Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What I Can't Tell You

I don't know how to tell you what it's like to be here in this place again.

Stepping on the scale and making myself face the fact that I am, once again, almost-but-not-quite the heaviest I've ever been.

I don't know what to say to explain to you how I always end up here.  How I start and succeed and then fall off.

And how that embarrasses me.  That I can't keep going.

That it's easy when the going is happy. When I am happy.

But then home is hard or family is hard or friends are hard, or the tired and depression comes.

And then the chocolate seems an easy fix. And it's easy to say "I'm too tired to go running today."

And how that becomes two days and three days and a month.

And I've failed and I don't want to admit it to me, much less you.  so I just keep right on avoiding and failing.

I don't know how to tell you what it means to be here again.  To have been so close and to have failed so hard.

To know how much work there is to do.

I don't know how to tell you how it feels to see the pictures in the magazines and the girls who are pretty and know that they aren't me, and that I will probably never get to a point where they are.

I don't know how to explain the people inside of me....

That I'm her on the inside.  -->>

<<--But her on the out.

Every look, I remember.  Every comment you've made, I remember.

Every minute of every day, I remember.

But I don't know how to tell you.  We don't know how to tell you.

So we don't.  We harden hearts and perfect smiles.  We make fun of ourselves... and we even make fun of those like us.  Because that's part of it, isn't it? We have to be part of the group. We have to be part of the culture.  And so we ridicule what we are ourselves.

You can't know.

And I can't tell you.

That's the code.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Tales: An Unexpected Journey

The car sputtered briefly, unsure if it wanted to keep running or just give it up and die. Daniel tapped his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel and waited for Jennifer to come out of the building she'd disappeared into.

"Wait here, I'll be right back. Keep the car running."

The last few weeks had been whirlwind. Ever since he'd met her at a bar one Friday night, he'd found himself doing things out of character. A young professional, steadily climbing up the corporate ladder one rung at a time, he played by the rules, did his homework, graduated at the top of his class.  Last weekend, they'd broken onto the roof of a building that explicitly said "KEEP OUT" and kissed under the stars. She'd come to his office, pretending to be a UPS driver. Very inappropriately behaving one, too.  They'd snuck into movies, loitered, and panhandled just for fun.

The doors of the apartment building flew open and Jennifer raced down the stairs, something stuffed under her shirt. Jumping into the car and slamming the door shut behind her, she yelled, "Go go go! Drive!"


The doors of the building opened again, and two men began to run toward the car.


Daniel shoved the car into "Drive" and sped off into the street toward the freeway.  "Where are we going?" 

"South.  Just go south... we should be safe there."

"Safe?" Daniel's eyebrows knitted in confusion. "What did you take?"

Jennifer pulled something out from under her shirt and Daniel's eyes widened. "A BABY? You stole a BABY? You can't steal a baby!"

"I didn't steal a baby.  She's MY baby."

"You have a baby?"

Jennifer sighed. "Just drive."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trusting in People

I must admit that there is a big part of me who reads this and thinks, "But no. No thank you."  Trusting and believing leads to too much hurt. I have been trusting. I have been believing. And all it's gotten me is a big pile of regret and hurt.  So, there is a part of me that says, "No. We have our walls. We have our fortress, and it would be great if everyone could just stay where they're supposed to stay and not cross the barriers."

But, I know that's not right. I look at the people in my life, the people I love so much, and I know they wouldn't be there if, at some point, I hadn't let down the drawbridge and said, "Okay. You.  You can come in." I wouldn't have those relationships if I hadn't trusted at least a little.

There must be some middle ground.  I've done the part where my philosophy has been "I will trust you until you show me you're not trustworthy, and even then I'll probably forgive you and give you another 14 chances" and that's led to personal hurtful disaster.  And I've done the part where I lock myself in a tower and won't let anyone in, which just leads to loneliness and it's so hard to keep paying the archers to keep everyone out.

