19
Dec

I respect your presence

Dear grief, you filled the place of love, and I respect your presence.
You filled in where there was once limitless love, and I respect your presence.
You filled in where there was once love with limits and boundaries, and tempers, and pain, and I respect your presence.
You are the ultimate final act of love.
You are the reminder that there was unconditional, real, empathetic, caring, wonderful love.
And I respect your presence.

Our whole relationship was complicated.
Packed with fighting and times of so much rage and craze that we just walked away.
Most of my life was filled with so much anger because I could not understand you.
The time you wasted being angry, the reasons you were angry, the people you chose to be angry with, I could not understand any part of it.
And the thing that made me the most angry is you wasted time being angry and you wasted time wasting time.
You never understood that time was a gift and that all of our time is borrowed.
And yet, there were parts of you that I really understood, and I got your why.
Not always, but every once in a while, I got your why.

And the end with you was also complicated.
Filled with moments of laughter and lightness.
Filled with moments of heaviness and vulnerability.
Filled with a scared little boy and a grown man in denial.
Filled with anger and resentment.
Filled with more wasted time, and time worried about the wrong things.
Until finally, it was time to say goodbye.

Once you were gone, I had no idea where my mind, thoughts, and memories would go.
I am honored to say that I felt pure grief.
Loving, missing you, missing your big personality, pure, beautiful grief.
Dear grief, you filled the place of love, and I respect your presence.
I respected you from the moment you arrived, and I have not stopped.
I respect you for making me feel small and sad.
You reminded me that love once existed where you now stand so stand proud.
I respect your presence.

It felt like nothing could tear us apart. We were one family, united. We were everything and always. We were endless and always a breath away. We were each other's safety net and you were my laugh, my balance, my friends. Until we were no longer. Somewhere, somehow, we hit our limit in our limitless friendship - and it did not explode, it just vanished.
We were done, and you were all gone.
I spent months upon months upon months unable to catch my breath. I felt like I was being crushed with sadness. And then I lost my dad and I realized what I was feeling for us was grief.
Even though you still existed and walked around in the world, I was grieving you/us/ideas/love. I was grieving our love lost.
I replayed our times together and conversations. I picked up the phone countless times. I doubled over in pain. I held my son's hand as he grieved too. I curled up into a ball most nights. I yelled, I screamed, I did nothing at all but get small and quiet.
Dear grief, you filled the place of love, and not only did I not respect your presence, I tried to deny you existed. Until I had no other choice. I had to accept the fact that we were done and grief now stood proud.
Dear grief, you filled the place of love, and I respect your presence. The love you now replace was limitless, endless, truthful, and pure. You should stand proud because real love existed and I respect your presence.

I have had to let go of expectations of people, relationships, and what I had hoped we would be, or what I had thought we were. I have grieved safe spaces and love. Maybe something more beautiful will be born. Maybe we will be exactly what you have always told me we are. Maybe grief will help me to move on, or maybe it will keep me lingering. Maybe the love I still have will melt away the protection I am now seeking.
Dear grief, you filled the place of love, and I respect your presence.
I honor you for finding me because it means that I allowed my heart to feel this way. I allowed this amount of love in and outward. I poured as much of myself as I could and I am so lucky to have had this in my life. I respect your presence because it reminds me that I felt love.

As a 45-year-old woman who left her family with no reassurances, who created two amazing kids, who found the love of her life at 21, who left a career that raised her, who buried a puppy that was her reason, who is now raising those two incredible kids to be people in this world, who started a company that she adores, who has another puppy that fixed the broken, who has gone through stage after stage after stage with her husband, who walked her father to his death, who loved and lost, and lost a lot, who was born 40, who is living her best decade, who stopped proving she can do hard things, who continues to look at herself to find how to can be better, stronger, more myself. I am lost. I am living my best years and am still lost.
I have broken up with myself over and over again and I still am. I am still trying to make sense of who I am, how I fit in, where I fit in, who I need, what I need, and when.
Although I spent an entire year trying to live in a place of self-respect with boundaries on being a doormat, I still find myself, searching. I do not know what I am seeking or searching for, but I know that I am looking for something. And I know that I am grieving past lives.

Dear grief, you filled the place of love, and I respect your presence.
Where you now stand proud, stood a woman who was so fulfilled with her choices in love.
Where you now hold value was once a foundation that was so strong, and now is a little wobbly.
So I respect your presence. I respect your heartbeat and I respect the waves you bring.

Dear grief, you filled the place of love, and I respect your presence.
You are the ultimate final act of love.
And I respect your presence.



16
Dec

Five Minute Friday - store

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on store.

