To Be Seen

A few months ago at the start of yoga class, our teacher offered a quote intended to inspire our meditation. I don’t remember the quote, and when I asked her last night she didn’t either, so I will do my best to paraphrase: “The most joyful meditation is the contemplation of one’s own existence.” In other words, the mere thought that you exist brings the most joy during meditation. In reflecting on that, I was like if that is true, then perhaps the most distressing thing must be to feel like you do not exist. That you cannot be seen, heard, or felt – that you have no impact. It feels abstract, but as I’ve observed my own process through therapy and through sustained observation of human behavior, I’ve noted that we all desire to be seen. Especially through infancy and childhood, we need to know that we are heard, that we can be felt, that our existence is consequential.

And I wondered, is this why we hate getting cut off on the freeway? I know this seems like a silly image to use in illustration of a serious concept, but bear with me. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed in myself that when I get cut off on the freeway, rage swells in me unlike any other experience.  All of a sudden I feel hot— my heart is pounding the righteous drums of indignation. And since I don’t believe in “overreactions”, and in the grand scheme of life being cut off on the freeway seems such a miniscule event, I ask myself, what am I reacting to? What basic plea is being violated? My best guess is that being cut off is infuriating because it is another person operating as though I do not take up space. I’ll often hear myself go HELLOOOOO?! I’M RIGHT FUCKING HERE!!! Is that what we’re all screaming? At parents who abandoned us, literally or figuratively; who carelessly played favorites among siblings? At romantic interests who keep looking us over for someone else— Hello, I’m right here! Why can’t you see me?

This drive to be acknowledged is universal. We intuitively recognize its presence in archetypes and old stories that cross cultures, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, races, gender… We all know about the younger sister who always felt like she lived in her older sister’s shadow (remember when Ashlee Simpson actually released a song called “Shadow”? Perhaps a better question might be: does anyone remember Ashlee Simpson? Anyway, we can move on.) We all know about the poor kid’s disappointment when he scores a point at his basketball game and he looks over to see his dad on the phone with his back turned, completely disengaged. How many of us have heard a toddler go “Watch me! Watch me!” when he/she is no doubt about to do something utterly mediocre but is seeking acknowledgement and recognition from an audience? I mean, hell, if we want to get biblical about it, Cain killed his goddamn brother because he felt like he wasn’t getting as much attention from God as he deserved. #Drama. We have a desperate need to be seen. I think this is also why the cry of the marginalized is so great, and why representation in media is so important. We need to see ourselves reflected to know that we exist to our society.

I’ve believed for a long time that the thing that keeps us running is love. It motivates all growth, inspiration, benevolence, trust, goodness, life, compassion, honesty, faith, kindness, you get it. Obviously food, water, and shelter are necessary as well but if we are to connect with our humanity, to feel ourselves and to be ourselves—even to properly inhabit our physical bodies— we need to be loved in some capacity by someone. I believed that love was the most fundamental thing, but you can’t be loved until you are seen. You can’t be loved until you are acknowledged, received, and experienced, hence being seen usurps—or perhaps joins—love in being the most fundamental thing. We have to be seen before we can be anything else. And not just by others, though that is clearly imperative. But I’d argue that as seeing another comes before loving another, seeing yourself comes before loving yourself.

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God Will Break Your Heart

I’ve been locked in a titanic struggle with God for the past few weeks— maybe months, I don’t know I’ve lost count. In reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, I learned that God brings us to walls – that is, to dark nights of the soul, or painful circumstances/situations – to rid us of our false perceptions of Him as well as false perceptions of ourselves. So after the bitch of a wall I went through this year, I found myself looking for another God. I thought perhaps the god I thought was God was actually like, God-lite: happy, safe, loving, nice. And whatever asshole who sent me through this hellish year was the real God. So I had thoughts like, is God actually good? Is He supportive of me? Does He love me? Is He indifferent? Is He personal? Can I trust Him? And I went through this really crazy upside down period where I felt like I had absolutely NO grasp on who God is; it was a little scary, and very unnerving for someone who has spent her whole life in the Church. But after some searching and meditation, I was like… I think they might be the same guy? Which honestly felt scarier. My “God-lite”, who I felt so connected to two years ago— who felt safe and supportive and loving and cool— might be the same God who allowed and perhaps even nudged me to walk into a position to have my heart broken. And that feels scarier because I’m like, now what do I do? How do I fit this new information into what I had previously understood to be the character of God? How does God allowing me to be leveled— to be “sifted like wheat” as we discussed a few weeks ago—align with the characterization of being a “Good Father”? Why the fuck would He break me like this? That’s what I’ve found myself asking God the most in the few times I’ve tried talking to Him recently: “What the fuck did you do?!”

