Stop Being So Mean.

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I’ve been thinking about something the past few days.

I’m so hard on myself. Why is that?

After my last rambling post, I woke up the next morning with a pit in my stomach. I felt exposed, raw, and weird. Almost like an awkward walk-of-shame, tiptoeing about the morning with sinking feeling of regret and vulnerability.

It took everything I had in me not to pull down that post.

I mentioned that to my sweet boyfriend, who said some things that got me thinking.

What was I ashamed of? Honesty? Openness? Admitting weakness and showing faults and releasing the facade of perfection?

Isn’t that what I want? Authenticity?

Genuineness isn’t always pretty. And it shouldn’t be. So what if I don’t have it all together sometimes? No one does. I wouldn’t fault my best friend, or my sister, or my boyfriend, or even the stranger on the street, if they had an off day and possessed feelings and said things that contradicted the way they normally feel or strive to be. So why can’t I extend myself the same grace and acceptance?

This topic has came up multiple times in therapy. My extreme levels of self-criticism. My lack of self-acceptance. My overreaching quest for a perfect presentation, to always be the right thing and do the right thing.

And honestly, I’m light years from where I used to be. I can genuinely say I like myself now. I like this person, I trust her, and I believe in her. But I am still so critical of her sometimes.

When she is taking steps forward, progressing, motivated and headstrong, it’s easy to like her. But when she slumps, when she has doubts and falls back into old habits, I just slam her. I don’t see her for what she is — utterly human, experiencing inevitable and necessary human emotions that will never be completely steady. I immediately ‘doomsday’ and call her a failure. And then feel regret and shame, not only for having tripped and stumbled down a few steps on the climb, but for getting embarrassed about it instead of shaking it off.

This is the gray area I’ve been working on for the past year or so. Breaking the pattern of black-and-white thinking, of good-and-bad, perfect-and-failure. There is an entire spectrum between the extremes, and it is okay to fall anywhere in between at any given time. No, in fact, not just okay — expected. And accepted. Desired, even.

So why, when I have recognized and know these things so logically, do I still give myself such a hard time sometimes? Not only with grief, but everywhere. Self-image, career, goals, fitness, relationships, even writing. What’s with the need for perfection?

Like The Beau said, “stop being so mean to my girlfriend!” (He’s so cute.)

One of the most outstanding pieces of advice I was ever given on this journey of widowhood was this — there are no should’s. Be gentle with yourself.

So many people, widows and parents and children and siblings and friends and all sorts of people suffering from grief, have found me through my writing and this wonderful amazing ride of life. And I don’t hesitate for a second to suggest this to them, to extend them that grace.

It’s more than time to do it for myself.

And not just when it’s easy to do, not just in those moments when I’m doing well and it’s easy to like myself.

But in those moments when I’m experiencing the morning-after-vulnerablities. When I’ve fallen down and embarrassed myself. When I have snapped at someone or failed to complete a task or don’t have the right answer or any answer. When I’m not on point.

Especially then.

That’s when I need to stop being so mean.

Tuesday Tunes | Believe

Yellowcard – Believe

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Tuesday Tunes. This week, I didn’t really choose to…it chose me.

Last night as I was writing this embarrassing but necessary stream-of-consciousness, my head snapped right up from the keyboard.

This song was playing on Pandora.

Hello. I hear you. I’m listening. You are happy I’m purging, that I’m recognizing and writing to get it OUT of my head, not falling into my old trap of holding it in like I’ve started to do the past few weeks. I get it, I hear you, you are here. Keep talking. I’ll keep writing.

So, here’s your Tuesday Tunes. I’m even including the lyrics this time.

 

Yellowcard – Believe

Think about the love inside the strength of heart
Think about the heroes saving life in the dark
Climbing higher through the fire, time was running out
Never knowing you weren’t going to be coming down alive
But you still came back for me
You were strong and you believed

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.
Be strong. Believe.

Think about the chance I never had to say
Thank you for giving up your life that day
Never fearing, only hearing voices calling out
Let it all go, the life that you know, just to bring it down alive
And you still came back for me
You were strong and you believed

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.

(Again today, we take into our hearts and minds those who perished on this site one year ago, and also those who came to toil in the rubble to bring order out of chaos, to help us make sense of our despair)

Wanna hold my wife when I get home
Wanna tell the kids they’ll never know how much I love to see them smile
Wanna make a change or two right now
Wanna live a life like you somehow
Wanna make your sacrifice worthwhile

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.

Think about the love inside the strength of heart
Think about the heroes saving life in the dark
Think about the chance I never had to say
Thank you for giving up your life that day

(The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here)

 

Each week I share a currently meaningful or relevant song from my playlist. You can check out past Tuesday Tunes here. Join up and link your post about your favorite tunes below!

Stream of Consciousness

So I am experiencing that familiar bottled-up, tense, need to purge. I can’t really pinpoint what it is, and I feel like it is a multitude of things, so while I am in the mood and have the backup fortitude of my ‘old days’ Pandora channel and our old favorite drink, I’m going to fall back on my old friend stream-of-consciousness. Nothing quite helps like a good longwinded unedited writing session.

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Iris

I always feel like people come to you because you’re genuine, not because you have it all together. You put things into words that make sense, even to someone who hasn’t been through it. I know easier said than done but don’t be so hard on yourself. You are a perfect human being with everything that a human being comes with. Much love to you and I hope writing has helped you feel some relief. ♡

Liz

Approaching one year anniversary and feeling so much of the same. Thank you for sharing

[…] night as I was writing this embarrassing but necessary stream-of-consciousness, my head snapped right up from the […]

[…] my last rambling post, I woke up the next morning with a pit in my stomach. I felt exposed, raw, and weird. Almost like […]

Amelia

*whoosh* went the air from my lungs. The the biggest hurdle for me to share anything about my pregnancy losses? Other people’s feelings. Look. I’m completely overwhelmed by MY feelings, I CAN NOT comfort you about shit gone awry in my life. No way nuh uh. If you want to discuss any of this with me? You keep your shit together. No tears, no poor you face. Stoic, straightforward questions and answers.

