Who. Are. You?
I punctuate this with intentionality, hoping you’ll hear each stressed syllable and note each pause between words as if I was speaking aloud to you, with the wish that you understand the sincerity and seriousness behind my query.
What would you say to define yourself?
Would you mention your career, your accomplishments, your status in relation to whether or not you’re a parent, your relationship status itself, your gender, your race, your ethnicity, your sexuality?
Or perhaps you’re a sum of your experiences. The places you’ve traveled and seen, the mountains you’ve conquered, the rivers you’ve braved.
Perchance you would identify yourself based on your career, your schooling, or your degrees. The various accomplishments framed on your wall.
Maybe you’d define yourself by your scars. The external and internal injuries you’ve suffered or been a victim of.
Would you hold back, friend, determine the definition you’d share based on who you’re sharing company with? Mold yourself into the version they’d find the most fitting, pleasing, and acceptable?
Who. Are. You?
What words can truly encapsulate a description of your heart, and the love you’re capable of giving?
Are their adjectives to describe the inner workings of your mind and the mysterious you keep there?
How about your indomitable spirit? Do you think a tongue is worthy of attempting to define the soul that lurks within you?
Perhaps you’d say you’re name, thinking that would be enough…
Hello, my name is…
As if that could somehow convey the sum parts of you that work together to create the wondrous creature you are.
And then I wonder.
How many people ask the questions that are required to find out who you are?
Furthermore, how many would then actually take the time to listen?
To climb the walls, brave the moat, and woo the barking dog to get close enough to discover all of your secrets?
Who would take the time to scale the walls that you’ve erected, and dismantle the barricades that you’ve constructed to protect the hidden, private parts of you? The vulnerable spaces you both long, and fear to share?
Who. Are. You?
Friend, you are so much – but never too much – and I long to see and learn all the parts of you, even the darkest corners and the deepest recesses. Don’t hide them or fear showing them, and please don’t try to cram yourself into a little box in an attempt to appear more manageable.
For I want to see and know you.
Even the parts that escape words.
Even the parts you are fearful to show.
Even more than this, though, I want you to take the time to get know you as well. To visit all the spaces you use for definition and then decide if you like who you see.
The best part, you – friend – get to decide and determine and declare who you are … and at any point you can change
and be brand new.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Friend, when we are heartbroken or disappointed, or in anyway feel damage emotionally, as we move forward we will stride to protect against any further potential damage.
This reminds me of when we suffer a physical injury, such as a broken arm. We take the time to heal by immobilizing the bone so that it can heal.
Eventually, when we have the cast removed, and it is deemed that we can use our once damaged limb, there can be some hesitation to do things with that appendage for fear that it will hurt or be uncomfortable.
When I badly broke my arm it was in a cast for several months. Once the cast was removed my arm, while ‘healed’, wasn’t the same as it was prior to the breakage.
It was tender, weak, and required physical therapy in order to regain full strength and mobility again. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. It was, at times, painful and hard.
My instinct, even after the lengthy process of healing and rehabilitation, was to hold my arm against my body, similarly to how the cast had immobilized it for the months prior. My automatic impulse was to protect my arm at all costs.
However, my natural instinct was counter to what I actually needed to do to strengthen my arm in order to regain the full use of it.
What I actually needed to do was use my arm, tests its limits, strengthen and stretch the muscles. Which I finally did.
If I were to look at an x-ray I would see that my bone still carries the reminder of that long ago damage. There is no way to un-break my limb. However, it did heal and is stronger now than it was prior to the injury.
However, it wouldn’t be if I hadn’t done the necessary work to heal and acquire full use of it again.
Our hearts and emotions have to do likewise, friend.
I went through a very traumatic break up a year ago. It was unexpected and I had to say goodbye to the family that I created with this person.
Afterwards I had to spend time healing my broken heart. Gathering all of the broken pieces and fitting them back together. I had to tend to the wounds and ensure that my heart healed properly. It has not always been comfortable to face the damage, or to do the necessary work required to ensure that I don’t repeat unhealthy patterns.
