Reckoning






Reckoning (For New Life)
See
Once broken down to the bones
By my history
Pain so intense, tunnel vision at an all-time high
Angry and defiant, desperate for influence
Screaming on the inside
Venturing to dark places for relief
Hear
Obvious feelings without the words to express them
Make for awkward conversation
Translating high expectations without the intention
Perceived discomfort leading to my taking responsibility
When supposedly rejected
Silence created stories in my head
To ease the dread of not having answers
Insecurity bred anxiety
Anxiety bred impulse
Out of character
I had become a stranger to my own self
It took a hard thing to give me pause
A conversation that became a dead reckoning
Distance and disconnection was tearing me apart
And tearing me away from those that meant the most
Know
That I was not myself
For over a year
Buried underneath resentment
Trapped in my own vengeful thoughts
Many moments where I questioned
Where bitterness rooted down
Why I built walls, instead of setting boundaries
Escaping to cope
But trapped all the while
Darkness does not go without remnants
Storms do not settle without aftermath
Many unknowns lie ahead
Fear of repetition peeks its head out of the shadows
At least every once in a while
I ask for forgiveness
For lashing out against loved ones
For clinging to false distractions
For being self-centered
Such actions and emotions were a disguise
As a longing for close relationships and intimacy
A desire to know and be known
But what I see now is the miracle of grace
Embracing the here and now
Who we are and where we’re at
Trusting in what we cannot predict
Believing not in forgetting, but in learning and loving
It is what it is

Let it be

Music Monday


Over the last two months, I’ve been genuinely getting into instrumental or classical covers of contemporary music. Not only is it relaxing, but I also enjoy listening to it during any kind of writing session. Granted, I have plenty of other favorites, but this is just to start….




Love Story-Dallas String Quartet (Taylor Swift cover)



Just The Way You Are-The Piano Guys (Bruno Mars cover) 
Fact: This was the song that I was referring to in one of my most vulnerable posts to date.  





Black and Yellow-Josh Vietti (Whiz Kahlifa cover) 




Take Me To Church-Brooklyn Duo (Hozier cover)




Smells Like Teen Spirit-The Jingle Punks Hipster Orchestra (Nirvana Cover)



Have a great week!

All videos can be found on Youtube.


Connection Complexion


If there was one thing I found myself starving for this past year, one thing I find myself needing the most in the coming year, it’s connection. By nature, I am absolutely fascinated by people and what their stories are. I love getting to know a person, discovering what they’re passionate about and what makes them tick. I consider myself both an introvert and extrovert, where I can appreciate solitude, but more lean toward togetherness. 

 


I didn’t get to experience much of that, at least in ways where it felt like I was doing more than just surviving a really difficult season in my life. I felt closer to people that lived in different states or even different countries, and incredibly distant from immediate family or friends that lived in the next town over. I was insecure and scared, constantly torn between facing the reality of what I was going through and desperately wanting to move beyond all of it. I didn’t know how to articulate what I needed, and didn’t want to come across as selfish or inconsiderate. There were times where I didn’t even know what I needed, if it was to talk about the matter at hand or to distract myself for a little bit. It was self-imposed pressure to choose between one extreme or the other. 

I held a lot of things in, and that festered into a pain so great that I couldn’t see beyond it. As a result, I often shared parts of my story at the wrong time, (or at least what seemed like bad timing) or put my insecurities onto others. When someone didn’t show up or get back to me about spending time together, I automatically blamed myself. Certain relationship experiences made me want to put up walls and close myself off for a while. I was so afraid that I barely went to church and at times had to force myself to go out and be social. It all came down to a very large and very bold-faced lie: 

I’ve been abandoned. I’m not wanted. And I’m definitely not lovable. 


