Almost three years ago I had a friend, whom had been in my life all of my life, “Let me go”.
Literally, Physically and Mentally. I was “Let Go”.
I didn’t know it at the time but it would turn out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
She told me I was too negative and angry for her. That was her perspective. That’s what she saw and felt from me.
On my end, I was broken and filled with an intense pain and grief. Three people, whom I loved, had died all within the space and time of 21 days. One of them being my Mother. It was a pain so intense I could barely breath. My brain broke for awhile. A long while.
I couldn’t begin to understand why she chose that time in my life to abandon our friendship and I added it to my pile of loss. So much loss.
And so began the dark dark night of the soul, that started a growth and change that I will forever be grateful for.
I have come to realize, as I processed what happened, that I depended on her heavily. We talked almost every day on the phone. Vented and hashed out all the world’s problems. People. We talked about all the people in our lives. And mostly not in a healthy positive way.
I took most of my life cues from her.
I looked up to her. I wanted to be loved by her. She was frugal with her love. So if I had it I would be the special one. And I was. Out of all the family, she loved me best. So, I too, discarded relationships and friendships and family members to please her. To be like her. To hold myself above the others.
Ironically, one of those relationships that I pushed away was my Mother. I let this other person basically replace her. I put her above my Mom and she knew it. They all knew it. My Mom knew it too and I know it broke her heart. But I justified it.
Then she died. My Mom died. And it all broke. And I couldn’t fix it. I couldn’t change it. I’ve had to see it. ALL the things. Feel it. ALL the feelings. Grieve for myself and all that been lost.
Then. Slowly. So slowly. Forgive myself and be at peace with it.
In the healing process I was reborn as myself because I had to do it myself. There was no one there to help create who I thought I should be.
I became able to allow in all the love that I had pushed away for so long. I made room for relationships and friendships that I never thought would be possible.
I’ve learned to not try to be what others want to see.
I just AM.
When my Dad died over a year ago, she called to tell me, not that she was sorry for my loss really, although she did mention it, but mostly I think it was an opportunity for her to confirm with me that she had made the right decision for herself, ending our toxic relationship. I was, again, mind-boggled by her timing, but it gave me another opportunity for reflection over the ways I’ve always allowed people to treat me.
It is true that everything that comes our way can be turned into a learning experience if we are willing to allow it.
I have always fought the end of relationships that should have ended long before they did. And then only with gnashing of the teeth and pulling of the hair.
Fear of Abandonment. Fear of being shamed. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of not being loved. All those things. She made me see all of those things with such a clarity.
Fear that I would not be liked for the person that I am, that all the emotions I thought I had well-hidden would be seen and thrown back at me like swords.
All the things I feared were laid bare. Right there in front of me. I saw Truth.
Those two phone calls from her changed me and allowed me to Bloom into this person that I really love and care for.
Now I show all the emotions. I feel all the feelings. I shout out all the anger. I cry all the tears. I laugh with all the Joy. I AM all the things. All the feelings. I no longer have any shame about that.
Today, I feel a peaceful ending to that relationship and nothing but gratitude and love for the purpose it served in my life.
You were sickly and in a wheel chair. But then you were swept up on what started out as a zipline, flying between electrical wires that changed to a magic carpet twisting and turning through the sky that was filled with giant bright colored animals. I was worried you’d fall off. You could barely walk. I had to look away. I was walking down a road with all the people I knew and loved. I was looking for my sister. She was magnificently beautiful and I had heard she loved you too. I was afraid she’d take you from me. Afraid you’d love her more. I wanted to find her. Threaten her. Tell her to stop. Then you were there again. Walking beside us with a cigar in your mouth. Laughing and joking. Everyone’s attention was on you. Everyone loved you. You loved everyone. We rode on your wheel chair for awhile. Your arms around me and mine around you. Then you were gone. Off to visit and laugh and love with someone else. I was invisible. Watching everyone from far away. They were walking faster and faster. I wasn’t going to keep up. I was staying behind. I waved goodbye but everyone was moving forward, to something I couldn’t see yet. I felt sadness but not sadness.
It’s a weird thing to wake up at 50 and realize you finally have the time and resources to ask yourself that question. The clarity to see that it’s not selfish to do so.
The excitement to discover that you love yourself enough.
What makes me happy? Fulfills me? Serves me? What are my passions and life goals?
Am I living a true and authentic life while doing the best I can to love and help others?
Learning from the patterns of generations that came before me. Recognizing and being willing to talk about them out loud.
I come from a long line of women who didn’t love themselves enough. Who didn’t allow other people to love them. They chose hard lives and hard living which resulted in a lot of bad relationships, of all kinds.
Generations of family who struggled knowing how to be family because of the inability to be self reflective without judgement, to love and be loved without fear. To trust each other.
I’m gifting myself and my children and grandchildren a new heritage. I want to be open to everything this life has to offer.
Saying NO without an explanation is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
I said Yes to everything. It’s how I ended up in two marriages I knew weren’t going to be good for me and in jobs that made me miserable. I really committed to my Yes. Then I was mad at everyone but me, not realizing I had all the power to change it.
I’d say Yes to almost anything. A dinner that I didn’t want to go to. A task I didn’t want to do. An errand I didn’t have time to run. A family reunion I knew I should avoid. Yes. Sure. Ok. Words that so easily popped out of my mouth.
Brain is saying, “Stop it. Say No”. Mouth is saying, “Absolutely, I’d love to do that for you”.
The struggle is real.
I’d like to say I’ve totally got this one in the bag now. I don’t. But it’s getting better.
Pause. Let Go of the urge to just say Yes, because it’s the easy way out. Press my lips together as I consciously review if saying Yes is going to ‘cost me’ and if I have the energy reserves to do it without resentment.
I’ve also learned that a simple and kind, “Oh I can’t” shuts the door on any attempts to convince you that you can and you will. If you give People excuses or little white lies they’ll see a crack. They’ll poke their foot in and start wiggling that door open. They’ll get out the mighty ‘sword of guilt’, and chop the door hinges off.
Once that little excuse or lie comes out of your mouth you’ve really just said Maybe, and will soon be using up extra energy bucks to stomp around the house mad again.
As a child I was taught to do what other people wanted me to do, without question. ‘No’ was met with a swift smack on the head. It was disrespectful and rude. It was Selfish.
This is a truth I’ve had to un-tell myself. It’s work. But it’s worth it.
Saying NO, with no explanation why it doesn’t work for you, is a quick boundary we should never be afraid to put up.