The Other Side of Heartbreak

Friend, I have known heartbreak and devastation, pain and loss. I have known what it is to be ripped apart, not certain if I would make it back together again.

Once upon a time, friend, I was married and I believed in fairy tales and happily ever afters. I believed in romance, forever, and true love. I believed that someone had chosen me and that that was it.

Only it wasn’t.

There was a moment, friend, where I felt like a failure, where I didn’t know how I would go on. There were thoughts of taking my own life, that is how much the grief hurt, and how much I desperately doubted my ability to navigate through it.

In this moment, friend, I nearly did something that could never be taken back or erased.

I took the pill bottles out of the cupboard and lined them up on my dresser. My intent was to take them all and to fall asleep… and to not wake up. That idea seemed much more preferable than waking up and living in the pain, hurt, disappointment, rejection, and heartbreak.

This isn’t something I tell you to inspire pity or to receive condolences, or well-intentioned affirmations.

I have made it to the other side of this grief and have a firm understanding that a life lived will never be one devoid of heartbreak.

There may never be a reason that makes sense to me for why this happened. However, there was an opportunity to learn a lesson.

What I have learned on the other side of pain, is that being ripped apart at the seams allowed me to stitch myself back together anew. The seams will never line up precisely the same, but that doesn’t mean that this new version of me doesn’t fit, and in so many ways I’m better for the things I have experienced.

On the other side of pain and heartbreak I have learned that I can survive… but, not only that, thrive… and, friend, I was prepared.

This lesson in heartbreak was essential for, my friend, it taught me that I can be broken and put back together.

I’ve suffered other hurts since this devastating moment, perhaps ones that hurt to my core even more than the breakup of my marriage… but they didn’t tear me apart in the same way.

They didn’t tear me apart, for I learned a long time ago that the pain is only temporarily unbearable and will, eventually, become something that I can live with and grow through.

The lessons from heartbreak have become a background noise of my life. Thrumming and humming and allowing me to better appreciate the moments of magic as they’ve come.

Pain has cleared space for a new capacity of joy, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

So, friend, if you ever find yourself in these dark moments – the ones you’re not sure you can navigate through to the other side – please have faith in yourself and, even though you can’t see it yet, the happiness that awaits you.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

Waiting

Friend, we often wait on all of the wrong things.

How often have you found yourself in a relationship where it’s based off of your hope of what will be, and not on what is?

You see the potential in this person before you, and so you wait for this potential to come to fruition.

You wait for things to get better, for things to improve, to receive the love you deserve, to live the life you desire.

These are not the things we should wait on, friend.

Don’t wait for someone to become different or to change.

Don’t sit in unhappiness, waiting for things to get better.

Don’t wait for the apology that may or may not come.

Don’t wait for restitution.

Don’t wait to feel loved, desired, or wanted.

Because before you know it, time will have gone by and all you’ll have done is waited for someone who was never worth this wait, and now that time is wasted and squandered on someone undeserving.

Don’t wait.

Free yourself from this waiting, and allow people into your life that have already arrived.

Instead, choose you. Live the life now that you want. Love yourself the way that you deserve, take the time to sit with yourself, and wait for the right things and people to enter into your space.

These are the things that we should wait on.

Wait for someone who truly takes the time to see and know you.

Wait for kindness and simple gestures.

Wait for someone who inspires you.

Wait for someone who has as much to give as you do.

Wait for someone who is genuine, honest and real.

Wait for someone who never leaves you in doubt or agony of your place.

Live your life, now, friend, doing and being all of the things that you desire, and ensure that those you invite with you on this journey are worthy of this time investment. These people should already embody those things you admire and desire, not just the potential of them.

When in wait it should never be about neglecting yourself in hopes of what another will accomplish, do, or become.

Choose you, friend.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

Hard to Love

Photo Credit: Andrew Neel

Friend, I want to tell you about a conversation I had not long ago.

I sat across from a woman as she told me that she was hard to love.

There was a litany of reasons, and she listed them all.