How terrible and sad is that? It’s no wonder how that attitude slowly turned me into a different person


That’s not to say connection should, or has to involve baring your soul in front of people. One of my favorite memories from this past year took place when I went back to Iowa for homecoming weekend. I met up with one of my closest friends at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, and we basically spent the night drinking beer and margaritas, watching sports, and making fun of each other. I’ve never heard him curse so much in the time that we’ve known each other, and after midnight I was fighting to keep my eyes open because I didn’t want it to end. 

It was unplanned, unexpected, and wonderful. Quality time should be intentional, but not totally manufactured in the sense that it could easily lead to disappointment. A lot of times I can just enjoying being with someone without having to carry on much of a conversation; a comfortable silence, as it’s called. 

Connection, especially in today’s culture, seems to have more questions than answers. I can’t pretend that I understand why being busy has become a badge of honor, or why we do so much to the point of being unavailable. We’re supposedly so attached to our cell phones, but yet I know more people that don’t answer calls or respond to text messages. It’s sad when they only way you know if someone is even alive is through updates and photos on Facebook, though that is better than nothing.

I’ve learned the hard way that most of the time, all you really can do is take it with a grain of salt. Life happens. Everyone goes through rough seasons, and it’s not always about whether or not those of us on the other end did or said something wrong. I have friends where we can go weeks or months without speaking, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about one another. The older you get, the more people you have to keep up with, and eventually we might have to choose who we want in our circle and who we don’t. It’s not personal, and it’s not meant to be hurtful.

In light all of that, I’ve realized that the best connections I can make are with myself and with God. By standing firm in my identity, and having a keen sense of self-awareness, everything else kind of falls into place on it’s own; interacting with others becomes easier, and there’s a lot less fear and anxiety involved. I’m not choosing individualism over community, but I can’t be dependent on people or circumstances to bring me joy and happiness. Change is constant, and while I can’t control what happens, I can choose to be calm and trusting about all of it.

In hindsight, I do wish that I had been stronger, and had handled some things differently. I don’t always know what the right thing is, and that’s OK. There is no formula, but there is grace, forgiveness, and redemption. I choose that road, not just with others, but for myself as well.

Photo Credit

When Love Came To Stay


 
 
 
Why is it so hard for you to love yourself?
 
I repeatedly ask myself this question as I look at my reflection in the mirror, which is now covered in “name tags,” or words and phrases that come together to form a definition about who we are. This exercise comes from an e-course that I’ve been involved with called Be You and Love It,allowing me to wrestle with my own identity, but to also experience wholeness in the process. I can honestly say that it has been a lifeline, and am beyond grateful for the woman who created it.
 
Yet the question still remains…why is it so hard?
 
From a general standpoint, self-love seems apathetic, as though you don’t care for anyone else around you. If you speak it outwardly, you’re either labeled as conceited, self-involved, or perhaps even bitchy. In some Christian circles, loving yourself is akin to not fully loving Jesus, or not putting Him above all else. And whether I’m looking at it from a spiritual standpoint or not, it seemed superficial and preachy; as though by following a particular formula, you’d somehow find the answer and instantly feel good. And I can’t stand that kind of sugar-coated thinking.
 
In my own experience, it has been challenging because I was never taught how to accept the way that God made me, to embrace my imperfections as opposed to trying to hide or change them. It’s possible that those who should have been examples didn’t know how to love themselves either, therefore passing it onto me.  And because certain messages where coming from those older than I (most of them were adults and family members), it didn’t occur to me that their views were only one perspective. Even after I became a Christian, that perspective often drowned out God’s Truth.
 
That’s exactly why it has taken me thirteen years to fully understand the concept; wherever I turned, there was always somebody telling me that I was not enough, and I felt like I never would be.
///
I suppose I’ve been afraid to love myself because it seemed to indicate that I had to walk alone.
 
“Do what you can for yourself, so that you won’t need it from someone else.”
 
But real love isn’t independent, least of all from God. It’s a partnership, an equal partnership.
 
Self-love is hard work, and to espouse it means to be saturated in the love and Grace of God. That love pours out onto you, and you in turn pour that love into others.
 
