Six and Two

Grief is a difficult experience to work through.  Everyone experiences grief differently.  When someone is working through grief we often like to jump in with words of advice that we hope will comfort the person.  “Don’t cry because you lost the person.  Smile that they were in your life to begin with.”  “Time will heal this hurt in your heart.”  “You’ll see them again one day.”  Blah, blah, blah!  Empty words that do not comfort the person feeling the hurt.  All those words do is inflate the person who says them, making them feel useful and important in a moment when there are no words that can help at all.

Some people work through their grief quickly.  Others bury their grief, never deal with it, and years later it comes back to smack them in the face like a brick wall.  Out of nowhere, when they least expect it, it all comes flooding in demanding to be dealt with in that moment.  The longer grief is delayed the more it grows and becomes more difficult to work through.

I am not writing this to lecture on the benefits of working through grief in a timely fashion.  How everyone deals with their moments of grief is completely up to them.  What I want to write about today is that I believe that my period of grief has finally come to an end.  It’s been almost two years.  That seems like a very long time, even to me, to mourn, but something very small slowed down my healing.  Hope.

Here’s my story . . .

Eight years ago I met a man who I came to think of as my best friend.  I can look back now and see that I inflated his importance in my life.  At the time though Brian quickly became my world.  I can name the exact moment that we became friends.  It was a Saturday afternoon at work.  He was on the air in one studio and I was on the air in another studio.  We were friends on Facebook and I had shared a post about Drum Corps International.  Brian came down the hall to my studio and asked, “you like DCI, too?”  That was the moment.  We became friends.

Over the next six years Brian and I shared our lives.  We talked about everything.  We laughed.  We cried.  We fought.  We had a period where our stubbornness kept us from speaking for four months.  I was there with him through his bouts of depression.  He was there when I got territorial and jealous, because I felt like nobody was worthy enough for him.  I went through a period where I felt like I had to protect him from everyone because everyone was bound to hurt him.  He was tender.  He was fragile.  He had unhealed wounds that needed to be nursed, and I was the only one that could nurse those wounds.  But truth was that he was not tender or fragile.  He did have wounds, but I was not the person to help him heal them.  Complete truth be told, I needed him to be broken because that was the foundation that our friendship was built on.  If he wasn’t broken then I had no place in his life and I couldn’t fathom that happening.

I molded the friendship into what I felt I needed to complete my life.  This was best seen when he would get a new girlfriend.  Competition!  Rather than trying to get along with his new girlfriend, I would turn into a raging ball of jealousy.  I would shut him out.  I would speak negatively of his girlfriends.  What I was trying to do was make him see that I was the only female that he needed in his life.  What I was actually doing was showing him that I was not a female that he needed in his life at all.  I can see that now.  I couldn’t see that at the time.

Three years ago my best friend found a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I had already found that relationship a few months earlier, and so when he got saved and baptized my be best friend became my brother.  This could not have made me happier.  Life was perfect in our friendship.  I had the privilege of watching him grow into a man of Christ.  He was starting to shed the demons that he had carried for so many years.  He was discovering his self-worth, and he was searching for his purpose on this earth.  His transformation was such a thing of beauty to watch that it increased my faith exponentially.  But a person can not serve two masters.

God brought a woman into Brian’s life that was obviously molded just for him.  Their romance was nothing short of whirlwind.  They married just a few months after they started dating.  Our friendship came to an end six months later.  Yes, I am guilty of encouraging Brian to follow where God was leading him, to marry the woman God put before him, and then turning on Brian and his new wife and trying to convince him that his wife was bat crap crazy.

My routine held up to the end . . . when Brian needed me I made sure I was there, but when Brian didn’t need me then I ran him down and ran down whomever it was that was in his life.

Two years ago Brian walked out of work, and he walked out of our friendship.  I took it hard, and I placed all the blame on him.  I was the victim and he was the piece of crap that threw me and our six-year friendship away like it was an empty burger wrapper.  I cried.  I yelled.  I poured out my anger and grief in my writing.  Much of that can be found in posts from the last two years.  In short, I mourned.  But my mourning was misdirected because I was placing all the blame on him, and I was mourning as if I had no part in how the end came.  Today, though, I can look back over the past eight years . . . six years of friendship, and two years since the end . . . and I can finally see why he left.  I can finally see what my part was, and I can finally see that I was the cause of the end I so desperately tried to avoid.

