Simplicity

When my parents divorced, I was 3 and my brother was 6. My father’s mother had passed away just a year before, in the midst of their separation and divorce proceedings. He packed up the antique furniture she’d left him, searched out a plot of land in a rural stretch of farmland near a wildlife refuge and built us a house with both his own hands and the hands of those he knew and trusted.

We grew our own vegetables and picked plums and pears from a half a dozen fruit trees. We wandered the woods, threw rocks into untouched, bubbling creeks and discovered frozen ponds and fluffy, earthen moss on long walks through what felt like our very own hidden forests and secret clearings.

We had only one TV, and it was 13 inches tall with broken bunny ears and without cable. We didn’t have a dishwasher, a microwave or a VCR. We hung our clothes out to dry, stacked wood to burn in the marble fireplace my dad had helped to build and rode bikes for hours down empty roads.

We lived simply.

A lot of times, we hated it. We knew about the things we were missing in the dynamic, exciting and far more stimulating world. Our mom had two TVs, cable, a functioning dryer, a fancy stereo system and neighbors within steps from our front yard. We knew about microwaveable pizza and Kool-Aid, the freedom of a life without weeding and constant yard work and the sound of kids jumping rope or riding skateboards around busy streets until well past sundown.

Sometimes, we felt like our lifestyle didn’t fit in or make sense in the context of the busy, noisy world we were somehow growing into. By the time I made my way to college, I ended up in New York City, where I lived for several years after graduating. I chose noise and stimulation, diversity, constant change and a bustling, transient environment to make my home. My brother moved to California, beside the ocean, where he shared a tiny apartment with his girlfriend and a roommate and spent every free moment surfing or swimming in the Pacific.

Later, I moved home to that house built on my father’s broken heart, in a farmland made with good soil for growing our weary souls. After 7 years in the city, I longed for an open sky and the sound of frogs or crickets only. I wanted to heal my shrinking body and put my bare feet in the tall, green grass and remember the thing that had saved me before I could understand ever needing to be saved:

Simplicity.

Be Here Now

When I was 19, I went to see a therapist for the first time. I was anxious and secretly consumed by a growing eating disorder. I knew I needed help, and I was hoping that a professional would put me on the “fast track” to healing and “being okay,” for once and for all.

18 years, 4 therapists, 1 semester off of college, 3 massive relapses, 4 major moves, 10 years of yoga practice, 2 children, 1 marriage, 2 hip surgeries, 9 million pages of journaling and 1 year on crutches later, it FINALLY occurred to me that there might not be a FAST track to the kind of healing I was looking for, after all (EX-hale).

Maybe what was “wrong” with me wasn’t ever cure-able, because NOTHING was ever wrong with me to begin with. Maybe, the problem wasn’t with ME, but in how I knew or didn’t know how to cope. Maybe I didn’t know how to cope because I hadn’t yet learned how to. Maybe it took me a long time, and maybe it takes a long time. Maybe I confused what was “wrong” with what hurt, and maybe what hurt wasn’t bad or wrong or a sign of the apocalypse. Maybe it just hurt, and maybe it hurt so much that I thought it implied death. Maybe I was confused and human and doing my very best, and not a problem to be solved or a situation to be improved.

As Geneen Roth says, we aren’t problems to be fixed, after all. To say that there is something wrong with right where we are and just who we are is to refuse our lives, and THAT is a kind of spiritual suicide. There is no button that any one of us can press that will instantly make our lives feel better. If our lives don’t feel so good, that begs questioning, courage and maybe change. But it does not mean it’s the end. And it does not mean we’ve done something wrong. It doesn’t mean we’re bad or make sloppy choices or do stupid things. It means we’re alive. It means that we feel. It means that life isn’t about doing it all right or getting somewhere really comfortable or finally being free from challenge.

If we take ourselves off the treadmills and the tight ropes and stop stuffing ourselves into too tight quarters or closets or jackets and let ourselves EXIST, even momentarily, we might see that we’re just right. We’re perfectly alive. We’ve got skin on our bones that cover our organs that are working for us AND WE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO DO ANYTHING FOR ANY OF THAT. Except to be born.

