be relentless

Almost exactly 4 years ago I was sitting in this same house, taking in the changing colors, cheeks flushed from the crisp east coast air. It was a joyous week celebrating life – 50 years of one well lived, the union of two beautiful souls, and the anticipation of meeting the little one growing inside me. Family from near and far all converging with shared purpose and excitement. There were so many hugs and squeals – the air riddled with hope, elation, and that feeling – you know the one – where all just feels right in the world.

Weeks before our trek across the US, we learned our Little Bird may not be growing as she should. The messages were mixed and tests inconclusive. We kept the potential of her defect to ourselves – we wanted our ignorance to last as long as it could. The air was thick with joy and maybe selfishly we knew, this would be the last time we would breath with ease, the last time we could wear joy and know it was genuine. Surrounded by every face we’ve ever loved, receiving thoughtful gifts – some passed down through generations, and resting in the idea that life was good – it is something I will never forget.

As I sit in the same house, cheeks flushed from the crisp fall air, tears sneak quietly down my face. This isn’t how we were supposed to return here. Empty handed. Hearts deflated by pain and anger. Broken in every way. It feels as though we exist on the outside looking in. Always asking ourselves, is this our life – forever and ever? Does this state of devastation and grief ever lessen? Does it ever become something capable of sharing space with joy and happiness? I don’t have the answer. It is likely I never will. That has to be OK.

What I do know is this: even when I can’t see through the grey and the fog, life is still beautiful. It’s beautiful because even in this mess, this effed up brokenness, there is love. I know that love is so much bigger than me and my pain – it is the currency in which I should place all my investment. Without it – we would not have made it this far and neither would you. We all have a story – likely littered with pain and disappointments – that’s OK – it makes us human, it gives us common ground. We need to use that common ground to be there for one another. If you know someone in pain – sit outside their door – take them a meal – send them a text or email (snail mail is WAY cooler though) – love them in whatever way they let you, until they let you in. Once you’re in – don’t freaking screw it up! Don’t give unsolicited advice, ask them how long it will last, or lament about your own problems – JUST BE. 

I cannot stress or say this enough – if someone you know is grieving, the loss of a person or their life played out in depression, anger, isolation; maybe they’re struggling with family or lost in their own pain – don’t stop reaching out. Ever. Also, Don’t make it about you. If they don’t respond, do so harshly or coldly – don’t take it personally (well, try not to). It won’t be easy – there is an ugliness that stems from shame, loss and pain. It manifests as self preservation; the thickest and tallest emotional walls, and words sharper than knives. It generates visceral reactions to the simplest of things and strikes out of fear, loneliness, and exhaustion. Nine times outta ten, it has nothing to do with you. Chase them down and leave your expectations outside – try and try again, be relentless in loving them even if they only let you from very far away. One day your love will seep through, it will sit with them when they feel alone, it will tap them on the shoulder when they’re about to lose it, it will keep them going.

numbing

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Truth.

 

Hearing her say this, then reading it on paper – my mind was (and still is) blown. This describes so many years of my life, especially the last three. To see my life summed up, in thirty-one words, somehow made me feel normal – gave me a better understanding of myself – and the science behind it just makes sense to me. The last three years I existed in a constant state of numbing. I can barely give people hugs without wanting to crawl out of my skin – not because I think they have lice or smell bad or want to creepily smell my hair – but because hugging means you’ve missed someone – you’re happy to see them – you love them – you want to be close to them. Nope…sorry, I don’t want to feel ANY of those emotions, let alone all of them at once! I am safe in my Misie-sized bubble with a withering stare sending people at least five feet outside it. When I was in my twenties I had A LOT going on – 100% inside my head, locked away for no one to ever know – I maintained a state of numbness by working crazy hours, always being busy, over exercising, and disappearing into a life that required no commitment – at least not the stable kind.  [Disclaimer – because you know there’s always one or two – I loved my twenties in all their messiness; they shaped who I am today, significantly…but there was also a lot of pain and sadness that caused me to shut.it.down] I eventually became very ill and required some serious integrative intervention (liquid diets, therapy, new eating habits, sleep…the list goes on). Even with this help, these changes, my go to reaction to anything out of my control was to numb | is to numb.