I say all of that to say this:  I have been given another chance.  Not with Brian, but with someone else.  A new person has been brought into my life and the connection was fast and strong.  Instant friendship from the day that we met.  It’s a bit scary to be starting this path all over again.  I know that I am over thinking everything about this friendship, overanalyzing, questioning, seeking affirmation, but I am so scared of messing up again, of messing up another friendship.  I don’t trust myself.  I don’t trust myself to not go bat crap crazy again.  I don’t trust myself to not become jealous again.  I don’t trust myself to turn on him and drive him away.  The only thing I can do is try and learn from my mistakes, the mistakes that I made with Brian, and then take everything one day at a time.  Everything in me is screaming to guard myself, not to jump in, to build a wall around my heart, to protect myself from getting hurt again.  But the truth is that Brian is not the one that hurt me.  I am the one that hurt me, and the only person I need protection from is myself.

I am no longer mourning a friendship that Brian ran out on, that Brian threw away.  I am no longer mourning something that he destroyed.  It took two years for me to finally see the truth behind that happened.  Now I am mourning the friendship that I brought to an end, and I am hoping from the ashes of that friendship that a new friendship can be built on the healed wounds that I inflicted on my own heart.

Until next time . . .

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Solace searching

alone

How do I write about you when I’m not allowed to even say your name?

How can I pour out my heart in the only way I know how when I have to guard my heart against you?

How can I speak of your eyes or your voice, your smile or your laugh, when the joy they bring me has to be held as a secret?

How do I voice what my soul is feeling when I’m not supposed to feel this way?

How can I look at you, speak to you, when it’s you I need to be running from?

How can I reconcile what is a desire to the reality of life?

How do I let go of the dream when it was never mine to begin with?

How do I bridge the gap between what is and what could be?

How do I turn away when you unknowingly keep me turned toward you?

How do I live a life with you where you aren’t all that I see?

How do I end what should have never began?

Googling friendship in the middle of the night

I’m currently having another sleepless night.  You know the kind of night where you just lay in bed, flipping and turning, pulling the covers over you only to kick them back off.  Arm under the head.  One leg kicked out to the side.  On your back.  On your stomach.  Adjust the pillow.  Stick one foot out of the blankets.  Sleep is just not coming tonight.

So then your mind starts to just wander.  You think about things you need to do tomorrow, this weekend, next week, next month, next year.  You make your grocery list.  You think about which bills are going to be due soon.  Is it time to get the oil changed in your car?  What kind of flowers are you going to plant in your garden this year?  That cat video on Facebook was so funny.  Do you have clean socks for work tomorrow?  Froot Loops are the greatest breakfast cereal ever.  One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.  I do not eat green eggs and ham.  I do not eat them, Sam I am . . . damn you, Dr. Seuss!

green eggs one fish two fishThat is where I am right now.  I’m stuck in a cycle of nonsensical thoughts and Dr. Seuss ramblings.  Sleepless nights are so much fun!  I much prefer the crazy-ass dreams that come after watching a random movie or reading the book of Revelation in the Bible.

One thought popped into my head, and it wouldn’t pop back out.  Friendship.  Have you ever really given much thought to how friendship works.

stepbrothers

Off all the people you encounter in a day . . . at the gas station, at the grocery store, at the gym, at work, anywhere . . . why are we only friends with the select few people in our lives?  There are a few hundred people who go to my church.  I talk with many of them, but I am really and truly friends with only a handful of them.  Why?  What makes one person get deemed as STATUS:  ACQUAINTANCE ONLY!  Yet another person in the exact same social setting is suddenly your new bestie.

There is always that defining “me, too” moment in friendships.

“I hate carrots.”  “Me, too!”

“I think Elvis is the greatest musician to ever live.”  “Me, too!”

“I celebrate Pi Day every year.”  “Me, too!”

That opens the doorway to discussion about other things you have in common.  Before you know it, you and that person are like Siamese twins, connected by your snarky senses of humor.

But what about the people in your life that you really don’t have that much in common with.  That person who always disagrees with everything you say and think, but still you couldn’t imagine your life without their input?  Th two of you lacked that “me, too” moment, but you’re still friends.  Why?  What is the connection?  What drew your cerebellum to their cerebellum and made you friends?

I’ve had plenty of “me, too” friends.  Those are the easy friendships.  Tiffany, Jon, Tim, Brian, HollieJo . . . just to name a few.  They, and many other “me, too” friends have come through my life.  In most cases I don’t know how or even why we first spoke.  But whatever the reason, that first conversation obviously had a moment of fireworks and glitter and angels singing as one of us cried emphatically, “me, too.”

But then there are the non-me-too friends.  Bill, Bobby, John . . . the ones that have tested my patience, made me shake my head, argued with me, and broadened my life beyond my own little everyday world.  There was no fireworks, glitter, angels singing, or anything during the first conversation with any of those people.  There was a heavy sigh, possibly a collective groan, definitely a raised and defiant eyebrow.  There were heated discussions, and loud arguments.  There were toes stepped on and feelings hurt.  And yet we were friends.  Why?

