Tuesday, April 07, 2015

junk drawer heart

most houses have a junk drawer. some have more than one....and ive been in places that have had entire junk rooms.

its that stuff that has no other home. we put it in the junk drawer because we arent ready to throw it out. things with missing parts, loose hardware, mementos, almost-but-not-quite used up things.

we keep it, just in case. we've convinced ourselves we may need it someday, even if we havent touched it in years. we feel more comfortable knowing that we havent thrown it away.

it might be in a drawer, but its still clutter, taking up space. the "what ifs" and "maybes" are bouncing around with nothing to connect to, unresolved.

you can definitely get emotional clutter. your heart can become a junk drawer of feelings. you dont want to deal with them, but you also dont want to let go. its easier to tuck them away, and deal with them some other time.

maybe it makes us feel more in control to know where they are. after all, if we let them go, we cant pick them up and examine them anymore. no more analyzing. we decide to quit examining and looking for answers, and clinging to the pieces that have no use on their own.

theres a lot of stuff rattling around in my heart. i try to be vigilant about what gets in, but sometimes things get lodged in there and i dont clean it out when it no longer has purpose. i tuck it away, in case i find a use for it later. hoarding feelings is dangerous. besides being toxic, it is taking up space where something better could thrive.

but if you ask people who go through a mass decluttering, you hardly ever hear them say, "i wish i would have kept that stuff". instead, they feel free. hopefully, that space that was filled with junk has new purpose.

clean out the hurt. the anger, the fear, the loss needs to go, too.

im working on keeping my heart from turning into a junk drawer. i guess its time for a spring cleaning.

your heart shouldnt be a junk drawer. perhaps its time for a good spring cleaning.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"should" happens

Not so long ago, I realized how many of my life decisions have been things that other people thought I "should" do. The advice I followed, unsolicited or not, was mostly well intentioned. It encouraged me to do things in the same way that the majority of people have found their happiness.
That way is fine. It has a decent track record. Those well-worn paths are traveled for good reason.
But it isn't the only way.
"should" happens every day. we are told to act, dress, think, react, feel a certain way. "should" has bullied people for centuries. it forms our social groups, politics, our perceived outlook on life, the way we handle our relationships, even stretching into our view of god.
"you should have it together by age x". this includes knowing what you want to do for income, partnering up with another human, what major purchases you should have under your belt, and how many degrees from certain colleges or promotions at work. 
Perhaps you knew early in life what you wanted to do a career. Statistically, most people change paths numerous times before they retire. Maybe you were happily employed and everything shut down, forcing you to switch gears just to make ends meet. Maybe it took trying on a few occupations before you found a good fit. Or, maybe, you're still looking for that fit.

we see people hitting milestones in their lives and hear the implications of how much we "should" have accomplished. because we compare our path to those around us, we can feel embarrassment or resentment about where we are in life. trying to follow all the "shoulds" makes us feel bad about ourselves.

i was one of those who had it all planned out. i had a list full of "should" that i was actively checking off. but as life tends to do, it throws a curveball (or several!) and suddenly how i pictured it didn't matter. i'm not sure it ever did. i'm learning to be content for what works for me, no matter what worked for other people. my path may look different than yours, and that's okay.  it's not a contest. sometimes unconventional, sometimes less than i imagined, sometimes a complete detour from the comfortable, but still mine.

"should" happens, but it's happening less to me. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

look at the wound

you can't really get through life unscathed. while sometimes we are soaring with the wind at our back, there are other moments where we are staggering or even crawling on that battlefield, our bodies battered. some wounds were scrapes, and some were gaping holes. there are the bumps and bruises that change us cosmetically, annoying when inflicted, but not bothersome-some snide comment, some hiccup in our plan or some failure that bodychecks us and reminds us that we aren't invincible.
unfortunately, we are almost guaranteed to get a puncture wound or two. we have all of these scars as a testament to what put them there. the life-changers, the deep re-arrangers of our original selves. you can't go back to factory settings after that. they are inflicted and leave jagged scars- marks of survival, proof of our resilience.

when these wounds happen, we do what we can to help them heal. many times, that means covering them up and applying medicine. recovery will be slow. it's not until that bandage comes off and we look at the damage that we see how much we have healed. 

