Sitting in my group psychotherapy class, in a group….it’s my turn to share. We had each made a collage with images or words that symbolized our spiritual life, gender role, sexual orientation, masks we wear, an identity not mentioned that was important to us and a few other things.
We had been a little bit focused on the topic of death, namely, how our lives would change if we knew we only had 10 years left to live. There were discussions of dropping out of grad school, deciding no children could be birthed if there were only 10 years with them, and support for having kids even though because the experience was so valuable. It wasn’t my turn to speak yet, my mind was spinning with thoughts. 10 years! 10 years? TEN YEARS! What a gift! I thought back to the stroke in 2009 and how terrified I was to die. If someone promised me 10 more years from now, it would almost be a relief. Then I could stop wondering how much more time I had with my people and in this life. Ten years seems awfully precious when I consider that no one actually knows if they even have the next moment.
The question was posed directly to me, “What was the hardest thing on your collage for you?” I began sharing; “You see, in 2009, I had a massive stroke, I had to learn to walk again.” Having my own mortality in my face like that and realizing how precious it was to be able to walk contributes well to thinking that 10 more years is a gift. Our professor remarked, “Gosh, you are almost 10 years out from that stroke.” I am! I hadn’t even thought of that, and somehow it seems like something that I should celebrate even more than I do every other year.
(SIDENOTE: I know I drive others crazy with my selfie taking and insistence on picture taking during nearly anything. My classmates were fussing about precisely this at lunch today, thus, I explained to them the why’s of my insistence.
My Daddy lost his memories with his Alzheimer’s. I recognized from that how very important pictures were in helping tell him stories, whether he recalled or not, we remembered precious moments. Also, after the stroke, I lost a few big chunks of memories that I treasure. In looking at pictures or videos, it will often trigger a memory recollection that I had lost. Lastly, I NEVER took a selfie until after my divorce. I’m truly not vain. However, I do cherish memories and know it is possible to lose them. This is why I like to have so many pictures. The selfies….they help me remember where I’ve been and how far (usually) I’ve come.)
I continued, “So, the hardest thing on this collage is the blank spot on the bottom left corner. It is blank because I couldn’t find the word.” “I was looking for the word chosen“.
This ties in with my ideas of spirituality. I can trust the process. I can trust that I am right where I am meant to be. I can trust that I have a bright future ahead. I can trust God. “The reason that chosen ties in with this seems insignificant but I know it’s not.” In my heart, I know that I have been chosen for many things that I am not deserving of. I am healthy, whole and breathing, for a start.
I explained in detail, “When I look back and see how God has put the puzzle pieces together, I know He is trustworthy. In hindsight, He is good. However, for the future, I struggle with this whole trust thing hugely. There are two driving factors to my thinking.
First, I am not really sure that the desires of my heart are worth His time, or the plan, or whatever. Second, I still grapple with the lifetime thoughts that I am not worth it. Period. That said, I took a deep breath and shared what my deepest desire was.
I absolutely want to share my life with a mate. This is terrifying to me. I explained, “My ex-husband is my best friend, we were together for 23 years and I don’t want to lose that friendship.” Hard questions followed and the tears that had started flowing the minute I spoke hadn’t stopped. I decided that my vulnerability in this moment was a good thing, even if it totally sucked. I know (believe) that when I give my heart to someone, the relationship between my ex and I will need to change.
We will always be important to one another, and we will always have a friendship and co-parent our precious children. However, we still at times share the intimate nature of friendship that I feel belongs in a relationship. No more romance but all of the deep connection. It’s weird. I just know deep down that will change; and although it could be very positive, it’s super scary. For 23 years, we have been there for one another. Who will ever know me so well? I don’t know how to navigate any of this so even thinking about the possibilities makes me want to throw up in my mouth.
Despite these fears, I long for that intimate, soul sharing connection with the man who I hope exists not just in my heart and mind. I pray my desires aren’t denied. I don’t like saying any of this. It’s quite uncomfortable. I do not ‘need’ a man. If it is true that I want my own fairy tale, I am resentful of even wanting that. I recognize that my fears are holding me back and I am trying my damnedest to work my way out of them.
Back to the word, “chosen“…let me paint what this looks like to me. I want to be the woman that is not second choice to another woman and is in competition with no one. I want to choose and be chosen; to cherish and be cherished; to treasure and be treasured; to accept and be accepted; to trust and be trusted; and to passionately love and be passionately loved. All with the wildness and naturalness we are capable of.
Whether my hair is long or short, my booty is flat or bubblicious, whether my emotions are a jumbled mess or I am steady as a surgeon’s hand…just see me (an my people) and love me (us) right there, just like that. Just as I am (we are).
Is that a crazy notion? I want to give these things right back, in the manner they are needed. I guess this is my version of a fairy tale. I went to the restroom and cleaned of my mascara stained face, then returned to my desk. I picked up my pen and began an unfiltered 3 page list of what had happened or changed in my life in the past 10 years. Just look at this…
2009 – 2019
- Celebratory 1 year ‘birthday’ party on the strokeaversary. Celebrations on year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 as well. I will always celebrate November 9 as a second birthday because it was a second chance that forever changed me for the better.
