Let Them BE

About six years ago, I was sitting in my therapist’s office, discussing a new relationship. She made a statement to me that made NO sense to me at the time, and yet something inside of me believed it could be true, simply because of the fact that she was WAY smarter than me.

“The highest level we can achieve in our relationships, is when we have the ability to stand alone in the presence of another,” she said.

What in the whatity what? Like what in the actual heck are you TALKING ABOUT? I looked at her like as if she had grown two heads–this was one I wasn’t even going to ask her to explain. It was too…BIZARRE. And what fresh hell is this in re: to dating? You mean I have to stand alone even if I’m dating someone? I’d rather run away from someone than have to show up as I am and be alone in his presence. What is this crappy alternative universe she is speaking of and how can I make sure I NEVER GO THERE?

Those ⬆️ were my thoughts.

And yet..here is where I want to go with this today. Today is right now. 7:51 pm on February 19. I am thinking about this alternative universe my therapist mentioned, where people can stand alone in the presence of another, and I can still honestly say that it feels just plain WEIRD to me that this is even possible.

AND YET

… I now believe in different things: I believe in BEING STILL with the stupid negative feelings that come up. I am still sometimes afraid of pain or rejection or even intimacy, but I know I can tolerate them so I SIT with them and sometimes I EVEN SIT WITH THEM IN THE PRESENCE OF A FREAKING OTHER PERSON. Which is still not fun, but I CAN DO IT, which is the weirdest thing ever.

This is what it’s like: Here I am, living my life, joyfully, or sometimes not so joyfully, doing my thing. “Doing my thing” basically means BEING MYSELF. Showing up as me. And then, in the midst of me doing my thing, someone else tells me or shows me in his or her actions that he or she doesn’t like my thing-whether it’s the way I express myself or my belief system or even the way I look or show up to him or her.

And this hurts when they communicate this to me. Because that’s how I’m wired– I am wired to care about people and thereby I sometimes care a little too much about what they think.

But I can TOLERATE the discomfort of the disagreement. I can still stand as myself, being myself, allowing myself to be who I am.

And furthermore, I am allowing the other party involved to BE WHO THEY ARE.

And here is what I now KNOW to be true:

WE MUST LET PEOPLE BE WHO THEY ARE. LET. THEM. BE. WHO. THEY. ARE.

Let them BE who they are.

And know that you CAN still stand in their presence.

This is how this *could* look in various relationships:

Scenario 1: Pretend I’m married. My husband always forgets to turn off the coffee pot in the mornings and this drives me crazy. I keep telling him to do it and he keeps forgetting or maybe just plain doesn’t want to. Instead of continuing to get angry, I let him be who he is. I start turning off the damn coffee pot because it’s important TO ME.

Scenario 2: Pretend I have two kids who are angels. Then I suddenly give birth to a third who is literally hell on wheels. I say go left, he goes right. He is HARRRD to parent. But I continue to show up as I am in my parenting and exercise my beliefs and values in the way I teach him and treat him. He continues to show up as himself in his strong willed, yet sensitive nature. We butt heads, but we still ALLOW each other to be who they are WHILE still enforcing the boundaries and teachings that as parents we must enforce.

Scenario 3: Pretend I am dating a man who has a lot of qualities I like. And he has some other qualities, that, while are not deal breakers, are TRIGGERS for me. So that basically means that he’s a human being who is just minding his business and being himself, but then I text him something and he doesn’t respond to it, and I am triggered. It is at this moment that I have choices. I can text him in anger, asking for a response. I can text him with a humorous, playful tone, but still with the express intent of getting a response. (Which can actually be controlling since I am texting him as a way to diffuse my triggered emotion, instead of just owning that emotion MYSELF). Or, I can LET HIM BE who he is. And do nothing, unless I am sure I am responding from a place of love, instead of a place of being triggered.

You see, we ALL have our triggers, and we have to OWN them. Another wise person once told me, “What other people think of you has nothing to do with you,” and I thought that she had grown two heads too. But guess what?? She actually only has one head and she’s right. If someone doesn’t like how I show up in this world, that’s about THEM. If I don’t like another person, or if I feel “triggered” by them, that’s ALWAYS about me. It’s never about them. They are just doing their thing.

