The One Time I Earned a Pretend Medal

I turn the corner onto Virginia Avenue, and suddenly I see him walking on the sidewalk. Aaron (my ex-something-not really a boyfriend but something like that) is tall, dark, and handsome–my archetype, so he stands out.  I stare at Aaron through my car window, jaw dropping, unable to believe that he’s in my neck of the woods.

Why in the world would he drive an hour to have brunch at Milktooth?  I mean, Milktooth is cool and everything, but he’s NOT even a foodie.

Aaron spots me in my car, since I don’t have the foresight to close my jaw and stop staring at him.

Like, this is a photo of me in that very moment:


I have this feeling that the universe is conspiring against me. I want to evaporate into the rain puddles I’m surrounded by in the street.

Aaron waves.  I wave back.  I suddenly have a flashback of the time he made me a mimosa for breakfast and I didn’t have the courage to tell him that it was the worst mimosa I’d ever had in my life. I quickly snap back to reality as I spot a girl walking next to him, attempting to keep up with his long stride.

Now normally, this would REALLY bother me:  seeing an ex-something but not really a boyfriend with another woman. (I mean I’m kinda zen, but not THAT zen.) However, in this very moment I realize I have no reason at all to feel weird about it, since I’m about to do the VERY same thing: brunch with new man 😳.

I pull out my phone and text Aaron, “Hey!  What are you doing here?” followed by a smiley emoji so he doesn’t think I’m being confrontational.  I just need to figure out if he’s going into Milktooth (where I’m meeting my date, Justin), because if he is, I NEED TO KNOW THIS MINUTE SO I CAN AVOID COMPLETE AWKWARDNESS.

He texts back that his “friend” is visiting from Boston, and he just picked her up at the Indy airport and decided to eat brunch at Milktooth since it was ranked #1 on some foodie thing and BLAH BLAH BLAH I stop reading since I have my answer.

I find a parking space and immediately text Justin.

“Hi!” I say and then stop.

Because I have no clue what to say next.  This feels like one of those life or death moments, since I’m now sweating about the prospect of a FIRST (yes, I said first) date with a guy I really like (at least so far, over text) at a restaurant where I will have to watch another guy whom I have dated eat brunch with another girl.

I just literally CANNOT EVEN with this shit.

“Now is not the time to beat around the bush,” some gut instinctual voice whispers in my ear.  “Now is the time for ruthless honesty.”

I suddenly imagine myself wearing some kind of medal for being courageous, which feels ridiculous and yet soothing at the same time. This image somehow propels me into typing the next part of the text.

“Can we meet at a donut shop up the street?  I know you really want to go to Milktooth, but I can’t go there today because a guy I know is there on a date and I have gone on dates with him before and it would just be awkward.” Push send now, damn it, before you have second thoughts.

I push send and wait.  A minute passes.  Two minutes.  Finally I see those little dots on Justin’s side of the IMessage which tells me he’s typing.  I stare at those stupid dots because, in this moment, I believe they hold the power to decide for me whether or not this day is going to be shitty or half-way pleasant.  The dots suddenly stop again.  UGH.  I wait another minute.  Then the IMessage text comes through.

“Sure that would be fine lol.”

I was in shock that I was honest and he still wanted to see me. Like, I SHOWED UP as my awkward, embarrassed self and he still may like me.

This story happened over two years ago, and I’m still scared to show up as me. I continue to struggle with the fact that it’s okay to tell the truth from the start with someone about the awkward shit we feel and experience. Like, I may be someone who is easy to talk to, but I am not someone who is completely comfortable with being my awkward self all of the time.

Some of our most painful experiences stem from the times we have shown up to the party as ourselves, and people left the room. (Yes, this is a metaphor, but if you’re nerdy like me, it has actually happened literally too.)

Being myself is SCARY and I need to give myself medals for doing it.

Because, here’s the thing: there’s a part of me that knows that the only way I can find “my people” is if I tell the truth. There will be people who may leave the room when I show up as me, but there will also be people that feel my “realness.”