Of all the people in the world, off all the people I see on a weekly or even daily basis, why am I friends with some people and not others.  In an effort to find out the answer to how friendship works I took my question to the one and only source that is the authority on EVERYTHING . . . Google!  On a side note:  googling how friendship works is about as useful as googling your symptoms when you feel ill.  I still don’t know how friendship works, but I’m pretty sure that I’m dying.

The Care and Maintenance of Friendship at psychcentral.com

How to Maintain a Friendship at wikihow.com

The 3 Requirements of All Healthy Friendships at huffingtonpost.com

What is Friendship? at people.howstuffworks.com

10 Ways to Make (and Keep) Friendships as an Adult at psychologytoday.com

Making Good Friends – Tips for Meeting People and Making Meaningful Connections at helpguide.org

And, of course, what would any google search be without an entry from everyone’s favorite user-edited online encyclopedia . . .

Friendship at Wikipedia

You know what I learned from all of these articles?

nothing

It will forever remain an unanswered question for the ages.  Sleep will continue to be elusive and I will continue to listen to my Elvis clock tick as I wonder how friendship really works.

Until next time . . .

I hate small talk

I came across this on Facebook today . . .

small talk

. . . and for a moment it made me think of the kind of relationships I have with the people in my life.  This one random picture made me realize that I really do hate small talk.  You know the kind of chit-chat that I’m talking about.  “How’s the weather?  How are things going at work?  Did you buy that new lawnmower you were talking about last week?  I like your new haircut.  Have you tried that new restaurant out by the mall yet?”  Blah, blah, blah!

These are the kinds of conversations that say absolutely nothing.  You might as well be standing in silence because these are not the kinds of conversations that you will remember in fifty years, in one year, or even tomorrow.

I read once that introverts hate small talk because it makes them uncomfortable.  I am not an introvert.  I wouldn’t classify myself as an extrovert either.  I don’t crave attention.  As a matter of fact, I find most busy social settings to be exhausting emotionally.  In those settings I feel like I have to be constantly “turned on,” and I can’t just sit back and enjoy the company of those around me.  I prefer smaller gatherings with just a few friends.  But that does not make me an introvert.

I have a friend that is an introvert, and when we first met trying to get him to talk was like pulling teeth.  He didn’t know me.  He was shy, and I can come off as a bit of a big personality.  I think I scared him at first.  But we slowly got to know each other, and conversations with him have been some of the best conversations I’ve ever had.  Once he started opening up we talked about everything, and that is how I got to know the shy, introverted man who held everyone else at arm’s length.

What makes you the you that you are right now?  What is your favorite color?  What did you want to be when you grew up?  What are your hopes and dreams?  What is a goal that you have for yourself?  What are your thoughts on cabbage (the antichrist of the vegetable world-yuck!)?

Some people would say that I am nosy.  Being nosy implies that I am digging for information that I can share with others about you in a fashion akin to gossip.  What I want is to not just see the top layer of your personality that you show to everyone.  I want to find out what lies on the deeper layers that you try to keep hidden, but that your body language and unconscious word usage allow to peek through.

A new co-worker (we’ll call him Fred) at the radio station recently took a request from a listener.  Fred didn’t know if we had that song in our database, so he said to the listener, “‘I’ll see if they have that song in the system.”  Why did Fred use the word “they” instead of “we.”  He wasn’t even aware that he had said “they” until I asked him if he still didn’t feel like part of the station family.  I still don’t think he does, but he spent a long time at his previous radio station, and it’s difficult to quickly feel like part of a new family.

I want to know the story behind the scars, physical and emotional.  I want to hear your favorite pet stories, most embarrassing moments, and who taught you to drive.  I want to know what makes you tick.  Small talk never gets to that depth of conversation, and thus it never allows the bonds of true friendship to form.

Life is too short to waste time with small talk and mindless chatter.  I like stories.  I like telling stories, and I like hearing stories.  I like learning about history, and how things came to be.  I like watching body language when someone speaks of certain moments in their life, because body language often speaks far louder than words.  I like the silence that comes after a deep conversation.  I like the moment of vulnerability that people allow themselves when they truly open up and put their soul on the line.  I like to see people raw and uncensored.  I like to see people without their mask.

People spend too much time being the person that they think everyone else wants to see, myself included.  I want to see, hear, and feel the real you.

Who are you for real?

Until next time . . .

The day God stepped in

“Hey, God, I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to do this thing.  I know it’s something that you would totally not want me to do, but it’s something that I want to do, so, yeah, I’m just going to go ahead and do it.  I’ll deal with your disappointment and my own guilt later, okey dokey?  Thanks.”

