "I can listen to yours, it's hard. Yes, we need to proceed with this gentle caution, if you will." And, also, I can do the same with you, it's that reciprocal type of thing. So I think that that's what I discerned just even more immediately with you as well.
Alison: And I felt the same, you were so honest. It just moved me how honest you were about the need that you were able to name. And, again, that sets us a healthy expectation of the friendship. And I also don't feel as if what you're saying to me is, "I need you to be perfect."
You're saying, "I need a safe space for us to talk through some of these hard topics, together." Which, also, includes, sometimes, me saying, "I don't know if I'm going to get this right." It's just that we need to be able to have that baseline expectation that we're going to name some hard things, that meant so much to me.
Monique: As well as me, and the older I get, I look for that or just try to discern that flexibility in people. Because if there is this role that I play, and I have always played, and if you don't fit that, then, we're really going to rub against each other in not-so-great ways. When I discern that, that's not there, for me, there is just kind of there's no need to even go any further here. I mean, we can be cordial, "Hey."
But in terms of trying to engage anything deeper, for me, especially, now at this point of life, it's like, "Nah, that's okay."
Alison: The irony I want to share a little bit, Monique, is we had a conversation, offline, after we recorded your podcast on this show, last December. Where I shared with you my experience at that Christian camp. But I had never really talked about and, ironically, here I was, I don't know why it was just so traumatizing, to me, to be around a lot of Christians who were expressing, overtly, racist comments.
It really threw me, for several years, I was walking into it as a Jesus follower and left going, "I don't know what to make of this." And it was in a time before we were talking a lot about it, literally, before the Internet was a big thing to aid me. And, so, it was very lonely. And, so, meaning the reciprocation, you heard that story and honored that in me. And that was a powerful naming, for me, of something I'd never really named of what that's like. To be witnessing something that I didn't have the tools, at the time, to know what to do about.
I just knew I hated it, and I knew that it really, deeply, affected my own experience of the church at that time. We've held some space for each other in ways that have been deeply formative, to me, out of the naming you originally did, and I'm so grateful for that. I want to ask you guys, I think, this is a hard question, but it's an important one.
We've talked about these green flags. I love that we flipped to green flags. We've talked about how you discern trustworthiness. We've also touched on needing to back out of friendships. How do you do that? When you begin to notice those yellow flags are there. That person's not going to be able to be there for you. How do you back out of that? What have you done? What would you tell people to do?
Aundi: I think the first thing I would just say is that this is an incredibly complicated, potential, answer. When we are in a place where there is a friendship that exists, and what I mean by that is that there's a lot of nuance. Because in some situations it might look like this, and in other situations, it might look like this. And part of it is going to be dependent, also, on the health of the person we're interacting with, and, potentially, our own health and our own internal resources.
But this is something I think of, as you're saying, Alison, is a lot of times, boundaries begin with our yes. I say this a lot to clients. Boundaries are not about punishment. Boundaries are about really honoring what it is that you need, and that this is the place that we begin. And, so, when I think about friendships, I think about it like it's an adjustment of those boundaries, essentially.
That, whereas, maybe, we thought that we could have a little bit more flexible, slightly more porous boundaries with a person, through lots of cues. And we trust that our body is able, God gave our bodies so much wisdom to be able to discern, "This is not life-giving to me. I'm often feeling drained, I'm feeling hurt. I feel like this is causing me to have to spend more energy than I have the capacity for. It's not reciprocal."
These are all these kind of red flags. As we begin to discern that, I think that in some situations, depending on the person's level of health, it might be appropriate to have a conversation.
Like, "Hey, in X situation, when this happened, that was really hard for me. That was hurtful. In the future, could you do X differently?"
Sometimes when we perceive that person could handle that, I think, that might be good. There are going to be other times, and I've seen this, both, clinically and in my own life, where the person is showing such high levels of a lack of desire to being willing to take feedback. Where the boundary and, again, I think of you saying this, Alison, I think you say this so well. But, oftentimes, it's our behavior that, ultimately, communicates the boundary more so than necessarily the words that we are saying. That it's less about, "I need to have this conversation."
