#VulnerabilityForTheWin

vulnerable [vuhl-ner-uh-buh l]

adjective

1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon

2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.

3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend

I tend to have a recurring conversation with many of you. Oh sure, the words & situations are different & personalized according to your lives. However, I hear the same frustrations, fears, insecurities from each of you. Followed by “I am the only one that feels/thinks/believes this way.” Many of these being the same fears, frustrations & insecurities that I myself have. During these confessions, I have come to the conclusion that we all believe we must suffer these alone.

Why do we refuse to be honest about where we are, what we are struggling with or ask for help? Is it because we fear the vulnerability that comes with sharing? Is it because we are all posting Instagram pictures of giant smiles & happy families? Or because our Facebook statuses always give the impression that we are riding unicorns to work as supermodels & are about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for solving world hunger?

Honey, let me let you in on a little secret – My unicorn stood me up, my supermodel contract was shredded & the only prize I’m winning is Kroger fuel points.

As much “fun” (very loose interpretation of that word!) as much fun as Facebook & Instagram are, I believe there is also a destruction that occurs within us by not being more open with our lives. When I get to work or church, my smile comes out. Not because I’m “faking” it per se, but because in that moment, I’m not crying. Now don’t think I cry all the times in between. I don’t. Mostly. Lol. But I don’t appear as if I am struggling either. Neither do you or you or you. So if my struggle is a little extra hard today & all the women around me are not sharing where they are with theirs, guess what? I feel like I’m the only one that feels/thinks/believes this way. I’m not saying we should walk around with tissues falling out of our oversized cardigan sweater which is covering our plaid pajamas & house slippers while we sorrowfully broadcast our woes.

What I am saying is this:

First of all: YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT FEELS THIS WAY. Let me repeat that. Look in the mirror, point to yourself & repeat after me. “YOU are not the only one that feels this way!” I promise.

Secondly: Remember the overused cliche that says “Be the change you wish to see in the world?” Well, I hate to throw it at you again but it’s true. Your people need to know that being vulnerable & real is ok. Not just ok but acceptable & encouraged. Soooo…it’s your job to take the first step. I know. Sharing our weaknesses is hardly something fun. But it is a way to break that Super Hero Facebook status that only holds true when we have to keep it together.

Which brings me to my third thought. Why are we acting so together? Wait. Put that oversized cardigan & pajamas away. I’m not giving permission to sulk, quit life or slink into brooding. What I am giving you permission for is to be real with where you are at any given moment. So what if a song on the radio made you ugly cry on your way to work & now your makeup is running down your face? Wear those streaks with pride. Own your messy bun & yoga pants day because it’s been a week that would wear out a toddler. We put so much effort into appearing “together” we don’t realize the freedom we can feel by letting those cracks in our armors show our personal truths. Not just for you, but for your best friends, your sisters, your co workers…

And finally friends, let me ask you this: how much more powerful would my prayers be for you if I knew how deeply the situation was effecting your life? Or your heart? Not that I’m not praying when I say I am, but if it’s a casual request, I will likely throw a prayer out & move on. If it’s something I know is really agonizing someone, I usually keep it in my prayer bucket, follow up with them & keep encouraging them. Or what if someone could help you with a specific situation because you trusted them with the need, rather than not knowing at all or just knowing you were going through “something.” Maybe you really just need a night out so we can grab dinner or just a cup of coffee with an ear to listen? Or maybe you need a hug from someone that just loves you for who you are to them-a flawed, streaky makeup face, ugly crying beauty. By holding ourselves so tightly together we are unable to embrace the wonderful resources we have in each other.

My challenge to you is this: Try opening up. For real. Not just “I’ve got a lot going on.” But a real “I know I don’t trust people with all of my heart so I keep everyone at a safe distance & it makes me feel lonely most of the time.” (Yes. That’s mine for the day. Writing this blog is a HUGE exercise in my vulnerability. It’s a true love/hate relationship.) You don’t have to tell your pharmacist & oil change guy but when you speak with a friend, share your real heart & let them know it’s safe to share theirs.