Maybe we don’t know what will happen. Maybe we don’t know if we’ll ever feel better. Maybe we don’t know if our plans will ever come together, if we’ll ever truly heal or if we’re even getting anywhere from all of the moving around we’re doing. So, the most sensible thing to do is to be in the moment we’re in. Feeling our cells bobbing around inside our bodies, giving us a whole life to lead and follow. Trusting ourselves enough to feel whatever arises and trusting ourselves to let go when it’s time. We don’t know everything, but we can sense a lot of things, and that’s worth noticing. We know, in our hearts, that what the world doesn’t need is another woman striving endlessly and desperately to fix herself. The world needs deep compassion, radical love, acceptance and courage that comes from showing up as our WHOLE selves with our WIDE hearts and without apology.

We can stop working on getting somewhere and do something revolutionary. We can stop searching for the fast track, the quick fix or the long suffering road of self improvement, and we can look around at WHO WE ALREADY ARE when we aren’t trying so hard to be something or somewhere else. As Ram Dass once wrote, we can “be here now.”

Learning to Heal

Two years ago, I awoke after hip surgery and learned that a 2 hour procedure had turned into an almost 5 hour procedure. That there were complications, and I’d had to receive more interventions than I’d planned on. The sedated drive home from DC was supposed to take 3 hours, but in pouring rain and endless traffic, it took almost 6 hours. My pain spiraled out of control on the ride back. We pulled over to a gas station in the freezing, driving rain, and I begged for mercy. The medication kicked in. We made it home.

But at home, the complexities of my recovery continued. My swelling took weeks to go down, my ankle swelled up and even after 3 months on crutches, I couldn’t stand on my own two feet. Doctors were perplexed. The foot doctor pointed to the hip doctor who pointed to the foot doctor. The physical therapists scratched their heads. Scans revealed that my surgery had, in fact, repaired the tear and the damage, but I wasn’t repaired. I wasn’t healing, and I was angry, then afraid, then angry again. Surely, SOMEONE was to blame, and surely SOMEONE could fix me, and if I could just figure those two things out, surely I WOULD BE BETTER. I would “go back to” my old life and be the person I was before my life stopped working at the same time that my legs stopped working.

Months passed, and I banged along in this same fashion-in relentless pursuit of the outside fix to my inside problem. Until one day, when the right combination of hopelessness and helplessness and powerlessness and victimization all swelled up inside of me at precisely the exact same time, creating a molotov cocktail of pain and pressure I could no longer avoid. I laid down onto my bed, listening to my children in the bathtub playing, aching deeply into every cell of my body, and suddenly I knew that it was time to let go. To surrender my resistance to my situation and to my pain. To give up hoping that someone or something would show up and save me from myself. To stop trying so hard to be God. To let the hurt hurt. To let the truth come back into the room.

Two years later, I tell people that I was always getting there. I was always getting here. Byron Katie says that “life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you.” But for most of my life, I’d believed otherwise. I believed that everything was happening to me, and that it was my job to get as far away from what was painful, while getting as close as possible to what felt good and easy. I worked tirelessly for control, and believed that if I stayed on top of it all that I’d be happy and comfortable and okay for the rest of my days.

While I was busy striving for control at all costs, I was surrendering my power, over and over again. Because everything I stood for was built on a shaky foundation that relied on an identity that I worked very hard for and clung to at all costs. After all, I was a smart, strong and together person who could do it all and do it all by herself. There were holes big enough to drive a bus through in my story about myself, but I ignored them readily and regularly. For example, I was exhausted all the time. I was fearful and anxious whenever I sat still for longer than 5 minutes. I was resentful and playing very small. I was saying yes to all the wrong things, while saying no to help I needed in a bad way. My life wasn’t working for me, but I kept working VERY hard to prevent it from changing.

When I woke out of surgery and all of my plans had already gone out the window, the foundation started cracking. When I came home and every day a new part of my body began to fall apart or behave bizarrely, I felt the ground shaking underneath me. When the story I told myself and the world about who I was began to unravel literally before my eyes, I held on for dear life, and friends, so did every cell in my body. And it was there, in that frozen state of paralysis, that an old, familiar way of being rose back up inside me. All those years in my childhood when I couldn’t and didn’t trust anyone rushed in on me. These were the very beginnings of my powerful and lifelong desire to be in control, and here they were, finally, nailing me to my seat. Literally. The fear and the isolation and the loneliness-it all came barreling back into the rooms inside my heart, and a story that I’d never healed, that had lived on inside my cells for decades began reliving itself inside my tissue:

The world is not safe. You are all alone. Batten down the hatches, send out the decoy version of yourself and hide like hell until conditions improve.