For a while I was reading Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller and in it, he talked about how Christianity is relational, as opposed to formulaic. And how that throws us all for a loop because it makes it so that we cannot even begin to predict how God will move. We’re all looking for an A + B = C type situation and God’s like “Hey but do you want to sit down and talk?” I mean sure we all, like God, have core character traits that make our behaviors more or less consistent, but if you’ve ever been in any sort of a relationship with any other living being, you know the last thing we are is predictable. We have free minds and free wills, the way God does. And sometimes He does something where we’re like WHOA HOLD ON GOD THAT WASN’T IN THE SCRIPT, and it’s like, right, yeah, because God isn’t a robot. Which is like fine I guess (read: super annoying), but it makes it veryyyyy difficult when you feel like God has hung you out to dry. If there are things about Him that are true and unchanging, for example that He is fundamentally good, how do we hold that in the moments when it feels like He has opened the floodgates of hell on us? How does God breaking my heart reflect the actions of someone who loves me?

And I mean, okay, I guess that is answered in the idea that God uses walls to free us of falsehoods. It’s true that there are a myriad of lessons and traits about myself that I would not have learned had I not been through the specific events of this year. But like what happens when you’re still mad about it? I feel like that’s my problem. I’m like yeah I learned some cool new shit about my latent trauma thanks God but also I’M STILL REALLY FUCKING PISSED YOU BROUGHT ME HERE. Yikes. And it’s worrying because I’m like, honestly I don’t know how I will make it back to Him. I have been mad for what feels like a longgggggg time. God and I have been on the rocks for what feels like a very long time. And I truly don’t know how to return to a place where He feels safe. I will also say that I understand and accept that my perspective is wildly limited and that that could change, but I want to be honest about where I am in the present moment. I mean truthfully, I think this might be part of being a Christian. We go through periods where we feel like we’ve lost God, and we don’t know how or if we’ll find Him again. So fun.

On the other side of it, one of the things that gets me about this process is the last half of that verse in Luke, where Jesus, after implying that He’s allowing the devil to wreck him, tells Simon Peter “I pray that your faith would not fail.” Sooo God allows us to be absolutely shattered, brought to the gaping doors of hell in some cases, but at the same time He cheers for us to pull through? It seems to be a very big risk to take on His part. If it’s true that He loves us, and that He desires to hold us and have us close to Him, what a chance to take, throwing us to the wolves and hoping that we’ll return to Him afterwards. You got some nerve, God. You got someeeeee nerve.  But also maybe that speaks to what we are worth. That God is willing to risk losing us because He believes our growth is that important.

I feel like I don’t know what to do with that. I don’t know what to do with any of this, really. This is just where I am, and these are the truths I’m wrestling with. God will break your heart but He loves you and He’s trying to grow you so it’s supposed to be good. And you’ll probably get really mad about it and you won’t know when you’ll stop being mad about it and it’ll put a huge strain on your relationship with Him. And that’s….. I mean that’s really all of it.

…I feel like I need a drink, anybody else feel like they need a drink? Let’s all go get a drink. Cheers.

Here Comes the Bachelorette!

Co-planned my first bachelorette party!! We threw it this past weekend and let me tell you, I don’t know how the duties of a Maid of Honor can be contained in one person, thank GOD the bride picked two of us. But I had so much fun planning ideas and decorating for the house so I wanted to share them with you all! I don’t think I took any of these photos lol. We were decorating til the last second and after that all I wanted was to sit and have 5 glasses of wine but luckily there were other photogs in the bunch who could snap these lovely pics. Enjoy!

