The Next Act

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I noticed it beginning a few weeks ago and it is proceeding with a fury. I even wrote a spot about it and thought I should begin my retreat to protect myself, my heart and spirit. But I made the decision to fight my survival instinct and stay open, to be present in the world.  Having spent decades being reminded of my shortcomings, having my faults slung at me as if they were ammunition in some war, even being held accountable for things that were not mine to bear, I was adept at shutting off, at accepting the barrage of painful assault and continual condemnation. The decision to stay present went against all I have known for so long.

So now I am unsure how to proceed. Last night a close friend was enraged with her husband and began ranting, as she proceeded through this I grew increasingly uncomfortable; she clearly was struggling and in pain and I felt for her but once the name calling and belittling began, I could not remain silent. I know how detrimental that can be, the pain words can inflict can result in scars that remain forever. In her anger she said she was finished, ended the friendship in haste, deleting my from all social media and blocking my number so I cannot even check to see if she is doing alright.  A few days before another friend, someone who taught me the importance of being open, someone with whom we had each shared so very much  told me they were uncomfortable with me sharing what was upsetting and painful for me; having spent a lifetime filtering my needs and minimizing myself I am still unsure how to respond from me heart.  So that leaves two in my circle, one of which is moving for love very soon and the other which I have not heard from in days.

Was it all some false existence, some charade? Although I struggle to hold to my empathy and compassion, have I lost all worth to these people I held close?  Years spent living isolated, alone while life proceeded alongside of me, unconnected people wandering through their days with only shallow interactions I grew to believe life was meant to be lived alone until someone convinced me otherwise, taught me that we are not intended to navigate life in isolation. Was I believing in something that is not to be, something founded in hope that cannot come to fruition? How does one continue to bear the blow of disappointment that not everyone, cares as I do, is empathetic or compassionate as I try to be, nor do they value loyalty as I do. Maybe living without something makes you hold it in higher regard.  I have never asked for anything from anyone other than an occasional ear, honesty, and for people to be true and authentic; self-reliance was at my foundation because I never learned to trust in the stability and consistency of others so why ask for more.  I have reached out of the darkness a few times recently, trying to find something, to get my bearings, to hear a kind word, some sense of normalcy, someone to invalidate my lack of hope but have only felt the cold emptiness of nothing. Maybe it is time to draw the curtain to prepare for the next act. Let’s hope I have the courage to face the possibility of some sad monologue.

“Sometimes you have to move on without certain people. If they’re meant to be in your life, they’ll catch up.”  -Mandy Hale

Misguided Faith

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I just don’t know. I have lost my direction. I feel like it is all I can do to just breathe; as a child hiding in the closet under a blanket and it became stifling, difficult to take more than a shallow breath, almost smothering. I usually crave solitude but the silence is painful to my ears, the darkness is too rough against my skin. I spent the majority of my adult life without; I persevered only to arrive here. Knowing the pain of being alone, being without emotional support, lacking a caring person, I always gave what I never had. For the longest time I had faith that if I put out into the world what I was denied and it would be returned; unconditional acceptance, love, kindness, compassion. My faith was misguided and I am beginning to doubt what I have always hoped for in people. I feel I am crushing under the need for a hug but am riddled with fear that I would crumble under touch. My ears crave a kind word but fear it will never arrive.

 

“Love is a circular emotion that surrounds you, like a hug. Or a noose.”  ― Jarod Kintz

Vintage Handkerchiefs

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Even as a child I have liked things from days pasts. I have a special fondness for vintage handkerchiefs thus my small collection. Some are new, having been gently stored away for some special occasion that never arrived while others are well worn, having been neatly ironed and stored away to arrive at an estate sale or antique shop. I love the patterns, tiny flowers, sometimes lace, or embroidered prints.  I am quite curious about the owner; was it a gift, had she liked the pattern, what special event was she saving it for? I often wonder what stories they could tell; did they catch the tears of a love lost, of the joy of a wedding day, or of regret for lost dreams?

