A Blessing from Day Past

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Life is an amazing journey, one filled with surprising twists and turns.  I have always thought if you can pay attention opportunities present themselves, if you can quiet the noise of the world your inner voice will tell you what to do, and every experience no matter how painful is an opportunity to grow and learn. There have been times when life was dreadful that I needed to hold tightly to those beliefs. Other times my faith was shaken but I clung firmly. I felt like I floundered a bit this past year or so, taking the time to dig all those skeletons from my closet. What is it George Bernard Shaw said, “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”  Being aware of the impact of my past  I had decided to dance with my skeletons, to truly understand the impact the may have on my life; past, present, and future.

Funny how life surprises you at certain points of your journey. At the end of all this dancing I have reconnected with an amazing person from my past. Someone who I so fondly remember conversing, analyzing life, and sharing laughs. While I have kept up with a few friends from that portion of my life, we had only crossed paths now and again but never quite had a chance to catch up. This is someone who knows me, the me from days past, the person I have worked so hard to protect and preserve.

To spend time with someone who know you at your core, to see you even though there are now rough jagged edges from your battles in life but still embraces you, values you, and understand you is a wonderful gift; a blessing. It is such an experience to be with someone who allows me to be as  authentic as he is, who not only embraces my analysis of life but meets it with the same depth of perspective, who not only tolerates my need to look at all sides of a situation but returns my “wisdom” when my perspective becomes short sided. Someone who encourages me to be my authentic self with my flaws and imperfections, someone who wants to know all of me, even the dark parts and seems to stand steady when I share. This blessing from days pasts has reminded me of some of my foundational beliefs that had been lost in the murkiness of life as of late.  I only hope I can offer him the same in return, to be enough even though I know I have lost parts of myself along the way; I hope those missing pieces have not been replaced with a darkness that fills too much of life. I hope to be able to always meet his openness, honesty, and vulnerability with the same as well as the encouragement and reassurance that I will be a good steward of all he shares, of the love and care he offers, of the kindness and encouragement I am met with. I pray that I can be enough.

 

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”  ― Thomas Merton

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

Dirty Laundry Stained with Blame

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So here I sit in that major conglomo coffee shop trying to do some research. This is the second time this week I have visited and it is becoming quite the adventure. Today I was lucky to position myself against the wall but am between two different groups of people, one a younger coed pair of friends where she clearly is interested in him but he is working through an “awful” end of a relationship and on the other side a pair of friends a bit older than me but also discussing relationship woes. One is clearly playing the blame game while the other seems to be the victim in that same game.

Clearly the lady is experiencing some difficulties in her long term relationship. She is trying to sift through her confusion and pain to find understanding. There are some petty frustrations intermingled with some pretty large problems. A few tears; my heart goes out to her pain, but she is facing her discomfort with dignity and as much rationality as possible.

The young man is attempting to explain why it would never work, creating irrational reason to displace his pain and any accountability to the ruins of his relationship. It is so difficult to stand in your pain, be accountable for your part while remaining respectful with the coconspirator. Don’t get me wrong there are times it is always appropriate to set your boundaries and maintain your self-respect but that is not the situation I am eavesdropping on. He has disengaged from the pain and like a petulant child is slinging accusations at a person who cannot defend herself. Having been on the receiving end of the blame game, I understand the pain belittling and devaluing can inflict.

I may never understand. I think when things go wrong, objective facts are the only appropriate items to share; I believe in discretion. There is a reason you let that person into your life, you cared with all of your heart at one point so why the disparagement now?  Why do people not have enough respect for themselves to maintain privacy of their intimate relationships? Why do they feel the need to air their dirty laundry? Why do we seek validation for their misdirected pain?

“You’ve got to learn although it’s very hard. The way of pocketing your pride, sometimes face humiliation while you were burning up inside. Facing reality is often hard to do when it seems happiness is gone”  – Nina Simone

 

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

Kept in Confidence

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I am a thinker, those very few people close to me know I try to understand everything I come in contact with.  My therapist actually told me that not everyone thinks about life at the depth I do, so try not to expect people to understand it at that depth. So this weekend afforded my time to analyze my life, where I came from, what I went through, the people that are in my life, those who may weather the storm and those who are deciding to leave me at this point of my journey. I think it was a time for me to consider the gifts I have had and regrets I carry since the point my life began again.

Throughout the night my thoughts kept drifting back to what I have shared; having spent my entire life trying to hide the pain through the past few years I opened up and parceled out my past. Although I am a deeply private person having only mentioned a tiny portion to a few people, that shallow acknowledgement, I kept my stories buried deeply until a few came into my life, people who had some shared experiences, who understood the pain, who listened without judgement, and never pried for my details. Unconditional acceptance and lack of criticism did allow me to assess my past and its impact on my present; how it limits my trust, how it restricts my ability to be vulnerable, and my fear of certain closeness.I opened up and apportioned my past with the trust that it would be kept in confidence. Now I am working to collect those pieces, place those stories back into their makeshift tomb.

So as I retreat, how do I secure my stories I cannot collect? How do I approach the topic of privacy? I do not want my secrets shared in a fashion that can undermine my struggle or be used as a means to minimize me for I have spent a lifetime negated. Is this just a concern based in my struggle to trust; the time I did will it be validated or dismissed? I know when one shares their story, their struggle, their past,  I treat it with the utmost respect for I was trusted enough for one to disclose. I would never share the story, never violate the trust by besmirching their truth, in a light that be disparaging, as a means to justify my behavior or choices?  This is quite possibly a fear based in my experiences with people for I have seen this done to others, been a victim, stories used to displace accountability, vilified for no reason.  How does one even broach the topic?

“Confidentiality is a virtue of the loyal, as loyalty is the virtue of faithfulness” -Edwin Louis Cole

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

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