We have to allow the people in our difficult relationships to be who they are. And that may mean that we sometimes take a break from them, and that’s called self care. It’s also called “being still” until you are confident you are interacting in a spirit of love, instead of fear.

It’s a tricky thing. Because it involves being yourself 100 percent of the time and staying true to you, while simultaneously showing the utmost respect to a person who is 100 percent being who they are in this world.

If we could all do this… even just SOMETIMES. We maybe could teach others in our world what it’s like to respect humanity. What it’s like to be true to who you are, not betray your values, while also allowing someone to be who he or she is, and not taking his or her behavior personally.

This involves knowing ourselves. Knowing what rubs us the wrong way. And then digging deeper with that. What’s under that feeling? What thought or belief is behind your experience? Why do you feel that way?

While all the while, remembering that the highest form of relationship and love you can show to another person and to yourself is to be willing to stand alone and stay true to you, while still standing in their freaking presence. 😳

It’s so hard. Yet so easy. And I’m convinced it’s the best way. But you can disagree with me and still stand next to me and I will still love you.

(Picture in my house I look at every morning before I get in the shower. And I sometimes even pray, “Dear God, help me to love others just as they are. Just the way they show up, while still being true to me. 🙏🏽)

Should I Stay for the Kids?

When a couple is in a committed relationship, and one of them is contemplating leaving, he or she may ask him or herself questions such as, “Is this bad enough for me to leave or good enough for me to stay?” However, when that same couple is in a committed relationship with children, there is a much more disconcerting thought that may enter his or her mind: “What would leaving do to my children?”

I am 41 years old.  I am divorced.  I am clearly not a psychologist or a relationship expert.  I am not going to furl data or research at you.  However, I have had the privilege of witnessing profound personal growth in people who were willing to dig deeper into the layers of this aforementioned question:  What would leaving my children’s father or mother do to my children?

When I hear people ask this question, I also hear the following underlying/interconnected  questions:

  • What would it do to me to see my children suffer through this pain?
  • What would it mean for my children to come from a broken home?
  • What will happen to me as I explain this to other people?
  • What will people think of me for leaving a marriage or partnership that doesn’t look “that bad?”
  • Shouldn’t I be able to tolerate it, at least until the children get older, so that I can give them a “stable” home life?

These are really hard questions that I am sure many a therapist has heard in their offices. These are questions that have been written into journals and secretly tucked under people’s mattresses where no one else can find them.  These are questions that are whispered in quiet corridors where lovers meet to have affairs that feel more comfortable to them than leaving the status quo.  These are questions that people ask themselves as they drink a bottle of wine every night in order to go to sleep, because numbing out is easier than answering these questions.

While I️ don’t know the answers to these specific underlying questions, what I️ do know is this: OUR CHILDREN NEED US, NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE.  And when I say “need us,” I mean need US–the real, most true version of ourselves.  If we are in a relationship that does not offer us the opportunity to be the most REAL and TRUE version of ourselves, then staying in that relationship CANNOT be what’s best for our children.

When a mother walks into her home, and feels like she can’t be herself, that has a negative effect on the little people in her home.  When a girl looks into her daddy’s eyes and sees a person who does not love himself, that actually has a negative impact on that little girl’s mental health. When anyone walks into his or her own home, feeling broken-hearted because love doesn’t live in his or her marriage, his or her children will FEEL the effects of this sadness.

I know kids.  When I come to school to teach, and I seem frazzled for whatever reason, one of these insightful little people will come up to me and say, “Have you had your coffee yet?” BECAUSE THEY KNOW THINGS.  I don’t really wear makeup much anymore to work, but the first day I stopped wearing it, a five year old asked me the minute I stepped into the building, “What happened to you and where did your pretty eyes go?”

These are children–some of the most curiously perceptive people on our planet.  They FEEL things in the air and see between the lines.  They know when we are trying to distract ourselves from our lives in order to avoid living it.  And they definitely know when we don’t love ourselves.

They can also sense when our lives are unfulfilled.  They can feel when there is an emptiness in our hearts.  Our children know when we are pretending, and if we continue to show them that pretending is okay, they will begin to start pretending and stuffing their feelings down, too.

