rich soil.

woh. woh. woh.

just got off the phone and my head is spinning with some thoughts.

here’s one.

this i know: our hearts are The Most Important Thing To God.

second most important? our relationships, with Him and everyone. the ones that He has created and not the ones we try to force and fabricate, but the True Ones who are our Love-Family? these are the ones that matter to God who is Love.

we all bring to the table our own brand of dysfunction. and in our dysfunction, sometimes we don’t know we’re hurting each other until our relationships explode and there are blood and guts everywhere. and sometimes we’re all, “WAIT WHAT JUST HAPPENED I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING I HAD NO IDEA WHY ARE THEY SO MAD THEY MUST HAVE ANGER ISSUES.”

for the discerning and the wise, the ones who have perhaps been through some therapy and maybe even one or two or all twelve of the twelve steps, for anyone who is instrospective at all or has any shred amount of self-awareness, we aren’t surprised when this happens because we see our part. we might see their part, too. but we focus on our own.

that’s actually an aside, though.

because, when this happens – that is, when our relationships explode and we’re left wounded on the field only to be found by the Healer who is The Only One Who Heals – it might take some time for our blood and guts to no longer be flung about, or to be put back together again. but if we’re willing patients, and do all the therapy and healing-stuff that wounded soldiers need to do in order that they return to perhaps a more vulnerable but also stronger state of being, then we might find ourselves and our relationships restored.

sometimes he uses other soldiers from the same battlefield on which we have fought together to say, “me too” and we can validate each other’s hurt in order to further our healing. sometimes this happens.

sometimes you just have to lay stuff aside for the sake of a greater cause. this is unfortunate, but this is life. but it’s actually unfortunate because it is not life at all.

because Life is the Love that is the Healer.

but if it starts with just sitting next to each other because you know you have to and so, “let’s just be grown-up about this”, then, listen. you did it. you are doing it. you are doing your job and you are doing a really good job of doing your job. what am i talking about – i forget that i have found myself in this situation recently, actually. i just have to be a grown-up. sometimes there’s this. perhaps it’s the front-end of a healing. it’s hard to know what that will look like, and we’re not really meant to know that.

sometimes relationships are just going to be what they are because we tried to make them into something they were never meant to be.

so i’m not talking about these kind of relationships.

i’m talking about the ones who, together, you fought the good and right fight until you started fighting each other. or fighting about each other. or perhaps you were fighting against something fighting against you, together. anyway, it blew up and you both -or you all- were casualties and you couldn’t help each other because you lay dying in the same field and you’re not really sure who hurt who anymore. you just know you’re all hurt and you need to not know each other forever, if not for now.

or at least you think that.

and maybe it’s true.

for now.

god desires, above all, reconciliation to his heart and healed relationships with one another. i’ve learned, though, that we can’t force it. if he desires it, which he does, then when it’s time he will open the door, if we’re willing to walk through it. and it may be awkward at first. because when a man goes down and then gets back up, he might have to learn to walk again. and to a man who is learning to walk again, who always was able to walk and then suddenly couldn’t, is re-learning this? it just feels strange physically, and it plays games with your brain, mentally.

and so, sometimes, once the healing has taken place and restoration has happened? it may feel awkward to share space again with that person. because you don’t feel pain anymore, only Love – because that’s what the Healer does in the end-parts of our recovery, He takes away the pain and replaces it with an even greater depth of Love, an even greater capacity for Trust and intense level of Grace and so much more Compassion for each other. because all this time, when Love was healing up secret places that were no longer your pain but just your tender scars, you found now that you just miss each other.

because Love and Time and Life is the Healer.

even so, you don’t really know what it’s going to be like to just…be…in space together again.

but you just do it, anyway. you just do it. anyway. and in any way.

because now there’s a knowing between you. you look and see and hear and understand because of the battle you fought together before the battle you fought against each other, and you remember and you recognize that it was Love that drew you together in the first place. and the woundedness, and the healing and the restoration between you now makes everything so much sweeter and so much deeper.

and Love, this kind of Love that is buried deep into the rich soil of hearts, the kind that takes years and time and pain and goodness and watering and space and hard, hard labor and time, time, time to grow and till, that is The Best Kind of Love -the Only Kind of Love- worth having. if you’re going to have any kind of Love at all, make it the kind that you fought to have and to keep, the kind you paid a price for and a price was paid for you. the kind of Love that found you worthy of having is The Only Kind of Love worth having at all.

 

xo

 

 

 

cripple me.

yesterday i cried.

like a big baby, last night, i wept.

for a while now, i’ve been saying, “i need to find a meeting. i need to find aa in tulsa”.

last night, i did.

and i was weepy there with gratitude that i felt like i could breathe with others who understood why sometimes i can’t.

but it was last night once i got home that i groaned from dark caverns.

i went running yesterday afternoon, like have done every other monday and thursday and saturday since the beginning of the year. i ran and ran, and as i was processing the day as the anniversary of the day i was the “girl in the green dress”, i was also so consumed by the awareness that i was no longer safe. secure, yes. safe, no. it’s been there for a while, this desire to escape, to run (and not the good kind). this need for one more bloody mary sunday with my bff. and for one minute longer than i should have thought about it, i wondered how possible it would be. how feasible it could be. if i could even get away with it.

and then i went down that road in my mind. i played it out.

and the answer is i couldn’t. can’t.