The Problem of Unrequited Love

A few months ago my friend shared with me an interesting thought from an article about unrequited love offering a hypothesis as to why we all fall victim to it eventually. The article said that perhaps it’s because it helps us identify with the Cross (Oh, did I mention it was a Christian article? 🙂 ) Loving someone who can’t or won’t love us back breeds familiarity with an act of love so deep and incomprehensible shown to an audience who at worst, couldn’t care less and at best, fails regularly at offering it in return. I thought about that and God’s inconceivable capacity for nursing a broken heart. Not yours, don’t be selfish. I mean His own. How exhausting it must be to continue offering love to people who can’t help but hurt themselves, each other, and Himself.

So we love without being loved in return, and it hurts. Maybe because it mirrors the way God loves us, maybe because we’re just flat out insane. In either case, the difference between us and God is that at some point, we have to stop. I’ve been thinking about this too because I have a lot of trouble stopping. Countless long ass crushes over the last two decades have really driven that point home for me. And I’ve watched a lot of people have trouble stopping as well. Maybe it’s not a chronic condition as it seems to be in my case, but most people have had that oneeeeee person they just could not shake. And if you haven’t, honestly you can go fuck yourself.

If anyone’s been watching Bachelor in Paradise at all for the last couple years, you’ve at least seen this at work between Jared and Ashley I. I mean there are obviously a whole host of other issues going on there that would fill an entirely separate blog post, but we can all identify on some level with homegirl’s struggle. Wanting someone so badly who, for whatever reason, just does not want you back. And feeling like despite reason, despite being painfully aware of their position, maybe even despite them being an obviously bad fit, you cannot stop hoping. “Maybe they’ll change their mind! Maybe they’ll come around! It only takes one thought to give this a different ending!”

I’m a pretty big believer in the idea that “we were all made in God’s image and in His likeness” (The Bible). Not necessarily with regards to our specific bodies — although maybe, who knows — but I think the way He operates is reflected imperfectly in the way we operate. How we seek connection, how we’re curious and creative, how we are angered by injustice and also show tremendous capacity for mercy and forgiveness, and yes maybe how we continue to love and go after people who are telling us “no”.

Have you guys ever heard of StrengthsFinder? It’s a personality test that gives you a list of your top 5 natural abilities, things that come easily to you. There are strengths like “Activator”, people who are really good at starting projects. Or “Relator”, people who are good at making others feel comfortable and known around them. When I think about the ways God is reflected in us, I think about this list of strengths because I feel like God has all of them. One of my top strengths is called “Restorative”. It’s the problem-solving one, I loveeee a good problem. Big problem, small problem, theoretical problem, emotional problem, give it to me and I will try my damndest to help you solve it.

Recently I watched a video going into more depth on this strength and the speaker noted that the thing about people with Restorative is that they firmly believe no problem is unsolvable. No situation is too complicated, no person is too damaged or too far gone, everyone and everything can find healing and restoration if we work at it enough. Sounds like God right? It’s a beautiful picture of redemption – my problem though, is that I am not God. So I have this desire to endlessly offer myself to these people and problems when I don’t possess the capacity to do so. God can do it. God can chase forever after toxic people (which is all of us to some extent btw), even as they wound Him time and time again. I on the other, much more mortal, hand have to set a boundary. Which is hard, I battle against it constantly. Caught in this tension between pursuing a natural passion to help and fix, but having to respect my own limitations if and when the situation becomes unhealthy. And I think that’s the hard thing about deciding to end an unrequited love, we have boundless hope again that maybe something will change. Maybe they will change and grow. It’s beautiful, but at the end of it, we just don’t possess the capacity for that kind of pain. God does. Let Him chase those people. We have to learn to call it quits and throw in the towel when loving someone comes at our own detriment.

Grief and Loss

Until very recently, I’d always associated grief with death. Mourning the loss of a family member, or a friend who’d passed away. As I started getting more involved in Flood, I’d heard the term used more frequently, as people described their processes of getting over a breakup or a loss of friendship. But I think it’s only been in, really the last week, that I’ve started to realize how integral grieving is to the human experience, and how frequently it’s required.

