A few days before I left for a summer vacation, I stopped by the library to wander the aisles. I didn't need anything. I have stacks and shelves of books that I own of which I've not even cracked the covers and yet some days, I just like to roam and see what catches my eye. Two books jumped out at me that I recognized from my Amazon wish list or some other list, two separate aisles, both about friendship. One was "Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship" by Gail Caldwell and "Truth and Beauty: A Friendship" by Ann Patchett. I grabbed them with an urgency.
In the very beginnings of sobriety, there is a need to hermitize yourself, to hunker down and go inward, literally and emotionally. You have to change your patterns, you have to do things differently than you did before which challenges any and all familiar social interactions. I had whittled mine down in such a way that the only ones that brought me out of isolation involved booze, every time and most likely at my insistence. When I got some clarity, I began to question and doubt all of my relationships. I honestly didn't know which ones were built on booze and which were built on a more solid foundation. I'm still slowly figuring it out.
In the meantime, it's hard. It's hard to rebuild relationships and it's hard to build new ones. I know that to have good friends you need to be a good friend and I know I haven't always held up my end of the deal. I'm not sure if I was ever taught how to be a good friend. When I read those library books, I sobbed. I know I've had moments where some of my friendships mirrored those described in those lovely books, but the intensity hasn't always sustained. You can't really give yourself to friendships when your first relationship is with booze though. Once that bond was broken, I know in my heart that not all of my friendships didn't just ride on the surface but I don't know how deep some of them go. It's like being an archaeologist and carefully digging out the artifacts, the bones, dusting them off, seeing what is there and deciding if they are still useful or meaningful. And that's just my side of the street. If the other person wants to do their own digging, it's work for the other side of the relationship as well.
It's been hard to even find the words to talk about it, which probably explains all of the tears released this week. I know that nothing changes without taking action and showing up here is my first step. I celebrated two years of sobriety this week (woo-f*ing-hoo) and I made a list of all the things I would like to manifest in my life for the next year. Generosity was at top of the list again because, action. I always thought that gratitude was a feeling that you felt inside but it's really an action, it's showing someone you care about them, that you are grateful that you have them in your life, and you tell them with your words, you show them with your actions. This is how to make friends, this is how to grow friends, this is how to be a good friend.
To celebrate my two years, I wanted to show the friends who have nudged me, listened to me, picked me up and propped me up how much that has meant to me. So I'm making them all lavender eye pillows!
First, you want to draw out your pattern. I just traced outside of an old sleep mask I had lying around.
And I'm going to add some actual eyes with embroidery, so I drew those on as well (I later added lower eye lashes to the open eye, btw).
Next, you'll want to take some tracing paper and trace around your pattern, tracing the eye embroidery pattern as well.
And yes, you can buy tracing paper in modern packaging, but please enjoy my vintage variety. You're welcome.
Next, you are going to put your fabric in an embroidery hoop and get to town. Just be sure and not cut out they eye pillow yet or it won't fit in the hoop. I included a photo from one of my favorite textile books of basic embroidery stitches, but just Google, my friend. Don't be afraid of it. Anyone can do it and the longer you do it, the better you'll get at it. Embroidery is a fantastic Netflix companion. When you're finished, cut that baby out and cut a back piece out while you're at it.
Mix up your filling next. If you're fancy, you may want to use flaxseed and dried lavender. I had some rice on hand, so I used that. I also sprinkled a few extra drops of lavender oil but fyi, a little goes a long way. It takes about two cups. While that is mellowing, stitch the front to the back, right sides together and be sure a leave a little hole for your filling. Flip right ways out and before I filled it, I did a top stitch around the edge to give it a little extra reinforcement. There would be nothing less relaxing that a rice pillow busting in your bed. We're trying to make friends, not lose them. I used a funnel to fill, which expedited that a little.
When it is filled to your liking, stitch up the hole, either by hand or machine (or both, which is what I did).
It's not as wonky as it looks in the photo but even if it was, it smells heavenly.
And does its job, as you can see. I could barely take this selfie.
The things I have learned in the last two years are almost innumerable to list but learning to be a good friend has moved to the top. It will take some time, but action will get me there. Making all of these friend pillows will take some time as well, but anything worth doing does.