you wouldn't know that the wound was repaired until you looked at it again. when it's covered, you can't see what's taking place underneath. life goes on despite the wound, and the body tries to fix itself. 

it's a common defense to try and stifle our pain, to avert our eyes and try to medicate with new experiences. or people. or food. or alcohol. or drugs. we want to forget that broken part of ourselves and cover it up forever. 

ever one to try and avoid conflict, i made myself do something i absolutely did not want to do. i made myself look at an old wound. it had changed the direction of my life, and i wanted nothing more than to shove all memories of it into a dark corner and pretend it wasn't there. it was tangible evidence of an emotional brutality. thinking about it made me angry and resentful. i used to be unable verbalize it without my voice rising and feeling defensive. it stung my soul and shook my foundations, and facing it seemed unnecessary. it changed me and i never wanted to look back.

i was at a place where i had to look at that wound, but i dreaded it. i wanted to run. i wanted to make excuses not to look, not to be in that situation, to do anything but peel that old dressing back and see how bad the damage was. it would remind me of my imperfections, and i didn't need a self-inflicted, hurtful experience to know i was broken. 

i convinced myself it would hurt. no good could possibly come from it. though it was uncomfortable, i was wrong about what i would see.

i wasn't a victim of that wound anymore. the emotions i experienced from the wound were not stinging and raw as before. instead, i looked at those circumstances through a lens of experience, knowing that terrible pain made me grow. it hurt, it devastated me, it changed me, and i suffered some unrecoverable losses directly related to that wound.

that was then. and now when i look at that wound, i see it as the cause of my character. i had to go through that to be the person i am. that scar made me walk a different life, the one i was meant for. i am so much happier than i was.

i'm not going to be one that will go so far as to say that scar in my life is beautiful. if i had to do it all over, i sure hope there could have been another way to get me to this point on my path. some way that hurt less and didn't change my opinion of people as this wound did.

i wouldn't have known about the restoration that had taken place until i looked at the wound.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

what it looks like

This isn't what it was supposed to look like.

Wasn't I supposed to have it all figured out by now?

I'm blogging from my grandmother's house, where I live with my 5 year old. 25-year-old me would be horrified, because that's not how it's supposed to look. Life got messy, and this is what it looks like now.

25 - year-old me had such high hopes for current me. I have let her down. In her idealistic eyes, my current situation is a deplorable failure. And because there was a bit of old me rattling around inside with those expectations, I even let "this isn't what it's supposed to look like" disease get the better of me.

In came depression, because of the mess that brought me here. Not just one messy thing, but a snowball effect of undesirables that kept pushing me down.

And anxiety, because I have no idea what the future looks like. Since my rose-colored glasses never saw this coming, I hadn't planned for this. Where do I go from here?

Crisis of faith. Crisis of self.

Anger. Lots and lots of that. I was entitled to it, mind you. But I let it fester and grow into this loathing inner monster that didn't want anyone to succeed or have happiness, because that only reminded me of the mess. Outwardly, lots of people could tell I was teetering. Only a very few knew how bad it had gotten. My heart and my brain looked like the aftermath of a natural disaster....piles of broken things, things I loved laying in pieces, fires blazing.

For awhile, I turned into a person I didn't recognize. It took my very darkest moment where I entertained some things that had no business being an option, ever. Why did it even matter what I did from now on, if my mostly good intentions still got me here? This wasn't what it was supposed to look like, after all.

I was forced to look at where and who I was. I hated it. Some days it's still a fight not to hate parts of it. I had to recognize the good in it, the uncomfortable humbling that comes with being in the place in life that I find myself.

I didn't get answers to the questions.
It didn't suddenly make everything okay.
It didn't change my circumstances.
it changed me.

Though this isn't what it was supposed to be like, I'm supposed to be here right now. That doesn't require my approval. I can choose to get mad about it (which still won't change anything), or I can accomplish some things and choose to be grateful. I choose to find my happiness in what I once thought was an undesirable life.

"That's not what it's supposed to look like" disease is ruthless and contagious. It took awhile to shake it. It made me blind to see how much love is around me. I have people in my life that I know were handpicked for me, a little boy who is my world, and I have a career I love. I have new perspective, and new goals. Happiness doesn't require me to acquire much more than these things.

That's what it looks like. And it's supposed to.