Lessons from my life

I thought I was going to write to Ben this morning. I can’t sleep. I woke up early with my mind a buzz of thoughts. 10 years ago today was the last time I held him. The last time I felt his breath or heard him sigh. The last time. The LAST time. It hurts. It hurts more this year than it has in a very long time. And the past few weeks haven’t exactly helped me work my way thru it all. The promises I made to him keep replaying over in my head. I promised to hand out love like it was candy from my pocket.

I’ve been searching my whole life for something… To feel cared about. To feel loved. Not superficially.. but in that genuine, throw your entire self into it kind of love. The little girl who lives deep within me has been seeking for that feeling to be reciprocated for her whole life. She’s been seeking her place of comfort, her home, since she was 4 years old. She’s just wanted someone to pick her up and put her in their pocket. And that’s not something I admit easily. It feels like a weakness. But it’s not.

And this morning – I had a realization. A big one that left me feeling shook to my core. The only person who will love me that way – is me. Everyone else will have some sort of bias, or agenda… or worse, they will be too afraid and scared to open up and embrace the love that is offered to them… and the little girl will end up feeling hurt, let down, and unsafe.

The thing is – I have the courage to change. I have the courage to get cut down, and to still stand tall. I have the courage to walk in my shoes in a different direction… into the unknown. It’s funny – so many people in my life have commented that I am a force of nature. Stubborn and caring, I rarely back down, rarely lose. If I want something – I go after it and work my ass off to get it. I used to think that my courage came from my absolute faith that love is real, that it’s out there, that if you’re a good girl and you do right by people that it will come. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. I think maybe my best friend is partially right… you have to love yourself. Not because it will then allow love to find you – he’s wrong there – but because maybe it’s the only way you’ll have it at all. Sounds bleak, but I don’t mean it to.

I’ve walked a long road on this road of life. And anyone who walks it with me – whether it’s for a short moment, or for a long while will have to understand that I am not the same girl I used to be. I’ve gotten better over the years. I’ve grown and my perspectives have widened. I’ve learned what grief and loss does to a person. I’ve learned what abusive marriages do to a person. I’ve learned how to love with all of who I am. I’ve learned how to choose myself, my happiness and well-being over the destructive or toxic – no matter how normal they may have seemed to me. Growing up with toxic environments or toxic people shifts your perspectives and makes it hard to know what’s healthy or not. I’ve also learned how to channel so much of my vulnerabilities into a new kind of strength and courage. I know what hides in the dark shadows of life. The monsters that used to hide in my closet or under my bed – are still there. But if you shine brightly and give all you’ve got – the shadows will fall back and the monsters will be forced to stay in their shadows. I may not always have blind faith when it comes to God. He and I have our ups and downs since Ben’s death. But when it comes to my ability to take anything on I have absolute blind faith. When it comes to knowing that the goodness, the care, the love I seek is out there…. I’ve always known that too.

I have no doubt that there will always be people in my life who “love” me. But to them, I’m going to want to say a few things… First off – thank you. Thank you for your spoons of energy, thank you for caring in those moments. Know that I love you too, and truly appreciate the love and care you give back to me. But… If I’m just somebody that you’re gonna leave, or if you’re just some habit that I’ll have to break. If you don’t feel something when you look at me…. just let me down slowly – I’ll be ok.

I’ve got a little girl of my own – I say little – but she’s practically all grown up now. But she looks at me. She thinks I’m this courageous, loving, creative badass. That I’m this amazing strong woman. And yes – for her, I will always be. But what she doesn’t always know – is that the little girl in me is still scared of the monsters in my closet. And now here I am, walking down the road of life trying to show her how to be strong and how to face the monsters from her own closet. Sometimes it feels strange to try and teach my children how to do something that I haven’t yet fully figured out. Talk about the blind leading the blind. 🙂

