The Dance

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I’ve been thinking about vulnerability and intimacy this morning as I’ve been getting ready for work.

They’re elusive beasts, aren’t they?

There are four people in my life that I can be totally vulnerable and open with. Four that I trust with everything that goes on inside of my mind and my heart. Four that I can speak totally freely with. Of those four, three have come into my life within the past 6 years or so. Three are platonic friends, and one is… well… dancing with me.

In the beginning it is a dance. Especially when that person touches those super-sensitive and vulnerable places within us. It’s a dance of “I’ll tell you something about me that I’m ashamed of or embarrassed by, and I’ll see how you react to it”… and then if the reaction is positive and makes you feel safe, you’ll do it again. If the reaction isn’t what you expected, and makes you feel unsafe, you won’t do it again. Or at least you’ll wait some and then see what happens from there. If you find someone who can meet you in the dance, someone who will dance with you, it’s a chaotic and scary thing – yet it’s the most beautiful thing you’ll ever experience.

You’ll bump into table corners, you’ll bump into each other, and you’ll even stumble at times. That’s okay.

We all decide who our dancing partners are. We all decide when and if we want the dance to end. Sometimes it ends abruptly, stopped by both partners. Sometimes one partner stops dancing. Sometimes the dance goes on forever. It’s a risk, and a scary one at that.

And yet, if we’re brave, when we meet someone who touches those places in us, we just can’t stop from asking them, “Will you dance with me?”.

And sometimes, they do.

Roots

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a childhood friend that I had. It was one of those rare friendships where we could always trust each other and rely on each other, especially during difficult times. I lost contact with him about 18 years ago. Life just… got in the way. I’ve really wondered about him, especially because I know of his sensitivity and emotional difficulties. It’s been weighing heavily on me, but I haven’t been able to find any trace of him anywhere. At all.

About 9 months ago, I found an old filtered email on Facebook from someone with a similar name as his, but spelled differently. It was cryptic, and the profile was deleted by the time I found it, but I took a chance and emailed my phone number back. Just in case. A shot in the dark, and I took it.

Well, last night I received a text. Yes, it was my old friend. We spent some time catching up. He’s been through a lot, but is married to a beautiful woman and has two lovely little kids. We talked and exchanged photos of our grey-haired selves and our kids. I’m so happy for him. I’m so incredibly relieved that he’s not only okay, but okay and flourishing. It’s amazing how much peace that brings me. Even if we don’t ever talk again, I can smile knowing that he’s well.

I was later talking to another friend of mine, and she said this:

“Trees are all connected underneath at the roots. And even though we are introverts we still need those soul connections, and you haven’t been able to have those. And I feel like a lot of those are going to wake up for you. It’s kinda like a “welcome back”. Just like you need those connections they need you too.”

Such a beautiful reminder that we are all connected in some way. An beautiful reminder to reach out and make contact with someone who has been on your mind. Even a simple hello can be healing. 

I’m Still Learning

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I’m still learning.

That’s the one sentence that I have to keep repeating to myself on days like today. Days like I’ve had all week. Days that include migraines, rabid emotions, and so many doubts that I can’t even see straight. Days where I want to crawl into my self-made isolation cave and not see or talk to anyone.

I’m still learning.

I’m still learning how to love.

I’m still learning how to be me.

I’m still learning that it’s okay to stand up for myself.

I’m still learning forgiveness – toward others and toward myself.

I’m still learning that mistakes aren’t always considered failures.

I’m still learning that I’m okay. Just as I am. Right at this very second.

I’m still learning that I have the right to feel the way I feel, even if nobody else understands.

I’m still learning that others also have the right to feel the way they feel, even if I don’t understand.

I’m still learning that I don’t have to automatically feel guilty for all of my emotions. I’m just as important as everyone else.

I’m still learning how to apologize when I’m wrong. I’m still learning how to apologize even when I’m not wrong, but have hurt someone unintentionally.

I’m still learning.

We all are.

And that’s okay.

 

 

 

Gratitude and Grief

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I think of you often, my friend. Like right now when your song comes on my radio, and the sunset sky is so beautiful outside that it makes my breath catch. I wonder what the sky looked like the day you flew. Was it beautiful for you, or was it thick and dark because it was with you in your pain?

I also wonder if you come around when we think of you. I wonder if you can feel these thoughts, this touch of pain here in those who miss your gentle heart. I can imagine that you know. That you can tell when those your life touched sit in their grief, even if it’s just for a sliver of time when thoughts of you flicker through their minds.

I can see you smiling to yourself, that quiet knowing smile you always had, when you see how things have gone here since the day you flew. I can’t imagine that I’d even be on your radar, I’m merely just a distant friend who you touched with your authenticity and pain… but if you can see… if you’re aware… thank you. Our lives have intersected even more so since that day, haven’t they? It’s like the six degrees of separation became two degrees. Or no degrees. Or something weird and obscenely family-like in a spectacularly bizarre way.

It almost makes me chuckle. And yet, as the years have passed, look how things turned out. I know that I’ve done the work myself to make things happen as they have, but there’s a little spark of “I wonder if you had a hand in this?’

