You Can’t Let It Take the Best of You

You’ve done everything you can.

I need you to hear me on that. If love were water, your hair would be dripping and your boots would be filled. You’d be choking on the gallons flowing out of your mouth. I’ve watched you love when it meant ripping your ribcage wide open. I’ve watched you toss out handfuls mercy like a kid on a newspaper route. You’ve thrown them time and time again, they’ve hit a lot of closed doors, but you continued to deliver. Even when they piled up on the porch and you knew no one was going to come out and get them, you kept on pedaling.

You’ve felt guilty. You have thought there¬†MUST be more. There must be something else I can say, one more letter I could write, one more strategy I could try.¬†There has to be something I can do to make it better.

I’m sorry. You just can’t fix it and I’m so incredibly sorry for that.

It hurts in the worst way, to stand there, knee-deep in someone else’s pain and unable to mend what’s broken. It’s hard to watch them writhe in misery. It’s hard when all you can do is stand with your hands shaking and your throat filled with questions that will have no answers. You may not get any answers, and you can’t let it take the best of you.

And I don’t say that casually or without feeling. I don’t press those keys in ignorance.

I know what that takes. I know the strength it takes to pry clamped fingers and white knuckles from something you’ve gripped so tightly.

I know they say that¬†silence is golden, and maybe there are days when that might be true. But I think you might find treasure in giving someone else the chance to sit across from you and pour some love into the cracks of your heart. I think your heart needs to hear that you are not standing on your own, that someone’s got your back, that your words and values matter. I think hearing that makes it easier to walk away from the people and things that douse the fire you’re meant to carry.

Walk with those who will help you carry your torch. The people who will stand with you in the battle, those who will fight for you when you can’t stand. Spend your birthday weekend with people who make you wheat pancakes and let you nap on their couch. Dry your eyes and block out the sounds of the closing door. Choose to celebrate with those who will dance with you at the breakfast table and who bring you flowers and boxes of your favorite cereal.¬†¬†Don’t waste your tears on something or someone who is senseless or selfish. There are certain things that are far too shallow to deserve the grief that comes from depths of your precious heart.

You’ve done absolutely everything you can, so it’s now or¬†never.¬†Choose now. Wipe your hands off, get up off of your knees and allow yourself to be happy, allow yourself to stop sitting in the pain.¬†Decide to plant your feet in places that cause you to grow, not places with hands that pluck your petals.¬†

There are such great things out there for you, things that are going to make up for the sorrow that has dug itself into your gut. You just have to let yourself find it.

And it’s hard to find all the things you deserve if you sit around crying about the things you don’t.

Advertisements

It‚Äôs also okay to admit that they were wearing some hideous shoes….

You were always free to walk away.

From the person in the photographs in your drawer. The one you see in mirror made by their words. The person you were at your twentieth birthday. The person who became a doormat in the name of devotion. You were always free to walk away from being that person.

Shake off the dust from the muddy soles that have walked all over you. Over and over again, you let the dirt from those footprints seep into your skin. You kept telling yourself that they would eventually¬†stop in the name of love. But they kept going and it broke your heart.¬†You’ve been angry about that and it’s okay to admit that.¬†It’s also¬†okay to admit that they were wearing some hideous shoes. (I mean, no one faults you for thinking that cheap platforms or clunky diarrhea colored clogs are repulsive.)

You are required to be kind, but you’ve got no business being fake.¬†Fake is the biggest possible betrayal to yourself.¬†Be cordial and benevolent,¬†but under no circumstance are you to passive, idle or sidelined when it comes to your heart.

Break silence with your liberated laughter and be unapologetic about it. It’s what makes you absolutely stunning.

You sit on countertops, have been fluent in sarcasm since elementary school, love birthdays an abnormal amount, and started rocking flannel before it was cool—back when everyone else was wearing tube tops. (Thank God you never wore those.)

That’s just who you are.¬†Never mind that they made you a doormat in front of your own home. Peel yourself off of that concrete and walk in like you own the place…¬†cause you do.¬†You’ve let lies settle into your heart for far too long.¬†Kick them out and clean it up. Scrub every crack and crevice until it becomes all your own again.¬†

Home is that place where you kick up your feet, tie up your hair and make no apologies for using the sleeve of your sweatshirt as a napkin.

Your heart is your home and you’ve got to stop being the doormat burglars stomp on when they come to steal your laughter. They’ll crack open your ribs and try to swipe everything that reminds you that you’re free.¬†They come to make your safe haven feel like a den of depravity.¬†

Well you’re not a doormat and you’re not without means to keep the thieves at bay.

Throw a party. A party in the core of who you are. Laugh, eat cereal, paint, buy ugly sweaters, buy someone a coffee, and dance. Dance like Susan Sarandon in a department store. Forget that her hair looked unbecoming (because home is a place where you can dance with a man like Richard Gere and he will love you with or without your hair looking discombobulated).

Make the home of your heart a place where you remember that you’re¬†always¬†free to walk away.¬†To walk away from the lies someone told you about not being compassionate enough, or steady enough.¬†From the fear of fighting back.¬†Or from thinking that¬†it’s your loyal duty and the fate of your commitment to become a doormat…all in the name of honor.

Being the doormat of your own home is not a sign of humility and it does not make a place for you among the saints.

Don’t forget that the invitation into your heart is yours to give. Don’t lay down on that porch and let thieves take what is rightfully yours.

Lock the windows when they throw rocks of shame, disgrace and contempt.¬†Don’t let their cheap shots even crack the smallest piece of glass.

Don’t keep everyone out, but don’t let just anybody¬†in.

Guard the heart that is your home and let not it be damaged by the likes of those who destroyed their own. This home was built for you and is far too exquisite to be handled fearfully or without care.

