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What We Give Up, What We Gain

10 Nov

Have you ever noticed how when you’re in a relationship, you lose yourself?

Maybe not completely, and certainly not all at once. But parts of you get lost

in moments of compromise and apologies and sacrifice. Parts become pieces

that are yielded to expectations of the title you hold.

Girlfriend. Boyfriend. Husband. Wife.

Moments turn into days, and days turn to weeks, and years pass by unapologetically, scraping away aspects of yourself you didn’t realize were gone.

You used to love to bake, but he is a diabetic. You used to read avidly, but she is a movie aficionado. You love the big city, but his dream job landed you in a small town. You have always lived with pets, but she is allergic. He wants a big family, but you have always feared children.

The things you love, become the things you were willing to give up. For him. For her. For us.

Any maybe the fact that we lose ourselves is a big part of why we end up losing each other. Break ups. Separation. Divorce. She is not who you fell in love with. He is but a shadow of who you used to know.

We change, we grow, we shed our skin over and over again.We live a thousand lives in a million different frames of mind.

But maybe my focus is misplaced. Maybe it is not the losing that matters. But rather, that which you gain from the loss.

Maybe our bodies are making room for a better version of ourselves. A version that is more of who we are than who we have ever been before. Because of you. Because of me. Because of us. Together.

It’s okay to mourn the loss of our past selves. The parts of ourselves that are no longer deep within us. Just as it is okay to fear this loss, to fear what it means, and to be afraid of who we are now becoming. To be unsure of how this shift will effect your life. The life of not only her, but him. And both of you together.

We are human. Therefore, most things in life are inevitable. Emotion. Feeling. Experience. The beginning. The middle. The end.

We can not measure who we are in regards to who we have been, just as we can not measure love or sorrow or pain.

All we can do is be aware of the ways in which we change. In relationships. In marriage. In life. In love. The ways in which he has changed you. The ways in which she has inspired you. The way in which somehow, after all this time, you have both become one.

One love existing in two different bodies. And maybe, that is the biggest miracle, and the biggest loss of all.




12 Feb

“What are you afraid of?” he asked.

“Permanence,” she said.

“Isn’t that what most humans crave?” he questioned very confused.

But she wasn’t like most humans. She always lived life like a storm, just passing through until the next destination.

When things stayed the same for too long she began to unravel;

to get anxious and jittery and nervous, like waiting

for a volcano to erupt or a bomb to explode, knowing that when it does your life will never be like it is now,

ever again.

Permanence, that is what terrified her.

“We’re all holding onto this notion that if we work hard enough we can maintain some sort of stability and comfort, that if we try enough, life will always be like it is now,” she said. “That isn’t real.”

“What is real then?” he asked.

“The flood will come. The storm will change you. There’s nothing you can do to stop that,” she declared. “But go ahead and try to prepare yourself, stock up on goods and make plans to prevent the inevitable. I will be sitting on my front  porch waiting for the eye of the hurricane to swallow me and spit me out; someone different, someone new.”


The Truth About Truth

5 Jan

The truth.

Two chilling words that will slap you awake. Two words that we, as a society, seem so desperately afraid of. So many people live behind masks of deception and charades, never revealing the core of what and who they are. Why? Why is the truth so devastatingly terrifying?

Because the truth is rarely what you want to hear. It’s hardly ever easy to listen to, and it’s never easy to tell. And once you know something, you can never un-know it. People believe what they want to believe, and life is easier that way. Less messy. Less painful. Less honest. Less real.

If you don’t know something, it can’t touch you. It can’t hurt you.

So we live behind the haze of smoke that others create. We hide behind the clouds, because the burn of the sun could destroy us or leave us with ugly scars. We hang our heads in the shadows, because during the day our monsters seek us out. They come to light and they come for us, beckoning to be seen and to be heard, once and for all.

It’s funny how when we were little kids, we were taught to always tell the truth. “Never tell a lie,” they always said. And yet here we all are in adulthood spewing out lies, half truths or anything at all that could get us out of a sticky situation or preserve our reputation. Some of us lie so much that our lies become our truth. There comes a point where the lines become blurred and not even the liar can tell what is real anymore and what is not.

We live in a world where most people are either hiding the truth or running from it. And it is important to be aware of which people in your life are like this, and rid yourself of them before you become them. You are who you surround yourself with. Or so the saying goes.

I value the truth, because I know what it feels like to be deceived, manipulated and lied to on a deeply painful level. And it’s humiliating to be the girl who defends her cheating lover, and stands up for a lying friend, later having to come to grips with the fact you placed your trust in the hands of the wrong person.

I’m sure we can all relate to this. After all, we have all been gullible and naive at one point or another. Most of us still are. We have all trusted the wrong person with a secret. We have all confided in someone who didn’t really care. And in this new year of 2014, I urge all of you to reevaluate yourselves and the people you surround yourself with.