there is nothing – not one thing – that would make picking up that first drink worth it. i heard someone say early in my recovery, “i know i have another drink in me. i don’t know if i have another white chip in me”. i have worked too hard to live as a sober person. i don’t always do a good job of this, even though i’m not drinking. some days, all i have is, “i didn’t act right, but at least i didn’t drink today”. and somehow i’ve accumulated whatever 7 months and some months and some days equals. at this point, i’ve spent more days sober than i did in active alcoholism.

i understand now that i deserve sobriety. i am worth being sober.

deep in the night within the same 24 hours on the other side of the day -that is, before i walked in to a meeting, so the night before- i woke up to this post by christa black. i did not know christa well, but she and i were a part of the same church family in new york about 12 years ago.

before i started therapy. before i went into full-blown addiction.

before she went on tour with michael w. smith. again.

and i do not know this kind of grief. to write so raw and beautifully so early on in what can only be described as the worst form of torture, my heart aches and breaks for her.

but i do know what it’s like to be making eggs or running or vaccuuming or reading or breathing and to be hit from out-of-nowhere with a desire for strong drink at 9:00 in the morning. or to spend money that i don’t have. or to find someone who would offer temporary pleasure. i do know what that’s like. that desperate need for a fix, for an escape, for whatever else you want to call it. to be numb. to not feel anything because you feel so much. all the time, you feel so much. too much. and now i know that feeling life so deeply when i used to not feel it at all, is not not normal. it’s the not knowing what to do with my feelings, or how to handle them, or thinking there’s something wrong with me for having them at all when there’s nothing wrong at all, that can make a person loo-loo.

i don’t want you to worry.

i won’t go back.

i can’t go back.

but i just need to be honest.

because if i am only as sick as my secrets, then i need to tell the truth. my truth.

and don’t try to understand it if you can’t understand it. it’s really okay, maybe it’s better if you don’t. i’d rather you just say that -that you don’t understand, but you will honor this in me- then pretend like you do and make up words or thoughts that aren’t true and real. you don’t have to do anything with any of this. i’m just processing and you don’t have to get it. but if someone might, and i think someone might, then i hope this helps you.

a few weeks ago, i shared my sobriety story with the undergrad substance abuse class. i only got as far as, “and then i got sober” and class ended. it was the first time in 7 years and some months and some days that i had publicly, in person, shared out loud what it was like. but i didn’t get to the part about what it’s like now. i’ve been invited to come back and share the rest of my story. i honestly don’t even know what i would say, so i’m glad for the time to process the last several years through the filter of my sobriety.

i loved hearing and telling my own story and remembering but not reliving that girl i once was. who i used to be but never really was, only to return to who i was made and was always meant to be. and isn’t that the case for us all? most of us, anyway? i loved hearing her story because that girl is precious to me. and i loved telling it because i am not that girl anymore, the one who “took a sabbatical from (her) brain”, as john hobbs says.

back to my run.

as i played out the story in my mind yesterday, i pretty much sprinted all the way back to the store. (and by “sprint”, i mean ran only just a little bit faster.) i was suddenly overwhelmed by how close i was to the edge, and how desperate i had become. i almost ran straight to my car, but i was the only one there in my group yesterday, so i knew i had to be seen just so no one would worry that i hadn’t returned. (i’m not sure if that would have actually happened, but i wanted to be a responsible adult.) and then i sat in my car and begged siri to tell me when and where the next meeting was.

i yelled at siri when we couldn’t get on the same page. i kept saying one thing, she heard something all together other. dammit, siri.

and my cousin texted me right around this time. the last time she texted me, about a month ago, she gave me permission to get mad at god about some things he and i haven’t talked about in a real long time. and i did. i got mad. and then i got tired. and he won. i basically let him. i wasn’t fighting to win, but to gain understanding. i relented without getting many answers, but enough that i knew i was okay not knowing again.

years ago…as in, maybe 15, i told a girl i went to college with -i had been her r.a.- that she couldn’t get mad at god when her dad died suddenly.

she was pissed then at both god and me, understandably.

it hasn’t left me that i ever told her that.

i can’t believe i ever told anyone that.

this time, cousin said, “get to a meeting.”

i told cousin to leave me alone.

but i made it.

i did make it.

i walked into a beginners’ (which there were none even though we all are) eighth step meeting. “made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

i didn’t mean to stop going to meetings. i got sober in my hometown, and faithfully went to meetings daily if not twice-a-day for over a year before i moved to eastern north carolina. as suggested, i didn’t make any major decisions or move anywhere in my first year. i broke other rules/not rules, but i did not break that one. when i moved, i attended meetings in my new town for a while, but it just wasn’t the same. all meetings are the same, in theory. but not all meetings are the same. i wanted them to be, but they weren’t. at that point, though, i found myself back in church again. and if our sobriety is based on our spiritual program, then my spirit was still actively growing.

the last chip i got was when i put together 3 years.

i’ve been sober now for 7 years, and some months and some days. i could do the math, but i try to make it a point not to do math at all.

that’s a long time to go without working any steps or holding hands with strangers who are family, crying with one another and laughing together and drinking not great coffee and holding space and allowing silence for one another.

the last meeting i attended, i took the youngest of my mom’s six sisters with me. she wanted to go, so together we went.

