What if I’m not strong enough?

I can do this

I got it

Just break

I can’t

(Feeling weak, not feeling strong enough)

What if

I get it, the fear is still there. You can’t let it paralyze you.

What if I can’t?

That’s why we’re here, that’s why you invited us here…when you don’t feel strong enough, we lift you up

So many times I thought I couldn’t make it, this guy was there for me

I just helped her find the strength she already had

And now we are all here supporting you

Whether you like it or not

ABC’s a million little things…this show!! It’s like they are in my head sometimes…only more concise and articulate.

A couple months back, I was invited to join a women’s group on social media. The goal of the group: to support each other, to show up for one another in whatever way we feel comfortable. Gatherings are offered, though mostly we post and comment uplifting messages and advice.

The reason I mention this is that in this unraveling I experienced, I found myself, I found my people, and I found that lifting others makes me happy as well. But it doesn’t happen all by itself…we have to invite people into our circle, our world.

You can’t have the reward if you don’t take the risk. There’s a quote that sums it up beautifully:

When we are hurt or in pain, it’s tough to see the truth in this, I know. I truly believe it though, and the version of myself that I used to be was scared to take a leap, afraid of rejection, of judgment. These days, I’m still afraid, yet it doesn’t stop me the way it used to.

So I invite you all to cheer me on, lift me up, allow me to be part of your circle, and to let me show you your superpowers when you just can’t find them. It’s scary and it’s tough, and sometimes feels a little weird…just try it.

I was wrong. It hurt both of us. And now…

So my dear friend, the one who kickstarted my unraveling, whose kindness rekindled that fire in my soul, who can’t be in my life anymore…I thought he crafted a scenario to hurt me. I was wrong. I hurt him with my assumption and he hurt me with his insensitivity.

Here’s the thing…in the midst of one of my down periods, this was happening. At that time, I had been begging my dear friend to come see me, give me an opportunity for closure. There were some unresolved things, and as mentioned in previous posts, I like to peck at things. Anyway, he typically shuts down and just moves onto the next thing.

But just weeks later, he finally agreed to see me. We had a chance to talk out a few things, catch up a little, and honor our friendship for the authentic and inspirational experience that it was. We parted as friends, with a smile and a wave. And now I feel like I can finally let him go. I know that he will always carry me with him as he navigates relationships, parenting, and struggles. I know he will be alright.

(And yes, I say love, because there are many kinds of love…friendship is love)

I’m not the only one growing and healing…

Had a conversation with my husband last night. He was finally honest with me about how my friendship with a guy made him feel. After a lot of listening, I told him to turn it around: when he was grieving his sister and father, I was feeling the way he’d been feeling. But instead of months, it was years. Instead of jealousy, I was burdened with isolation and extreme pressure. It’s not a competition, and there’s no blame. Only perspective and empathy and understanding. I explained that the friendship met a need for me that he wasn’t able to meet, my husband relied on me for everything for so long that my friendship with this man that didn’t rely on me for anything, filled a void.

I think my husband is finally ready to fill that gap again. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m so proud of his personal growth and vulnerability…I wasn’t sure I’d ever see it, but I guess we all have setbacks before we leap forward…

She’s using my skills against me…and it’s so dang helpful

Once again my talented therapist is surprising me with her insight and skillfulness. I’ve been having some repetitive thoughts and trying to make them stop only makes them worse. She ever so carefully steered me into how to get to the root of those thoughts without my awareness, with no pressure, and an ease that allowed for openness.

So here it is…her magical approach:

If a child in your care was having a tough time letting go of some feelings, how would you help that child move through it?

So simple. First I would listen to the child, because after all, every child wants to feel heard. I would then observe the child’s behavior to look for non-verbal communication. Children’s behavior is a such an enlightening form of expression and communication. Next, I would find activities or roles based on my observations that I could offer to empower the child and build on that child’s strengths, ultimately meeting the unmet needs.

Damn she’s good. She got me so focused on the child that popped into my mind that I forgot I was talking about myself! But here comes the tough part, right? Looking at myself as the child instead of the teacher…well, she put me in my secure role as educator and so I carried that feeling with me as I dove in.

So here I am sitting there thinking that I have to listen to my young self. And that child says nothing. She is silent and trying to make herself small, trying not to cause any trouble or unwanted tension. She wants someone to notice her, to listen to her. She wants someone to ask her what she thinks, and she wants to be listened to when she answers. She wants others to want her. She wants others to accept her. She wants others to feel comfortable with her. She wants to be seen for who she is becoming, and she wants to cheer on the others who are becoming…

Here I go…

  • Writing my blog helps me feel heard and I love that others find inspiration in my words and thoughts. (Keep it up!)
  • I’ll never be seen if I don’t let others have the opportunity to see me, so I am putting myself out there. (Be brave!)
  • I will keep becoming myself, and accept who I am, since my own acceptance is of paramount importance.
  • I will keep working toward being comfortable with myself and the comfort of others will come on it’s own (right?)
  • And finally, I will begin to let go of the fear…fear of rejection, loss, fear that I will never again find the connections like those I’ve had in my life.

Wish me luck…it’ll be a process, a trial of sorts with some backslides and failures, but I’ll get there.