“I love you, child.  I know that I gave you free will, and that I can’t stop you from making what will only be a bad decision.  I know you are better than this.  I will never turn my back on you, and I will be here waiting for you with open arms when you are ready to come back to me.”

“Yeah, thanks God.  I’ll see you later.

Though this is not a word-for-word account of the conversation I had with God yesterday, it is pretty dang close.  It was definitely not one of the finer moments in my walk with Christ, but I everyone has moments when they get in the flesh, when they stumble and fall.  When you are on the ground you have two choices as how to proceed.  You can either choose to stay on the ground or you can choose to get up.  Nobody can make that decision for you.  God will let you stay down or he will help you get up, but He will never force you to do anything that goes against your free will, that you don’t want to do.

Mine was not a slow fall, but it’s a fall I have taken before.  Though I didn’t fall as hard as I did a few years ago, it was still a fall.  I know the exact day that I tripped, and that was the day that I started tuning God.

My weakness has always been sex.  I have always been the girl that they guys wanted to be only be friends with.  I was always the girl they went to for advice about their relationships with other girls.  On many occasions they said, “oh, she is like a sister to me.”  Those weren’t really the words a girl wants to hear when the feelings she has toward the guy are more than those of sisterly love or friendship.  I learned that guys wanted to hang out with me if I let them sleep with me.  I had more than my fair share of promiscuous relationships.  It’s not something I am proud of, but it is a part of my history, a part of who I am today.  I can’t change the way the story starteed, but I can change the way it ends.

Thirteen years ago my husband and I got married.  Six years ago I started my first extramarital affair.  It was purely sex and nothing more.  A year later I started my second affair.  There was no sex, but it was an emotional affair.  I could say that it was just as bad as the physical relationship with the other guy, but I believe that it actually may have been worse, because the emotional connection that I should have been giving to my husband, I was instead giving to a man who did not want, nor deserve, that level of relationship with me.

A month-and-a-half ago a new person walked into my life.  Immediately my hormones went on high alert.  I found myself shamelessly flirting with this man.  I was trying to let him know that I was available if he wanted me.  The problem:  I am NOT available at all.  The previous two affairs ended a few years ago.  I finally told my husband about them two years ago (thought I still suspect that he knew all along), and he showed great mercy by forgiving me even though I didn’t deserve it (sound like anyone else?  God, perhaps?)  Yet, fully aware of my actions and not caring about consequences, I was actively pursuing this new person in my life.

One of the worst parts of my previous two affairs were all of the lies that I told to everyone.  Not just my husband.  I lied to friends, coworkers, my son, and I lied to myself.  I told myself that I was entitled to do whatever I needed to do to make myself happy, that I wasn’t hurting anyone, that it was just sex, or it was just two friends getting together for lunch.  I told more lies in those two years than I told in all the years of my life leading up to that point.

Last week, in an attempt to be alone with this person (despite my husband or his girlfriend) I asked the guy if he wanted to get together for a night of whiskey and tequila.  He was having a rough week and I don’t know what I was thinking (yes, I do).  We made plans to get together tonight.  I was going to stay at his house (on the couch) and we were going to spend the night drinking together.

“My chid, you have obviously lost your mind and can no longer think straight enough to protect yourself, so I am going to step in here and protect you from yourself.  You have come too far to go down this path again”

“Thanks, but I don’t need your help, God.”

“Yes, you do.”

“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade”

This morning I got ready for work.  I made sure to pack a change of clothes for work tomorrow and come comfies for my night of tequila.  I had told my husband that I was going to my boss’s house for a girls night of margaritas.  I was supposed to have a meeting at church tonight, and was fully prepared to lie to my pastor by saying that I was swamped with work and wouldn’t be able to make it.  Everything was falling perfectly into place.  That is until the I saw the person I was supposed to be spending the evening with.  He looked rough.  He looked exhausted.  Further inquiry revealed that he hadn’t slept well last night and was not feeling well this morning.

By the end of the day his eyes were noticeably glassy and he looked like he could simply fall down asleep at any moment.  I told him that he needed to just go home and go straight to bed.  He agreed.  Before I left him for the day I told him that he still owed me a whiskey and tequila night.  He apologized, having forgotten about our plans on top of not feeling well.

“Set me free of the chains holding me
Is anybody out there hearing me?
Set me free”

I walked out to my car, and all I could think to do was thank God for keeping me from doing something that would have been tremendously stupid, from protecting me from my own desires.  God never acted on my own free will.  That’s not how He works.  He will never stop you from making bad decisions.  What God did was arrange circumstances such that my free will never had a chance to act.  He intervened on my behalf because He loves me and didn’t want me to take a fall that I may not have been able to get back up from.

