Get Help Through Depression

I do collections.  What I’m doing for the company I work at is pretty much collecting payment for what most of the world sees as a luxury.  For the most part, I’m not harassing people that are trying to decide if paying me is going to cost them groceries for the next week.  But there was a call yesterday and it reminded me that I haven’t asked myself, “what’s my contribution?” in a while.

I’m here to encourage you today.  My inspired moment yesterday looked like a poorly planned Facebook Live. I had the sun glaring behind me and forgot to turn off my Waze app that was taking me home.  There were lots of giggles but this is my follow up. Fewer giggles.  Same insane amounts of love for people I may never see.

I get it. Life can be overwhelming and difficult.  Bills pile up and it can be overwhelming.  Relationships can feel one sided or draining. Or they can end before you want them to. Things we hope for or expect can fail us and fall through.  It’s easy to get caught up in what we hoped for not being our reality and it can wear us down.  I can tell you to shift your perspective, but it’s not an easy thing to do and sometimes you have to shift it every couple of minutes.

Who are you?

I want to remind you that you are not your debt. You are not your job.  You are not your relationship.  When you are gone, no one will remember the details of what you did for a living, or how extravagantly you lived.  They’ll remember who you are.  So, who are you?

I’m a brave, courageous, heart-led leader.

I’m a mom who will do whatever it takes for my kids.

I am a woman capable of giving love and one day I will comfortably say I can receive it too. (Battle scars.)

My identity is not tied up in my circumstances.

I am not the jobs that come and go.

I am no longer an abandoned wife.  I’m here for me and I will not leave my side.

When we make regrettable choices in life, it’s so easy to take that moment and wear it as a punishing cloak of identity.  This is a choice you don’t have to make.

I loved being a student, so I’m asking you to take a moment to think of finishing school.  Once you graduate and are no longer a student that education is still able to serve you in knowledge as well as the habits that got you through it.  But you are no longer a student.

It’s like looking at that miniskirt I used to wear in high school.  I have the same legs, but my belly has held enough life to stretch it in ways that leave designers stumped (there really should be a market for c-section belly overhangs that just need a comfy belly bra).  It might look like it could fit, but it really doesn’t and I see it every time I try.  While it’s in my hands and not on my body, I’m imagining what could be, unable to release what doesn’t fit for the yoga pants that do.  Let it go.

You are not alone.

I understand depression.  I understand the inability to see beyond an immediate circumstance that has made me feel worthless.

My first real suicide attempt was when I was 14.  I had to have my stomach pumped and stayed in the hospital for about a week with most of that time in Intensive Care.  This was followed up in therapy. There were several other serious attempts, but I couldn’t give you a number.  I got help though.  I’ve had a therapist through the first event, the baby blues in 2001 and when my husband left me in 2015. I wasn’t counting the lows because it was a series of days that were too dark to see through. The most recent was probably around 2014.  My depression was intense but I got help in the form of a prescription that time.  The point is, I couldn’t handle things on my own and I got help.  Repeatedly.

Get help.

All I can say is I’m here today because I searched for help and didn’t stop searching until I felt I was safe.

I was never the type to tell people I wanted to kill myself.  Not in anger or as a threat. My personality is much too implosive for that.

I’m very self-aware and have always been great at torturing myself with that pain in silence.  But it has also forced me to advocate for myself in getting help.

When I started visualizing self-harm, I asked for help.

When I tried to imagine what death would do to my body, I asked for help.

When I sat alone in the dark, unable to get out of bed, I asked for help.

When insomnia was controlling my life, I asked for help.

When I couldn’t eat anything, or couldn’t’ stop myself from eating everything, I asked for help.

When I started cancelling plans with friends because I didn’t plan to be around, I asked for help.

When I held pills or something sharp in my hand, and couldn’t see myself getting past the next hour, I asked for help.

When my smile was painfully fake but no one could tell, I asked for help.

When I see that same smile on someone else’s face, I now offer help.

You will get through the next minute, hour, day.

You will learn to help yourself through hard days.

I sing out loud.  I dance or walk (endorphins are amazing). I get lots of sunshine for Vitamin D. I write, and when I feel the people I reach out to are making things worse, I step back and know that self-care is not selfish. And I catch a sunset.  Something about nature reminds me that I am tiny and as small as I am, my problems are smaller and just as the world does its thing without me, I don’t need to feel responsible for the world.

