Being Strong

There is a vulnerability that comes with being strong; it stems from an expectation (likely of ourselves) that we don’t need anyone’s help. That we can walk away from everyone and anyone at any time without consequence. Yes, we can make a choice to change our lives, but its never easy. Change is wrought with emotions and often we carry that burden alone.

In my life, I suspect there will never be a harder decision to make than the day I told my ex-husband that I couldn’t do it anymore, that I couldn’t be his wife, that I simply couldn’t be this person that I was ‘supposed’ to be anymore. And with love and support from the people in my life, I stood tall and I stood strong as I walked away from everything I had known and took a chance on me.

After that, life should be easy.

But its never that simple. Being confident, being strong and being me feels so good, but there will always be casualties of change. People, places and things in my life may shift but I’m learning to let those things go, because being strong doesn’t mean that I need to have everything figured out.

Being strong means staying true to my heart, to my values and to my soul.
Being strong means knowing my own priorities and not being led astray.
Being strong means being brave enough to dream and a willingness to sacrifice to get there.
Being strong means knowing when I can’t do it alone and asking for help.
But most of all, being strong means knowing when to let go.

Advertisements

Presence

I’ve come to realize that one of the the greatest gifts we have to share is our presence, our undivided attention and the vulnerability of exposing and sharing our true selves. This seemingly simple offering can not be quantified by money or material expectations because its reach far surpasses anything  physically tangible; the connecting of souls is visceral.

However, I’ve also discovered that although I’ve been sharing myself with others my entire life, I’d neglected to take the time to truly connect with me. I gave so much away, never pausing to realize that the person I needed to love and nourish was me. In 2016 I put a lot of energy into reflecting who I wanted to be; I don’t have all of the answers but being consciously present has helped me discover so many amazing things about living a life that brings me joy and happiness.

I am a unique, quirky and nerdy woman who stands proud and refuses to apologize for loving words, the pursuit of knowledge, creating lists and breathing in nature wholeheartedly. I am a woman who feels deeply, who empathizes, cares and tends to others, but no longer at the expense of myself. I pay attention and trust in my feelings, my experience and my journey. I love deeply, but I’ve learned how important it is to love myself first.

I am a mother and my children are a piece of me always. I trust in the messages and lessons my heart wants to share with my boys and I strive to parent from a place of love, honesty and trust. I have two hopes for my boys, the first is for them to always feel safe to talk to me about their dreams, their fears and everything in between and second, I want only  for them to grow up and be their most authentic and happy selves.

I believe in honesty, loyalty, empathy and authenticity. I believe that true strength emerges when we are brave and step forward in the face of fear. For years I was afraid to admit I was unhappy; to admit that my feelings mattered, that I mattered. I was afraid to walk away from a marriage and a life that brought me no joy.

I am no longer that woman, after stagnating for years, I am evolving each and every day; discovering, appreciating and respecting the opportunity to meet the woman I was once so scared to become.

I am ready to find her, finally.

I’m jealous of the people who came out early in life, who knew, with certainty that they were gay. I have no doubt that they struggled in ways I’ll never know, but to hear the song their heart was singing and to stand proud and claim it, how can you not be envious?

I am a 35 year old, soon to be divorced, quite likely gay, mother to two boys.

Even now, I lack the clarity of self, that others had early in their youth about who I truly am. In my life, I’ve both learned and forgotten many things, but mostly I seem to have lost myself along the way and now, finally, I am ready to find her.

But no matter how many articles I read, there is no road map to my self discovery and no shortcut to finding my future self. Because, quite simply I am an individual and each journey is unique.

So, each day I wake, fumbling my way through the day trying to find meaning in my journey as I rediscover the girl I once was, the woman I’ve become and most importantly the woman I want to be. The struggle is real and some days the success feels so sweet and other days I’m happy to make it through the day.

These mini mantras help guide and remind me stay the course through all the days.

Feel the Feelings. 
The majority of my adult life, and probably much of my youth, was spent enjoying the good feelings and ignoring the less desirable. I re-directed my energy into other people or activities to avoid feeling things that might require real reflection and change. I’ve come to realize that was an incredibly ineffective way to live my life.