My collection has had use as of late for I have had cause to shed tears. While struggling to reconcile my brokenness, to learn to bear the weight of my missing pieces, in my darkness life decided to deliver another blow. As with any time of darkness, people can be lost along the way. You quickly learn who cares by seeing who is traversing your darkness with you, who will sit with you when the candle of hope is extinguished.   In my pain, my insecurities could not be kept tucked away, hidden from myself any longer. So once again I was reminded that not everyone has the same belief system I do, that not everyone cares as deeply as I do, not everyone can stand in the pain of life with another just to support them in silence. So my lovely violet printed hankie is collecting my tears of disappointment and fear.  So  I have decided to retreat and make the change at my own hand as opposed to add to  the tally of those lost on this journey. I do know I am too tired to fight for my place in one’s world.

“The only love you have to prove in life is your love of God and helping others. Anyone that can’t see that has proven themselves to be unworthy of your time because why would you spend your life with someone that can’t tell the difference between a diamond and dirt?”  ― Shannon L. Alder

Off Kilter

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It seems that my world was knocked off kilter. I was employed with a company where I witnessed behaviors that did not align with my own morals, it regularly pushed against my integrity, and often made me question my purpose in the career I had chosen. It was so far from the my choice to pursue this path I am unsure why I stayed for as long as I did but I held on well past the expiration date. Part of it is possibly this is the only existence I have known, since I was six years old I have been involved at some level in education, my world has primarily consisted of learning in some form or another. I have worked in other areas but have always had that as a foundation. I have often contemplated switching fields, finding my way back to what fuels my passion and feeds my soul for that was how it was in the beginning.  For some reason I chose to stay and try to make a difference in a place where there was only futility and hostility; focusing on my identity and all I had known I lost sight of life and my contentment and joy with my career. Maybe I am being nudged to change and since I didn’t listen to my heart this was the only path out.  Monday when I received the call from HR I was not just let go, in that moment she stripped me of a part of my identity, the only real one I have known.

In this moment of instability I find myself fighting my insecurities, riddled with doubt, and at moment crippled with anxiety. I am perfectly aware the only control we have in life is over our reaction to it, how we respond to the situation, how we treat the people we see along our journey, how well we love those in our life, how kind, compassionate, and empathetic we are.  But this has brought forth a memory, a time when I fought so very hard to find my own financial stability; where I had control to ensure my children had their needs met. That was a dark time where I was truly alone; the reason I try so hard to be there for those I love because I know what it feels like to have no one. That is the fear that seems to overshadow my thoughts right now. For I have seen people leave, when a storm comes in, they seek shelter because no one wants to see the agony of struggle and tragedy. Trying to look beyond my fear, for it will only be conquered by time and validation I try to find my new path.

I understand that often times, letting go of what you held so tightly too is painful, at time casting away what we believe about yourself may feel like we are cutting away at who we are but maybe that is no longer my truth.  If I can open my hands to the possibility what does the world hold? What possibility of greatness is waiting for me that I cannot imagine because I am looking at the fear of some past that in all likelihood may not repeat itself. While I am a tough old cat and always seem to land on my feet, there are at times that little voice of doubt is what I need to silence. If I could trust in my strength one more day.  Thank you to my friend that has sent wonderful words of encouragement; I hope you never face struggle but know I will be there with the same kindness in your hour of need.

So in this darkness I need to hold to the things I believe, the truth as it still exists.  I am not what I used to do nor what others have said; in my heart I am kind, compassionate, a nurturer, a teacher. While I am fighting to right myself and balance my world I know I am blessed beyond words. I may not always have what I want but I shall have all I need. I have the financial wherewithal to withstand this shift. It may not be an easy path to traverse but it never has been and I suppose anything worth having is worth the effort. I need to trust in my journey! I have riches beyond monetary wealth; beautiful, happy, healthy children, family and friends that rally when I need them, a good meal with laughter, friends that understand and accept me, as well as a few material blessings. Those moments, the deep laughter with a friend, the warmth of my cat on my lap while drinking a good cup of coffee, fun with my children, getting lost in a good book, cooking for my loved ones….those have always fueled my soul and will always be my purpose.