There must be a middle ground. I'm working on finding it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm Glad I... Did Some Stuff


I admit it... I laugh at extremely inopportune moments. I think this is something I picked up from my dad, sort of an inability sometimes to deal and instead cope with humor. It's not that I don't understand the enormity of what is happening. It's the enormity of what is happening that is inciting me to find something, anything, to relieve its very size and depth.  My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 12 years ago.  It sucks.  Don't mistake, MS sucks hardcore. To watch someone you love lose their abilities to do things years before they should have lost them, it sucks. To hold her hand while she cries because she can't do things she planned on doing, it sucks.  But we have two choices...  We can laugh or we can cry.  Crying gets old, friends.  So we laugh and we make jokes about walking slow and falling down, because what else is there to do?  Sometimes laughing looks awkward and disrespectful...  But those who don't laugh don't understand that, for some, laughing is how we pay our respects. Laughing is how we deal.  And I'm not sorry that's me.  Some days, I'd much rather laugh than cry.

...Picked up a Pen again...

I was writing and blogging several years ago, and I caught the publishing bug.  Very into parenting essays at the time, I was intent that I was going to be one of those columnists you see in Family Circle, and I began going after that.  I started writing small blurbs, submitting them for publication, building up my portfolio... and there was success.  Though small enough to not be credited, things I've written have been published in magazines you've probably read.
I hated it.

The whole process of writing things so that they would be nationally published, writing for an editor, writing things that would fit the publication's criteria. It wasn't me writing anymore. All of it shot my love for writing right through the heart.  I wrote because I loved it...  And in the quest to get myself published, I lost my love.  So I quit.  I quit for a very long time.  I'd write something here and there, but I wouldn't let myself WRITE.  Maybe I was afraid I still didn't love it. Maybe I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it anymore.
But eventually, when the need was greatest, I picked up the pen.  And I'm so glad that I did.

...Started Over...

I'm 35 years old.  Somewhere in the last couple years, I took a good hard look at who I was, who I had become and realized I really wasn't who I wanted to be.  Not all bad.  But there were big parts, BIG PARTS, that I wanted to be different. But I thought "You're 30-whatever!  It's too late! Your character is developed, there's nothing you can do about it!"

As it turns out, that's a lie.  You can.  You can start over, even if you're 30 or 40 or 50, if you care enough to do it.  You might have to tear yourself down first, break yourself apart and start again from scratch. Some people aren't going to like it, either. There are going to be people who liked you better the other way... and they will try to keep you from making the changes you need to make. But it's important to like who you are. Do the work to be the someone that you can.

Monday, July 23, 2012

In Defense of Justin Bieber

I've seen this around the internet several times over the past couple months, with varying captions to communicate the wretched pit of stupid that popular music has fallen into.  Pretty much every time, my response is something along the lines of "Oh shut the heck up."

It's not that I think Justin Bieber is this great uber-god of music and that they are likely to be playing his greatest hits at Classical Music concerts 400 years down the road. I do, however, think it's completely unfair to compare him to Frank Sinatra. 

Slide him up next to New Kids on The Block and he doesn't fare quite as badly. "Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.  Hangin' Tough!"

The Bee-Gees? "Ah ah ah ah Stayin' Alive. Stayin' Alive."

Let's go back even further to the 50's.  "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to!"

I'm not sure why it's an awful thing for some music to simply be... fun. While I'm sure it's entirely possible that young Mr Bieber considers himself a paragon of lyrical poetry, pop music in general is just supposed to be fun, and I'm not sure what's wrong with that.

"There is... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance."

I think the same can be said of music.  It comes in hundreds of different forms, and while I don't LIKE all of them, they're all good for something. I'm not sure why "just being fun" isn't a valid form of expression.

Maybe I'm just sensitive to this... not Justin Bieber in particular (though I do end up listening to a lot of him because my youngest daughter was a big fan for three years), but just this idea of musical bigotry and elitism.

For the last 4 1/2 years, I've been a big fan of Celtic Thunder.  BIG.  And okay yes.  Sometimes maybe they're sort of like an Irish manband. But I don't really care, I LIKE them. Their music makes me happy.  But, I can't tell you the number of times I've felt like I have to defend them because someone else thinks they're stupid. 