she died tragically a year later of stage four alcoholism. the same summer i went through the stuff that led me into the deep calling deep which the deep used to lead me into the middle of the country. her death was a part of that whole glorious experience, and i mean that in earnest now. her death, actually, led to more life for me. (i need to tell you the whole story of getting out here, soon. this will make more sense then.)

my dad died a few years before that, dropped dead of cardiac arrest from congestive heart failure, manifest from a lifetime of hard living. i’ve told you the story, but i mention it now because i wasn’t actively tending to my recovery when my dad died. i was still seeing karen, but i wasn’t attending meetings at that time.

i moved to the middle of the country a year ago. i wrestled, i strived, not with my disease but with not having really lived away from home for the first time ever in 35 years and so i was re-learning myself. i didn’t know that was going to happen when i got here, and before that i felt like i knew myself pretty well. i have no doubt i am right where i am supposed to be. i am still growing spiritually, and i am asking a lot of questions. i am thawing out from the trauma of what i experienced a few years ago. i am returning to myself, making my way back to where i got a little bit lost again.

and i need meetings.

i have friends here who love god and love me. i have people with whom i can be honest. i have found some who see me, whom i have shown me, and others who i don’t need to see me. these are those into whom i get to look deeply and say, “you are loved. and you are enough.”

but i have not made this connection yet, the one with people who are like me in this way. broken and bruised and painstakingly honest and terribly vulnerable, so painfully aware of our character flaws, and wanting to be and become better, one day at a time in the fellowship of true grace.

yesterday, a friend posted on facebook, “Melancholy is to depression as eccentric is to crazy. A few extra zeros make all the difference.” (quite honestly, i don’t know what the part about the zeros mean.) but to this, i replied, “You put words to what I was thinking about earlier tonight…sometimes we just get to grieve and feel pain, deeply. It’s necessary, and we can’t afford to miss out on it by just calling it depression when it’s not. (Alternately, we have to be honest with ourselves when it might be/could be/is.) Sometimes we just get to feel all of our feelings, though. I’m so grateful for that. (And just because one is quirky or eccentric, doesn’t mean one is cuckoo. Alternately, one who is certifiable may not appear to have any eccentricities at all. Most cunning, baffling, powerful of all.)”

perhaps my favorite part of being sober is that i get to feel all my feelings now. i’m not depressed, just sometimes i get sad the way normal people get sad. (and i’m not crazy, just quirky. or, as it turns out, just a woman.)

when i stopped going to meetings, i left off on step seven, which is to “humbly ask god to remove our shortcomings.”

i hadn’t yet made it to step eight.

which is exactly what we studied last night, what i walked into.

and i have blamed others and victimized myself, pretending to but not really owning my own part in the wreckage of broken relationships.

as someone pointed out last night, step eight is just to make the list of those we wronged when we were drinking. that’s it. we’re just making a list. kind of like the fourth step. it’s just the list. the next step is the decision about what to do with the list, how to best make amends, and then to do it. there are also those we have wronged while maybe we weren’t drinking, but perhaps not sober, either. i probably have as many people on this list as the other, many of the names are the same.

but last night, what i grieved deeply when i came home was that the one person i abused the most violently when i was drinking was my dad. and how he’s not here any more to ask for forgiveness and to live out our amends together.

this is to say nothing of how, together, we lived next to and worked together while we were both in active alcoholism. or what it was like growing up in an alcoholic home that preceded my own search for an escape route.

but for the first time, i grieved not being able to ask his forgiveness for how i yelled and cussed and punished and hurt my dad in my anger and depression.

he’s dead. he’s dead, and all i could do was cry and ask, anyway.

and to ask god’s forgiveness also for not honoring my dad better.

i honor him now. and before he died, i stopped being mad at him and we had sweet days that neither of us knew but i think we both suspected and i kind of did know that they were our last ones together.

i know he forgave me then, even before i would have asked. i know he understood my anger toward him…toward everyone…even if we never really talked about it. i know he understood it because, along with a deep well that could be filled with all manner of liquor, i inherited an intense capacity for feeling deeply. and if there’s a way for him to offer forgiveness now then i choose to receive it, because i know he would offer it freely. in fact, it probably wouldn’t even be a thing for him.

but it’s a thing for me, now.

i heard him say in my heart, “sweet pea” like he used to call me, or when he didn’t have other words. but that was all. and it was enough.

i’m not going to drink.

but, once again, i realized i’m still learning how to live here on this new playground with my new playmates with the gifts and tools and talents and quirks and dreams and clumsiness that god has given me which i can now offer to others, leaving room in my bucket for what is offered back.

because we all need each other. i need what my friends here at school and work and my people back home and across the universe and what my global aa-family presents to one another, to better live together. simply, to breathe.

i don’t have the 12 & 12 in front of me right now, but the last page of the chapter on the eighth step concludes with a thought about how this step will isolate us from each other if we continue to live under any amount of shame or blame of not making things right what we made wrong. not the wrongs done to us, and of course there were some and we have to forgive because we get to. because we have to. but these are the wrongs for which we were responsible.

in my fear and insecurity, both as a sober person and when i wasn’t, i have pushed people away at different points in my life. people i know who really love(d) me. i was afraid that if they got too close, they wouldn’t like what they saw or they would find me a fraud or i would clobber them with my co-dependency. i was afraid i would be too much or not enough and once they discovered this, they would end up leaving eventually, so why not just make it easier and create the distance myself?