 

“Be sure that whatever you are is you.”  ― Theodore Roethke

The Pain of Realization

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Realizations can be magnificent, when you solve some great perplexing problem, when your research makes an impact, when you find some inner truth that guides your path yet they can also be quite a painful slap in the face. Over the past several weeks, I have been asked the same question in different forms, essentially how I view myself, something related to my self-esteem and worth to which I reply I really don’t know for I never look at myself in that manner. So therein lies a question that has been bouncing around in my thoughts. Why do I never look at myself? Why do I avoid considering my value, my beauty, my worthiness…..?

This has perplexed me off and on for some time. I never look at myself in a manner that others may see me. By saying that I am not implying I walk through the world self-centered saying to hell with you and all your opinions. I do consider how my interaction will impact others, try to analyze things from all sides to ensure my living with kindness and compassion has only a positive impact. It is more like I never consider the light others may see me in, for instance I do not consider if I am pretty enough, smart enough, caring enough, or attractive enough; I usually only consider if I am giving enough, loving enough, kind enough. While that may be considered liberating to some, after the recent questions I have arrived at the conclusion I do not consider this out of fear it would validate the word others have thrown at me, as if looking at my abilities and attributes may confirm the painful cruel things that have been said. I suppose not considering is a coping mechanism that I have carried through my entire life, this avoidance as a means to maintain since my childhood. Words hurt and the closer to your heart the person saying them is the more pain they inflict;

I have arrived at a realization which bears a herculean weight.  Trying to learn to consider myself, I now understand my worth it. I work so diligently to be supportive of those I care about, try so very hard to always be there, to be kind, loving, and generous. Since I was blessed with my life, my freedom to live as I want I have strived to give the people in my life things I have gone without for I know the pain of having no one when you need it the most, the struggle to face another hopeless day without care, to feel so lonely when you struggle to gain your footing after the world knocks you down. I cannot think of but a very few times I wished for a place to take respite, I do not need some knight in shining armor but having arms to give a supportive hug, a gentle voice to offer a few kind words, or even a hand to help me up would be the reassuring blessing I need. This week I fell into the muck of life and it is just too much to try and stand up, too difficult to move forward in that moment so I just stayed there. Crying myself to sleep last night I arrived at the realization whose weight crushed my soul.  I may not be worthy, not worth the effort for someone to care, not worth the time for someone to offer a hand up, not worth being loved because of all my sharp edges and missing pieces.  I suppose this is something I have known for most of my life, the reason I avoided looking.

 

 

 

“A person who truly loves you is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else believes in the smile on your face.” ~ Anonymous

 

Crisis of Faith

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I am felling the weight of my brokenness much more than normal as of late. I don’t know how else to describe it. I feel like all the piece of me I have fought so long to keep up with are becoming too difficult to carry, some of them are jagged and painful and keep gouging me…

I believe we are all broken, we all have some crack or ding, some scar. Maybe we caused the damage ourselves, maybe it is something we have been carrying since childhood, maybe it was caused by someone else and quite possibly there are many of them. Sometimes I think that is where our beauty grows from the courage to continue in our brokenness. I often wonder if that is the source of our empathy and compassion. I believe our imperfection is what makes us impeccably suitable for life, for one another; from our damage we can heal, from our mistakes we can learn, and from shortcomings we can grow.

So why do we fight so hard to keep our brokenness concealed, why do we chose to not embrace our vulnerability but strive to hide our struggles? In my heart and soul I believe you are the exact right person in this moment, you are who you need to be for the purpose of now, you are who you were intended to be. So why am I struggling with that belief? Why this crisis of faith?

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” –Ernest Hemingway