Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Today is my birthday.
I want to share some of my favorite quotes with you, in an effort not only to be transparent about what moves and inspires and touches my heart, but as a gift back to you for being wonderful readers and commenters and friends. I'm so grateful for you.
"What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us."
~ Helen Keller
"I have noticed that if you look carefully at people’s eyes the first five seconds they look at you, the truth of their feelings will shine through for just an instant before it flickers away."
~ from “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd
"I will love you always. When this red hair is white, I will still love you. When the smooth softness of youth is replaced by the delicate softness of age, I will still want to touch your skin. When your face is full of the lines of every smile you have ever smiled, of every surprise I have seen flash through your eyes, when every tear you have ever cried has left its mark upon your face, I will treasure you all the more, because I was there to see it all. I will share your life with you, and I will love you until the last breath leaves your body or mine."
~ from “A Lick of Frost” by Laurell K. Hamilton
"The truth is, in order to heal we need to tell our stories and have them witnessed. The story itself becomes a vessel that holds us up, that sustains, that allows us to order our jumbled experiences into meaning. As I told my stories of fear, awakening, struggle, and transformation and had them received, heard, and validated by other women, I found healing. I also needed to hear other women’s stories in order to see and embrace my own. Sometimes another woman’s story becomes a mirror that shows me a self I haven’t seen before. When I listen to her tell it, her experience quickens and clarifies my own. Her questions rouse mine. Her conflicts illumine my conflicts. Her resolutions call forth my hope. Her strengths summon my strengths. All of this can happen even when our stories and our lives are very different."
~Sue Monk Kidd
"Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone."
“When peoples care for you and cry for you, they can straighten out your soul.”
"That thing, that moment, when you kiss someone and everything around becomes hazy and the only thing in focus is you and this person and you realize that that person is the only person that you’re supposed to kiss for the rest of your life, and for one moment you get this amazing gift and you want to laugh and you want to cry because you feel so lucky that you found it and so scared that that it will go away all at the same time."
~from the movie "Never Been Kissed"
"I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me."
"Love is like a friendship caught on fire: In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable."
"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief... and unspeakable love."
"Lips that taste of tears, they say, are the best for kissing."
~ Dorothy Parker
"Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself?"
~ Thomas Jefferson
"Music is the medicine of the breaking heart."
"So she poured out the liquid music of her voice to quench the thirst of his spirit."
“A man reserves his true and deepest love not for the species of woman in whose company he finds himself electrified and enkindled, but for that one in whose company he may feel tenderly drowsy.”
~George Jean Nathan
"Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else`s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too."
"The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his
very life. They are not materials gathered from outside."
"Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway."
"Music is always happening, and sometimes you get to touch it for a while, and when you do, you know that everything’s connected to everything else."
~ from “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, knowing struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."
~ Elizabeth Kubler Ross
“Walk with me
through the rain
on a moonlit night
let it cleanse our souls
of broken dreams
so we may begin anew
in each other’s arms”
"Could it ever be
that you would love me deeply
as in my heart's dream?"
"Falling in love is like jumping off a really tall building. your brain tells you it's not a good idea, but your heart tells you that you can fly."
"When you start to know someone, all their physical characteristics start to disappear. You begin to dwell in their energy, recognize the scent of their skin. You see only the essence of the person, not the shell. That’s why you can’t fall in love with beauty. You can lust after it, be infatuated by it, want to own it. You can love it with your eyes and your body but not your heart. And that’s why, when you really connect with a person’s inner self, any physical imperfections disappear, become irrelevant."
“When our minds are no longer fragmented by the illusion of our separation from each other, but healed by the truth of our oneness, we are awakened to a new dimension of compassion” ~Marianne Williamson”
"It’s easy to look at people and make quick judgments about them, their present and their past, but you’d be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides. What a person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. And more often then not, it’s lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their soul.”
"Only after disaster can we be resurrected"
"To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful, too."
Monday, September 12, 2011
Amy has a feature on her blog, Spread A Little Thin, called War Stories. Contributors are invited to share their struggles and hard lessons with the intent to encourage and validate others.
What I chose to write is the backstory for several posts and a poem I've published here. Since it's my backstory, you can bet it's a little gritty and personal, but she asked for a war story so I gave her something I battled and survived. It was a long time ago, so I feel okay sharing it.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
I think I had a much clearer picture of friendship when I was in high school than I have had as an adult. In high school, my friends and I shared a lot of common experiences, we were growing up, dealing with bullies, breakups, and all sorts of "real" experiences on a daily basis. I think we talked more about things that mattered. And I think we were not as good at masking our emotions back then, either.