Ok lovelies,

Love your uglies, let them show a bit.

Till next time…

Matilda Grace

Missing You..Year Two

Dearest Andrew,

(Technically, I am a day early but when the words hit, they hit & not sharing them when they are full of emotion seems to defeat the purpose-so I am sharing a few hours early.)

Here I am, another year past without you. Two eternally long years that have gone by in the blink of an eye. People say “You’ve made it so far! You’re so strong!” You & I both know it’s not really been living. It’s more survival, a bleak existence of sorts. When I hear how “strong” I am, how I’m an “inspiration,” I wonder what those same people would say if they were a fly on the wall when I am home. Alone, lying in bed after work because I have no reason to stay up, or crying into the pillow because I’m exhausted from trying to be the survivor they see, the one who still misses her best friend so deeply that every day is such an effort she wonders why she is even bothering.

After two years, I keep waiting for my emotions to catch up to the cliches. “Time heals all wounds.” “Give it time, you’ve been through a trauma.” Time, time, time. I’ve had enough of this time. I’ve had enough of the pain, the tears, the “normalcy” that everyone else but the few of us broken by your loss have been able to return to.

As I lie in bed, still awake, despite being here for hours, my face crusted with salt from crying all day, which is almost a permanent feeling at this point, I remember the memories of that last week. This has been going on like a rerun for weeks now. I occasionally venture back to other days with you. Funny moments. Our arguments, which were heated & filled with passion for our respective opinions. How we were never afraid to be honest, good or bad, happy or sad. Except about how we felt towards each other. We had a deal. We wouldn’t talk about that. Neither of us could handle that at the time. But we spoke every day. Often. We knew everything about each other…good, bad & ugly. We loved each other in spite of all of it, & kept showing up. To nurse old wounds, make each other laugh or just offer dinner. To watch movies, snuggled into the couch. To be the closest friends two crazy people could be. To give each other unconditional love & acceptance because that is what we each needed at the time.

I’m not naive enough to sit here and say we were going to be “besties forever,” but we were perfect for the time we were blessed enough to share for as long as we were blessed to share it.

Perfect.

Well, perfectly messy. Perfectly crazy. Perfectly not perfect. We both had baggage we brought to the table each day. Lots & lots of baggage. So much, I’m surprised there was room for us to be in the same building.

The day you went home to Jesus, you left yours here. I’m so glad you no longer have those heavy burdens. Unfortunately, I now carry more. I wonder if you look down at me with frustration. I wonder if you scream down from heaven “I’M BETTER NOW THAN I”VE EVER BEEN! Let me go, silly girl.” I can picture you shaking your head at me, calling me crazy. I’m reminded of the many times you would open your arms to hug me after I’d had an extra crappy day. That is the memory I rest in.

After all this time, 730 days without you now, I have come so far, yet not moved an inch. I dread the idea of coming out of my grief & functioning like “normal” because then you are officially gone, although my head knows you left 730 days ago. I dread the idea of staying in my grief because every day is torture. I live in a state of purgatory in between. Some days I think I get too distracted & forget to remember you. But I haven’t, you just weren’t at the center of the day. How can I love others so deeply but feel like my heart died with you? My entire existence is an oxymoron.


In these letters I always tell you what’s new in my life. Today, I miss you as much as I did 729 days ago & I suspect will still be the same 729 days from today. At this point, I have learned that being graceful is more than being like Jackie Kennedy & that loving is more than being a parent. They are both more of being like Jesus. And like you were. As hard as you may have tried not to be, you were the heart & hands of Christ in the manner you handled people. I thank you for reviving a place within me that needed to have the passion fueled for His people & for accepting me as I was to be your friend. Thank you for allowing me to walk beside you for the remainder of your days. And I know that despite the expanse between us, you will walk beside me the remainder of mine.