The wounds from that loss will always be there, you’ll see them if you looked closely, as my heart will always carry a reminder. Just as there is no way to un-break a bone, there is also no way to un-break my heart.
Now that my heart has healed, my natural instinct is quite similar to what I experienced with my arm when I held it close to my body.
I want to erect barriers to prevent any from getting too close, stifle emotions and prevent them from growing into full-blown feels.
My instincts are to protect my heart, to not open up or allow people close for fear that I’ll get hurt again.
Friend, Unless I do open up and take the time test the limits of my heart, versus protecting it, nurturing it, preventing it from other hurt, I will never allow myself to love and open up again, which is the whole purpose of, not only the heart, but the human existence.
Our lives should be about connecting and forming bonds and experiences, not avoiding them.
So, friend, hopefully someday I’ll find myself in a situation where I’ll know that my heart is stronger and fuller and better than it was prior to the breaking.
For now, though, I’ll have to open it up by degrees and allow someone in.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Triggers are a tricky thing, my friend, and we seem to collect quite a bit of them over the course of living life.
By the time we get through childhood, which I believe lasts well into most people’s twenties, we’ve suffered wounding.
Wounds, that when revisited, result in being triggered.
Maybe you’ve been abandoned by someone important. The result being that you fear this same action being done by others, so when someone stomps off in anger this triggers that old wound and you feel you’ve been abandoned again.
Or perhaps you’ve been cheated on, verbally abused, let down, disappointed, led on, taken advantage of, or heartbroken… and each time you’re placed into a situation that is reminiscent of that hurt you are propelled back into that pain, fearing it will happen all over again.
No matter how much effort we spend on healing these wounds, until we put ourselves into a situation in which these hurts are triggered we can never fully heal.
Until we’re triggered we may not realize how many barriers we’ve erected, or moats we’ve dug to protect these damaged parts of our hearts.
Friend, I’ve experienced each of the hurts I listed above. I’ve been abandoned, cheated on, lead on, used, taken advantage of, verbally abused, let down, disappointed and heartbroken.
When I am put into a situation in which vulnerability is experienced and I feel that sense of being out of control, stuck in the unknown, I am thrust forcibly back into that old pain, and friend, I want to do anything to avoid experiencing those things again.
These triggers engage my survival instinct to flee.
Others, perhaps, would be triggered to fight or freeze.
Me, though? I run.
Any time when I feel vulnerable my body engages in survival mode, attempting to protect my heart from harm or damage.
Our instincts and intuition can be a beautiful thing.
Engaging survival mode when our physical, mental, or spiritual safety is in danger is essential to our well-being.
However, over time we acquire hurts and damage that result in fear.
This fear parades around camouflaged as intuition, protecting from vulnerability and the unknown.
These very things which can open us up to potential hurt and harm, also have the most potential for growth, connection, and acceptance.
Our challenge is to be able to truly discern between when our body is telling us that we are in danger, versus when we are just scared of vulnerability.
It is in these vulnerable triggered moments we can engage in extending compassion to our broken parts, and then begin to take the strides necessary to heal.
Continually running from triggers may keep the heart safe from further harm, but it also keeps people at arm’s length, and doesn’t allow for a true connection or opportunity to be seen, accepted, and cherished.
Triggers and vulnerability are not in and of themselves bad.
It is how we react to the situations that cause these feelings to rise up in us that has an opportunity to initiate healing, create growth, and foster deeper connection.
To be vulnerable is a great gift that we can give and share with those who matter and, while triggering, shouldn’t be fled from.
The more we are brave enough to give away, the more we are open to receiving.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Friend, most of the time we’re merely broken people, stumbling around breaking other people.
We are careless with our words, our actions, and our deeds. Seldom taking notice of what matters, what is important, and what could make us whole until after we’ve destroyed it.
It is only then that we look back at those broken pieces in misery, questioning what if, and wishing that we’d done differently, done better.