And one of my mantras for this year has been: there is no power in pretending.  We do not want our children to believe it is okay to behave like someone they are not. When we push down who we are and what we want, in order to avoid causing other people to experience pain, we aren’t actually LIVING, and are in fact, BETRAYING our truest, highest selves.

We must start to understand that there is a way of being that is authentic. And in this space of authentic living, we will find that what is good and true and right for us (and I got this line from Glennon Doyle, because she’s a genius) is going to be what is good and true and right for “our people.” And our people include, but are not limited to, our children. Now, this does not mean our children will not suffer pain. Divorce is painful. Painnnnnnnful. Heartbreaking, in fact, for adults, children, and members of the extended family. But–and I️ cannot ask this question enough-is it our job to protect our children from ever experiencing pain and heartbreak? Is that truly what being a parent means? Or, does being a parent mean to hold our child’s hand and show them how to be their truest selves, even when it’s hard and not popular or right?

Could it mean that we are actually doing our best parenting when we teach them that they can walk through pain and come out stronger and more resilient?

I️ don’t know about you, but for as much as I️ hate seeing my daughter in pain, what I️ would hate even more would be for her to never know the lessons that pain can teach. That grief can teach. That heartbreak can teach.

Perhaps if our children can learn to withstand heartbreak and grief and pain, they can learn to sit with others and have empathy for them, too, when they see them walking through the same. And when our children can learn to hold space for each other and practice empathy and compassion, they can change this very world.

The Ocean, the Sun, and Dory

Aliana and I just came home from a short trip to Florida.  At the airport, a stranger asked me where I was going.  I told him, “Naples, Florida.”  He asked, “Who lives in Naples?”

“The ocean,” I said.

He looked puzzled.  I almost asked him, “Have you not seen the ocean?”

As Aliana and I swam in the waves on Tuesday afternoon, I asked her a question.  “How do you think you are like the ocean?” Together, we made a list of the ways that she is like the ocean:

  • Strong, yet soft
  • Beautiful
  • Constantly changing, yet still the same
  • Full of life
  • Deep
  • Fun
  • Majestic

Then last night, we watched the sun set over the ocean.  And all I could think about was how this same sun has been setting on our earth every day since the beginning of time. The sun gives us life and is such a powerful part of God’s creation, yet I have never stopped to even think about how that ball of fire keeps me alive.  That MASSIVE star keeps our earth going. It goes up every morning, no matter what, and goes down every evening, no matter what.  It does its damn job without complaint.  And when it shines, it’s amazing how that makes all of us feel.


So as I was having these thoughts and trying to practice gratitude for the beauty that was surrounding me and has been surrounding humanity since the beginning of time, I started thinking about what it means to surrender to the forces around us–God, nature, circumstances.  Whatever they may be.  And I realized this:  Surrendering is freaking hard.  It’s not in our nature to let go.  It’s not in our nature to let God and the universe make decisions for us, yet that’s exactly what sometimes happens.

People have often asked me why I’m divorced (which, by the way, is a somewhat invasive question to ask someone you don’t know well, but anywho).  Rather than going into an excessive explanation, I have started saying, “I married a person who God didn’t intend for me to marry.”

There is no doubt in my mind, that God didn’t want me to marry my ex-husband.  But I wanted to marry him, and so I did.  And while I have this incredible child as a result of my decision, I can still honestly say that I was not acting in accordance with God’s will when I said, “I do.”  I was acting in accordance to MY WILL.

Along the same lines, I do not understand when people say, “I have no regrets.”  Because, I think regret is an important teacher.  I have LOTS of regrets, guys. I regret hurting my parents by being selfish.  I regret having no boundaries with people.  I regret putting myself in danger.  I regret hurting people by not being honest with them.  I regret gossiping about others. I regret trying to control people.

While I learned from those decisions (notice I don’t call them mistakes, I call them decisions), I’m still a work in progress, and I hate that I am that way, but I am.  Because I’m like Dory from Finding Nemo (I totally stole that analogy from Glennon, by the way)–I now know all this “life stuff” and “who I’m supposed to be” in my head, but then I sometimes have days or weeks where I forget it.  It’s during those moments that I make decisions that are sometimes less than stellar–decisions I regret.  But I’m trying to iron my path out so I have less of them.

