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Category Archives: Hope

Jugular Exposed

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hands

He missed her. He still cared. He needed the truth.

“I have things I need to say to you. Things that it’s taken me over a year to process and come to terms with. I hope you’ll listen?”

His eyes softened. “Of course I’ll listen.”

She gathered courage she’d never possessed and told him that the person he’d loved was a broken, twisted version of herself. The depression had its claws deep and wouldn’t let go.

She knew she would cause pain, but explained where their relationship turned dark. She held back nothing, spilling the many hurts that had caused her countless hours of lost sleep and miles of self-doubt. Her words held no heat. Only honesty. She was strong enough now to give him that.

The bottom line was that she’d needed him to help navigate the darkness. But instead he’d caused her more pain, deepened the sad. Because she wasn’t good enough at her worst. Not for him. Not for anyone. So she had to leave him, and leave that place. It was the only way to survive.

Pausing there, her heart thumped heavily.  She felt the fear spidering as she waited for an indication that he understood why he’d lost her. What if he said she was dead wrong? What if he didn’t take any ownership of the destruction? She sat there, jugular exposed, swimming in a level of vulnerability she’d never experienced before. Underneath her calm expression she was a frightened child, ready to haul the steel curtain up around her heart.

Finally, he spoke.  “I have no excuses. I wasn’t there for you. All I can say is that I was so blinded by how much I love you that I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see what you needed. I let you down. And for that, I’m so fucking sorry. I’m sorry I made it worse, when all I’ve ever wanted to do was make you happy.”

His hand came across the table to grip hers tightly. She looked down at the joining, feeling the familiarity of his skin and the shape of this union.

I finally got through to him.

Fighting the knot in her throat, she replied softly, “And I didn’t have the capacity at that time to tell you what I needed. I was too far gone. I could only manage one of two extremes: sad and mad. I hated the person I was, but I could barely even hold on at that point. I couldn’t live that life any more, trying so fucking hard to make you happy when I was alone in the dark. It wasn’t fair to either of us.”

Neither heard the bachata song blaring through the speakers. The unspoken was far more deafening.

They searched each other’s faces, wondering what in the world to do now.

Her heart calmed, knowing that no matter what happened between them, she’d finally been brave enough to tell him the truth. She’d broken through to the light.

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This piece is being submitted to the amazing and 100th!!! Yeah Write Weekly Challenge grid. If you don’t know Yeah Write, you should. The crew at YW are not only amazingly talented bloggers who write and writers who blog, they’ve become my friends.  Not friends with benefits, you perv. Just friends. ;)

The Unfinished

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Sitting in the lush back seat of the chauffeured car, she stared down at the iPhone in her lap. His name and number stared back at her.

She was there on business for only a few short days and could have easily slid in and out of town without him knowing the difference. After all, it had been over a year since she’d pulled him up on her screen. Over a year since they’d exchanged a final painful goodbye. Yet something indescribable was screaming at her to make contact. It was a pull like the love she’d always had for him – undeniable and annoyingly persistent.

They were together for nearly three years. Everything fell apart. She moved away. And she moved on.

Except she didn’t.

Since the two of them had shattered she had dealt with blind dates, suffered the torment of speed dating, endured the crazies of online dating and had an embarrassingly horrific one night stand. She’d made poor decisions while drinking and tried to force feelings when there were none. She smirked, remembering the tribal-tattooed musclehead. That one had almost resulted in an intervention by her friends. She remembered the men who claimed to love her but left coldly and without explanation. Men that weren’t looking for the same things.  Men who were devilishly handsome but devoid of emotional connection.  Men who amused her but never managed to make her belly-laugh.  Men who could certainly turn her on, but never gave her butterflies. Shorter men, taller men, military men, musicians, men far away and men right around the corner… hell, her friends teased that they needed to create a flowchart to keep her love disasters straight.

All she knew was that she had things to say to this man. There was risk, for sure. Reaching out to him meant facing the possibility that he may be seeing someone else, or be married with kids. She didn’t think he would be, but he could also be completely cold or cruel towards her. Yet even though she was opening myself up to a world of potential hurt, she didn’t care. There was no way she could ever completely be whole again if she didn’t take the opportunity to voice her side.

She wouldn’t live her life as a fraud, having never faced the full extent of love and pain and letting go. She knew it was the unfinished holding her back, preventing her from fully opening her heart to anyone else. Yes. She needed to charge headfirst into this, acknowledging fully the element of danger.

The deep inhale and long exhale had a finality in its weight.