She suffered from mood swings, was damaged and easily triggered, has ‘issues’, is crazy, she overreacts and over-thinks, and is riddled by insecurities.

This woman told me, with a laugh and a toss of her head, that anyone would be a saint to put up with her.

Put up with her?

Those words, actually all of her words felt like blows to my heart. It hurt to hear a woman that I admire, appreciate, and adore speak about herself in such a self-deprecating way. To see herself as someone hard to love, or as someone to ‘put up’ with.

I sat across from this magnetically beautiful woman and listened to her spew the words that, to me, couldn’t be farther from the truth. As she spoke I couldn’t help but think of how much I loved her, and there wasn’t any difficulty in it at all.

Do you know, friend, that this isn’t the only woman that I have heard this kind of language from?

There are so many women who say, think, and feel that they are hard to love, or that they are someone another person would find difficultly in ‘putting up’ with.

Friend, maybe there is someone along the way that has made you feel hard to love,or maybe life circumstances or failed relationships have resulted in you feeling that there is something innately wrong with you.

No, friend, just – NO.

There is no one in this world that is perfect or devoid of flaws and, yes, sometimes people – all people – can be difficult to be around.

But choosing to love you should never be hard and being around you should always be a gift.

You, friend, are a gift.

The things that you perceive as inadequacies are magnified by your close perspective, by the fact that you can’t see all of you, and the perfectly unique person that each small piece and part of you works together to create.

Your humor and the way you snort when you laugh.

Your ability to say the right thing at precisely the right time.

Your strong will and the way that you stand up for what you believe without apology.

Your compassionate heart and the way you try to show strength, even when your world is falling apart.

Your uncanny ability to text or call when I need a calming voice and an ear to listen.

Your dedication to your family and to your own personal growth.

You, friend, have inspired me, motivated me, consoled me. You have lifted me up and dusted me off when life knocked me on my ass and I felt broken beyond repair.

You’ve reminded me of who I am.

So, in this moment when you feel that you are hard to love, or that someone has to ‘put up’ with you, I am going to stop you and tell you the truth.

Friend, we’ve fought, we’ve cried, we’ve been annoyed, angered, hurt, and disappointed with one another…

and I wouldn’t trade any of those moments.

These are the moments that we weathered together. These are the moments that built our relationship and our friendship and revealed to me just how much you mean to me. These hard moments have created a tether of trust between us.

Relationships are not built purely on the good feelings and happy memories. They are established on the bedrock of all the shared moments. The good and the bad. Looking back at our friendship I can see all that we have survived together. Because of this I know that you and I can get through anything.

The difficult moments that we’ve traveled through with one another have given me the confidence to know that any moment I will face, you’ll stand beside me.

You, my friend, are anything but hard to love.

Loving you is like breathing.

I choose you.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

The Dating Power Struggle

On the road to find love, friend, we have to spend time dating and getting to know other people. Along the way we find some incredible, and – sometimes – some not so incredible people. Additionally, we have some amazing experiences along the way.

One experience that deserves some conversation is the dating power struggle.

This is the struggle that occurs when one person within the dating dynamic feels that they give up some of their power by doing a major first. A ‘major first’ – in essence – is an act that reveals the hand a person holds and exposes a little bit of the ol’ heart, thus making one person in the duo vulnerable. These firsts could take the guise of asking someone out, initiating the first kiss, saying the first I love you, or a multitude of things in between.

The person that takes these steps is, effectively, leaning in and saying I want you, please want me too. When someone does this, there is always the risk of rejection, of not being wanted or desired in the same way. Of the revealed sentiment not being returned.

In this lies a power struggle, not only with the object of your desire, but within yourself. How much of yourself do you allow another to see? How much of yourself do you feel safe allowing another person to see? These are often complicated and difficult questions to answer. When these questions pop up I often find myself breaking out in a cold sweat and wanting to take off at full speed towards the nearest exit. Often times I’d rather run away from a potential relationship, then risk the injury that could occur by revealing myself fully.