i still do this. that is the raw, honest truth. i am not proud of this. and i will make amends with those, to my knowledge, i have hurt in this way or in others over the years. and i am working on standing still and not walking away from those god’s given me to love and to trust him and not them with the outcome of our relationships, even as i hold on loosely to them but hold on nonetheless.

because my soul can’t afford to live in that kind of isolation, the kind that’s afraid of being abandoned or rejected or just left alone in life. god does have me in a season of stillness, and i do have and enjoy and appreciate my alone-time. i’m in an incubation period right now, and it’s necessary for me to stay hidden in his wing. there is a difference between staying hidden and polarizing oneself because she is plum terrified of the outside world and feeling all of her feelings out there inside of it.

none are islands, and we are not made to live on one.

and that’s all i have.

please, please, please cripple me
so i cannot keep running away
away from you

{elenowen, cripple me}

hey, p.s. i don’t always post here. sometimes i have these random inspiring moments that i share on facebook, just in a status update. less thought and time goes into these posts. it’s less of my processing, and i guess they are bent more toward encouraging and exhorting others. i was going to tell you that you can find me there, but i just remembered my page is set to private. blah. if you can find me there, and you’ll include in your friend request that you know me from here, then i’ll be glad to friend you there. i say more there than i do here, regularly. just an invitation to share life if you want to. unless you seem creepy. xo

rugir. (or finding my roar.)

a few weeks ago, i said, this is what i want. i can’t afford less than this. and that was the end of that. literally. 

i could have settled for what was being offered, but it was table scraps and i am worth more than that.

so i found my roar.

on sunday, i woke up and deleted from my phone without thinking he who had occupied way too much head-but-not-heart space over the last few months. (and this time i can’t remember his number.) 

it would be like me to wait and wonder and hope and cry and pray and wish upon falling stars but i don’t have {any more} time or energy to waste or lose.

so i used my roar.

my sister had been encouraging me to take a financial class that she had taken at our church, where she received much freedom and success.

i stepped into the first meeting of the season on sunday night.

and there i roared.

and there was also that time when i realized i am 9 months away from being 5 years away from my life being half-over. 

so i am learning to {use my} roar.

per my one word 365, each of these are the very distinct opportunities i deliberately chose to use my roar in january. i recognized my other options, those of being agreeable and not standing up for myself; the ones of self-pity, false humility, pride & ego; and those of making others responsible for me.

i took my power and my choices back from myself, for myself.

i put my foot down at myself and said no more on behalf of myself.

and, instead, i used my roar.

when was the last time you used your roar?

would you recognize the sound of your own roar if you heard it?

(mine sounds like a foreign language.)

(and evidently that language is spanish.)


tears of a clown.

i have felt like a crazy person for the last couple of months.

i have been irritable, self-centered, and extremely cranky. pissy, i say.

i don’t even use the word pissy normally. that’s an annoying & gross word. this is also a sign to myself.

i have not been available in ways i am when i am my most generous self.

i have been impatient and unkind, not at all characteristic of me on my better days.

(i have also found myself to be self-righteous.)

i have judged people in ways i haven’t heard myself judge in a really, really long time. the kind of judging others that you learn in your first few therapy sessions are actually the characters flaws you see in yourself. and, quite honestly, it disgusts me. i am not that way, not normally. it’s weird and i hate it. 

i have gotten on my own nerves, so i would understand if i have gotten on yours.

the most heartbreaking part of this whole mess that is, well…me…over the last few months is that i have especially lacked grace where i would like to think it has otherwise flowed so freely.

grace is my…well, if i don’t have and show grace? she who knows how much has been and is continuously extended to her? who fights for and seeks it and pursues it with vigilance and hello, it’s in my very own blog-tag? grace is the very heart and soul of my being. 

like i said, that’s been The Most Heartbreaking Part Of It All for me. it really devastates my heart because i know better. i don’t know differently. (not anymore.) but i have acted as if i don’t know better and i do know differently and this sucks.

i have been very up and down and all over the place and sideways these last months. i could blame it on certain crazy-making people or circumstances because there are a few of those, too. but, the truth is, i have lost some of my tools and have forgotten how to use other ones which, even around my crazy-makers, i am normally capable of making better sense of the world and of myself when i am in my right mind.

surprisingly, i haven’t made a fool of myself or lost my shit in public or toward my family or said anything to anyone i would have to later repent for saying.

(that i can think of, anyway.)

i have had the wherewithal, fortunately, to call out The Cranky and apologize or stop or remove myself before severely manifesting. that, and i’ve pretty much only put myself around folks i know that i know that i know wouldn’t bring out The Cranky or would love me through it, and have avoided those that i feared i could hurt with The Cranky. i don’t trust The Cranky. down with The Cranky.

the sad alternative, though, has been that i have isolated and climbed back into my very hollow, uncomfortable shell.

i am not surprised. i know where i am. 

i recognize this place. this lonesome, dark, full-of-fear place.

it is not the place of my holiday funk, though i hoped for a moment that’s all that it was.

there are days and even just moments when i have thought, no, i’m okay. it’s passed.

but the truth is, i tripped a few months back and have slowly fallen backward into the very lonely, dark hole that is my depression.

hell, who am i kidding? it’s not been backward at all. i pretty much dove in, face first. because that’s what happens when i, you know, try to play my own hero.

i cry when no one’s looking and sometimes when they are, if i am especially safe in their company. in this place, i get stuck and i can’t get myself out. and even if i could, i don’t have the energy to try. i have heard myself say a few times that i feel lost and alone. i can’t make sense of very much and i’m motivated to do even less than that. things that usually roll off my back have bothered me in ways that nag.

to be real honest with you? if you were to call me a dry-drunk, i wouldn’t couldn’t get upset with you.

well, and to lay it all bare for you? i’m real surprised i haven’t just forfeited all my chips but for the grace of god. i have enough sense about me to know i can’t go back there again, though i can’t say it hasn’t been a thought in my mind.