And even though Justin turned out to be a complete meanie (more on him some other time), I am thankful that I learned how to show up as me. Because it also gave him the opportunity to decide if he wanted to come to my party and help me put on my new, shiny pretend medal- the one I awarded myself for being me.

I am a Pokémon 

It is 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I am lying here in darkness and typing this blog on my phone on the eve of my 41st birthday. 

I am contemplating who I am and how I want to evolve. I’m like a Pokémon or something. (I don’t really understand Pokémon at all, but I know they, like, evolve, right?)

I want to continue to evolve and change who I am by changing what I do. In honor of my 41st year of life, I am sharing 41 truths I’ve learned as I have changed my thinking and my actions over the years. 

I love to elaborate. People who know me know that I’m the queen of elaboration and talking too much and overexplaining things.  But I will refrain from doing that in this instance because I only have a few minutes to write before my yoga class.

So here we go. How to evolve like a Pokémon, a.k.a, 41 random things I have learned:

1. Kids pay more attention to what you do than what you say.

2. A daily practice of meditation and prayer will change your life.

3. Judging others is not good for your health. It’s also a negative “low vibrational energy” way of thinking. 

4. Choose being truthful over being nice. 

5. You don’t have to be nice.  Like, really, you don’t. 

6. It is your responsibility to practice loving kindness, but this does not equate with being “nice.” It simply means you act in love for others and for yourself. 

7. The most courageous people show up even when they don’t feel ready. 

8.. That still, small voice inside of you will never let you down. It is there to protect you. It is the voice of God, speaking to you in quiet moments of truth. That is the voice that reminds you of what you need in this life, what to do next, and who you are. 

10.  When you are laughing you are healing. 

11. Practicing yoga helps you develop an understanding and compassion for your body.

12. Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love. 

Geesh, I can’t think of anything else. Maybe I don’t know 41 things. I’m going to yoga and then coming back.

13. It is not our job to make everything sunshine and rainbows for our kids. It is okay for them to experience pain and discomfort, and we walk beside them in this experience without trying to take it away. This is how they become resilient, kind, empathetic adults.

14. You don’t have to wear underwear. 

15. Processed food can make you ill. 

16. Meditate and pray. I know I already said that but that one needs to be on the list twice. 

17. Do not be afraid of pain.

18.  When you feel sad or anxious, go outside and breathe in the outdoor air. 

19. Let people be who they are. 

20. Do not assume what others are thinking. Ever. Ask them instead. 

21. Things that matter are going to take some time. 

22. You deserve happiness, respect, and peace of mind. 

23. What we cannot see, we cannot heal. 

24. There is no power in pretending. 

25. When you’re angry, ask yourself, “What needs to be protected?”

26. We can do hard things. 

27. Drink lots of water. 

28.  It is beneath your dignity to maintain relationships with people who do not honor your self worth. 

29. Relationships that you have to keep a secret are not relationships that contribute to your freedom. 

I can’t think of anything else. I lied about knowing 41 things.

==================================

Hey! I’m back four days later, and I’m now too legit to quit, which brings me to my next truth…

30. Don’t quit on your goals just because they are hard or you’re having a brain freeze.

31. If you want to find your tribe, you must first find yourself. 

32. When choosing a life partner, consider first and foremost if the person is right for you (and your kids, if you have them). Family members and friends love to give their two cents, but when it’s all said and done it is you that must live with the person. 

33. Ask for help when you need it. 

34. Set boundaries with people. 

35. Get your “news” and facts from reputable books and research–not television news channels. 

36. Don’t write lists like these. 

37. I know nothing. 

38. Only you know what’s best for you. 

39. After all, I’m a Pokémon. 

40. When trying to decide whether or not you should stay in a relationship or marriage “for the kids’ sake,” remember that you being in a state of unhappiness is not healing for you or your children.  You being authentically YOU is what your children desperately want from you. 