Living takes a certain kind of courage that most fail to possess.
Not that moving through the motions, punching clocks, and window gazing kind of living, but the real stuff.
The stuff of forgotten legends never told, because real courage often goes unrecognized.
Real courage is when someone takes the time to be real and vulnerable, without fear of being seen as weak, or holding back for fear of rejection…
even though they are only broken pieces.
Friend, live courageously.
For my own brokenness, recognizes yours.
Show me the shattered edges, the cracks, the deformity.
Reveal to me the parts you fear and loath, and I will show you mine.
Fear keeps us small and hard, stumbling, resistant, unavailable, and disconnected.
Fear perpetuates the cycle of dischord and damage, holding us back from living courageously, holding us back from genuine connections, holding us back from being seen, accepted, recognized, and loved…
for all of our broken pieces.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Patterns. In so many ways the patterns that our lives follow can be helpful.
Living by schedules and routines ensures that things get done, that adulting takes place, and that at the end of the day we’ve added a check mark to all the necessary boxes of the never ending to-do lists.
Other times patterns, routines and schedules can be detrimental.
Sometimes we start to live as if we’re sleepwalking brainless zombies, merely going through the motions, but not really taking part in our lives.
Then there are the patterns, friend, that reveal to us our wounds in need of healing.
There are two examples, friend, that I can think of within my own life.
The first was the wound from childhood that I suffered by constantly being compared to my twin sister that left me feeling lacking.
As a result, into adulthood I found myself repeating this pattern; comparing myself to the people around me – whether it was accomplishment, beauty, ability, or any number of other points of comparison.
I felt perpetually unworthy, never quite feeling enough. Stuck in a perpetual pattern of trying to prove to myself and others that I was good enough.
Once I recognized this pattern, I was able to make strides to rectify this imbalance and see myself as worthy, just as I am, without having to prove myself to anyone.
The second wound I suffered when I was abandoned suddenly and inexplicably by my husband. This wound resulted in destructive dating habits.
I have sat in denial of patterns within my dating life for a long time, as well as my responsibility within the repetition.
The heartbreaks I suffered while trapped in this pattern I have blamed on the men who have passed through my life, a mere casualty of their mistakes and misdeeds.
What I had failed to realize, friend, is that this was just an indicator of yet another pattern that I was stuck in.
In each of these failed relationships I was the only common denominator. I was the one choosing these men who were emotionally, physically, or otherwise unavailable.
This pattern certainly wasn’t conscious. I really did think that in each relationship I was selecting and dating a totally different person, and while in some ways this is true, each man was unavailable to me for a myriad of reasons.
Why was I subconsciously selecting men as partners who were unavailable?
Because, dear friend, this was safe. This was a way of erecting a barrier around my heart and preventing myself from future injury. This was a way in which I was keeping myself at arms length from love, and the potential risks associated with such a risky venture.
Because, friend, ultimately it was my heart that was unavailable.
Yet, these choices consistently resulted in new self inflicted injuries of my heart.
I have consistently been repeating patterns which have prevented me from truly experiencing the love that I long for.
Friend, I tell you this so that you can potentially be aware of patterns in your own life that do not serve you.
Oftentimes we live as I did, believing we are a victim of our circumstances, and not recognizing our own responsibility in the choices we are making, and the patterns that we may be consciously or unconsciously repeating.
We find ourselves repeating patterns, not because they are good for us, but because they are comfortable, familiar, and known.
I was comfortable comparing myself to others and constantly working to prove that I was as good as those who surrounded me.
This feeling of inadequacy was well known to me. It spurred me to do more, to push myself further, to try harder… but in all of the wrong ways…
Particularly when it came to my relationships, which was just another place that I have found myself repeating diservising patterns.
Friend, we deserve more than the repetition of patterns merely because they are safe and comfortable, ignoring where healing needs to take place.
We deserve to grow and evolve, to step outside of the patterns and routines and schedules.