It's more that, "I'm, unfortunately, not available this next couple of weeks." And that's the boundary. And, again, not from a place of punishment. From a place of wholeness and saying, "I need to honor myself, and in order to do that, here's how I'm shifting my priorities."
Monique: Yes, Aundi, that's really good. I was in a situation, not too long ago, a couple of weeks ago. Where there was this invitation, and like you said, the wisdom in the body was like, "Don't go. Don't do this. Don't do it, Monique.
And I'm thinking, "Okay." And I don't know exactly what, well, yes, I do, as we've talked about those trauma responses are just activated and there was this "Well, if I don't, this person is going to be upset." Or, sometimes, what has been directed at me, "Well, everybody can get together but you."
It's been, "Oh, you're the one that's always missing." And I'm like, "Yes, that's not really true, but okay, why do you feel comfortable enough making me be that person? Are you having the same conversation with that other person that wasn't there the last time?"
Nonetheless, this is over the years, I went through that. If I don't go, I wonder, and will they feel? And, again, because I'm getting older, I do try to be very attuned to the Holy Spirit to see, should I be there because I don't want to take time for granted. So I factor that in as well. I do, and I'll say, "Lord, if this is supposed to not be about me, in this moment, direct me and just guide me.
But in this instance, I didn't get that. And, so, finally, I said, "I am going to say no." And I did, and there was just such this sense of relief. But it was exhausting that there still are those times where you are having to tease through and say, to your point, Aundi, "How healthy is this person? Can they really hear me say, 'Oh, the last time I was in your presence, this is how I felt. Because of these things that were said or these things that were done.'" And when you recognize that people do not, necessarily, have that capacity and that flexibility to have that conversation.
Then I'm saying it's just not even worth the conversation. So there is just, "Oh, I can't make it today, I have something else to do." And if that something else to do happens to be taking care of me, then that's what's on my agenda, in that moment.
Aundi: I love what you're saying, Dr. Monique. And, I think, especially, for Christians, this sometimes feels maybe like an uncomfortable statement. But I feel like you have to have a certain audacity to believe that you matter, you are worthwhile, you are worth that reciprocation.
You are worth taking care of. It matters how you feel when you are with the people that you are with, and that doesn't mean that those other people don't matter.
Again, Jesus's words to love your neighbor as yourself, that includes yourself, and it needs to. Because, frankly, there is no mutuality without that peace and that's audacious. I think that there's something about that that for a lot of people, they're like, "Oh-eeh."
But, for me, as a trauma survivor, a commitment I've made to myself is to say, "No, you matter. There was a time in your life where it was not safe for you to matter and no more, that's over now." I'm not allowing the things that happened in my childhood, to the best of my ability, I choose to live my adulthood differently.
Alison: Those are just such important words.[00:15:09] < Music >
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Sometimes what I'll liken a friendship breakup to is a breakup. And when you think about the model of a breakup, if you really have discerned, inside of yourself, "I am just not going to pursue this person anymore. There's really almost nothing they could do to make me want to invest more time and energy in there." I say to folks, that's when you use the actions, "It's not you, it's me." Because I don't have the capacity to invest, and I'm not sure the possibility is even there, to have that hard conversation.
If you're investing in that hard conversation of, "Listen, when you do this, this is hard for me." You are saying to that person, "I'm investing, I think, there's something here." And, so, it helps people to think about. It's actually not kind, if you don't have that capacity to really go there with somebody and walk through that hard journey of seeing if the friendship can change.
I mean, I love what you guys are saying, you do it for you. But one way because I'll have people say to me, "Well, isn't that ghosting them? If I just back out without the conversation." And the way that I look at that is, it's this decision where you're actually saying, "I've discerned I cannot invest more in this.