If we can love others, why shouldn’t we be able to do the same for ourselves? It doesn’t always have to involve making a list of personal attributes or reasons why we have worth. I’ve realized that love and acceptance isn’t just rooted in identity; it’s about what we do for ourselves as well. We need to do things that make us come alive because being ourselves is how we truly live. It means setting boundaries, because we know that we can only give so much before exhaustion and resentment sets in. It means recognizing that some relationships are for a lifetime, while others are for a season. It’s knowing when to keep fighting and when to surrender. It’s taking responsibility for our own actions and choices, but understanding that we’re not responsible for that of others.
 
 For me, it’s nourishing my inner child that adores Disney movies, laughing at random moments, and going on adventures. If I can’t do that, I withdraw.
 
If love is allowing another person to be human, then we must give our own person that same permission.  Permission to show up, mess up, and not stretch ourselves to where we’re trying too damn hard.
 
To love ourselves is to merely be ourselves.
 
///
 
 
I did the name tag exercise after I wrote those words in my journal; I needed to be alone, without distraction and without needing to explain what I was doing. I used yellow for the “bad” thoughts/opinions, and orange for the “good” ones. I started sticking the yellow tags on my mirror, an instrumental version of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” came on my iPad, followed by Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off.” I don’t usually pay attention to signs or symbolism, but something was happening and it brought tears to my eyes. These words, many of which had been stuck onto me over a decade by peers and others in a state frustration, stared at me like a tiger waiting to pounce.
 
 
 
The orange ones were composed of a much shorter list, and I felt rather indifferent as I wrote them out. It seemed cliché almost, as though I’d heard those words a thousand times before and they no longer meant anything. I knew they were true to some degree, but I’ve always struggled with actually believing them. I can tell the difference between a genuine compliment and being buttered up; it’s why I shudder and bristle when a random guy calls me “beautiful” or “sexy” instead of being flattered. It’s a matter of trust, mostly, as opposed to words themselves. I can trust someone that knows my heart and has seen me at my worst, but definitely not a slime ball who only wants to take me home for the night.
 
But as I looked at them, I kept thinking how none of those names, good or bad, actually define me. Some of them are opinions and some are flat out lies. Others are just reality, and there are even those that have actually become assets over time.
 
///
 
It really is a journey, and one where I continue to grow and evolve, one day at a time. I accept that it is not a singular transformation, and there are days where I’m going to dislike who I see and wish that certain things were different, like the fact that I am deep and sensitive. I’m thankful for those who have been a positive influence, and continue to be as I experience different stages and transitions. I’ve been blessed to know some amazing men and women who exude a confidence and sense of self that I’m almost jealous of. But I’m getting there.
 
 
 

 

Love does not need a thousand reasons or adjectives, but a simple foundation that offers quiet strength. I will keep saying this until I run out of breath: I am a human being and a child of God, and I rest in that. 
 

It Takes Two



What surprised you this year?



I started going to networking events this summer as a way to not only to meet potential professional contacts, but as a way to get out and and be around people if the majority of my friends were busy. They’re definitely a great way to make connections, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to always be open to the possibilities.

I can’t remember who initiated the conversation; it was one of those things where we both saw each other at the same time (albeit walking in different directions) and just started talking. He was a year or two older than I and had gone to school in the city. I discovered that we both shared a liking for adventure and going out and doing things (as opposed to binge-watching Netflix all the time). He was independent and well-traveled, and was close to his family.

He asked for my number by the end of the night, and the best way to describe it was like finding twenty bucks in a washing machine. I’ll call him Adam, as he looked more like one than his actual given name. We went out for drinks soon after, and being with him was a breath of fresh air, especially in light of what else was going on at the time. I was definitely attracted to his personality, but there was something about him that was both mature and sexy. He had his own place and was very ambitious.To cap it off, he pursued me, complimented me, and overall made it clear that he was interested.

