Life is a Metaphor for Letting Go – HB

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There’s some really lame old saying about people coming and going from our lives. Only staying for a season and such. I won’t bother with putting it down in words here. But it’s about staying. And how not all people are meant to stay.

I am formed in long terms, commitments, never something short or anything in between, and so these sayings have always mystified me a little bit. The idea of someone important, a person who has held your secrets and you’ve been their brace to lean against – that they would simply slip out without much of a word was foreign to me. Now it’s not.

I didn’t even just watch it happen. I swallowed my pride and made the efforts. How about this? Okay, what about this day? You tell me what works! It felt doormatty, but sometimes you think the person is worth it. Which is why I will probably try again at some point when the time is right. Some people are worth it even after they’ve hurt you. (Sidenote: I’m not referring to the im toxic im slipping under kinda people.)

I suppose I spent a fair amount of time wondering why because nothing about a beautiful friendship disintegrating for zero substantial reasons made sense to me. It’s etched into my bones to show up yet I’m sure there’s times I missed the call to do so. It’s the most basic act, but I’ve learned it tends to mean the most. You don’t need all the right words, or to have a magic wand. You need to show up and be there as much as one person can for the good, bad, and inbetween. The flip side to this is that when someone does not show up for me I perhaps take the slight much more deeply than someone else. I maybe unfairly expect what I would give. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s just who I am. More likely it’s my oh so typical human ego expecting other people to value the same ideals that I do.

In the midst of turning this situation over in my mind more times than was probably necessary I was given more than several reminders to let go. Of the resentment. Anger. And the more precise hurt under the anger. Except these reminders were not so much of letting go, but of forgiveness so that I could let go. I remember a professor once stating that we do not like to forgive because it means giving up power over that person. There might have been something to that.

And the subtle pushes to let go were not definitively directed at solely the aforementioned situation. But instead poked at the still hot coals of several instances from over this last year. Instances in which people I’ve grown up respecting morphed into their true natures and showed me more than I cared to see. Instances in which people who are supposed speak kindly and lovingly to you spoke to me like I have never been spoken to in my life. Mind you, these were also opportunities to advocate for myself and firmly state that I don’t allow people to treat or speak to me in that way. (Thanks to my guru mistah DeeJay) Basically though, I had a lot of slow rolling anger and hurt somewhere deep, which I had quite successfully chosen to leave there because I didn’t think those people deserved for me to let it go. Because after all, they were not in the least genuinely sorry for what had happened.

And then I decided that I just didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t want to be responsible for all that hurt, anger, and darkness. I let it go because I don’t want those things to be synonymous with how I handle pain. The weight was never really mine to begin with anyway.

But in this I’ve learned. I’ve learned the truth of letting go so your own soul can rest easy. Of rebuilding a bridge someone else chose to burn. Of letting go but letting a different bridge remain charred and broken. Of knowing the peace of your own conscience resting calmly and being okay with not knowing whether someone will choose you back. These things I’ve learned.

Marriage & Myths

A note to the readers who still read my words for some strange unknown reason:

I had to put the pen down, but in my mind I’ve still been scripting across a page. Sentences and phrases falling in and out while I try to make sense of the life hurtling around me. This is my normal. It’s a muscle though and while there were flickers of movement and ideas quickly penned down over the past few months – it’s not the same as habitual practice. Which means I need to stretch and flex until my muse and I are walking hand in hand again. I’ve been trying to draw her in. Brainstorming ideas while doing mundane tasks. Allowing my thoughts to ramble over the broken points in the plot of the book I’m writing. I finally had that moment I’ve heard other writers talk about – the one where right as your falling asleep a plot solution silently slips into your fading consciousness. Crazily enough it still made sense when I got up the next day. Normally, it’s something like TURTLES and then you have no idea what the hell you were possibly trying to get at.

One of the original reasons for my absence was the whole wedding shenanigan. Apparently, getting married can be a lot of work. But anywhooo, here are my thoughts on this little matter of mawwwiage.

Welcome back kids 😉

I said goodbye to my apartment two months ago and traded it in for another that I’m already quite familiar with. I know where it creaks and how tiny the kitchen is. That I lost an open layout and glorious windows on windows for a living room with a box used as an end table. I’m slowly converting it into an airier cozier kind of space.