I can't do the work to make the friendship better. Therefore, I am going to move in a different direction." I might even name that, which, again, isn't ghosting, it's naming, "I've got this, this, and this that I'm saying yes to, this season of life, and I just don't have capacity to invest here anymore." And you don't have to tell them why, necessarily, maybe, that's to protect yourself from fallout.
Maybe that's simply just a decision because you just, legitimately, don't have the bandwidth, and that can be really hard for people. And it comes back, I love the word audacity. I think as Christians, sometimes, we think it's our job to, compulsively, please other people, and to never disappoint anybody, and to never let anybody down.
And that if somebody else is disappointed or let down by us, we have committed a cardinal sin. And, instead, I think that biblically is to live really, authentically, aligned with the Spirit. I love that you said that, aligning with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, of " This is the direction I need to go in my life. I hope that you will support me in this, but if you don't there's just not much I can do."
Monique: And I spoke about aging, not that I'm old, old. But I like the way Dr. Tony Evans always says it, "None of us really know who's old and who's young because none of us know when the Lord is going to say it's time to come home." So I like that. But as I have gotten older, and I so enjoyed hearing Aundi's story, definitely not the trauma, but hearing you tell it from a place. And when you recount it from this place of looking back, and the work that you've done, and the healing that has taken place.
I so enjoy listening to you speak of that because you can hear like, "Oh, this is the work that she has done to get over that fawning." Sometimes the language I use with clients when we talk about that freeze response, and that's been mine quite a bit, that one and the fawning. They're probably neck and neck crossing the finish line there. But I think about the freezing and the older I've gotten, I think, to myself, "How do I thaw? What makes me thaw?"
Even just imagining when you take something out of the freezer. What do you do? Do you just set it on the counter, put in the microwave? However, you look to try to defrost this thing and thawed it a bit. That's the picture that I have to keep in my min. Because it comes, literally, for me, the place of "God, teach me to number my days." And, so, many of my days. And when you were saying so much of my childhood was this way, and now as an adult, I'm choosing differently.
And, for me, when I look back, so much of my life has been about pleasing everybody else and trying to keep everybody else happy. And it doesn't matter what I'm feeling, or rarely is their turn to say, "Well, what's really going on with you? No, you're saying you're okay, but, no, what's really going to." Just don't get that a lot.
So I say I have to figure out ways where I am nurtured, I'm nourished in relationship, and even if that means, for me, at this stage of life, fewer relationships that are more life-giving, then I'm all for it. I am all for it. Because I just cannot, I am at a place where I cannot live however many more days that I have, in that same state. And, so, I think that that's what keeps that little bowing mechanism underneath me. That fire that burns underneath me, to say, "I can no longer sacrifice any more of myself in that way."
Alison: I love that. To wrap up here, you're leading right into this last question that I wanted to ask you guys. Which is, what would you tell your younger self, maybe, your 20-something self, your 25-self? I see by the looks on your faces. What would you tell your younger self about friendship based on all that you've learned, now? What would you want her to know?
Aundi: I think the main theme that I would want my younger self to know, two things. One is I would want to encourage her to trust herself, to trust her body. To trust the messages that her body was giving her about different people in her life. Because having a history of trauma, it was easy for me to discount how my body was reacting, and somehow that would end up being like things that were not my responsibility became my responsibility.
They felt like they were my own fault because I didn't listen. Because in my childhood, it wasn't safe to listen to my body. So, therefore, then as an adult, when the red flags came up, I bypassed them. Because I thought, "Well, it just must be me."
"It must be my trauma."
"I must be so selfish."
"You're right, I am the one who does X, Y, and Z."
And not to say that I am perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I don't mean it that way. But I would love, if I could go back, and just really be with that younger self, to encourage her to really listen to that. And, then, the second thing would be to encourage that my younger self to know I have had a really healthy, great relationship with my husband, for a long time. He's been such a resource and gift to me. But friendships have been a little bit trickier. I'm now 40, and the last ten years, there's been so much goodness and growth.