I am not worthy of his love and attention.  My actions over the last several weeks prove that.  But despite my actions, despite my words, no matter how many times I turn from Him and get into my own desires, He is still there watching over me, loving me, and protecting me from my own worst enemy: myself.

How has God protected you from yourself?

Until next time . . .

Tick-tick-tick

That’s my favorite clock. I love Elvis. He is my favorite solo musician. At this moment, though, that clock is not my favorite simply because it is an Elvis clock. It is my favorite right now because I can actually hear it ticking.

No, I am not, nor have I ever been, hearing impaired. Life has just been so busy lately that it has been an assault on all of my senses. Sunday night my husband and son were in bed and I was alone in the living room. The whole house was quiet. There was no television, noisy neighbors, not even the sound of the refrigerator running. It was silent in my life for the first time in weeks. The only thing I could hear was the soft ticking of that Elvis clock.  I closed my eyes, laid my head back against the couch and just listened.  I concentrated on the sound of the tick-tick-tick and it was so relaxing.

My life is filled with noise.  Everywhere I go.  My ears are constantly taking in the white noise of life.  So much so that silence seems to almost be a foreign concept.  To hear the ticking of my clocking on Sunday night took me by surprise, and honestly I was a bit saddened that it seemed like such a new thing.  That clock has been hanging in my living room since November, 2016.

I never take time to be quiet, to be still, to listen to the silence that can surround me if I let it.

Do you ever take the time to be silent?  Do you ever take the time to sit down and listen to nothing, to let your ears rest, to let your mind empty, to just be in the moment of actively doing nothing?

Shhhhh . . .

Until next time . . .

Thunderstorm ahead

Tonight is one of those nights . . . sleepless, restless, chain-smoking, mind-all-over-the-place . . .

I’m sitting in bed and typing this on my phone. Little bitty keyboard and Vienna sausage fingers . . . forgive me now for any hideous typos.

I don’t know that I have anything to say, but this seems historically to be the place I turn on nights like this.

Old demons are trying to come back. Some I am comfortable sharing, others nope.

I have abandonment issues. I make jokes about it, but it’s true. I try to convince myself that I am happy for the person and that I want nothing but the best for them. But the truth is, losing a friendship sucks. It hurts really bad. My heart is broken, because too many people have exited my life due to outside circumstances, and I never, NEVER, get the chance to say goodbye. Do you know how that feels? Do you know how much that hurts? To invest a part of yourself in someone and then for them to just disappear . . . I just can’t anymore. For once I am being completely honest with myself. I just can’t handle another loss.

It’s the closure that I need. If I had something to do with their departure, say an argument or a strongly worded letter, then I could understand the need to leave me behind. But people see the smiles and the infernal glitter trail I leave behind and they think that I am immune to sadness, and thus I never get the closure. The moment of finality that truly signals the end.

Just a heads up, folks . . .

I am not immune to sadness.

I am not immune to a broken heart.

I am not immune to feeling left behind, abandoned, worthless, unnecessary, extraneous . . . pick your adjective.

I don’t bounce back quickly. I hold onto the hurt and try to figure it out because you are no longer there to tell me what I did wrong, what I could have done better, what I could have done to help fix your situation. You are no longer there, and I am left behind, and it fucking sucks, and I don’t understand why you left me behind. Why did I have to be part of the fallout in your moment of selfishness? Why wasn’t I worth enough to deserve an explanation, or even a goodbye. Why did you just leave?

It’s happened so often in the past two years that I can only see one common denominator . . . me. And that makes it hurt even more.

There is some amount of security in writing this. The anonymity of tapping “publish” and knowing it might get read, but not fearing the judgement because I more than likely don’t know you. But in case I do know you, in case you are my mother, a coworker, a person I go to church with . . . don’t judge the glitter-and-rainbow girl. You know me, but you don’t know me. Sometimes even I have thunderstormy days.

Until next time . . .

Endings and Beginnings

October 21, 2017 . . . that was the last time I posted anything of substance.  I posted a random poem in January, but other than that, nothing since last October.  Maybe I’ve had nothing to say.  Maybe I’ve had too much to say.  Maybe I didn’t know how to say whatever it was that wanted to come out.  Who knows?  So let’s see what comes out of these fingers today . . .

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See that board above the keyboard?  Yes, I’m back at the radio station.  The same radio station that my last post wax poetic on having left.  I tried a life beyond radio for two weeks.  I couldn’t do it.  I spent two weeks working for a company that was screening potential customers during health care open enrollment.  People are crazy and mean sometimes.  I will never be mean to a customer service representative ever again.  In the end though, talking to people was too much for me and I went back to the safety of sitting in a room by myself and talking to a microphone.