Before I could heal THIS body, I have had to heal THAT story and the wound that it was made from. Before I could stand on my own two feet again, I have had to sit still with pain I’d refused to feel for most of my life. There was never anyone outside of me who was going to fix me until I took responsibility for the way I had actively participated in getting myself right where I was. I have had to learn to surrender control in favor of gaining personal power. And I have had to level a shaky foundation in favor of building something solid that is based in trust and truth, first and most of all.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because we have to ask ourselves if we truly believe that everything in life is happening FOR us or TO us. And if we really believe it’s happening FOR us, then we must be willing to open up to what is being played out in our hearts, in our bodies and in our lives. If we really want to share our stories and connect more deeply in our lives, then we have to be ready to examine what is true.

And if we’re willing to examine what is true, then we must be willing to heal, to stop playing small and to start living into our lives wholly and fully. I’m finally ready. Are you?

Harvest What Hurts

In this season of my life, I am consistently and willingly exploring the path through pain. That’s partly because I have chronic pain, but it’s also because I was always getting here, having been a lifelong pain avoider and notorious busybee with NO TIME for the pain of the past. Also, before I had kids, I had A LOT OF TIME AND SPACE to make myself comfortable, to listen to my body in the present and to tend to myself from moment to moment. Having kids gave me every reason to go directly into my heart and set my path straight by way of feeling my pain. And I don’t regret it, although, for a very long time, I FOR DAMN SURE DID.

Every month, a new thing is flowering up inside of me, and it hurts like a mother until it doesn’t. This month, it’s this:

There’s nobody left to blame. There’s no fault to assign. There isn’t a reason for every wound we suffer, unless you consider it reason enough that we are all given some amount of pain that we may turn into power if we’re willing (we are always able).

Years I spent in therapy unpacking my chlidhood were worth it, but now, as a mother, I know that we have all got our own heart-sized crosses to carry. We have all got to walk home, and the walk leads through failure and mistakes and 20/20 hindsight that we can’t go back and undo. The point of pain isn’t to leave us stuck in it or dwelling in it. It’s to get us moving-and that sounds crazy, because a lot of my pain has felt like an enormous nail pinning me down to my seat. Except that wasn’t my pain, after all. That was my FEAR of my pain. That was my STORY about my pain. The pain part was about MOVING through.

The moving starts with breath. It begins with subtle movement in only places like ribcage, back and belly. It feels like imaginary light moving up and down my spine, or the way I can envision the removal of teeny tiny thorns from deep within my toes and ankles. This isn’t big, mammoth movement. It isn’t about large leaps and bounds, thrusting and slamming weight around. It’s about getting back to the cells that surround my bones and giving them a chance to tell the truth and to heal.

The movement isn’t about traveling far and wide on big vacations or doing epic, adrenaline-infused activities. Sometimes, it feels like a slow, slimey crawl through a hole that feels achingly familiar and all I can do is just LET IT ALL BE.

One thing that pain sure AIN’T about is being victimized by life. We may have been victims, but we get to choose to be victimized or taught. Pushed down or empowered. That’s a grab we have to take and take responsibly, because no one can hold any one of us back like WE, OURSELVES, CAN.

The more I move through pain, the more I know that I collaborated in bringing myself to this path, and it’s not up to somebody else to show up and save me from it. A long time ago, I was a girl who didn’t trust anyone and didn’t know how to conjure the courage to ask for help. I shut down and chose silence and hiding. I slipped through the cracks, and yes, there were grown ups who missed it. But I could have opened my mouth and I could have said: HELP.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because one day pain will knock on your door, if it hasn’t already. And you have a choice when that day comes. You can open the door and let it in. You can give yourself the gift of your life’s path toward grace and healing, or you can block the door and hide like hell (both of which I am willing to admit to doing, but I’d recommend choosing the former over the latter). If your pain is chronic, I would encourage you to ask yourself why you make pain work so hard and so long to get to you.

Also, does it help to wear your wounds like a badge of honor? It doesn’t help me. What helps is telling the truth about them, and unpacking the business of them. Then, it helps to see the way that I create my own reality, and that reality includes how I will harvest my life for more power or succumb to my circumstances for more pain.

I know what I choose, and still it’s sometimes hard to do. It requires me to CHANGE. But what else, guys? What else does life have in store for us if not a healthy dose of crinkly, inconvenient, life-altering change?

