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 . . .

Advertisements

Self-destruction (poem)

destruction-feat

History always repeats itself
Life on a loop
as we make the same mistakes
that we swore we’d never do
As we’re edging ever closer
to the inevitable end
Life is just a showdown
Life is no longer lived
What will become
of prayers, hopes, and dreams
What are we creating
building a world on lies and schemes
We eternally blame others
as the world is goes to hell
Because nobody wants to own their part
in the worst story the world could tell
Self-destruction at its finest
Losing all control
Going down in three, two, one
The most enduring story ever told

Heather L. Flood
03.27.18

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 . . .

Addiction

Old habits never really die
They simply lie in wait
Hibernating like a bear
To attack hungrily when it wakes
Withdrawl, recover, relapse again
A sated head hung in shame
Hating yourself for giving in
Dying to do it again
How does it end
Where will it stop
The merry-go-round of addiction
Will crack you like a rock
A hit isnt enough
A taste like a kiss
Dragging you down
Into a bottomless abyss
Your voiceless scream cant save you
Your cry for help is unheard
As you give in to the euphoria
Of addiction’s inviting world

Heather L. Flood
10.02.17

Silently Loud (poem)

My head and hand on your chest
I can hear your heartbeat
I can feel it against my ear
You feel so close to me
You seem almost real
You seem so near
I can smell your scent
I can hear your voice
I can close my eyes and see you
But the illusion is broken
The moment reality takes hold
And the illusion is nothing new
You haunt my memories
As they spill over into dreams
You are there when you’re really not
How I wish I could forget
How I wish I could let go
Of the past sitting in ny heart
But too many yesterdays
Not enough todays
The past outweighs right now
Until there are more tomorrows than todays
Until your voice is no longer in my memories
I will hear your heart so silently loud

By: Heather L. Flood
04.10.17

Endless Winter (poem)

winter-black-and-white

Winter started long ago
Ushered by the summer wind that blew
No more bright days of warmth
Only a fragile memory or two
While summer burned so bright and hot
Snow suffocated all that gave life
Ice hardened everything it touched
A broken heart in eternal frozen night
While summer burned like an inferno
Winter left a path of death
Destruction that can’t be repaired
Cold wind blew in hate in a silent breath
When will the heat of summer return?
Will the desolation of winter ever end?
Will a frozen heart ever thaw?
Will a new season ever dawn again?

Heather L. Flood
11.22.16

It’s Time For You To Move On

images

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (Ephesians 4:31-31, NIV)  (Courtesy of biblegateway.com)

Forgiveness.  It can sometimes be a hard thing to come by.  Whether you are seeking forgiveness from someone, or forgiveness is something you are struggling to give.  It can be as elusive as a unicorn.  But unlike the mythical unicorn, forgiveness is available to all who seek it.

Forgiveness is a choice we make.  You don’t just wake up one day and *poof* forgiveness is in your heart.  You have to make the choice to lay down your anger.  You have to make the choice to let go of those feelings of disappointment and brokenheartedness.  You have to make the choice to let the wound heal instead of continuing to drown it the salt of negative feelings.

Anger, rage, hatred . . . these are all feelings that will eat you alive.  They are so toxic to your heart and soul.  They drag your spirit down so that all you know, all you can see, all you can hear, all you can feel is the anger festering inside of you like a disease.

Forgiveness does not mean that you have to let that person back into your life.  It does not mean that you again have to open yourself up to however they hurt you.  Forgiveness only means that you have made the choice to let that anger go, made the choice to stop letting it control you.  You have made the choice to stop letting the past control your present.  Forgiveness means you have made the decision to move on and look ahead of you.

Take a moment to picture someone that needs your forgiveness.  Immediately your anger started to boil up, didn’t it?  Like a pot of water on the stove, your anger will slowly start to heat up.  Slowly at first, but in given time it will become a fierce, raging, rolling boil that can not be controlled until eventually all the water evaporates from the heat and the empty pot is left to burn on the stove.  Your anger will boil and boil until you are left empty.  To stop water from boiling all you have to do is turn off the heat.  To stop your anger from eating you alive all you have to do is remove the source of the anger.  Remove yourself from the heat.  Give yourself time to cool down, and empty your heart of all the anger, rage, malice, and then forgive.

Such easy words to type, and to read.  But you and I both know that forgiveness is difficult to give.  We have been so badly hurt by someone that our natural inclination is to hold onto it because it gives us a sense of control over that person.  “If I continue to hate them then I am hurting them as much as they hurt me.”  But who is really controlling whom?  What do you gain from being angry?  How is your life improved by holding onto your rage?  How is the love of Christ exemplified through you when you have hatred darkening your heart?

Anger fills up your heart so God can not find room to live there.  When you choose to live with your anger, you are choosing to live without God in your heart.  You are telling God that your anger is more important than He is.  Despite everything you have done in your life, God forgives you.  Can’t that same sentiment be extended to others from you?

Until next time . . .