These days, I’m trying to live at a slower, more deliberate pace that allows me the opportunity to feel the feelings and honestly, its overwhelming. I’ve felt more sadness and melancholy in recent months then I have in years; but I know that in allowing it, sitting in it and truly feeling it, I will one day be able to stop metaphorically running away from it.

What’s in it For Me?
One of my biggest pitfalls is that I care too much for others. Your happiness, is my happiness, or so I thought. In reality, I simply stopped caring about my own happiness and instead learned to prioritize everyone else without a second thought for my own personal well being, wants or desires. Where others are learning to give of themselves, I instead am learning to ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’ Is there a genuine personal benefit to my actions, or am I simply trying to appease?

Although in life there must be balance, my experience is skewed so far towards caring for others that for now, I need to make it all about me; my wants, my desires and my life.

Shine Brightly.
Two words that strongly resonate for me; I don’t want to be the candle struggling to stay lit, I want to be the bonfire in the night and the sunshine on a cloudless day. These two words remind me, everyday, to embrace all aspects of myself, to be confident in who I am,  what I believe and who I choose to love. My heart deserves to sing and my soul deserves to shine each and every day that I am alive.

I can’t help but wonder when I’ll be ready to meet the gorgeous soul I know I’m supposed to be. But growth and change come with time and will not be rushed to meet anyone’s agenda. Today, I focus on my mini mantras and living my life as honestly and authentically as I can; in time I’m certain I will find the clarity I seek.

Sometimes, believing is seeing.

accept-yiIn life, there are the truths about ourselves that we accept and know to be true and there are others that we choose to deny, fail to acknowledge or perhaps never bothered to notice. To truly accept myself for who I am, its essential that I remove the blinders, and choose to both embrace and accept the hard truths.

I know no other way, except to work hard, to strive for more and to put in the effort that is required to get there. On the flip side, I’m learning this particular trait is driven not just by a desire to succeed (as I’ve always believed) but also by a fear of failure.

Day to day, I recognize that failure is part of growth, but when it was suggested to me that perhaps I stayed in a marriage for years past its natural expiry, because I didn’t like failing, I was almost offended at the thought. But now, a year later I can accept, with an open heart, that maybe a fear of failure played a role in my previous decision to stay.

I am driven; when I want something, there’s no stopping me, and I wanted that marriage to work. But one person, can’t make a partnership successful and I did ultimately have to admit defeat.

I’ve also had to admit this year, that I need help; strong as I may be, I am  human and accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness. I am fortunate to have people in my life that lift me up, celebrate and encourage me and every single day I am thankful they have chosen me.

Given my affinity for pleasing others it s a struggle at times to distinguish between support and validation; to remember that no one else’s interpretation or opinion of me is more important than my own. Nice as it is when my friends build me up, their opinion is simply that and must not be used as a yardstick to measure my success.

A relatively new friend, a lifelong lesbian, told me today ‘it’s all about the body language…you have lesbian written all over you’ and I can’t stop reading it. I’ve always felt I had an assumed straightness and the thought that the opposite is even a consideration has given me a multitude of smiles today.

Not because I need a label (I don’t and I’m not claiming one now) but because it gives me some hope that what I’m finally beginning to admit to myself is also being projected into the way I present myself and as a result what others see in me.

At first I was unsure if this was an example of validation or a friend building me up, but as the words unfolded in front of me, I’ve realized the latter is true. An acknowledgement of what she sees in me is not influencing the way I see myself, quite the opposite; she is simply seeing what I am finally accepting and believing in myself.

365 days to Shine

10269011_857219927661044_358550143_nOne year ago today, I did quite possibly the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I changed my life. On the screen before me, were carefully crafted words that could only barely begin to scratch the surface of expressing how broken I truly was.

I  had written, read and rewritten those words so many times I should have been able to recite them from memory, but I knew that I couldn’t. The only way that I could possibly say everything that needed to be said, would be to find strength in the words I had written.