Much love sweet Andrew,

Matilda

Worn Out & Broken Down

One of the things about behaving as if you have your life pulled together, is that the people around you begin to believe you just might. Then the only person left with the truth is-you. You are the one left feeling empty, alone, & isolated, because they see you smiling & participating & working & taking care of yourself in all the ways that we are supposed to: showering, bathing, brushing our teeth. 
They don’t realize that when the doors are shut & the lights are off, you’re left alone with those thoughts that never go away, the trauma that you continue to see over & over, the pain that keeps your heart raw, & the feeling that no one is there for you. And it’s not really that you’re faking during the day because brushing your teeth & showering & going to work & participating in social events are all things that are important & fulfilling & necessary to survive. BUT there is still this wounded side of you that is so beaten & broken that you wonder why you get up in the morning or what IS the purpose of your life? And until we find that answer, we question every morning. We question every interaction. We lack trust. We feel abandoned. And I would love to sit here & tell you that after almost 2 years of introspection & retrospection & seeking God & forcing myself to be with friends & Bible studies & social events, I would love to be able to tell you that looking upward towards the heavens, the answer is instantly right there…but it’s not. God doesn’t send us a text with our purpose or plan. He doesn’t email or call & leave a lovely voicemail. God doesn’t put out a holiday newsletter with what is up for us for the next year so we are left to our own devices, with the ultimate choice being our own (short of a divine interruption) to continue participating in all of these expected behaviors. Do they get us anywhere? As far as I can tell, only to tomorrow. Are we thriving & living a full life. I have no idea, but I don’t feel like I am.

Today is my 2 yr Divorce-iversary!!! Yay me! Life is going so well!!! I am fed up at my job, I haven’t had a date in decades, I spend every evening alone… GO TEAM SINGLE MATILDA!! I spent the day sitting at my desk crying.

I hate this time of year. From dec 20-feb 20, I just want to crawl in a hole. But work has me extra crazy. As much as I like my job, I’m really struggling in there. I have been for over a year so add that to this season & I feel like I’m losing my freaking mind. I try to keep myself optimistic & cheery but inside I’m sad, lonely, scared & crying. Well, today I’m outwardly crying. I don’t like being around myself when I feel like this so I try to minimize exposure for others & try to shut down as much as possible.


One of my friends asked me to seek out what God has to say about my emotional insanity. I argued with her & said it always comes back to me feeling like the child waiting for some attention & then being walked right by. I can stay optimistic for a while. A long freaking while. Months & months. I can play cheerleader for everyone around me & remind them of His plans, His timing, His love & goodness. But every time, I feel like I get overlooked. I don’t want to ask him AGAIN why he ignores me. Why my prayers disappear into an abyss. Why he lets me down. Why he allows me to hurt so deeply that I don’t feel like I will ever feel again. Why I can’t trust because of people he allowed in my life. I just want to be held & taken care of for once. No fighting, no struggles, no worrying about the next step. I’m tired of living in limbo over Dylan & wondering if he will always be wanting to kill me, will I have to watch over my back forever? I’m tired of watching Mark travel the world with the women he let in to break up our marriage. I’m tired of relationships with my sisters being superficial because I can’t trust them to take my safety seriously & not tell my parents what is going on in my life or where I live. I’m tired of not truly being able to trust anyone, even those I’m closest with, even myself. When is it my turn to feel safe and loved?

She then asked why I felt God has let me down. I prayed for Mark and Dylan for years & years. Way before things reached the point of no return. I believed in the power of prayer to heal my precious baby, to remove the baggage his birth mother had left him with. I prayed constantly for the man I loved to recover from depression & anger. Not only did he not heal them, he allowed them to destroy me. I’m left hoping people give two shits enough to spend time with me. I’m left questioning every single relationship because the people I thought would always be safe for me have been ripped away. I live everyday with a lack of security, a lack of love & a lack of trust. Plus that doesn’t even consider my wonderful parents, who would probably have rather aborted me but she was Catholic so they were stuck.

I don’t believe in myself enough to trust that anyone can handle my broken, or would care enough to try. I don’t like feeling unhinged, so I don’t. And then when the dam breaks, I am so unhinged I can’t get back together for a week. So I shut away because everyone expects me to be crazy & silly but that side is shut off & what’s left is negative & overwhelmed. Sometimes I am Thomas. I need proof, I need a miracle, I need a huge display that God is hearing me, is handling things & does actually care about what I’m going through. In case you are curious, today, I’m still waiting.

