In less than an hour it will be my birthday. My 42nd time around the sun.
Before the day gently folds into the next, I’m finding a tender moment of reflection.
…I’m listening to what my heart wants from me this year: A bit more grace. A little more kindness. Space to breathe between the lightning bolts of intensity. Burning all the ways I hide in plain view. Allowing for the ecstasy of life to surge through me while honoring the times I need the sanctity of a quiet hush.
This year, as a dear friend said: it’s time to become comfortable being uncomfortable, to accept the parts of me that are paradoxical … and trust me: there are quite a few of them.
I have judged myself – often harshly – for being traditional and untethered; wild, yet rooted; distant and then present; lovingly open and withdrawn; generous yet self-absorbed; unattached to outcome, fully surrendered to the moment (or a relationship) and occasionally completely attached, full of expectations.
But … Life wants us to love ourselves regardless. Even the messy, complex, unsavory, shadowy, human parts.
So this year, I will attempt to gracefully accept who I am right now. Imperfections and all.
Maybe it’s not our “Divine” and “Light” parts of ourselves that make us luminous and radiant … perhaps its the raw edge of our humanness, embraced with love.
Here’s to your imperfect beauty, your perfectly imperfect human-ness.
In two hours, the doors will gently close on this year, allowing the space for the next to ease in.
I don’t need fireworks or the pop of fizzing champagne tonight. My year doesn’t need to go out with a “bang.”
It wants to burn low to the ashes and dissolve into the crystal snow outside my window.
It wants to be a gracious host and sweetly dim the lights, letting me know it’s time to leave. It feels the story is over; it’s time for the next one to begin.
I want this next year to gently arrive like the tender elegance of fingertips tracing my palm.
I want it to feel like a graceful sway of Love beckoning me closer … alluring, enchanting.
I want to be seduced by the new year, then held in a cherished, spacious embrace.
Let’s slip into a sense of adoration.
Let’s see the divine beauty in stillness.
Let’s feel the stars kiss our hair.
Dearest you … I want to see how you write this next year of your life.
What will your chapters hold? Which lines of poetry will you sing?
How will you love?
May you be filled with an abundance of what you desire.
May you light the inner fire of your spirit.
May you be who you truly are.
…until next year…
Dearest You,It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. Really talked.
I wish we could sit in that café where we shared a loveseat; I rested my head upon your wide shoulders and you slowly inhaled the scent of my hair, kissing the top of my head.
Or we could meet in my car where I’d feel your strong hands wrapped in mine, your lips pressed against them.
If we were in your bed, I’d savor one last time the weight of your thick legs curled around mine, nose buried in my neck, chills cascading down my back.
Mostly, I wish we were on my sofa – where you said you loved me – so we could breathe in this moment of truth.
I’d look into your unsteady eyes, hoping you’d see my heart.
But you are in another state.
On a business trip.
Picking out furniture with your new girlfriend.
Planting seeds to harvest with other women.
In a bar at 2 a.m., asking to come over.
You know I write to process, to navigate the unknown and become clear.
It’s how I face myself.
It’s how I face the truth.
It’s how I’m facing you.
My words are all I have to give you.
It seems only fair to let you know that the stories I’ve written in my life are changing.
Stepping back, I see the similarities.
In each of you, I see the intricate ways you intersect in my heart with common themes of inconsistency, unavailability, and dishonesty all woven together with patches of vibrant beauty and moments of tender sincerity. None of it black and white.
It’s an artful, literary display of lessons spread across faces, across years.
Each of you etched upon my skin a powerful, repetitive myth.
One I am done with.
My whole being aches for a new story.
It is time to feel the steady pulse of my worth.
I am ready to consciously dream new patterns into creation.
I will weave words of golden flowers along my spine.
I will spin all your patchwork lessons into a delicate crown and place it upon my head.
In this story, I choose nothing less than love.
In this story, I choose me.
If you’re brave, come sit with me.
Feel my warm palms against your cheeks.
Hear me say that I love your wild, red flamed spirit; your blue throated wisdom; your radiant sun of a soul. This is how I saw you: the real you, your true essence.
Now, too, I see the tempered version of this you choose to be … and the dulled version I chose to be with you.
Feel my hands slowly leave your face.
Be well. Be happy. I wish for you all that you need.
…It’s time for me to go.
I have a new story to write.
In a month, the reign of my marriage will take its final bow. All will be legally dissolved, despite having been divorced
in every other way for well over two years.
I’ve written a lot about it.
And you’d think that any emotions or wounds connected to ending a 12+ year relationship would’ve been mended by now.
But divorce makes you see patterns in your life, the interweaving of similar choices made in slightly different ways, in somewhat different relationships; but pretty much the same story. Just a new version each time.
I’ve been given the opportunity in this process to come face-to-face with the roles I’ve repeatedly played over the years: the effusive caregiver; the lenient, understanding lover; the tolerant, forgiving wife; the “nice girl”; the empathetic friend.
There’s nothing wrong with these … except when used to avoid painful emotions, a violation of some sort … a sting to your heart.
Since childhood, these roles have been my golden shield, protecting me, ricocheting the penetration of betrayal, manipulation, judgment, and not feeling entirely loved, accepted, or cared for.
They’ve kept me safe from truly experiencing the full range of my feelings. It has been a way to numb out in some respects … without even noticing.
When a hint of anger would enter my throat, I’d swallow it down, place that nice girl shield in front of me and absorb my tears, letting them swim quietly inside.