You’re not a tree.  You don’t need to stay where you are.  If you hate your job, get another.  If a relationship isn’t working, end it.  You don’t need to put a time goal on your life.  There’s no need for “I’ll give it another couple of months.” Go get your life.  Decide what you want to change or keep and work for it.  Don’t settle for the same circumstances and hope time will fix things.  If it’s meant to be done, you must get it done.  No one can live this life for you.  No one is to blame but you if you choose to settle in misery.

Again, get help.

Ask for help from your doctor.  They have pills and facilities that are made to help you when it’s too much.

Ask for help from your pastor or church.  There are religions built around helping others. Good stuff, really.

Ask for help from a therapist.  They won’t fix you.  They’ll help you learn to shift your perspective, address what is holding you back and break through to the next phase of your healing.

Ask for help from family and friends.  I can’t remember a time I tried to kill myself with an audience.  Don’t be alone if you don’t feel safe.

Know that saving your life is an inside job that no one can do but yourself.

Know that there is no shame in what you feel.

I won’t say you’re wrong in what you feel.

I won’t say you need to help me feel better about what you are going through.

I won’t guilt you for feeling bad.

It’s okay to feel what you do.

If you’re hurting enough to want to hurt yourself or others, you are hurting enough to need support.

Ask for the support you need.  Know you are worthy of a happy and fulfilling life.  Know that depression isn’t a life sentence and there are always options and answers to questions we don’t always know to ask.  Wait and the question will present itself. Help comes when you look for it because it never looks the way we expect it to.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255

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13 Reasons Why and Suicide or Hard Conversations with my Boys

I like talking to my sons in the car.  I control how loud the radio is.  They can’t run away.  We can talk without looking at each other. I don’t shy away from the difficult conversations.  We’ve talked about the divorce, Dad and Mom dating other people, wet dreams, racism, abuse and homophobia.  A lot of times I talk and they listen.  On really good days, they ask questions and tell me their thoughts.

I was dropping them off at school when the radio station started discussing 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix series.  This was one of those moments I embraced as a moment to face them in honesty and openness, hoping they would gain clarity, and started by asking what they know about it.

Kid1 knew the basic story.  I admitted that I had binge watched the whole shebang over a couple of days.  It draws you in, but not in a responsible way.  I had to point out a few things that I felt needed to be pointed out and I’m giving you the benefit of that talk.

First we talked about our own experiences.  I started with theirs.  My older two sons were taken by ambulance from school after telling their teachers they wanted to kill themselves.  As hard as that was, I’m grateful they talked to adults they could trust.  They made the choice to verbalize their feelings and we were able to support them by getting help. It’s the kind of experience that shakes a family up.  My younger kids learned from what the oldest did, but I hope to teach my kids from what I know.

Depression isn’t a life sentence.  We are given coping skills by example from our parents.  If I learn how to navigate depression, being self aware with self love and amazing coping skills, they could learn from me.  It’s possible to break a family cycle of anything but if it’s to be done, it has to be done by me.  I don’t get to sit this one out and hope they float.  You don’t just survive life after the existence that I have had.  You thrive, you take names with your notes, and you hold the hands of those looking for guidance.

Back to my boys . . . We talked about the series. This was a book and a work of fiction. Suicide is permanent and discussing it with my kids, it’s important for me to remember those teen years when everything was immediate and there was no real concept of permanence.  For my own memories, what lasted a few weeks or months seemed to be the end of the world and lasted the rest of my life.  At least until the next big thing to shake me to my core.

Suicide never gives a person as much control or power as Hannah (from the series) had.  You have nothing in death.  Even martyrs have no power, as the control of the movement is carried on by the living.  Hannah’s revenge plot was carried out by the living.

This doesn’t negate the power of what she endured.  The reality of some of that story is a reality for many teens.  The takeaway I wanted my kids to understand is that should they choose to watch it, they needed to pay attention to the fact that Hannah doesn’t take ownership of her situation or her reaction.  She blames everyone else for a choice she made on her own.

When I watched it, the part that didn’t fit for me was her depression.  She was sad.  She was alienated and targeted.  Was she depressed? My depression has looked like a desire to stay in bed and be isolated.  She wanted to be around others.  My appetite was affected and at the end of the series, I couldn’t relate to her.  The finality of her choice looked nothing like the times I debated “to be or not to be.” It looked like she stepped outside of deciding to end her life, and made her death a revenge plot.  In depressed states, I rarely thought about anyone but me.  I wasn’t capable of it.  I wasn’t able to look outside of the immediate moment and onto a moment in the next hour, let alone 13 tapes later.