- Surgical repair of a paten foramen ovale (hole in my heart suspected to have caused stroke)
- My babies are 9 years older. They are 17 and 14. Just wow.
- Infidelity in my marriage
- 3 years of intense marriage therapy and growth
- Started grad school (which I will complete 1 month after my 10th year celebration!)
- A special journey of self discovery…still in process.
- Had my only two relationships other than my marriage after divorce. One great, one yuck. Learning to date.
- Grappled with God. Alot.
- Grappled with self. Alot.
- My Daddy battled with Alzheimer’s. He passed away. I miss him.
- Went through and graduated Pathways.
- Learned more effective ways of dealing with my anxieties and fears.
- Lost weight. Gained weight. Lost weight.
- Learning to love myself.
- Almost lost home due to foreclosure.
- New and old animals.
- Worked at Jenks public schools, Sooner Start, Life, Autumn Leaves and I’m sure I’m missing something.
- Learning the value of letting go, letting go and letting go.
- Became stronger, wiser, taller, braver, more cognizant of reality and less apt to live in a fantasy land.
- Continue learning every day.
- Lost and made and regained and didn’t regain friendships.
- Endless hugs and kisses, even more heart to heart moments.
- Drove (all by myself) to Dallas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
- Finding my voice in a positive way.
- Practicing gratitude more than ever.
- Stepped out of my comfort zone a billion times.
- Crossed items off bucket list, including getting fired from Whole Foods!
- Learning who I am as a grown woman.
- Treat myself with love and respect more than ever.
- Gardened until my fingers and feet were mud stained.
- Cooked a trillion meals.
- Watched my Momma move out of our family home and into a new home.
- Stopped sugar and processed foods.
- Watched more precious nieces and nephews graduate, get married, have babies, enjoy first careers and more. Added the role of friend in with aunt.
- Learned that I am strong. I am a survivor.
- Finding my path to joy and freedom (it’s a journey.)
- Learned to love the word fuck. As in fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck….because sometimes it’s the only appropriate word even for a princess. (really a Sailor Sarah)
- Experienced two fabulous years of marriage that placed hope in my heart for beautiful things.
- Put dreams into action, see some coming to fruition.
- Experienced countless storms, rainy days, splashed in puddles, danced, sang, laughed, cried, embraced, shared, found the deepest pain and the most radiant joy, focused on passions, wrote, cooked, held hands with dying people, held new born babies, manicures, pedicures, massages, listened to music, had my eyes opened to the beauty of diversity, loved hard….an endless list.
- I’m still breathing.
I’m breathing. What a miracle I am. What a miracle we all are. This gift of life is one I can barely grasp. What did I do to deserve the goodness of being here and of being me? Chosen. Yes. Want to be chosen in other ways? Yes.
So ya…10 years. An amazing gift.
Sometimes I get stuck in the muck. Focusing on the lack does that for me.
I forgot my word this year is abundance…as in I have been provided with an abundance of all my needs.
I forgot I have the option to love myself despite someone else’s actions.
I forgot I can choose acceptance over struggle. We are all fighting our own battles and traveling our own journey.
I forgot about grace for all. Forgiveness is healing. Love is stronger than fear. Emotions are okay and gratitude is growth.
Today, I remember these things.
It’s okay to be hurt. It’s not okay to accept the perception of others as an interpretation of my own worth.
I wasn’t going to write tonight. Each time I had started to do so, I came up with nothing but feisty, unkind, passive aggressive wording, yet, here I am. Thanks to the love, prayers, positive energy and encouragement that surround me, I have decided to try to be brave and share my heart. Let’s hope I don’t regret it in the morning.
This is not a pretty post. Not at all. It’s kind of ugly and I just pray that I keep it about my experience and not someone else’s story. Whatever.
I am in the middle of learning some tough lessons. About myself, relationships, the difference between love and lust…so much. So fucking much. Lessons that I expect I ‘should’ have down by down at the ripe age of 46. I guess after being with one man for 23 years, I’m not joking when I say I am like a teenager at times and these growing pains are simply yuck.
My heart aches. Deeply. Every time I face rejection from a man, in any aspect, it’s like I bring into it a lifetime of rejection. It rapidly becomes all about everything I am not rather than about what the situation really is. Tonight, someone I am particularly fond and who has been precious (in my eyes) ‘defriended’ me on social media. Really. So familiar to what I hear my teenagers struggle with at times. I don’t even know why. It doesn’t matter. It stung and started a flood of tears that I can’t seem to stop.
An onslaught of failures, lies and struggles suck me in. Failed marriage. Poor choices. Less than. Never enough. Won’t happen. Negligent. Disorganized. Scattered. Settled for. Two faced. Fat. Broken. Messed up. Crazy. Damaged. Wounded. Stubborn. Less than, again. Optional. Disposable. Debris. Stupid. Boring. Too much. Not enough, again. Temporary. Unworthy. Plain. Short hair. Gross. Hurting. The list goes on.
Through it all, my mind keeps hearing the words of a dear friends prayer for me, along with a sermon that I have listened to numerous times lately. It’s all about the story we tell ourselves. We might tell ourselves something that is not necessarily a lie, but instead a twisted up version of the truth. It really pinged my heart because I know that I tend to live in the truth of my story instead of the truth of who God really made me to be….especially in regard to my relationships with men.
