Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Time and Distance

There is a sadness and a grief to losing a friendship, one that leaves a hole in your heart that only time and distance can heal. Perhaps you miss the camaraderie and laughter... the shoulder they had been to cry on.  You see things that you would have shared with them before... but then your shoulders droop when you remember you aren't speaking anymore.

That is a hard thing and a sad thing and a grieving thing...  but you will heal if you give yourself time.

My best friend said to me, "Accepting that someone doesn't care about you when you care about them so very much is very tough."

I've thought about that a lot. She's right... it is. I think there's a lot of different parts to that -- and I think that one of them is that it shakes up your trust in yourself as well -- because you probably thought that they did.

So when you face that you were wrong about that, what else were you wrong about? What else are you wrong about? If you follow that road too far, you start to doubt that anything you think is right... that anyone you trust is worthy of it.  But, really, who you don't trust anymore is you.

And maybe it takes time and distance to grow that back, too.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"It's Okay to Feel That Way"

I was out with my 15-year-old daughter tonight and talking to her about some friendship strife I've been in the midst of lately -- about some hurt I had experienced, my struggles with what to do about it, and such.

She's my sweet compassionate one... and after a little thought, she said, "Well... I think it's okay that you feel that way." It's funny how that little bit of permission makes you feel.

It made me think about how we don't allow ourselves to feel the hard emotions. There is an emphasis on joy and happiness, a belief that these are the "good" emotions and that you are doing something wrong if you wallow too long in grief or sadness or sorrow.

And that "too long" is really a very short amount of time.

I think that sometimes those harder, less-pleasant emotions have a purpose. There is a healing purpose to them... but if we shove ourselves out of them too quickly, we have robbed ourselves of the chance to heal healthily.  And while we're whipping ourselves into a happy frenzy and insisting that life is good, we're missing the chance to walk through our heartache and heal it from the inside.

For myself, I think a longer healing time might be necessary. I can whip myself up into joy with the best of them, but I'm not sure that's really going to serve me well in the long run. My biggest danger there, I think, is being sure that I understand the connection between sorrow, hurt, and anger.

The anger is there to protect you from the sorrow and the hurt. There is a protective part of you that wants to go there.  But that anger moves very quickly from protecting you to hurting who hurt you. And that truly isn't where I want to go. Hurting someone else doesn't heal the hurt in myself. It just makes more hurt to be healed.

So, this time, I'm going with my daughter and telling myself that it's okay to feel this way.

I've lost, or am losing, a friendship that meant a lot to me, and I'm sad. I've been hurt by some things, but more so by the indifference to that hurt than anything -- and I feel wounded. I'm struggling with questions of honesty and doubt and self-trust, and I'm twisted around.

And maybe this time, instead of searching for the silver lining to make myself feel better, I'm just going to allow myself to be a little sad for awhile.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Vulnerability Pep Talk

Today, I am writing a pep talk for myself... but you are more than welcome to read along and take anything you want from it.

I have been reading some Brene Brown lately, and have been trying to embrace and act out more vulnerability. Maybe I should have waited until I'd actually finished one of these books or something. But partway through, I decided to try.

It involved talking with someone that I've been struggling with, someone I'd been hurt by. It meant being very open about those hurts, about how they made me feel, and they involved asking for something I needed. I'm a girl who secretly believes that if I ask for something, I've failed somehow... so that part was hard (and possibly not done with much finesse).

I guess it could have gone worse. It could have ended in a fight and mean words tossed back and forth. It didn't, and I guess I can be grateful for that. But it was the equivalent of pouring out your inner heart to someone and having them look at you blankly, shrug, and walk away like it didn't matter. Like you didn't matter.

This morning, I want to erase the whole thing. Not only do I want to erase it but I want to never do it again. If that's the result of being vulnerable, why would anyone do it?

But I'm here to tell myself that locking up is not the answer. Never trying again with anyone isn't the answer.
When someone shares a mess-up of some kind in Weight Watchers, we often ask, "So what did you learn?" It isn't a failure if you can learn from it. So I'm asking myself, "What did you learn?"

I learned that vulnerability can hurt.
I learned that maybe that person isn't the person who has earned me being vulnerable with them. They aren't the kind of person who can be trusted with it.

But what I know is that I definitely have people in my life who can be. I have people in my life who I can trust with my heart and know that they wont break it.

And if I close off my vulnerable points from the whole world because of one person, then I am robbing myself and them from beautiful opportunities to be there for each other.

So, no. I'm not going to erase what happened. And I'm not going to never do it again. I'm sorry that person couldn't understand my heart, but that doesn't mean I'm going to wrap it up and hide it away. That's their issue... not mine.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

When Being "All-In" Ends in Pain

None of this is really mine, but it struck me enough that I wanted to share it.