The severity of my flight response in these situations is striking to me, and perhaps I am not alone in my fear of vulnerability. I cannot help but wonder why it is that a ‘major first’ causes me to panic. Perhaps it is the fear of losing control and the risk of rejection in this vulnerability that I find to be particularly frightening.

I am reminded of a quote by Dr. Robert Anthony ,  a self-help guru who said, “The one who loves the least, controls the relationship.” This quote seems applicable to this situation. In the dating power struggle, someone has to be courageous enough to risk giving up their power and control in order to ‘test the waters’, to see if the other person in the relationship feels and is experiencing the same emotions and state of mind. Someone has to take that first step. Someone has to risk rejection and become vulnerable.

However, this risk – which can result in rejection – can also reap the reward of something special. When the reward is worth the risk, that is when a ‘major first’ is worth it. For really, what is lost when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, to lean it, to take the first step, and make the initial move? The only thing that is lost is a relationship that wasn’t going to go the distance anyways. Better to voice your desires, and wants, reveal the hand you’re holding in order to accurately ascertain if the person you’re pursuing is even worth the investment of your time, effort, and energy.

Until we start living believing that this risk is worthwhile, however, relationships become trapped in the power struggle. Waiting to see who will lean in first for the first kiss, open up about their worst fears, show their ‘underbelly’ — so to speak. Someone has to start the process of shaking off the polite visage shown at the beginning of the relationship, and start being 100 percent genuinely them (warts and all).

Though why we can’t just say what we think, and admit what we feel, and genuinely be who we are, I will never know. I will never fully understand how fear became such a dominant feature in the landscape of my, and other’s, personal relationships. I just know it’s there, and something that I must constantly contend with when I think about my own major firsts. Perhaps, someday, my relationships will not be a struggle at all — but a companionable give and take.

Until then I will merely make one challenge for myself, and that is to not bolt for the door at the first sign of discomfort. Maybe, just maybe I will allow myself to be vulnerable and commit to initiating a first of my own,

or maybe not.

We’ll see.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

To Control Perception

It hurts when those we care about fail to see us. We cannot, even in our most authentic state, gaurentee that everyone around us will be able to truly see and accept us, and this is painful.

Recently the following words were said to me by someone that I strove to love and support…

*As always you need to be in 100% control of me, and your situations in general.  I imagine had total control not been needed things would have gone much differently between you and me.  At times your overbearing attitude did nothing but drive me away from you.  You are the most amazing person, but one that is rough to be around when you’re not feeling amazing. Nothing but love for you.

* These are the real words of another, but have been edited for errors and sentence clarity

Perception is reality.

Maybe this isn’t what you see when you look at me, but these words reflect this person’s perception of me. This perception is so different from what I was attempting to project and from my own self image that it hurt desperately to read these words.

No, it hurts.

To be seen by someone in such a way that is so counter from the person that I am attempting to be reeks of failure.

No matter how many times I employ the words that someone else’s opinion of me is not my business, I am unable to stem the tide of self doubt as I wonder just what it was that resulted in this perception of me.

The very things that I envisioned as my strengths, were things that someone else was unable to tolerate.

That hurts.

Goal oriented and focused.

Controlling

Personal progression and evolution.

Controlling.

Open honest communication.

Controlling.

Supportive team player.

Controlling.

Friend, words matter so much. This was a reminder to me of just how much words can cut us, but also of how much the perceptions of us can differ – not only from person to person – but also from the image we hold of ourselves.

Every person that I encounter in this world can have an entirely different image of me. This image is informed based on the environment in which they meet and interact with me, as well as their own personal experiences, understanding of the world, values, and insecurities. These things working together create an idea of who they perceive me to be, which can be completely different from the one that I hold of myself.

Completely different from what I am attempting to project to the world.

So, friend, perhaps I am controlling.

As I’ve tried so desperately to control the ideas others form of me in their minds based on the delicately crafted persona that I show to the world. Despite my best efforts to be vulnerable, genuine, authentic, and real – I still care what others think of me, as I want those thoughts to be positive and complementary.