And, if I take the time to pay attention to the forces of nature, they just may remind me everyday to SURRENDER to who I am and to the universe.  If I were in control of my life, things would be so different right now, but I’M NOT.  And strangely enough, I also believe God knows what God is doing, and I am just gonna try to get out of God’s way so I don’t jack it up.

 

 

 

Resentment is a Teacher 

Here’s a quick exercise: 

*Think of someone in your life right now who is really getting on your nerves and/or irritates you. Picture that person in your brain. Got it? That was easy. Now, here’s the hard part: think about what boundary you need to set with him or her. 

The hardest part of adulting is boundaries. I hate them, in fact. I mean, it’s so much easier to just complain about people bugging us, while slowly building up resentment towards them, and maybe even gossiping about them. And gossiping is so much fun, anyways. It’s like, a way to connect with friends, right? Let’s get together and talk about all the people who irritate the heck out of us and how we can’t stand them, but then we’ll be nice to their faces and pretend everything is fine.

Only it’s not fine. Because our resentment continues to build up towards that irritating person or people we have yet to set a boundary with. And so then, we start doing things, like becoming passive aggressive towards him or her. Or snarky. Or confusing. Or we just bottle it up and then gossip about it with our friends, thinking it’s making us feel better, without realizing it’s actually MAKING US FEEL WORSE to complain about a person behind his or her back.

I have spent most of my life believing that if I set boundaries with others, then that made me a b**ch or a meanie or not Christian *** enough. When in reality, that’s all bullcrap. Complete bullcrap. What I didn’t realize is that when I was honest with people, it gave them the opportunity to change, and it also was a way of honoring my truth and integrity. 

I once had a friend who spent years asking me for advice. And I spent years offering it to her. She chose to never take it, or when she did, she ended up telling me how bad the advice was or how “that idea didn’t work for her.” At the time, I was really in the middle of my own crisis, but instead of focusing on healing from that, I was focused on trying to save/help my friend. 

And it became exhausting. And then I was like, “Oh my God, this friend of mine is irritating the crap out of me.” I kept telling others about it and asking them for advice on how to handle her. I was angry and resentful towards her for continuing to suck the energy out of me. But I was actually TURNING INTO HER because I was now doing the SAME, EXACT thing with MY friends. They all told me, “Talk to her about it. Tell her why you feel depleted. Tell her you need to take a break from offering advice. Set a boundary.” 

And I was all like, “Why in the HECK are you TALKING like a crazy person… you think I would actually say that to her face??!! As if! ” 💁🏻

But you guys, here’s the thing. A couple  of my courageous friends basically told me, “You need to either set a boundary with this person or accept her for who she is. That’s your choice. But I’m not going to keep rehashing it with you. It is what it is.”

See what they just did there? They set a boundary with me. And at first I was like, “Fine. Guess I won’t talk to you about how upset I am with this person anymore! Hmph!” But then, after a bit, my ego subsided and I somehow realized what was happening. My friends had called me out on my own bullsh*t.

So after gaining my composure, I called up this friend and told her, “I care about you and I know your situation is not easy. But I can’t give you any more advice right now. I need to get my own crap together. Our friendship is important, and I want to be honest with you. I am still here for you and will continue to hold a space for you in prayer.”

“Lord Jesus, I can’t believe I did that,” I told myself as I hung up the phone. 

And to my surprise, my friend actually understood, even though it was weird at first.  It changed the dynamic of our relationship. I was no longer her psychologist. I was simply her friend. 

And I slowly began to heal myself.  I began to give myself the gift of self care and more time alone, to fill up my own cup so that I could give in love to others. 

*exercise taken from a Brene Brown interview with Chase Jarvis. 

*** and speaking of Christians setting boundaries, did you know that Jesus set boundaries, like, ALL the time in the course of his life? And before you get excited, Mom, thinking I remembered that from Vacation Bible School, I didn’t. I just googled that shit. http://www.soulshepherding.org/1998/07/jesus-set-boundaries/

Go, Jesus! I really like him. He’s been keeping it 💯 since the year zero AD.

