Dear Strong Soul: If Anyone Can Handle This It’s You

“I couldn’t find my words this past several months because I was out of words you expected me to say. I was out of what might feel comfortable. Comfortable for you to hear and more importantly comfortable for me to say…”

I have been struggling for months now to find my words because I thought I’d shared all that I could share to help with the process of loss. Last night I found them again. Life is all about timing. Painful yes. But a much needed lesson in allowing others to hurt authentically.

We made my best friend cry last night. Her dead sister and I. Unashamedly. Unabashedly. Uncontrollably.

It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced, and that’s saying a lot from someone whose job it is to bring you to tears.  As I watched her little face crumble into her chest I shoved my tongue hard into the roof of my mouth to distract from the heat of my own tears that were threatening to pour over my cheeks. I found myself looking upward and to the left to avoid being pulled into her discomfort. I was working and as such that demands a different part of me that cannot be taken off balance.

In one fell swoop her deceased sister had moved the conversation from laughter to profound discomfort. I was completely unprepared although I should know this energy well enough by now to have been ready for just about anything.  Over this past year since her death she has provoked me to issue ridiculous and often off color comments via text to her older sibling.

“Tell her she forgot to shave her belly button” among other things that should likely never be shared publicly.  My friend wouldn’t care what I shared here but that’s really not the purpose of my thoughts today.

I had no idea that she was in such profound pain.  She is so forthcoming about her journey through loss in her own blogs that I missed it somehow?  Maybe because we are too close to recognize it? Maybe because she is a lot like myself, she counsels the grief of others? Maybe because I hold her up as my example of how to be strong.

That’s it.

I hold all five feet of her as my idea of strength.  In fact, if I am honest about this, I can well recall the moment that her text arrived to me on the morning of her sisters tragic death. “She’s gone. My sister is gone” and the first thought that swept over me was….

“You got this girl. You got this. If anyone can handle this, its you”

I never told her that but I think she knew that’s what I was expecting.

So she did. She handled it. She swept through what had to happen in the days to follow. She got up, she brushed her teeth, she put on her eyeliner and she took charge. Exactly what I expected is exactly what she did.  I never saw her break. Not even as she stood in front of the colorful flowers and the urn at the funeral home and recited her own version of her sisters life and how she might expect others to handle her death.  And my friend handled it the way she thought her sister might expect.

She handled it the way I might expect. The way her mom might expect. The way her friends might expect. Her clients might expect.

She simply handled it.

And then last night as her sisters words about sex on the dining room table faded off into the inevitable giggles, she turned that table and took me to the truth. The room suddenly emptied of those that were physically present as I watched this little sister pull her broken older sister into her arms and rock her like a child.

And that’s not what I was expecting.  And I don’t think that’s what my five foot Wonder Woman was expecting either as her eyes darted quickly and then somehow slid down her face like wet paint and splashed into her broken heart.

In fact just this morning she recounted to me that it had all caught her off guard. Not that I needed that confirmation because it was written all over her brown eyes as she struggled to hide the fact that she knew…that I knew….

That she had been handling it because she was expected to handle it.

I knew the look.

Intimately.

And I will expect that many of you do too.

It caught me off guard too. A scene swelling in my mind of my caped crusader curled up into a ball that made her no bigger than the pillows on her couch.  With her sister in her awful polyester navy pants and bright red blouse wrapped tightly around her trying to console her pain. Not what I thought I would see. Not what my friend thought I would see either.

But something I needed to see. And something she needed to share with someone other than the little bear that was made of her sisters clothing. The little bear that was hidden under her chest as she curled up like her throw pillow.

I couldn’t find my words this past several months because I was out of words you expected me to say.  I was out of what might feel comfortable. Comfortable for you to hear and more importantly comfortable for me to say.

I’d like to thank Kerri. The little sister that died because she couldn’t hit a possum. Because her heart was too big to cause pain. Because she talked about bleaching her backside. And sex on the kitchen table.

And because she showed me what real strength looks like. It looks like a throw pillow wet with tears wrapped around a small bear. A wee Wonder Woman that breaks apart in the early hours and then unravels herself to her full five feet as the sun comes up. Brushes her teeth. Puts on her eyeliner.  And handles it the way she’s expected to.

The way I do. The way you do. The way all that feel so deeply do. Every single day.

And now I am left wondering why something so incredibly beautiful and courageous is something we don’t talk about.

Because it opens our own discomforts? Our own what’s “not expected” of us?

Perhaps.

Lets change that.  Because my intention going forward is a whole lot of….

“Well I didn’t expect that”

Of course not. Because you are doing what’s expected. In grieving, in losses, in love.

Stop it.

Show me. Show others. Show them the truth. Because they might be hiding their own.

Show us what we don’t expect you to do.  And then we can heal together.

