On Friend Movement …
A little background on me before I introduce Friend Movement and what they have done for me. I’ve had a blessed life, attending some of the finest schools and receiving top notch education from the get go I was surrounded with constant love and approval from my family and small circle of friends. Healthy as a horse with no known illnesses, I am tall pretty and white. With those I should have an all access pass to the best that this world has to offer. There lies within me a saboteur, an entity that wishes for me not to succeed. I’ve successfully sabotaged my education and my health in the name of being comfortable, in the pattern of being abused and abusing from a young age. My outer bullies eventually became my inner bully, I am a bully to myself meaning I successfully abuse others. Substance abuse controlled my life since the age of 13 and any escape I could have from happiness was more than welcome, it was encouraged.
Enter my 29th year of living on this planet, I had contemplated running constantly. Running from home, running from responsibility, running from life itself. Escape is always an easier answer than facing everything and rising to the occasion to battle it. Still living at my parent’s home at 29 with no direction in my life, I was called to assist Friend Movement however was needed as the work between two people was becoming too much. Knowing little about this company in terms of finances and what they stood for I caught a Greyhound as soon as possible, excited for a change of scenery and an opportunity to put myself to work.
Entering Los Angeles it was sunny, noisy, busy and a jumble of dreams disorganized into one city. Everyone here is dreaming, your bartender is an actor waiting to land his next gig and that parking attendant you so unhappily handed money to is the next pop star awaiting their concert that will play this weekend. These dreams are beautiful, in need of nourishing and are upheld by the faith that everything in the end works out.
Enter Friend Movement, a cause for profit company that hosts events, displays social media and through the arts educates people how to be a better friend to themselves in order to be a better friend to others. I entered their home with my inner saboteur, years of neglect and abuse still being held onto. From feeding, clothing and educating me I crashed their couch for a month, happily assisting them as I could.
It became overly apparent to myself that what I was able to offer them was limited to what I thought I could. I didn’t think highly of myself and because of that I could offer them a secretary, housemaid and happy voice that would whisper “It can be fixed”. But I couldn’t be fixed, so I thought. A long history of my behavior, I can assess and fix outside problem easily but for my own problems, I was not important enough to fix. They could see that in a way, giving me one job more intense than the last. Before I knew it I was doing multiple things that would have terrified me a month ago. Introducing myself, making inquiries for donations, interacting with people on a level of enacting friendship.
Every moment of the day I was staying with these two gentlemen I took in life lessons. What it means to be a friend, who to give your energy and love away to, where to show up in life, when to fight a battle, why you are doing it and how to find solutions to a problem. Any time a problem would arise a solution was not far behind and it was onto the next task. I was thrusted into parties and events, something I’ve never found myself to be good at or accepting to do. I am a work horse from behind the scenes but ask me to introduce myself to a stranger and I’d rather throw myself into paperwork or something of a similar solitary nature. They wouldn’t accept that despite my floundering protests. On going back to the midwest, I did not act out of fear as much as out of shame that my behavior was apparent. Needy, insecure, unreliable to myself meaning it relayed onto others, at 29 I am a handout panhandler looking for a meal that I cannot provide myself. The idea of being loved was seeping in and my saboteur stepped up as I moved out of Los Angeles.
I’m learning that a smile goes a long way. In my multi day adventure from Los Angeles to Chicago I’ve introduced myself more times than in my present lifetime. I received birthday beers in Denver and made friends along the way, all it took was a smile and the interest in another person to form a connection. I’ve been asked out more times than I can count and it is all in thanks to Friend Movement. I’ve had a taste of what it is to be happy, to have a support system and to be loved. I want more and I haven’t had one drowning thought that couldn’t be set aside in order for me to rise up and look forward to challenges ready to acknowledge that hardships are followed by solutions. I’ve successfully dropped cigarettes and alcohol, something I’ve lushed in since I can remember. I’ve been able to drop abuse in favor of solutions. I can feel the oxygen re-entering my body and these are just words on a screen, my actions and accomplishments will be the real proof in the pudding on what Friend Movement has done for me.
What did Friend Movement do for me? It re-instilled confidence in me and highlighted my strengths despite my inner saboteur. Being afraid does nothing for the person who wants to move forward, failure is a word not a lifestyle, there is always hope and gifts are meant to be treasured. Like a bubble bath that doesn’t give you prune hands and the water always stays warm, they ignited the fact that I am beautiful, I am smart, I am funny and I am worthy of love. I am love as we are all love. Life is a gift, treat it as you would something you love. It’s a matter of stepping up and accepting it. The only reason we cannot be friends is the ego, the voices and differences that get in the way, let go of that and there is nothing that separates you from me. We have a responsibility to ourselves, each other and the planet to love and be loved.
The saboteur hasn’t left, but he has gotten quieter. It feels good to be a part of this thing called life again. It’s good to be alive.
Robert Thor Friend Nygren