Haters Gonna Hate

Back in October, I went to a local writers’ conference. During the conference, we were encouraged to meet with book agents to “pitch” a book idea.

But prior to that, there was a seminar in which the agents sat on stage and listened to excerpts of people’s manuscripts read aloud. A manuscript was read, and each agent was instructed to raise his or her hand when a point was reached in the reading where he lost interest in hearing the story.

Each author had a choice, of course, as to whether or not to participate in this activity. I chose not to submit my writing, because the idea of it scared the crap out of me.  About 12 minutes into the seminar, I turned to the woman next to me, and I saw an intensity in her eyes that looked like anger and fear. I realized it was her manuscript that had just been read and criticized and dismantled by a bunch of book agents who didn’t know that this story was her creative BABY. They didn’t know it had been growing inside her brain for years, and they were strangers to the yearning that she’s had to get it out. They were just sitting up on stage, getting paid to say all the reasons they had NO interest in reading her writing.

Another woman was sitting on the opposite side of her. “It’s okay, they are just like that. Don’t take it personally,” she consoled her.

But I took it personally, AND IT WASN’T EVEN MY MANUSCRIPT.  I wanted to stand up and say, “Oh, just stop being mean!!! This is her BABY. Her creative BABY. Please stop.”

But instead, I bit my tongue and walked out.

Later in the day, I was scheduled to give a pitch for my writing with an agent. After what I saw the book agents do to people’s manuscripts inside the pitch seminar session, I really was considering bolting out of there and running home to hide under my covers and eat chips and salsa.

I told the other writers there that I was 99.9% sure I was going to back out of the bitch–I mean, pitch.

“Oh don’t!” They all said. “It will be a good experience for you, no matter what happens.”

Me: Okay. 😐

So I went to the pitch session. I sat across from the book agent at a small desk, and started to tell her about my blog. As I  began to speak, I could see her eyes bolting in another direction. Like, the thought instantly occurred to me that she was actually BORED, and I had barely spoken five sentences.

The best way I can portray what the experience was like to you, is to reinact the pitch session with my cat acting as the book agent. Because my cat and this book agent seem to be kindred spirits. So here goes:


The agent’s response:


My response to the agent’s response:


And then the agent, who, once again CLEARLY doesn’t give a sh*t.

Which finally caused me to go into my, “Oh my gosh , this is awkward” soliloquy, which I usually reserve for first dates:

 So, yeah. That didn’t turn out so well. Not that it should have, because it’s pretty clear to me that a book deal with this publisher wasn’t in the cards.

But here’s the big thing, you guys: we are creative beings. We are born to create. You–yes, you! I believe that every single person on this planet was created TO create. And only YOU can figure out what that thing is you are supposed to create.

But here’s the terrible thing that sometimes happens: someone tells us somewhere along the way that something we created wasn’t good enough. (This happens frequently in childhood.) And that memory sticks like glue to our brains. And it seems like these memories are some of the most POWERFUL ones that affect our development into adulthood.  

These memories are what cause us to stop creating. And it’s time for us to tell those memories to get the heck out of our heads because they aren’t paying rent to reside there anymore.

Brene Brown is a shame researcher, speaker, and one of my heroes. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she sums up what she’s learned about creativity:

“There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”

In an interview, Brene further expounds on the subject: “Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, and shame.”

Do you hear that? IT METASTASIZES. (And I know this to be true, because it is not uncommon for those who are not using their creativity to resent those who are.)

That is why, going back to my agent pitch story, it is important for us to be cautious about whose feedback we take seriously.

And you wanna know whose feedback I take seriously?  It’s the people who are in the shared fight with me, getting their asses kicked everyday alongside of me. As my hero, Brene says, “If you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

If you’re not fighting to protect the same things that I am, how can I know that your feedback is coming from a helpful place?

And feedback IS important from the RIGHT people.  Feedback can be life changing from those who truly care.

So my wish is for everyone who has made the brave choice to create something to know this truth I’m about to share. And yes, I’m on a Brene Brown kick here folks, because if it weren’t for her research and writing, I wouldn’t know this truth, which lies in a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, that was the impetus for her book, Daring Greatly.

image

It’s time to dare greatly. Will you join me in the arena?