Grieving is the healthy way of processing a loss we’ve suffered. But in order to process, we first have to acknowledge that we’ve suffered a loss. I’ve found that in happy transitions, like starting a new job, going from high school to college, or getting married, the grieving process tends to be shortchanged because “we’re celebrating!” We completely ignore the fact that there may be parts of our old job, or our hometown, or our singleness that we’ll miss. Then in harder transitions, like a divorce, the aging process, or an ending friendship, though the losses are clearer, we want to skip the grieving process because the pain is too difficult to look at. And it’s true that depending on where you are in your life, and what you’re grieving, the process can look different. Sometimes you skip right through to Acceptance, other times it feels like you will only ever feel Sadness and Anger for the rest of your life. It can get really overwhelming.

Chapter 7 of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (aka EHS, the book I’ve been reading as recommended by my therapist) is about grieving and what it looks like to grieve properly. The first step noted in the book is to pay attention to your emotions. Allow yourself to feel the weight of your anger, sadness, frustration, confusion, heartbreak, fatigue, disappointment, etc. Not only is this counterintuitive because we are choosing to move towards pain, it’s also extremely counter-culture. Suuuuuuuuper un-American. We’re not taught to sit and feel, we’re taught to get up and go. Pick yourself up! Dust yourself off! “If you don’t like your circumstances, change them”—basically the foundation of the American Dream. And hey, if you can’t change it, go grab a drink! Pick up a new hobby, buy a car, go shopping! Distract yourself, because sitting and feeling sad is “wallowing”, it’s pathetic. “Why cry over something you can’t change?” I 100% agree that wallowing and self-pity are not healthy avenues to venture down, but grieving is not either of those things. It’s not getting selfishly absorbed into your own emotions, but rather giving them their due space as you continue to live your life. Because when we don’t— when we ignore, bury, or stuff our feelings— we get numb. We become caricatures of ourselves with painted smiles on our faces (EHS). And to be honest, I think Christians are the worst at this. The WORST. Because for whatever gaps in our counterfeit façade we find, we can plug them right up with a bible scripture at the ready. “Rejoice in the Lord always!” (Philippians 4:4) “The joy of the Lord is my strength!’ (Nehemiah 8:10) “He has not given us a spirit of fear but that of power, of love, and of a sound mind!’” (2 Timothy 1:7).  We just say shit— we’re just saying words like robots in an attempt to bury our loneliness, fear, resentment, sorrow, and all the other hard things we’re feeling. And it results in alienating ourselves, because it is literally inhuman to feel happy all the time. God Himself isn’t even happy all the time, it’s unsustainable.

One of my favorite things Pete (we’re on a nickname basis now) says in this book is that true spirituality is rooted in facing reality. If your parents didn’t know how to love you well, and when you look back it makes you sad, be sad about it! If you really need a new job and you’re hitting dead ends and it’s frustrating, be frustrated about it! If you’re single and you want to be in a relationship but it’s just not happening right now, and you’re mad, be mad about it! Don’t try to explain what you’re feeling away with some platitude about how you’re fine because you know God is really working with you through this time. He is, but you’re not fine. Maybe you’re mad at Him. And if you are, I highly encourage you to let yourself feel that. One of the most freeing things I ever learned was how to curse at God, honestly. Because spoiler alert: He already knows you’re pissed. You’re not fooling anyone by praying passive aggressively through gritted teeth.

In the same way we can never successfully hide our emotions from God, I don’t think we can successfully hide our emotions from each other either. I mean we sure do try though, amirite?! Lord knows we give it our best shot, but despite our efforts, we start to “leak” out all over everyone around us (EHS). All that unprocessed anger and sadness comes out in passive aggression, bitterness, judgment, blurred boundaries, and fakeness. Not to pick on Christians again (always picking on Christians), but who hasn’t heard people in the church described with at least one of those things? Yeah, I wonder why.