But, I mean, I'm 40, I've lived a lot of time, and there's been a lot of pain around friendships. And it's almost like telling that younger self she deserves good friends. Yes, it makes me a little bit emotional to think about that younger self, and just that she deserves that, and to wait, and to know that she'll find it.
Alison: Uh, that's real. That's beautiful.
Aundi: Yes, and to your point, too, Aundi, just a minute ago. When you mentioned we are to love God, and love others as we love ourselves. And I would want to tell my 20-year-old self that I love her, and I would befriend her, I think that would be you.
Alison: Okay, now we're all a puddle.
Aundi: Oh, that's so beautiful.
Alison: Oh, my gosh. I just want to say you both have given my young 20, 25-year-old self a gift these past few years, in ways that I'm not sure I can even fully articulate. I've tried a little bit. One of the things I think about friendship is a good friend helps you see yourself in a new way. In a way that is like, "Oh, my goodness." And you both have done that for me. You've helped me see goodness in myself. Which sounds, again, paradoxical, or I'm assuming I do that for you, otherwise, that would feel very one-sided and narcissistic, I'm pretty sure I do.
Monique: Oh, absolutely.
Alison: But that's remarkable, to me, because it's not just me mirroring other people. It's, oh, my gosh, here are two women who I leave conversations with them, and I'm seeing myself from a different angle. I'm seeing qualities in myself I didn't even really know were there. I knew were there, but they'd never really been called into being. We call each other into being, into more fullness of who we are. And, boy, that has just meant a lot to me from both of you. You both have been gifts, these last few years, to me. I have needed your friendships in ways I didn't know.
Monique: I just want to say, too, Alison, that I thank you for bringing Aundi. Because, Aundi, I honestly think that my connection with you was Alison, originally, initially, especially, when you first did, the podcast with me. And you're also one of those that I just felt like, "God, I feel like I've known her before forever." Whatever the case may be, there have just been good things, Alison, that, yes, I have had the opportunity to experience you bear fruit in my life. And this, so far, has been fruit that has remained. It's been fruit that I've been able to not only just enjoy, but it has nourished and sustained me. So thank you.
Alison: That's a really good note to end on. I love that. Is this a relationship that's bearing fruit? I love that. Because so often I'll talk about how we learn the fruit of the spirit as if they're things we are supposed to present to others. "I need to be good to others."
"I need to be kind to others."
"I need to be joyful for others."
It's what I feel with both of you is I also feel those fruit toward myself, when I'm with you. I feel, "Oh, I can be kind toward that part of me."
Or, "Oh, that part of me feels seen, now." And that feels so just deeply satisfying and joyful to me that someone has seen that part of me, that I've carried so silently for so many years. And, so, there's fruit internally that is borne by these friendships,
and that might be a great benchmark for what is the fruit that this relationship is bearing in my life. And, especially, as kind of traveling down this road of getting to know somebody new, of testing out a new friendship. Of saying, "I see some good here." And then taking steps to say, "Oh, there's good fruit there."
Because, I think, with someone, that fruit will start to appear, fairly, quickly if those green flags are there. So I love that. I love that as a way to end, and I'm just so grateful for you both, and I really appreciate it. Thank you for taking the time to talk about this with me, today. I was so looking forward to this conversation, and it did not disappoint.
Aundi: Thank you for having us.
Monique: Yes, I carry you all with me, like Dr. Curt mentioned, "I carry you all with me." So thank you.
Alison: I love that. Thank you guys.[00:28:49] < Outro >
Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of The Best of You. It would mean so much if you'd take a moment to subscribe. You can go to Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, or wherever. You listen to podcasts and click the Plus or Follow button. That will ensure you don't miss an episode, and it helps get the word out to others. While you're there, I'd love it if you'd leave your five-star review. I look forward to seeing you back here next Thursday. And remember, as you become the best of who you are, you honor God, you heal others, and you stay true to your God-given self.
29th June 2023