But surprisingly, I’m still optimistic enough & faithful enough to believe that there is a purpose, & that there is meaning & truth behind the trauma & devastation I have faced. And I believe that one of these days it will be revealed. So until then, I do feel forgotten & abandoned & alone. ALL of the time. But I have faith that one day I won’t.

Just Another Day

Today would have been me & Mark’s 20th anniversary.

Needless to say it did not hold the celebration I had long ago anticipated for us. He did send me a lovely text message that said “20th.. .sorry I didn’t get there.”

There are days when I look back at the 20+ years we spent together & I think of how I’m so lucky to be out of a dysfunctional relationship with that narcissistic man. There are other days when I look back & I think of the silly little girl that fell in love with that goofy boy who made me laugh all the time, protected me & defended me even as the dumb kids we were. How that naive 18 year old girl knew exactly who she was supposed to grow old with. I miss those moments.


I have truly loved two men in my life. Both of them are now gone.
Sure, I have cared about others, but I’ve only really given my heart away twice. As I lay here in a king size bed, filled with pillows & a giant stuffed Mickey Mouse, I wonder if I’ll ever love like I have in the past. I wonder if I will ever trust another that way, in a way that allowed my heart to be shattered. Twice. Will I ever trust myself to not pick the wrong guy? Will I ever ask another man to take on the freight train full of baggage that I feel I carry around behind me every day? Sure, I’m working through most of that, by the grace of God & with a lot of therapy. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not something that he would have to know about, understand, and be willing to deal with in some manner at some point. Will any man with his right mind be willing to take on the potential danger that being in a relationship with me could pose to himself? I mean, I do have a restraining order against my own son.

I don’t have any answers for any of these questions. I don’t even know if I care. Do I get lonely? Yes. But I’m not willing to settle. I feel like at this point in my life I have fought too damn hard just to survive to be willing to fall for the first guy that walks by and smiles at me. Anybody that wants to spend any quality time with me is going to have to be worthy of that time.  He will have big shoes to fill, a heart to handle with gentleness, luggage to help sort, laughs to provide, oh, and most importantly, he must love Jesus because Jesus is the only reason I still breathe.


So while Mark sits in his high-rise apartment in the big city, with his wealthy girlfriend/homewrecker, I spent the day with my church family and my roommate. I had a wonderful service at church, hung out with my baby buddy Huey, gave away a lot of hugs and smiles & received many more. I had lunch with people that have become family. It was long, it was delicious and we laughed until my sides hurt over inappropriate conversations. I watched cheesy Christmas movies & my roommate and I began to put up the tree. So my day was not filled with the celebration of a 20 year marriage with the man that I fell in love with at 18, but it was definitely still filled with love from the people in my life. And for that, I will be forever grateful.


This new chapter of my life has taught me where to find my strength, it has taught me that I am worthy, and it has challenged & rattled me deep into my core. There have been many many days in the last four years where I did not think I had the strength to go on. And I have proven to myself and to many others that I carry an immense amount of strength within me. And I know that I get that strength from my faith. But I also know that it requires me to tap into it. Even on my worst day when I don’t have the energy to shower or interact, I pat myself on the back and say “good job girlie, at least you’re still here.” I’m not the girl that walked away from her husband four years ago. I’m not the girl whose best friend shot himself in front of her two years ago. Not the girl whose son robbed her. I’m not the girl whose mother emotionally abused her for 40 years, I’m not the girl whose father never wanted her, I’m not the girl that was molested by her grandpa, I’m not the girl that feels abandoned all the time. Oh wait, that last one, yes, that I still do. But I’m still a newer, tougher, stronger, more in touch, more alive girl.

So chin up Buttercups. This story isn’t over yet.