Lovers have seemed confused by the calm veneer when they might’ve been a bit shady and exclaimed, “It’s OK to be upset! Aren’t you upset? You’re not mad at me?” Friends have nearly yelled, “Why aren’t you ANGRY!?”
The shield has been so intricately integrated inside of my veins, in my marrow, that I didn’t even think I was covering rage. I truly had no clue. And I’m only now beginning to see this truth.
That’s because the shield is not effective; it just allows me to not take the full hit of hurt.
Part of this comes from an intertwined and rooted inner story that demands perfection.
This story says: If I stay true to these roles, maybe then I’ll be accepted. Good enough to be loved on the raw days when dullness comes over me, when my bones are tired and an inner-ache softly cries, yearning to be gently held, then told – genuinely – that I’m beautiful.
Maybe then, all my flaws – my size, this body – will be overlooked and I won’t hear that old diatribe that slithers through self-love and hisses: “See … there’s a reason you weren’t chosen. You won’t ever be enough. Look at you! You were warned about this your whole life. Maybe this time, if you lose the weight you’ve gained it will be better. Someone might see past your size. What makes you think being exactly who you are right NOW is enough?”
This gets triggered when a scab, nearly healed, gets picked … an event that loops you back, reminding you of the web of patterns you’ve created and played a role in.
As challenging as it is to write this (even embarrassing), I know I am not alone.
So many of us feel similarly from time to time.
Most of us, probably.
Our culture, society, familial structures, churches, and even school systems teach us to compare ourselves to others, to measure our worth against something or someone outside of ourselves.
Rarely are we taught that our imperfections are just as sacred and holy as the magnificent light within us. Rarely are we taught that it’s OK or safe to fully own and express all of our feelings, like a musical scale, singing each note – whether sharp or flat – accepting the range of them in any moment as a way to honor and nurture ourselves while recognizing that we are truly beautiful – scabs, tired bones, and all.
These patterns and roles that I’ve clung to throughout my life are reaching their hands out, asking to be dissolved along with the marriage.
And that’s hard. Scary. Change would be required.
It means truly feeling and acknowledging painful emotions. It means creating firmer boundaries.
It means ripping off the masks of being nice all the time: because I am not always nice, forgiving, lenient, understanding, free of judgment, or compassionate! I absolutely can be selfish, self-centered, and wrapped up in my teensy little world.
… But most of all, it means letting go and trusting that I AM really enough. Just as I am right now.
I have choices to make.
Will I allow myself to be imperfect, to feel rage along with ecstasy, and be true to myself, knowing my real worth?
Will I release, with love, relationships that no longer nourish?
Because this is life, right?
We are imperfect.
There will always be scabby little scars.
And that is OK. In fact, that’s more than OK. It’s the place where we can pour our love the most.
So as I begin to dissolve these patterns and roles and very slowly lay down my golden shield – and as you join me to do the same – it feels that there will be a place of inner warmth and embrace, holding us, loving us, and cherishing us.
There, we will hear the whisper: “You are enough.”
I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to say no … even during times it would serve me well.
But no constricts my throat, squeezes tight, and doesn’t let go. So, instead of feeling uncomfortable and listening to my intuition, I’ve said yes when no was the best – most honest – answer. I said:
Yes to the easy university, the safer choice.
Yes to men who didn’t have genuine interest in me.
Yes to moving continents when I knew the change would risk my marriage.
Yes to letting men return in hopes that promises would be kept this time.
These are ways I’ve compromised myself. Sold out.
Each yes whittled at my integrity and discipline to set clear, firm boundaries. I’d bend – if not break – my truth to fit nicely into the palm of someone else’s life, their needs, their desires. I gave away my sovereignty and power to reign over my life with surety and clarity.
Why did I say yes when I knew deep inside I should say no? Why was it difficult to trust myself?
It’s not that I was unsure about what I wanted and needed; the problem was I didn’t believe I was worthy of my desires. Deep inside, I worried that what I most wanted was a wistful dream, something unattainable. (I still struggle with this belief at times.)
See, if I said yes, maybe I’d get a sliver, a semblance of what I wanted. That was enough. I accepted, heartily and gratefully, the crumbs tossed in my direction instead of insisting on the whole damn loaf that I was craving and denying myself.
I was starving and didn’t even know it.
I feared that “no” meant never, a lost chance, or maybe goodbye. A missed opportunity. So say yes. Say yes to everything with arms open wide to whatever may come. Say yes to the smiles, the empty apologies, the coffees, the lies. Say yes to keeping expectations low to avoid disappointment. Say yes to leaking my power and believing I’m unworthy.
There’s been a shift, though. I’ve realized – finally – something important.
No is actually another way of saying yes.
Let me say that again.
No means yes.
When I say no to dead-ends cloaked as opportunities, I say yes to real, substantial possibilities.
When I give a firm, strong, badass, gutsy NO! to the flimsy, fake version of what I truly want … when I draw the line in the sand that says “you can’t cross this!” I’m saying a big, fat YES to me. I’m making a declaration that I absolutely deserve my desires.
No becomes yes to honoring my truth, trusting myself, and creating my story.
…It’s not the no squeezing my throat that hurts.
Swallowing back my truth is what hurts.
This is a new time. A new age of reclaiming what’s mine and harnessing the faith that what I deeply want is possible.
Anything less is no longer permitted.
So, beautiful you … what will you say no to? What will you say yes to? I’d love to hear in the comments below.