It’s totally something you’d do. If anyone could know what your leaving did to my heart, it’d be you. I can imagine you might work your magic to make my heart thaw and heal enough to let love back in. I can imagine your “no, no no” when you saw me with someone who couldn’t see me.

… so thank you, beautiful friend. Your heart lives on… your love and acceptance and innocence is still here among us.

Truths

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I sit here at midnight, the wind howling outside my window. I want to sleep, but my mind is overrun by thoughts… feelings… realizations. I’m happy, I’m angry, I’m encouraged, I’m disappointed. All jumbled together in one big mess.

We’ve all heard that the surest way to disappointment is by having expectations. I think about that quite often. It’s true, and yet how do we keep ourselves from having general expectations of others? We expect to be treated kindly and with respect, especially by our loved ones. We expect commitments to be kept. We expect honesty. We expect adults to act like adults.

We don’t expect to be abused, lied to, neglected, betrayed. Yet all of those things happen. Some we don’t even find out about until months… years… decades down the road. In those cases, even though time has passed, the sting is still fresh.

In my lifetime, I’ve experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, and mental abuse. One thing that I’ve realized fairly recently is that neglect is abuse as well. But the funny thing about neglect is that it’s sneaky. It’s not overt, not obvious. Sometimes we don’t truly see a situation until we’re out of it. Until we experience something different.

Isn’t that how things go, though? One doesn’t know light until they experience darkness. In the same way, I’m learning that one doesn’t fully realize how neglected they are (or were) until they are shown the reality of love. The reality of patience. Communication. Honesty. Acceptance. Integrity.

The past year or so has been a real eye opener for me. It’s amazing what love can do. It’s amazing how much of a healer love is. It heals you from the inside out. It fills up your soul, and then it bubbles over into every aspect of who you are. Basking in genuine acceptance, I’m learning new things about myself every single day. Many of the things I’m learning about myself aren’t things that I particularly care for, and yet I don’t consider that a negative thing. I refuse to let my past wounds affect my relationships with people who truly do love me. But I can’t face my shadows and crazy illogical insecurities, and heal from them, until I bring them into the light. I can’t bounce back from feelings of betrayal, disappointment, anger, pain… until I bring those feelings out to play.

So c’mon you little bastards… let’s get this show on the road. I have a life to live. I have people to love. I have many breathtakingly beautiful years in my future.

Turns out the howling wind outside of my window is symbolic, because I refuse to let the dust from old wounds sit on my shoulder.

Blow off, dust, blow off.

 

Stories

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One of my dear Facebook friends posted this the other day, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I can’t get it out of my head.

I’ve lived so much of my life ashamed. Ashamed of the decisions that I’ve made, ashamed of the results of those decisions, ashamed of being too weak… too stubborn… too cold.

I’ve also been ashamed of following my heart. I don’t question it within myself, as I’m fairly comfortable in following my heart, instead I question what people will think about it.

That’s why this quote sunk in like it did. Yes, I’ve paid dearly for following my heart. However, I’ve also paid dearly for NOT following my heart. Why should I be ashamed of either? Why should I be afraid to tell my story? I’ve grown. And I’ve also learned what true kindness and love really is. I learned it the hard way, and the long way around… but I have learned it.

As I learned that the hard way, I endured more than most will ever know. I truly believed that I was broken, flawed, not worthy…

… but love found its way back in. Truth found its way back in.

I will not be ashamed of that. I will not be afraid of it. This is MY story and I will live it and speak it proudly. I’ve walked through the gates of hell, and I’ve walked through the gates of heaven. I refuse to let fear keep my from my heaven.

 

 

 

 

They’re just words.

I’ve been battling insomnia recently, and last night was an interesting one. I was thinking about why words have such power.

They’re just words. That’s all. So why is it that even if we hear a thousand positive words, the few negative ones we hear we hold onto so tightly?

There are a few sentences that have been spoken to me in my lifetime that I will never forget. Most negative things ease out with time, but with these? No. And every time I think about them, it takes me right back into the very same pain I felt the first time I heard them. I sometimes wonder why. Why did *that* certain sentence stick inside of me with it’s mean sticky tentacles and why can’t I let it go?

The only thing I can come up with is because it showed me something about myself that I didn’t like. Or… that I still don’t like. Maybe it’s because it bumped against the truth. Which, in a way, makes it even worse.

It makes me realize the power we have when we speak to others. For the most part, the ones who have spoken the most hurtful things to me will never know the power I let those words have over my mind and my heart. They will never know the doubt that I still carry about myself because of them.

Let’s use our words for good. Build others up. Be mindful of what we say, because we never know how many days, or even years, of pain we may cause with just one mouthful.

Sirens

Yesterday, the kids were over at our neighbor’s house for a birthday party for their little girl. The husband just got home from deployment. They have chickens that I can see from my bedroom window, and I laugh every time they run across the yard. They are the ones who made C’s Halloween sweet after a bitter disappointment.