I was open and honest with my kids about my experience.  I told them about the time I was hospitalized for my first suicide attempt at 14.  It wasn’t about being held by the hospital so I wouldn’t hurt myself.  I was hospitalized for an overdose of Tylenol and they kept me until they were able to get me stable.  I told them about getting help then.  I told them about getting help for the baby blues when my firstborn was a few months old. I described pushing Kid1 in a stroller to see my therapist because I needed help.  I reminded them about the period when my middle son was facing severe depression the first time. I was also taking care of their Dad’s late Uncle’s affairs.  To me, family means commitment and duty.  I had only met this Uncle a handful of times, but when it was time to take care of his remains and spending weeks on end to clear out his apartment, I was the only family willing to do so.  I was overwhelmed and unable to spend time with a therapist of my own, so I sought help with my general practitioner and she put me on antidepressants.  It was what I needed until I was able to safely care for my own emotional needs.  The lesson was that I got help and I kept getting help.

I also told my sons about what I’m feeling now.  I told them how hard it was to lose my children in a miscarriage.  I told them I’m not ready to release their ashes but it’s something we will do soon.  I explained that I cry when I need to and get space when I need to.  I’ve been gardening and baking and shopping because this is my version of self care.  I write and cry and sing out loud because this is how I heal.  I start a new position in Santa Monica tomorrow and I will be near the ocean and find peace with the sounds and smell.  All this means I’m not okay, but I will be and it gets better each day.  It helps to be self aware which is something I am still learning.  It helps to know what is something I need to work through and what is something that comes from other people.

I explained that I don’t get to blame others for what I feel.  Maybe I’m a strong person and that means others take it for granted that I can handle everything.  Maybe I’m so hated that others like to kick me when I’m down.  Maybe the idea of losing a child is something that makes others face that fear on their own and that makes people uncomfortable.  There were three specific moments right after my miscarriage that I felt like being alone were better options.

The day after I found out I had miscarried was a Thursday.  I was walking around, knowing my twins had stopped living inside of me.  I felt so trapped and betrayed by my body. It felt like my heart was fractured and my belly felt heavy and burdened instead of light and filled with hope and life. I was trapped in my home and my skin.  I went for a walk through Chinatown to escape my thoughts.  I was called and then called out for not helping someone else through my grief.  I explained that my boyfriend and I were helping each other through it all and I was told, “who is helping me?” For a moment I felt like I was wrong for focusing on healing with my boyfriend as they were our kids.  I worked through the anger and realised I wasn’t wrong in doing what we needed to in order to get through what we had to get through. I wasn’t responsible for how others needed to face our loss.

The day after the abortion I didn’t want, I was called by someone else and told I was so hated that this person couldn’t find empathy for me, and somehow I was supposed to make this person feel better.  I was putting him in an awkward position, somehow. I was packing away my maternity clothes that no longer fit and ultrasounds that were no longer a focus of hope.  In my grief, I was preparing for my boyfriend and my sons to come home.  In a rare moment I was trapped in a feeling that I hadn’t known in months or maybe a year.  I was manipulated and made to feel bad by someone that no longer matters in my life.  It took a while to separate what was grief and what was irrelevant so I could move on.  When I felt the power of my grief removed from the pain of someone else’s expectation, I felt peace.  I know I couldn’t have controlled what happened and I was dealing appropriately with what we were given.  I felt peace in knowing I wasn’t being unreasonable but the call I took was.

On Monday, not yet a week from the news, I was making calls to have my babies cremated and I was expected to stop that to help someone else with everyday life.  I did.  I managed to function outside of my expectations and do what I was asked.  I needed time to myself and to take care of my children but outside life rarely allows you the space you need.  I was intentional with responding to the situation and not reacting the way my heart wanted me to.

I am accountable for how I choose to react or respond.

I am worthy of loving myself.  Self love when angry, sad, or hurt.  I am worthy of it.

I am not expected to take care of others, although it is nice to know I can because I’m a strong woman.

I can separate my feelings from those imposed on me.

I can ask for help.

I hope that at the end of the day my kids can learn from my experiences and know that there is help and hope and a future through depression.  You get to live and in living through your pain and finding the rainbows through the storms, you get to help others.  It’s a gift. I don’t hate 13 Reasons Why.  I’m grateful for the conversation it started.

As of now, I’m still involved in self care and my family is loving the gluten free red velvet cakes I keep baking.  My yard looks nicer than it has and in a few weeks we’ll have fresh veggies warm from the sun.  And I’m still here.