Still glaring at her phone, she thought to herself, “He needs to know how much he hurt me. He needs to know what I’ve gone through since the day I packed my car and drove away in tears. How I’ve changed. How the person he dated for three years was a broken, unhappy version of myself. And he needs to see the strong, vivacious woman that I’ve become since him.” Her heart didn’t leave her any choice.  It was time.

Her finger hovered over his number on the screen. And then it made contact.

The screen filled with his name.

rrriiiiiiingggggg….

rrriiiiiinggggggg…

*click*

“Ohmygod. …….  Hi.”

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This piece is being submitted to the amazing Yeah Write Weekly Challenge grid. If you don’t know Yeah Write, you should. The crew at YW are not only amazingly talented bloggers who write and writers who blog, they’ve become my friends.  Not friends with benefits, you perv. Just friends. 😉

Flexible only applies to me in yoga.

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At Camp Mighty, Maggie told the story of her Life List item to see the sun rise over the Aegean. Once there in Greece, fearlessly about to reach success, she realized that the sun only SET over the Aegean. Her attitude could have been Shitty McGrumpypants, but she chose instead to go with it. It may not have been *exactly* what she wanted, but a slight discrepancy in semantics wasn’t going to derail her enthusiasm. To her, this choice of perspective stood out in her mind as a huge life lesson.

Be rigid only if you want to break.

I am a planner by nature. I have lists for my lists. So when we were told to narrow down our Life List to just five items for 2013, I was all over that shit. I carry them with me everywhere.

house1WM

Yet only a mere 49 days into 2013, and I’m already finding that my top five goals for 2013 may need some tweaking. Not for any huge, earth-shattering reasons… simply for the reason that situations change. Circumstances shift.

One of the main goals I’m speaking of is the purchase of my first house. Some outside influences have swept into my life and are postponing the house hunt until my footing is steady again. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen for me this year. It just means my projected timeline of early Spring is pretty much out the window unless some miracles of miracles happen.

I can choose to kick and scream about it or I can go with it.

Duh. I know what I have to do, because you know what? The curveballs? They’re good for me. They’re making me grow.

The same way all the curveballs of 2011 brought me to Atlanta and into beginning this journey in the first place, these new plot twists are getting me out of my own comfort zone and testing the mindset of the “new me”.

A shift of plans does not equal failure. It doesn’t mean that I won’t reach my goals. It only means that I’ll get them completed a little differently than anticipated.  I know everything will work out for the best, however curvy my path may become.  And I also feel in my heart that these changes are what is best for me in the long run.

Good things are ahead. 🙂

Where She Belonged

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WingWM

The turbulence made the plane’s wings seesaw drunkenly upon landing in Newark. Even the weather knew something different was blowing into town.

She was so very frightened to return to this place that hadn’t been kind to her. It was a good thing she’d left before the damage was irreparable. Otherwise, it may have been impossible for the South to heal those broken emotional bones.

Now that she was returned and seated in the car they’d hired to bring her to the office, she took in the familiar vibe. Urban sprawl. Frigid winds that viciously stole her breath. Aggressive traffic. She remembered this unsettling feeling that she was conspicuous – a shock of red amidst endless grey.

Would anyone see a difference in her? Did they even remember her after a year away? Would they think she’d lost her edge?

Suddenly very unsure, she took evaluation of the ensemble she’d carefully chosen. The vivid turquoise wrap dress, sheer tights and nude patent pumps were purposefully a far cry from her typical grey shirt/black pants work ensemble. The severe blond bun had been replaced with long, loosely flowing strands of red. Where her tall frame was previously starved for nourishment it was now vital, strong and feminine. At least there was that.

dressyWM

Entering the office, conversations halted when she walked past. Whispers followed her strides as if they’d seen a ghost. In truth, they had. And that morning, her smile grew exponentially with each joyful exclamation of recognition, each hug received and each stunned remark about her appearance. Most couldn’t quite put their finger on it. Those who knew her best used the words, “bright”, “alive”, “glowing” and “radiant”.

They got it. They saw it.

It wasn’t the clothes or the hair color. She was different.

The job was executed with her usual style of fiery panache, making easy the complicated and making organized the complex. Confidence and self-assurance leapt from her every action and statement. She didn’t just complete the assignment. She soared.

When the big meeting ended, she needed a respite from the emotions stomping over one other in her mind. She waved to the still-familiar doormen on the way out of the building, then made her way to the railing at the water. And standing there, cursing the freezing wind, she finally let her mind relax and inhaled a breath of cold that made her lungs tingle in protest.