I’ve watched a few friends get married. I’ve also watched some of them slowly dissipate and blur into their significant other. Much similar to the “you look like your dog” phenomenon. Little things start to pop up like… being unable to make plans even on rare visits because someone else needs dinner. *Side note: When men suddenly become infantilized upon getting married I want to stab them. If that’s what they’re looking for, perhaps they should go live with their mothers.

But anywaaaaay, it’s frustrated me and caused some hurt if I’m honest as well. That this thing, marriage, could suddenly put such a steel wall between myself and my friends. Especially, when for quite awhile I was the only one not in any sort of relationship. Maybe it’s because while I love the mutual chosen dependency on one another which can form in healthy relationships I also fiercely, cling to my own autonomy and independence as an individual. The idea of losing friendships and personal pursuits for one singular relationship even if it is the one of the most importance makes my throat feel just a little too tight.

And sooo…

Friendships.

I can see how easy it is to let friendships fade a little into the background. Plan less and less get togethers and phone calls. Life is busy blah blah. But… I’m calling bullshit. Because friendships are crucial to health of your relationship with your partner and your own individual well being for that matter. You are a better person, when you spend time with people other than your significant other. It’s really that simple. And of course, I want my person to spend time with his friends as well because it’s good for him and he enjoys it. Crazy, I know.

But I also don’t expect my significant other to rehash the latest episode of vampire diaries with me over margaritas, or to let me drag him from store to store in search of the perfect dress because WHY DOES NOTHING FIT, or call me out my bullshit in the same manner my closest friends can. Just like even though I’ll read a book during the Packer game and eat all of the food cause um yum, I’m more than happy for him to go watch it with his friends. They really seem to enjoy watching men in tight pants together, hm.

Sooooo PSA: It is OKAAAYYY to enjoy doing certain things with your friends. Phew, we can all go back to living now.

Not to mention, sometimes life is hard, and you just really want your best friend. Or even better a community of friendships to hold you and love you and give you a good kick in the ass. I never want to lose that.

Marriage is where dreams go to die.

People who are bitter and enjoy projecting their own shitty relationships like to say things about marriage killing dreams, lives, and calling it the end of all good things. *Side note: Always good to be aware of when people are projecting their own pains, scars, fears, and failures on to you so you can then promptly forget everything they ever said. Ain’t nobody got time for that crap. But I digress.

I have separate interests than my partner. Separate dreams and plans. Just like he does. Are they melding together in a sort of fashion? Sure, but they already have been for two years.

I sit in the bedroom and tap away on my keyboard or scribble down phrases while he’s in the living room plucking at copper strings. He asks me what I’ve been writing, and I ask him what new song is on his mind.

For the next four semesters I’ll crank out the rest of my MSW and like ten other licensures while he finishes his BSN and applies for graduate school himself. It’s a give and take. And we’re both happy to do it because nothing makes us happier than seeing the other person living out their purpose.

So…. All that noise about marriage killing your pursuits… It’s noise. And I really hate noise.

Lastly….

The Tinies.

Also known as babies. Within the last few weeks of being married there has been a silent shift that no one warned me about. Apparently, my uterus is the new hot to trot topic. As in person A walks up with a *knowing smile and look in their eye,* “Soo when do you plan on starting a family?” *continues to look creepily at me.* The first few times this actually caught me off guard, bless my heart. So this is my public announcement that people’s uteruses are not actually anyone’s business. But since apparently this is not a well known fact and my uterus is now a public interest (maybe I should name it??) – I’m really happy to be smack in the middle of my graduate program and I’m well aware that the next four semesters are very well going to kick my ass. After that I’m hoping to get a dog just like I’ve been saying since… oh I don’t know, forever.

Side note: The palpable disappointment people radiate after I tell them this is pretty messed up. My value as a person does not depend on whether / when / if I have a kid. I’m happy for YOU that YOU chose to have kids because it was YOUR decision… get it?

So I’m curious… What kind of fears and BS myths did you ponder through as you entered into a committed relationship?