When we lost Birdie I reached an entire other level of numbing – there is numbing for self preservation and then, there’s numbing for survival. My goal every single day was to survive – to wake up, get out of bed, eat something, have the guts to open the curtains and let light in. Laughter was a foreign sound; going to the store was the scariest thing because there were babies, toddlers, pregnant women there; friends were having babies left and right and it felt like the greatest insult. When you can see your dearest friends expanding their families and feel hate – this is the deepest darkest space for the soul. The thought of crying in front of people I loved, let alone some stranger in the check out line, instantly made me want to never ever leave the house (because crying is weakness apparently in my world). Numb. Numb. Numb. Shut it out, pretend it doesn’t exist. There was no joy, no gratitude, and no happiness. They are beginning to creep in every once in awhile, and this makes me appreciate time – how it allows us to soften, our eyes to widen, and lets light sneak past the darkness and seep through the cracks in our walls. I don’t believe time heals wounds, but I do believe, if we’re open to it, it will give us the space we need to process, to understand, to feel what needs to be felt before our wounds keep us locked in the house, never wanting a hug again.

words.

Do you ever feel like you wake up each and every day trying to catch where you’re supposed to be | where you thought you’d be; yet, as your head hits the pillow you feel the same weight of exhaustion and failure with which you awoke?

Do you ever feel like happiness is a concept, not an experience? You’re constantly clocking in and out of life but never embracing all its parts? You get so beat down with the day to day you settle for what was once thought temporary. You begin to convince yourself that your dreams, those magical gems that gave your soul fire, they’re just that, dreams, not tangible things.

Stick with me here – and no, this is not an infomercial for some emotional support group or self-help book that I read last month, or even a judgment of your current state. It’s more a free flowing thought process that has been tapping my shoulder, whispering – what the hell are you doing with your life…do you even know…do you even see yourself? I arrive to this blank page with zero answers, however, this deserves a conversation even if a conclusion is far from reach.

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This is what I know to be true based on my experience and my observation of many I know and love. Living a reactionary life is no life at all. If we are always reacting, we will never be in front of life, we will never dictate our futures; we will exist hopelessly. Be in charge, create your own path, take responsibility and ownership of your decisions. We all have ugliness and failures but, what if, just once, we viewed them as triumphs? Without them we would not grow, we would not evolve into better versions of ourselves. Obviously, we have to make that choice; choose to embrace the struggle, choose to walk up a mountain because, at the top, is a view we could never imagine. It’s a vast openness of possibility. 

I am IN THIS right now – I do not speak from a superior place, this is not a life hack. This is hard work, it is dedication, it is stepping out into the unknown. If you fail…ok. So what. Get up. Try Again. Take the risk. Do not apologize for being bold, being honest, or being an individual. I know I have a unique personality – I am not saying be like me or that fear is for suckers. I am afraid all of the time, but I do not let it define me, I will not let it dictate my future. I want authenticity, I want joy, I want a life well-lived, one I can look back on and think – holy crap – at all times, my cup overflowed, I was true to myself, I fought hard for what I have, and I am loved greatly.

So…I leave you with this – because let’s be honest, I’m just dissecting this and applying it to my life – because it’s brilliant:
“If you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won’t like you. It may not be easy, but it’s essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desires, values, and needs.” | Cheryl Richardson

Image | quote found via Pinterest 

words | on anger, with a little humor

THIS is true – it is raw and may offend –  all reasons why I love it. 

“…people don’t want to look at the hard things. And that goes for me, too. Angry and afraid are unattractive things to be. I don’t particularly enjoy them in other people, and I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be brave and likeable. Fear and anger are itchy and uncomfortable, and I have treated them like something I could avoid. Like they were just a shitty acrylic sweater I could choose not to wear…

…Have you ever been angry? It doesn’t do anything for you! It’s like having a little rotten core hiding in an otherwise perfectly beautiful apple. It’s like when you order a coke at McDonald’s and you take a sip and you’re like, WHAT IS THIS and it’s Sprite instead.

The cure for grief is not “be not sad” and the cure for anger isn’t “be unangry!” It’s feeling all of the things, even the uncomfortable ones, without judging yourself for them.

Your job, when bad shit happens, is to get through it however you can. It is not your job to make your life more palatable for other people.

The world will go on, despite your despair. And you know what that is? LIFE. And like our gym teachers told us when we got pegged in the face with a kickball, life is unfair.

What our gym teachers did not tell us is that it’s totally okay if you fucking hate that and want to just scream cry in your car sometimes! It’s okay if sometimes you hate your friends for having things you don’t have anymore, and then you hate yourself for hating perfectly nice people who love you, just because their husbands [children] are alive! That’s okay!

You will be happy again (and sad again, and angry again, it’s a process?). You will find glittering moments of joy, and you will learn things, and you will be completely lost and found again, over and over and over.”

– Nora McInerny Purmort

It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying is Cool Too)