41. You are what you love. So make sure who or what you are loving is good for you. 

Happy Re-Birth Day to Me


9 years ago today, after laboring for 30+ hours, my daughter, Aliana, was born via Caesarian section at 7:50 am. After experiencing what my OB-GYN proclaimed to be a freakishly challenging pregnancy, that included sciatica, kidney stones, preterm labor, and gestational diabetes, it was mind-blowing to me that a human this extraordinarily healthy had actually been percolating inside of me for nine months.

On this day, June 15, 2008, I was 32 years old, yet I was just a shell of a person.  I had no personality, no likes or dislikes, and no idea how I had gotten myself into the mess of an abusive marriage.

And now I had this tiny, gorgeous human with a full head of curly black hair, that was staring at me with the deepest coffee colored eyes I had ever seen.  And somehow, those eyes were the only thing that ever could break me of my numbness.  You see, I could no longer disassociate from my life, because that would mean I was disassociating from MY OWN CHILD. 

In the intensity of her gaze, I imagined she was saying to me, “I am here.  I am LIGHT.”

Her existence broke me into a million pieces so that I would be somehow be forced to make a plan to put myself together again, because her eyes–HER LIGHT–showed me that she needed a mama who was whole, and that mama had to be me.

One day, I was giving her a bottle when her father entered the room.   I don’t remember what I had said that upset him so much, but he spat on me.  His spit ran down my face and dripped onto my shirt.  I didn’t react, as I knew that would make it worse, but Aliana did. She screamed at the top of her lungs and she no longer wanted the bottle.  Her screams and her terror reminded me of my own terror–reminded me that I needed to finally be terrified in order to be her mother. My heart of darkness slowly began to crack, and I allowed her light to seep into me.

Her birth was my rebirth, so in many ways, this day, June 15, is sacred to me and forever will be. It is a day that I was also born, as this baby was the one who brought me back to life.

Sometimes people say to me, it’s unfortunate that you and your ex husband conceived a child together, because that means you have to still communicate and can’t be completely unattached. What people who make these comments don’t understand is that if I hadn’t had my daughter, I might still be living in that marriage. Aliana’s existence propelled me into a completely new level of life, because I finally loved a person so much that I didn’t want her to live the way I had been living.  The love I couldn’t feel for myself, I could feel for her. 

Something deep inside of me knew that I could never be the mother she needed unless I could fully be myself, and the journey to self discovery started with her birth. 

Changing lives is serious business, and this girl wasn’t even planning on getting into that business; the universe simply deemed it so.

And for that I will always be thankful. Happy birthday, Aliana. 

I promise you it will suck and then it will be beautiful 

Ending relationships is HARD. I need everyone to just process through that challenging truth for a moment–including me. 😳

Some relationships have ups and downs and are meant to survive and keep blooming. 

Others have a short season, and stop blooming. Sometimes people in those relationships keep watering them, hoping that the plant WILL JUST FREAKING BLOOM FOR PETE’S SAKE. And so they water and water, until it is seeped in water and drowning and can’t breathe anymore. 

What I want my daughter to understand, and what I want myself to understand, and what I want others to understand is that once you make the commitment to being you–it is a courageous act. And you cannot just back down, even though you’re scared. You’ve got to shine that damn courageous light of yours–that flicker–so that the other courageous people on your path can find you. 

Once you make the choice to commit to yourself-which means to love yourself enough to live a meaningful life, grounded in integrity–there is no turning back. And if you try to turn back, it will haunt you. You will hear that voice that tells you, “this relationship isn’t right, or this job isn’t right, or something JUST ISN’T RIGHT, DAMN IT!” 

And it will keep you up at night until you make the change. 

Change requires ending something so that you can begin something else. When something isn’t right, yet it’s comfortable, it’s SO easy to just stay there. You can ignore that voice, right? You can, that is true. But you will never be who you were meant to be, if you continue to live in the comfortable state that doesn’t honor you. 