(we’re only as sick as our secrets, right? so, there’s mine.)

i leave the shoebox because i have to work (thank god), but most mornings i attempt to beg the day not to come by forcing my eyes not to open. (strangely enough, this doesn’t work. i know. ODD.)

i still fight for myself as best i can.

sweet little zella-girl makes me take her on long walks (scratch that, reverse it) and i make myself listen to either worship or my favorite fun songs as we bumble along down the road. and the breeze feels good on my soul.

some days, i will call friends in order to get outside of myself.

on my very best days, i will have coffee with a friend.

but most days, i cancel plans or say no all together.

i want to get out of myself. i have wanted to say yes. i haven’t wanted to be here.

but most days i haven’t been able to be anywhere else.

and, unfortunately, this hole isn’t big enough for company.

depression isn’t moodiness. and it’s not what normies might liken to a bad day. it’s not feeling sad (not on any normal level, anyway). for one, it’s chemical. so, there’s that. but, for two, the last time i found myself here, i said it is like i am in a black, me-sized hole and god can’t reach down far enough and i can’t reach up high enough for us to get to each other.

it’s just that also with me in the hole, see, is this monkey on my back. only he’s more like a gorilla. a limp, lame, deaf, dumb, blind and mute gorilla. just hanging out. on my back.

down, down, down into the hole the gorilla and i go. went.

and down, down, down the gorilla and i will stay until one of us gets restless enough to try and get out again.

even still, i pray. oh, i pray, i pray, i pray…believe me, i pray.

and i have felt close to god, perhaps closer in these long legs of my journey than in any other…which i guess probably sounds strange? that i would feel so close to god, yet so far away?

i know god is and has been there each time i have found myself in the hole (which, incidentally, has been three very significant times; this being the third.) karen first made me aware of my depression in the first 30 minutes of my very first appointment with her after i had been sitting in it comfortably like a sad, drunk, homeless person living beneath a bridge for the better part of my life. that is to say, i was 26 when i faced and started dealing with what she thought landed on me like a disease around the time i was 13. the spiral began the second time…around this time of year, actually…four years ago, when i first moved from my hometown to the town where i now live.

the thing is, it’s always looming. it’s not like it strikes from nowhere when i’m not looking. in between the three times i was staring at it directly in the face, it was always hanging around, waiting for me to notice or engage it. like the dark, brooding bad-boy (ahem #ryangosling #badboyworldtour #jordancatalano) who hangs around outside the soda shop smoking & playing it cool, waiting for the pretty girl to notice him, only he acts like he doesn’t notice her just so he can get her to notice him.

my depression is kinda like that. 

i know the bad-boy isn’t good for me, but i kinda feel sorry for him and wonder what the mystery is all about. plus, i think i kinda like danger.

but then i get swept up in his sad drama and maybe i even start smoking again and i wear his leather jacket and my friends stop calling and when i realize i can’t figure him out because he can’t be figured out, i remember why i should have just walked on by the first time i saw him. and the second.

there are ways i can make it more difficult for myself, and ways i can live with it more manageably and actually enjoy a happy, fun and successful life. six or so months ago, i made the best decision i could make for myself at the time when i gradually took myself off my anti. but what i couldn’t pay for with insurance, i have paid for in deuces with this fog i’ve been walking through.

i’m not suicidal, but i wouldn’t care very much if i slipped off the attic step. or if that car hadn’t seen me. or what if…i just…disappeared? those are the unsettling kind of thoughts i’ve had.

uplifting, no? encouraging, isn’t it.

the thing is, i know how pitiful i sound in my depression. maybe it’s all the therapy or too much aa, but i have enough self-awareness to know that to those who can’t relate (thankfully), i sound really, really pitiful. so i’m doing well to laugh at myself.

and the limp, lame, deaf, dumb, blind and mute gorilla.

who sometimes gets his feelings hurt.

and has itches he can’t scratch.

i walk around in a haze or a daze, depending on the day, and i paint my face and plaster on my smile and pray, pray, pray that i can make it through the day without falling apart completely because, were that to happen, i wouldn’t have a very good reason for it.

or any reason at all.

i could have seen it coming. i did, actually. and those who were paying attention best of all saw it coming, too.

i was just hoping it wouldn’t. come, i mean.

i tried to talk it out of coming. tried to convince the depression not to come.

but it did. it has. the depression is here. and it’s been here for the last few months.

you shouldn’t be surprised about it, either. in fact, you probably aren’t. because don’t you remember the day i told you how i lost my insurance and weaned myself off my anti?

i was secretly thankful and thought maybe my depression wasn’t as bad as it had been before, or maybe i just didn’t have it anymore. you know…like a virus. 

i fought it. i was pro-active in the beginning. i asked friends to pay attention, and they did.

i tried.

i tried, i tried, i tried. oh, how i tried. believe me, i tried.

i tried not to have it again.

i tried not to be depressed.

but i can’t try not to have depression, i realize now.

there aren’t words enough to pray my way out of it, no matter how loud or hard or quiet i am or close to jesus i feel.