I also developed a love for country music when we moved to Washington.  There was a stretch of highway between here and my mom's house in Oregon that country music was the only radio station you could get (well okay, also one that plays Mexican polkas).  At the time, the CD and cassette players in my van were also dead, so if I wanted any music (and I can't stay awake driving without it), country music it was!  I found I liked it a lot. I loved the story that was embedded into country music, the real life.  
Sure, sometimes there are dumb songs like "Red Solo Cup" (which annoys the pants off of me) or equally silly "Country Girl Shake It For Me" (which I love to bits). But there are far more that are pure, sweet, and heartfelt.  I have often posted videos of songs onto my Facebook with notes like "I really like this song" or "This song means a lot to me" only to have people I'm friends with decide that "oh that sucks" or "I hate country music" is something that would be nice to say.

*blinks* Really.

Justin Bieber went out of style here a couple years ago.  He was no longer the "in" thing at school. And yet, my Alicia still went on liking him. At a parent-teacher conference, we were laughing about her devotion to her pop idol and her teacher asked me, "I know he isn't 'in' anymore... does she get teased about that?" I didn't know... but I loved that she continued liking Justin Bieber (and she did for two more years), not because he was the popular thing to like, but because she just earnestly liked him. That's awesome.

So, Mr Bieber...  You go on making the music you make.  My girls, you go on liking the music you like.  And don't let anyone tell you that the things that make your heart go pitter-pat aren't okay.

Friday, July 20, 2012


When our time is done

I will remember the words you spoke
The things you did.

I will cast my mind fondly back on the laughter
I will relive the tears.

I will smile at the memories
I will cherish our friendships.

I will regret our losses
I will wish you well.

And I won't forget.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Mutant

If you walked out the front door of my house, you would find yourself on a street paved with gold dust. Every tree that lines it blooms with pink diamonds.  The bridge down the way spans a river that runs with liquid silver.  The tinkling of tiny bells fill the air.

Oh, the bells. Those damn bells.

I suppose it's a bit of an understatement to call this a house.  It's more than a house.  It's Parliament. It's the courthouse. It's the jailhouse.  It's a castle.  But, I guess it's home.

I'm Abby. From Nebraska.  But this?  This is Fairyland -- and I am its reluctant queen.

Today, I wasn't walking out my front door. I wasn't strolling along the golden lanes. I wasn't picking diamond bouquets, and I wasn't swimming in the crystal cool of the river.  No, today... like every day... I was holding court. Miserable boring court.

A trumpet blew right in my ear and I waved it away. "Do you have to do that right there?"

A fairyman flew out of the reach of my hand, his trumpet dropping to float inches above the floor. "I'm sorry, Your Highness!" Philip bobbed in deference. "I have been working on projection." His countenance took on an air of hurt.

I smiled. Philip was my favorite fairy.  He once told me that, when he was a fairyboy, he could never make more than a peep come out of his trumpet, and his many siblings always teased him terribly over it.  His newfound volume was a subject of great pride.

"I'm sorry, Philip.  Let my annoyance stand as proof of your talent. And how many times do I have to tell you to call me Abby?"

"Yes, Queen Abby!"

I sighed and whispered.  "Abby.  Just Abby.  Now, why are we trumpeting?"

Philip pulled himself up to his full 9 inches and announced the arrival of a new visitor. "Ladies and Gentlemen!  Lord Ronaldo, here to bestow his good wishes upon our fair queen!"  And again with the trumpet.

I rolled my eyes.  If I had to sit through one more pompous miniature fairy lord trying to impress me with his tricks and aerial gymnastics, I was going to scream.

The door opened and a figure entered the room.  This was no miniature fairy lord.

