Sometimes, you put your foot in your mouth

I have too many words. All jumbled around in my head. I hear the advice from my mother ringing in my head… “Jenny! Keep your big mouth shut!” I can’t even tell you how often I heard that phrase growing up. I had a big mouth. I’d sit and talk about anything with anyone. I’d share my opinions, I’d ask all the questions. I was a talker. I’ve learned to keep things to myself over the years… I’ve also begun to struggle with suddenly being too quiet. And what a strange pendulum swing to find myself on. In the past couple of years, I’ve really been working on finding the right balance between the two. And although I, for the most part, do a fine enough job of it – there are also times when it feels like I fall flat on my face.

I had a moment like that yesterday. I knew I needed to say something… but I also knew it would be wise to be very careful with my words. As it was highly likely that I wouldn’t be able to clearly paint what I was trying to say with them. And if I somehow screwed up and my intentions were misunderstood, I’d be hurt and worried and unsure of the end consequences. I even tried to talk myself out of speaking up. “Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I’m being unreasonable? Maybe my thoughts aren’t quite complete enough to share yet! Maybe if I speak up – I’ll lose? Maybe if I share – I’ll have to face judgement or fear?” Again – my mom’s advice rang in my head.

And then the moment came… My words came vomiting out of my mouth before I could even stop them… despite all my practicing and planning and lecturing of myself prior. Even in the moment – I was yelling at myself in my head. “OMG Jen… What are you DOING?! You’re totally not making sense!! You’re confusing the situation and making it muddy! JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP JEN!”

…. But I persisted. Man, i’m an idiot sometimes. I got so worked up that my tears began to flow. And the words became more jumbled in my head. The logical side in me suddenly could see that I was no longer clear. My comments and arguments were no longer quite aligning to what I’d set out to say. But I did have good intentions. I was trying to strike that balance. Trying to find the place where I could share what was hurting me. Where I could somehow share that perhaps a new boundary or at least the concept of one was starting to grow. I apologized. I’d completely flubbed up this beautiful day, this beautiful moment. But in no way could the genuineness behind my apology be articulated. “Bah! Why are you LIKE this JEN?! Why do you have to be so broken sometimes? Why can’t you hold your emotions in check long enough to speak when you’re feeling scared?!”

And all I can say is that afterwards… at the end of the day when I curled up in my bed, when I looked back at that moment to think about how it all went…the tears flowed freely and my whole body shook. I felt both pride that I did speak – and shame that I didn’t speak well. And the whole situation rocked me to my core – because I woke up with a wet pillow, swollen eyes and a raging headache. My tears had obviously continued into the night.

This morning – i’m trying to figure out why this shook me so much. I’ve certainly put my foot in my mouth many times in my life. Why did this one moment leave me feeling so tangled up … and I think it comes back to vulnerability.

If I look back at my past – I have always hated sitting for long in uncomfortable moments. Sitting in that level of discomfort is so bothersome to me that I will try and “fix” it. I will try and do whatever I can to bring about some sense of relief… some clarity… a rule.. an expectation. I think in those moments, when I’m the MOST scared – I’m looking for a box to put myself in. And sometimes, I might look to someone else to define the box for me. Maybe because I’m struggling to do it myself.

I believe in embracing vulnerability and know that there is strength in embracing those moments in our lives. Often it’s in those vulnerable moments that we learn and grow the most. But I also know that it’s been in my vulnerable moments that I have been hurt the most. And that often it’s been the people that I truly love and seek love from that, intentionally or not, have hurt me the most when I’ve been the most vulnerable. You’d think I’d give up sharing and being brave at all. I suppose that’s why I push myself to speak up and to keep being brave. I don’t want to stop in my path of growth and learning and self discovery.

And that is why – I will keep going. Even tho I’m now scared of the consequences of my speaking up. Even tho I still don’t have a box to put myself in. I’m determined to learn to sit in the moment. It’s a lesson that is long overdue for me. And I’ll have to learn to be ok with occasionally putting my foot in my mouth.

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”.

You see, I died that day.

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On my drive to pick up my son after work, I was thinking about my post from earlier.  I was thinking about grief.  How sometimes, I just forget all about it.  I get wrapped up in life, T, work, the kids, the house… and then some days, it’s all I can think about.

Acute Grief.

Only a few weeks after Ben had passed away, a doctor diagnosed me as having Acute Grief.  I remember wanting to punch him in the face.  What do you expect?!  He’d asked me what I’d been going through from a stress level and I broke down right there in the office.  You see… I died that day.  The woman I was… she’s gone.  Left in her place was a shell; a look alike.  Acute grief.  I’ve looked it up.  It’s a real thing, and I won’t lie, I’ve related to most of the symptoms (physically and emotionally).  He wasn’t wrong.

Someone asked me why I chose the tagline for this blog that I did.

“Ramblings of a girl masquerading as a woman…”

kid

Because that’s what I am.  A girl in a shell of a woman, who is learning how to live again.  This year will mark six years since that day.  The new me… is essentially a little girl…I’ve had to re-learn how to breathe, how to trust, how to love.  Every day I grow just a little bit more.  Every day, I add to my goals and dreams for this new life.  Some days, I’ll work toward those dreams with gusto and some days, I’m timid and maybe even a little afraid.

Interesting how I’m just as vulnerable now as I was as a child.  Vulnerability.  We think when we’re children that we’ll get away from it.  But in reality, it is only in adulthood that we learn to accept our vulnerabilities for what they are.  And in doing that, they become strengths.

Goodnight Neverland.  Talk again soon.

lipstick kiss

And suddenly I feel very vulnerable

Vulnerability.   It doesn’t sit comfortably with me.  I think I screwed up today. In the midst of a mad house flurry of work meetings, I was busy and hit forward on an email (in personal mail having nothing to do with work). I didn’t consider the potential reaction on the other end, mainly cuz I hadn’t even read thru what I’d copied and pasted.  Tonight I remembered the email and thought to go read, and I’m mortified at how it reads. The dates didn’t copy, so it just looks like a long drawn out list rather snippets over time.  It was intimidating even for me to read, when it was meant to be light. Teach me to copy and paste from my phone.

My intentions were pure. These snippets were meant to bring a smile. And now, I’m suddenly nervous that they’ll be read all wrong.  Nervous, ha! Who am I kidding, I’m down right worried.  I feel like there’s been a lot of fumbles on my part lately. And the thing getting bumped a bit is my heart & emotions. How can a person do well in so many areas of her world, but have these silly almost klutz-like (hell, I have those too) moments?

But then again…

Maybe I doubt because of something else?  Abandonment issues?  Self esteem?  I should have trust and faith in the people I’ve chosen to care about. Hope they understand me well enough to know that sometimes, I do a shitty job of wording or in this case, formatting something…but my heart is in the right place.

I hate the fear that comes with vulnerability.  Knowing you’ve been exposed, and not knowing if you can trust someone to not strike, or worse, in my case, walk away….

I need to learn to just keep my mouth shut. Or maybe not get so involved. Not open myself up. Not share. It goes so against my nature. Ugh…I hate feeling stupid.

Here’s hoping…goodnight neverland!

 

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Update:  I guess I didn’t screw up.  Formatting was overlooked.  Yay for that.  This is just another reason why I need to learn to have faith and trust in others.  I will get there dang it – someday!!

Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.