 

What Helps Me Through Miscarriage Grief and Clarity Through the Pain

The shock of loss is one of the most profound perspective shifting traumas I have ever endured.  I’m learning there’s a gift through loss if you are open to it.

The gift of vulnerability.

I admit to being one of those hardened single moms.  I know I’m not the only one and that’s the sad reality of families that transition.  I felt strong and independent.  I was making ends meet with family support.  I was making my own choices and doing my own thing.  Letting someone in was the hard part.  With the boyfriend that was consistently choosing me, no matter how hard I pushed him away, I was constantly on guard, and looking for him to fail me.

When we lost our children, I was completely vulnerable. I was lost and directionless.  In the past week and a half, I wasn’t looking for anything as grief worked through us, but I found every time I started crying, strong arms wrapped around me and cradled me.  He took care of me, making sure I ate, and seeing to all of my needs.  I stopped looking for failure and discovered he’s a better man than I deserve for the way I’ve treated him.

Problems that seemed to be insurmountable are now insignificant after going through our loss while holding hands.

Finding strength through adverse reactions.

I am a strong woman with an intense personality.  This is who I am and I am content with defying what is expected of me.  I’ve learned that my strength can inspire and offset others.  I’ve had people tell me they needed me to help them through my loss in the past week.

Finding your voice sometimes means saying nothing.

I’ve had people push their needs on me, and I’ve decided it’s not my job to make others feel better about how I feel or what I am going through.  Sometimes that means ignoring calls.  I’m the only one that can decide how I grieve and what will comfort me.

Connection is healing.

I was lucky to find Natural Grace Funerals.  They have picked our babies up from the hospital and will cremate them for us.  Aside from the crematory fee, they work pro bono for miscarried children.  When I spoke with the director, she told me that she is also a mother to twins. We shared a moment of knowing that no matter how small they were, this was something I need to do and as a mother, she felt the same way. We’ll release them into the ocean.

Earlier this week, I went to Armstrong Garden Center to look for the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bushes we will plant in their memory.  My boyfriend likes purple and I do too.  I saw the plants in my neighborhood growing up and the idea of seeing them and thinking of our children (we named them Sunny and Rain) was comforting. I was asking questions of one of their staff and told her about the miscarriage.  As I was leaving, she handed me a couple of crystal angels with purple wings as a gift to keep my angels near me. Other than the plant, I never discussed purple or that I have a lavender scrapbook for them. She told me about a friend that had just lost a 15 year old child and we shared a hug and tears.

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Connecting with someone else is healing for me, but being open to the words she offered and the hug that came with it was healing for her as well.  Connection is what binds us through our community and with our humanity.

Letting go can feel natural.

I’ve been purging junk all week.  It started with heavy weeding in the garden.  Then I started clearing out things in the storage shed, and laundry room.  I started cleaning out things in the house.  For so long I held onto junk.

When I worked at a mini storage, a woman once told me that she had to go through her mother’s things because she was tired of making monthly installments on delayed grief.

I was doing that too.

I finally went through that plastic bin full of pictures and sorted out what was mine and my ex’s, and each of the kids.  I set aside family pictures and wedding things for the kids because who we were as a couple is part of their identity.  They’ll want that one day.  As I was cleaning out the bathroom, I realized I still had a bottle of the ex’s shampoo and I realized it didn’t hurt to let go.  It felt liberating.

For the twins, I had started a scrapbook and today I will complete it and put it on the shelf.  I won’t wait to process it all.  It’s painful.  There is so much longing and I miss the feeling of life inside of me, but I can’t be the mother my sons need if I’m intentionally waiting to live again.  I’ll celebrate the process and really enjoy the memory of the time I had with them, but then I will give myself permission to let go and to cry, as I have been.  Sometimes several times an hour.

Grief and loss are natural, but not normal.

As I know this pain will ease up and pass as life cycles with change, transition and rebirth, I also know that I’m where I need to be.  I need to feel the loss.  I need to accept I will not always have a smile on my face.  At the same time, there has been laughter.  It’s not that I can forget my babies or compartmentalize my feelings.  Life is full of variance and joy comes with the pain.  I’m experiencing each moment as it comes, specifically staying away from alcohol or anything that would numb my feelings.