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 26 – Things You’d Say To An Ex

image

My mom once gave me a wonderful bit of wisdom after a break up:  “Boyfriends are like jeans.  You have to try on several to find the one that fits perfectly.”
I had my first boyfriend when I was 13 years old.  His name was Dave McFall.  I’m friends with him to this day.
I married my husband, Rob, when I was 28 years old.  We just celebrated our 11th anniversary.
15 years of trying on boyfriends like jeans in the world of dating.  Some were very wrong.  Some were almost right.  Some were just meant for partying.  Some were meant for adventure.  Some were meant to teach me and help me grow.  Some broke my heart.  One tried to take from me what I didn’t want to give him.
Over the years I have made peace with my dating years, and can look back on them fondly (for the most part).  But there are always things that go unsaid when relationships come to an end.

Day 26 – Thing you say to an ex
Some of these things apply to more than one person in my history.  And in some cases, several of these apply to just one person.  I won’t use names though, because I know what needs to be said to whom, and that is all that matters.  I will simply put these statements out into the great big void the things that were left unsaid in my years of dating . . .

“I’m sorry that I took you for granted.”
“I forgive you for cheating on me.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t the girl you needed me to be.”
“Thank you for showing me where I needed to be.”
“I’m sorry I smothered you and pushed you away.”
“I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for you.”
“I forgive you for that night in my truck.”
“I forgive you for your mental and physical abuse.”
“I forgive you for lying to me.”
“I forgive you for using me.”
“Thank you for your patience.”
“Thank you for putting up with all of my baggage.  I’m sorry I dragged it into our relationship.”
“Thank you for your support.”
“Thank you for the adventure.”

Until next time . . .

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 23 – A Family Member You Dislike

image

Family.  We love them.  They drive us crazy.  They share some of our most meaningful moments.  They lift us up when we have fallen.  They know our history and share in our future.  But, let’s be honest, despite how much we love our family, there are certain members of family tree that we just don’t like.

Day 23: A family member you dislike

Some people will see this post topic and immediately think, “oh you shouldn’t hate anyone, especially your family.”
There is a huge difference between “hate” and “dislike.”
To hate someone you have to actually put forth effort to have no love for them in your heart.  By hating a person they have control over you and your life by the way you feel about them.  You go out of your way to avoid them.  You may berate them, or gossip about them.  They, and your feelings for them, are in control of you.  Hate is an ugly beast.
To dislike someone means that you still love them, but there is some aspect of their life or personality that you just don’t mesh with in such a way that makes you need to distance yourself from them.
I love all of my family.
I dislike a few family members.
My uncle Scott and his wife, my aunt Melanie . . .
My dad is a recovering drug addict.  His road of addiction and recovery has been long and painful.  His addiction addicted everyone around him to the point that almost everyone felt that it would be best to cut themselves off from him.  I understand that need to put distance between them and him, but I couldn’t do it.  He’s my dad.  I cared too much about him to throw away the last familial relationship he had left.
My aunt and uncle, my dad’s sister-in-law and brother, informed me one day that they no longer wished to associate with me because I still had a relationship with my dad.  They put me in a position to pick between them and him.  I chose my dad.  He needed support.  He needed somebody in his corner to see him through his addiction and recovery.  According to my aunt and uncle I did not make the correct decision.  They have spoken to me in 3 years because I wouldn’t turn my back on my father for them.
I love my aunt and uncle.  I miss their kids, my cousins.  But I dislike my aunt and uncle for turning their back on me because I wouldn’t turn my back on my father
Until next time . . .

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 10 – A Fruit You Dislike and Why

image

Banana, apples, grapes (red and green), strawberries, kiwi, oranges, pineapple, cantaloupe, peaches.  No this is not my grocery list.  This is a list of fruit that I love.  I’m sure I missed some, but you get the point.  Yes, I love a tasty, chocolatey candy bar, but there is something delectable about the natural and sweet goodness of natures own candy . . . fruit.  Yum!
And that brings us to the topic of today’s writing challenge . . .

Day 10:  A fruit you dislike and why

There are very few foods that I don’t like.  I am a self-professed glutton.  I love food.  I have an insatiable sweet tooth.  And, like I already said, fruit is nature’s own candy. But there is one fruit that to say I dislike it would not do my feelings adequate justice.  I don’t just dislike this fruit.  I loathe it intensely.
First off it’s peel is deceiving.  It’s textured and bright orange, which can lead a potential eater to think that it is, in fact, a big orange.  Then when you cut it open it’s center is juicy and inviting except for the fact that it’s bright pink.  And not a cutesy Barbie pink.  It’s a day-glo, neon, could-only-be-created-by-a-nuclear-accident pink.  What freak accident happened with fruit DNA over the millennia to make this horrendous shade of pink happen?  (The same goes for watermelon, an equally disgusting fruit.)
It easily peels apart into nice little sections like an Orange, and you pop a morsel into your mouth expecting the sweetness to roll and dance delicately across your taste buds and down your throat like a colorful ballet.  But no!  What you get instead is a horribly puckered mouth perfect for teenage Instagram duck-faced selfies because again this fruit has deceived you worse than any lying, cheating ex ever could have.  Instead of sweetness, you get a noxious tart nightmare for your taste buds that make Sour Patch Kids look like amateurs.
You spit out the offending section of lying fruit, but the taste lingers and nothing can make it go away.  It’s embedded in every single one of your taste buds like disgusting citrus cement.  You vow to never, ever eat another piece of that bastard fruit ever again.
Grapefruit, you are the asshole of the fruit world.
Until next time . . .