To be uncomfortable as we create something new, as we become something better, as we evolve beyond our patterns and heal that which requires healing.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Every day we stand on a precipice.
Every day we make a decision to either whither back in fear, or to let go – take the step – and trust that we have wings to fly.
This was never so clear to me as it was yesterday as I watched a child trying to learn how to ride a bicycle.
Patiently her mom guided her on the bike, providing instructions, guidance, and a gentle push. After countless starts and stops I witnessed her find success.
She HAD it.
She was balanced on that two-wheeler, peddling her legs as fast as she could, and she FLEW.
One minute she’s not thinking, not focused on the fact that she’s balancing on a bike all on her own and then…
Fear got ahold of her.
She put her feet down, let go of the handle bars, and bailed off that bike.
but, friend, SHE HAD IT!
She had it until she thought about it and let fear distract her from what she was doing and where she was going.
The bike didn’t fail, there were no distractions to disrupt her path, no one to discourage or dissuade her.
Friend, I saw her face and I recognized the fear on it. I recognized the moment when she lost faith and trust in herself and she gave up.
I recognized it, because I have been there.
We’ve all been there.
We’ve stood on the precipice of… something…
A job change, a new relationship or adventure, a move, something that lurked outside of our cozy comfort zones, something that caused us to question ourselves in some way…
and we’ve put our feet down, let go of the handle bars, and bailed.
We’ve let fear distract us from where we were going and what we were doing.
Worse, we’ve lost faith and trust in ourselves and we’ve given up.
Maybe I speak too boldly, assuming others suffer from the same debilitating fear that I do, but I don’t think so… and if this resonates with you at all, friend, I invite you to let go with me.
Let go of the fear, the worry, the anxiety and insecurity.
Let go of the doubt, the uncertainty, the hesitation, and anything that holds you back and prevents you from grabbing hold off whatever it is you are afraid to grasp.
That little girl was afraid to maintain her hold on that bicycle. Afraid she’d fall and fail.
As soon as she let go of the fear, and – instead – held onto the handlebars she was free to go wherever she wanted.
And she did.
I’m going to follow her path.
Friend, let’s let go, take the step, and fly.
Your Trusted Friend ❤
Friend, up until recently I was unaware of the importance of boundary setting in my personal relationships.
I am sad to admit that I permitted people to treat me in ways in which I would not even admit to my closest of friends and family.
Fear kept me from using my voice, from speaking up and being clear about how I wanted to be treated. How I felt that I deserved to be treated.
I was afraid that if I used my voice that I would be rejected or abandoned. I was afraid that I would be perceived as needy or unsympathetic.
So, instead of using my voice. I made excuses.
She yelled at me because she’s having a bad day.
He cheated on me because he is insecure.
She didn’t show up because her life is so busy.
He lied to me because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings.
These excuses MAY have merit. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that in each of these circumstances I was not treated in a way worthy of my time, effort, energy, emotions, or needs.
In each of these situations it was OKAY that I was NOT okay.
All these excuses did was place another person’s feelings above my own personal well-being.
Now I am refusing to put up with behavior that is disrespectful to me, and I have established my personal boundaries of what is and is not acceptable.
Speaking my boundaries serves to raise my personal value, additionally it demands that if others want to occupy space in my life they need to respect my time, emotions, and needs.
These are necessary things to establish. If I fail to establish these boundaries with others, how will they know how to treat me? How will others know how to care for and love me?
Furthermore, how can I truly experience a genuine, loving connections if I don’t allow myself to be loved in a manner I am worthy of?
The only way that this can happen, is if I speak my needs, wants, and desires into existence and voice when my personal boundaries have been crossed.
If someone hurts me, takes advantage of me, takes me for granted, is insensitive, rude, or fails to value me, it is my responsibility to speak up.
Space in my life is valuable, and if you want to occupy a portion of that space you better rise the f*ck up, because I no longer have time, energy, or f*cks to waste on takers, manipulators, or liars.