We can leave our book agents and cats behind. 

 

 

My Lip Gloss Tells the Truth 💋

The other day, I met a friend at a venue that charged a $5.00 cover fee to enter. As I was walking through the parking lot to the door, I realized I hadn’t applied lip gloss, so I hurriedly put it on in the dark without a mirror. 

The guy taking the $5.00 fee at the door was a small hipster with dainty features. I made the somewhat perfunctory assumption that he might not be weirded out by the question I was about to ask. 

“Hey, ummm… This is a weird question to ask a stranger, but since I don’t see a bathroom closeby, can you tell me if my lipgloss looks okay?”

The dainty hipster studied my face seriously. “You want the truth?” he asked.

“Of course,” I said, suddenly feeling that this guy had figured out my secret that I have absolutely NO FREAKING CLUE HOW to apply makeup, and that he was going to break down all the makeup errors on my face and I would feel like I needed to go home and watch YouTube makeup tutorials. 

“It’s not even. The lipgloss is not even. You have some under your lower lip and then some above the upper lip on the right side,” he said. 

“Oh my God, thank you for telling me,” I said, and I began to go into great detail about how I was running late and was putting it on while jogging through the dark parking lot, and so that was why I looked like a clown, etc., until I noticed there was now a long line of people behind me who were not appreciating this in- depth conversation I was having with dainty hipster, so I just cut myself off, stepped to this side, and attempted to fix my lip gloss by looking at my reflection in my cell phone. 

I felt a little joyful from this interaction with dainty hipster over lip gloss. 

Only it wasn’t about lipgloss. It was about truth telling. Telling the truth results in an immediate human connection. 

We have become accustomed to not telling the truth. We have forgotten that truth equals connection. And every time we ask for the truth and don’t receive it, we are digging a hole of bullsh**. 

I have spent a lot of time thinking recently  about what truth-telling and vulnerability look like. I’ve been reading writing on the subject by Brene Brown, Liz Gilbert, Glennon Doyle Melton, and Rob Bell. And they all say the same thing–that vulnerability comes from telling the truth and it is the pathway to courage and even creativity. 

Telling the truth is a courageous act. And it’s the doorway to opening connection with others. 

It is easy to go about our day and stuff away uncomfortable feelings and medicate with food, alcohol, people, or whatever our drug of choice may be. 

When I had pain, I used to medicate with people. I craved connection.  Instead of telling the truth about my feelings, I spent time with people who sucked my energy out of me. They took and didn’t give. Or, I took from them, and didn’t give. It was off balance–off kilter, and actually caused me to experience deeper pain. 

I felt isolated because I wasn’t connecting with others in my truth. The truth was, I was not fine, yet wanted to pretend I was. And in order to pretend, I had to stuff the negative emotions, and in order to stuff them, I had to medicate. 

But now when pain comes knocking, I take a different approach. I have learned to say, “Oh pain, I know you. Come on in. Have a seat.” And I am still. I turn off my phone. I read. I write. I pray. I sit with it. I listen to music that feels like truth. I allow myself to be in darkness, because I know that my dark matter is trying to tell me something truthful. 

I know that character and integrity is built upon that dark matter. 

Darkness can lead to an explosion into life and love if we allow ourselves to acknowledge it and speak its truth. 

In the last month I’ve been struck by acts of courage and truth-telling among human beings undergoing painful experiences. I read the stories of Syrian refugees who have experienced trauma and displacement, and yet keep moving forward and striving for better lives, while telling their stories.  I also saw a football team of young men in Missouri demonstrate integrity as they supported a student on a hunger fast to bring about necessary change and truth-telling about the pain of racism. 

Courage doesn’t mean you are fearless. It means you keep moving and stand for truth, even when it feels scary. 

Yesterday, I went to the INTESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages in Indiana) conference where I had the privilege of listening to courageous truth tellers advocate for the rights of English Language Learners. Two employees of the Indiana Department of Education recounted instances of where they chose to  courageously confront schools and school corporations who were not using equitable practices with ELLs. 