(don’t you know i would if i could? if that were enough? all that it took to get me out of the hole and over the hump?)

but i can glorify god through it.

it’s a slow fade but i see it now. i recognize it. i know it all too well now.

the gift that is my depression, i mean.

but things will be different on tuesday.

everything will be better on tuesday.

see, i am considered high-risk because i’ve been treated for both a melanoma and depression; therefore, i qualify for guv’ment-based insurance, which kicked in for me on january 1. (say what you will about our president, i could kiss him on the mouth for the new healthcare system.)

so i’ve very willingly tucked my tired tail between my paralyzed legs and me and the gorilla are surrendering again to my p.a. tomorrow.

as it were, i only checked in with him for about 15 minutes every few months, so he doesn’t know i broke up with him and my anti. (totally awesome of me, i know.) i was just sort of hoping he wouldn’t, you know…notice…so we wouldn’t have to…you know…have a weird, awkward break-up talk when i would tell him it’s not him, it’s me, when we really shouldn’t have ever been together in the first place and

wait, what?

um, anywho

(weird.)

anyway, i’m not sure what to expect when he finds this out, though i’m sure i’m not his first client who tried to save her own day. like i said, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

but this i know, of this one thing i am certain:

come tuesday, i will have hope again. 

an aside: i told leigh when i finished writing this on saturday night that i realize i haven’t really shared this part of my journey with you all. she said it may not have been time, or perhaps it wasn’t on my heart, before. good point, i told her. (she is always full of good points, that one.) better to write on in when i’m in the thick of it, i said. or…when there’s a soon-and-coming hope.

{thank you, jesus, for being my one-and-only hope.}

another aside: just as it took several weeks to get out of my system, it will likely take a few weeks for my anti to get back in to my system. i am praying against for minimal side effects during this time. but, just so you know, it may get worse before it gets better. and by ‘it’ i mean ‘i’. the good news, the part i know you’ve all been waiting for, is that i lost weight the last time i started taking it. so, here’s hoping. :)

i fear i have not won the battle against my flesh over these last months, so please know how profoundly sorry i am if i have made any off-color remarks to you or said or done anything that has been hurtful, even virtually. admittedly, i lack a filter between my brain and my mouth but i can usually access my delay button so please, please forgive me if i have failed to use that button when i should have but forgot. or just didn’t, but should have.

(as long as it’s something that actually does belong to me.)

(dang. see what i mean? the no filter thing.)

ugh. everything will be better on tuesday.

(for all of us.)

i promise.

thanks for loving me.

xo

to thine own self.

i would understand if you wondered why i speak so freely about my road of recovery. we’re ‘anonymous’ for a reason. what if we slip? what if, after 5 years and 2 months today is the day i decide to give it all up, sanity and all. we are responsible to one another and hold ourselves accountable to each other. isn’t it enough that we know it about each other without having to tell the rest of the world?

we don’t wear our chips like medals or badges of honor. in fact, we call ourselves egomaniacs with a self-esteem problem. we’re members of a club consisting of other people who can’t drink because alcohol has ruined our lives and that of those around us and we’re trying to rebuild and live simply. we are not proud of ourselves, but we are not too proud to admit we need god and each other’s help and have found that, forgiveness and a life of gratitude and grace through our secret club.

i have been sharing these emails i wrote to a group of friends during my first year of sobriety for just that reason. so that i won’t slip. i need for you to pay attention and ask me questions. i also share this part of my journey because i have no reason in myself to hide it. i mean…are you kidding? what exactly don’t you know about me by now? (even so, it’s my business to share it on my own terms, not anyone else’s.)

it’s been a good reminder to me of where i was five years ago and how far i’ve come on the inside of me. 

the newcomer helps folks who have been in it one more day than themselves because we remember what yesterday was like.

i am by no means in any ‘advanced’ stage of recovery process. only over time, i have accumulated 1,885 one days at a time consecutively. but i’m no fool. i have to stay vigilant, daily. it’s not just about the not drinking (though some days it is). it’s about the living better.

my hope is that, if i have one. more. day. than you, then my experience, strength and hope i’ve found through the healing and recovery process would encourage you to continue taking it one day at a time.

january 4, 2007

i considered not sending you this update today because i haven’t made too many reflections or assessments about it yet but knowing that i made myself accountable to this group, i just wanted to send a note in case you were counting the days.  (i didn’t want you to think i had fallen off the wagon if you didn’t hear from me. ;))

i got my 60-day chip today.  “to thine own self be true” is what it says on one side.  the serenity prayer is on the other.  none was harder than or felt as good (or as bad) as the first and then i felt like it was my birthday when i got my yellow 30-day chip.  i remember saying, “i can get 30 days.  it’s my 60-day chip i’m worried about.”  but the distance between 30 and 60 days seemed so short!  it’s hard to believe how fast it’s gone.

in the very beginning, it frustrated me to no end that i would never be able to drink again for the rest of my life.  and people would say to me, “just don’t drink today.”  and that did help put it into perspective.  it gave me more power and it meant i had a choice.  but last week i said in a meeting, “i can say with 99% certainty that i know i will never pick up a drink again.”  i have to leave that 1% available to keep me humble.  i’m not immune.  everyone in the rooms has their own story, their own bottom.  i know if i had kept on down that path, my story would be similar to the ones who came in in their 50′s, having lost everything and not being able to remember much of the first part of their life.  it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone, at any point in their sobriety.  that’s the healthy fear with which i live.  i’m just glad God and my friends rescued me before it was worse than that.