As for me, I already know what I have to do. I have to let you go. All you liars, and prevaricators. In the words of e.e. cummings, “you must let them go, they were born to go… let all go dear, so comes love.”

I only value those, who value me enough to tell me the truth. So to all my friends, I ask you to tell me everything you know I don’t want to hear. Because I need to hear it. I will love you better for it, even if it hurts. And I will know that you really love me.

The great philosopher Bears Den once said, “even though your words hurt the most, I still want to hear them every day.” And this is how I feel about life, about love and about friendship.

If you don’t value truth then I don’t value you, and I don’t have time for you.

I value the truth, because I value life.

And I hope that in the year 2014, the rest of you choose to value these things too.


Editors Note: Below is a link to e.e. cumming’s poem referenced above. As well as the Bears Den song whose lyrics were also referenced in this post. Enjoy.—-the-smashed-word-broken-open-vow 

How Losing Myself Saved My Life

31 Dec

Everyone gets a little lost in life. Some more so than others. Some never find themselves again. Some slowly drift back into the light and are better for it. And some, some stay lost forever. It’s easy you see, to live in the shadows. That’s why losing yourself is so dangerous, so poisonous and yet so tempting. For me, getting lost was all of these and more.

I’ve been lost in life, and it is the best thing that ever happened to me. I don’t mean I took a wrong turn here, made a mistake there, or hurt someone so much that it drove me to madness. No. I mean, I lost myself completely. I was like a snake, shedding layers of my skin that each held a tiny piece of who I was… until that person no longer existed. Every layer of  skin was shed, and nothing was left but a shell. A sad little, lost shell.

The person I was before I lost myself was not a person that I particularly liked. I was a kid, a teenager consumed with gaining everyone’s approval, especially those who I disliked. I was selfish, consumed with my teen angst convinced that my problems were more colossal than global warming. I didn’t love myself. I didn’t know myself. I was defined by my peers perception of me. And I was trapped by this. Once a person sees you a certain way, it is almost impossible for them to see you as anything else.

People are who they are. People don’t change. Or so the saying goes. And maybe, a person can change. Maybe you have to lose yourself completely to find the person you were always meant to be.

There were times when I didn’t know how I would get through the day. I didn’t know how to make myself get out of bed, how to feel anything at all let alone be happy. I look back on those years and think it is a miracle that I am here today. And it is.

Losing myself has allowed me to find out who I am on my own terms. Away from high school, away from teenage boys who really do only have one thing on their mind, and away from parental and societal pressures to look and be a certain type of person. I can’t say its been easy, but it has been worth it.

I have never cared so deeply about people, about connection and relationships, about the world and about my passions. I have never been more empathetic, compassionate, open minded, open hearted and hopeful. I see the people living on the margins of society, the people who can’t pay their bills, the young kids hanging out on shadowy street corners looking for anything to fill a void. And I see that they have lost themselves too. And it’s important that someone tells them that there is still good in this world. People are good. The world is beautiful and cruel and it is only because of this that the earth keeps spinning.

And maybe if someone had told me this earlier in life, I never would have become who I am today, because I never would have been so lost to begin with. But I am telling you now just in case nobody else ever has.

It’s okay to get lost to get found.

Losing myself saved my life.


Blind Love Is Somber Love

18 Dec

Sitting around a campfire, she tells me about him.

“Can you believe we have been together for seven years?” She asks smiling.

“We were high school sweet hearts…” her voice fades as the heat from the fire

illuminates her eyes. She doesn’t look like a woman who is happy and in love.

“Where is he tonight?” I ask with a reassuring smile.

“Oh, we are taking some time apart,” she shrugs. “But it has always been

this way, and he always comes back to me.” I stare silently into the fire, knowing

what it feels like to be the one who loves more and is loved less. Much less.

“Maybe the point isn’t that he always comes back,” I say, turning to

look at her. “Maybe the point is, he always leaves.”


Tug of War: A Friendship Game

13 Dec

I have exactly eight people in my life that I consider a best friend. I’m sure some of you are already activating that stereotypical societal rule that you can only have one real best friend. Some of you are thinking, “eight best friends? How is that even possible?” However, when you think about how many people exist in this world, a mere eight that I trust and confide in is hardly even a blimp on the worlds radar.

Sometimes, I forget that not all of my best friends are lucky enough to have eight other people they consider a best friend, too. For some, I am all they have. Some have a few best friends, but are separated by distance. Some say they don’t connect with their other best friends like they do me. Not everyone is as blessed as I am, and I know this. But sometimes maintaining eight friendships is difficult on me. I think, sometimes certain friends depend on me too much. Sometimes, the fact that I have eight best friends that all need me (and that I need), causes me to be pulled in different directions trying to cater to the needs of too many people.