It’s coming.

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I can feel it.

The rigidity is increasing in my bones, tendons and emotions pulled taut, cords of muscle and tempers pulling a little tighter each day as everything braces in anticipation of what is to come.

Every year it is the same. I know it will come and I know I will survive it. I know that the weeks and days leading up to it will be worse than the actual thing itself, but that doesn’t change it.

You would think that by now I would be used to this ride. The hold-your-breath, clench-everything, pit-in-your-stomach ascent to the pinnacle of the roller coaster. And while I do know now to double check my seat belt and clutch the bar a little tighter, I still can’t seem to calm the butterflies in my stomach or stop from closing my eyes.

Pretty soon we’ll be teetering on the edge…and then we’ll plunge down.

5 years.

It’s coming.

 

Kinda Like Right Now

It has been a super busy summer!

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After returning home from my whirlwind trip around the world, I had just a couple weeks home with the kiddo before I whisked away yet again. This time I took my Little Man with me, a quick jaunt up to Virginia to film a PSA and family profile for the nonprofit I work with, the EODWF (I’ll share once it is finished). Little Man was so excited to take a plane trip! He has flown many times in his young life but all between the ages of 8 months and 2.5 years, so he doesn’t really remember much about it. He was so stoked to pack his suitcase and have his own seat next to the window where he could wear his own headphones and listen to his own music. Such a big boy.

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He was so well-behaved and soaked in everything, talking nonstop with excited questions and observations. Such a big difference from his first flight, a few days shy of 9 months old, when he cried in his carseat and squirmed through the cutting of his very first two teeth on the the three longest flights of both our lives, the flights that took us to Dover, DE to greet his father’s body. Sitting next to him this time I couldn’t help but think of those flights, the little bits I can remember through the numb shock in which I rotely operated. What a stark difference: this happy little boy, so tall and smart, so excited to be filmed and talk about his daddy… Almost 5 years ago, sitting next to the crying baby with everything so very very bleak, I couldn’t have possibly pictured our lives now, how we have not only survived but thrived. And as we told our story that weekend and remembered our hero, I stopped to smile often. The Hubs would be so proud.

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Then, just two days after returning home, with just enough time to unpack, do laundry, and toss it all back into our suitcases, Little Man and I took off yet again! This time, we snagged my mom, packed up the car, and hit the road south to one of our happy places: Indian Rocks Beach, FL. It has become a summer tradition for us to spend a couple weeks away together; napping and swimming and reading during the days, walking the beach with ice cream as we watch the sunset each night. It is a special time I feel so blessed to share with my mom and my child, our little trio of generations with a bond I’ll treasure forever. And we got a special treat this year — we got to witness a nest of sea turtle hatchlings make their way to ocean! So amazing.

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And as if two whole weeks of beach and relaxing (and eating…the food, oh the food!) wasn’t excellent enough, I got an awesome surprise on one of our last days there. Two mamas from my Moms Group (a kickass group of ladies I’ve known since we all met online in 2008 when pregnant with our kiddos) happened to also be in the area, so we met up! It was so lovely to finally meet these ladies and their kiddos in person. We’ve all been there for each other for 6 years, starting with our struggles to get pregnant and lasting through births and deaths, first steps and potty training, pains and joys. It was truly icing on the cake (ice cream?) of the vacation.

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But for everything there is a season, so now we’re back home and trying to switch gears, getting back into the daily routine as we prepare for the start of school. Starting Monday, Little Man is going to be a kindergartner! I can’t believe it. It doesn’t feel as shocking as it could, I suppose, since he will be continuing on at the same private school he has attended for preschool and pre-k the past two years. He will even have the same teacher he had last year, since it is Montessori school with combined classes where students work on individual levels. He is excited to return and show off his reading skills and maybe join the basketball team now that he’s a big kindergartner :)

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I feel like I still have so much to catch up on but, as I said in one of my last entries, every time I sit myself down to write the words just don’t come out. I had a visit with my therapist on Tuesday, my first since May, and she said something that really resonated with me: Perhaps I just don’t need this outlet in the same way I used to. Not that I don’t want to write any more, or that I won’t continue to write…and not that I am ‘over’ my grief, or ‘over’ my need for this kind of outlet to process it…but perhaps that need isn’t quite the same anymore…and THAT’S OKAY. I’ve become so used to approaching writing solely from that angle, that now when I don’t have an immediate pain to analyze, I often find myself crippled by writer’s block. Like my writing won’t be as ‘raw’ or ‘real’ or ‘rich’ if it isn’t filled with pain…like my gift of words was only born out of my darkest moments.

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I think I need to relearn how to write from joy. Maybe I need a fun project, something to write about that is pure fluff to shake the dust out of my head and get my groove back. Maybe I need a new blog, or a new design, or a new planner to write down ideas. Or maybe, I just need to shut up and stop expecting things of myself. I’m sure it’s easier than I’m making it: don’t write if I don’t feel like it, write when I do. Kinda like right now. :)

I feel the same way your therapist mentioned about my writing. I got so stuck on writing solely about grief and just wasn’t there anymore; that active and real pain. It comes and goes, but that’s not what I find myself wanting to share through my writing anymore. I hope you find that new voice, even if you don’t share it with the world.