Home Blog Page 2

Hold Me Down Like No One Else

0

As my marriage was falling apart, I became friends with a good friend of my high school boyfriend. He was in recovery, rebuilding his life like an utter badass, the likes of which I’d never seen before. He’s smart, charismatic, educated and so very smooth.

He’s also honest and genuine and open and has a heart bigger than the Grand Canyon. He loves his kids with a ferocity I can’t really put into words, and he speaks with such fondness, respect, and grief about his parents. He’s also probably the coolest cat I’ve ever “met” in my life.

I needed his guidance as my world crumbled, his steady hand on my shoulder. I needed his shoulder to cry on, and it was there, whenever I reached out. I needed regular doses of clarity about the nature of addiction, and more than the occasional truth bomb. He provided all that and more; unfailingly.

As my ex and I neared the end, I was so utterly shattered, I barely felt human. I was lost, broken, out of fuel. I didn’t feel real, I didn’t know where to go, what steps to take, and I was sure they were bigger than I could ever manage. Every time I thought I was a lost cause, he breathed life into me again. Sometimes simply by turning to me when he needed a friend, but mostly by giving me hope to cling to when I could find none.

I’ve tried in vain to tell him how grateful I am, how much I admire him, the debt I owe him and can never repay. I try to find words for the immense respect I have him, how much he restores my faith, enriches my life, makes me laugh, cry, think, dream. Words fail. There’s really no encompassing or describing what he’s meant to me.

It’s not hyperbole to say that I’m not sure I could have survived it all without him.

I often feel like I can never measure up as a friend. I’m juggling too much and dropping too many balls, and I lean on the people I’m closest to a little too much. They’ve saved me from certain destruction more times than I can count, and for someone I barely knew, he stepped up in a most remarkable way.

What could I ever offer him to show the magnitude of my gratitude?

Simply offering my friendship in return feels like a feeble effort.

‘Cause I’m Broken

Sometimes, realizing the magnitude to which you are imperfect can be the most freeing experience.

I have struggled with my weight since puberty, a progressive issue that grew worse every year, no matter what I did.

At a young age I struggled with cognitive issues that also grew worse.

It wasn’t until my 30s I had an explanation for those two (seemingly) disparate issues.

I spent so many years feeling ashamed of the ways I was different, like a failure for not being able to be less different, afraid of the price I might pay for my failure to conform.

Once I knew that these issues weren’t my fault, and that I could positively impact, but never remediate them, I was almost instantly freed from so many burdens they brought along for the ride.

I speak so often, and in such glowing terms, of the many women I admire. I always longed to be more like them. Learning why I struggled the way I did set me free to learn to be fierce in my own way. I no longer had to keep trying to live to someone else’s standard, I was free to be the best me I could be.

It changed my life for the better. It granted me such peace of mind. It gave me the drive to serve others in any way I could manage.

Thing is, I know I’m not the only person to have this experience. So it begs the question, why do people feel such intense pressure to be something they aren’t? Why aren’t we encouraged to accept and love ourselves as we are? I know some of it is marketing, some of it is old ghosts, some of it is peer pressure. But many of those are influences we can avoid if we wish, and certainly we are capable of ignoring them.

Why don’t we?

Why do we buy the lie that we aren’t ok? Aren’t good enough? Aren’t worthy?

And how do we stop the madness?

Nevermind These Are Hurried Times

0

People have such a hard time simply being present with someone else’s pain.There are a multitude of socioeconomic reasons for this. Essentially, we avoid pain, and we have been avoiding it as long as humans have existed. Avoidance of pain is a biological imperative, sure. An unavoidable survival instinct. But we humans overcome many instincts in order to participate efficiently and effectively in modern life. So why do we struggle so when it comes to experiencing or witnessing pain?

There’s nothing like experiencing pain (first or secondhand) to trigger a massive bout of cognitive dissonance. We “move past”  hurts and injuries; illnesses and loss. We do as we are told and put them behind us. Leaving the past where it belongs. There’s some wisdom to that, but it’s only part of the equation. If we don’t first learn whatever we can from those moments, they are wasted. We have failed to take from that experience the power to help ourselves and others in a time of crisis.

But there are no classes and precious few books that really tell us how to help someone actually heal. There is pop psychology and there are platitudes and the things we think we should say because they seem to make sense at the time, but which may in fact be horrifically invalidating or in other ways harmful.

So people fall back on the simplistic and the trite and they run for the nearest exit. They rationalize away the impact of their reaction because they aren’t sure what else to do or how to handle things differently, so they just put it out of their minds. Just as previous experiences with pain have taught them to do.