Once I graduated from high school, I started having some not-so-shareable experiences, ones I was ashamed of. And over the years, I started hiding from other people. I was so concerned about what other people would think if they knew the truth about me, that I stopped looking for the truth in other people, too. My authenticity went away. My ability to listen and really hear, to be perceptive about other people's emotions, my willingness to give of my heart to others in real compassion.. it was no longer a part of me.
But about two years ago, when my well-crafted suburban wife and mom facade started to crumble, I faced the fact that I needed to get real. I needed to start talking about what was going on inside, and what I was going to do with it.
I had two intense emotional experiences, almost back to back, that re-introduced me to the person I used to be and that gave me the courage to be that person again, without fear or shame.
The first moment that led to the facade crumbling was the night I had to pull over to the side of the interstate because I was crying so hard that I couldn't see to drive. I had become so callous and withdrawn that I had been unable to do more than tear up and get misty eyed for several years, and the fact that I had to pull over was a shock to me. My heart was broken wide open, and I was crying on behalf of a friend of mine, listening to a song that had great significance to their story. I had been let all the way inside and trusted with the background of darkness, self-hatred, loneliness, and isolation to know that the lyrics were autobiographical. Finding myself, forehead resting on my wrists, sobbing on the side of the road for pain that wasn't even mine was a crystallized moment in time that I may never forget.
It was not only important for my sense of compassion and empathy, but also because after that night, I was able to feel my own pain. I hadn't realized that I was in that same place. I had been so depressed, isolated, lonely, and hopeless that my friend's pain resonated to the point of shocking me into wakefulness. It was just that so much rage had been clouding what was really going on inside.
The second moment was actually a combination of experiences that happened at the Blissdom blogging conference in 2010. I had been active on Twitter and in commenting on blogs for about 8 months before I attended the conference. I had a number of online friends that I was hoping to see, some for the first time. I was completely overwhelmed at the reaction my friends had to seeing me. There was so much genuine happiness and joy coming my direction that I actually retreated to my hotel room and cried. Again with the tears. I felt like a scar was being ripped open, and I laid on my bed, suddenly realizing that there used to be people that reacted to seeing me in that way. There was a time in my life where those reactions were part of my everyday life. And it was because I was being myself. Because I was allowing other people to really know me. These online friends... they knew my heart because of the transparent way I write. And they had made me believe that they really cared about me.. not just online, but now they had done it in person.
I spent time during that conference listening to Alli Worthington drive home the message of authenticity, and how the best writing we do is always from our hearts. She encouraged us to write authentically, and in doing so we could create a community of people who want to connect with us because of who we are and how we write.
And that's when I met Jana. She was the first friend I met after I decided I was going to open my heart up and be who I am again.
We spent 15 hours straight together on the last day of the conference. We attended sessions and whispered and giggled during them like a couple of teenage girls. We sat together at lunch. We skipped a session or two in the afternoon and connected over expectations of others, having to hide who we are and the things we had experienced, over autism and aspergers and motherhood, and love. We walked around the hotel, getting lost and making sarcastic remarks and finishing each others sentences.. we laughed so hard we couldn't breathe.
And over sushi that night, my new friend Jana said something that stunned me. Her words affected me deeply, all the way down inside my soul, where the real me comes from.
She said "I feel like there's nothing I could ever do to make you not love me and accept me"
I had been able to get across to this new friend, in the space of the first 15 hours we had spent together, that I loved her unconditionally.
That scar that I felt like had been ripped open by feeling accepted for the first time in years? Jana, by speaking honestly and transparently to me, about me, healed that pain. I had spent the weekend feeling open and exposed in a way I hadn't in a long time. But I felt validated, accepted, and most of all, successful, in being who I am. There are literally no words to express how grateful I am for that, Jana. I love you.
Through those two experiences, and in more of that kind since then, I realized that when I'm living, interacting, loving from that place down deep inside... I can give my friends that confidence in my love and acceptance of them. They know, really really know that I care about them.. that what they think and how they feel are important to me. That I love them and will always accept them for who they are.