Right now my heart is sad.  I am the kind of person that when I make a friend then I am in with my whole heart.  I have people in my life who are acquaintances.  We may laugh and joke and maybe even share a touching story with each other.  But the people with whom I develop a true friendship . . . I am all in.  My heart is on my sleeve with those people.  So when one of those people leaves my life then my heart breaks.  That is what I am dealing with right now.

I understand that not all people are meant to be in your life forever.  People come into your life for a season.  Maybe their season is meant to change your life, or maybe their season is so that you can change theirs.  But their departure at the end of their season still hurts.  I get invested in people.  I give them a part of myself, a part that I can’t ever get back.  Often times I am left asking myself why they left or examining my part of the friendship to see if I did something wrong.  Ultimately, though, I feel emptier.  There is a space in my heart that was once occupied by that person, and often times that space will never be filled back up again.

Life for me beyond those people could go one of two ways.  I could turn angry and bitter.  I could live a jaded life where I stop letting people into my heart and resign myself to loneliness as a form of protection.  Or I could live as I do now.  I choose to try to understand that those people did what they thought was best for them and their future.  I choose to hope that I had a positive impact on their life, and I choose to be thankful that they shared a small part of their life with me.

You see, bitterness and anger don’t fill the heart.  As a matter of fact, those things only harden the heart.  Being jaded is not a badge of honor.  It is a sign of weakness.  A person who lives a jaded life full of anger and bitterness is too scared and weak to take another chance on something or someone after they have been hurt.  A jaded person lives in fear of getting hurt again, so they wrap themselves in armor to keep everything out.  But armor doesn’t just keep out some people or experiences.  Armor keeps out ALL people and experiences.  A jaded person misses opportunities for joy and happiness, because armor is not a filter that keeps out the bad and lets in the good.  Armor is a wall that nothing can get through.  Nothing!

I know I sound like I am lecturing on how to be a healthy person.  Maybe I am lecturing.  Maybe there is a person reading this right now that needs to hear what I am saying.  Or maybe I need to hear what I am saying.  Maybe I need the reminder, because if you are honest with yourself then you will be able to admit that sometimes a person can forget what they know.

I can’t control what others do.  I can only control how I react to what they do.  My life is a little dimmer without the light that former friends once added to my life.  But maybe my life only has room for so many people.  Maybe people are removed from my life to make room for new people.  That doesn’t mean I will forget those people who helped create my past.  It just means that their chapter in the book of my life said its final words, and it’s time to start a new chapter.  Memories can take me back to those people as new words are written with a new cast of characters.

The loss of a friend takes a little bit of my heart, but I have a big heart with a lot of love to give and a lot of smiles to share.  I look forward to the next person that will come into my life that I will get to call “friend.”

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Until next time . . .

I know only that I do not know what lies ahead

“Girls you’ve gotta know when it’s time to turn the page.”
Tori Amos, Tori Amos: From the Choirgirl Hotel

This is going to sound so weird, but I killed a big part of myself.  Not literally, obviously, but it’s true.

Two weeks ago I walked into work and turned in my resignation.  As of 5 p.m. Friday I officially became a former disc jockey.  My transmitter went dark.  I hung up the headphones.  My broadcast day came to an end.  My station went off the air.  I retired from the broadcasting field.

From the time I was 14 years old I wanted to be in radio.  Music has always been such a huge part of my life that a career in broadcasting just seemed a natural fit.  I wanted to talk over songs, give away prizes, take requests, meet celebrities, and have people love me.  I needed that love and adoration.  I needed to be needed.  So when I was 23 years old, in March of 2000, I enrolled in Broadcast Center in St. Louis.  They had a very focused program that led to actual jobs in radio.  I loved it!  I loved doing my airshifts at school.  I loved learning how to produce commercials.  I took great satisfaction in cutting and splicing audio tape, and I totally rocked it!  I was eager to get out into the world and begin my takeover of the airwaves.  I was hired for my first job before I even finished the program.

In January, 2001, I moved to Paducah, Kentucky, where I took my first job with Withers Broadcasting.  I worked for a cluster of 3 stations:  WZZL-FM, WREZ-FM, and WMOK-AM, which were all housed in Metropolis, Illinois.  The radio station was tiny and far from high-tech.  I was broadcasting to cows and corn.  The pay was terrible, and I had no benefits, but I loved it.  I was doing what I had dreamed of for 10 years.  I was literally living my dream.

A few weeks after I started working for those stations we moved into our new-to-us building.  It was bigger and prettier than the building we moved out of.  But things were a little backwards in that building.  This was most evident in the fact that the hallways were carpeted (in horrible blue carpet), but the studios all had ceramic tile floors.  **Note to readers:  when soundproofing a room, don’t put ceramic tile on the floor.**

I was with that company for 3-weeks-shy-of 11-years.  In that time I learned how to do everything except sales.  I was on-air, commercial production, music scheduler, program director, traffic manager.  I was a well-rounded and valuable employee.  BUT my pay still sucked and I still had no benefits.  By the time I left the company I was married and had a 6-year-old son.

