Updated: Jun 12, 2019
What is it about lasting relationships? Where you can share your innermost secrets safely and your friend can say things that you would never take from others? What about those friends that you have, and no matter how much time you've been apart, you pick up where you left off? When we get it right, these are the lasting relationships we share at GSL with parents, families and young people.
In my blog: A butterfly, Piranha and birthday boy walk into a bar, I wrote that our beautiful butterfly (BB) had been in our lives for almost five years. She corrected me the other day. We meet a picnic table on Kewarra Beach in 2012. It's not five years ago, it's over seven! What happens to time?
We met at the beach because she didn't feel safe. GSL barely had a website, let alone a trusted reputation and our BB was a school leaver trying to forge some personal independence. I asked where she would prefer to meet for the first time, and she chose somewhere that was not our office or her home. When I approached this teenager that day on the beach, she was timid and giggled self consciously all the way through our conversation. When I left, I'd had fun and hoped that BB felt a little safer with me and GSL. She did, and it was the beginning of something that has traveled all sorts of adventures.
A couple of years back (dare I even guess at the year?), BB had a dreadful time while she battled to get back in control of her mental health. I think she would argue that she's never really had a good grip on her mental health. It was one of those times that I suspect marks a level of mental ill-health that BB never wants to experience again. Hospital featured a great deal. Her mother was beside herself, her family was worried, and so were we. Everyone's stories of that time are of a difficult struggle; more importantly for me was that our relationship, and BB's trust in us by this stage, was so strong that she pulled on us as well as her family. She broadened her network instead of narrowing it, and we could in some small way support her family as well as BB.
As BB emerged, and was in recovery, she decided to move into a GSL share house. She lived there for a period of time before going on a holiday to Brisbane. When she arrived home she announced she was moving. It was Brisbane or bust! She had a car that didn't look like it could make it from one side of town to the other, let alone make it down to Brisbane, and no travel companion. What could go wrong? The text to say she'd arrived safely in Brisbane was the first day after she left that I was able to exhale! Wow, I thought, our BB living in Brisbane! That streak of independence was truly back. In the struggles of all that time when she wasn't well, to think she could organise and achieve this monumental step was incomprehensible. I'm not sure what the word is to express my feelings. Proud just doesn't cut it.
For the two years our BB was in Brisbane she kept in contact. At her request, we tried to set up support down in Brisbane by recruiting support workers close to her but it didn't work. It didn't have that GSL feel. BB was the first to identify it. All the while she sent lovely intermittent texts to let us know what was going on, ask the occasional question or just say hello. Then came the text that she'd decided she wanted to move back to Cairns. Nerves, again. Well at least this time I knew she had a slightly better car.
Our BB is back, and although she is much more mature, it's like nothing is different. She's moved back into the GSL share house temporarily while she gets herself sorted and finds a place to live. She floats comfortably around, and is just part of our fabric. The other day I asked if she'd help me with one of my first pod casts and she said yes. Our gorgeous BB! Soon you'll be able to meet her, I'm so excited.
I'm conscious that BB has let us into the most private parts of her life. I blogged a couple of weeks back about a relationship that we'd mucked up (The Trust in Relationships). Again, the family had opened themselves up, but as I wrote then, and I'll stick to now, what happens in family stays in family. These secrets I will not share 😊! Of more importance is that there is a type of relationship when sharing our true self and vulnerabilities feels safe. I know we have it right when we do something wrong, yet because of this strength in relationship, we are given the opportunity to make it right.
In many of our conversations and interactions, families share details they would never ordinarily open up about with someone outside their immediate family or friends. There is a serious side to the importance of us honoring the trust this takes, and reliance on our non-judgemental responses. I personally know I have managed this level of trust when I hear those 'inner circle' stories; the ones where the perfect veneer of a person is spoken about as not-so-perfect. This is when we have reached a level of complete understanding that love and caring is unquestioned. This is when the heart pours, or funny stories of imperfection are shared.
My funny story is prompted by a photo with a sticky note on it. A photo I came across as I was rummaging through our photo box. When our Tasha arrived, she had one doting grandmother! In Nana's eyes her little cherub (Nana's nickname for Tasha) could do no wrong. Tasha's arrival was pre-Facebook days, so Nana, who lived a distance from us, was constantly asking for photos. Nana wanted a 'brag book', as she called it. At the time, scrap booking was all the rage and I am no scrap booker! Brag book, eh? I purchase a little album and randomly slide in gorgeous photos of our gorgeous baby, 'Nana's cherub'. But ... there was something wrong, so I grabbed a sticky note (I told you I'm no scrap booker) and wrote:
We can't have you thinking she a little cherub all the time!
We only share when we trust. Thank you to everyone who can trust us sufficiently to share.