But all that pressure to say the right thing is usually misguided. Often just saying to someone “I wish I knew what to say but I don’t, no words seem equal to the magnitude of what you’re experiencing, but I’m going to stay right here with you and be present with you and take care of you in whatever way you need until you tell me it’s time to go” (or some truly meant variation on that) is more than enough. Often it’s the thing that can actually bring a moment of peace, comfort, and feeling loved and nurtured. Sometimes those are exactly the wrong feelings and the offer will be rejected. And that’s ok, the person is not rejecting you, they are asking for what they need. So you simply offer “please, reach out, ask for what you need, and I’ll be on my way now” and then you leave.

Really, most of us didn’t have great examples of how to handle our own pain, let alone someone else’s. So why don’t we talk about this more? Why don’t we have these discussions? Why don’t we share and problem solve and tweet tips and tricks on how to be a loving and supportive human the way we share financial tips or makeup tutorials or game walkthroughs?

This issue is the key to solving all the greatest ills we need to solve in our world.  Empathy is truly the force that makes the world go round.

Falling In Love Is So Hard On The Knees

0

If you’ve ever fallen in love with a narcissist, you are intimately familiar with that rush, the relentless yet skilled release of love bombs finding their target. It’s an emotional blitzkrieg; boom, boom, boom, as you fall back under the force of an unyielding assault. When the action pauses just enough for you to gather your senses and survey the new landscape, you realize you’ve fallen hard. And you really can’t see much beyond that. It’s a heady feeling, but like any mind-altering drug, there is always a hangover waiting in the wings.

One would think that the hangover would be enough to create a narc-proof barrier. But like alcohol, love bombing is designed to prey on our weaknesses while simultaneously soothing our wounds. It’s that double-edged sword of injury by association and nurturing that makes love bombing so nightmarishly effective. Just as there are few people who can look back on their life and claim only one hangover, one emotional eating binge, few can claim only one relationship with a narcissist.

The sad truth is, if you’ve had multiple romantic entanglements with their kind, you’re probably an empath. And as an empath, your reward for being exceptionally loving, giving, nurturing and compassionate is to be surrounded by more narcissists than your average Joe.

Most people who have worked in the child welfare arena have heard the term “broken picker” casually thrown around. I once used to nod knowingly, but now I hear the term and it makes me cringe. I don’t know why people tend to want to blame the victim, but we see this in so many areas of life. We laud bullies while blaming the bullied. We don’t hold the narcissist accountable, we blame the loving and kind person who fell for their onslaught of lies and manipulations. Empaths aren’t any less able to detect malevolence than the average person. In fact, a skilled narcissist will fool nearly everyone in their orbit, at least initially. Empaths aren’t targeted because of their ignorance, they are targeted because they don’t give up on people, and thus will endure behavior that other people who are more self-focused will not tolerate.

Narcissists need an endless supply of fuel to simply exist. Without it they will collapse; a most pathetic sight to behold. So they will put on whatever mask their empath du jour most wishes to see.

Is it any wonder the empath falls so quickly and so hard?

Too Many Times I’ve Held On

0

I know the mood has been a little… saccharine up in here. One of my biggest fears in starting this blog was knowing my Pollyanna tendencies, and my reticence to explore the darker sides of the world we live in. It’s not that I’m ignorant of it or intend to deceive but that dark side is something I struggle with. I can acknowledge that we all have one; but as an empath, as someone who has suffered a great deal; as someone who has spent her whole life reaching out to others, wanting to help healing, wanting to see the good in people, wanting to breathe life into that… talking about the ugliness around me is hard. I don’t really know what to say. That’s just not my wheelhouse.

I knew from the get-go there’s no authenticity here if I avoid it entirely. But avoid it is exactly what I’ve done.

But the one theme I keep bumping up against, is why do so many people immerse themselves in gossip, small mindedness, and judgmental attitudes, and then complain when those very same things come back to bite them in the ass?

I have a saying: if someone will be ugly with you, eventually they will be ugly to you.

I’ve recognized that for years, it’s as simple as “cheaters gonna cheat, liars gonna lie”, etc. So why do people live like this isn’t a thing?

I get that sometimes people need to be alerted to the fact that a wolf is lingering in their midst (although most actively reject this knowledge, which I’ll save for another post). That’s not gossip though, it’s not being ugly. But unsubstantiated musings? Unfounded hypothesis? Talking about someone else’s dirty laundry without getting their side of the story or attempting to verify actual facts? Or worse, laughing and taking pleasure in someone else’s misery?