I was trying to catch up on my YouTube subscriptions the other day and I came across this video from Carrie Hope Fletcher. I love her. I stumbled across her while watching the Becoming YouTube series a couple years ago, thought she was sort of adorable, and wanted to check her out.  Since, she's become one of my favorite people to watch. Her demographic isn't really me... but then again, it is.

In the video, she talks about heartbreak and how strongly it can affect us.  But, what she said that caught me and spoke to me and convicted me and begrudgingly made me sign on was this:

When we encounter situations that don't work out... whether that be love or friendship or work or whatever... the level of the heartbreak that we feel is directly related to the amount that we cared, to the amount of energy and emotion that we put into the thing that didn't pan out the way that we had hoped.

The more we cared, the more we end up hurting.  So when things don't work out and we are broken-hearted?  It isn't a bad thing to feel that way.  What that heartbreak means is that we really cared about the thing. We cared about it so much that letting go of it just really hurts a lot. We were all-in and we committed our heart, so of course our hearts hurt. We needn't be ashamed of that.

When things don't pan out, it's easy and natural and understandable to want to pull back from everything.  It's easy to say, "Well, that really hurt. I don't want to ever feel that way again so I'm going to make sure that I never give of myself like that again."  And you can do that.  You can.

And if you don't give much of yourself to the next thing, it is true that you are less likely to hurt in that all-in way again. But your rewards are also connected to how much you care, how much you give, how much you commit.  So... while it's true that hurts might be less if you give less, your rewards and, as Carrie put it, your victories are only worth that little bit of caring too.

So... you can't.  Really, you can't. You can't let being hurt stop you from being all-in from the next thing or the next person or the next relationship or even the things and relationships that are already part of your life. You may hurt less... but you will win less too.

So keep being all-in. Keep being that person that cares "too much." A world full of people afraid to care would be a sad one, wouldn't it?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Not Everything is About You

I've been struggling with a relationship lately. Lots of angst, lots of feelings, lots of frustration. I was dumping my heart out into the lap of one of my dearest friends this week and she said this to me:

This isn't about you. 
This is completely their issue. 
It isn't yours.

And as I thought about it more and more, it became something that was more and more important for me to internalize... because I've kept trying to make it my issue. And I probably try to make a lot of issues into my issues.

Because, you see, if things are my issues, well I can fix those. If something is off because I did something wrong or I said something that offended, if I'm the one being unreasonable... those are all things that I can fix. And if I can fix those things, then I can fix the relationship, right?

But if they're not my issue... well, there's really only so much that I can do about that. There's only so much of that I can fix. In fact, there's relatively little of that I can fix.

At the same time... it's a little bit freeing to start to internalize that. I'm very good at making things my fault. I apologize for everything. I have apologized for a lot of things that I didn't really think were my fault at all. But acknowledging that not everything is me... Well, that's freeing.

And maybe that doesn't fix the relationship. Maybe it won't ever be.

But it starts to fix me... and that's a start.

Friday, April 10, 2015

LENT: A Look Back

Easter has come and gone, so I figured it'd be good to take a look back at how Lent went. Nearly a week late, but I'm busy raising teenagers and saving the world.

This is not the first time I've attacked the idea of learning to care less what people think. It's something I've come back to more than once, something I struggle with over the long-term. When I first got involved with Celtic Thunder, their producer used to tell me, when I was hurt by things that people had said, that I needed to learn to let things roll off my back, that it didn't matter what those people thought if it wasn't the truth.

She was right... but I remember thinking then -- "But how?"

And so it's something that I've come back to more than once. But I think it's something that I grow a little more from each time. I think of the arena in Catching Fire, from the Hunger Games series. Do you remember how it went in a clock and each "hour" of the clock was a different catastrophe?  Sometimes I feel like the lessons I learn are like a road that winds through a world like that on a mountain.  And the road goes through each "hour" more than once... but it winds up through the mountain. Each time you go through the hour... it's the same kind of trial, but the road is a little different. And what you learn is a little different each time, and every time you go through it, you learn a little more and you grow a little more.

Does that make sense? I would draw you a picture, but I'm a terrible artist, and you would be all, "Is that a mountain...or... a .... penis?"  Trust me. It wouldn't be pretty.

So what did I learn this time?

This time, I think I learned that I can order my own world in such a way that the people who don't matter to me... aren't seen by me. I am always going to care what the people I care about think, and I don't think that's a bad thing-- and it's not something that I want to not do. But it doesn't make a lot of sense to get overly worked up over the opinions of those that I neither like nor want to be in relationship with.

The internet and social media is an easy place to get worked up.  One click of your button and you can see what people are saying... it's easy, but I think it's detrimental to us in a lot of ways and not just in the ways that we can see what people are saying about us. -- But that's really a whole different topic.