Freedom2WM

Everything was so different, but yet so much was still the same here. Most of all, she was so relieved to discover that her fears had been unfounded. Her coworkers had certainly missed her, based on the office buzz and number of baby pictures her male coworkers proudly offered for oohing and ahhhing.  She definitely didn’t miss these bitter temps or this frantic pace of life, but at least no one could possibly question her professional achievements after today. If anything, they’d say she’s better than she used to be. And the reason was simple: She left this place. This brave new woman that everyone wanted to see, talk to, and be around? She wouldn’t be this person if she still lived here. That same woman lifted her face, gazed at the Freedom Tower and told herself that it’s okay to miss the people and not miss the place. After all, she’d found her self, her happy, her dreams and her future in a place that had nothing to do with subways and snowstorms.

Her lips curved into a secretive smile. She’d do what she needed to do while she was here, and she’d do it more than well. But she couldn’t wait to go home.

And with that last thought, any lingering doubts of where she belonged sailed off with that icy wind over the Hudson. With one last glance at that magnificent view, she turned on one of those pretty heels and headed towards the building entrance.

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Don’t look at me (please) look at me.

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skyWM

“Peach, I just want you to know that I see you. I see that you’re saying everything is okay and that you’re fine… but you’re not. And it’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it. But I’m telling you that I see you, and I’m here.”

I froze on the other end of the line and sat there in stunned silence.

This meant I was failing at hiding everything that I knew would be a burden on my friends. After all, what my friends have been going through is so much more heavy/relevant/exciting than my boring things. And dammit, my other friends haven’t noticed anything was off, so how did this friend know?

Realizing how ridiculous I sounded even inside my own stupid head, I put the brakes on the negativity and figured it out.

It made me uncomfortable to be seen.

Since there was no way to wiggle out of it, I didn’t think. I just spoke whatever came to mind about how I was feeling, not caring how long I talked or what I said.  She listened until I finished and then just said gently, “see? that’s a LOT.”. I blew out a long exhale and said, “yeah… I guess it was.”.

Long after we hung up, I thought about how she knew anything was up. It wasn’t like I had let on outwardly that anything was wrong. Because oh, trust me – I have plenty of friends who would race to save me if I walked into a party with my skirt tucked into my thong, toilet paper dragging from a stiletto, and a rockin’ nip-slip going on… you bet I do. And no, I’ve never done that. Yet.  But I think it takes a special type of friend to know when you need a lifeline despite the fact that all outward appearances seem to be normal. This one brave woman had the courage to call me out my inner trainwreck when it felt like no one else gave a damn, and I loved her so hard for that.

Everyone needs friends who can see through the brave faces, the insistent ‘I’m fine.”s, and the plain ole bullshit. My friends’ gentle but blunt approach forced me to admit that I’d been shoving my own hurts aside to address the problems of everyone else, as if my own problems were of lesser importance. She made me acknowledge the value of my own needs and wants and admit that my ‘boring things’ are not boring. My things are heavy and relevant and exciting too, and she got it. She got me.

When that light bulb came on it felt like I was the toddler you discover out of bed at two in the morning, butt-naked and covered head to toe in chocolate frosting. I still felt like there was a cold breeze where there shouldn’t be, and I knew I was an absolute mess. But I was grinning anyway.

How could I not feel joy, knowing there are people in my life who love me no matter what kind of wreck I make of things? To have friends that know you better than you know yourself is priceless. Because when it comes down to it, we all just want to be seen, and heard, and truly understood. Even when it’s uncomfortable.
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Day 24: Big and Fuzzy Dream Monsters

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Credit Lisa Congdon

A recent addition to my Life List was #78: “Stop letting the fear of judgment dictate my decisions.” which, let’s be real, is code for “STOP GIVING A SHIT WHAT PEOPLE THINK.”

I’m speaking of courage.

You see, up to this point I’ve kept my big dreams and goals very protected. No, that’s not true. I’ve kept them a complete secret. Why? It’s simple. Self-preservation. If no one knows what they are, they can’t tell me my ambitions are wrong or silly or impossible.

Since returning from Camp Mighty, I’ve done some things that have taken incredible amounts of emotional strength.

I started by confronting three very close friends who have been less communicative or supportive of me lately than I’d hoped. Previous Peach would have justified their reasons/life situations and brushed off my own hurt feelings as being too sensitive. I’d have told myself I wasn’t being understanding of my besties and what they’re going through. But Current Peach decided to not let my hurt fester until I was seriously pissed off. I instead addressed the issue with each of them. Did I have a meltdown on two of those three when I came clean? YUP. BIG, UGLY CRYING INVOLVED. But I did it. And they all loved me even more for speaking up and voicing what I needed. I love them so much for hearing me out and understanding me. And in return, I hope they will give me the same courtesy of calling me out, should I ever drop the ball in our friendships.