Hug your heart and what aches and then follow it back to the beginning. Search the wound and harvest the hell out of that place until you have what you need to heal. Move like your legs were made of swan’s wings and your arms were crafted from cloud dust and give yourself the gift of grace shooting straight down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes because you only have one life and it is yours to create.

xoxo,

M

Giving Up

Meet 10 year old Me. I wrote this journal entry the very same year that I actually did give up on myself. I wrote this just as I was about to leave my body, not to return for over a decade. I promised myself my dreams right before I began a long and slow process of giving up on them and, more importantly, giving up on myself. What became more important than my passion? Becoming small. Fitting into the world. Looking good.

My relationship with my body broke down when I was 10. It was at that point that I began believing that nothing else I was going through was more important than beating my body into submission. Stuffing my stomach into silence. No matter how talented or smart or good I was, I was never better than my too big body, than my too round hips and my too large tummy. I was afraid, anxious and depressed, and it was my body’s fault, which meant I WAS TO BLAME. So, I spent the next 20 years punishing myself, boxing myself into too tight quarters and squeezing myself into a pretend world where all was right as long as I was thin and fit and looked the part.

The only reason I ever had the courage to break this cycle completely is because I finally got to the place where I was either going to change, or I was going to die. I was either going to face my pain and my fear and my complicated past, or I was going to disappear completely in my hiding. I walked my way into a dark corner and the choice became obvious: Give this up or die striving.

What I know now is that we cannot fully fight back against the weight loss industry, unless we’re willing to face the ways we’ve contributed to it: By hating our bodies and using our relationship with food as a way out of what scares us or causes us pain. Our anger at the media, magazines and advertising isn’t enough. We have to look beneath our rage, and face the frightened 10 year olds we once were. We have to face our insecurity in the world, and the way we’ve mistakenly tied our feelings of stability and happiness to our ability to fit into skinny jeans. We cannot challenge systems until we have challenged our own distorted beliefs.

We cannot be angry at our dieting friends and the way their obsession reminds us of our own struggle until we are willing to remember where all of this self-hatred and anger at life comes from. For me, it rose up out of the unfortunate timing of pre-teen vulnerability and instability in my family and life. It started at home for me, and outside messages only reinforced what I was already hearing from people who I trusted to love me. I don’t share that to cast blame on anyone-I am grown, and any choice to continue on that path is now my own. I share this to tell the truth, a thing I have needed to do in order to get out from underneath the layers upon layers of this old and complex story. It’s my calling and my duty to unpack it, to blow the locked doors inside me wide open and to make things right. Because I deserve that. Because we all deserve that.

It’s our work to conjure the courage to face ourselves, our fears, our feelings and our pain. We can run and hide in our relationship to food, but at some point, we have to accept the fact that it’s only prolonging the inevitable. That we’re only digging ourselves deeper into the hole we feel inside. That we were once people with dreams who felt capable of facing our future and creating our way, no matter what our circumstances may be, but we gave up. We gave up on the wrong things.

We can return, try again, and give up on the right things, this time. Every time is the right time to give ourselves grace, to give up hope for the wrong things and be open to the idea that we are more than our relationship to food. We’re more, and we’re enough.

xo,

M

Give Yourself Permission

Raising my kids is the number one most important thing that I do in my life. Showing up for them is easy; showing up for them without my own childhood baggage and tired, old habits is less…easy. When they were born, I promised them I would give them a perfect life. That I wouldn’t repeat history with them. That I would be the mother to them that I’d always wanted for me.

Then, they became toddlers, and…it got a lot harder to keep my promises.

The longer I’m a parent, the more I know that to show up for my kids wholeheartedly means giving myself permission to be imperfect and inexperienced. The more I set out to teach them to value their sensitivity, feel their feelings and show up, even when it hurts, the more I have to give myself permission to do all of the same things. When I want to stop history from repeating itself, I have to start by giving myself permission to look at my past with a tender heart and a gentle touch.

I can’t become less anxious by crossing all the things, closing my eyes and hoping for good luck. I won’t be the mother my kids need until I allow myself to be the woman that I already am. Flaws, pocks, marks and all.

After all, a whole person isn’t a perfect person. A whole person has sticky spots, spiky places and closed off corners that feel impossible to crawl into. A whole person has jagged edges and round corners, times of struggle and times of ease.

In other words, we don’t teach our kids to embrace their whole selves by being anything else than a person who embraces her whole self.