If showing you my boundaries freaks you out or makes you feel I am demanding or needy – there is the damn door.
Friend, for so long I have valued others in my life over myself. I own this error in my logic and am making conscious choices and decisions to make the changes necessary.
I, my friend, am drawing the damn boundaries and, you know what, it feels good. It feels good to see my worth and to speak my needs, wants, and desires to those around me.
We want to know how to meet the needs of those around us, therefore, we can assume that to those that we matter to, they ALSO want to know how to meet our needs.
How can they do this unless we speak.
So, let’s speak up. Let’s take care of ourselves.
Let’s love ourselves better, and demand a love worthy of us in return.
Your Trusted Friend ❤️
Friend, so often we spend our moments looking forward to what will be, or looking backward to what was. We fail to find joy in all the moments that we find ourselves in, neglecting to enjoy them until they’ve slipped away.
Find joy in uncertainty – in the unknown, anxious moments, the ones where you’re not sure how it’ll all end up. Find joy in the moments where the only part of your path that is illuminated is the current step you’re taking.
In these anxious moments one thing is always certain, friend –
Have faith in yourself. In your own inner power, persistence, and perseverance. Have faith in your ability to get through the moments of uncertainty.
No matter where you start, friend, whether it’s a new job, new relationship, new hobby, new experience… anything that pushes you outside of your comfort zone… will always invite discomfort, anxiety, and nervousness.
To embark on anything that is unknown can be scary.
In this, though, we should find joy. Pause and enjoy the fact that a part of new experiences is this uncertainty.
Also, friend, know that eventually this time, this phase, will pass.
There will be a time when the situation you are in now will make sense, be known and secure, there will be a time when you will have comfort.
In this space of comfort, also, find joy in it. Find joy in the known, in the predictable, and safe. For, it too, is but a brief season.
The more we can find joy in all of these moments, those that are uncertain and those that are certain, the more happiness and contentment we will experience overall.
Right now, friend, I sit in a space of continued healing and growth, fully embracing the transitory period that I now find myself in.
I’m choosing joy in the growth.
Let’s always try to find joy in the places we find ourselves and embrace where we are, as we continue to grow.
Your Trusted Friend ❤️
Friend, do you ever stop to watch people?
Perhaps you even create narratives in your head of who these people are and how they go about their day.
How fascinating it is to envision the mysterious lives of the strangers around us.
Recently I watched a beautiful couple listening to music.
She was leaned back into her husband’s chest who stood behind her. His hands were on her hips, hers on his while they swayed together.
They were probably in their 60s and still looked very much in love, enjoying one another’s company and their surrounding environment.
I watched them sway together and I couldn’t help but think, “That’s it. That’s what I want.”
Really, what I wanted was my perception of the image this couple projected.
I saw a couple that had been together years.
Shared a life together. Raised children together. Supported one another.
Who through all of life’s challenges and the changes wrought by time and transitions,
Still loved and found joy in one another.
Still experienced life together.
Still looked forward to one another.
Still touched one another.
Still had eyes that twinkled when their eyes met across a room.
Friend, this is the type of relationship we should strive for.
One that can grow up as we do. One that expands and evolves with us. One that never stops finding joy. One that encourages us along our evolution. One that gives us space to grow as an individual.
Someone who can be a home in which we will always feel safe, secure, and comfortable to be who we want to be. Who we are meant to be.
Until then, friend, we need to enjoy being alone as we wait on this. Invest in ourselves.
Not in stuff or things, but in our personal wellness and growth.
How can we find happiness within ourselves that isn’t dependent upon external factors? How can we find joy in simple moments and pleasures? How can we remain calm in the midst of turmoil and struggles? How can we master communicating our needs, desires, and thoughts while remaining receptive to those of another?
For now that’s my goal.
Perhaps these are things you can work on with me as we wait for someone who will dance with us when our skin is wrinkled and our hair is grey?
Your Trusted Friend ❤
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 then 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, 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.
Your Trusted Friend ❤