Sometimes there’s laughter.  Sometimes there’s tears.  Sometimes I cling to my boyfriend with intense desperation because I can’t handle the surprise gut punches that remind me I’ve lost something wonderful and incredible. What I’m feeling is completely natural, but life only offers moments of grief every so often.  We are built to get through it to appreciate the lows as well as the highs, but it’s not constant.  This pain is natural, but living in it constantly would make it normal and that would take away from what we are given to grow through. And I’m growing through it.

How I Use My Birthday to Plan Life and Death

It’s my birthday month. I know a few people that make it a month long celebration but I’m not that person. I might be too intense for those shenanigans.

I spend a couple of weeks looking for my perfect birthday gift. I don’t plan what I’ll do. It doesn’t usually work out the way I want it to when I do. It didn’t work out with my ex, and now my kids are set in what they will and will not do.

February is the month when I celebrate my next lap around the sun, rather than the last one I just completed. It’s an opportunity to jump into this next year with a sense of direction and excitement.

I spend a few days dreaming big. It’s a time to think of the ways the year felt amazing and the ways I wanted more than I experienced. The thing about a dream is it hasn’t happened yet. No matter how big or small you dream, you get to create what you imagine. Why not dream big? It’s the difference between dreaming of a slice of cheesecake and owning the shop that makes them all day. You don’t have either in front of you and you get to create the steps to get the goal you’re after. It sounds silly until you imagine the ways you stop yourself from dreaming big. I didn’t dream big as a child. My only life goal was to make enough money to hire someone to clean up after me. It’s a gift I’ve handed onto my kids. At Christmas I saw how I have been living in scarcity to the point where my kids asked for permission to dream of a wish list. I get to dream big so they can see we limit ourselves and we don’t have to.

My first big goal is a trip to Canada. Kid1 wants to go to Canada and I would love to take my boys. That means getting passports and there are steps and documents I need for that. I need to figure out where he wants to go which is hard right now. He’s not talking to me. He hates the idea I have a boyfriend that I want him to get to know. I’m giving him space for a few days, but Canada is about him so we have to find space to make amends. I get to figure out the finances when the single parent rodeo is a difficult and expensive ride and I’m a temp that hops from agency to agency when opportunities present themselves. And permission. I get to see if their Dad will allow me to travel out of the state, let alone the country. There are goals and steps and I get to figure them out and step into each task.

I work out the kinks in my planner. My planner is really just a 3 ring binder with months broken up. Rather than a budget, I set up what is due and when it’s due because bills are my reality. I have goals set to tackle certain things as a priority. I have things listed I want to experience, and I have steps broken down. It outlines my goals, but also my 18-month plan. I have sections for my kids, and finances, goals, what I need to do, field trips and reading lists. The hard part for me is deciding what I can do each day to work toward those goals. It’s easy to procrastinate.

Normally my Christmas task is to write letters but I didn’t get to it at Christmas, so I’m doing that this month as well. I write letters to my loved ones so they have my final words if I unexpectedly die. I keep track of things I would add to my obituary, so it’s easier for whoever gets to arrange that, but I also write letters to my siblings and nieces. Unlike the times when I’ve been depressed and suicidal, writing this out (in it’s morbid glory) is the one way I’m thinking of others.  When suicidal, I was incapable of thinking about others or beyond the next hour.

What is amazing is how the thought of dying really makes you appreciate what you have in living and it often makes me have conversations I would normally put off. It’s a way to force myself to clear the air and be present in my relationships. It’s a way to show my family how much I love them, even when I don’t make time for them in my selfishness.

February is my month to shoot forward into the next year and it looks like a month of planning.

When Depression Looks Like Avoidance

I used to spend a day in bed, reading novels.  I think my average on a good escape day was 3 novels, but my record was 4.  During these book binges, my kids were often getting my attention for food, or making epic messes in the house.  My ex was in bed watching t.v. with me, or giving me a nudge to see if I would start breakfast, then lunch, then dinner.  Or we would watch a movie marathon that was the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Extended Edition.

I was so unhappy with life that I was escaping in the worlds of someone else’s creation to avoid what I was living in.

I used to hide in books.  I haven’t read one all the way through for almost two years.  I used to buy books at Barnes and Noble or through Amazon.  I’d flip through the pages, and breathe deeply so I could memorize the smell of freshly inked pages.  I felt the weight and read the publication details, the back cover and any details that had nothing to do with the story.  I would read the dedication a couple of times.  When I was younger, I would read the last page, then start on the story.  I remember how frustrated my ex got when there was a new book on the shelf.  My first surrogacy couple gave me a Kindle for Christmas when I was carrying their child.  It took time to get used to, but I began to love the idea of a library in my purse, and my ex never knowing where I was in a book or if I was starting a new one because he hated that.

