Healthy Relationships require commitment, loyalty and respect
Neshama was a popular student who was looking forward to finishing school and going traveling with her friends. Her life was shattered when she was involved in a terrible car crash just before she was supposed to graduate. She was hospitalized for nine months and left with permanent spinal weakness. For Neshama, the most painful part of this whole traumatic episode was that her friends abandoned her. They barely visited her in the hospital, they went traveling without her, and they lost touch. Neshama felt hurt and completely betrayed.
Seven years later, Neshama became a mentor in Kav L’Noar’s school group mentoring program. She was assigned a group of girls who were considered very dysfunctional. Most of them had highly unstable home lives, with people coming and going all the time- and no structure or routine. They had a hard time attending school regularly, concentrating or planning ahead. Neshama worked with the group to create a space where the girls would know what to expect, and what would be expected of them. Every session followed the same pattern, and the group appreciated Neshama for her consistency and her commitment to them. Neshama emphasized that commitment wasn’t just important for success in school or in the world of work. It was also the bedrock of all relationships. Without commitment, a friendship was worth nothing.
The most important thing that she could do for the girls in her group was to be trustworthy and to show up
Because the group had opened late in the school year, there wasn’t much time to make progress. Neshama and the girls mapped out what they would do in the remaining sessions. They also agreed to carry on after the long summer vacation. But with only two sessions left, Neshama had to let the group down when a child on a bike lost control and rode into her. Due to her old injuries, this minor accident left Neshama immobilized for weeks, and she could not come into school to finish the year with the girls.
When September came around, the group resumed. But Neshama was still in serious pain and was struggling to cope. Finally, her doctor advised her that she had no choice but to undergo another spinal surgery, which would require her to remain flat on her back at home afterward for two months. Neshama felt terrible. The most important thing that she could do for the girls in her group was to be trustworthy and to show up. And yet, she had been left with no choice but to unexpectedly leave them, not once but twice.
New wounds healing old wounds
When Neshama got home after the surgery, something unexpected happened. First, Neshama received a teddy bear wearing a T-shirt that said ‘get well soon’ with the names of all the group members. Then she began to receive a steady stream of text messages from group members inquiring after her and sending jokes and pictures and sharing updates from their own lives. Neshama replied to every message, and they kept the connection throughout her convalescence.
Neshama had never shared with the group the story of her original accident and her broken friendships. And yet, a group of girls who had never been able to rely on anyone before, and who had been anything but dependable themselves, managed to be there for Neshama and help heal the old hurt. Despite all the disruption, Neshama had taught this group why commitment matters, and they had honored it.