A year ago I was different. I don't know when I changed so drastically, but it happened- both too quickly and too slowly. I think I know, though, "what" it started with: The truth.
"Tell the truth" and "follow through" were two commitments I made to myself, quietly, without announcement, on my 28th birthday on June 3, 2013. I thought they'd be two little promises that might equate to little shifts to make me a little bit happier.
But the truth is tricky, that way. Because once you start uncovering, un-peeling the lies you've told even yourself, things get messy. And God- once you start telling OTHER people truths...well, there's no going back. There's no such thing as a "little" truth or a "little" lie... you never know how deeply those roots dig into every area of your life.
One of my favorite (depressing) movies is "Revolutionary Road". About a golden-couple-gone-wrong, there's a scene and a line- the ONLY line I've ever remembered from any movie- where Kate Winslet's character says, "No one forgets the truth. They just get better at lying."
I'm sorry to admit I got really great at lying. About a lot. Not malicious or hurtful or even conscious lies (at least not to anyone but myself), but more like excuses...tolerances that I talked into being "ok". Situations that were cracked that I painted over thick enough that no one- not even myself- could see through.
When I was a little girl, I would take after-dinner walks with my parents through a beautiful, wealthy, golf resort community, or, in the summer, after-dinner boat rides along the inlets of another seaside resort community. These sprawling houses with perfectly manicured lawns seemed to have every twinkling light on, and I imagined the stories of the people who lived inside. A husband who brought his wife flowers and told her she was beautiful and kissed her goodnight after coming home from work in a navy suit where he made important decisions and was respected. A beautiful, thin wife who wore a sparkling diamond ring and wore beautiful clothes, and made the house a home with perfectly chosen decor and fresh chocolate chip cookies baked daily. Their perfect children- 2 boys who rough housed, excelled in everything athletic and were respectful young men. A little girl with blonde curls and ribbons laced in her hair, who played with dolls and was inquisitive and creative. The happy, silly dog. The luxury cars. The boats. The life.
Somehow, these "stories" I told myself about the imaginary people in the windows became the blueprint I found myself trying to build. I don't know why. I really don't. Because even when dreaming these fictional people and situations up, they weren't something I necessarily wanted. Their "perfection" wasn't appealing...but I guess, honestly, their simplicity was.
"Everything in my life has always been so extraordinary...I guess I just wanted to know normal."
My best friend told me this one night, and it made everything make sense. My life was never picture perfect. My life was- from the time I was born- robust. Exciting. Varied. Intense. Passion-filled. Artistic. Love-driven. Messy. Adventurous. It was never, and hasn't yet been, perfect. Or, to take the pressure off- "normal". For a long time, I've viewed my "extraordinary" adventures, relationships and choices as being more curse than blessing. It's rare that I ever feel like I entirely fit in. In fact, there are only a handful of people I ever feel like "get" me, even though I know and love lots of people. I have really "out there" views on not some, but MOST things in life and love and spirituality and beyond. I was not raised by both of my biological parents, and have learned that family has less to do with genetics and much, much more to do with choice and love. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence dreaming or creating- writing music, singing on stages, starting businesses, having deep conversations. I've never been "normal". And honestly, I really, really, REALLY wanted to know what that was like. I wanted to be the wife in the house with all the lights that a little girl with the "extraordinary" curse dreams about as she walks by.
So, I chose to seek ordinary. And I'd be lying to say that there aren't some really wonderful things I found. In fact... When I sought ordinary, I got everything I'd asked for...Literally. There's this website called TUT- and it has to do with visualization and the law of attraction. I joined it several years back and one of the questions on it is something like what your deepest desire looks like. I filled in that my deepest desire was to have "a big house filled with lots of people".
And today, and tomorrow, I'm packing up my big house that has, at times, been filled with lots of people. Because, I realize that that "dream" was based on fear. On the fear that staying extraordinary might mean that I'd NEVER fit in. That I'd never be the girl someone dreamed about, or looked up to. The fear that I might be alone. Or I might be unsuccessful and never know what it's like to marry a man in a navy suit who brings me flowers or a mother to perfect children with a boat and a designer handbag.
But now I know, there are things much, much scarier than those fantasies not coming to pass. The thing scarier- the SCARIEST- is the idea of leaving life unlived. Leaving potential untapped. Leaving extraordinary on the table.
I got my dream house. I got my "picture perfect". And there are some perfectly sweet, wonderful moments that were laced through those chapters. But it's time to move on. It's time to let go. And it's time to seek extraordinary.