You were always free. To walk away from the person you became when you laid down like a flimsy mat and let their feet leave an imprint. Oh, you are always free to walk away from that which seeks to make your home hollow.

Maybe G was for Grace

I have been learning how to live without.

I’ve also been baking non-stop. If you don’t know me, then let me tell you,¬†I ain’t the kind of girl that bakes.

But this week? Brownies, muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls.

I learned a lot about loss when I lived in Apartment G.

My doctor told¬†me I had to cut out sugar and white flour. I didn’t respond well to being told that I couldn’t have chocolate or pizza or cheesecake.¬†It was a sad day when I was forced to break up with Ben & Jerry.

Now, here I am a year later. I’ve learned to do without it. Apparently, I learned to bake without it.¬†I learned a lot about grace while giving up a lot of things I love.

Not just sugar or flour, I lost a lot more than food when I lived in Apartment G.

I am now seeing just how much these months have changed me. I am not even close to being the same person I was when my sister and I unpacked our lives in that little space.

In that time,¬†grace grew me up to be steady. She taught me how to choose love when it seemed like a complete waste. She sat with me while I ate peanuts and tried to figure out how to dance through someone else’s sadness.

Her elegance and class kept me from saying all the things I held in my clenched fists.¬†“Keep your head high, love.” Over and over she would whisper words like, “You’ve always been enough.”

She would grab my hand in critical moments, tuck my hair behind my ear and remind me,”You are better than the words you want to speak in your anger.”

Grace is the kind of girl who wears a dress to meet you at a diner. She orders coffee at 9 pm and settles in for the long haul. Grace knows how to love the bad, endure the imperfect, but grace looks for the beauty, the worth, in everything she sees.

Even after I ignored her, left her in the cracks and crevices of apartment G, she quietly followed me. She followed me back to my parents house, and hangs out with me in the kitchen while I bake.

Because that’s who she is. Grace tells you to do what seems impossible and then she teaches you how. When you can’t quite sing the words, she teaches you how to hum the tune.¬†She teaches you how to live with less.¬†She’s beautiful in that way.

Even in all of her elegance, grace knows about living with less. She knows how to make loss seem lighter.

Even when I was knee-deep in blame and anger, she was waiting for the day when I came back around. Always waiting with her wit, strong coffee, healthy breakfast and some endless laughter.

Grace is¬†teaching me to do the same. She’s teaching me to be classy in my efforts, poised in my anger. She is teaching me how to stick around for the long-haul, even in the midst of terrible loss.

Grace addresses birthday cards that may never be appreciated for their sentiment and she never believes that it is a waste.

Grace knows Thursdays are for calling to say ‚ÄúI miss you‚ÄĚ even if they don’t miss you back.

I’ve always known her, but we became good friends when I learned to pay bills and sweep my own kitchen. I think maybe that was fate because in these days I need her more now than ever.

Maybe G was for Grace.  Maybe those days in that tiny apartment were about learning how to stand alone when others walk away, about learning how to live without, with less and with loss.

 

Those Dreams

I’m not sure exactly when you decided to get a new dream.

Remember the old one? You carried it around in your back pocket for so long. Sometimes it felt like it weighed you down, but you knew in the end it would set you free. Sometimes after a high school football game, you’d go home and climb it to bed and pull that dream out. You would clench it in your fist while you waited for¬†someday.

There wasn’t a thing wrong with that dream. In fact,¬†I think that was your destiny.

The thing you wanted most, that you traded for what you want now? Yeah, THAT dream. Oh, that dream was gonna take you places.

You were well on your way to changing the world.

Remember all the endless conversations it created for you? Oh, how you used to fill up on ice cream, gum drops and peanut butter cups and describe all the intricate details of it all. It seemed so big. Your tiny hands could barely hold that tablespoon; how were they going to hold something as big as a dream like yours? But I knew we could do it. 

But then you grew up. We all grew up. And everybody got a new dream.¬†We all got the white picket fence, 2.5 kid, wrap-around porch dream. So, you decided to box up the other one and put it in the attic. You couldn’t let either of them go, but your hands couldn’t hold them both at the same time.¬†

Because there are some dreams that just don’t have room for companions.

You really¬†can’t have it all; at least, not right now. Let me tell you, Honey, you need to do some things before you grow a garden, buy an umbrella holder, put up a mailbox. You need to live a little.¬†Maybe a lot.¬†You got too¬†discontent with waiting.¬†God hasn’t brought the¬†love of your life¬†yet, so you’ve been going out to find them on your own. I wish you’d just be okay with the idea that your time hasn’t come.

There’s going to be plenty of time for wedding registries, tire swings and flower deliveries.¬†But it seems YOU have other things to do first.

You need to follow the clouds. You need to get familiar with sprinting through the airport, spending your heart on adventure, sleeping in the desert. Get used to being broke of money and having a wealth of laughter. Be ready for coffee to fuel those late nights of painting the world. Know that when Celine Dion comes on the radio, you’ve got to blast that junk like it’s 1997. And that Ego waffles are still an acceptable dinner.

I just don’t think it’s time that we give up on those back pocket dreams.¬†Not just yet. I think they’ve got a little life left in them.¬†I think they can still take us places.

But I’m going to need you to trust me on this one. I’m going to need you to cut loose of the big white house, the Pinterest wedding, Scrabble in the family room. Because¬†all of that is going to come. And some people have that life now; some people are living that dream and oh, how it is glorious. But the time for that in our lives, isn’t here yet. Before it gets here, before you begin a life that you will love, but that will bring new dreams; don’t lose hope or forget about those back pocket dreams. Oh, those dreams that followed you around in your trapper keeper and your bright green lunch box.

It’s not time to let them go…¬†not yet.

IMG_5103