He had six inches on me, easily. Have you heard "tall, dark, and handsome"? He was that.  He had straight black hair The ends brushed against the collar of his jacket as he walked forward. His eyes were the most brilliant green I'd ever seen, framed with gorgeous black eyelashes, and I found myself sitting taller under his gaze. He wore dark blue jeans (where did he get those?? I'd kill for a pair of jeans) that sat lazily on his hips and the chambray shirt accentuated the hard lines of his torso.  I definitely sat taller.

"You're Lord Ronaldo?" I could barely keep the stammer out of my voice.

"He most certainly is NOT." The offended voice came from behind the man of steel, and a fat little fairy came puffing to the front. "I am Lord Ronaldo.  This is naught but my younger brother, Kevin."  He lowered his voice in apologetic confidence. "He's a mutant."

"Indeed." I muttered. "We could use a few more of those around here."

Mutant Kevin winked and the faintest smile quirked at the corners of his mouth as his older brother began his series of probably-impressive tricks.

And THAT is where the story begins.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making Others Change

Have you ever been in relationship with someone and thought "If I could just get them to change this"? Maybe it was a personality trait, something they said all the freaking time, a bad habit. We can even give you the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe it wasn't even for selfish reasons.  Maybe it was that you could see a behavior in them that you knew was going to get them into trouble down the road, and you just wanted to save them from that. (Ok, maybe it was just that it bugged you and you wanted it to go away.)

But the truth is that you can only change your own character, not someone else's.  Think about that for a minute.

You can only change your 
own character.

When I began to really internalize that, it was hugely freeing for me.  I didn't realize until recently that I'm a bit codependent. I often feel like it's my job to "fix things"... or people even, I guess.  I suppose this goes back a long way... I've always felt, in my family, that it was my job to make sure everything was okay.  My dad used to call me Perry Mason because I would so go to-bat for my sisters to make sure they were alright.  I think that's continued into today.  Maybe not so much the "Perry Mason" part, but the feeling responsible for everyone.

But, I'm not.  I'm not responsible for everyone.  You're not responsible for everyone. It's unhealthy for us to make ourselves responsible for everyone.

When I am tempted to change people because I think they should change (whether that's right or wrong), or when I find myself emotionally obsessing over it, I remind myself "This is not your job.  You can only change you."

It at least helps.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm Glad I... Found, Listened, and Ignored

I'm Glad I...
Found friends who are wiser than I
And listened to them
And sometimes didn't listen to them

I surround myself with people who are wiser than I am.  It's not that I've gone out and said "Oh, you're smart. I think I will stalk you until you deign to be friends with me."  But, they are.  They're wise and smart and they have wonderful insight. When you're a person who frequently acts on impulse without thinking through the consequences, having wise friends is a good thing.

Too, when you're a person who sometimes has a hard time seeing outside of your own emotions, it's good.  You get so close to a predicament that you can't get perspective...  can't see the forest for the trees, they say.  When you're there, you need people who love you, but who can separate themselves from the situation enough that they can impart their insight and help you get that perspective.

It's tough, sometimes.  Sometimes they tell you things you don't want to hear. You want to do it. You want to do it your way. And you don't want to listen to the truth that your way is probably going to end up in disaster. But, having their insight and trusting them allows you to divorce yourself from the situation enough to take a step back and see how what they say could be true.

But, you have to trust yourself, too.  

Sometimes you do the thing anyway.  And that's okay as long as you're being honest about it.  Go into it knowing the risks. Go into it knowing the possible consequences, and with the willingness to take those consequences on should they befall you.

Usually, the wise thing is the right thing.

But, every once in a while, the right thing is anything but the wise thing.  And it's possible that you'll be glad you weren't wise.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Celtic Thunder Voyage II DVD

As a companion to their Voyage CD/DVD combination released earlier in 2012, Celtic Thunder has released Voyage II, a second DVD only available online.  The songs from both DVDs were recorded in Kansas City during the show's Fall 2011 tour, but there were simply too many to all fit on one product.

Voyage II contains some songs that were on the Voyage CD but weren't on the first DVD, like Cats in the Cradle, Friends in Low Places, and Song for the Mira.  This DVD is an enjoyable compilation for the avid fan, but it doesn't have as many quality ensemble numbers, so I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a "Give this to someone who's never seen the show" kind of product.  For that, I'd stick with the original "The Show" and maybe "Heritage."