Somewhere around 2004 I discovered a frog on the radio . . . Froggy 103.7.  It was a country station out of Murray, Kentucky.  I fell in love with it immediately.  All the jocks had adorable amphibious names.  They wished listeners a hoppy birthday, and they went out on frog gigs.  There mascot was a giant anthropomorphic frog named, fittingly, Mr. Froggy.  I was hooked.  A coworker told me that if I were ever to go to work for that station then my name needed to be Heather McRibbits, which was a play on my maiden name.  I had a new goal in my career.

December 27, 2011, I walked into the offices of Forever Communications in Murray, Kentucky, for my first day of work at Froggy 103.7.  I was on the midday shift where I spent 6 years as Heather McRibbits.  I was still living the dream.

But eventually all dreams come to an end.  A person must wake up and move on with life.  It’s funny but even when I was going to school at Broadcast Center I couldn’t see myself still in radio at 40 or 50.  I think maybe deep inside I knew I would not spend my entire working life in radio.  After all, nobody wants to hear their grandma trying to into the latest Top 20 song from some skanky pop star.

I have no regrets about leaving the only career I wanted and the only real career I’ve known.  I knew it was time to move on the same way that you know when it’s time to buy more toilet paper.  In my 17 years in radio I have met many amazing people that made great impacts on my life.  I made, and lost, lots of friends.  That’s the thing about radio . . . everybody is always looking for the next best gig, and a market like Paducah is always a market that is a stopping point on the way to somewhere else.  Some friends were in my life for less than a year.  Some friends were in my life for several years, but ultimately everyone moved on.

When I look back on who I was when I first moved to Paducah I see a 24-year-old woman who was still just a scared little kid.  I moved to a new city and state where I knew absolutely nobody.  I may as well have moved to a foreign country.  I am not the same woman now that I was then.  I don’t need the same things now that I needed from my career then.  I don’t have the same priorities, and I am a little more wise, and a little more jaded than I was then.  The insecure and naive little girl that moved to Paducah in 2001 got lost somewhere along the way, but she had been replaced by a woman that is strong, independent, and secure in who she is and what she wants.  I have made mistakes in those years, but I have learned even more.  When I first moved to Paducah my career was my life.  It was all I could see and everything revolved around that.  Now my career is something that takes up 40 hours of my week, and is pretty low on the priority list.  My career is a necessary evil.  But that rearranged priority list had allowed room for new priorities.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
Corrie ten Boom

I am back in school.  I am active in my church, and I eager to see where the future will lead.  I don’t know where my life will go from here.  I have hopes for the future, but I am open to wherever God chooses to lead me from here.  Am I scared by so many unknowns in my life?  Nope, because God has seen fit to put me exactly where he wants me in this exact moment, and I have complete faith that He will continue to put me where he wants me in my future.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but that is not a scary thought for me.  I am not frightened of all of the change going on in my life.  I am excited about it.  Change used to instill a butt-puckering sense of fear and anxiety for me, but now change means possibility.  It means something new, clean, and exciting.  Change means something fresh and unknown.  Change means a chance at discovery and exploration.  Change means the future.

I spent too long fearing change, and thus staying somewhere where I knew I was safe but unhappy.  Today I don’t know where I will be tomorrow, but I am happy and I am hopeful.

“Do not let the memories of your past limit the potential of your future. There are no limits to what you can achieve on your journey through life, except in your mind.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

i-dont-know

Until next time . . .

People vs. Love

keep out

I was talking with a friend recently.  For the sake of this post I shall name this friend Erin.  Erin is an great friend to many around her.  She is a devoted spouse and parent.  She is a positive influence.  But Erin is wearing a mask.  But, honestly, aren’t we all wearing some form of mask?  We are one person with our family . . . hopefully that is the most true version of ourselves.  We are another person with friends, and still yet another person with our co-workers.

Masks come from a deep-seated insecurity.  Every morning we wake up and put on the mask of the person that we want others to see and to like because we are afraid that the person that really lives inside our skin is not good enough.

Erin is very good at wearing her mask.  Yet as I was talking with her recently she slowly took her mask off.  I could tell that it terrified her to do so, but once the mask was off I was blessed to meet the real woman inside my friend.  She is wounded and afraid.  She is insecure and filled with doubt.  She is beautiful and broken.  She is filled with shame, doubt, and guilt.  But even deeper than that is a desire to rise above it all and make a better life than what she has ever known.  It was an honor to be one of the few people that have truly seen inside Erin’s heart and soul, and because she took that risk with me, someone that she has not known but for a short while, I am indebted to her for her level of trust in me.