I want to be seen, but I want to be seen in only the most positive of light.

If, and when, someone happens to see the not so pretty bits; the flaws and negative qualities, I want to still be found beautiful and desirable.

I want to be found to be enough.

Even when I try so desperately to be in control of the situations that I find myself in, even when I don’t feel amazing and am difficult to be around, it would be so nice to be looked at, to be seen, and – in spite of it all – chosen.

The perception others hold of me should not matter, but they do.

This one hurt.

However, I have no control over how other’s see me and, in the end, that’s okay.

I’ll lick my wounds, evaluate what lessons I can learn, and move on.

That’s all I can do. That, and have faith that someday someone will see these qualities that this person found repugnant and – instead – find beauty.

Because that’s what I see.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

Heart Strings

Photo Credit: Rosie Kerr

Friend, the connections we form with the people around us are vital.

To many these connections may be merely visceral. Connections defined by an emotional response between two people. However, for me, I feel something much more substantial connecting me to you.

A strand, a sting, that runs from my heart to yours.

Japanese legend describes something similar in the story of the Red String of Fate. This legend tells that there is an invisible red string connected to our pinkie finger that stretches out to intertwine with the red thread of other people we are fated and predestined to meet in life.

These are ties that can be stretched, tangled, damaged, but will never be broken.

Friend, I don’t feel the tugs on my pinkie finger, but I certainly feel them on my heart.

When I visualize my heart I see it battered and bruised. The evidence of old wounds. There would be signs, also, of my attempt to protect it; an old broken stone wall forgotten, and a battered shield lying to waste.

However, your eyes wouldn’t focus on these things. Instead, they would see the sinuous fibers, an infinity of colors, running from my heart to those hearts of all of those that I am, and have been, connected to.

Looking closely, you would see there are some broken strands, dangling as if lost. These are reminders of injuries long past. Other strands pulse with a light that seems close to going out, still others have rotted and festered. For friend, unlike the legend of the Red String of Fate, I do believe that there are connections that are only meant to last for a brief time. To teach a lesson. To reveal a truth. While broken and severed the reminder of that connection will last a lifetime.

There are those other connections that pulse with vibrancy, clearly showing the strength of that bond. These are the connections that matter. These are the connections that last a lifetime. These are the connections that I feel so strongly in my heart.

A tug when I disappoint you.

A vibration when you’re hurting.

A warming hum when you’re happy and satisfied.

If I could draw all of this, you would see that you and I are tied together — connected by a string that runs from your heart to mine.

Quite possibly I don’t need to illustrate it for you.

Maybe you feel it too.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

The Curse of the Apology

When ‘I’m Sorry’ becomes the words we let slip

Friend, first, it is important for me to explain that the apology I sincerely believe is a curse is the unnecessary one.

For example, you laugh too loudly at a joke that only you seem to get.

I’m sorry, you say.

You get lost in thought, only to realize that you’re staring at a stranger.

I’m sorry, you say.

You get ‘too’ excited about something you’re passionate about.

I’m sorry, you say.

Our days are filled with these unnecessary apologies. The ones that suggest that there is some part of you for which you need to apologize.

Let me be clear, friend, there isn’t. Whomever you are, those qualities and idiosyncrasies. Those things that make you uniquely you. Those are not the things you apologize for.

Showing up late, forgetting a special event, breaking something, losing something. These are the types of things that may require an apology. Misunderstandings, arguments, again, apologize away, send flowers even.

There is something powerful in a genuine apology. An admission of a mistake, or imperfection can allow you to move forward and grow, and also shows that you’re human. There are things for which an apology is warranted, and even required. An apology can be a powerful tool in showing empathy and sympathy for another human being. An apology can open a door for further conversation and re-connection.

This is not the type of apology that slips from my lips and leads me to kick myself in frustration.

It’s the apology I make when I speak in an accent and note odd looks, or when I skip across the street and realize that I am on a solo journey, or when I laugh too loudly at my own jokes, when no one else gets the punch line.

I’m sorry, I say.