Let's start with the good.

Strengths (in order of appearance):

  • Cats in the Cradle-- This solo by George Donaldson is a really strong showing and one of the nicer ballad-y-ish songs on the DVD.  We see him sitting on the steps of the set, accompanying himself on guitar.  It's delightful to see George singing a Chapin song, especially when you know that he's always been an idol of George's.
  • My Irish Molly-O-- Newcomer Emmet Cahill is adorable.  This peppy tune is fun, flirty, and oh so cute! It's a huge highlight for me... I bought the DVD just for this song. Do not miss it!
  • You've Got a Friend-- This is a really sweet bit of performing.  Keith Harkin is adorable, and it's very fun to watch the interplay going on between him and young Daniel Furlong who does the actual singing.  I know I should probably focus on that... but...  Keith is cute.
  • 7 Drunken Nights-- LOVE!!!  A very fun ensemble song that will have you smiling, I promise.  It's very enjoyable.  The guys are cute and engaging and hammy.  As my daughter once commented, "Ryan's really good at pretending to be drunk, Mom"  "He's Irish, honey.  Not a lot of acting needed." EVERYONE is great in this one... definitely a highlight.
  • Bonus Footage-- I really liked the extra footage that came with this DVD, far more than the footage on the first Voyage DVD.  This set highlighted the show's time on the road... things they did, their routines, things they enjoyed.  Very nicely done!
  • Song for the Mira-- I like this song. It's pretty and sweet and I enjoy it when it's on.  However, I don't find it strong enough that I'm thinking "Man, I can't WAIT to hear that song again."  Maid of Culmore and Dulaman, both on the first Voyage DVD, were much stronger ensemble songs.
  • Hallelujah-- We originally heard this song with Neil, Ryan, and Keith on the "It's Entertainment" DVD, and it's always been a favorite of mine.  For "Voyage," they've given us a new version with Neil, Emmet, and Keith.  Neil carries the entire first section as a solo until the long break when he's joined by the other two vocalists.  I like Neil, and I enjoyed his performance. But I really missed the harmonies on the initial "Hallelujah"s.  
  • Friends in Low Places-- I'm very torn on this song.  On the one hand, Ryan Kelly's version of this Garth Brooks hit is enjoyable. It's great to see Ryan break out of the "Dark Destroyer" persona for once, and a nice change to see him playing guitar.  I like those things. But I think this is one of those songs that needs the live audience vibe to really pop. It loses something from LIVE to DVD, and I'm not sure it really caters to Ryan's strengths (of which I am a major fan).
  • Danny Boy-- We have heard this song a lot.  A LOT.  I know they're Irish/Scottish, so maybe they "have" to sing Danny Boy. But it wouldn't kill me if they wanted to retire it for a couple DVDs. Additionally, I don't think this is the best arrangement they've ever had.  I like that we're treated to different verses than we usually get, gives the song a different feel.  But, there are enough times in this arrangement that the harmonies are just wince-y weird that makes me want to skip it.
  • 500 Miles-- I love George.  And I like this song. And I like George singing this song. But for heavens sake, can we PLEASE get him a new upbeat song to sing? Anything.  Just not this one anymore.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

You Searched For What?

To the one who searched for...

In life, don't expect anything from anyone. Then you won't be disappointed.-- The "I've been hurt before" part of me understands this.  But, at the same time, this search made me the saddest of any I've received this month. I understand wanting to keep your expectations low... Not being disappointed seems more attractive than being disappointed. But, hope is a beautiful thing, even hope in others.  Expect good out of people. It's okay.  There will be people who disappoint you.  There will.  But, there will be more people who meet and surpass your hopes. There are more good than not.