I have been where Erin is.  I have lived through ugly things that left me hating myself, doubting myself, and feeling unworthy of anything good in my life.  I have been beaten down verbally, mentally, and emotionally by others and by my own hand.  I have looked at myself in the mirror and hated the person looking back at me.  I have been empty and searching for someone or something that would fill the void that seemed to be nothing but a black hole.

All of that stems from love, though.  An old friend once told me that he gave up on people because they were always walking out of his life.  I was eventually one of the people that walked out of his life, too.  But he was never willing to invest himself into a relationship.  Without that investment from him, people had nothing to hang on to.  He was so scared of being hurt that he built a wall around himself to keep people out and then wondered why nobody stayed in his life.  He was unwilling to make the choice to love, and no relationship can stand with only one leg.  Relationships of any kind are a team effort.

No matter what Hallmark cards and romantic-comedies lead us to believe, love is a choice.  Love is something we wake up every single day and choose to give and take.  Love is not an emotion that magically grows in the heart the way that my sunflowers grow in my garden each summer.  One day we look at a person and we make the decision to love them, to accept their quirks and idiosyncrasies, to take off our mask and be real with them, and maybe even get them to take off their mask, too.  But, conversely, sometimes we wake up and decide to stop loving that person.  Love is a choice.

Here’s the thing though, we can not give or take love until we make the biggest decision regarding love.  We must decide to love ourselves.  The friend with the wall built around himself saw little worth within himself.  He didn’t feel good enough to be loved, and thus he saw himself as flawed and broken.  He didn’t love himself enough to be willing or able to take the risk on loving someone else.  Because of that, he spent a very long time alone and unhappy which made him dislike himself even more.  The only reason I was in his life for as long as I was, and the only reason I made the decision to love him, was because I saw behind his mask.  I pushed my way into his life.  I scaled his wall, and earned his trust, and eventually his (guarded) love.  But love was the reason I had to walk away.

Erin is in a similar boat.  But where the walled-heart friend was unwilling to let people into his life, Erin is open to those healthy and fulfilling relationships.  Erin is unable to see in herself what those around her can see in her.  She is terrified of becoming the person that scares her the most . . . the woman she hates, the woman she can’t forgive, the woman that caused hurt to others . . . the woman she used to be.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t fear becoming the woman I used to be.  There have been times where my past has come back to haunt me.  It has happened within the last couple of weeks, and that is something that I am struggling with, because I know that I am not the person I was three years ago.  I am not the person I was one year ago.  But the person I used to be is always lingering in the shadows waiting for her opportunity to come back to the forefront.  But every single day I wake up and make the decision to keep the old Heather in her place, and I make the decision to love myself more that I loved the things of my past.

In coming to see myself as someone worthy of my own love and the love of others I had to make one gigantic, and nearly impossible, decision.  I had to see that I was worthy of forgiveness.  When I was able to see that and then forgive myself, I was able to go to the people that I hurt and ask for their forgiveness.  My husband was one of those people, and I honestly did not expect him to forgive me, but his did, and it was in that moment that I saw how much he chose to love me, and in that moment I was also able to finally see that I am worthy of being loved.  That is when I started to finally love myself.

Erin is not a bad person.  I am not a bad person.  My walled-heart friend is not a bad person.  YOU are NOT a bad person.  We are all good people.  The thing about people though is that we sometimes make some really stupid decisions.  Those decisions can lead to anger, regret, guilt, and self-loathing.

You are not defined by the stupid decisions you have made.

I am not defined by the fact that I cheated on my husband.  I am defined by one simple and immovable fact . . . I am a forgiven, redeemed, and LOVED daughter of God.  He loved me even when I thought I was the worst person in the world.  He loved me even when I was cheating on my husband.  He loved me in my darkest moments, and he knew that one day I know his love for me and that would be enough to fill the black hole in my soul.  As soon as I was able to accept His love for me I was finally able to see my worth to him, and love myself.

Erin is still looking at herself through her own eyes.  I’ve been there.  But one day Erin will hopefully wake up and look in the mirror and see a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman.  One day Erin will hopefully wake up and see herself through God’s eyes instead of her own.  One day Erin will hopefully wake up and see the woman that God is shaping her to be instead of the woman that Erin is fighting to leave in the past.  One day Erin will hopefully wake up and the choice will be made to love herself.

Do you love yourself?  If not, what is holding you back?  Isn’t it time you look in the mirror and finally see the person staring back at you is a good person, a decent person, a person that is worthy of your love?

chess

Until next time . . .