A scraped windshield…

It is amazing how the little things can set you off…

Today a coworker scraped my windshield. The same coworker who had listened to me pour out my woes about a fight with my best friend last week.

I cried watching Gilmore Girls.

Sometimes it is the little things that mean more than anything else.

Last week my best friend turned on me. The girl who knows how much it would hurt. I was left crying at my desk, stunned. That ache is horrible.

She called me hours later and we talked, made up, even improved our friendship. But I still ached. Then in church on Sunday, as I begged God to show me what to do as I still ache, He told me to choose to love. To choose to love her because even though I hurt she deserves it.

I needed that. I needed someone who I know loves me dearly to hurt me. Why? Because it showed me what it is to choose to love. And I can apply that lesson to those who I need to love whose love in return I have not experienced.

I ached, but I’m learning to accept that ache. I’m learning to accept that life is not lived in not aching but learning to move forward through the ache…. Healing is not “not hurting” but learning to move forward despite the pain…

And I’m learning… little by little…

Crooked lines.

I’ve always been afraid of breaking. I’ve been afraid to love – not so much for fear of getting hurt – but because I was afraid that hurt would break me again… Like it did before. And I never want to go back to that broken place.

But healing doesn’t mean not hurting. Healing means that the pain will not take away my peace, that the pain will not overwhelm… that when I feel the pain breaking me, I will discover that I am held.

Presence.

That is what this Advent is all about. Presence.

And isn’t presence what I have ached for my whole life? Is it a longing to be known, loved, found, and seen. And isn’t that what the babe in the manger does?

How is it that I am discovering more and more what it means that he is coming because I am breaking?

Crooked lines.

And today, that was the counsel I received. As I knelt and poured out my soul… That because my friends turned on me and my fear was actualized, I’ve realized that I can walk through my worst fears of being unloved and rejected.

And it was that same priest who listened to my heartache today who scraped the snow off my windshield. I wouldn’t even have known it was him had I not walked out at that exact minute.

He makes the ways straight…

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Write my heart out…

All I want to do right now is write my heart out… which is actually a really, really good sign. It means I am feeling. It means I am processing. I LOVE travel, but the last two months haven’t  given me a ton of time to process what is going on. And I think that was providential. So I am beyond proud of myself (because I allow myself to feel that way now), for taking time this weekend to slow down, fight through the headaches, and find myself.

And I made it through Mother’s Day, in one piece… without feeling guilty for not being with my mom because today I wasn’t ready. I think I’ll get ice cream with her this week. 🙂 Because ice cream instead of lunch is our thing. (Did I ever mention my mother wasn’t exactly the greatest exemplar of good eating habits?) And I let myself blog about my mom and her bipolar, another pretty big step because I am so afraid of being misunderstood on that one. I’m so afraid of people judging or not understanding my hurt.

I have a friend right now who is going through a lot. She was raped years ago and is finally facing it. My phone calls with her are hard. They are triggering because they make me desire to have someone to lean on again, and I constantly have to remind myself that I have the support system I need but I can depend on myself. It is a good exercise but a tiring one. She is spinning in circles right now and was even suicidal a few weeks ago and a lot of what she says brings back negative memories.

In some ways I feel like I have nothing to complain about compared with her, but at the same time it makes me realize how deeply I did struggle, how rough it was, that it was real… And how happy I am to realize I am different. It is odd how that validation is comforting nonetheless…

I’m pretty sure I’m going to go back to therapy soon… Not because I’m relapsing… On the contrary I’m actually resorting to eating disordered behaviors less and less. But I’m about to go through some pretty big transitions in my personal life and my job and I think it would be a pretty good idea to have some extra tools to face that. Isn’t it interesting how dramatically my perspective on therapy has changed? I’m pretty sure I will call in the next week or so… or in June. But I know I will know when it is the right time. I was going to call last week when God put two people in my life to give me great advice and perspective, so I took that as His was of saying to hold on for the moment.

Speaking of Him, I am amazed to see how He is helping me in this recovery. A few months ago I spoke with a priest, and at the end of our conversation the priest asked if he could pray with me. He proceeded to pray aloud asked God over and over again, “In His name…” to help me, heal me, take away the disorder, etc. And it was just this weekend that I realized that since then I have really made significant progress. It has become one of my favorite prayers.

Tonight my best friend texted me and I want to save it forever. I shared with her that I got through today okay but that I just want to be able to let my guard down around my mom, and this was her response:

“Not now you can’t. But you will both be in heaven and when you go she’ll be waiting. She’s going to have a couch picked out and a spot waiting for you. And when you get there she’s going to hold you and ask you to tell her everything. She adores you! A cross is carried by many. It is a result of sin entering the world. If you embrace it, it will bring you closer to God. In heaven all will be as it was supposed to be! Your mom was never taken from you. She’s still there and when this cross is lifted… When you see her in heaven… You WILL have her completely – no secrets, no backlashes, no fear! I can’t wait! She’s all yours now and for all eternity. God gave her to you… This  cross is what makes you special. It pushes you to reach for others. It makes you who you are today! You are so incredibly special, N! God has blessed you in so many ways. It’s like he holds you extra close because he knows the cross you’re carrying is heavy. When you cry he sends people into the chapel. He gives you your “second family” to show you love. Hang in there, N! You have so much to give and I know you and your mom are going to love heaven!!! All will be well!”

Then she added:

“N, I was thinking yesterday. If the only reason God gave me my dad with all the abuse was to able to be friend with you and relate to you… I would take it all over again! It would be worth it to me to be able to love you more. That’s the beauty of the cross.”