Why am I sorry? Why are these things for which I seem to think an apology is warranted, when — in reality — it isn’t? Or, how about when I arrive at the door to the Safeway at the same time as someone else… we have that awkward.. pause..walk…pause…walk dance.

Then we laugh and say, I’m sorry.

Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to just laugh and to document the moment as a silly coincidence of fate? Nope, we had to toss in the unnecessary apology.

There was a time when I didn’t feel the need to apologize for all my various ‘infractions’, I am sure of it. Maybe it was when I was two? In my humble experience, two-year-olds don’t care one iota about what others think. A two year old will sing and dance in grocery stores, walk up to a stranger just to tell him they like his giant handlebar moustache, and notice something about someone that makes them appear ‘different’ and unapologetically ask what happened without fear of any sort of repercussion, and then invite said person to their next birthday party.

At some point between two and… well… I am not certain when the apology curse first struck, but it did, and sometimes I long to return to the time when I could live without the curse of the unnecessary apology

The Power of Words

Art By: Courtney M. Privett
Instagram: @courtneymprivett

Friend, I want to talk today about words, for words have magnificent power.

They have the ability to create alternate realities and universes and to transport us to magical, unreal places.

People who love to read and write are readily aware of this very real power. There is a wonderful moment that occurs when you become so absorbed in a book that the sun will rise and set and you will be oblivious.

Those are wonderful moments until you reach the end of the book and have to leave that world behind. This can feel like an extreme loss. That moment when you have to return to your reality of paying bills, doing the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and doing any other monotonous activities.

We are all aware of the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Most young children hear this saying when they experience bullying for the first time. Friend, I think this is one of the lies perpetuated by our society and discredits the power of words.

If words on the page have the ability to transport us to different places, making us suspend our disbelief, then it stands to reason that words coming from the people around us can have even more of an impact, because they come from people who matter to us.

We forget the impact that we can have on the people around us, especially the magnitude of our words. A simple unexpected hello accompanied by a smile can have an instantaneous positive impact. So too can callous words were spoken without thinking or with anger.

What is worse, is that oftentimes we can believe these misspoken words. They start to become a part of who we are, and how we define ourselves.

Many will argue that you shouldn’t care what others say. You should only be true to yourself. While this is true to a certain degree, friend, it is impossible to live a life completely unaffected by the words hurled at us like torpedoes and I have had enough of clichés that completely fail to recognize the value of the spoken word.

Words can bring you joy and tears. You can be moved by a poem or a song.

Words work their way into the fibers of you, resonating in your skin, almost as important as the genetic code that determines your hair and eye color. Words are our descriptors. When we look into a mirror we hear these words shouted back at us through our eyes with ferocity.

It is not my voice that speaks the loudest, it is yours.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

The Girl Who Hated Hugs

Friend, I am stumped as to why we, as people, are so insecure and cautious around other human beings. We cradle our hearts and our minds, scared to let anyone too close, know too much, or see too far into us. As soon as we start to open up, our instincts tell us to cringe back — preparing to be struck. Afraid of the rejection we could, potentially, suffer.

Perhaps this is conditioned into us after pain and disappointment. Those we care about failing to fulfill a promise, leaving us with disappointment and heartache.

We crave connections, understanding, and for someone to love and accept us for who we are — warts, pimples, fears, insecurities, love handles, dimply butt and all. However, we don’t feel comfortable with letting someone close enough to see those things — and to accept us in spite of them.

When I was a teenager my closest friends made me hug. I hated it.

They would run up to me, excited to see me, wrap their arms around me in a warm embrace. I would stiffen up and pat their backs awkwardly in return. I don’t know why this is. It isn’t as though I was raised in a household void of hugs, but for some reason a hug made me uncomfortable. My friends didn’t let this sway them from enveloping me with numerous hugs throughout the day. Quite the contrary, they made it their mission to get me to hug without recoiling. This is one of my memories that I will always cherish, because it is an example of people not giving up on me — even when I may have seemed unlovable.

