I received an email from an old friend today. We had recently found each other on Facebook, and hadn't really talked in at least ten years. This was somebody I used to work with when I was a bartender and she was just an awesome person (and I'm sure she still is!). Super sweet and hard working. So, here's what she sent. I had completely forgotten.
RINGS OF FRIENDSHIP
I was experiencing the hardest time of my life in the year of 1995. The reason behind this tough time was the separation and divorce I was going through. I had gotten to the point where I was pretty much past the emotional roller coaster of my feelings of ups and downs. I was told over and over by numerous bill collectors that, while they were sorry about my situation, they still needed their money. After questioning whether or not my husband could be at least partially responsible for the bills he'd helped incur, I was told that he couldn’t be held accountable because he lived in the next state! He was only two hours away! I have to say that the thought crossed my mind about moving over that state line! Is that all it took?! What a simple solution to get out of paying your bills! I, however, didn’t want this hanging over my head. I wanted to be done with my past, not hide or run from it.
One of my bill collectors eventually got tired of my meager payment plan and ended up taking me to court for the account to be paid in full. He ended up winning. The amount that was due was way past what I could afford all at once, in addition to the rest of the bills that I was attempting to keep up with, as well as, catch up on. I would work as many double shifts as I could, but I couldn’t seem to get caught up. I still seemed unable to get over this “hump." This one bill really put me behind more than I already was. I began to wonder once again if I could make it on my own, financially.
One night my friend, Heather, and I got together for a “girls night” at her house. We were eating Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream, right out the container, going through old pictures, scrapbooks, looking at remnants of her past.
She then pulled out a dull gold ring with a light green stone from one of her many drawers full of memories. She held it up, turned to me and said, “This is my strength ring”. Thinking she was either very tired or getting philosophical on me, I looked at the ring. It didn’t seem very “strong” to me. It was plain, in fact, not very pretty at all. Th e stone didn’t even shine anymore.
She went on to tell me the story of how she had had the ring for a long time and once in a particularly bad time in her life, she found it after it had been forgotten about, and began to wear it again. Whenever she would get sad or depressed or wonder about decisions she had made, she would look at her ring and find the strength to get over what she was feeling.
She looked at me and said, “ I know you’re going through a rough time right now in your life, so I’m going to loan you my strength ring”. She handed me the little green ring with the directions on how to use it. “Whenever you are sad, lonely or depressed and start to wonder about your decisions, look at the ring, understand that I love you and that you have so many friends that care about you. Feel confident about your decisions, past or present. You made, and continue to make them confidently and after thinking them through, so don’t look back-move ahead”.
Her final thought on the ring was, “When you are strong enough, and no longer doubt yourself, you’ll know. You won’t need the ring anymore. Only then give it back. Until then-it’s yours. No matter how long it takes”.
The plain little ring fit perfectly on my finger. I was touched by her heartfelt words, but still very skeptical on its powers to solve my problems and help me feel better.
I soon found out I was wrong about that! My little “ring of friendship” seemed to almost have a power, or hold, of its own. When I would begin to feel down, like the world was closing in on me, I would always feel compelled, or drawn, to look at the ring and feel its strength.
After some time, I began to realize that this wasn’t a talisman with magical or problem solving powers. The “strength” that it held was that of friendship and also of my “inner strength” that I always had, but sometimes forgot about.
One night at work Heather and another friend of ours, Eileen, invited me out to a late night restaurant for something to eat after our shift. She said a lot of our friends were going to go and that I should come too. It sounded like fun, so I decided to join them.
After we had placed our orders, which consisted of salads and ice cream, Eileen handed me a card and said, “This is from all of us to let you know that we love you and are proud of all you’ve done for yourself and we’re proud of the confident person you’ve become”.
I was touched, along with being a little bit surprised and embarrassed because all of my friends were around the table looking at me, smiling! My other “ring of friendship”.
On the outside of the card it said, “Hang in there”! Then on the inside, along with the words, “You are loved”, was a collection of money that they had gathered from 53 of my friends. The total was over $600.00. What it meant to me was worth more than any amount of money.
I was so overwhelmed by how many people cared about what happened to me and at what good friends I had.
I managed to get over my mountain of bills with a lot of work and help from my friends! June was my hardest month. I told myself all through the month, if I can just get through June, I can get through anything!
On the last day of the month, I was celebrating within myself, for myself. I knew I’d be fine and felt better than ever. I was confident with everything, including who I was and also who I had become. I knew that I’d encounter occasional rough spots down the road in life, but I felt powerful to face the challenges and ready to overcome the obstacles.
I walked over to Heather at the end of our shift, looked at her and said, over the lump in my throat, as I pulled off my “strength” ring ( which I now saw in a whole new light!), “thank you for everything, I‘m ready to give you your ring back now”. And I was.
I have to say, reading this made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I tend to focus on what I'm doing wrong (or have done wrong) instead of what I've done right. So, receiving this story today brought everything full circle...It's exactly what I needed. In order to simply be more positive and productive in my life, I'm going to focus on the GOOD instead of the BAD in my everyday life. Which may make for a boring blog...we'll see!!!