I was putting away your report cards the other day, storing them for a time in which you'll never want them back...because who does?
In the closet upstairs, I have two big boxes stored with your teeny tiny clothes; the ones I couldn't part with after you had grown out of them.
In the basement, Dad has bins of legos and figures that he has stored away too; the ones he once played with and then got to again when you were born.

Parents do this sort of thing. We store away your items, your trinkets, your little.
All we are really doing is storing our memories in boxes, hoping they will bring us warmth.

We store your pictures in albums, we store our vacation memories in boxes, we store your awards, your life.
When I go through them, I remember who bought you what outfit, I smell the baby that once was a puddle in my arms, I remember the toddler that squealed with joy.
I miss that version of you and us so so much, even though I'm so happy exactly where we are.

Then one day, you will rummage through the boxes, you will take a mental note of the organization I tried to put to it all, and you will sit down and start to flip through.
You will look through what I stored, what I tucked away, and you will be amazed at the mom who threw so much away on you, actually kept quite a bit.
I hope you will realize that I loved this time with you my littles.
I loved being your mom and I loved storing all of your memories.
I hope you one day find love so great that the memories of that love will keep you forever warm.



11
Dec

Year in review

In what ways am I pouring inward? And how does that change the way I pour outward onto others?

Dear 2023, I walked into my year of self-respect because
*I have been a punching bag and a doormat.
*I am mean to myself, really mean.
*When I feel taken advantage of, I become the worst version of myself.
*I spent 13 months walking my father to his death and it was really hard.
*I was hurt, my heart, my toes, my eyes, they felt the physical pain, but I was hurt.

And the year did not disappoint.
I was bombarded with pain and loss and loneliness and times of deep sorrow.
There were times I felt sought after and attacked.
But, I will say that those moments made me the kindest I have ever been to myself as I poured inward.
I reminded myself that I am a good friend with a good heart and I carry people with me.
I reminded myself that I was in trouble for allowing this to happen to me and I really really looked at why.
I reminded myself that I was the common denominator and I needed to find a different way or different loves.

I backed off and backed away.
I got quiet and sad.
I cried.
I held on to memories but also forced myself to remember the hurt, shock, and pain.
I looked at old photos and I read old letters.
I walked down memory lane after lane after lane.
I thought through who I wanted to be and who I wanted to show up for.
I felt empty, most of the year, I felt empty because I wasn't sure I could be myself anymore.

And I realized a lot.
Grief is fascinating and it comes out in outrageous ways and at the damndest of times.
I spent three solid months crying on every single run I was on and every single time, I was stunned.
Grief is experienced even when the people you love are still alive.
And most significantly, I feel so honored to feel grief because real/true/limitless love was once there.
I realized that many people can only take me in small doses because I am, in fact, too much.
I also realized you can shrink not to be too much but be careful because you will start to feel invisible, if only to yourself.
If you are a lover of love, you have a superpower and a kryptonite at the same exact time.
Your superpower is how you make others feel - how loved they feel - and that feeling gives you life.
Your kryptonite is that you will make others feel stuck and like they have no out with you.
And if you try and control your superpower and extinguish its light, you will feel as though you are no longer part of the living.

I also spent some time figuring out what and how to pour inward.
I realized that I could find some space.
I found my breath on my mat again and I found my quiet in the slowness of it all.
I found people who reminded me I can and will find love again. It will take time and it will take some trial and error but it will happen. And although I don't believe it in my heart yet, I know that logically, it has to be true.
I spent time with my mom. I watched her try and re-emerge. I watched her handle grief in a very loving and healthy way. She is still deep in it, but she is also finding moments of levity and reasons to smile.
I spent so much time with my littles.
One comes home and tells me everything but nothing.
The other is a tornado in a storm and I get whisps of information in a blur.
We continued to do a lot of traveling.
I fought and made up with my husband.
I found a really loving routine for my body.
I slept.
I read.
I walked thousands of miles (or so it feels).
I lifted heavier weights and trusted the process.
I bought new clothes for my new body - the one that is now athletic - yes, on purpose.
I start my morning with a glow - -candles, a clean home, warm coffee, relaxing walks and sounds, and of course, puppy snuggles.

As my year of respect wraps up - I cannot say that I am better for it or worse.
Worse because of the blueness that I feel engulfed in at times, better because I did pour a little more love inward.
No, my cup did not run over, but I did pour a little more than the year before.
As for 2024, I will look to the beauty in this world and show more gratitude for what I have in front of me.

But, like most of us, I lived another year full of ups and downs and joy and pain.
I know that is how all of my years will go - because I am part of the living.