I Am An Ocean

There is a thing
about legs.
And, standing your ground, on two feet,
no matter the conditions.

My legs turned into trees,
cut down,
made into lumber,
or paper,
really. They didn’t (or, couldn’t)
work the way they used to.

I had to stop using them
to remember
that they aren’t everything.
They are legs.
I can stand with them, and I can stand
without them.
Which way would I like to stand?
Is the question.

There were stories buried in my hips, locked away
in my pelvis. When I was a girl and was afraid
of falling apart or being seen or being pulled down and broken up
again.
My hips bore my babies, carried me through, surviving storms
and sorrow.
When I did not know how to stand, my hips moved me.
When I could not walk, my legs carried me
for a long time. Until, it was too long
and too much.

Too much, or not enough-the titles to the stories
inside. If it’s too much, it must
shrink.
If it’s not enough, it must
strive.
In the middle, in my pelvis, the truth
was always there-I am neither
too much, or
not enough.

I am beloved.
Perhaps, mighty, and sometimes
very small. I can tower above
a mountain. I can drop like concrete to the
ocean floor.
I can curl into a chrysallis, or explode,
like some brave, new beginning.

Every detail, or complication
is a river that runs through me,
flowing into this body,
this ocean,
this enormous, waving me.

And, I am water, but I am earth,
because I fill and feed the roots that spread out
underneath me. The ground
is there, or it isn’t, but I flow on.

I have walked when I could not stand,
I have stood when I could not walk.
I have fallen, I have risen, I have waited,
I have wanted.

I move like water.

I am water.

I am an ocean,
after all.

Mira.

-Mira Roberts

Listening

It has been hard to find my voice this year. I don’t know if it was being without working legs for so long, or being tired of having not-working legs for so long. I don’t know if it was feeling like I didn’t stack up, like I’d never stacked up, and now, with these non-functioning legs as proof, I DEFINITELY didn’t stack up.

I don’t know. It could be that I still don’t know a lot about what is happening inside me these days, and I really, desperately want to show up in this the world from a place of knowing.

Since I’ve been injured, I have felt like my vulnerabilities are hovering around me like some sizable and rather obvious rain cloud that everyone can see. If I ever worried that I was different, well, on crutches for a year, I most certainly confirmed that point. If I ever tried to do it all alone, then moving with the aid of sticks for 395 days made it particularly obvious that another way was probably necessary. If I’d ever felt afraid to be unsure, or ashamed to be broken, then this year, my body decided it was time to endure with WITNESSES.

I did not want witnesses this year, guys. I wanted everything fixed and back to normal and all better. I wanted my life to look better than it felt, and I wanted my feelings to be easily washed away with a glass of wine or an ultra busy week of over-scheduling or taking on more than I physically could handle. I wanted no one to see me like this, because THIS was actually how I already saw myself. But, that was on the inside. And, I didn’t like living my insides out loud.

This year, the mailman, the cashier at Harris Teeter, every single one of my neighbors, the preschool teachers, ALL OF THE MOMS AND THEIR SQUADS, the teller at the bank, my mother, the kid who lives down the street, my ob gyn, my dentist, the kids’ dentist and EVERY OTHER HUMAN I INTERACTED WITH were MY WITNESSES.

I smiled through it, but god. On the inside, I was sandpaper on a chalkboard.

I had to ask for help, all the time. Every single time I needed help and did not ask, my body broke out into a crazed pain dance, and I became NAILED by my needs. Needs? I didn’t used to have those! This year, they were everywhere and they were MINE.

For a while, this revealed how many relationships I had built around never needing. It showed, right away, who knew how to help and show up. It revealed the people who could not sit with me in the shadows. It also gave me the gift of many people who could. Friends and family members who could sit beside me, heart to heart, and witness without weight. Who could abide my being a whole human. Who could nurture my insides all strewn about on the outside. When you’re hurt or sick or struggling, life drops the ones you need and the ones you don’t like plastic parachute army men all around, and it becomes obvious what is helping and what is hurting.

You have to make choices, and I have had to make mine. But, as my last form of resistance, I decided that I would make the choices, but I didn’t have to like them.

Until, I do like them. After wearing my insides on the outside for 395 days of my life, I now prefer this softer, slower, truer me. Small talk and pretend conversations now feel like sandpaper on a chalkboard, and I am not an always strong person who needs no one and stands alone on two legs for the world to see.