“Pain is Love” a misunderstood quote

My friend has this quote tattooed on his arm and I always thought it was cynical and negative, and honestly quite sad. But as I step into the new year, I’ve been thinking about it, and I get it now. The article below says it so much better than me so please read it, but I will grab some highlights for you that resonated with me in particular.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.huffpost.com/entry/why-can-love-be-so-painful-6-ways-to-heal-and-move-on_b_5134565/amp

Love is painful, because it transforms you. Love is growth.

Love means the death of the ego, because love cannot be controlled.

To suffer in love is not to suffer in vain; it takes you to higher levels of consciousness.

The transformation we all go through is from control of the mind to vulnerability of the heart.

With love, the ego drops and the soul arises. Love is food for the soul.

Go through the dark night and you reach a beautiful sunrise.

This song just came on, and the line “hell will always come before you grow” captured my ear

update: after some consideration, I think the expression should be pain from love…it hurts because of the love we have for one another…

One more piece of the puzzle…

Talking with a friend today, we got to a subject I avoid: my dad. Well, how when dads leave us as kids, the way we feel and how it impacts us for years to come… As an adult, I get it now: he wasn’t capable of being a parent, and didn’t know how, and quite frankly, was told to get lost by my (amazing) no-nonsense mom.

When I think about that time in my childhood, it’s kind of blurry. I had a dad in my life, around the house. Then my memories skip to when he wasn’t around. I don’t have strong feelings from that time, I was kind of just gliding along like it was no big thing (mom: maybe I acted out or something, but I have no recollection).

The feelings of rejection and being abandoned came later. Much later. And with those also came anger, worthlessness, confusion.

I had what most would call a normal home with family that loved me, including a step dad who turned out to be soooo much better than the “real” thing, and a mom who worked hard and sacrificed a lot for us (despite my ignorance to this fact). For all intents and purposes, I had a good life.

Well here’s the thing: when someone who gives you life, DNA, biology (you get it) leaves your life, and you’re a child who is still learning what love is, looking for where you belong, who you are…you take it personally. Maybe not at first, or like others, maybe all at once, or whatever…it took me awhile, but eventually I felt it. I felt defective, broken, unworthy.

Why would he leave me? Wasn’t I special? Wasn’t I good enough? Wasn’t I enough?

As an adolescent, I still saw him and his side of the family from time to time. As I began to learn more about him, and got to know him better, two things started to happen: I began to understand that he was NOT capable of being a father and I decided that he should have tried harder. Why didn’t he try harder?”

Anyway, long story short…despite the fact that it was best for me in some ways, his leaving/being kicked out shaped me for years, still impacts how I conduct myself, and influences who I am. That being said, I’ve worked through a lot of it, and I no longer feel so angry. I’m sad for him, after all, he missed out. But he does the best he can within his own limits. And it’s not just me, I wasn’t the problem. I didn’t do anything wrong. I am enough.

But along the way, those feelings of worthlessness and abandonment led me to make poor choices at times…so tell yourself (or someone who may have had a similar experience):

  • You didn’t do anything wrong
  • Dad has limits, he can’t do more.
  • It’s not about you, though it feels like it, it really isn’t.
  • You are worthy of love and belonging.
  • You are enough. Just as you are.

There’s always room for more…

When my sister-in-law used to talk about ice cream…she’d say,

There’s always room for ice cream because it fills in all the nooks and crannies.

Now, she was literally talking about ice cream, but this applies to love as well, as I was reminded recently.

On the Season 14 season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, there was a quote that struck me as profoundly beautiful:

Of course I’m talking about the love part, not the 40 part although…anyway, this quote also struck me as something a kid might actually say. But in all seriousness, I cannot imagine how you could have too much love in your life. I’m not talking about the smother kind, or the tough kind, or romantic kind, but a certain kind of love that’s hard to come by, and even harder to live by.

I mean that kind of vulnerable, be yourself, make mistakes and forgive kind of love, without conditions.

Living this kind of love is difficult at times, especially if you’re like me: full of insecurities and doubt, prone to depression and negativity. Some of my problem is illness related (as we all know by now), and some of it stems back to previous experiences. But since my…breakdown (not loving that word), I’ve been noticing that this kind of love exists around me already. Heck, it’s part of why I’m a child care provider! Kids accept us so easily and love us from the start. I also see it in my son, who, despite his teenage attitude, tells me what a great mom I am and that he loves me on a regular basis.

I have a handful of family members too, who have always been open and accepting and forgiving, but I didn’t let myself trust it for the longest time. I’m working on trusting it now, and it’s nice to know that I’m accepted as the imperfect and unique person that I am by people with whom I share a long history. I also have a handful of good friends that have shown me time and time again that I can count on them without judgement, free from expectations, and despite my sometimes questionable behavior, they are always there for me. It’s hard to trust a relationship that is still being formed, but it’s worth the risk. You never know where you’ll find a kindred spirit, someone you have something in common with, someone who sees through your facade, and someone you feel a connection with. Laura was like that for me, she just understood me and showed me the kind of love I’m talking about…

And finally, there is my husband, who has shown me this kind of love from the very beginning…well, not completely right away, but pretty early in our time together. Within a month of meeting, we were best friends and started to date. We got engaged just three months after we met, married four years later, and still going strong as we approach the 23 year mark of our first meeting. And we have been through good times and bad, and even though we don’t always agree, I know we will get through whatever comes our way.

Anyway, try to let the love into your life, there’s always room in the nooks and crannies!