I don’t get it. I don’t experience any pleasure at someone else’s misfortune. It pains me greatly. I don’t like to see anyone suffer.

I’m not sure if it’s fear of loneliness, or insecurity? I’m not sure if people feel so bad about themselves that diminishing others is the only way they can feel ok for a moment? Or if they think their unwillingness to participate will leave them marginalized?

I don’t know, but I’m always a little relieved when those people walk out of my life. I don’t really know constructive ways to handle the conflict and on some level there’s a part of me that feels like I’m being judgy. But there are some real world costs for the whole mean girls bit. I’m not okay with that, at all. Ever. So when those people walk out of my life, I’m not in any way diminished.

I’m grateful.

 

 

You’ve Got To Get Up And Try

About a week after my marriage ended, a new singles group sprouted in our community. The timing was in many ways a lifesaver for me, I was barely among the living, and I’ve met so many truly amazing people and had so many wonderful experiences. Some I almost wish I could skip, and yet, I needed them to remember what living even is. What can I say, every cherry has a pit. You just need to pay attention to the reality, not avoid the experience entirely.

Being a romantic at heart/incurable empath, I love watching new couples happen. It fills my heart to see love blossoming, and gives me hope that good things are still real, still possible.

But it’s not an uncomplicated road, not even during the best of circumstances. I remember meeting some friends at a happy hour, being my typically oblivious self, and I happened to notice two friends, who share a passion that completely informs their very clear vision for their future. I noticed him squaring up to her, his arm protectively around the back of her chair, and the unmistakeable look of admiration on his face, and I thought, wow, how often do two people who want so many of the same things in life even meet? Clearly he’s interested.

So I in my one-drink (Denver strong) addled state tried in my never subtle way to throw them together. And she, being badass and perceptive and as blunt as I am ripped me a new one the next morning. I told her what my thinking was. Unbeknownst to me, she had already expressed an interest in him, but she had every reason in the world not to trust love. We talked a bit and a few weeks later I learned they were a couple. My heart soared. Falling in love with someone who is that kind of kindred spirit doesn’t happen every day. Few people get to experience it.

Sometimes I worry that the realities of life and the world around them with destroy something so incredibly precious and beautiful. I hope not. Because love is nothing but growth opportunities interspersed with reality and occasional moments of unspeakable bliss.

This weekend I’ve been helping a new friend of mine navigate the heartache of missed opportunities with an old friend of mine. This new friend knows mistakes were made, and they are sincerely regretted. But sometimes you’ve gone too far and you can’t rebuild what’s lost.

So today I’ve been sobbing my way through one hell of an emotional hangover, because he fills a need for her that ordinary never will, and she inspires him to new heights. But we live in a world where if it doesn’t work we throw it away and move on. And I’m surrounded now by so many people who want love, but chase everything else.

My heart is breaking.

Sometimes I just want to grab people by the shoulders and make them face  what they keep choosing to turn away from.

That’s What People Say

0

“Why don’t the beautiful people know they’re beautiful?”

“I don’t know.”

“I want to slap them and tell them to knock that shit off, and then I want to find the people who convinced them they aren’t beautiful and throat punch them.”

“Mmmhmmm”.

One of the hardest things for me to accept in this world is how many of us are so broken; carrying around old words, old scars, old wounds that still somehow bleed a little too much a little too often. Being wounded happens. I get that, but why is it so hard to shake it off? Why does that nonsense linger like old fish?

It’s it a cultural thing? Is it a fear of seeming too narcissistic? Why do we carry the legacy of this pain with us years into the future, in spite of evidence to the contrary?

And why do we not call out the people who do this? Some people do, and those people are the reason I’m not more jaded. There are everyday heroes around every corner. Modern psychology tells us our options are fight, flight or freeze. Most of us  flee or freeze, another lingering remnant of past abuse.

We need to start being kinder to ourselves, we need to be willing to risk it all and just be loving in appropriate ways, and we need to correct the record, wherever it goes astray.

Life is too short to believe all these hurtful, ugly, bullshit lies.

The Walls Are Strong And The Days Are Long

0

As I was researching this crazy rideshare gig, I found an oft-cited tidbit, that there are many middle class people who do this not for the money, but as a hobby.

Weird hobby, I always thought.

But I get it now.

