Befriending is a boundaried and friendly relationship to enable you to experience activities in the community, reducing isolation.
What's Befriending like? -a personal story
Scene: Costa Café in Falkirk
Marian and Anne talk about befriending through ICSSS:
How it felt, making the decision to go ahead with befriending
Marian: It was my counsellor who suggested I think about befriending. She encouraged me. At first I was glad I’d made the decision to go ahead. But then I felt really anxious too, nervous. I was worried about how we would get on with each other. I knew I couldn’t have anyone who was loud or bossy…
Anne: I was nervous because I didn’t have any experience of befriending, and I didn’t want my inexperience to put anyone off.
Marian: But the minute you walked through the door I knew we’d get on. You were so calm. I knew it was going to be ok. You put me at my ease right from the start. I remember thinking, “There’s nothing to fear here.”
Anne: I felt so relieved too. You talked so easily, chatted away. That was what I had been most worried about – if there would be a big, long silence. That it would be awkward. But there was none of that. Talking was easy from the start.
First impressions of each other
Marian: Don’t take this the wrong way – I thought you were warm. A motherly person. (Anne laughs. They are almost the same age.) I just knew I could take a chance with you. I had been a bit dubious, even till the door opened and you walked in. But then you were so easy and so calm, I knew Ivy had done a good job of matching us together.
Anne: What I sensed straight away was that you weren’t someone I should feel sorry for. I saw this spark in your eyes – this strength inside you. And you were funny. I could tell right away that you had this sense of humour that had helped you, and I remember thinking what a great attitude you had. I knew within a few minutes that you were open to this process- that you wanted befriending to work.
Marian: Speaking personally, I realize I chose befriending at the right time. I had done a lot of work with my counselor, Lorraine. She was fantastic, terrific. Very patient. Nothing was a problem to her. It didn’t matter how you felt, you always knew that you would leave the session with a feeling calm and happy. She always got a smile out of me. So I was ready for this next stage. Maybe if you had asked me a few months before, I would have said no.
We need to know the time is right for us. That will be different for different people. Everyone will know within themselves when they’re ready. Befriending is working for me because counseling had helped to open me up. I’m not the finished article yet, but I’m getting there.
Marian and Anne together: Go to the cinema, have coffees, go window shopping or go buy something one of us needs. Just normal stuff. We’re planning lots of great things: going to the hairdressers to get our hair done together, going for an Indian meal one lunchtime, a visit to Callander House, going down to the Indoor Market one rainy day, a Christmas carol concert…
Anne: Nothing that costs a fortune.
Marian: No, you don’t have to spend money. One of our favourite things is to go round the shops playing a game where we guess the price of things and see who gets the closest. We’re both really good at it! It’s a great laugh and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Anne: And I’m so delighted because Marian is going to help me get organised for Christmas this year. I’m hopeless; always leave everything to the last minute.
Marian (laughing): I’ve got four presents already.
Marian and Anne: Films, shopping, food, make-up, the kids, how our fortnight has been, music, what’s been on the news…just normal chit chat. The stuff you’d talk about to someone you feel comfortable with. And we both love relaxation and healing therapies, music and oils, crystals and books.
Anne: Most of the time we just have a good laugh. Marian has a great sense of humour. We can be sitting here having a coffee and I’ve got tears streaming down my face at something she’s said. I’m not afraid to say anything daft in front of Marian. I can say what I like.
What do we get out of our meetings?
Anne: I look forward to seeing you every week.
Marian: Me too. I get a wee buzz thinking about what we’re going to do or new things we could try. I feel like befriending has given me my freedom back. Spending time with somebody, just doing everyday things, makes me feel that deep down I’m accepted, normal. I feel comfortable with you. Happy. And after I’ve met up with you, you kind of ‘linger’ with me. The good feeling stays with me for a few days.
Anne: I come away from our meetings feeling up-beat and happy. I feel sometimes humble too, because you’ve come through so many challenges and still see life so positively. It makes me realize that I can get bogged down at times by things that don’t matter. You remind me that life is all about attitude. It’s what we make it, from today on…
Why should people sign up for befriending?
Marian: I hope the article makes people sign up for befriending. Not just women, men too, and teenagers. It’s so important that we get to be normal. That we keep moving forward. Find peace. Be ourselves. Even if it makes one person think, I could make the move. I’d say ‘Don’t be frightened. Take the step. The benefits outweigh the fear, and once you’ve taken the step it gets easier.’
Anne: You’re a star.
Marian: We’re a good team.