My inability to hug could have made those I cared about step back from me in an effort to preserve their own feelings. After all, who likes to be rejected? That is just what I was doing when I failed to hug back in return. No, I wasn’t consciously snubbing people I cared about, but it could very well have been interpreted in this manner. However, it wasn’t, and they didn’t. I am forever grateful for that, and so are all the people who have hugged me since and haven’t felt me draw back from them in terror (though they might not realize that they owe a debt of gratitude to my my childhood chums).

Maybe it was easier to take risks when we were young; to hug, despite knowing that it may not be returned — because our hearts were buoyant — not weighed down by prior mishandlings. All I know is that we, as humans, are weird. We want to be appreciated, accepted, and loved — yet we are so timid to put ourselves into situations where this could potentially become a reality, all because it isn’t a certainty.

The risk of being damaged and hurt just doesn’t seem to be worth the reward of being found desirable and longed for. However, this is an illusion perpetrated by our insecurities and fear of rejection.

Friend, I think if we take the time and think of the important people in our lives, the people we love and have loved, we will see that it is worth it… for all those relationships started with one step… and I bet it was a scary one.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤

To be a Colossus

Colossus of Rhodes

Friend, our existence is full of rules – all the shoulds – that never ending list of things that we’re supposed to do, or be, or have.

Gradually it begins to make us feel inadequate and lost. As though we’re wading into a pool teaming with razor sharp claws hell-bent on ripping us apart, pulling off all the hopes and dreams, the things seen as insubstantial, thus leaving us feeling small.

I am tired of feeling small, friend, of feeling that my efforts are not enough and that the things that I pour my energies into are going unnoticed or unappreciated. I want to be seen as mighty and powerful.

I want to feel like a giant, a Colossus.

However, as my legs are stretched between all the things that are required of me, and the dreams and hopes I aspire to, I can’t help but feel shaken and damn near collapse.

Even the great Colossus of Rhodes collapsed one day, shaken by a mighty earthquake.

So too, could I.

With every criticism, every raised eyebrow, with every veiled insult I feel the tremors.

Perhaps there are some who are automatically geared to want to tear people down, to test the fortitude and perseverance of the dreamers. For, while my heart may ache with the harsh words, I can’t help but want to try harder to be more.

I strive to be firm and resolute.

Unwavering.

There is a danger therein, when one becomes so firm and resolute so as to be stubborn and unmovable.

“In flood time you can see how some trees bend,

And because they bend, even their twigs are safe,

While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all.

And the same things happen in sailing:

Make your sheets fast, never slacken — and over you go,

Head over heels and under: and there’s your voyage.”

Sophocles, Antigone

Perhaps this is why we were not meant to be giants, or Colossus’s. For this goal leaves us in danger of collapse. Of falling under a heavy burden we are not meant to carry.

Friend, we only need to be big in the eyes of a select few. The close ones that see us and our accomplishments, though minor in the eyes of the masses, as amazing and wondrous.

Maybe this is what each of us craves?

To be special, important and worthy.

A Colossus to one.

Maybe, just maybe, I need to harken Haemon’s words from Sophocles’s Antigone and be flexible. Perhaps that is why there I are times when I feel so shaken.

Because I want to be seen as great to all.

Instead, I need to appreciate that there are people in my life to whom I am a giant, in whose lives I live large, whose lives wouldn’t be the same without me.

There is is a little one that is my heart, and to her my kisses heal wounds.

There is a girl that gives me joy, and to her I am an ear that always listens.

There is a girl that is my muse, and to her I am inspiration.

There is a girl who is wild abandon, and to her i am a trusty side-kick.

There is a girl who is strength and resolve, and to her I am whimsy and fun.

There is a family who is my core, and to them I am their pride.

Friend, we need to stop trying to live large in the eyes of everyone… trying to please and satisfy and be everything to everyone. This will leave us exhausted and broken.

Let’s be conscious of the fact that the people whom we really let see us, the people who become our friends and family, those are the ones in whose hearts we are a Colossus.

Always,

Your Trusted Friend ❤