Because, almost a year ago, I promised to tell the truth. And the truth is...I'm the girl who always runs late. Who cares less about designer handbags and more about functionality. I'll be strong and maybe even lean, but never skinny, which means, I will never be the mom who bakes chocolate chip cookies every day. I WILL be the mom who makes her kid(s) green smoothies and chia seed lemonade. I will probably not be married to a big wig in a navy suit with whom I go through the easily-mapped motions, but rather I will fall madly in love with someone who is madly in love with me, and life, and adventure. He will probably never wear a navy suit, and I will probably love him even more for that. My house will not be filled with black and white, beach-scene family photos, but will instead be a lot like me- warm, a little urban, creative, colorful, and love-filled. My child(ren) will likely always be messy from climbing a tree, or planting a garden, or learning to paint, or making a mistake, and they will have the freedom to try lots of things before they decide for themselves what they should or shouldn't do, with my guidance. The truth is, I'm not a liar, so that's going to have to stop. And when I'm unhappy, I'm going to be unhappy. And when I'm joyful, I'm going to allow that to seep into every conversation, interaction, decision and circumstance, without fear of looking "stupid" or "corny". I'm the girl who wants to cook new, interesting food and sometimes mess up because I won't follow a recipe. The girl who puts herself in really scary situations by traveling, or adventuring or trying something new. The girl who does more for others than they do for her (and that's ok), and who truly loves being around people. I will never be the ordinary, graceful, put-together, sweet, lovely lady from the J. Crew ad. But I will be the passionate, intense, fiery, music-making, truth-telling, adventure-seeking, question-asking, life-living woman I feel aching to resurface within me. Because, if you were to ask me what my "deepest desire" looks like today, I could sum it up in one word:
I believe in extraordinary, even when it comes in exchange for never fitting in or finding your place. Because it's not about "finding" your place. It's about MAKING your place. Making your life, your love, your home, your world. It's scary, and there's no blueprint for it...But I have a profound faith that that's the surest way to know it's worth it.
As discussed SEVERAL times in my blogs, I am in love with being a cheerleader for other people. I take their dreams on as my own, cradle them, and nurture them, and ultimately, have zero control over whether or not their owners make them come true. At the root of this is my deep, all-encompassing love of people. The friends, family and adopted-family in my life are not important to me; they're EVERYTHING to me.
For several of my recent blogs, I've waxed poetic on how I need to focus on me and make my dreams come true (truth). But what I've neglected to notice, to feel, and to admit is that other people finding fulfillment, happiness and glorious, glowy, passionate existence, is one of my most important dreams. I've had a real on-the-surface "eff you" attitude lately, about the role other people play in my life and my existence: "Oh, he/she doesn't want to return my calls? Eff 'em! I don't need 'em! I just need to focus on ME!".
Well, here's the cold hard truth: I could temporarily get happy in that "eff 'em" attitude, because it postponed me having to deal with the painful, hurtful, yucky, complicated truth that when people bow out of your life, you realize the monumental differences they made.
This last week, that reality hit me. I don't know what finally brought me face to face with an immovable mirror of truth, but it found me and I couldn't escape. And then something awful and borderline embarrassing happened: I stopped caring about myself.
Because someone in my life, that I cared for VERY much, stepped back and, in my limited perception, "stopped caring", something inside me triggered and told me that I should stop caring, too. My "eff 'em, I don't need 'em" attitude, flipped its poles, and suddenly, I felt as if one person's presence in my life determined any and all of my value (or lack thereof) and if I was disposable to them, I was disposable, period. And no one or nothing could lift me out of it.
Love, of any kind, on any level, is probably the riskiest behavior we engage in on a daily basis. Loving something or someone- a job, a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend- means placing our trust, our secrets, our dreams, our lives, in someone else's hands on a regular basis, with the unending risk that at any given moment that person or situation, that feels so steady and permanent, might simply decide to walk away; for reasons we don't agree with, don't understand, or worse- sometimes for no reason at all. The promises we make to others are ones we silently hope and believe they're making to us, and we exist and care under the often-false pretense that each party is equally vested in the solidity of a situation or relationship.
So, you know what I did when I stopped caring? Nothing. I existed. I still went to crossfit. I still came to work. I still showed up. But my fire was blown out. Crossfit was challenging, but not intense, not rewarding. Work was steady, but not exciting. I sank into feelings of exhaustion and did nothing productive with my down time. I stopped writing music- even LISTENING to music. I phoned it in to life.
And for the first few days, I'm pretty sure I didn't feel everything I was letting slide, but then, I did. And in that moment, something awesome happened:
I was forced to admit I'd been defeated. I was forced to pick myself back up. Alone. By myself. And figure my shit out.