When I'm brave and authentically connecting with other people, they are willing to give me the gift of their real self, too. Having the privilege of hearing other people's stories is incredibly humbling. Being trusted with the dark and ugly, with fear and weakness, with insecurity, loneliness, and pain. It's so much richer and deeper than anything I've felt in the last 15 years of my life.
It's the kind of emotional connection I remember having before the first time someone broke my heart. When I stopped trusting, when I stopped letting people in. It's called security.
Thank you, not just to the two friends I mentioned in my post, but to my readers who have reached out and accepted me despite the darkness and sporadic posting. Thank you for the courage you inspire, for the words of affirmation you give, and for the gift of your friendship.
Love makes your soul crawl out from it's hiding place ~ Zora Neale Hurston
Author's Note: This post was inspired in part by a post on depression that Kate Sluiter published this week. It included the song I broke down to while I was driving, and took me right back to that fragile place I was that night, feeling raw on behalf of someone I care about. Thank you, Kate, for sharing your heart so openly, and for inspiring me to write today.
Also, I wrote about my initial impressions of Blissdom 10 here (on my old, abandoned blog), and there are pictures of so many women who have become friends of mine. I linked their Twitter handles and would encourage you to follow all of them if you don't already.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I have a little bit of a rant to go off on this morning. When I was thinking about what to link up with Shell's Pour Your Heart Out link, the first subject that came to mind was judgmental Christians.
So first, let me start by clarifying that I'm a Christian. And not a conservative one. I was never a conservative or legalistic Christian before I became involved with my ex, and I never really was one while married to him and attending conservative Christian churches. I have always been far more tolerant and compassionate than elitist and judgmental.
So my rant, really, encapsulated in one sentence, is:
The lengths to which people will go to rationalize being nasty to another person in the name of Jesus just astounds me.
There is precisely ONE example included in the Bible where Jesus flips out and goes off on people in "righteous anger". Even if you're not a Christian, you might be familiar with the story where Jesus gets angry at the people using the temple as a marketplace in John Chapter 2. When he is justifiably perturbed at the desecration of the house of worship, he yells, threatens with a whip, and knocks tables and booths over.
He is confrontational in anger and disdain exactly ONE TIME recorded in all of his earthly ministry.
When Jesus came upon those who were not bahaving or speaking morally, he didn't avoid socializing with them. In fact, he did exactly the opposite, he purposefully approached them, and invited them to spend time with him. Sometimes he didn't even directly address their sin, and when he did, it was gently, and without judgmentalness, coercion, shaming, or verbal attack.
Yet there are SO many Christians who will use that temple marketplace scene to justify their confrontation of anyone speaking or behaving, or believing, in a way that is contrary to their personal convictions.
They will not take the time to inquire gently, listen thoroughly, consider their other person's upbringing, personal journey of faith, or anything like that. They will see one interaction that lasts a few minutes and immediately decide that they MUST say something. That it would be disobedient to their calling as evangelicals if they stayed silent.
And often, they will speak in this arrogant, "I know absolute truth and I am compelled to confront you with your sin in a horrifically judgmental attacking way because I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't tell you how much of a sinner you are" tone of voice.
The absolute disdain they will show, the dripping sarcasm, the hideous lack of gentleness and compassion, it can be just excoriating to a person.
I know because I've been spoken to that way.
What you would have seen on my face, and what I see when I have observed someone being spoken to thusly, what I see is this:
Visible shock, anger, and a mixture of shame and fear.
If the person being attacked defends themselves at all, it tends to be just once. If the attacker doesn't take the hint that they've touched a nerve, the accused simply shuts down out of self preservation. That's what I've done.
I had several conversations like this last summer as I was revealing to my friends that I intended to separate and divorce. Last week, a woman from my previous church came into the store where I work to shop for her daughter.. and I had this same conversation. She heard my overview of why I no longer attend the church, and my intent to divorce, and lit into me right there in the store.
Why did she think she had that right? Who does that, upon hearing that someone is going through a divorce for whatever reason, jumps down their throat and then finishes with "I hope things work out for the best for you, but God hates divorce, and he is the God of miracles. Don't stand in his way!" Someone is in pain, going through a massive life changing experience, and their first knee jerk response is to condemn and force their convictions, instead of saying "That must be really hard, I'll be thinking about you".
These are Christians! Attacking other people, blind to the effect their diatribe is having on another person. And they're blinded because they are so sure they're right that the feelings and thoughts of another person have no value. It just doesn't make any sense to me.