So often last year, I looked out at the world on two legs, and I didn’t measure up. Because I could no longer measure my self worth based on how I made my life look, or on how much I accomplished or achieved or could do. If I wanted to belong, then I had to belong to myself, first. Belonging to myself has meant embracing struggle, softness, slow going, doing nothing and not being in control. In fact, my crutches allowed me to stay true, and they helped me to be whole, even though true and whole have occasionally been terrifying to be.

In the end, I have had a hard time finding my voice, because the voice I’ve been looking for isn’t mine.

My voice is the one that cracks a little when she tells the truth. My voice sounds equally like someone I no longer am, and like someone I am becoming. It isn’t figured out. I don’t know.

I do know that I have to go slow. Listen to my body. Pay attention to pain. Be easy. Move forward with grace. And, stay true, even when it stabs me and scares me and takes my breath away.

xo,

M

There is More to Pain

I know I haven’t learned all that pain is here to teach me, but I have learned a few things. And, one of the most important of those things I’ve learned is that:

There is more to pain than the hurting.

I didn’t know this for a very, very long time. In fact, for all of time until recently. I didn’t know because the hurting part of pain has always had a way of stopping me in my tracks. The hurting part of pain triggered self-induced paralysis, so that I would feel the hurt, and immediately shut down to any and everything else it came to share. I would cry out to the hurt: Stop it! I would say to myself: I can’t take anymore.

And so began this circular and not terribly productive process: I try to numb pain. I try to hide pain. I try to hide myself from pain.

So, I didn’t know that the hurting part of pain is only the first part, just one part, only one piece among many pieces. I thought that hurting was THE POINT of pain. But, friends, believe me. There is more.

This Spring, pain moved in on me fast and heavy. It wrapped its arms around me, and before I could even put my arms up to try to stop it or resist it or run away, it was all around me. In my body, in my head, curled around my heart. So, I gave in. I dropped in. I felt the hurting part of pain first, and instead of pushing it away, I touched it gently and said, “Okay.”

And, after being inside that hurting part for several days, I felt something change. The intensity turned down, and pain stopped simply hurting. Something new began to make its way through me, and this new thing was a part of my pain. In fact, my pain started to look, feel and sound like something else entirely. Pain, in my body, said a brand new thing that I had never heard it say before:

I am here to help.

Oh, friends. This is where it gets interesting, because what I know now about pain is that it most certainly is NOT just about being hurt. Pain is also about healing. Pain is about the truth. Pain is the things I have been carrying. Pain is the fear I’ve been harboring. Pain is the story I’ve been clinging to. Pain, as it turns out, doesn’t let go until we do. Pain doesn’t stop on command. Pain has a message, and it is a relentless messenger. It won’t leave until we let it in. It won’t move on until we move through it. It didn’t come here to simply hurt. It came to heal wounds.

Pain is a signal: SEND HELP.

So often, when we talk about healing, we think it’s a feel good process. We think it’s ONLY relief. And what we miss is that healing hurts. Pain heals. It’s a partnership; a package deal. Nobody gets to have only the good times healing, and we can’t remove the hurting part from pain. In fact, maybe nothing is the way we thought it was. Maybe that’s the point. After all.

Pain has been revealing to me over and over and over again (can I get a witness on the way pain will NAG like a BOSS) that what hurts is what needs healing, and what needs healing is painful. My pain is NOT my problem. The things I am carrying are my problem. Pain is just the messenger. Pain came here to reveal. Pain came to teach, and pain came to help me heal.

So, I am going a new way with my pain, and that way is to trust it’s message rather than to fear it. This new way means welcoming my pain inside, pouring it a cool glass of water and then, with shakiness and with certainty, choosing to be its student. I ask it to tell me all it knows.

I believe that pain is here to help me heal. I understand that the healing I am up to hurts. For now. There is more to learn, more work to do, but I am not in the position to lead it or teach it. It won’t help if I shut down, numb out or close off. The only sane choice, the way I finally see it, is to let it in. Be led. Allow the answers. Hurt if it hurts, and then heal.

There is more to pain than hurting. I promise.

xo,

M

 

 

 

A New Way

Hello, friend.

I know it’s been a while, and that’s my fault. I have been here, with myself, wanting to write. Wanting to share with you. Wanting to have something constructive to say, something valuable to add, something meaningful to contribute.