When my marriage was falling apart several years ago, I started to look for answers. I was like a freaking Sherlock Holmes, going through phone records, looking at receipts in the trash. I wanted proof. I wanted that hard core evidence that I had a reason to walk away. 

My uncle, who happens to be a therapist, (which is very convenient for me as you might imagine), listened to me dissect all the pieces of evidence over the phone, until he finally said, “Emily. You don’t need evidence. Your feelings. Your truth. THAT IS ENOUGH TO MOVE FORWARD.”

Your feelings. Your truth. THAT IS ENOUGH evidence to move forward with change. When you commit to a life of integrity and faithfulness to LIVING OUT YOUR PURPOSE (sorry for my overuse of capital letters, but this is important here), you commit to your truth. And gosh, that truth can SUCK. It can be dark. It can be painful. But it is the only way to the other side. 

You must live your truth so that you light the way for others on your path to find you.

Do you know how hard it is for me to blog sometimes about divorce and being alone and having PTSD and being depressed and then being joyful and feeling courageous ALL AT THE SAME TIME?? It is SO hard, my friends. So hard. That’s why it’s easier to sometimes curl up in bed and drink tea and forget that I have stories to tell. 

But tonight I am showing up and telling you that although I am VERY afraid to end those things in my life that do not fit my truth, that I will put one foot in front of the other and, with much trepidation, actually end them so that I can grow. And guess what? IT WILL SUCK. But I will keep writing and keep doing the hard truth telling as best as I can while I go through the endings. 

I dislike the discomfort of change. I really do. But I’m doing it anyways, damn it. 

And I love you for reading this. That is all.  

Love

So, it’s Friday night. People are out turning up. I’m chilling in my bed in my happy place, surrounded by books. And I’m thinking about love. 

 

Love wins. 
All you need is love. 
Love is the cure. 
Love one another. 
Love, love, love. 

This year, I have contemplated the above statements about love and what they truly mean. I have tried to understand them, because I honestly couldn’t fully “get” what they meant before. 

I was taught at a young age “to love others.” And while that is important, I have realized that I cannot give love to others, unless I am full of love to give.

Maya Angelou once said, “I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

Because seriously. If I am offering you my time, love, and attention, while not giving any to myself–I CANNOT TRULY BE LOVING. I am only being nice. Nice and loving are two different things. 

For years, I wanted to be nice. My intention was to be nice, because I thought that’s what GOOD PEOPLE DO, right? But the problem with doing things just to be nice, is that people will KEEP asking you to do nice things, since you’re soooooooo damn nice. And then you’re exhausted. And you start to feel upset. And you don’t know WHY you’re upset and you may even take it out on other people–because that frustrational energy has to go SOMEWHERE. It either comes out in your emotions or in your health. It doesn’t just disappear. 

People pleasing is hard on the body. 

But because I excelled at screwing up my life, I didn’t stop at people pleasing. No, no, that wasn’t enough. I also used to do “loving” things in fear, instead of in love, while I TRICKED MYSELF INTO THINKING I WAS being loving. 

When we do “loving” things from a place of fear–that’s not love. That’s trying to control the outcome of something. 

For example, I would try to be the “perfect girlfriend” and do all these “nice things” for a guy I was dating, in hopes that he would still want to continue dating me. Eww. Now I read that, and I’m like, “Damn, that was me?” Yes, Emily; yes it was. 

Because that crap NEVER worked. When you do things in love, YOU ARE NOT ATTACHED TO THE OUTCOME. You are not giving love in order to receive. You are not expecting the other person to return the favor. Because it’s not a favor. It’s love. 

And THAT’S why love wins. That’s why real love is a courageous act. It is a verb. It is brave. It is noble. It is living out your value systems. It is being truthful about who you are and accepting responsibility for screwing up. 

But ain’t no way that I can dish that kind of love out, if I don’t practice loving myself first. 

My two rules: love myself. Love others. 

Love wins. ❤️

And to quote one of my favorite yogis: 

  
Now back to my books.