I might have been getting ahead of myself, but it felt good to be wanted by a man. A man who wasn’t a kid. Or at least that’s how it felt when I was around him.

But then things took an unexpected turn; we were supposed to go put on what would have been our third or fourth date, and he never confirmed with me what was going on. I didn’t hear from him for almost a week, and what he told me that he would explain the details, that call never came either. From then on, communication was sporadic, and I had to literally keep my phone on all the time because if I missed a call or a text, I could never reach him after the fact. I sensed that it had little to do with me, but that didn’t stop the insecurities from coming out in full force. The last time we’d gotten together in person, I’d shared a little bit about some difficult experiences in my life, though kept it very-surface level. Let’s just say he responded in a way that made me wish I’d hadn’t said anything at all, and I occasionally wondered if that had something to do with the void in conversation.

By the time we actually got in touch again, I was very anxious and didn’t want him to see me in such a state. It had been about three weeks since we’d last seen each other, but I needed to calm down first. I asked him if he wanted to touch base after Labor Day, but never received a response. We haven’t spoken since, and while there are times where I’ve wanted to reach out, I didn’t want to waste my energy on chasing him. It would have just been out of loneliness. 

I was sad at first, partly because of it being over, but mostly because of how it ended. I realized how much I hate being left, or not being the one to have the last word in a situation like this. It was like getting a carrot dangled in front of my face, only to have it taken away a short time later. 

Yet, meeting and getting to know him wasn’t for nothing; for once, I was truly able to stand firm in the truth that I am NOT responsible for others’ actions, choices, or opinions about me. 

I won’t deny the possibility of influence, but in any kind of relationship, both parties are completely capable of being honest with one another. Whatever his reasoning, he should have been able to come to me about it, even if something had changed at that point. We hadn’t really defined what we both wanted, and because of that there might have been assumptions on both sides. And maybe it was one of those things where because you haven’t spend that much time together, it’s easier to just stop talking. 

When that happens, it sure as hell hurts. But the best thing to do is to thank God for the experience and for what it taught me, and to hold onto that perspective.

I certainly can’t depend on people to give me peace or closure when this stuff happens, but I do understand now that I need communication with the other person in order for a relationship to work. Regardless of where we’re at, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re human. We might not owe each anything early on, but if he can’t recognize that I’m human (whether that be emotionally or sexually), than that’s not a man that I want to be with. 

If there’s one thing it comes down to, it’s this: 

It might sound selfish or conceited, but I stand by it. I can’t blame myself anymore, and I won’t. I know what I want, but I also know what I need.

Music Monday





Break On Me-Keith Urban
-One of my new absolute favorites; not just by him, but also in general. I’m thankful for the people in my life that allow me to do this.


Hold Me Up-Conrad Sewell




Drink You Away-Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton 
-If JT ever collaborates with anyone on a country song, I will be one happy lady!



Lay it All on Me-Rudimental and Ed Sheeran


Smoke Break-Carrie Underwood
-A reminder the underneath certain labels, professions, or beliefs…we’re all human here.

Have a great week!!

When You Walk In


Don’t judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.
-Unknown

I used to, and still do wonder if there is ever an ideal time to meet people. Perhaps the beginning of the new school year, or after the clock strikes midnight and the calendar changes. Those are the times where we all seem to have clean slates, when we can convince ourselves that we’re carrying around a little less baggage, or that we’ve left it behind entirely. And while I did meet some of my closest college friends in the first few months of the semester, we didn’t begin to truly get to know one another until much later, when I began slowly peeling the layers off, coming out of my shell, whatever you want to call it. It was nerve-wracking and a little embarrassing, being aware of what I wanted and who I wanted to be, but clueless on how to articulate it. Even when I look back, not just to five years ago, but a decade or so, I struggle not to shudder at the way I acted around others. I ache to tell that young girl what she barely heard growing up: it’s OK. You’re OK. You’re doing the very best you can.

It’s something I’m having to remind myself of to this very day.