P.S. IM MOVING! My new site is coming SOON! New platform, New Name! Be on the look out for updates 🙂

In Which We Are the Exception

I look around at my close circle. The intimate few. And I think about their love stories. Not one is typical. Reminds me of one of my favorite movies, he’s just not that into you. “You are not the exception,” is the lesson of this film. And frankly, I always wanted to get on my feet and applaud every damn time Justin Long exasperatedly tells this to Ginnifer Goodwin. (total girl crush by the way) I’ve felt this way as I watched friends get crushed and hang onto people for far too long because letting go of even an awful relationship is terrifying. Because heaven forbid we have to spend a little time with just ourselves.

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The message in my head plays along, People will not change in the way you want them to. You are not the exception sweetheart. Even typing these words I’m like yes, yes, yes. I should make a banner. Not very catchy though.

Then I look at that circle again. The faces looking onto their loves softly. More than one of them has an atypical story. Stories that if you read only the beginning of you would not think ended in love or anything of the sort. Stories where I stood by quietly wondering where they would go. More than once closing my lips to the skeptical thoughts struggling to burst out. Does that make them the exception? Am I surrounded by exceptions?

I’m realizing there are few stories of love – friendship included, which follow any kind of plot curve. Humans are pressed together with a thousand layers, and we only see the top one with our cursory glances. The filmstrip the rest of the world sees isn’t always the same story we ourselves know to be true. The behind the scenes reel tends to only make appearances for a special few.

Maybe every love story is an exception. It’s a choice to put someone else in front of ourselves, and damn if that isn’t an exception to just about everything flying past our eyes. A choice to wrap your arms around someone after they were just the world’s most royal asshat of the day. A choice to look past someone hurting you to understand why they are acting this way. A choice for them to hold your face after you let sharp words ink their heart.

Instead of pining for someone to make us their exception I want to learn to start being an exception. Pleasantly surprising someone with compassion, when honestly, other words might be more deserving. Dropping a sweet note on a friend’s desk or into the mail for the one who’s scraping by. Then again we all know how the movie ends…

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I might have swooned with the rest of ya, but I still don’t believe in being the exception. I do believe in becoming one.

Roots of Love

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I didn’t grow up with sisters. The built in best friends who share our DNA, and maybe even a bedroom. Instead, I was gifted with a softhearted big brother who kind of looks like he could kick your ass. He’s pretty great. But naturally, since being a small child I have sought out deep feminine bonds in which I could unravel all of my knotted thoughts and dig into all those kept under wraps kind of desires.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that I was kind of an odd child. I had high expectations of just about everyone, and couldn’t grasp the flimsy nature of childhood and young adult friendships. There one day and gone the next. Pretty much the sphinx’s riddle to me.

High school through college and even post college I would harbor confusion and hurt over why my closest friends could seemingly take and take, but never manage to find any extra time or love, when the tables turned. Sometimes I still don’t understand to be honest. Even though if we’re being mature about this I am sure there have been countless times, when they have felt the same about me. That I let them down. Didn’t show up, when they needed someone to sit with. Forgot to call to check on that one thing.

In reality, I had been expecting people to love in the same manner I do. I wanted people to show up because I had, and to sit with me while the shades of grey turned back to blues. A trick of the ego we all occasionally trip into. And while we all deserve reciprocal love and care in friendships, there’s also a time for generous loving with no expectations. Sometimes these seasons last longer than we’d like, and we’re left a bit confused, weary, and maybe even bitter. It’s hard to pour out simply because we love someone for who they are because we forget that love always comes back somehow someway even if it isn’t when or how we’d like.

What I didn’t realize was the seeds had dug deep, and our roots had grown slowly down while wrapping inextricably around each other. These roots became more important than ever in the last few years as our dots on the map spread out further and further. Now the roots travel over and under rivers to arrive in desert lands and frozen tundra.

I glance around the map, and different colors flag where people hold my heart. Yellow for the one whose mind glows brightly lit with love and yet, is a fortress of steel. Navy marks the spot for my friend who is braver and fiercer than I can say. She will outrun us all one day once she finds her footing. The warmest of tones for the softest and yet strongest one of them all. Never let kindness and generosity fool you, for she is made of iron. I look at these places, and know without a doubt who I want to be.