I was talking to friends on Thursday about Harry Potter.  One friend was saying she’s reading it for the first time.  I read that series at least nine times.  At that admission, the looks I got told me how not normal that was, and yet it was my normal.

I’m not escaping anymore.  Well, not entirely.  There are beach trips to watch a sunset.  I’m due for a museum trip this week or next.  I haven’t been catcalling runners with windows closed and that makes me smile, because there’s someone special enough to make that something I don’t even think about unless it’s realizing I’m not doing it anymore. I’m not getting lost in novels or movies.  I’m not reading self help books so someone else can tell me how I should live.  I’m living. It’s an epic adventure where I get to make relational connections and allow them to shift my perspective so I can grow.

I was talking to the mastermind behind That Kind of Light yesterday among other friends.  One of our friends commented on the authority behind my words.  I say what is on my heart without a show or attitude.  I talk like it’s truth because it is.  I told them an often repeated example.  I don’t need to tell you I’m a woman.  It’s who I am.  It’s the same with my truth.  I say it as it is, and it lands or it doesn’t.  Often if I give a man my truth, he doesn’t accept my authority in who I am, or if I tell him about the amazing I see in him, he’ll reject it if he can’t see it.  My friend Mary asked if I was open to feedback.  I said yes.  I’m always open to that growth.  She said that my response feels defensive and it’s a wall that I’ve created.  It’s true.  She called me out and it is a wall, and I admit it.

For so long I didn’t feel the freedom to say what is on my mind.  I had shame because I knew what I was feeling wasn’t the desired feeling or emotion that I was expected to reflect and I didn’t know how to care for myself in a way to be in a healthy place where my needs weren’t all secondary.  As much as I withheld, it was a reaction to not having a safe place for my truth to land. I’ve come to a place where I shoot it out anyway.  I don’t shield who I am because I often choose isolation over going back to who I was.  I haven’t been able to read or get into binge watching television or movies because of the brokenness in which that was born for me.  I’m no longer hiding in what will cover me, but there is a defiant push I use when I give my truth.  It’s almost a push to protect myself.

This week has been one where I have been intentional with reminding myself that everything happens in the time, place and order it is supposed to.  Whatever is meant to be yours will always come to you.  We meet who is supposed to come into our lives at the precise moment when we are meant to.  They impart wisdom and direction without knowing the way they are meant to shift your perspective.  I wouldn’t have been able to accept Mary’s feedback a few months ago.  Not in the way it has already rippled through me.

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Atop Mount Hollywood, looking toward Hollywood

I had a moment of doubt yesterday.  I was hiking with a friend.  She’s the first person I’ve ever shared my writing with. We started at the trailhead near the Greek Theater and started our ascent toward the Observatory. It was sometime at this point where she told me we were going all the way to the top of Mount Hollywood.  I didn’t question if we could.  I decided I would take her leadership and we were doing it. We took the long way up, but the short way down.

On the way down, there were a couple of falls.  Of course I was freaking out that I would fall.  Both times I was laughing through it, but it reminded me of the transition I was feeling a few weeks back. I started shifting this week into a place of vulnerability.  That fall reminded me that when your footing isn’t stable, falling can happen and it can be painful.  The problem with allowing someone else to brighten your smile is the risk that they would take that away, and I’m in a place where I get to step certainly in uncertainty and that takes vulnerability.  I’m not used to that, but I’m stepping into it.  As scary as that is, as real as it is, the rewards have already been huge.

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Venice Beach November Sunset

Not long ago I was blogging about sharing my feelings as vulnerability being born through relationship and my day yesterday was a testament to that.  I spent my morning hiking with a friend.  My afternoon was at the Artists and Fleas meetup in Venice where I got life affirming hugs by friends that showed up at the same time I did (completely unplanned) followed by a solitary sunset.  I went to little Tokyo and the Arts District for a friend’s birthday and late last night opened up in scary ways to a really special man, but I was met in love.  (Did you notice it’s not about a boy, but a man?  I did.  It’s growth!)

I’m not hiding in distractions anymore and that wall that I have been building is being slowly taken apart, one relationship at a time.  There are terrifying moments.  There are moments when I feel like this is what home means.  There are moments when I’m being a chicken weenie in avoidance.  There are moments when the feedback is a little too real.  All of these moments are mine and I’m not taking a backseat to my existence in someone else’s imagination.  That feels badass.