shortly after i got my 30-day chip, i went to see karen, my tried-and-true friend and confidante whom has seen (and continues to see) me through all of my growth and healing over the last 3+ years.  it occurred to me that it was in this time when i started facing my life that my love affair with alcohol began…well, picked up.  i realized that, with the intensity of facing and dealing with life, i sought refuge and release by drinking and, subsequently, doing things that i wouldn’t have done in my right mind.  i wish i could have recorded this meeting with karen because i don’t remember all of our words but it all came down to…shoes.  i taught myself how to tie my shoes when i was 4 (a, did you know that? :)) and began a fierce journey of self-sufficiency and independence.  i lost my shoes at h’s wedding and, therefore, l left her purse in the shuttle.  i’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop “because it usually does” …and she pointed out that there aren’t anymore shoes left to drop.  i don’t have to fight life anymore.  i can live life on life’s terms.  today.  in this moment.  i can face it and i don’t have to escape anything by drinking.  my sponsor says often that there is nothing that is worth losing her sobriety over.  she’s picking up a chip for 9 years on sunday.  and it’s true – there’s nothing worth losing my sobriety over or, to bring it closer to home for you, my life. because that would be the cost.

on friday night i watched one of my oldest and dearest friends, c, get married.  at the reception, i was reunited with friends whom i had not been in touch with since we graduated from high school.  4 of us stood there talking and laughing together about the first time any of us got drunk – it was in my playroom when were in the 9th grade.  they laughed the way that only old friends can do when i told them where that had landed me.  my heart was so full and i enjoyed myself so much and there was nothing in me that was jealous of them being able to drink.  (as a matter-of-fact, to some i thought, “i’m so glad i won’t be you tomorrow…”)  i mean, i’m not sure that i’ll ever be just totally aloof to people drinking around me and i do have to prepare myself before i know i’ll be around it.  it would make life a lot easier if i didn’t have to do that, but i know that it’s possible for me to enjoy myself without a glass…or two…or five…of wine.  and when it’s not possible, i know i have choices and tools.

prior to c’s wedding, the last wedding i had been to was h’s.  everything is new to me now, though i’m certainly more comfortable today than i was 30 days ago and certainly on any given day within the first 30.  i’ve even met someone!  he’s pretty special.  i feel like it’s the first real relationship i’ve ever been in {ahahahahhahahaha}, given that any other one has been over these last two years, and none of them were “real” and “relationship” would be a loose term for any of them but one.  it’s so, so nice to just be walking one day at a time, taking it very, very slow and just enjoying the journey with another pilgrim on a similar path.  (karen, i’ll tell you everything on monday.  girls, i’ll tell you about it tonight.)

{that last part CRACKS ME UP because it is a well-known and respected AND IT’S THERE FOR A REASON suggestion that one not date at all within the first year of sobriety. but there are those who think they are the exception and i was one of these. you have heard me affectionately refer to him as The Crackhead. oh, he was sweet. but i should have listened when others said, ‘don’t.’ 1.4.11}

i remain grateful.  i have hope for the future.  i can dream and i can set goals, even those that seem impossible or unattainable.  my heart is full and i am happy.  i want you to know that i am constantly aware of the support i have in each of you.  my precious, dear friend brennan called a week or two after getting my first email and we just laughed and i cried and was so overwhelmed to hear his voice on the other end of the line.  what a comfort to know that you’re each in my life, championing me and cheering for me.  i feel like i am in a place where i can truly give that back to you, to others.

as i finished up that last thought, i just heard my friend candy*-and-i’m-an-alcoholic’s voice in my head saying to me on monday night, “i just love your spirit!”  and someone else said that to me yesterday.  and i know they’re talking about the same spirit that i eagerly…and then reluctantly…painted as a project early on in my work with you, karen.  the one that you have encouraged and taught me to live from.  and that’s the place where i am.  sitting right in the middle of my spirit.  that’s the gift each of you and the program -and above all, God- has given me.  to not be afraid anymore of just being me.  fully and completely.  if ever i could repay a gift, this would be the one.  i’m thankful for you, for your lives, and for what each of you continue to mean to me.

mk

one interesting note that’s neither here nor there but i was trying to remember why, if my sobriety date is november 5, 2006, why i kept emailing my friends on other dates than the 5th of each month. i remember now i was literally counting 30, 60 and 90 days and continued to do that within my first year. at this point, i just remember the 5th of each month. (1.4.11)

people pleasers.

this post is part of a series the readers here in the beauty for ashes community suggested. every wednesday, my fellow sojourners and i study the book of romans. the first post states our heart and intention, which i encourage you to read if you’re just joining us. you will find the entire series listed in the categories on the right.

Romans 15:1-13, nlt {emphasis mine}

Living to Please Others

1 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. 2 We should help others do what is right {not do it for them} and build them up {ie, encourage – we didn’t know any better, either, at one point or another} in the Lord. 3 For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.” 4 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. 6 Then all of you can join together with one voice {don’t you wonder what that sounds like? i wonder if it’s like that old co’cola commercial…}, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. 8 Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. 9 He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote:

“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing praises to your name.”