And some while ago I realized every time we part they steal away with tiny fragments of me. I don’t ever quite capture my childish spirit just the same without the one of yellow. And my soul never feels so known as, when she who dances in navy has a minute to call. Settling into her vibrant shade of blue I can be purely and utterly as I am right now nothing more or less. Nor do I feel as wholly loved regardless of what I’ve done as with the one whose colors warm any room, or as accepted in my need for solitude and rest. She lets the peaceful part of me be free.

Our friendships are not only places to come home, but also where we find reflections of ourselves as well. Reflections of ourselves, and who we want to become. We find pieces of ourselves coming alive and dancing because only that person knows the song.

Knowing Each Other’s Hearts

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Ever sit back watching those around you and want to reach in and rearrange their life a little bit like it’s just some Ikea furniture you can shove around? This chair would look much better over here, and good heavens, why did you pick that color! I’m pretty sure this is called being a control freak. Not that I would know.

It’s always so easy from the outside looking in though. I shoot off criticism veiled as helpful advice like confetti:

She keeps latching onto the same mistake. Watch how she’ll go do it again.

I wish she could just learn to value herself. You can tell she doesn’t by what she keeps running back to.

That one’s afraid nothing as perfect will ever come along again so she just keeps hiding in memories.

Oh she’s just pretending to be someone else right now because being herself seems a little bit too difficult at the moment.

Don’t mind me calling it out from over here in my glass house. As if someone couldn’t look into my life and do the same damn thing. You totally want me to be your best friend right now don’t you? Form a line people.

While most people have chunks of calcium called vertebrae running down their back, I’m fused together with equal parts honesty and an ability to see through people for the most part. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes I hurt feelings. At the ripe age of twenty-two I like to think I’ve started to get a little better, holding my razor of a tongue, and waiting for friends to actually ask what I think. And then carefully stumbling my way through response, which is hopefully as loving as it is honest.

Maybe that’s why we need people who know our hearts as well as they know the latest stupid decision we’ve made. People who know when to sit back and let us trip and scrape our knees, and when to gently ask if we’re ready to hear some truth. Both have a time and place, but it sure is a dance learning what time it is with those we love.

After all, it’s hard to see, when you’re in the middle. The middle of realizing you’re trying to solve an old relationship through new versions of it. The middle of accepting the person you’ve loved with a passion didn’t actually treat you decent at all, and now you don’t know how to accept someone who does. The middle of learning to be brave enough to meet someone new, when you thought you had it figured out. The middle of accepting who you are, and learning it’s actually okay, or even better it’s good.

We’re all in the middle of something. Five steps ahead of each other or trailing behind. Seeking advice laced in love, or practicing compassion as the one who’s been there. Sometimes being both people in one day if we’re honest. We need to learn to give each other room to grow. Create spaces where it’s safe to fall down and limp for awhile. We need to let each other be human.

Worth Remembering.

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Forgettable.

I’ve had this particular problem all my life. I am introduced to someone, possibly even more than once, and they can’t seem to recall ever having met me before. I’m not sure anything could possibly make you feel any smaller than this. You are not worth remembering. 

But this sentiment echoes larger than simply in handshakes and hellos. We want to be remembered in lost loves and the words we leave behind. We tuck letters into books which are crumbling and romantically imagine someone finding the sound of lives past one day. You pack away all your belongings into boxes, but leave the old railroad tie you found one day under the bridge next to the low tides. Let them wonder.

We desperately want the world to know we were here. We carved our space into places which won’t be lost. It’s a bit grandiose. With a delicate smack of ego. But denying it will only make it thump louder in  your chest.  As millennials we have somehow been inundated with an idea, which says, we must be widely known in order for our work and lives to matter.

Yet, we forget birthdays and never stamp letters, which we meant to mail weeks ago. We look at our phones and sigh because a phone call home sounds exhausting. We say we should catch up soon and then weeks and months slip by. We forge new connections to grow our interests and forget to say, “Hey, how have you been?” and actually look our old friends in the eye. Yes, we are a fickle bunch us humans.