The transition of adulthood and finding my place has been a challenging, and a somewhat lonely endeavor. Community and quality time is not as organic as it used to be, where I’ve had to flex my confidence muscles and begin to do things without apology, without feeling like I had to explain or justify my choices. The feeling in itself has been freeing, but I’ve struggled with how to articulate my experience; more specifically, adjusting to my parents’ divorce and learning how to walk again after being emotionally paralyzed for a long time. I had no idea how to explain that to anybody in a way that communicated being strong and secure, while not sugarcoating the pain and grief that came along with it.

I try not to force the topic of my personal history, but I don’t necessarily feel the need to hide it either. This past summer I went on a few dates with a guy,  and on one particular afternoon we were naturally talking  about our backgrounds and upbringing.  I kept it pretty surface level, given that we were in public and I wasn’t sure what he wanted from me at that point. But as the day went on I found my curtain-like defenses falling a bit, and didn’t see the harm of going slightly deeper since he had broached the subject. His response was basically to suck it up and get over it, and anyone who knows me is aware of how much I resent that kind of analogy. I hadn’t poured my heart out by any means, but I was a little put off by his lack of compassion. When communication became sporadic shortly afterward, I habitually blamed myself for what I’d said.

Cliches are abound that not everyone appreciates vulnerability, and therefore you shouldn’t depend on someone’s reaction to determine if something was worth sharing. I see the value in that, and can usually sense when a person is safe enough to confide in and when they’re not. But is it wise to approach every conversation as though you’re shielding yourself from rejection?  Baring my soul to another person often feels like carrying a load of bricks, and no one should have to simultaneously avoid getting hit by one in the meantime. Giving a person that much responsibility creates a kind of us-versus-them mentality, where it seems like sharing one’s story has become more of a test of acceptance than a point of connection. Are we pursuing relationships because we genuinely want to know and be known,, or do we allow people into our lives as a means to an end, and perhaps even a distraction?

If the second part isn’t the case, then why do people reject those who struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction, abuse, fear, and overall darkness?

Why do we shame and blame those who’ve made decisions we might not agree with, particularly when that decision doesn’t affect us and/or we didn’t know them at the time?

Why are we so hell-bent on avoiding what is difficult, painful, or seemingly impossible?
Instead of allowing ourselves to wrestle and question these things, we say lower your expectations and call it done. It might dull the disappointment a bit, but it doesn’t change our desire for a particular outcome. That attitude can be harmful in the long run because it just enforces the isolating mindset of every person for themselves. Do what you want,  because in the end that’s all you can control, and therefore all you have. The reality is that we were not created to be self-reliant, regardless if it’s in a spiritual or secular sense.

Pain is not a problem meant to be solved, but a natural life experience that should be embraced to the fullest degree.  It seems like we confuse saving and being empathetic, blindingly believing that if we can’t fix a situation or rescue whomever is in need, then there’s no point in bringing it up. Whenever I’ve endured a particular difficult time, my friends always maintained that they cared for and supported me, but that there was no shame in seeking out professional help as well. Being vulnerable with them feels both freeing and healthy; there is a sense of honesty, but also a sense of limits. They listen, but they also remind me that God made me a strong woman, and that I will get through it come hell or high water.

 It really comes down to showing compassion, and in a way where you’re being sensitive to the circumstances without acting like you know everything.

How to do this, is another concept in itself, and not entirely in black and white. Each one of us has a different love language, of giving and receiving, so what works for one may not be the same for the other. For instance, if I’ve been in the thick of something for a while, I eventually start to hate talking about it. There are times when all I want is to be held for a little bit, without getting bombarded with clichés or platitudes. A simple hug allows me to connect and feel close to a person without risking emotional exhaustion or wrongfully communicating my thoughts. When I’m on the other side, I’ve found that asking questions helps me to better understand what’s going on, as opposed to making assumptions. “What do you need right now?” “Do you want to talk about it?”