Winter is the bane of my existence. Never knowing when the snow will come, accompanied by flurries of “things are heating up out there, surge, surge surge!” notifications that only serve to heighten the frustrations of my Prius-driving soul. Anything more than a light dusting of snow and my car is rendered virtually useless.

The money is nice. Not that it’s much, averaging $12-15 an hour before expenses (and significant risk) is not really equitable. But it works for me in ways most other jobs couldn’t. That said, if it was just the money I’d leave in a heartbeat.

It’s not the money, it’s the people.

Most rides are relatively mundane. But so many times in the average night, you get the chance to really connect with someone. Sometimes in ways you wish weren’t so fleeting. Sometimes you meet people you wish you could have met in some other context because it feels so incomplete to share so intimately and just let them wander off into the night. But that’s the job, that’s the script we all agree to, and I follow it. What else is there to do?

Laugh. Laugh at the absurdity of it all, smile at the memories, hold a good thought for the abundance of truly amazing people you’re privileged enough to meet on any given night.

Wait for that next ping, and pray for the snow to melt quickly.

Lately I’m Foolish, I Don’t Do This

0

That first week was a whirlwind of texts and dates, and spending our first night together.

I’m generally someone who operates at turtle speed, but he had this way of getting under my skin. We talked and texted endlessly, and it was all so easy. The fun, flirty banter, the drives, the long, intense conversations in my car, the kissing… It all felt so natural and right. There were moments, little blips on the radar, but they were almost reassuring in a way. The conflicts, oh so fleeting, were the only signs of normalcy amid the dreamlike clouds of fantasy.

Or so I thought.

They weren’t signs of normalcy, they were warning shots across the bow.

Not that I saw that at the time, they lulled me into a false sense of security. It was only when I was finally ready to look at the situation as a whole, when I finally reread the novella written over the months we spent together that I recognized them for what they were. They were the tests that I passed; before the ones I “failed”.

At the time I was just happy. Not just to be embarking on this journey, but because I knew that healing hearts was what I did well. I thought I had something to offer him, something that would help him find a happiness I knew we couldn’t share. I could never give him all the things I wished for him. But I thought we could share a moment in time and both come out the other side ready to take on the future, healthier, happier, and stronger.

The problem is, what he wanted from me was not what I was ready or willing to give him. If we both had been clear about the realities, we could have saved each other a whole lot of time and trouble. Maybe. Maybe the trouble is exactly what he needed to get what he really wanted. I hate to think that, it’s too nightmarish to contemplate.

It’s a reality with ample precedent.

At the time, I was too lost in the fantasy to see the entirety of the truth. My gut was yelling endlessly. I didn’t ignore it, but I wasn’t willing to walk away from someone so special without some evidence. Evidence was not what he was selling at the time. What he was selling was fairy tales. Potent ones.

Resistance in the face of his relentless onslaught was laughably futile. I could barely catch my breath and he knew it. He planned it. He capitalized on the confusion he created.

Wake Me Up Inside

Sometimes I meet passengers who are where I was a year ago, and I feel the weight of their burdens so intensely.

Part of it is the shock of seeing ghosts of my own past and part of it is I know what it’s like to be the mortally wounded unicorn who has been slain for its blood, but hasn’t quite died yet;  who is just hovering somewhere in that veil that separates life from death.

I know how hard it is to believe that things can be different. I know how many people urged and prodded and comforted me, and yet I couldn’t see what they saw.

Not until I was magically revived.

As the air rushed back into my lungs and blood slowly filled my veins, I gained clarity and strength and a fire in my belly again. Things I thought could never be recovered.

I’m not sure there is anything anyone could have said as I lingered between this world and another that would have led me to believe that I wasn’t already dead.

So I feel both this pressing urgency to find the right words, a verbal CPR if you will, to give someone the strength to live and fight another day. At the same time I struggle with the fear that no such words exist.

It’s moments like this that it’s all too easy to fall into self loathing, resenting the impotence, railing at the sense of injustice. I don’t want to sit by and utter platitudes while people are suffering. I wish I could fix it as easily as I kissed my babies boo boos when they were little. Sometimes when a passenger is hurting so deeply, it’s hard to just witness that wound.

Last night I had a long talk with a woman who I could identify with all too easily.

It broke my heart not to be able to offer more than a friendly ear and to let her know I will pray for her.

Validation and compassion are powerful.

But neither one is the kind of miracle so many people need.

Popular Posts

My Favorites

Until We Meet Again

I will never forget the first night I met him. I fell in love, and his younger brother proposed. It was quite...

Now I Lay Me Down

The Roses In The Windowbox

My Christmas Dreaming