I am happily confident in my job, work hard in school, and adore my internship. I am a magnificent friend, the best Momma for my kids and try hard to fill my other roles with all the love, giving, compassion and care that I can give. Bottom line, I feel ‘good enough’ in these roles for the most part and when I don’t, I make changes accordingly. That’s one Sarah. She knows who she is and what she wants. She believes it is just as important to play hard as it is to work hard; she is not hesitant to go for what she wants.
Then…there is the Sarah who sees herself as disposable. She is seeking a real and deep love, a true connection with a gentleman that holds truth and freedom in it. She is looking for the hands that will hold her heart with love, gentleness and protection. She knows she has much to give BUT….this woman sees herself as a young girl who is overweight, awkward, painfully shy and unwanted. No matter how she ‘looks’ to others, and despite the way she works on positive changes…she mostly sees herself as someone broken, deeply lacking or undesirable. This feeling sucks. I know it’s not truth, but it ‘feels’ truthful in the moment and operating from that truth leads to a plethora of poor choices. Choices that disregard who I am at my core and what I hope for in this life. Choices that are made out of a fear of being without companionship. Choices that give a temporary band-aid to lonely feelings but absolutely do not result in long term fulfillment. Choices that are made because there is gratitude that someone desires me vs. knowing it is a privilege to have time with me.
I’m not speaking to intentional choices I make as a grown woman to participate in relationships that are fun, fulfilling in their own way and not long term. I am referring specifically to participating in relationships knowing full well that it won’t be what I want it to be, but choosing to believe I can change it to what I desire. I can BS myself like no other, but don’t worry, I speak the truth to others. So often that it gets me in trouble…not everyone wants that.
The story that I tell myself is that I will never find the love of my life, so I may as well enjoy whatever the moment offers. I will not ever be ‘the one’ to someone special, so I shall act accordingly. I’ve already had that, kind of, so God wants me to live the rest of my life alone and serving others. (I put those words to God, nothing I feel from him). I may as well go for the men who are not going to be long lasting, because in the end, they will leave. So why choose the ones I will really give my heart to? They too, will leave. Both will hurt but the latter will hurt far less. Choose the lesser of two evils, right? In the process, I am getting hurt and I am hurting others…unintentional as it may be. All of my protective forces are accomplishing nothing worth mentioning.
Who knows what of this is true and what is not? I know I am supposed to honor who I believe I am…a brave, worthy, happy, truly loved by God, whimsical, whole and surrendered woman. That is who I believe I was made to be, yet when I am engaging with men I am willing to trade that in for whatever they need me to be. That’s got to be better than what I really have to offer, right? Better even, let me serve as therapist and best friend ever, maybe even as a nurturing mom role. Ewwww. But it comes so natural.
A precious friend recently told me that “God made me and his work is always beautiful”. I love that friend and his heart. I want to believe his words. My heart agrees, it is beautiful…my brain taunts me by letting me know I’ll never measure up. But to who? How long am I going to let others opinion of me determine how I view myself. It’s ridiculous. Real stuff, but ridiculous.
I have a safety plan. Another dear friend and I have a ‘twenty year plan’. If neither of us are married at age 60, or in 20 years…we can marry each other. This is our little funny! In truth, I freak myself out. What if I die before then without experiencing the gift of a deep and abiding love with the ‘right’ man. I know…God’s timing…it’s just so hard for me to trust.
I am tired. I cannot believe I am ‘here’. There are new crinkles around my eyes and I see faint wrinkles on the delicate skin of my neck. I can’t seem to keep up with the fastness of passing time.
My precious children…lots of love and hugs from them tonight. That should be more than sufficient. Why do I long for anything more? I just do. Even in my deep gratitude, there is a constant yearning.
This is my story. I’m trying to figure out how to live in the truth of who I am…in ALL of the circumstances and with ALL of the people. I am trying to let go of the story I once helped me survive and embrace the story that is truth.
This is my honesty.
Transformation, alteration, renewal, metamorphosis….constant change is a certainty of this human experience. Stubborn resistance may root us in place. Still, the very change that surrounds will also change us. Why resist? We are forever becoming.
I was playing a little game with a friend, we were giving each other a number, and we had to share the photo from our phones that matched that number. He asked to see the 10th picture of only me.
The 10th picture of only me sent me spinning with shame and embarrassment. I could not show him this one. However, I promised…no cheating. Before sending the photo, I let him know that this was taken at one of the worst times of my life. My ex-husband had just told me he no longer loved me and wanted a divorce; my precious daddy was dying after a 12 year battle with Alzheimer’s. The picture (which is here for all the world to see) was a clear image of a lady who had no love for herself and her eyes held a deep sadness, despite the smile on her face. The only reason I share it is because I am trying to practice what I preach…vulnerability and transparency. In this moment, I also share in hopes of diminishing the pier of shame this photo holds.
This precious friend heard my shame and replied with, ‘it’s just a selfie, look at your smile’. Then he made me laugh with a gentle joke about chipmunk cheeks. I never thought I’d giggle looking at that picture, but I did, and it was genuine. However, I have obsessed over that picture since. It’s not just that I hadn’t realized how much I changed, it brought back a rush of painful memories.
