Friend Connecting & Bridge Building by Melissa Rosella

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I try way too hard to fit in and sometimes I think I don’t fit in because I’m not supposed to and God wants me to stay away from certain people who are only going to make me feel small. I’ve noticed that I always try to fit in with everyone I come in contact with. I don’t change to fit their mold, but I do try to make conversation and connections to those I see on a daily basis. Sometimes, no matter what I do, I don’t fit in. & that is ok, perhaps that is not supposed to be. & even when I try to build connections by creating a bridge between myself and others, they won’t come, but I keep trying.

There are mean people in this world-ones that talk about me behind my back, that look at me up and down and judge me, unfairly, by something as silly as the clothes I wear, what school my kids go to, what zip code I live in, and how much money I have. There are people in this world that speak kindly to my face, but when in a crowd, act as if I do not exist at all. It’s a painful revelation, but I have come to realize my tribe. I’m done trying to fit into a box. I’m going to surround myself with people who accept me from where I am, that are not afraid to throw on clothes and go makeup less, that are kind for kindness sake, that go out of their way to engage in a back and forth dialogue that is not one-sided, but rather is a give and take relationship that feels and looks like mutual respect. I will surround myself with  people: that are not afraid to tell the truth even when uncomfortable and sticky, people that are not afraid to cry and laugh out loud, & people that are able to admit when they are wrong and get back on course. I can’t surround myself with fake people that are worried and wrapped up in appearance and name brands and zip codes and wealth. Being real does not mean everything is ok all the time, it’s admitting when shit hits the fan and it’s participating in the ugly cry and not caring if mascara runs down your face, it’s having to write candid e-mails knowing it might be uncomfortable afterwards, & it’s openly admitting when things aren’t butterflies and sundresses. I’m sick of trying to befriend people only to have them blow me off when they are in certain people’s company. I need friends that are lifelong and in it for the long haul, that are going to be by my side at life’s most precious and beautiful moments AND when things suck and my kids are ill and I’m covered in vomit and snot. Those are the friends I want. I have very few of them, but I’ll hold onto them for dear life because those are my homies. If you can be there through the good and happy and perfect and lovely moments of my life, you better be there in the bad, ugly, unpretty, & dull moments, too.

I will take the high road whenever possible. I will be kind. I will be an includer. I will be a supporter. I will love with my whole heart. I will smile. I will build bridges. I will be real. I will be kind. I may be wearing yoga pants or non yoga pants, have unbrushed teeth or clean teeth, be wearing vibrant makeup or be makeup-less, have sloppy hair or perfectly straightened hair, but I will always be kind. I will act the same, regardless of the company I am in. I will build bridges of friendship and invite you to do the same. You may or may not walk across that bridge, but the invitation is always there.

Who we truly are is not what you see on the outside, it is what lives on the inside. It matters more how we treat others, outwardly, than what we look like, physically. Our bodies carefully & miraculously hold together the vital organs & bones by keeping everything safe and sound with the skin we live in. Essentially, we look just about the same on the inside. Our hearts make up who we are. & while our bodies will age, as the years pass, our hearts don’t really change much.

I know this because my mom is ill. I knew her before she became ill and I know her now. I’ve known her for 71 years. My mom pre- mental illness and my mom post- mental illness are two significantly different human beings. My mom’s heart has managed to remain the same. These days, her parkinson’s has become pretty significant, her legs don’t work as well as they used to, as she requires a cane or a wheelchair, &, at times, her dementia takes over and she forgets how to get home from the grocery store. She no longer drives because her perception is flawed and her reality is far from mine. Her thinking is limited and her beliefs are even more limited. She is fragile & child-like and small and very much reminds me of a porcelain doll, as she must be handled with great care and tenderness. Her heart remains what it has always been: well-intentioned, kind, caring, and loving. & while her body has drastically changed over the last 25 years, when the onset of her schizophrenia came crashing into our lives turning our lives upside down and inside out, her heart remains well-intentioned, kind, caring, and loving. & while I knew my mom pre-schizophrenia and I truly miss who she once was, I choose to focus on her heart and her intentions. When others have turned their backs, I’ve chosen to lean in and  build connections with my mom by keeping the bridges of communication wide open and meeting her where she is.

We spend a lot of time comparing, analyzing, judging, evaluating, dividing, putting people in boxes, labeling others, categorizing, segregating, and pushing people away. What if we just stopped and met people where they were? What if we chose to accept whatever it is that person presented to us and invited them over to hang and stopped trying to change them? We’ve spent a lot of time building walls and it is truly time to break down the walls and make meaningful connections.

Stop focusing on:

one’s race,
where one lives,
what part of the neighborhood one lives in,
what school one goes to,
what school one’s kids attend,
one’s grades,
how much money one has in the bank,
one’s assets,
what job one holds,
what degree one has earned,
what kind of car one drives,
what brand of clothing one wears,
who one chooses to love,
one’s gender,
who one chooses to marry,
one’s religion,
one’s country of origin,
one’s ethnicity,
one’s gender, or anything else for that matter.

Start focusing on:
the content of one’s character, one’s heart, one’s soul, and one’s intentions.

Extend a hand, pull people in, and help people link up human to human, heart to heart, and mind to mind. Stop dividing and start connecting. Stop pushing away and start pulling in and leaning in. Stop closing doors and windows and start opening them, wide and big, so we can step in, come in, feel included, and be welcomed. Let’s unite, love, care, and include others through connecting our souls, hearts, and minds. What matters is not what is seen with the naked eye, but how we choose to treat those around us. How we treat others, is a direct reflection of who we are. Invite others to cross the bridge into your life. No one human being is better than another human being. Better does not exist. We are all human and we all have hearts, feelings, souls, and bodies. We all deserve to be seen and heard. We all matter.

To put down ONE, is to put down ALL.
To push out ONE, is to push out ALL.
To judge ONE, is to judge ALL.
To ban ONE, is to ban ALL.
To build a wall is to disinclude ALL.

To love ONE, is to LOVE ALL.
To include ONE, is to INCLUDE ALL.
To embrace ONE, is to EMBRACE ALL.
To build a bridge is to INCLUDE ALL.


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