And that is the beauty of friendship.

And that is the beauty that I hope I can share with at least one person who I can understand because of the ache in my own heart.

My heart aches…

But my heart is full.

And my eyes are full of tears – of both sorrow and joy.

On Toxic Friendships

Toxic friendships don’t just affect you, they can affect your other relationships, your job, and your own sanity. You may not want to believe it, but you owe it to yourself to determine whether this person is helping you through life or hurting you. – Verily Magazine

The challenge of learning to love yourself… That is a huge part of eating disorder recovery. I am not over-exaggerating when I say I used to despise myself. One of my first assignments from my therapist was to note the times during the week when I really felt good about myself. I would be lucky if I came up with one before my next appointment.

(Isn’t it amazing to look back and see how far one has come.)

Part and parcel with despising oneself is letting others treat you poorly. As I started to heal, I realized that there were people in my life who are beautiful people but my relationship with them was toxic. They were people who left me feeling empty after being with them. They were people who tore me apart rather than building me up. They are people who are fighting their own battles and because of that I was getting caught in the fray.

Cutting people out of your life (or at least taking space) is a real challenge. I have had to take space from two individuals who I love dearly. I will always love them. And my hope is that as I continue to heal I will be able to reenter those friendships from a different perspective. But the truth is that at this moment in time they aren’t helping me to be the person I need to be. Are they bad people? Probably not. Are they fighting their own battles? For sure. But at the end of the day, my primary responsibility is taking care of myself so that I am able to love others.

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It is a difficult decision. One of my dear friends who I had known for years and years started to pull back when I shared with her about my eating disorder. We are fearful of sharing with others about our disorder because we don’t want to be misunderstood. And when, in fact, we are misunderstood, it confirms all our worst fears. When it came down to it, I had to decide to move on, which implied moving on from a whole group of friends. It is scary. But when it came right down to it, I realized I preferred to face the feeling of loneliness than the feeling of being torn apart every time I was with her.

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Little by little, as we give less space to the voices of the toxic friendships and learn to begin to talk to ourselves kindly, it is easier to hear the voices of those people who surround us and support us. We give ourselves permission to receive a complement and believe it without immediately denying it. We begin to let our true friends love us as we are.

The second toxic relationship I have my life is within the work environment. In the past week, I’ve realized that I’ve received at least a dozen complements, but the negative feedback from this one individual brings me down without fail. As I drove home a few nights ago it occurred to me, “What if I start listening to the complements without giving so much importance to the negative feedback?” Sure, I will pay attention to the feedback and glean whatever opportunities for improvement that I can from it. But I will not allow it to make me question myself or my self-worth.

I am not perfect. And I am sure that if half the people who complement me knew me as well as the individual who harps on my weaknesses does, they might not think so highly of me. But that is not the point. The point is that I have learned my value – which coincidentally does not lie in being perfect, but rather in who I am. There is a balance between the complements and the criticism, but that balance lies within me.

But sometimes, as I learn to find that balance, it is necessary to take some distance from certain individuals until I am strong enough to find the balance within myself at all times.

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And maybe one day I’ll pick up the book and keep reading… when I am ready.

And giving myself that time to be ready is the first step in loving myself.

7 Days to Turkey Day!

Seven days till Thanksgiving… Seven days to foster gratitude so that on Thanksgiving I am on my A game… Ready for what it is all about. I feel like I should make a paper turkey… (My students did last weekend and they were really cute!)

Really, everyday should be Thanksgiving… I read a book, One Thousand Gifts, this summer – I highly recommended it.

Today, I’m thankful for friends. But really, really thankful. I’ll tell you why. But first, my absolute favorite friendship quote:

“Friends who encourage us when we want to stop, but stick with us when we’re about to fall and run beside us not just in races but everyday. These are the types of friendships that don’t fade with time and don’t dwindle with distance.”

I have friends across the country and across the world. I know they would do anything for me. The day I call for help I don’t know a single one of them who wouldn’t drop everything and come run. It is friendship tested by time, trials, and distance. It is friendship for life.

Those are the girls I am 100% myself around. They love me as I am – with my stress, my high energy, my controlling nature, and my intensity. They call, listen, and genuinely care. I just got off the phone with one of them a few minutes ago.

These are the girls who I finally told about my eating disorder after struggling for seven years. I was crying. They replied, “We know.” They knew it. They didn’t care. It didn’t change anything. (And don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the opposite experience… I had a close friend pull way back when I told her… And nothing hurts more than to think you are less because you struggle.)

Thank you, God, for my friends. Thank you for these women who love me as I am, who see through my tears and wipe them away, who stand beside me, and who have always been their for me.

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A College Campus

Last night I met up with two lifelong friends. We are all born within two days of each other. We attended grade school together. We played soccer together. We took dance class together. We prayed together; cried together; and got leeches wading in the river behind my house together.

Years passed and we have faded in and out of contact with each other. Last night we picked up as if nothing had ever happened. I felt like a little girl again. We laughed during the presentation to the point I thought I was going to have to leave the room.

And just like that – those three gangling girls are full grown women – a clinical laboratory scientist, a nun, and an educator.

I posted the picture on Facebook this morning. It is amazing how social media keeps us all connected. People who I haven’t seen since grade school commented and liked the picture.

The quote I felt was perfect “Everyone has a friend in each stage of life, but only the lucky ones have the same friend in all stages of life.”

I am so lucky. I am so blessed. And as I look at my students I hope for the same for each of them.