It’s interesting to me… how I can feel both scared and broken and still stand tall and feel like I’m unbreakable. It’s such a strange mix. But all of it is truth. I AM a badass. I AM a force of nature. I AM capable of feeling emotions at a depth that rivals some of the best stories from literature. I am also capable of being hurt, even by the best of intentions. I’m capable of being misled. I make mistakes, errors in judgement, I overshare and often over communicate. In my head – it’s better to blurt everything that you’re feeling out and at least allow people to sort through it – than it is to stay quiet and keep it all in. But even that side of me is starting to change as I age. I’m learning that it’s often safer to sit. To ask questions. To listen. But even that fails me at times. Curiosity can kill the cat, after all. And even with all of my listening – I don’t always see the full story.

I don’t always have all the answers. How I wish life had a magic 8 ball at times. Although with my luck – if it did – I’d shake it, and turn it over, only to be told “Reply Hazy – Try again later”.

More thoughts

It’s a write twice kind of day. I’m feeling thoughtful today. Reflective. Not in a bad or negative way, but in a very quiet kind of way. It kind of feels like my emotions are hovering just below the surface today and if I’m not super careful they’ll all come rushing out. Not exactly where I like to be – but maybe it’s necessary.

I spent some of my morning thinking about the concept of “Gaslighting”. Having experienced it, I shared what I was feeling in the moment, and how it doesn’t feel good to have someone make you question your own memory or worse – sanity. I’ve had people do things like that to me since I was just a little kid- and even today- as a 37 year old woman -I still struggle to always be able to recognize it for what it is in the moment. But this morning – I did. And it’s left me pondering things.

Ugh… i’m blocked. I have things i want to say. Things i want to let come spilling out of me – but I don’t feel like this is the moment. I don’t feel like I’m in the right headspace to let it out and actually have it make sense. I’ve been struggling ALL day to make sense of my own head. Even in a one-on-one meeting with my boss this morning I was struggling. Either I would be too quiet – or suddenly an avalanche of communication would come flooding out of me all at once. My boss totally felt bombarded in that moment and I felt guilty afterwards. As a leader – I need to learn to be more succinct. It’s hard for me sometimes – as i’m the over communicator.

Well – I’ll just leave this here for now. Who knows – I may come back and add more later if I can figure out what it is I’m trying to actually lay down.

Thanks for being there Neverland.

I’m losing my voice

It has me feeling a bit upset to be honest. I’m hoping it is temporary. My surgery on the 5th should help a bit, but it still has me nervous. Being able to sing has always been my thing! My grandparents called me Jenny Wren – because I was their song bird. Either I was playing an instrument, singing a song or dancing to something for a HUGE chunk of every single day that I was growing up. And I love that.

The past year or so, I’ve gone kind of quiet. The only place I really jam out anymore is in the car – and sometimes in the shower. This past month or so, I’ve been turning on the tunes more often when I’m home. It’s felt good to let the music flow through me again. I didn’t realize how much of a mood lift it can really be. Makes me want to plan a night with some good wine, some good music, soft candlelight, maybe a fire in the fireplace. So soothing to my soul.

Now if only I can get this silly throat thing fixed and healed up so I can sing again.

Good morning Neverland! 🙂 I hope you enjoy your day.

The talk tracks we have in our heads and why we use them…

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a friend of mine. We were discussing someone he knew that was going through some similar personal problems as I am – and how every time he would talk to her, he had to remind her to stop replaying the “talk track” that was in her head. He said it was as if she was trying to convince herself of all the transgressions and reasonings why she should be mad or upset with her soon-to-be-ex-partner.

It had me thinking about my own talk tracks – and why we use them. In my friend’s circumstance – he was just tired of hearing the constant nitpicking and wanted her to stop – but he also lumped women in general as being common instigators for this type of behavior. But if we look at the potential reasons behind WHY she was doing that – it becomes a clearer picture – at least to me. When we’re gearing ourselves up to leave a spouse or partner – there is a moment where the pendulum swings back and forth as you argue with yourself over what action to take next. It takes a certain level of courage to be able to clearly say that something isn’t working for you and that you’re going to do something to change it. And sometimes you have to have that talk track running through your brain in order to build up the momentum and courage to tackle those conversations. To be brave enough to say the things that have been causing us pain. Especially when we’re talking about breakups. They are so final. And if you care about the person – whether they hurt you or not – you certainly don’t like to do anything to cause that person pain. But you also potentially want out – so you run this script in your head and it gives you the anger and the energy and the fuel you need to have it out and get on with it.