This morning we woke to sirens, and within minutes, there were no less than ten emergency vehicles parked along our street. Three of the vehicles were ambulances.

Life can change in an instant.

I’ve been the first-responder on scene, and I’ve also been the one to dial 911. The latter is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The chaos of this morning triggered some very serious and traumatic past memories for me, and over an hour later I’m still sitting here shaken, tearful, and anxiety-ridden.

All I can say is this:

Life is short. Love strongly. Love deeply. Love without reservation.

We’re bound to get hurt. But in the end, we can stand up proudly and say to the universe – “I loved.”

Boundaries and verses

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A number of years ago, I met a lady on facebook who turned into one of my very good friends. We were in a similar place in life, both finding our way after coming out of religion, and we talked often. Some communication took place on a daily basis, and she was always the first one I’d call when something exciting or awful happened in my life.

Well, after being close for a couple of years, this friend of mine went back to religion. Her posts became nothing but bible verses and christianese, and she unfriended me without a word. I never held it against her, but it stung because I thought we were close enough that I should have at least had a warning.

Fast forward about three years to this week. I received a very long and out-of-the-blue email from her, along with a friend request. In her email she mentioned that she did a search for me, but nothing came up… so she stalked a mutual friend of ours and found me with my old name. “I was so surprised! Please add me as a friend again so we can catch up, we have a lot of talking to do!”

Um…

Dear friend,

That “catching up” will be one of two things: You wanting to hear all about why my name is changed, or you wanting to judge me for why my name is changed. Or both. No thank you.

My life became none of your business the moment you cut me off three years ago. You have no right to know about any of the things that have happened since then. Especially since I’m well versed in the religious mindset and know that knowledge = judgement. Does my old upbringing make me have a twinge of guilt about drawing my boundaries? Yes. But I’m quite used to feeling and then dismissing those old tentacles of religion-guilt that wrap themselves around me when I’m not paying attention.

I’m still learning healthy boundaries. At times it’s two steps forward, one step back. However, I do know that my life and my choices are my own. I choose to do what’s healthy for me, not what everyone else thinks I should do. Nobody else has lived my life. Nobody else has seen what I have gone through on a daily basis. So, in turn, if I decide that I don’t want to tell someone about it… that’s totally my choice and it’s totally justified.

So, no. I won’t add you as a friend again. I won’t even answer your email. I’m too busy nurturing my broken heart back to health, thank you. I wish you all the best, old friend, but it will be without me.

 

 

Washing away the years

I’m not a musical person, but there is a musical soundtrack to my life. We all have that to some degree though, don’t we? We hear a song and it immediately takes us back to a memory.

A song came on my radio recently and took me back. It was Wash Away Those Years by Creed. I know, I know, everyone bashes Creed… however… there’s a particular album of theirs that means a lot to me.

A number of years ago, I had escaped a horribly abusive marriage with nothing but my child and the clothes on our backs. I was young, naive, and had to completely start over with a bruised body and a bruised soul. I remember nothing other the paralyzing fear of those days, because I knew that if I was found, I was dead.

However, after a while, I sent an email to my ex and informed him that I was going to be there on a certain day at a certain time in order to pick up some important paperwork that I needed. I told him to leave the house and to leave the door unlocked. What he didn’t know is that I was driving from California to Arkansas with a friend in order to get that paperwork, and then I was immediately driving back in order to get back to work on Monday… 52 hours of straight driving in one long weekend.

What he also didn’t know is that I was petrified.

When I pulled up to the house, it looked like nobody was home. However, when I tried to open the door, his mother opened it. I went in alone, and my friend took a little walk in order to stretch legs after the long drive.

It took me mere minutes to get what I needed and get out. When we left, my friend told me that my ex had been sitting up the hill in his vehicle watching the entire thing. For some reason, that is what got to me. I started shaking from anger, nerves, fear. I hadn’t cried, not yet, not for years. No tears.

On the drive home, we hit Oklahoma City, and I stopped for music. I was sick and tired of country radio, so I picked up what was then Creed’s new cd, as well as some snacks and other things for the road.

Back in the car, my friend fell asleep while I drove, so I listened to that cd as I drove. One of the songs was Wash Away Those Years. That’s when the tears came. The dam finally broke. I cried myself through part of Oklahoma, the top of Texas, and all throughout New Mexico and Arizona. I shook as I sang along with that song over and over… and over… and over.

When I hear that song nowadays, I go back to that weekend in the car. I can see the landscape of the southwestern desert in my mind and I can feel the release of years of pent up fear.

“Well I guess she closed her eyes
And just imagined everything’s alright
But she could not hide her tears
‘Cause they were sent to wash away those years.”

Yes. They were sent to wash away those years.

Bash Creed all you want. Go ahead. However, I won’t. Creed was my champion in those days. One of my best memories ever was being front and center at their concert at Staples Center about a year after that weekend. Oh, the healing of that year.

Nowadays, I’m starting over yet again. This song coming on recently was a message to me. If I could do it then, I can most certainly do it now. I’m stronger now.

Fuck fear.