Except that every time I tried, it was too painful. I would meet myself here, and I would shake hands with myself and say: Self, we can do hard things. I would open up a page, stare back at a cursor and feel a surge of cold, dry, emptiness.

That never felt like the “good” or “right” or “worthy” thing to write through. In fact, it felt scary and dark and lonely and isolated and on pins and needles, so I’d close my computer. Walk into another room. And, tell myself I’d try again another day.

I don’t know how many days went by, but let’s say many, and on one of those days, it occurred to me:

I’m going to need a little help over here.

Lord, I am wonderful at so many things, like making salads and pouring appropriately sized glasses of wine and hugging just right and knowing all the words to all of Disney for all of time. But, I am least skilled at asking for help. If asking for help was a sport, I’d have gotten myself cut on the first round. I don’t know how to play. Are there rules? Hell, I don’t know. That’s why I never make the damn team.

Since I’m terrible at it, I rarely practice or put any energy into learning how. I’m one of those people who is either naturally good at something or entirely lost about it, and this has been a kind of blessing that came with a side of cursed. Mainly because I think I assumed, a very long time ago, that if it doesn’t come naturally, it’s not worth my time. And, that was a mistake.

This year, God has sought to correct that in me. Thankfully. Painfully.

So. I realized I was going to need a little help. I felt a wall inside, and I sat with the wall and I looked at the wall and I tried with the wall, but all the wall said was:

I AM A WALL.

I made myself busy and schemed on every way to avoid facing this reality, because I don’t like walls and, quite frankly, I didn’t know what to do. Like, I said, asking for help is my least exercised muscle. I waited. I carried on. And, then, one day, I felt the wall closing in on me, and I knew. I heard the voice in my head, and she said HELP, and I told myself a very long time ago that I wouldn’t let her down. So, I did it. I asked. For help.

I went to my doctor and I told him that I’m not okay. That I’m strong, but tired. That I’m brave, but so scared. I got really awkward and the opposite of eloquent and mumbled OUT LOUD to someone OTHER THAN MYSELF:

I think I might maybe possibly I don’t know you tell me need some help over here. (God bless this doctor, because I MEAN).

A few things have happened since then, which are wonderful and small and not dramatic, but first of all:

He promised to help. And, guys, there is something about asking for help that I didn’t realize until now, and it is this.

Help is God’s language. Asking for Help is like picking up the red bat phone to the Universe and saying: I am ready.

HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THIS TRICK FOR THESE 36 BLASTED YEARS?

I tell you, the skies do not open up, but the senses do. And, as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt my skin settle back onto my tissue and my heart beat in my chest and my stomach let go of its grip and what I’m saying is: Right choice, sister.

Asking for help can be hard, but what I’m learning is that the alternative is a wall. And, the wall is too high and built to last and an optical illusion. Because it tells you that you can get over it if you just try hard enough. And, it looks like it’ll fall down if you just kick hard enough. And, it lurks and it stands and it stays and it doesn’t give or budge or move an inch, and neither do you, and you didn’t bring a ladder but even if you did it isn’t enough. And, the wall likes it that way, because it wants you small and solitary and unprepared and not enough.

Help is something entirely different. Help takes your hand, turns you away from the wall and says, “Let’s go in a different direction.” Help walks you through. Help witnesses. Help will rise up or come down to meet you. Help has a new way.

I want to share this with you, because it has been hard to ask for help this season of my life. I am a mother and a woman who has based so much of my identity on my ability to persevere and pull through and overcome and power on. Having to leave that identity behind and let it go has been so incredibly painful. And, many times, I chose the wall instead of help. Because the wall kept me with myself and let me stay very close to my longtime story about who I am and what I am supposed to be.

It has taken staring directly into my pain long enough for me to see that in order to move through, I am going to need a hand. And, if I’m going to get a hand, I’m going to have to let go of my tired, old, raggedy ass story. And, if I’m going to let go of my story, I might as well be willing to open my hand and be led a new way.

I have decided that in my house, we’re going to all learn God’s sacred language, and not a one of us is going to waste time staring at walls when we could be simply, divinely asking for HELP. I have decided that I’d rather have my hand held than balled up in a fist. I’d rather ask you to meet me where I am than try to imagine where you are and find you there. Someday. If that day ever comes.

I know it has been a while, but I was busy staring at a wall. And, finally, thankfully, mercifully, asking for (and receiving) HELP.

Love you and mean it like crazy.

xo,

M

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