29 & Holding

There is this woman I know. She has fluffy white hair. Her cheeks are dimpled. Her eyes squinty from losing her vision. Her back is a little hunched from walking with a walker for several years. Her knees aren’t springy. Her ankles retain water. Her mind alert. Her wit sharp.

I have known and loved this woman since the day I was born.

She is my grandmother.

Two days ago I received a text informing me that she has been hospitalized. She is being treated for a Urinary Tract Infection and Congestive Heart Failure. They expected her to discharge yesterday.

She did not.

Her kidneys are slowing down.

Today the update was that family is flying in from around the country & in the morning her children will meet with hospice.

As my cousins & I sat around her hospital bed this evening, we joked about which one of us was her favorite. Clearly, I was the winner. We told stories of things we remember from our childhood. We laughed at our silliness & the fun we had always had when visiting “ma-maw” & “pa-paw” as children. (Don’t laugh. I told you I was a corn fed mid-Western white girl.)

But what my cousins or aunts or uncles don’t know is the value this woman has in my heart.

Was she perfect? Nope. She is a liar. If you ask her age, she will tell you 29. Since I was a child, this woman has been 29. Lying in that hospital bed tonight was not a 29 year old. Lying there was my 91 and 1/2 year old grandmother. And all I could think about was all the moments I have had with her, and all the moments I wish I could have with her.

When I talk about being sassy or ornery or stubborn, I always say I got it from my grandma. She’s Irish. We don’t have the ginger hair but we have that ornery and sometimes cantankerous wit.

My grandparents house had comic books, (stacks & stacks & stacks!!!) a creek with a bridge over it, blackberry bushes, tons of land and a cement turtle we would ride to wherever we were headed that day. We had adventures every time we were there, catching crawdads in the creek, eating blackberries and hiding from one another. If I was alone I would read comic after comic. I would sort them out so I would remember which ones were read and which I had yet to read. I would organize them so neatly only to have my cousins visit in between me and mess them up.

She had a clear glass cookie jar on the counter we would sneak cookies from. She had teaberry gum. Her bathroom smelled like old lady rose soap, one of my most favorite scents now. They lived just down the street from a natural spring so we would take milk jugs and fill them with water. It was so crisp and cold we would drink as much as possible before leaving.

When I was in junior high, my mother quit speaking to her. When I got my license, I would drive myself to their house and eat lunch or hang out with them. She introduced me to one of my favorite movies, Brigadoon. It’s silly. But now more than ever, it will be special.  I got a job at a mall that backed up to their yard and I would stop by before or after work. I loved visiting with them. Rarely was I alone. Someone else always popped in.

After I moved out of my parents house, I remember she said to me once that she didn’t know how to save me from them. What I didn’t realize at the time…

She had.

Looking back, the fond memories I have in my childhood include my cousins, my aunts & uncles, my grandparents (excluding the child molester), my sisters & friends. Many of those memories happened at her house. My life was hard at home but my grandparents house was my sanctuary. They were my sanctuary.

So ma-maw, my wish is to see your fiery grin, to hear your sharp witted retorts and to kiss your soft cheeks for another 91 years. But if it is time for you to go home, to go see pa-paw, you leave behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. You have deposited bits of your heart & spirit into each of your children, grandchildren & great grandchildren. We will carry on the feisty Irish spunk in your honor. But you will be sorely missed because you have carried us along this journey for the last 91 years.

I love you Ma-maw.

The 35th Birthday

Today would have been Andrew’s birthday. I “celebrated” by going to work & having dinner with a friend. There were no balloons, no gifts, no cake. Not even a mention of it by anyone today except by me at dinner.

I have been what I referred to as a “wild card” this month. Mark’s birthday was earlier this month. Last Saturday was 18 months since Andrew died. And today was his birthday. There have been a lot of tears. I have been what I consider grouchy. And I have been loving & giving. I have gone to my room early many days because I just didn’t have anything left in me, not because I was tired.

I still wonder how the people left behind are supposed to carry on in life like everything is happy & lovely when we have such a gaping hole left in our hearts. Not that I am not happy. I have very happy times. I find humor in life. I give hugs. I love people. I enjoy experiences. But there is always that hole.