I remember the day the man who was the only love I’d ever known told me he was leaving. I was inundated with feelings of unworthiness, disposability and fear. For some reason, I made a little video on my phone to myself. I guess to commemorate the day. I very clearly stated (to myself) that I wanted to learn to love myself, no matter who else loved or didn’t love me. That my friends, is the journey of transformation I have been and am still on.
My timehop today reminded me that at this time last year, I had lost 20 pounds on Weight Watchers. I then stopped Weight Watchers, and started doing my own thing. It’s called the ‘keto’ish but not all the way because life is too short to not enjoy ice cream” diet. Clean eating pretty much, low carb, very low sugar and almost no processed foods. In doing this, I have lost another 28 pounds. This makes 48 pounds gone! I should be so proud.
Rather, my first reaction was “wow!, but I have so long to go.” I began a laundry list of all the men who would like me better if I had a better body, and of how life would be different if my ass matched my sass! (Borrowed from a favorite meme). Somehow, I stopped myself in the middle of my negative recitation. I wondered to myself, “what will it take for me to be good enough?”
I asked myself what I wanted. Easy. I want to love myself. As is. I want to believe I am enough and honor that deeply, no matter where I am on my journey. I want to be excited about the work I am doing for ME while enjoying who I am right in this moment.
I want to practice gratitude, for I have so much to be grateful for. I am here, breathing. I am a miracle, just as we all are. Life is the celebration! I have two legs that are strong and lovely, and they get me where I want to go. The gift of walking was taken away from me in 2009 and I had to relearn that skill at the age of 35. How dare I fuss that I am not enough? My heart is strong; it is full of love, life and laughter. I can easily exercise on the elliptical for 35 minutes without rest. I might not be the most graceful, but I am me and I am a masterpiece. There is no one like me, ever, anywhere. I am blessed in every way, I want to remember this every second of every moment of every day.
I want to realize that when someone asks me out on a date, they are every bit as lucky to have time with me as I am to have time with them. It is not settling to be with me, it is a gift, for I am pretty damn cool. I want to stand in this truth. It changes my choices, it changes everything.
I want to show my kiddos who I am at my core and that we are ALL capable and worthy of beautiful, positive, transformation…their Momma included.
There is so much joy in the transformation these days…one day the pain will be nothing but a motivator for better.
If I were to be interviewed tonight regarding my thoughts on dating, men and myself, I might be banned from opening my mouth again. Or maybe my words would reverberate a familiar tune to those walking a similar path.
There is a linguistic dance party in my brain and the words all seem to be dancing to a different tune.
I have been officially divorced for about a year and a half. I was legally separated for about a year and a half before that. To clarify, this was a first divorce after an 18 year first marriage (23 years together). I had never planned on a divorce and I am not sure what I think about another marriage. I do know that I never want another divorce. Ever.
The only reason I share this is to say that other than my ex-husband, I really had no experience dating. I had experience partying in college, but I am not of the opinion that this is the same as grown up dating. Furthermore, after an 18 year marriage, I came out knowing (mostly) how to be a wife…not how to date. Vast differences.
I find the quote in my picture quite funny. Although, in all honesty, I sleep on one side of the bed always. My side. It’s been “my side” for over half my life. I guess I’m still saving a spot for someone. I also stand under only one of my two shower heads when I shower, though I turn them both on. Again…Saving a spot. Oh the subtle ways we humans express the unspoken and maybe even unrealized is intriguing. Ironic.
I thought I wanted to date soon after our separation. My first ‘date’ was with a dear, dear long time friend. We had a lovely evening of wine, music and deep conversation. He kissed me…twice. The first time I cried. The second time I laughed uncontrollably. These were not the lips I had kissed for the last 23 years and I felt like a cheater. I have apologized to him a multitude of times.
If I remembered how to contact them, I would apologize to the men that took me out during that 3 or 4 month period of time. I would tell them that I was sorry for talking about nothing but my dissolved marriage and my children and to please not take it personal that I couldn’t wait to dash out the door after dinner. Oh…and that I appreciated them offering to walk me to my car but the thought of them trying to kiss me made me vomit in my mouth (but not to take it personal).
Obviously, I wasn’t ready to date. It just took a few dates to let that solidify.
Fast forward to post official divorce and I was in a different place. I was actually ready to explore the world of men (whom I found terrifying). Online dating was my means of exploration. I started, tentatively, soon after the papers were signed. It was not long before I went out for drinks with a really nice guy. One thing led to another and the date lasted until morning. I woke up, and I wanted him to leave. There was an obligatory kiss goodbye, a few nice little follow up texts and I’ve not spoken to him since. I think of him figuratively as the guy who broke the seal. Nothing less, nothing more.
Initially, overwhelmed with guilt, I immediately went to my best friend’s house and told her all about it. I can’t remember…I think I cried at her house that morning.
I had moved one step further away from my broken marriage and I knew it.
There was such a sense of freedom, even among the sadness. I had no regrets.
Soon after, I met the man with whom I would spend the next 9 months. I thought I loved him. I did love him. We experienced things together that I had never experienced. It was exhilarating, until it wasn’t. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a very wounded soul who would’ve destroyed me had I not gotten out when I did.