The second thing Pete says we have to do to grieve properly is to wait. I know, it just got worse. Literally the only thing less appealing than allowing ourselves to actually feel all of our negative emotions is to then release control over when it will end. Again, I’m not advocating wallowing, or abdicating from your life. Sometimes in certain grieving processes, taking a break becomes necessary (#BereavementDays). Do as much as you can, be around people who love you, but keep allowing yourself to feel what you feel. This is when it gets gnarly because then we’re like “Well for how long? How fucking long am I going to cry about this? How long is my blood pressure going to shoot up every time I think of this situation? How many times am I going to want to punch a wall when that person comes up in conversation?” And you know what man, I don’t know. There was more to Pete’s step-by-step but it kind of all boiled down to these two things. We feel and then we wait. And then at some point, through continuing to process, wrestle, and surrender, we make it to the other side— usually well outside of our preferred timetable. Because I don’t know anything about you, your life, your process, or God’s process with you, I can’t guarantee what the end of your grieving will look like. Hell, I can’t even guarantee what the end of my grieving will look like. But I have to think that as scary and as painful as grieving can be, it’s better than burying our emotions, trying to paint a happy face on, and then leaking passive aggressively all over our friends. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. Be honest with God. And if it requires so, be honest with trustworthy people you’re in relationship with. I know it hurts, but I’d rather that than the painted face. If you would rather the painted face though, I mean hey, no shame, we’re all just trying to figure it out. But if you need me, I’ll be in the corner crying.

 

“The quickest way to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west chasing after it, but to head east into the darkness until you finally reach the sunrise.”

I’m A Big Kid Now

I got commissioned! One of my mom’s friends in Texas saw the painting I gave as a wedding gift to a couple of my friends a few weeks ago and wanted a similar thing for her living room. The guidelines were to keep it in cool pastels, incorporate tiny hearts, and make it representative of her family of four, so I came up with this! I’m into it but so nervous since it’s my first time actually being paid for my art. Here goes nothing, I hope at least you guys like it!

blue 1blue 3blue 4blue 2blue 5

Surrender

Lol am I just going to tell you guys everything? I’m just going to leave my bleeding heart on the page? Cool. I mean I’m chill with it if you guys are chill with it. This week I wanted to write about the Power of Surrender, and I guess that kind of ties in a little bit with the “Waiting” post that I was going to write last week, because during waiting you’re often having to surrender and yadda yadda whatever we’ll get to it.

Alright, have you guys heard of the Enneagram? It’s this personality thing, kind of like Myer’s Briggs except instead of certain letters, each type is a different number, 1-9. If you want, you can take a second to Google it, don’t worry I’ll wait.

You back? Okay great. So I’m an enneagram type 8. Words that might be associated with an enneagram type 8 are straightforward, independent, honest, intimidating, masculine energy (my favorite), authoritative, self-confident, direct… you get the gist. Okay but the number one thing that drives 8’s is control. Literally the “basic desire” of an eight is to control and our “basic fear” is to be controlled or manipulated. For example, I hate pranks. I don’t like seeing them played on other people and I LOATHE them being played on me. The idea that someone somewhere knows something I don’t and would use that information to potentially shock or temporarily harm me, even in jest, is not appreciated. I would argue that everyone is a control freak on some level. Even the enneagram type 2’s, who are basically my soft and gentler opposite, feel the desire to be needed or to be seen as helpful. And whenever you throw in a “need to be seen as” something, you’re talking about wanting control over others perceptions of you. So yeah I mean we’re all control freaks. But I think perhaps my death grip might be particularly strong, to “let go and let God” has never been one of my strong suits. Also I fucking hate that phrase but that’s a whole other issue.

Alright so another little fun fact about me: I’m 26. And there are a lot of things that go along with being 26 but the thing that rings loudest to me right now is this weird sense of urgency to find a partner. Don’t you dare act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Engagement photos take up every other story on my newsfeed, I feel like I’m seeing 3 a week at this point. And for those of us who currently aren’t dating for whatever reason, there’s like this silent suffocating pressure trying to slowly crush us under the weight. If you’re reading this, and you’re single and around my age, and you’re saying that you’ve never felt that pressure, I’m gonna tell you right now to your face: you’re a goddamned liar. ESPECIALLY if you’re in the Christian community, oh my god. Sometimes when I hang out with Christians it feels like the pressure is palpable. The air is THICK with the desperation of hot young men and women looking to nail someone down, it’s wild.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t want a meaningful relationship with an emotionally mature man who’s also super hot. I’m not going to sit here and grin manically and feed you platitudes about how I feel like “God is really working with me in this space” and “I’m just so happy to be where I am right now” and “I don’t care whether or not I get married, I just want whatever God wants” and blah blah blah. Those things are true, but sometimes they don’t feel true. I frequently go back and forth between “It would be so nice to have a meal with someone I like” and “OH MY GOD I NEVER WANT TO SHARE MY BED”, but that’s my own struggle.