So Andrew, tell me. Is there life after death? Not your death, sweetheart. I know there is for those that have died. Up or down, our choice. But is there life after death for those of us left grieving? What exactly is the process?

coverphoto

The process for me has been a bit bland. I have forced myself to work everyday. Well, most days. I shower. I brush my teeth. I eat. I go to church. I volunteer. I go out with friends. I do the normal stuff I have always done. It’s in between those times that I find myself pondering what the next step should be. Is this the process? Is this what everyone does? I don’t know. I wouldn’t dare ask. I’m ashamed of my hiding. I’m embarrassed that I prefer to lock myself away at times than to speak to people. I am self condemning myself for still missing Andrew, being sad, lonely, wishing I had answers.

Answers. How I wish I had the answers. After 18 months, I still have no understanding as to why that night played out the way it did. I have no answers to the questions that have gone unanswered for a year & a half. If anything, I have more.

What have I learned throughout the torture? Lots of things. Do we really need to discuss that again? Fine. I will share one. It’s a recurring theme so don’t roll your eyes when you read it. It’s Love. It’s simple really. Unconditional, pure & genuine love. Don’t miss the mark by ignoring the brokenness of the people around you. We have the capacity to change our worlds just by giving our hearts away. I know that by trying to live my life with this type of love, I have changed my own life, for the better. I hope I have changed the lives of those around me for the better, as well.

Some of you have heard this story. But last week, a co-worker (a person that I feel is fairly unhappy in life. Is it just work related? I don’t know.) was at my desk talking about how I just strolled to my car in the rain. (Remember last Summer, I posted about playing in the rain?) So I mentioned that it’s just water. No need to get upset about it. She began to talk about an umbrella her parents had bought her years ago. It had her initials engraved in the handle. It had broken a while back & she was wishing she had gotten a new one. She had such a light in her eyes over this umbrella. She ran back to her desk & emailed me a picture of it. At my lunch that day, I got on Amazon & ordered the umbrella. When I got it this week, I went to work, left it on her desk with no note. She came running to my desk with the umbrella & tears in her eyes. She said I should not have done that, she knew it was expensive. She was awestruck that I would have done something like that. She went back to her desk & emailed me another thank you. I said I could tell it was special to her so I thought she needed to have a replacement. She said I have the most generous heart & that it has been so so long since someone had done anything that nice for her. I began to cry just as my boss, also a long time friend, came around to my desk. She asked what was wrong. I showed her the email & I said “That is just so sad. What is wrong with us?” I emailed my co-worker back explaining that I was in tears, because I had missed it. Because there are people in my life that feel unloved, uncared for & have no idea how valuable they really are. I told her that we all need to be generous with our hearts all the time with all people. My boss told me that the price of the umbrella was brought up. She told them that if I felt something was needed for someone, I would never look at the price. She said that they are all better people for having me in their lives. I cried some more.

I don’t give away umbrellas for the compliments or the credit. I give away umbrellas because that is what the heart needed. I give because I love. I love because God loves. I try to be aware & cognizant of the needs of people around me. If I can fill the heart or soul, I do. God provides the finances, the words, the opportunities. Sometimes that means I buy umbrellas. Or dinners. Or refrigerators. Or groceries. Sometimes that means I tell brutal truths, give hugs, send text messages of encouragement or bible verses. But I always, always, ALWAYS show love, grace and hope. My heart hurts for the hurting. I guess because I know how broken feels.

I’m not broken anymore. I am healed. With a few cracks. I am like an old house, with layers & layers of paint that have begun to be stripped away. I know that underneath all those layers, I am a beautiful, strong & sturdy home for broken hearts. I have an open door for anyone in need.

Happy Birthday, Andrew. Enjoy your red velvet cake. Jesus is the best baker. Your smile is missing in my day. The world is missing your heart. That giant, kind, loving, broken heart. Much love sweet friend.

For the rest of you lovelies, watch for opportunities to share your heart. It always returns two fold. At least. Love you all.