Sending love to those that are curled up and crying before you stand up and do what’s expected.  I got ya. xo

 

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Best Thing

Ridiculous maybe. It’s how my heart works. Maybe yours does too and that’s why you’ve stuck with me through the narrative above.

Maybe you’ve felt disposable and that’s why you’re still with me.

Maybe it would help if you knew that I’ve felt that way too. Maybe if we are honest we can truly say that we feel like this today, or we felt like this yesterday.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams Bianco The Velveteen Rabbit

Somewhere out there is a worn out Steiff teddy with a hole in his foot and a nose stitched from heavy black thread. He was a gift to me as a baby, some 50 years back now, my companion who sat patiently in my pram waiting for me to grow old enough to love his fur off.

If you happened to find my old friend, I lost him one day two decade or so ago, during a move. It was only in the aftermath of unpacking that I discovered him missing and I was devastated. I can only imagine in my romantic mind that he zipped across the country in a U Haul and found a new home with someone that needed him. If you happened upon him, the slice in his foot a testament to the interest of a ten year old in all things medical. Craft scissors as scalpel I had only sliced but an inch when I realized that my friend was straw filled. I never forgave myself for causing him harm, so you may have found a worn band-aid stuck to his course fur. Oh, if you tip him the right way you might still hear the growl, its hard to say because it was beginning to fade in the years that I loved him.

I never replaced him. I couldn’t replace him. Wound into every sharp piece of straw were a thousand childhood giggles, a plethora of adolescent pain, and a smattering of fear of an adulthood I wasn’t necessarily prepared for.

You might have wondered at the worn places where his fur was rubbed clear off and replaced by something that resembled a blank needlepoint canvas.  One or two sharp mohair tufts existed in the middle and I would wake with red scratches on my neck from curling him up in my arms.  He was my best friend and I hope that whomever he found took from him the comfort that he so steadfastly offered me in my early years.

I will never fully understand how or why I lost him along the way, but he will always stand out in my mind as my old friend. Broken and wobbly where his knees bent. His head lopsided where he loosened in his neck joints. Two poorly constructed eyes and a tightly sewn nose with one black thread that stood straight out like an unruly whisker.

He was…the most beautiful friend in my world. I hope you treated him kindly despite his ugliness in appearance. I hope you understand that he wasn’t disposed of but lost one day by a young mum who still looks for him on every antique store shelf and at your local yard sales. Not out of nostalgia but out of a need to reconcile my guilt at feeling that an inanimate straw filled toy might feel that I simply let him go.

Ridiculous maybe. It’s how my heart works. Maybe yours does too and that’s why you’ve stuck with me through the narrative above.

Maybe you’ve felt disposable and that’s why you’re still with me.

Maybe it would help if you knew that I’ve felt that way too. Maybe if we are honest we can truly say that we feel like this today, or we felt like this yesterday.

It’s hard in our present world to not feel like something better is right around the corner. Technology is flipping devices our way with the speed of Grandma at the church pancake breakfast.  So much so that it is getting hard to keep up.

Way back in the day there were no ” no down payment, take 24 months to pay” that allowed us to rid of the furniture that we tired of after a short 6 months. Toss to the side of the road to become someone else’s “old but new to me”. By the time we got around to replacing something it had been completely used up, bereft of any plushness in the pillows, torn at the seams and it shifted sideways when you sat as if it may fold in half at any given moment. More often than not it would make its way out to the garage or the tree house, sometimes it found its new home among the paneled basements, but unless it was in two or three pieces, it stayed. Filled with memories of TV dinners on the aluminum fold up trays, memories of first kisses or when the baby peed all over the new upholstery. If you searched in the creases you might find pennies, or if you were lucky a quarter or two. Finders Keepers.

Today we have build a bed, build a shelf, build a bear even. A much cheaper version of things once crafted with care, now easily erected ( for the most part..have you ever read IKEA instructions after the age of 50?) and just as easily discarded when the mood strikes for a new color or new shape.  When the fiber fill rolls up and creates empty pockets, we wander in search of something that is better filled out, more comfortable to rest upon. Something prettier than what we had before.

It is most uncomfortable when you notice that we have started the same practice with each other.  Just today I read about a young man that took his own life at the urging of someone that boasted to love him. As I scrolled through the texted conversation that ensued prior to his death I was overcome with the painful realization that the words that flew were no more than instructions on how he could dispose of himself. Her words screamed to me, to him; that he was replaceable. His own words in reply were of a young boy scrambling to hold on to the end of an old couch that was tipping with each syllable that she presented. “I have to go to the beach with my mom, I’ll do it later”. There he was gripping onto something familiar, something that had been with him for years and something that felt safe. But to no avail. He asked for one more moment to say “I love you” and she doused it with “They know how much you love them already”.  Carefully deconstructed I read “You’ve loved them enough, that will get them through this, and now it’s time for you to go” Something else will replace you…eventually.