My point is that I would love to be in a relationship but I have no control over when or if that will happen. Enter learning the Power of Surrender lol. Matt said, in that incredible message about waiting, that one of the hardest things about that process is not knowing if you’ll ever get the thing that you’re waiting for. I’m not gonna lie, most days I don’t do so well with that. Not just in finding a relationship, but like with anything. As we learned earlier, I prefer control. But when you’re faced with that reality, I mean what else can you do but to let go? I guess you can get mad, sometimes I do that. Sometimes I throw tantrums and journal furiously and drink a lot of wine. But ultimately that’s all part of a process of learning to let go, again and again, every day.

The thing that’s interesting too though is how relieving that is. I forget a lot about the freedom in surrender. I come upon this situation that I want to control and manipulate and force my will over but then when I remember to let go it’s like, wait a second I don’t need to do shit! It’s like finding out a homework assignment you had was cancelled, all you have to do is chill.

And I love yoga because it reminds me, even on a microcosmic level, to relax. They always talk about how you should never force anything, your body will go to the spaces available to it, and if it doesn’t, it will with time. Or maybe it won’t but either way it’s fine. Getting into a pose is more about relaxing into it, vs. struggling to achieve or maintain it. And that can be broadened out into life, deciding to relax into and release control of a situation we can’t change, rather than struggling to force it to work.

I feel like a lot of times that desire to force comes from us being overly dependent on the thing it is we’re waiting for. “If I got married, I’d finally be happy!” “If I got this job, I would finally be happy!” “If I won the Power Ball, I would finally be happy!” (Not gonna lie though, that last one woulda been super chill. Congratulations to the big winner in Chino, whom I can only assume to be Ryan Atwood). But Matt also spoke in the message about the danger that comes when what we’re waiting for becomes what we’re counting on. Like if you take the relationship example, can you imagine putting all your hope for finally being happy on another human being?? That is WAY TOO MUCH PRESSURE! Like go ahead and hire the lawyers now, there’s no way that thing’s gonna hold. It’s like we all have to just be like “I really want this thing, but if I don’t get it, it’s chill *sunglasses emoji*”. And I feel like the power comes from exercising that CHOICE to let something go. You yourself get to decide what you will pick up to stress about and what you won’t.

Now to be clear and honest (#TruthTour2016), I’ve written this post in the middle of a time when I am not feeling the power of surrender. I’m more on the wine, journal, tantrum side of things. I say that to say a) in case you’re there too, there’s no shame in it, because b) like everything else, learning to surrender is an evolutionary process. Sometimes you nail it, and sometimes you don’t. Again, like in yoga, you might be able to get into crow pose one day, and the next day your body is like “nope, not into it.” That’s totally fine and normal! You just have to keep practicing it. Surrender, not crow pose. Or you can do both, knock yourself out! But even if you’re in the middle of being unable to surrender, I feel like it’s helpful to remember the option is always there. At least writing this post really helped me out, even if I’m probably still going to scream into a wine glass later. Cheers.

#TruthTour2016

I’m not going to lie, this post almost didn’t happen. Baby New Year ran me over like a goddamn freight train — I hope 2016 was gentler to you in her arrival. But, as I read on Tumblr yesterday, “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good” (Jerry West). So here we are.

I originally wanted to write about waiting and what it means to actively wait and the trials and triumphs surrounding that, but in the last few days I’ve felt it weighing more on me to talk about the importance of honesty and telling the truth. Mind you this idea came to me literally two days ago so sorry if it’s a little rough around the edges.