When I've watched a scene like this play out, the accused will answer in one sentence phrases, their voice becoming monotone. They answer when speech is called for, and refuse to defend when asked questions, because they know that there really isn't a point in bothering. Their attacker isn't going to receive what they have to say in response anyway. They just endure until they become able to leave the situation.
It's the equivalent of being verbally abused, in the name of Christianity. Bullied, shamed, judged, unaccepted, unwelcome, and rejected by someone who claims to be a disciple of Christ.
When it's been me on the receiving end of a tirade like this, from someone who simply cannot contain their conviction and must force it upon me, I have ended up repeating in my head "I know they think they're doing the right thing, but Jesus would never speak to anyone that way."
Being in a position to have to repeat that in your head, when someone else is speaking to you in what they think is the name of Christianity.. it's just uncalled for.
I feel better now.
Friday, August 26, 2011
This week over at Write on Edge the prompt was to write something short and sweet:
Let’s lighten it up around here. And when I say lighten, I mean REALLY lighten.
This week’s assignment will require the fewest number of words ever: we want you to write a story – your choice of topic – as a tweet.
That’s right. One hundred and forty characters. Not words. Characters.
Make us laugh. Make us think. Make us want more.
A profession of love
like a cascade on parched desert earth.
A long silence followed.
No more words.
Since it was brief, I'll include the song that inspired my very short story:
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I read this post this afternoon from @Emergingmummy . I was really surprised at how it impacted me, and I'm just going to throw down some stream of consciousness thoughts here and link up with @shellthings and her Pour Your Heart Out meme.
The first part of Emergingmummy's post that caught my eye and resonated with me was this one:
"If mothering well was completely dependent on me and my ability to maintain some fantastic facade of 50s sitcom life, I'd hate it. I know this because when I do that - when I take on some other person's version of motherhood and try to jam my own self and life into it - I hate it. It makes me miserable. I feel like a failure. When I make mothering with peace and patience, kindness and gentleness, love and self-control dependent on me simply trying harder, I run out myself very quickly. Mothering, like most of life, isn't about trying harder. It's not about faking it until you make it. (You will feel like a fake a lot longer than you expected. And very, very tired.) "
I feel like all I've done in the last 10 years of my life is try to maintain a facade. As I was encouraged/expected to force myself into that mold, it fed my sense of self hatred. It made me miserable. I went to bed every night feeling like a failure, with a ridiculous amount of mommy guilt on my heart. I couldn't be that person. I couldn't follow schedules, I couldn't spend hours patiently home educating my child while two other small children ran amok in the house. I couldn't keep it organized and picked up, every single thing I did other than verbally affirming my children and showing them affection seemed to be wrong, bad, and not good enough. Some of that was me beating myself up, but some of it was obvious disappointment and verbal criticism from my ex and from others in our church/homeschool group. I just couldn't seem to do what every other mom I knew could do. Keep a neat house, teach multiple children at home who could rattle off catechism quotes and classic literature vignettes, have cute matching outfits for their kids, and have them all in bed by 8 pm, and all sleeping all night long every night.
I remember saying out loud, "I need my personality to change. I need God to just make me a different person."
I just could not take the failure one more second. I was a failure all day every day. I couldn't keep up, I couldn't say the right things, do the right things, live the right way, pray the right way, parent the right way.
I lived in the most overwhelming, lonely, isolated, god awful place for so long. Man. It was hard. Looking back, I have no idea how I did it. Seriously. It was a joyless existence, and it eroded my soul.
This is another part of Emergingmummy's post that hit home:
"Even if I could fake joy and hold the line, I would know, I would not be my true self and all I would be teaching is inauthenticity."
That was EXACTLY what I was doing. I was someone else's version of me, I was not my true self, and in dressing, acting, and socializing within that facade... I was teaching my children inauthenticity. They spent the first several years of their lives with someone for a mom who does not act, speak, or relate ANYTHING like this present version of their mom.
And I like this mom a whole lot better. I haven't gone to bed feeling guilty about the way I have treated or spoken to my children in over a year. I haven't awakened with so much weight on my heart that I didn't know how I was going to make it through the morning, let alone the entire day. I have become more and more who I am, the person I remember that I used to be, in the last year. More sensitive again, more compassionate, happier, more motivated and driven, more creative, more everything.
I don't just survive anymore. I live.
And I live my life. A life where what I think, what I feel, and what I believe are in harmony. And I won't give that up again for anything.