Look around your circle. Maybe it’s quite small, or perhaps a bit expansive. All I know is I don’t want to let mine collect dust in the background while I seek the heights. I don’t want to forget to write a note to the person who has read every word and said my dreams aloud, when I didn’t have the guts. I don’t want to leave behind the person who saw me, when I had quite lost track of my own self. I don’t want to let my love grow thin for those who have been the ground beneath my feet.

The nights lying on our backs in the middle of sweet smelling grass staring up at the black lit sky. The long walks at midnight even though I’m the one who loves the openness of walks in the dead of night, not you. The phone calls because you know how it hurt in the middle of all those people. Random desserts with silent hugs. Booking flights and knowing the favor can’t be returned any time soon. Driving past fields in heavy knowing with only an orange ember glowing because you hadn’t quit yet. Sitting in the kitchen, for a quick how was your day, which turns into an hour because the words keep pouring.

Not one of us is forgettable.

We are lovingly held in long kept letters and worn out tshirts. In phone calls at just the right time and knowing eyes. In memories the other never knew mattered.

People might always forget my name, or even having met me. My words might never reach the masses. But there are people across states, countries, and oceans who know not only my name, but my heart. And they remember.

Life on Pause

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Life seemed to be an old cassette player with the pause and fast forward buttons both clicked down and vying for the silvery ribbon to comply. The ribbon pulled tight from the strain of being held in place while trying to move forward.

Sighs and eye rolls commanded her vernacular these days as the facebook feed filled with engagements, babies, and ecstatic twenty somethings landing their dream jobs. Her dreams had never been threaded together with the tales of true love and princes. The only castles she had ever dreamed of were the gothic ivory towers sprinkling the landscape of all the best schools. But watching your closest friends traipse down the aisle one by one as you stand by with a smile and a bouquet can produce its own special kind of microscopic self analysis. Throw in a graduation with a map entitled ”All Signs Point to Lost” and a good old fashioned heartbreaking, and well to be frank – it’s lonely.

Yes, this is quite the new kind of lonely. The marathon of bad tv shows and too many cups of tea. Text messages without real answers and friends who have no clue what it is to be left a chapter behind, while the words of their lives spill onto a fresh page.

The kind of lonely all the books and Netflix binges can’t even begin to drown out. The deep roots of the feeling simply growing and settling all around her into the background and waiting for her to be still enough to feel the air weighted down around her. The poignant combination of feeling purposeless and utterly devoid of direction after what is supposed to be the great send off into the ever fabled real world. And of course, the last ripping motion along the seams of the relationships holding her close: watching not only the love in her life, but also the loves she called her best friends walk out all at once.

The joy of their new beginnings casted an even deeper shadow on the slow creeping despair of finding her life nowhere near where she thought it would be. Futile anxious scrambling to find the quickest route from A to B. The pain of finding herself without a single person who can say “me too.” The bleakness of wondering why no one seemed to grasp the consuming nature of where she found herself. And the sad acknowledgment that maybe they didn’t want to – after all, it is always easier to skim our eyes over another’s pain than to lock eyes and lend our hearts to the matter.

Oh and this is the depth of it isn’t it? Believing that because no one can sit with you right now means that no one ever will. That no good can come from being left to sit in all the broken pieces without even the faintest clue of what to do or where to go.

Oh my friend, to be lost is quite the adventure, but to be lost and alone? This. This takes heart and it will shape your soul as you ponder and pour over all the cracked and broken fragments of a life that never lived surrounding you. And no one can ever take away the lessons you will learn sitting with no one but yourself and god.

It won’t always be this way. But for now as you click and scroll through the masses of happy pictures and watch another friend intertwine their life to their love, I’m going to tell you the oddest of things. But grieve. Grieve the loss of the life you thought you would have. Grieve the loss of your friendships, as you knew them. Tell yourself that you are more than justified in grieving the loss of all these beautiful things. The upward swelling and crashing of your grief realized is so necessary to where you are. Life has its way of redeeming the beaten down shards making the whole of us, but for now – sit. Grieving the loss of what was and also what never even had the chance to be, this will let your heart find a new song. A song composed to the notes and lyrics of a path all your own.