The Grief, The Growth

For the past few months I have been contemplating a lot of the transitions and changes I experienced throughout the past year. This is the first time I’ve been able to write about it and it only touches the surface of all that I lived and learned.

I experienced a significant amount of loss on an emotional and personal level in 2016. The emotion surrounding that has often bubbled to the surface. At times I have found myself in tears as I continue to process the grief and move into the growth sometimes the tears still come. I want to fight the feelings, to ignore them, to have them not exist but one of the things I learned best this past year is to allow myself to feel – feel it all, good, bad and ugly. Don’t pretend it’s not there. The only way to deal with it is to actually deal with it.

I thought I had given up on fairy tale endings long ago. I thought that I had come to terms with the fact that life and love are far more complex than the stories that we read and the dreams that we dream. Last Summer though, for what feels like a moment now, I thought that fairy tales might be true after all. I was giddy with it. I was head over heels, all in, and I let go of all my inhibitions. I am not usually one to let go and just give in but this time I did. I don’t let go easily but when I do I am someone who loves with all their being, I don’t hold back love, I’ve never been able to.

My heart had been broken very recently so it seemed a little crazy to open up to someone new. Maybe it was crazy but I was willing to take the chance because I wanted to believe in something more and to this day I do not regret taking that chance. I wanted crazy, head over heels, love more than anything in the world. Even now, months later, my throat closes up with the sadness and it feels like a million little splinters to my heart. The healing is beginning though – I am finally able to find the energy and the words to write again. I haven’t been able to write a single post since last year. My heart was far too heavy with the weight of all the sadness I experienced in such a short time span. My mind was filled with the confusion and conflict I was feeling and it drowned out my creativity for a long time.

There were so many magical moments, so many seeming coincidences that led my heart to believe and to hope again in this new relationship. My heart was still a bit fragile from the pain of my past relationship but I was committed to living from a place of courage and vulnerability. “He’s charming until he’s not,” one of his friends jokingly said and I laughed not quite realizing how true this statement was. I wanted to believe, I wanted to love, so I did. The connection was intense and sudden; at times it was overwhelmingly beautiful yet other times it was painful and confusing.  I began to question myself, to feel as if there was something about me that was either too much or not enough. I reminded myself that love is never easy and continued to try to understand, to love, and to be myself even when it was painful. 

At the time, I needed a place to rest, a place where I felt at ease and cared for. There were moments of love and care; little notes, flowers, poems, dinner, coffee dates, and day trips … Those are the moments I cherish still, the moments that make me feel as if it was worth it even though it didn’t end the way I had hoped at the time.

But months later I still wrestle with the unanswered questions, I wonder why it all ended almost as quickly as it began and with such finality. Why my truth was never accepted as truth. I wonder why I was critiqued and criticized, questioned and doubted, isolated and shut out. I wonder why I felt that every move I made was under a microscope and why towards the end I began to feel scared – scared that I would end up again in a relationship that would try to tone me down, change me, control me, and require me to paint on a smile when I was dying on the inside. I let go in the end, just in a different way, I let go of the fairy tale because it wasn’t true.

I stood my ground for myself even though it felt like my last dream was dying and the tiny flicker of hope the relationship had provided was being extinguished. I stood my ground because I had fought too hard to become myself, to be free, to remove myself from toxic relationships, and to be fully alive. I stood my ground because my daughter deserves to have a mother who knows who she is and walks in it with confidence despite what others might say or do. I stood my ground because I am enough as I am. I stood my ground because growth is the most important piece of all that I am becoming and I refuse to go back. I stood my ground because I will not dumb myself down, quiet my voice, or change who I am to make someone else comfortable. I stood my ground because although the fairy tale has died, I believe in love, a love that is tough as nails and all encompassing. A love that embraces me as I am while it allows me to become all that I am meant to be – a love that holds me secure and gives me wings.

 

 

 

It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect …

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I was thinking today about how often in life we seek some unattainable level of perfection. We believe that things should follow a certain pattern, we try desperately to fit in so that we can be “normal,” and spend so much wasted time on planning every little detail before we act. Not that I am saying you shouldn’t plan, of course you should! However, at some point you have to, A. Realize that every plan will in some way, go differently than anticipated and B. Get up and actually do what you’ve been talking about doing! We can wait around our whole lives seeking for the “right way” or we can move forward on this journey and trust that we will figure it all out as we go along – the important thing is to keep moving forward.

I lived for many years trying to maintain a perfect image, I was the “good girl,” and I lived to please people. Somewhere along the way though, I began to realize I really had no idea who I was or even what I wanted to be. I was so focused on this image of perfection I was missing out on the beauty that comes along with all life’s quirks and imperfections. I am learning to not only accept myself, but to embrace myself for who I am despite what other people may think or say. What has been most surprising is that the negative reactions I thought were inevitable were mostly my own mental hang ups and insecurities. I spent all of last year focusing on the word, “Authenticity,” which led to a deeper understanding of what it means to be open and vulnerable. And I started to really be brave, to take risks, to dive in to life … So much of the anxiety I had been holding onto for my entire life fell away and now, I feel that I am finally experiencing True Joy. Joy that is not based on how perfectly everything in my life may be going, rather joy based on recognizing beauty in the midst of chaos and choosing to laugh every day, even on the worst days.

I recently went through a bit of a rough patch so to speak and there were certainly moments of deep, heart breaking sadness but you know what? I laughed every single day, I made space in my life for joy, for dancing, for silliness, and I never drowned in the sorrow because my heart was too full of happiness. The happiness did not erase the pain, but it carried me through and ultimately set me free to move forward.

There’s no such thing as perfect, it just doesn’t exist – The more energy you invest in trying to attain it, the less energy you have to focus on Joy, Love, & Laughter. When you let go and focus on Joy, life has a way of surprising you …

Sometimes in life, the things that happen along the way can be difficult and often, they can be extremely painful. We must push through those moments where all seems lost. When we do, we can find a new us on the other side that is more beautiful and wise than we ever imagined. By working through these difficult changes in life, we grow into something new, better, stronger.  – Ernest Dempsey

Wishing you Joy!!

xo

Leah