I’m thankful for my time with him…it grew me up immensely in a short amount of time. There is a broken piece inside of me that still misses him at times, but I know better than to ever delve back into that world.
I had one other relationship for about 3 months. This one was with a super special gentleman that I wronged in the end. I will always treasure those three months and hope that he finds the love of his life because he is incredibly deserving.
Lesson learned…there are titanic size differences in boys and men and age does not define manhood.
Intermittently, I have dated men that I have met online. There have been some fabulous friends made, many first dates, a few that I dated several weeks, a couple of disappearing acts and yes, one or two ickies.
I’ve listened to more Matthew Hussey and Single Smart podcasts than anyone ever should, really!
I have learned terms I never knew I’d need to know during this process.
I’ve been “breadcrumbed” And “benched”, maybe even “cushioned”. The trouble is, sometimes it takes me longer than I’d like to understand this is the case (games suck). I’ve “ghosted” (only once bc he freaked me out) and I’ve been ghosted. “Micro-cheating” feels macro and isn’t cool. “Love bombing” is real. “FWB” is fun’ish until it’s not. “Hi” is supposed to open the doors to a world of fascinating goodness but never feels sufficient.
Some people are able to convey a much broader range of emotions through emojis than they’d ever express in word and deed. For real. 😉🤔🙄😜😇😈💋🔥❤️ and I won’t even get started on the produce emojis!
Here’s a great little link if you’d rather read than experience the terms. (Or perhaps you’ll choose both. I got ya!😉) https://bestlifeonline.com/online-dating-terms-older-people-dont-know/
A bit of personal wisdom I’ve collected through my “research”…
- The dating culture online is fast moving and it’s not uncommon to get ‘real familiar’ with each other quickly. I think it’s something about the false safety of technology.
- Kissing is superfun and men are supercool. Seriously, I like them way more than I ever knew…not so terrifying after all. Also, a kiss can just be a kiss. It is not a covenant. Seriously.
- The range of wants is on a spectrum. Imagine one end is raw, uninhibited sex for a couple of hours and the other is deep, intimate connection for a lifetime. EVERYTHING FALLS IN BETWEEN . I must be clear about what I want in any given situation. Even better if the other party is clear you. I am learning all about what I want through an experiential training in my own life. Honestly, it’s often confusing and I don’t know what to do but feel it out and absorb the experience.
- Some can be intensely overwhelming the first few interactions…block them. As a matter of fact, block anyone who gives you any sense of the heebie jeebies, without regrets. No fixer uppers needed.
- Dating can be fun. It can also be exhausting and feel like being on a continual interview. Take a break when a break is needed and enjoy it fully when that’s what is needed.
- Dignity, honesty, respect, safety, boundaries, and a sense of humor…absolute necessities in my world.
- It’s lovely to be treated like a lady and it’s just as lovely to enjoy the company of a gentleman. I love my girlfriends but it’s simply not the same. Men smell good (hopefully), they feel good and they are just enjoyable to be around in a different way.
- I am a little bit old fashioned in some ways and a little bit ahead of my time in others. That’s okay. Just gotta be me.
- Someone does not have to be evil to not be good for me.
- I don’t have to be evil not to be good for someone else.
I told my best friend today, I would love to just date one person but I don’t really want a relationship yet. She asked exactly what I meant. I let her know that I wanted one someone to do fun things with; talk deeply with; someone to take me out; someone to kiss and snuggle and all the other stuff. She asked how this was not a relationship. Why? Simply because I said so.
I let another close friend know pretty much the same thing the other day. But I added that I wanted to be seen and appreciated for who I was; I wanted to see and appreciate the other person for who they are and I wanted to really love and cherish each other.
Currently, some part of me still goes toward and connects to those who likely won’t be my long term partner. I seem to unconsciously be drawn to the men that fit lots of my criteria but not the part that includes love and cherish in the intimate, forever sense. It’s tough…commitment is fleeting and vulnerability is rare.
In this arena; A grown up kid enjoying the playground and also knowing she yearns for her own “When Harry Met Sally” kind of everlasting love….that is me.
Until then…The journey is mine to embrace. Me learning to love myself fully is my assignment.
That’s a lot.❤️
It’s National Heart Health month and Congenital Heart Defect awareness week. I’m thinking about Dr. Loughridge who performed the full correction of my tetrology of fallot 45 years ago, my Dr. Cooper…the cardiologist who ‘grew me up’ and the cardiologists and medical personnel who have helped and do help me stay healthy and strong.
I am thankful for the practice of medicine. I am deeply grateful for those who dedicate themselves to learning the science of healing in all aspects. I am thankful for the God who fills my lungs with air and my spirit with joy.
Whenever these celebratory awareness events occur, I celebrate. But I celebrate always because I have seen first hand that my life is a gift to be treasured. Our moments are precious indeed, and time is truly a gift.
I ask myself and God why in the world I am here and others are not. Scientifically, I did not fit neatly into the statistics. I will never have the answers. I will never think my life is more significant that another’s. I will be grateful, deeply grateful for each breath and I will strive to find the wonder, awe and joy in each living being as long as I am here.
Anyway…HAPPY HEART MONTH! Love a little more!