So I changed my internet presence... or I changed what I could see. I was proactive about not clicking into places where I was likely to be worked up. I let things go... When I was in conversation with someone who I didn't agree with... but that I also knew I had no chance of changing their beliefs, I just let it go. It wasn't worth getting into or spending my emotion on it. After all, what did it matter if someone thought something different?

I don't know that I was really tested over the last several weeks. I didn't really do anything of note that would create drama or fiery sentiments. And maybe that will be the next time through the "hour" on my mountain. Maybe there will be something new to learn then.

But for now, I'm happy with the last couple months. I feel like I made some changes that were healthy and that put me in a better place to move forward.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Covering and Finding Yourself

I have been operating under a mask for a long time.

I can't even decide the right image to use for this...  Under a mask, a leash, in a fishbowl? Maybe it doesn't matter.  In the end, I simply haven't been myself.

I have felt like I needed to cover up who I was. I needed to make her prettier. I needed to make her different. Why? So that other people would be okay with me. Or because I felt that I had to portray a certain image because of things and people that I was involved with.

It's really only been recently that I've come to take that off a little and have really begun to understand just how suffocating it is to not allow yourself to be you. How constricting it is to always be hiding what you think and feel, to always be playing a role.... and how the more you play it, the more you lose who the real you is.

And you finally are pushed to the brink and you rip off your mask/leash/bowl and step into the light and it feels so good.  But at the same time, it's awfully scary.  Because you're not quite sure who you are in the light anymore... and now you have to find her.

But it's a good kind of finding.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Crisis of Faith: Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2 here of the story, in parts.

I began to feel frustrated.. both with other people and with myself.

It seemed like the answer to everything was just "have more faith" or "have better faith."  And that if you did that, then everything would be fine. But everything wasn't fine.

My life was more complicated than that. The lives of the people I cared for were more complicated. "Just have more faith" wasn't the answer I was looking for. It honestly wasn't enough.

In retrospect, I think I just wanted someone to be real with me. I wanted someone to say that it was okay to think that life sucked sometimes. I didn't want church-y answers. I wanted real ones. Answers that got down in the mud with me and helped me find the way out... instead of trite ones thrown which weren't a lot of help when I was in the trenches.

But, I couldn't find "real," at least not in the places that I was looking. And it ended up just making me mad. Every time I heard or read anything that was in that "trite" sphere, I just pushed it away. I pushed the people who said it away. And then I pushed... sort of everyone away.

I felt guilty that "have more/better faith" wasn't enough for me. Church-i-ly, it should have been, shouldn't it? It was obviously something wrong with me.  But... I didn't want anyone to know that. So I walled off....

If you build your walls high enough, no one can know what's behind them.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Crisis of Faith: Part 2

For me, a faith crisis wasn't really about theology. It wasn't questioning whether what I believed was true.

But I suppose it was about feeling like what I believed and what I felt made me different. And if I was different from what I saw around me, was I wrong? Were they wrong? Was anyone wrong?

I don't really know when it started.  It was a discontent that grew over time until I was so annoyed by it that I reacted with disgust to those around me.

I'm a blogger... and as such, I like to read other blogs. But I began to feel more and more frustrated by the other writers I was reading. Having a hard day? Jesus will save you. Going through a divorce? Jesus will save you. Have a hangnail? Jesus will save you.

I used to teach in the children's ministry...  And when I taught, I could always tell the kids who had grown up in the church. It didn't really matter what you asked, half of them would yell out "JESUS!" as the answer -- They'd been pretty well-trained that "Jesus" was a darned good guess if you didn't know the answer, and I'm pretty sure they threw it out there, without even listening to the question, just in case.

It was kind of like that.

And I started to feel like "Jesus" just wasn't enough.

But how could I say that?  How could I say that Jesus wasn't enough? Isn't He supposed to be enough?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Crisis of Faith: Part 1

The worst part about a faith crisis isn't that you've had one or that you're going through one.

It isn't the questions.
It isn't the changes.
It isn't the unsurety.
It isn't the doubt.
It isn't the searching.

The worst part about a faith crisis is doing it alone. It's worrying about what people would think of you if they knew that you're struggling or that you're questioning. It's worrying that they would mistake your questioning for something it isn't or that they would make assumptions about you... that they would judge you for your thoughts.

So you don't tell anyone... and you do it alone... and you withdraw. Because if they knew... well, you don't know what would happen.  And so you do it safe and you do it alone...  And that's very lonely.

Part of me says that Easter is a terrible time to admit to a faith crisis. Why would you mar the celebration of that day with such a thing?

But then, part of me says, "This is exactly when you talk about it." And maybe that's the part who's right.
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