Somewhere in between wallowing in a pint of frozen yogurt and not responding to emails of people that were talking to me, I realized what I was doing. I was choosing (C-H-O-O-S-I-N-G) to be a disaster. Now, I can't help what I felt and STILL feel (hurt, sad, lonely, etc), but I absolutely can and was choosing how I was responding to what I was feeling.
The truth is: I put a lot weight into all of my relationships, and that means when someone goes missing from my life, it's a huge deal. It's NOT an "eff 'em" situation. It's an earth-shaking, soul-splitting, heartbreaking thing. Even though I wish it weren't....and, maybe, that's ok.
When I was growing up, my parents had one simple rule about my brothers and my view on life, the world and spirituality: People are your religion. You do right by them. You risk things for them. You care for them. You sacrifice for them. You be there for them. You forgive them. You inspire them. You listen to them. You apologize to them. You fight for them. You LOVE them.
These teachings and rules were so deeply ingrained in my heart that it is impossible to "forget" about someone I've ever loved or have them "not matter". Even people that have been out of my life for a very long time, are still people I worry about, wonder about, and even- if only almost immeasurably- care for.
The fabric of my heart, and its well being, are built on the impact of others on me, and my impact on others. And that makes it almost consistently unstable. Because of that tricky "they could vanish" fact. Someone who is the bedrock of my makeup could suddenly disappear, and I'd have to somehow, rebuild... Rebuild, or get lost.
This time, I got lost. And every other time, I've stayed lost, waiting for someone or something else to find me and pull me out of my self-imposed vortex of blah. But I won't- I can't- and don't want to- replace this bedrock:
I won't because who knows how long waiting for someone/thing to fix me is gonna take? This girl's got stuff to do and if I leave it outside of my control to LIVE then I could be sittin' pretty in my nothingness for quite some time.
I can't because finding something new to depend on won't get me anywhere I haven't already been.
And I don't want to because, well...that's the hardest part. Realistically, I don't want to because I believe that there are certain things and people in your life that become sacred. Yeah, sure, we all have the day-to-day acquaintances and coworkers and almost-friends that you grab a beer with or go to the movies with, and they can be replaced (to a point) because they're action-driven. But then, there are the people that are linked to you, implanted in so many intricate layers of your life that it seems like you don't have a memory without them in it. They're foundations that the rooms of our lives are built upon. They're the walls that protect us, and the windows that allow us to see the possibilities of the world. They're the familiar glow of a porch light left on. They're the place we know how to get to by heart...they're very simply, and sometimes tragically, home: Soul mates, best friends, mind readers. And those few, rare, perfectly imperfect gems that we are blessed to collect, even if temporarily, are just not something you have the option of replicating. They're precious, and even if you hold them for a moment, once you've felt the weight of them in your hands, you really don't want to- and can't- settle for an imitation, or anything less. And, beyond that, quite honestly, their void is meant to be felt, not filled. It's meant to be honored for what they were and are, and maybe, just maybe, held for if and when they find the will to make their way back to you.
So, with the option of "getting lost" already crossed off my list, it's time to rebuild and give myself a good kick in the rear. Because the truth is putting my life on pause is not a disservice to the people that walk out of it; it's a disservice to the people that stay invested in it...and beyond that, it's a disservice to myself.
We all rely on other people for strength, and we all feel the inclination to crumble when that supplementary strength is pulled away from us. But it doesn't mean we don't have reserves of our own, it just means we have to relearn how to tap into them. So, that's what my next chapter of this journey is about: Embracing the fact that people matter (maybe too much?) to me and have an enormous effect on my life, but re-teaching myself that even when it doesn't feel like it, my "house" is still going to stand...There's a big, solid foundation under me built from the lives and contribution of many who have loved and do love me. There are walls around me to keep me safe, built by a beautiful collection of best friends, soul mates, and mind readers, and though the absence of one has its definitive wake, it will not be a wrecking ball that crushes everything I've built, even when it feels like it will. And there are still windows-- windows that really, have nothing to do with anyone or anything other than my own perspective. Because, regardless of who chooses to love me or leave me, the possibilities are truly limitless; truncated only by my own inaction, indecisiveness or inability to choose.
So choose, I will. Decide, I will. Take action, I will. I may not know EXACTLY how, all the time, but today, I'm pretty sure it starts with doing a little writing (check), thawing out my heart (working on it), and bringing it ON in the gym (T minus 2 hours).
Sorry I left y'all hanging with no blogs for a while. Sometimes it takes a little "lost" to gain a little perspective.