I have no idea what I am writing about tonight, or what I am trying to say. Just going to go with pouring out my heart and see what happens; this seems to work well for me in writing.
I’ve been looking for this quote forever. I knew it was Aristotle and I knew I had written it in a journal years ago. I couldn’t find the exact quote, even on Google, lol! I also couldn’t find the journal…until tonight.
I have a friend going through the dying process with his Mom. It was only 2.5 years ago that I lost my Daddy and so many memories have come flooding back. Anyway…he was sharing tons of family pictures which in turn, inspired me to start looking through old photos. I was able to just get through a couple of albums before I felt like I was headed toward emotional overload….because each picture bring a special sentiment with it.
In the mix of the albums I dug out, I found a few old journals. The first page I opened to was the long lost quote. Validation. I didn’t make it up!
“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” -Aristotle (written in my journal, June 18, 2010)
I loved this quote years ago, it still fits. I feel it is my constant yearning in life to gain victory over myself..my ugly talk, my self-defeating behavior, the lies I believe about myself, the rules I create, the illusion of control, letting go…all in effort to live truly as who I am made to be. Not in anyone’s shadow, not in the history that is mine; rather by standing tall as who I am…inside out. It’s a journey for sure.
I also found a little piece of my history that I thought was gone forever. My Grandma used to write me letters when she was angry at me. (often). My sweet Momma once destroyed (we thought) all of those letters in order to save me from further hurt. I understood and at the same time was so sad that she did, I didn’t know why.
This post could be a little here, there and everywhere and that also fits. No matter how planned our lives are, there is always a bit of scattering. Personally, I find that beautiful. If I didn’t allow myself to be open to that which is not in my plan, I’d be missing so many opportunities. If you are not a lover of the unplanned, just stay with me anyway…it’s real.
In that little pile of journals, I found three of her letters to me. I don’t know how they survived, but tonight, I am deeply grateful that they did. In these letters, I saw a summary that confirmed that all I had remembered was as it occurred. She loved me so deeply, and she struggled with mental illness, and her behavior was often emotionally abusive.
Reading those letters I was reminded that her love was strangely possessive, as one might be with a jilted romantic partner. (Never did sexual abuse, nor physical occur in my history). It was an incredibly unhealthy enmeshment that began when I was a young child and that I still have to pull away from at times, although she passed away in 1995.
The craziest thing ever…I have written about the relationship I had after my divorce that was extremely unhealthy. I don’t know the diagnosis, but I do know that his words to me in our final communications were nearly identical to the words in the letters from my Grandma. As Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know”. Let’s hope I’m receiving the lesson.
I can hear Grandma’s voice in my head as she scolded me via the letters. “Why are you doing this to me?”, “Why don’t you love me anymore?” “You better ask God for His forgiveness, He’s going to punish you.”, “Who do you think you are little girl (at 21)”, “When did you get so smart?”
With each little thing I read, I still have internal dialogue and have to talk to the little girl/adolescent/young woman inside of me. I do this to remind myself that she was sick and not in control of herself much of the time; that although she loved me it did not make her behavior okay, and that my God is loving beyond what I can fathom and He is not out to get me. When I do this, I approach my history, and my present, from a place of healing, compassion, grace and forgiveness. I know that I am and was immensely loved.
I also recognize how those words sunk into my spirit and they rear their ugly heads still. “When did I get so smart?” Great question! I have just in the last few years begun to enjoy the fact that I am intelligent, and that conversing with intelligent others and not playing dumb is the true me. No more shrinking. (I fight this one often). Shrinking down to make someone else feel better serves no one well.
“Who do I think I am little girl?” I’m figuring that one out still but I’m becoming joyfully aware that I’m not a little girl. I’m a bad ass grown woman with bad ass grown woman desires and thoughts. I’m also a woman who is filled with peace in reflecting on these letters. They mean I was not crazy. Everything happened as I remember.
“Why don’t you love me anymore?” I am still so afraid for anyone to not feel loved by me, whether they deserve that gift or not….see? Still healing.
There is also no blame for anyone else. Growing up with someone who has a mental illness, or substance abuse issue creates countless self-doubts, guilt and shame for all! It does not just affect the afflicted person, it’s a whole family illness. Behaviors that served me well as a young person trying to survive are no longer useful, as a matter of fact, they are damaging.
Here’s the takeaway…I am thankful that I am in a position of healing for myself and others. I am thankful for my history because I believe my compassion is greater for it. I am able to do beautiful things because of this.
I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to know God as my persecutor and punisher (which He never was) and as my Savior and Rescuer (which he very much is).
I am appreciative of a family I can share memories with; both easy and hard ones. I am pleased that I am living out of my comfort zone in a multitude of ways and I am intrinsically aware that though I have come so far, I have so far yet to go.
I also found something on my phone today. It was a video I had recorded of myself back in 2016, as my ex-husband was preparing to move out and my Daddy was dying. I looked like the walking dead. No glimmer in my eyes, no peace in my heart, puffy faced and teary eyed. I remember… I was a weary warrior and ready for a rest. But, I couldn’t rest, I had way too many responsibilities. Just keep swimming, right?
It pained me to watch the video. I was in someone else’s skin. I was talking to myself as a child in the video (maybe a counselor had given me that assignment). I told ‘me’ that I was going to be okay, that this was all a journey to learn to love myself. That could not have been more accurate. I was literally trembling as I spoke.