If that wasn’t enough, I sat my family down in person and told them all about my experience at Camp Mighty and revealed to them the five goals I want to accomplish in 2013. Go here if you want to read em. I was nervous as I explained everything and walked them through my most personal wishes for this coming year. There were some raised eyebrows, some delighted laughter, and a lot of questions, but there was also love and support. So much. I can’t claim there was complete understanding, but for as much as they are capable, they got it. I even made sure they understood that there will be times that I will bail on them or not be as available. It’s only fair: I can’t expect them to innately know where my focus is, OR what kind of support I need from them, unless I verbalize it. They surprised me with their immediate and enthusiastic agreement. I am a lucky lady.

After these two emotional whoppers, I hit a wall physically. Maggie said in her talk: “Your body is a compass. Listen to it.” At that point, my body was worn down to the point of showing my Grumpy McCrankyPants. Perhaps it was all the travel – to/from Camp, then the six hour drive to my parent’s – but I’ve survived worse than that before. This level of tired felt like I had been slugged by the world’s largest Valium. I knew I should rest, but I felt preemptively guilty, because it was Thanksgiving and *they* say you should spend every waking second with family that you’re with them. But I flipped *they* a double bird. I listened to my compass and bowed out of family ice-skating time in favor of a 2.5hr nap. My family? They got it. No guilt trips, no resentment, just compassion. Awesome.

Now that I’ve recovered physically from the travel and had time to process all the discoveries and emotions of the past week, I’m finding this: My biggest, most secret goal is no longer shoved in the back of my dream closet. Yep, it’s peeking its little monster-head out into the light and invading my mind at the most bizarre of times… like in the shower. (I find it SO weird that I’m doing my best brainstorming in my too-small-to-shave-my-damn-legs-in standup shower.)

Why is this little critter a BFD? Because never before have I allowed myself the freedom to believe that this goal was possible, which is probably why I’ve never had these ow-motherf***er!-soap-in-the-eye moments before. Something has been unlocked. I’ve gained the courage to truly believe. And in doing so, it’s almost as if I’ve finally given myself permission to hunt down those big and fuzzy dream monsters and full-body tackle them. Ideas are developing. Plans are forming. Creating is happening.

I must admit, I’m not quite made of 100% courage though. Have I been able to be completely open about every single thing I have up my sleeve right now? No. For instance, I’m aware that I have not revealed the identity of my fuzzy dream monster(s). Some things are still percolating. Other things are still too raw, too precious for me to share yet.

Baby steps, people.  Courage takes time. But I’m getting there.

Day 7: Putting it down in words makes it pretty damn real.

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I rather enjoyed unleashing on this blog yesterday about my closed-mouth political policy, but I had even more fun with your comments!  (Glad you all appreciated my “butt-scratching in your general direction” line… Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all night month.)

My current music obsession is Ellie Goulding’s entire Halcyon album, but in particular is the single “Anything Could Happen”. Funky video, but the lyrics and rockin’-out-awesome-to-drive-to beat are what do it for me.

Anything Could Happen is my theme some as we quickly (!!!) approach my trip to Camp Mighty. All of us attending had to create and submit our Life List, and let me tell you, it’s wonderful what sitting down and forcing yourself to confront what YOU want to accomplish in your lifetime can do for the soul. It doesn’t matter that my items range in importance/significance from “Volunteering at a shelter for domestic violence victims” or “Donate to charity at least once a year” to “Buy myself something pretty from Tiffany’s” or “Stand on the cliffs in Ireland”.  Putting it down in words makes it pretty damn real. I think our time at Camp Mighty will be spent focusing on five single items that we wish to accomplish in the next year. I have three locked down, but I’m struggling with the remaining two.

Before you ask:  Yes, I’m hoping to gather my courage enough to put my Life List up here for all to see. But… um…. I’m allowed to be a widdle bit scared about being so naked in front of y’all, right? Eeek.

In the meantime, I have some Thank You notes to write tonight. Yes, I’m of the opinion that a handwritten declaration of gratitude is much preferable to any text, email, Facebook note or tweet.

Old fashioned? Maybe. But I have this hanging in my home, because I believe with all my heart that it is true.

I just hope the recipients will forgive my penmanship that remarkably resembles that of a four year old boy’s.  I tried. 😀

Hope everyone has a good Hump Day.