It's hard for me to balance a relationship.-- Oh yes, it can be!  Especially when a relationship is new...  You get that ooey-gooey love stuff going on, and it's like a drug, isn't it?  You just want more and more of it, and you leave all the already-established relationships in your life in the dust.  But it absolutely is important to keep balance. To be sure that you're maintaining meaningful contact with your friends and family.  They can see things you can't in your love coma, and it's important to listen.

I will be bigger than you, you cannot defeat me.-- To you, I say "YOU CAN DO IT."  Whatever it is you're facing, you can do it.  Your obstacles are not bigger than your strength.  You absolutely can do it.

Does Les Schwab change headlights?-- NO.  No, they do not.  If you get the guy who succumbs to pitiful female wheedling, they do.  But, if you get the mean grumpy guy, they so don't!

With no phone booths, where does Clark Kent go to change?-- Instant photo booths.

Keith Harkin teeth-- Yes.  He has them.

And the most disturbing of all...

All of them want to shove you in the oven and eat you--  What?  I mean... WHAT? Is your name Hansel or Gretel?  Seriously, RUN AWAY.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday Tales: The Muse

The picnic table perched above the shore of the lake. Anyone who looked out would be treated to a view of sunshine sparkling on the bluest of water, sailboats dotting the waves, and ducks enjoying an afternoon's swim.  But, I took the other bench. I had another view in mind.

I set down my latte and pulled a slim notebook and my favorite pen from my bag before sitting with my back to the water. Opening the book, I began to write. Or at least I set the pen against the paper. But, like every Saturday, the words wouldn't come.  Not until he came.

I could hear him walking up the path from the parking lot and I pretended to engross myself in my writing.  I glanced up with practiced nonchalance when he passed by my table to return his smile and nod.  Now, the words would come.

He arranged his easel up the hill some 50 paces from where I sat, pointed toward the lake behind me. Reaching into his satchel, he pulled out his pencils and began to sketch.

I'm not sure when he had become my muse, but he had fueled my writing for many weeks.  He was tall with warm brown eyes and a smile that quirked his mouth up at the corners. The colors of Autumn were always what I thought of when I studied his hair, rich and full and always just short of needing a haircut. It was the kind that you wanted to touch just to see if it was really as soft as it looked.  It sounds like I was in love with him, I know.  But it wasn't that. It wasn't romantic, it wasn't sexual.

He just intrigued me. There was something about him.  Maybe it was the way he studied the horizon so carefully before putting his pencil to the paper. Maybe it was how he would impatiently push away this one stray lock of hair that always fell across his eyes. Maybe it was the day I'd been later than usual and had caught him swimming instead of drawing. It had made me wish that I, too, was skilled with an ability to draw.  I don't know what it was, but he had made his way into my story, and I needed him to finish it.

I didn't even know if he could draw well, really.  I'd never seen his creations as we were always faced in opposite directions.  Me, towards him.  Him, toward the lake behind me. Every time I looked up, his eyes would be focused on the view over my shoulder, squinting and thinking.  Sometimes I think he caught me studying him, but I would always quickly yank my eyes up to the heavens, as if I was just searching for the words I wanted before applying them to my page.  I don't know if he knew I was watching him.

But, every Saturday afternoon, we came.  And every Saturday, my story came a little bit closer to completion.

We worked in companionable silence until the sun's light began to fade.  My coffee gone and knowing he would soon be leaving with no light left to work with, I slipped my notebook back into my bag.  Smiling and waving, I made my back to my car. We never spoke.

Until next week, Romeo.


She packed her bag, grabbed her empty coffee, and returned to her car in the parking lot. I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding.  I was always afraid she'd discover my secret.  Maybe she'd walk by in a direction she didn't normally take and then she'd know.

I paged through my most recent sketches before putting my things away.  The one I had drawn of her hair blowing in the wind, the sun streaming behind her. The one where she had been furiously writing her thoughts, as if she couldn't get them down fast enough before they disintegrated into nothing.  The one where she studied the sky, trying to find what she wanted to say.

Most artists came to draw and paint the lake.  But, I came to draw her.

Maybe someday she would know. Maybe someday I would show her.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Be Bigger!