MY Thoughts About Deep Grief

This has been an ever evolving post. I began listing my thoughts & feelings back in June of last year. I wanted to be able to look back at this process and remember how I felt going through it. To see if I was actually crazy like I felt at times or if later those emotions would be understandable. Answer? Understandable. So here are my thoughts on deep grief:

A process understood by no one until they have lived through it. A “period” of your life when living is the most painful thing to do. A realization that your life will never be the “normal” it was before, & your new normal is unwanted. A time when people are uncomfortable around you, & your loss is more compounded by watching them walk away or feeling isolated from them. Being so uncomfortable in your own skin, you hate to be alone but are too depressed to reach out to anyone else. Listening & watching everyone else continue their lives while feeling cemented to your pain & yet being stuck in the need to remember leaves you feeling crazy & lost. Wishing & praying everyday for a rewind to never have that last moment with the one you love. Never wanting to admit that your feelings inside are so sad, so lonely, so uncomfortable because people may think you have lost your mind, so you smile & say the right words at the right times to make them think you are fine & progressing. Realizing that the “normal” you also died that day, to be replaced by a new version with a permanent hole in your heart & life. Struggling every day to find a place of happy existence. Feeling a disconnect even when with the people you love the most-like you are never fully present. Having superficial conversations when people are uncomfortable with any discussion that may include your loss or feelings about it. Learning to forgive people for their neglect of you during a time you needed them most. Learning how to reconstruct a relationship, even if it is only broken in your mind, in order to save it. Learning to do deep introspection to process & shelve the pain. Seeking God for purpose of the loss, purpose of the relationship, purpose of your life. Granting yourself freedom to cry, remember, love & long for someone. Recognizing that very little in this world is worth the loss of a relationship, so few things are worth a heated & ugly argument, yet also realizing that boundaries are necessary for your healing & learning to set some. Understanding how far a hug can truly go for someone. Realizing when others have a loss, that words are futile, lack meaning, & support really comes in the form of presence & depth. Allowing God permission to work His will in your life without trying to stand in the way-because you are too tired to do so. Learning how to love people’s uglies-because they are worth it. Struggling to practice self care-showers, rest, healthy food, exercise. Recognizing that some days, bare minimum effort is worth a gold medal. Understanding that you are now the stinky cheese with some people, and being ok with it. Getting used to having your emotions on display for all to see, because they are spilling out of you uncontrollably. Having your “filter” disconnected. Learning to enjoy that, just a little. Walking through the first year being the hardest-every memory in your head rears its glorious head throughout that time, causing reactions from tears to laughter & back to tears. Accepting how the second year still sucks but at least it doesn’t suck the wind out of you. Holding onto every single memento you can-toothbrush, random pieces of paper, the tape used to hold your nail on, the jeans still bloody, every picture ever taken-looking at them often & wondering if it helps or hurts but not caring because it’s what you need in that moment. Feeling ashamed of your lack of progress because some of the people around you need you to perform as before. Using the process to heal other hurts so when you finally reach a healthier place, all of you is truly healed. Releasing anything that is holding you back in life, old beliefs or old vows, so that you can let your heart shine into other’s lives. Granting yourself grace & forgiveness for taking as long as you need. Knowing when that time has been fulfilled & you can let go of some of the grief. And comprehending that doesn’t negate the relationship or the loss, both are still very relevant, but are no longer a crutch or a wall.

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that the pain never really ends but that you can actually survive, laugh, be regular, just differently than we were “before.” But it also is ok to know that the difference is because you were able to love someone that will never leave your heart. While the pain seems overwhelming & unbearable, our greatest honor to someone we lose is to carry on with the memories we have & share our vulnerability when another person suffers a devastating loss by giving them the compassion we received or maybe didn’t receive but needed.

I have come a long way since that cold, horrible night last February. I don’t want to ever live through something like that again. But I know I am where I am now because God showed me mercy, showed me my real relationships, but more importantly, showed me who I am to Him. I am worthy of being loved again. I am perfect in His eyes. My heart is whole, & in a corner of it resides a special person that I was so very fortunate to love.