I love myself today more than I ever have in my adult life. I still hate myself sometimes. I am so flawed. I always will be. My journey is to love myself because I am. Just because I am. Only because I am.
I anticipate that even if I never fully ‘arrive’, I will stay on course. I think it’s supercool how all of our life experiences prepare and link us to what is now. I find that deeply comforting.
This is my understanding of the journey of trusting the process.
Happiest Thanksgiving everyone! As I was mixing my banana pudding ingredients this morning, one of my beaters broke in half and flew across the room…no joke. That is such a mirror to my life right now…things that aren’t supposed to (according to my plans) are unexpectedly flying apart. I can’t help but continue to giggle at the irony of life. My siblings, Momma and I all shared a Happy Thanksgiving love you text this morning and my Momma added…”There’s not an ugly one in the bunch!” My heart smiled so big…this is what my Daddy always said. My heart feels his physical absence super strong this particular holiday season. I have a dear friend in the hospital, two parents I read about just lost their son, my own heart is struggling and I just want my Daddy to hold me tight and let me know everything is going to be alright. So…as I sit in my warm home waiting for the sweet potatoes to be done baking, I sit and write and cry some big ole tears. I contemplate all that I am grateful for. I’m contemplating gratitude not to distract myself from the hurt but to remind myself of the joy in the journey. Again, pain and joy coincide. My God who loves me bigger, wider and deeper than I can comprehend and the faith I have that he is tangible and real in my life, and holds me as I cry. I hurt, but I am certain I am not a Fatherless child in any way. John and Stella and their sweet Daddy, Nathan. They are the hearts that exist outside of my body and within my own heart always. Looking at them consistently reminds me that I’m not in control, even of ‘my’ most prized and cherished treasures. They stretch me in every way, challenge me to be my best and if ever I forget gratitude, I need to do no more than remember I thought a child would never come from my own body. My family. There really isn’t an ugly one in the bunch. I’m talking the inside and the outside. The hearts in this bunch are gloriously beautiful, extravagantly loving and the best shelter a girl could ever have. My friends. We wrap each other in encouragement and love and sometimes we annoy the crap out of each other. Wouldn’t want to do life without them. Healing hearts. The journey of life. Letting go of my attachment to the outcome and learning to just trust the process. Seriously. Christmas music, cooking, warm toes, yummy smelling candles, new experiences, coffee, fur babies, poetry, writing, the ability to contemplate and choose, growth, openness, trust, laughter and tears, prayer, the knowing that despite all of our differences, we are all the same, worship, compassion, tenderness, kissing, kissing, kissing, hugs, kissing, love, snuggles, opportunities, crispy fall leaves (especially heart shaped ones), walking in the sunshine, rainy days, catching snowflakes on my tongue, being a woman and enjoying my feminine self, tolerance, perspective, pennies from Heaven, baby goats, chickens, the bestest cohort ever in the whole wide world, lipstick, perfume, learning that presence is really is the most significant present, connection, conversations, the gift of angels unaware……I could go on for eons. Strange that my heart is so much more peaceful than it was 20 minutes ago. I am held, always, no matter what. So are you. Somehow, everything is going to be alright. No matter where you are in life right now, I pray that peace , hope, health and joy encompass you in the most unexpected ways. Happiest Thanksgiving dear ones.
It has been said, “when the student is ready, the master appears”. Could it be that when the soul is open and willing, God brings the lessons (sometimes painful) that take us to a higher level of surrender (closer to Him)? It all fits like a perfect puzzle in the end, right? The issue is that no earthling is privy to just what the end is. Possibly, even, what we see as the end is truly the beginning.
My precious friend shared a wonderful Taoist parable with me, I was lost in the beauty of the words and awestruck when he asked me to consider that this was only the middle of our story. If we are in the middle (or anywhere but the end), how is it possible to judge life circumstances as good or bad, for we don’t know the end result. The parable goes like this:
Good or Bad; Who Knows?
There once was a poor rice farmer, who had a very small field just large enough to feed his family.
Then one day a herd of wild horses came running through the village. They ran into the farmer’s rice field and got stuck in the mud, and since they couldn’t get away, they were his.
His neighbor came running over and said, “This is good news! Such good fortune! You are rich, this is amazing!” And the rice farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”
A few weeks later the farmer’s 12-year-old son jumped up on one of the wild horses for a ride, only to be thrown off and have his leg broken. The neighbor comes running over and says, “Oh no, this is such bad news!” And the farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”
A week later a Chinese general is marching through the farmer’s village on the way to war. On this march, the army is conscripting every healthy boy over 10 years of age. So they took every boy in the village except the farmer’s son because of his broken leg.