And I’m learning that it doesn’t have to involve one person breaking down while the other keeps their composure: the willingness to be sad or emotional and cry together speaks volumes, because it shows that it’s less about having answers as it is about wading through the process of being human. When someone approaches me in a vulnerable state, I choose to see it as a gift, a blessing, rather than something to run from. There is something beautiful about seeing a person through a valley, and witnessing how they’ve grown and evolved as they come out the other side. The relationship is stronger and deeper, and we become role models and examples for one another.

Yes, it’s tough, and it’s a risk, but I’m tired of bending over backwards to avoid it. I don’t want to be safe or comfortable anymore, because real life isn’t like that. People get depressed, addicted, and don’t always come from the prettiest backgrounds. The world is a mess and people are dying and we’re all scared out of our minds because we feel helpless. One could argue that embracing chaos means being oblivious to joy, and taking what we already have for granted.  But how long does ignoring reality actually work? Does it have to involve choosing one extreme over the other?

There’s a big difference between a victim mentality and acknowledging reality, while still choosing to press forward. Setting appropriate boundaries allows for clear perspective, and making sure relationships stay in tact.  Not being the only source of support does not equal rejection entirely;  a few months before graduation, I had a bit of a breakdown and one of my closest friends kept encouraging me to try therapy again. He admitted that he was not equipped to help me fully sort through my thoughts and feelings, but was still willing to go to a session with me to make sure that I was comfortable. We definitely still talked about our lives, but we weren’t depending on one another either. I gained a lot more respect and admiration for him after that, and we still keep in touch.

Granted, I know little compared to psychologists or researchers,  and I’m sure others out there are willing to debate (especially when it comes to what we can control versus what we can’t). That doesn’t change the fact that we’re all in need of grace, and I’d go so far as to say that we’re starving for those kinds of relationships right now. As I write this, I’m beginning to envision snap judgments (and often false ones at that) as a kind of resistance; we resist because we don’t want to care, or because we see something in that person or situation that we don’t want to face in our own lives.We’d rather not be reminded of the past, as opposed to using it for good by lending a helping hand or a listening ear.

We’d rather do what’s easy, as opposed to staring down what might be slowly killing us.

For those who are tempted to run, I challenge you to pause and ask yourself why, especially if that person on the other side wants nothing more than to share their heart and their story. Before you label them as “too much” or “high maintenance”, put yourself in their shoes and think about what you would do if you were in their situation. Maybe they opened up because you happened to be on the subject and sensed that you could relate. Maybe they just need someone to simply be there instead of acting like a textbook with all the right answers. Hell, maybe they just need to be human.

And deep down, we all need that. It’s messy and it’s brutal, but it sure is beautiful. 



Re-Thinking "Getting Hurt"







It seems to have become a rallying cry of a generation, or perhaps just a rallying cry overall. We use it as a rebuttal for a million different situations, but none the more polarizing then when it comes to avoiding deep and meaningful relationships:
“….But I don’t want to get hurt!”

My initial reaction is, “ Well, who actually does?”

 It’s natural to be a little bit cautious, and the world would be a disaster if we weren’t.  Yet the more I hear it, the more it comes across as an excuse as opposed to a valid concern. Do some truly want to avoid unnecessary hurt, or do they want the benefits without taking risk or responsibility?

The fact is, no one on this earth is immune to pain; at some point you’ll either experience it in one (or several) ways:

Going into something and knowing that it’s probably a bad idea, but doing it anyway.

Getting blindsided when things are going really well.

Understanding the risks, and taking things as they come. It might turn out well and it might not, and that’s OK.

The question is, what are you willing to live with?

Yes, boundaries are important, but there is a huge difference between setting boundaries and setting up an obstacle course. It’s baffling as to why some tout having been hurt in the past, yet turn around and hurt others by lying, cheating, or manipulating in order to get what they want. Maybe it’s due to a lack of confidence, not knowing how to communicate, or wanting to be in control of another person.