My friend’s words were wise tho. If you stop playing that script in your head, there’s a chance that you can be present in the moment – and perhaps realize that there’s opportunity for growth and change in ways you hadn’t been considering. The risk of doing this, of course, is that you could have a pendulum swing moment and lose the momentum and courage to seek change. But – you also could find a moment where you can find forgiveness.

It’s a moment where you can switch the focus from blaming someone else to looking deep within and find the areas where you could have done something differently. It’s a moment when you can identify where your own growth opportunities lie.

It’s important to me to call out here: Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re excusing the other person’s behavior. It doesn’t mean they automatically become pardoned. It also doesn’t mean you have to put away all the feelings you may have about a situation. It doesn’t mean you have to allow the person to stay in your circle. And it doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten what happened. Forgiveness simply means you’ve accepted the reality of the situation and are working on ways to live with it. Forgiveness isn’t about the other person – it’s really about YOU.

In this situation – I thought through my talk tracks that I’ve got going now – in all areas of my life. How I think about my work, how I think about my marriage, how I think about myself. My talk tracks about myself tend to be a lot harsher than what I share out to others. And thinking through this further – it helped me see that it’s time to switch my script a little. To find forgiveness and kindness and openness within myself, for myself.

Hope you all are well here in Neverland. 🙂 Much love.

The nuances of Self Love

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.”

“You have to love yourself before others can love you.”

“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”

You often see these types of quotes around the idea of self love. And this post isn’t me necessarily disagreeing with them… it is me adding to them.

I recently had someone remind me that I have to love myself before others will love me and it sent my mind into a spin. I got frustrated by it. I think it is because often, these phrases make it seem as if self love is a constant state that can be achieved. Like a check in the box of qualities you’ve managed to achieve as you grow. But it’s not.

As a 37 year old woman, I can honestly say I love me. I have more self esteem and self love now than I have had my entire life. I love the woman I have become. I’m proud of my life – in all it’s messy glory – and am truly excited to see and experience what is yet to come.

I love my messy, frizzy curly hair that as a teenager I hated. I love that I’m soft and squishy. I love my strength and endurance to take on anything – even when it seems insurmountable. I love my passion and enthusiasm over what others might see as mundane. I love to dance with my dog in a kitchen while food is cooking, jamming to whatever music is playing, or chase my kids round the hall. I love that I’m a mushy, romantic sap who gets butterflies in her tummy at romantic scenes in “girly” movies and gets a bit teary during the sad parts of cartoons. I love that people don’t know that I’m a singer – and when I finally unleash my full voice, I often get dropped jaws. I love that my mind is a whirl of a million thoughts at a time, and that while I can be forgetful about certain situations – I also have a bit of a photographic memory for other things and can sometimes impress with my intelligence. I love that my imagination journeys into places that unlock a whole array of creative pursuits.

… I could keep going.

BUT….

I still don’t ALWAYS have that love for myself. I don’t ALWAYS remember these things. I make mistakes. Sometimes, I look at myself and in that moment, see that I’m not measuring up to my own expectations. I think I had the idea that in those moments when I’m not “feeling the self-love” it would somehow mean that I don’t have “it” at all. But when I look behind, from where I’ve come – I have it in spades. It’s all in perspective. In theory – the goal is to constantly grow and not deplete the stashes of self love that we keep deep down within.

When I look at it that way – these quotes start to fall apart a little. Because if self love is constantly being added to and grown upon – then there is no end goal – no moment where you can actually say that you can check that little box.