The neighbor comes running over and says, “Yes! This is wonderful news, how lucky are you?!” And the father replies, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”
Life is bursting with opportunities to form dichotomies…good news or bad news, who knows? There comes to mind a zillion personal thoughts initially perceived as bad news that turned out to be the best news. The big ole stroke could’ve been the end of this earthly life. Instead, it gave immediate notification of an unknown hole in my heart that was putting my life in imminent danger, that hole is now repaired. My sweet Daddy’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was horrific. At the same time, there was so much healing in our relationship that occurred as a result of our time together those last years. My divorce…I struggle with the good news in that, yet I fully trust that it’s there even when I only see glimpses. Another consideration; news for one might seem like bad news for another and vice versa. Again, who knows? Additionally, in each moment we choose our path. Is it possible, even when the ‘good’ is concealed in the dark, to live confidently, truly believing it’s there? It is more than possible, and I seek to live passionately and wholeheartedly while walking in love, hope and integrity.
Am I living congruently? Do the desires of my inner being mesh better with right this minute or also with hope for a bright future? The things I (think) I believe in my core…do I? Why or why not? Where did I learn them? Yes, I’ve been growing healthier spiritually, physically, professionally and emotionally but there is far more growth to come. I don’t have answers. I don’t want to argue…not even with myself. I don’t want to prove anyone right or wrong. I just want to seek the things that spark my soul.
There is this intense desire to live life fully, embracing completely the season I am in. Learning to love and be loved wholeheartedly, to express and receive genuine adoration…these are “worthy wishes” that are new additions to my repertoire. I’ve prayed often recently, wishing to strengthen my relationship with God more than anything and trusting that the rest will follow. I’ve asked God often for heartfelt relationships that are soulful, deeply engaging and bring me closer to Him. It should be no surprise that my eternally inquisitive spirit has recently been exposed to endless discussions that cause me to ponder and question my own belief system in every area. I cherish this journey, for every opportunity to investigate myself grants the opportunity to live a richer life. There could be a blog written on each question, but until the internal chaos settles a bit, I can only name my ponderings.
- Now that I’ve dared to dream the possibility of a future relationship, what would I dream that it looks like? Heart flutters (the good kind), belly butterflies and googly eyes are excellent; but what beyond these precious prizes?
- I believe that God loves me and that I am secure in my salvation. I am baffled that there is so much doubt surrounding that for so many that I love. I’m left wondering how to defend my assuredness and my faith or if defend is even the right word.
- Conversations about God and spiritual practice make me happy. They also make me think outside of my box. In the end, all I can do is seek wise counsel and trust that I am on the path God has for me. I really cannot fathom that my path is better than anyone else’s or that there’s is better than mine; I can keep an open heart and mind and seek the value. I guess the challenge in this is searching my own soul and trusting that small, still voice.
- I am intrigued by the practices of worship, adoration, meditation, contemplation, and in how we all perceive God and our relationship (or lack of) with Him. There are so many times that I have run from God, still he pursues me. I wonder how I live out this unconditional kind of love in my own life?
- Where in the heck should I intern and how will this (work, family, growth, school, internship, etc) all come together? This feels like another exercise in trust….am I on Candid Camera?
- It’s pure loveliness to be respected, doted over, and presented with fun surprises! It’s lovely, novel, different and feels so grown up. It makes me wonder why I have ever been okay with being treated as less than the beloved girl my Father created me to be.
- I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand yet, I’m not sure why God hasn’t made those my spiritual gifts, lol! Hmmm hat I am reflecting on heavily is the joy in the journey and the impact of earnest gratitude. Gratitude is a life changer, Ranger!
- When I willingly lay down my burdens at the cross, everything, everything, everything changes. Why do I insist on holding on not only to my hurt at times, but to control? My theory…I had such a chaotic childhood that knowing the ‘what if’s’ and deciding how things should look creates a false sense of safety for me. Time to let that illusion go. Seriously.
- Some things build up slowly, other things are immediate. One is not better than the other. I do wonder though…what does it mean when there is an intense draw to one that I barely know and at the same time, a desire to move away from or stay status quo with one I know well?
- Every spark (lots of the sparks) does NOT come through comfortable or kind vessels. Don’t discount the spark, Sarah.
- We’ve all been hurt in the past. I think it’s just human nature to try and protect or defend ourselves from more hurt. Sometimes it’s covert and unconscious, other times it’s overt and intentional. Perhaps it’s worth it to investigate what fronts and defenses I put into play and to remember that before I know it, my walls become my devastating enemy.
- I forge out the what if’s and all the possibilities I foresee, and when others mess up my plans, I have a propensity toward an inner (sometimes outer) freak out. No! Stop. What an excellent opportunity to be reminded to trust God and his timing before my own. Those freak outs are humiliating and embarrassing and I don’t have to weigh it long to discern my own contribution to the ouch factor.
- Laughing…especially ay myself…even at my mistakes…it’s absolutely delightful medicine for my soul. Laughter sparks.
- There are places that spark my soul, and if they don’t spark my soul and I’m in those places daily…how do I change that trajectory? Additionally, I dream of places I want to go…namely Maine and Vermont in the fall and back to the Cascade waterfalls. Is that going to happen ever? Gosh, I hope so.
- God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. The more I believe this, the more my heart is filled with unwavering joy.
Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by and encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Life can take our flame and drown it in floodwaters until it’s seems like it’s gone; yet if we look closely, there is going to be the tiniest little spark remaining. Much like the faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains is little spark that I feel rising within me.
I’m a ready and willing student and the teachers are coming in droves. The good and the bad seem to cohabitation.
Good news or bad news? Who knows. Maybe that’s not the question.