Then there are those who know they’re in a dysfunctional situation, but are unsure how to get out. Not only was I one of them, but I watched a friend put herself through the wringer for the sake of a complete idiot who wanted to take more than give. It’s often a battle of either trying to prove that you don’t care at all or that their personal well-being is a top priority. You either put up a wall to see how far someone will go, or you will try like hell to break it down.

It’s an exhausting push and pull, and one that unfortunately is considered normal all across the age spectrum.

I get that none of us is perfect; we’re all scared, we’re all lonely, and we don’t want to go through heartbreak.  But we’ve become so terrified that we confuse necessary limits and self-protection with numbing real needs and feelings. There’s no black and white, clear-cut formula, and it could very well depend on the person and kind of relationship you’re in. It’s practically a given to believe that if men did this and women did that, we’d all be a lot better off. In a way that might be true, but we can only control our own choices and actions.
I’ve begun to wonder if it is less about what we do with the possibility of pain, and more about the perspective we have on it. Instead of saying “I’m going to make sure that this doesn’t happen,” we say, “I’m going to have the best experience possible, regardless of the outcome.” This can have a lot of different meanings, which is why it’s difficult to put into practice. One can assume that physical gratification is the best experience, but eventually they’ll get hit with the realization that it’s only prolonging the hurt, not eradicating it. Others might see it as diving headfirst into a new relationship, wanting to just relax and be in the moment.  How do you let yourself be happy with what’s right in front of you, while still acknowledging the possibility that it might not be what you envision to be? Is there such a thing as proceeding with caution without purely waiting for the other shoe to drop?

One day at a time, sweetheart. Breathe and have faith.

Naming and vocalizing fear, especially a specific fear, gives it less power. My best friend once told me that she and her significant other are brutally honest about their fears and insecurities all the time, regardless of how silly it sounds. There’s something to be said for that kind of vulnerability; not just in romantic relationships, but with others as well. We all need people who are willing to speak truth and accountability into our lives, even when we aren’t ready to hear it. I’m now just becoming comfortable with opening up about what I am most afraid of: that I will not be enough in the eyes of my person, and that walk away from what we have without talking to me about it first. It has happened before, each time where I believed I was at fault for causing them to run, though deep down I knew otherwise. Everyone has a choice in terms of how they handle discomfort or frustration, and it’s ultimately their choice in terms of whether or not they’ll act like an adult.

I never want anyone to promise me that they won’t hurt me, and I wouldn’t promise that in turn, even if it was unintentional. Instead, I prefer a mutual promise that we’ll both take responsibility for our choices, regardless of how difficult it is. Say it, own it, and then work through it.

If it does end, the thorn of it all is believing that the pain is only temporary, that you can somehow move on and put yourself back together. I’ve been through enough where I understand that this is possible; granted I might not completely get over it, but I’ll still get through it. And if I surrender the broken pieces, allowing myself time and space for an honest reflection on what happened, I usually do heal from it. And by real healing, I mean without rebounds or hook-ups.

 At my junior high and high school youth groups, we teenagers were often told to “guard our hearts,” and that avoiding dating equaled less heartache. In theory it seems like a good idea, but whenever I’ve tried to follow a full-proof formula for anything, I end up forgetting to trust God in the process. It doesn’t mean preparing myself for negative impact from the get-go, but by trusting my instincts and seeking Him before all else, that it will still be something that I can learn or grow from; it will not be a waste of time or energy.

This is all very much a thought process, one that I’m allowing to evolve and re-shape as time goes on. It’s messy, indefinite, like puzzle pieces still scattered and I have yet to come up with a method of putting them together. I’m still in the midst of walking through a bit of haze, where I just got out of something that has more questions than answers. It’s OK to take a step back, to re-evaluate, and wait until you’re ready.

 And perhaps the first step is simply acknowledging that pain is not a problem to be solved, but an inevitable experience.