I said a lot of things and most of them are far too personal for sharing, but this snippet, embodies everything that I wanted for myself and everything that I continue to strive to achieve.

And the truth is…
I’m tired of feeling guilty.
I’m tired of trying to be everything for everyone all the time.
And most of all, I’m tired of trying so hard to have a relationship that feeds my soul and brings me love and light and happiness.

Since that day, I have shed many tears and I have struggled through many days; I have laughed, I have loved and most importantly, I have lived.

The past 365 days have given me the opportunity to begin to dust off the layers of negativity, perception and judgement that were weighing so heavily on my soul. An opportunity to rediscover, who I am and how to stand proud, always; as an individual worthy of all the amazing experiences that the life before me has to offer.

The past 365 days, have seen me grow. I’ve taken steps forward and I’ve taken steps back, but at least I’ve stopped standing still.

One year ago today, I was sitting on my couch, riddled with anxiety, waiting to tell the man I had married that our life together wasn’t enough. I felt a fear like no other: of the pain I would inflict, of a future marred by a failed marriage, of an inability to make it on my own.

But today, 365 days later, although my future is just as uncertain, I’ve let those fears go and now my outlook is rooted in hope and joy and love.  And as for tomorrow, I say bring it on!

Pushing Through or Moving Forward?

14022161_2063026770503249_7996733661336964197_nTonight, I was going to go to the gym. Simply because I wanted to and because I know the resulting flood of endorphins would feel so good. Emotions have run high this past week, I’ve felt overwhelmed more than once: by sadness, joy, frustration and even embarrassment.

Given my default is to stay busy and push through, I know that owning and feeling those emotions is valuable for me. It’s not about wallowing, it’s about simply feeling and for the most part, I’m doing OK.

I’m learning to differentiate between pushing through and moving forward and there is a distinct difference between the two.

Where I’m faltering, is in the relationship realm, because I’m not the only person involved. I broke things off and despite the hurt, we both agree that our connection is strong and a friendship is worth the growing pains, but how do we get there? How do we take a relationship that was all encompassing and help it evolve into something more natural, when such big feelings are involved?

They say a watched pot never boils and I can’t help but think it’s the same, that with time, healing and growth we will find our way to a brand new blossoming and supportive friendship. But without some space for change to happen, something in the equation (the friendship, the personal growth or worse, both) may become stifled and stagnate.

We had and continue to have a ‘relationship’ built on honesty and trust; tonight we spoke freely, we cried, we hugged and we tried to let expectations go.

Amongst the sadness, I feel a sense of peace after our talk  and I ‘m hopeful that sleep will come easy for both of us tonight. Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to keep moving forward, even if I’m not quite sure what that looks like.

I Had to Let Her Go

changeThey say that hindsight is twenty-twenty, and for good reason. When we are removed from a situation, everything appears so clear and yet amidst swirling emotions we are lucky to catch but a glimpse of lucid clarity.

I’ve been struggling; struggling to understand what I need, what I feel, where I’m going.

And I have virtually no answers, after a month of contemplation. I know, that my task right now is to be present, right here, in this moment before me. To listen to to my heart and actually hear the song it has always been trying to sing.

I broke it off with my girl; not because we fought and not because I stopped caring, but because I couldn’t care enough. I wanted to be ready to share myself, to give myself, to be a partner, but with each step forward we took, I found myself hesitating and pulling away just a little bit more.

She says, maybe we met each other too soon, maybe, if we’d met each other a year later, we both would have grown enough on our own, to grow together. But we didn’t.

She taught me so much; how to love and how to laugh. She showed me, that I am worthy of so much more tenderness than I ever imagined. She embraced me and supported me when I was broken and scared and every day, she encouraged me to blossom.

And I had to let her go.

Because when I really listened, I knew, that this journey (my awakening) had only just begun and I need to walk much further down the path of self discovery, before I will be able to truly give myself to another.

I can only hope, that I have given her, even just a fraction of the strength, self-confidence and honor that she has instilled in me.