Today, we're going to talk about the past. Specifically, the hurts in the past.

I believe that our pasts shape us.  We all have experiences we've gone through, hardships, pain we've endured, relationships we've lost, difficulties we've encountered.  And they all work together to shape our characters, to make us who we are.  Those aren't the only things that shape us, but they make the list.

But.  YOU are more than your past.

No more of this "I can't do this because that happened to me" stuff. We are not victims. We are conquerors!  I want to hear more of "I can do this even though that happened to me!"

I came across this great quote from Ann Landers the other day:

"Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high. Look it squarely in the eye, and say, 'I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.'"

We are bigger than what's befallen us.  We can sit and we can fester and we can go on and on with the "oh poor me"s.  But if we do, that bitterness and that constant victim attitude will change us into bitter pitiful people.  

You can't always choose what happens to you. But you can choose how you respond to it.

Choose bigger! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I'm Glad I... Walked Away

I'm Glad I... walked away from unhealthy friendships

This is probably the most difficult thing I've done over the past few years. It was the hardest to do. It's still hard to talk and write about. It still makes my heart constrict inside my chest.  And yet, in retrospect, doing it remains something that I think was wise.

Sometimes friendships turn out to be not-healthy.  Maybe they didn't start out that way, and that's how they got to be friendships.  But, you get to a point where you look around and realize that the relationship you're in isn't very good for you. There can be lots of components that make it that way.  Maybe you've just begun to chafe against each other too much.  Maybe you've changed in ways they haven't, and vice versa, and you keep trying to make each other fit into the molds of who you were before. Maybe you're giving more than they are, and it's become a one-way relationship, or maybe it's you that's taking it all. There can be lots of things that contribute...

But, one day, you get to a place where you realize... "This relationship just isn't good for me. It's becoming unhealthy."

But walking away is... fraught with so much.  There's all the time you've already put into it. There's the fact that recognizing the unhealthiness of the relationship doesn't mean you don't CARE about the person anymore, and you don't want to hurt them. There's the "but what if they still need me?" worry (em, this might just be me and my own co-dependence.. more on that in a couple weeks). There's the weighty thought that you are choosing to walk away.  To be a quitter. And quitting on something that once (and maybe still does) mean so much to you.  It's knowing that you're walking away from something you love.  Even if you believe it's best, it's HARD.

If you're there, if you're in the spot right now where you're thinking "I think I should walk from this," I want to encourage you to do it. You are not a bad person for recognizing that where you are is not good. Sometimes it really is best.... for both of you. Sometimes holding onto something that was once great keeps you both from being in relationships that ARE great. Trying to be the person someone else wants you to be keeps you from being the person you're meant to be.

I can't tell you that walking away is easy. It isn't.  It hurts. And months later, it still hurts. Sometimes the guilt is still heavy. Sometimes the bittersweet memories twist inside and bring such sorrow. But even as they do, I know it was right.

Hard.  But right.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thursday Tales: By The River

I sat on a bench and looked out across the river.  The fog hovered over the water like a blanket just about to descend and the birds poked in and out of it as they dove for their morning's meal. I felt a creak at the other end of the bench and glanced up.

A familiar profile greeted my eyes.  I smiled, and then I remembered I was mad at him and stopped.  We both sat quietly, avoiding each other's glances and staring resolutely at the river, as if not looking at each other would make the gulf between us less oppressive.

He finally spoke. "We messed up, didn't we?" But it wasn't so much a question as a statement.

I looked away.  "Yes."

"I'm sorry. For everything."

"I know." I turned my head to wipe a tear from my eye. We had really messed up something that could have been really nice.  Both of us so proud and stubborn. "Me too."

His words came slowly and I knew they were hard for him to say. "They say we never get a second chance to make a first impression. But I don't know that there is a limitation on second chances on friendships and trying again. Maybe we could try again?"

I was quiet a long time and finally said, "Okay."

I smiled.  I could see him smile out of the corner of my eye, and we sat in now-companiable silence as the birds dove.
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