Okay so honesty. Most of my friends will tell you that I’m a pretty straight shooter, blunt almost to a fault. Almost. I will always tell you if you look bad in something, if you’ve said something stupid, if I like or dislike you, etc. Sometimes it goes really well, sometimes I get into fights, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that being honest requires courage, and I’ve found that it’s way easier to be honest when someone asks you “How does this fit me?” than it is to tell someone how they’ve hurt you.

I’ve been the first kind of honest my whole life. The second kind, the kind that requires some level of emotional vulnerability, I’m just starting to learn. I read an article a while ago by Mark Manson about how we all have emotional baggage and how dating or romantic relationships in particular can reveal the emotional baggage we might be carrying. The article noted that if someone stands us up for a business meeting, it’s annoying, but by 8 pm we’ve lost ourselves in wine and Netflix and forgotten all about it. But if someone stands us up for a date, all of a sudden we’re on the phone with our best friends for hours, or sitting in our therapist’s office crying about how our parents divorced when we were 8 and we never saw our mom much after that. (Too close to home? I told you guys, no holds barred in 2016).

To me this is why being emotionally honest and ergo emotionally vulnerable seems so daunting. What if we’re rejected? And in that rejection we hear the echoes of a thousand rejections we’ve faced before that, all screaming in our ears that we are unlovable? What if we’re invalidated? And in that invalidation our biggest fears are confirmed that we are a waste of space? That we don’t matter, our existence is without consequence?

On top of all of this, emotional honesty is twofold in that it requires that we first be honest with ourselves before we can be honest with anyone else. And I can’t decide what’s more difficult, diving inward to discover and confront the ugly underbelly of your Self, or finding the courage to voice that ugly underbelly to another human being without knowing how it will be received. It’s all terrifying, really.

But I also don’t think it’s possible to have healthy relationships without it. There can be no trust built without someone first deciding to go out on a limb. There can be no bonding fostered without deciding to confront the fear of unveiling yourself. I picture it like trying to adhere a sticker to something without first peeling off the protective backing. We all realize pretty quickly that it’s not gonna work.

In my own life, I have been so lucky to have made two best friends with whom I can practice complete emotional vulnerability, and God has been so gracious to show me that I can also practice with Him. That’s not to say that I’m now great at it, or even good at it. But I have areas where I can try, and my hope would be that you find some place, a safe place, where you can try as well. Be it a friend’s couch, a school auditorium that doubles as a church on the weekends, a therapist’s office decorated like Anthropologie, wherever. I firmly believe there is no other way we can be and relate to each other. That being said, do not go to into your boss’s office and start crying about how her constructive criticism in that meeting this morning reminded you of how your parents always felt that you were never good enough lol. Don’t be silly. Again, find safe spaces. And honestly sometimes it happens that you think you’ve found a safe place in someone and they show themselves to be completely unsafe. That’s the hard thing about practice, it’s trial and error, and there’s no guarantee that at some point you won’t get hurt. In fact I would probably go the opposite way and guarantee that you will get hurt in the process. But that gives room for healing, as well as more growth, connection, understanding, and learning. I feel like at the end, it’s worth it.

Musings on Marriage

Okay guys, before I begin this post, I feel like I’m obligated to tell you that we’re headed in a new direction. Not 100% sure what that is yet, but I’m going to be expanding this from just a Fashion blog to like, a Life blog? It’ll include fashion, art, crafts, and a lot of my musings. Again, I’m not quite yet sure what it’s going to look like, I’m taking a couple months to brainstorm. But if in the meantime, I get inspired and feel like I got shit to say then I shall post it, as I am doing now.

Also, other thing I should mention, is that if you are watching or intend to watch Aziz Ansari’s new show Master of None, have not yet finished the first season, and do not wish to see spoilers, I highly suggest you stop reading now. The first paragraph describes the entire finale lol. But if that’s not you, then by all means forge ahead! Cheers!