When an administrator told them the school system didn’t have money to meet the educational needs of ELLs, they asked how they had money to afford an expensive, new scoreboard for the high school football team. When a school system displayed data for different school subgroups, but left off the data for English Language Learners, they courageously asked why there was an omission. 

When I hear all these stories, I get chills. Why? Because I connect with the truth.  They remind me that I, too, must truthfully and courageously live my life. And my pain helps me to understand others’ pain, so that I can stand in solidarity with them. 

And in the meantime, I’ll put on my lipgloss in the light.  

 

I’m Looking for a Warrior

I’m grateful to have cool neighbors. One of them is named Megan. And when Megan and I were talking the other day about men and what we are looking for, she said something that stuck to my brain like glue. 

“You see, I’m looking for a warrior,” she said. 

A warrior. And warriors aren’t a dime a dozen. A warrior is brave. A warrior has integrity. A warrior has character. Megan, herself, is a warrior. She is a hard worker–a highly intelligent, intellectual woman who speaks truth to those around her. 

I realized in that moment that I want a warrior, too. But in order for me to attract a warrior into my life, I must consistently work harder at being one myself. 

And the path to warriorhood includes saying a word more often that I’m not accustomed to saying: NO. 

I have a hard time saying no. Sometimes it’s because I don’t trust myself or my feelings. Sometimes it’s because I don’t want to miss out on fun. Sometimes it’s because I don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. 

And sometimes it’s simply because I’m not mentally prepared. 

And warriors are mentally prepared. They are tough, even though they may actually be sensitive. They tell the truth, even though it causes others to be uncomfortable. Warriors care about other people, but also practice self-care. Warriors believe in their cause.

I made A LOT of mistakes this past year by saying yes to people when I should have said no, in particular in the realm of  dating. If a man asked me out, I said yes–especially if I were caught off guard. This led to a weakening in my mental strength. I digressed from the path of the warrior, that I had already paved.  

There was a trainer I went out with a couple of times, and then I googled him and found out he was actually engaged. #goodtimes, #thisiswhyicreeponpeople, #imaybeoldbuticanusegoogle

Then there was the 28 year old guy who worked from home, watched animae, went to video game conventions, and only would communicate via text. #idontunderstandanimae, #pleasecommunicatelikearealperson

Oh and I almost forgot about the cop who said he wanted to see me–yet never actually arranged an actual date beyond bringing me carry out from Taco Bell. Yet I continued to talk to him, even though his actions didn’t match up to his words. #sorrybutidontwanttokickitwithyou, #iliketacobellbutnotthatmuch

Oh and I didn’t even tell you about the Jimmy Johns employee who sorta stalked me and the Verizon Wireless dude who pretended that he didn’t have a girlfriend and kept asking me out. I didn’t actually go out with those two, but made the mistake of giving them my number when they asked for it in the spot, because I was afraid of hurting their feelings. 

On a side note, at least Jimmy taught me a new acronym.  

 

I think he meant to text “Gtk.” What I eventually had to do was draft a text to them like this: 

“Hey. This is Emily. I’m sorry I haven’t been more forthright with you from the get go. When you asked me for my number I gave it to you without actually thinking through the implications of it. I am not interested in dating you, and I don’t feel comfortable continuing to communicate with you.”

But all of that nonsense could have been avoided if I had already adopted a warrior mentality. 

So here’s the deal, friends. I am now mentally preparing myself to say no to any man that doesn’t strike me as a warrior, while continuing to work on being a warrior myself. I’m going to practice self care and integrity. When someone asks me to do something that doesn’t align with  my warrior path, I’m going to say, “Thank you for (recognizing me, asking me, etc), but I can’t.” I have found in life that it always helps to have a phrase prepared to spit out when you’re caught on the spot. I’ve already practiced standing in front of the mirror tonight and saying, “Thank you, but I can’t. Thank you, but I can’t. Thank you, but I can’t.” I said it 64 times so far. And it felt really good. 

Maybe you want to come along with me and join me on my path to warriorhood. Maybe you, too, are ready to be your authentic, brave, sincere self. Maybe you, too, need to practice self care. 

Say it with me, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t. Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t.”

I can’t because I’m practicing the courage to be who I am meant to be.