9
Dec

Five Minute Friday - turn

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on turn.

As a parent, it feels like you take turns making us crazy.
One person is fine, the other is not.
One person is acting kind, the other is not.
One person is just being, the other is not.

As an adult, I take a turn too.
There are times I am throwing an actual temper tantrum.
There are times I am filled with actual joy and feeling full.
There are times I am so blue, so sad, so hurt.

As a couple, we take turns feeling good and not so good about us.
Feeling unmoved, not on the same page, too angry, frustrated.
Feeling loved, loving, together, partners.
Holding hands, touching toes, or being unable to be around each other.

In life, we take turns feeling this way or that.
I spent a lot of this year focusing on how this or that makes me feel.
Remembering that I matter too, my feelings matter too.
Remembering the respect and love I hold for others, it's time I did that for me, just a little.
I needed to move in the direction of not being a doormat, not being a punching bag.
It was and still is my turn.

3
Dec

I chose bigger

When I was younger and Dad and I were starting, I can't begin to explain how lovely our life was.
We were smitten.
Everything was so calm and joyful. We had this quaint little life and I loved it.

We spent our evenings watching shows and movies or going out.
We spent our weekends food shopping, going to coffee houses, and walking our puppy.
We lived in a city and we would walk and see friends and have dinner and just loved on each other.

We worked and got by. We started careers and got promoted. We would travel here and there, nothing extravagant.
We lived in apartments, some shitty, some nice, all of them small.

Once we got married, I knew how he wanted to live.
I walked into our marriage knowing he wanted to be a dad and he walked in knowing he needed to convince me of parenthood.
And he did.
I chose you both, I chose a bigger life.

And, although for Dad, there was no choice, it just always was the life he wanted, the life he pictured, and he could not see it any other way, this was an actual choice for me.
I was letting go of my little quaint level.

My quiet little lovely life and I was choosing bigger.

Bigger meant louder.
It meant more space.
It meant more of everything, including more love.
More love for each other as we changed and grew into parents and changed and broke up with ourselves and reformed who we were.
It meant more love for you, two new people in our lives.
We needed to make more room for you and I did.

And I loved it.
I won't be so bold as to say that I loved every part of it.
There were years upon years that were so hard.
Hard on us as a couple, hard on us as parents, hard on us as people, hard on you as we navigated our new lives and parenthood and couplehood.

But I went in eyes wide open and I embraced you and motherhood and loving on you.
I spent my time protecting your little.
I spent my days creating and celebrating special moments.
I spent my life creating our traditions and foundation.
I spent my love on you.

I chose bigger.

And I know your life will look different.
I'm excited to see what you will choose.
And I'm excited to see what will choose you.
What, like your dad, will not be a choice but just a must.
What will make you feel full...joyful...alive?
I'm excited to see what your world will look like, all wrapped up in your own comfort.
Because for one of you, you think you have it all figured out.
And the other seems to think there is no life outside of this little family of ours.

But, to both of you...
Although I can remember my other life. The one I loved.
And I can honestly say I would have loved living that life forever and always - I know that I wanted this one. The one we have right now.
The one that is messy with shoes everywhere and coats and bags thrown.
The one that has me stepping on Legos and forever cleaning a kitchen.
The one that has me tied to the laundry like an anchor.
The one that has me running from place to place to get you from one thing or another.
The one that cost me more money.
The one that will forever have me tied to you.
The one that changed me, changed who I am, changed my wants.

I want this one because I chose it lovies.
I chose you.
I chose bigger.

2
Dec

Five Minute Friday - left

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on left.

I was in a hurry, walking so quickly that people were apologizing to me for being in my way.
I was in a hurry, but I felt awful that strangers felt that way.

And then I turned the corner and I swore, I saw you. You stopped me in my tracks.
I thought we were about to be face to face, for the first time "since".
But my eyes played a trick on me, it was not you...a total stranger was in front of me wondering why I was lingering on their face.

Honestly, what is there left to say?
What would I have said?
What is there left for us to say to one another?

We're both "sorry". We're both sad. We're both left wondering...what in the hell happened?
The truth is, it's easier on the rest of them, but you and I, it was just different.

It always was different...from the very beginning. The connection was different. The realization was different. The understanding of why and how, it was all different.
But, was is there left to say?

Other than I miss you so much I dream of you.
And to this day, you continue to Affect me from afar.
And I'm so angry you let this all happen on our watch.
And I'm so sorry I let this happen on our watch.

If that moment comes, when it is just us, face to face, eye to eye, nowhere left to run...I'll do exactly what happened today with a complete stranger.

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