Sometimes, they tug and tug so hard in different directions that I feel like I might be torn apart. For many of them, I am the middle man. They all know of each other, but they don’t all get along. Some don’t understand why I spend time with some of the others. Some think I should make more time for them, because I have known them longer. Some are insecure about losing me. Some are insecure about maintaing that “best friend status.” Some are scared they won’t measure up to my other best friends.

None of them know that sometimes, I feel like a dead carcass. Sometimes, it feels like I am just something for them to fight over. Just a prize for the winner to proclaim, “aha, I have won, which means I am her real best friend. Not you.”

I understand these issues and fears, because I am human too. I am flawed and I have insecurities, and the idea of losing one of my best friends is unfathomable. But I am just one person. Friendship isn’t a game. Friendship isn’t a competition. Friendship shouldn’t feel like tug of war.

I have eight best friends and my friendship dynamic is different with each and every one of them, which is exactly how it should be. Why would I be best friends with eight different people if they were all identical or if the rewards garnered for their friendship were all the same. Some of them are childhood best friends, some are family, some are connected to me by molecules and atoms and come in the shape of a soul mate. Some came into my life at a time when I needed them the most. Some give me both nuance and stability. Some give me feelings of nostalgia while reminding me how far we have all come. I have more depth with some than others, and I have more breadth with some than others. No friendship is the same. What is the same, is that we all laugh together, grow and change together, and we all have ups and downs with each other.

Nobody will ever know how hard it is to maintain eight friendships with people who don’t all like each other or understand each other, and are sometimes jealous of each other. Sometimes, the constant tug in different directions can become tedious, frustrating and just plain sad to me. The truth remains though, that I wouldn’t trade any of them for just the friendship of one. They are all an essential part of who I am and why I get out of bed in the morning.

Maybe if you have more than one best friend you will be able to relate to this post. I hope so. I hope I am not the only one. Maybe, you too, know what it feels like to be tugged in different directions by different people whom you have equal love and respect for.

Maybe I should have listened to my elementary school teacher when for show and tell I talked about my three childhood friends and she said, “no. Choose one.” Maybe I should have only named one person when I sat down to dinner with my parents and they asked, “so who is your best friend this year?” Maybe, I should only choose to share my secrets, my pain and my glory with one person in this world. Maybe then my life would be easier. Maybe then I wouldn’t have to cater to the needs of so many different people who sometimes forget to cater to mine. Maybe, I would know some sort of peace, a quiet that I haven’t known since kindergarten.

But probably not, because my life would be empty. Less colorful. Lonely. Uniform. Hollow. All eight of my best friends are a part of who I am and every thought and belief I have has been cultivated by their influence and presence in my life. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today, without all of them.

I just wish they could all see that as clearly as I do.

I am all of them, and all of them is me.


You Can Never Go Home Again

8 Dec

It happens to most of us, if not all, at one point or another. Usually after graduating high school or college or finding out you finally got the internship of your dreams in Africa or your first real job in New York. It’s a cumulation of every single second of your entire life, up until that very moment. The moment you leave home. Sure you can always go home, but you can never go home again. Going home again implies nothing will have changed in your absence when quite the opposite is true. This is the price we pay for choosing to experience life in different places. The ultimate life choice: to leave home forever or to stay in the same place, content with constant familiarity and comfort. I think the choice is obvious for most people, under the right circumstances. Leave.

Leave home to see wonders, to grow, to acquire new knowledge, to experience different love, and to encounter strange creatures in darkened smoky corners of the world. You will change in the most beautiful way. All the nuance and beauty will wash over you. But, the one thing the world out there doesn’t offer you, is the one thing all humans need.  And one day, you will wake up, nostalgic and yearning for that place you once called home. The place your mom made you chicken noodle soup and braided your hair. The place your dad read you stories before tucking you in to bed and turning out the lights. The place where  you rented movies every friday night with your sister. The place where you scraped your knee, playing tag with your childhood best friend. The city park you practically lived at during your high school teenage angst. You can go home. But it will no longer be the home you used to know. That city park has a new swing set. They got rid of the see saw. You have grown too old for bed time stories, and the house you grew up in is now inhabited by a new family with young kids of their own. You have to make your own chicken noodle soup now, and your hair is too short, too grown up looking to braid. All movie rental places have gone out of business and have been replaced with businesses that will become a symbol of comfort to other young children entering adolescence.

Leave home. For the love of God, leave as far, and as often as you can. Most of you will come back.

But every time you walk out of that door, every time you drive down the freeway with city lights gleaming in the rearview mirror, look back. Take it in, just for a moment. That is home. Your home. Nothing will ever be the same again. The beauty that you see is fleeting. Small changes will creep in like seasons and everything you once knew will seem unfamiliar one day. Blow a kiss, wave goodbye, and say thank you for all its has given you. Because, once you leave, you can never go home again.


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