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Okay so I just finished watching Master of None and I have so many feelings. In the season finale, Dev and his girlfriend attend a wedding where the bride and groom share ridiculous vows about being 100% in and never having any fears or doubts about their relationship. Upon hearing this, Dev freaks out because he wasn’t positive he was 100% sure about his own relationship. He tells his girlfriend who, instead of hearing his fears and examining them as his own issue without making it about herself, freaks out because she feels like he’s saying he doesn’t want to be with her. And then HE, instead of hearing her fears and assuaging them while still trying to successfully communicate his own, decides that they should each write on pieces of paper what “percentage sure” they are that their relationship is gonna go all the way.

I know, even recounting it makes me almost burst into hives, it was literally the worst idea ever. As you might have guessed, since it was IMPOSSIBLE for them to have predicted each other’s exact number, hers ended up being slightly lower than his and because of that they broke up. This whole thing, like I said, makes me want to crawl in a hole and die.

First of all, being 100% sure about the future of your relationship is literally impossible. I’m not sure how many of you guys are hip to this but we can’t tell the future. Surprise! And no amount of star gazing, or tarot reading is going to help that. As, thankfully, a smarter character on the show pointed out, the percentage sure you are about your relationship will fluctuate. Sometimes you’ll feel good, sometimes you’ll feel bad, but what doesn’t change is the decision you made to try, which I’ll address more in a second.

The other worry Dev brought up is not knowing if his girlfriend is the person he is “supposed to be with forever”. But… I feel like the whole idea of “supposed to be together” is bullshit. You literally choose— if you are with someone forever, it’s not because you were “supposed to be”. It’s because you decided. And the thing about forever is that it’s every minute, every second. Do I know if I will love you forever? No, because I can’t tell the future. But also Yes, because I’m loving you now.
And now.
And now.
*a few minutes pass*
And now.

That’s how people get to forever, it’s just a bunch of “nows”, one after the other.

I was also struck by the idea that once you’re married, the window of time to do “crazy shit” is damn near closed. All it takes is children to put that last nail in the coffin and you are essentially stationary for the rest of your life. Am I the only one who thinks that’s ridiculous? Okay the children part, definitely. Because those little shits will consume your entire life and never look back. But I mean marriage? Like okay ya if you marry someone, there’s one more person you have to consider before making big decisions like that. But I see no reason why, if your partner has a heart for adventure as well, you can’t just both go. Or even if they can’t, or you just want a solo mission and you won’t be gone for that long, why can’t you just go?

Maybe I’m “too independent”. Maybe that’s not how you’re “supposed to do marriage”. I dunno, I just— I feel like I understand why marriage is hard but at the same time I don’t understand it at all. My therapist told me most of the work of being in a successful relationship is working on yourself, and like everything else, I’m pretty sure she’s right. The hard part is learning to decipher what you’re feeling and communicate it in a constructive way. But once you’ve learned that, and you’ve chosen a partner who’s also learned that, all you have to do is keep doing that. Right? Like I understand I’m 26 and have never been married but after observing successful and unsuccessful relationships for many, many moons, I feel like all it boils down to is communication. Because we will change. Your partner will change, you will change… Hopefully it will be towards growth. But I feel like as long as you can communicate your change, it will result in growing together, which I think is how “forever” happens.

The show also illuminated the idea that marriage is a crapshoot anyway because you marry whomever you “happen to be dating” at the “time that people usually get married”. Which, while understanding the sentiment, I disagree with. It’s not like choosing someone to marry is like spinning the Wheel of Fortune and wherever it lands is who you’re stuck with. There is some happenstance involved of course, as there is with all of life, but my hope would be that by the time you’re of “marrying age” and are considering marrying someone, it’s not just because they were present at the appointed time, but because you have done work on yourself to emotionally mature and they have also done work on themselves to emotionally mature and that’s why you’ve started dating. And marriage happens, not because you both feel you’re “supposed to”, or because it’s “the time people get married”, but because you’ve both decided—you’ve both taken the agency, to WORK. “I will not stop loving you.” That is, I will not stop trying to look out for you. Trying to understand you. Trying to support you. Trying to learn you.  It’s literal effort. It’s a practice. And sometimes you’ll nail it and sometimes you won’t but the point is to keep trying, which is what I was referring to earlier. And I think in that trying, we grow ourselves, and maybe that’s why we do it.