The usual comments followed on the news thread. I was grateful to see so many that shared the pain of the family left behind, those that empathized and were so deeply affected by a death that was so needless. I was then truly horrified at the comments that suggested the young lady had done no more than to encourage someone who didn’t want to live in the first place. “So what” “She only helped to deplete the surface population” “Waste of space”.

Like the corner unit that no longer fit into the decor it was perfectly OK to break him down and to throw him to the roadside.

It is not OK at all.

It’s reprehensible. This is not OK. It’s inhumane.

Souls are not disposable.

Human souls are truly no more than the teddy bears that we wore the absolute hell out of because if we did it right; we loved them too hard to let them go. They stunk, they were stained. Their ears fell off, their stuffing gave way to holes that you could stick your thumb in and use as a carry handle. They were no less important just because their eyes fell out or their mouths drooped into the corners. No less important because they could no longer sit straight up at the end of the bed but sat flopped because the joints wore out. We cried on them, drooled on them, dragged them through the yard, in the wagon and stuffed them into our bike baskets.  We wrecked them with love.

We don’t love something until it falls to pieces and then replace it with the next best thing available.

I don’t comprehend the thought process of a disposable world.

I hope I never do.

I think I’ll flood the world with teddy bears.

If you find mine. Call me. He was loved into ugly. And he’s completely irreplaceable.

 

#buysomeoneabeartoday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Resolve To Resolve To Be Me

I resolve to live my life according to how it is intended to be lived in each breath. I have no control over the moments to come and therefore cannot decide what they will look like or who I might be. I resolve to give up my need to control that destiny and to be kind to myself when I fall on my face because I thought I knew better.

I don’t particularly like exercise and I like it far less when it’s the choreographed kind. A friend of mine tried her best this year to sway me into the mindset of the athlete and she may have succeeded were it not for the fact that I just don’t like exercise. The body is more than willing; in fact it makes it clear each morning that it really just wants a good stretch and perhaps some air beyond the apartment walls. The mind however is much stronger and it wins each time with seductive promise of hot coffee and solitude.

I was 13 years old when I first decided I wasn’t good enough. I decided at that time that I  should try to shake it out like Suzanne Somers.  I’d slide into one of my leotard tops..the all in ones with the metal snaps at the genital area. You might recall these, and further recall the sharp sting they created if they unsnapped during a leg lift.  I bought the thigh master to complement my regime. Suzanne would jump all over in her pink outfits and bobbing pony tail while I sat on the floor and felt useless with my bruised vagina and matching thighs.

And every year from then on I was all in on January 1st with the new gadget or regime of the time. I’ve been tangled in skipping ropes, fallen over stair steppers, rolled off of blow up balls, dropped free weights on my foot and lost control on a stationary bike. I am quite simply not made for this and have finally acknowledged my incapacity to be athletic.

And I am OK with that. No more resolutions to try to change who I am. I am over it.

And with that realization I swear I felt 20 pounds of guilt and not being good enough fall from both shoulders.

I resolve to be what I can be in the moments only. I do not resolve to do or be anything more or anyone different in “just three short months”.  If I am intended to be that I will get there regardless. It is just that simple.

So here is my list of what I resolve to be. If it resonates with you please copy and keep it.

I resolve to be peace when I am feeling peaceful. And if for whatever reason I am feeling less than such I resolve to allow myself to feel the reasons to the contrary. I will get back to peace eventually.

I resolve to be light when the light shines for me. And I resolve to accept the dark when the light is dimmed by the human experience. I will allow myself to feel the dark knowing that the light comes back at the end of it.

I resolve to be loving when I am capable of pure loving. I further resolve to allow myself the capacity for less than pure when the experience does not provide that desire. I will come back to love once I understand why it is difficult in this moment.

I resolve to be present at all times even if I am present for simply myself. I will allow for the need to pull back from being present to all when I must heal myself first. I will get back to being present for all eventually.

I resolve to give what I can give, when I am capable of giving it. I resolve to allow myself to be less judgemental of my capacity in the moments that I can give no further. I will come back to giving it all.

I resolve to be a better person and resolve to allow for those moments when that person is difficult to find. To be gentle on my need to fit in and fit out. I am a better person already and need to understand that.

I resolve to be strong in the moments when I am strongest and allow for the moments when weakness pushes out the power. I will get back to strong again.

I resolve to live my life according to how it is intended to be lived in each breath. I have no control over the moments to come and therefore cannot decide what they will look like or who I might be. I resolve to give up my need to control that destiny and to be kind to myself when I fall on my face because I thought I knew better.

And finally….

I resolve to love who I am in the moment. With my scars and my less than perfect pieces. I resolve to love when coffee wins over walking. And when walking wins over coffee. I resolve to love when cheesecake wins over salad. I resolve to love the bad choices and enjoy the choice I made. I resolve to love the good choices and enjoy the choice I made.

I resolve to simply resolve to be me.

And I resolve to love myself through every single step of it.

Happy New Year my friends.

In love and in light.

Tania