10 And in another place it is written,

“Rejoice with his people,
you Gentiles.”

11 And yet again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.”

12 And in another place Isaiah said,

“The heir to David’s throne will come,
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him.”

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

i love that. confident hope. yes. let’s.
shall we?

the danger zone.

this post is part of a series the readers here in the beauty for ashes community suggested. every wednesday, my fellow sojourners and i study the book of romans. the first post states our heart and intention, which i encourage you to read if you’re just joining us. you will find the entire series listed in the categories on the right.

Romans 14, nlt {emphasis mine}

The Danger of Criticism

1 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval.

5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 6 Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

10 So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say,

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
every knee will bend to me,
and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’”

12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

i’m just curious: do you think it’s safe to insert any activity for the word ‘eat’? is paul speaking specifically about food we eat physically or could he also be talking about what we might feed our souls, too?

also, i really appreciate that paul points out that it’s not worth doing something if it will make someone else uncomfortable because of their own conviction.

but this also addresses the matter of the differences between each of our convictions. for example, i don’t drink because i can’t. (that is, not unless i want to end up in prison or dead or in a stranger’s bed.) but plenty of people can drink without incident; alcohol or addiction aren’t really issues for them. similarly, i have certain friends and i’m sure you do, too, who are like garbage disposals. whereas they can eat whatever they want without gaining a pound, i can’t even look at a bite of a cookie without gaining five.

god cares about and loves each of us so much that he has even uniquely tailored our convictions and struggles.

now, i’m all about being responsible for ourselves. if i chose to drink again, i could never hold someone else responsible for that.

but wouldn’t i want to help a friend who is struggling even if it means i have to say ‘no’ to something that may not be a struggle for me? it reminds of the aa-adage, ‘would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?’ as paul says, our goal is harmony and helping each other.

because it is, isn’t it?

(un)lovable.

i originally posted this in september of 2010. i had something different in mind for today until a conversation with some of my best friends revealed that there are so many of us who believe or have at one time believed this to be (un)true of themselves.

here, at christmastime more than any other, i hope that the reminder of the birth and life of christ is evidence enough that, in fact, you are SO easy to love. 

a few years ago, my friend paula d’arcy invited me to come spend time with her and her daughter in california. for many years, paula was a regular speaker at aqueduct and is a peaceful, quiet spirit. please, please promise me that if you ever have a chance to hear her speak you’ll do it. it will be water for your soul, i promise. paula and my dad had a sweet friendship and at what would be her last conference at the ‘duct, she and i especially connected. so, i went out to see her for a long weekend.

i had a great time with paula and beth. it was easy and relaxing. we had long, conversations of the heart. we even went to san francisco one day. but the one thing i know i will never forget -my reason for being there- was because of what she said to me when we were on our way to the airport for me to begin the journey home.

‘you’re so easy to love, mary kathryn,’ paula said to me in her soft, quiet voice.

effortless, kind, the words just fell out of her mouth like a soft morning rain. it was as if…she really believed that to be true. time stood still for me as i quietly held back tears in the back of her compact car.

see, i had believed all of my life that i was only tolerated -by god, by my family, by my friends, by everyone. i believed i was a burden. i knew i would never be first, second or third best -maybe i could be tenth, eleventh or twelfth best, if i placed at all. i knew god loved me but only because he had to. same with my family. i didn’t know i could ever be someone’s joy, that anyone would ever delight in me. it’s not that i didn’t feel worthy – i didn’t think it was possible that i ever could be worthy enough to love. i was content to eat the scraps from the table if i could just sit at the table at all.

it’s not like i was 13 with a self-esteem problem. i was, like, 28. so this wasn’t so long ago that i don’t remember what it felt like to believe i was unlovable. it was a work only the lord could do to uproot and heal me of that deep-rooted and long-believed lie (which sometimes resurfaces, even still).

and in a moment, my life was changed.

oh, the power of our words. of our hearts that are either for or against each other.

‘you’re so. easy. to love.’

this feeling of unlovability and unworthiness obviously played out in all different relationships throughout my life. i sabotaged many friendships as a result of this deep-seeded belief. karen and i spent many, many sessions doing the work surrounding these old tapes of mine. even now, though, it catches me off-guard  from time-to-time that i can’t believe such-and-such wants to be my friend. and don’t you know such insecurities are worn on our sleeves? only god.

‘you’re so easy to love.’

i have a friend who recently starting wondering if she is simply unlovable.  if you knew her, this would be impossible to believe. she is an uh-MA-zing, gorgeous, talented, fun, bright & brilliant woman. she is kind, patient, and hilarious. she loves jesus and lives daily in a deep and intimate relationship with him. she has always been all of those things, even though, today, she wonders if she is lovable. for her, for now, the lord has presented to her a special invitation to allow him to do the work that only he can do. there is room in her life now to work through this. and it is something only he and she can do together.

because only in that place, that place of feeling unlovable, can the lord come in to that hidden area of our deepest wound and say,

‘my child, you are so easy to love.’

sweet friend, i hope that you know in your heart today how true this is of you.

‘YOU are so easy to love.’

{For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. -Psalm 139:13-16 (niv)}

here and now.

two years ago, after my dad died, i signed up for pottery and dance classes. seeing now what my heart was going through, i can’t believe i had the wherewithal to know that i needed to feel the earth in my hands and under my feet. i needed to feel grounded to…something, anything…since the man i had been tethered to all my life, whose name i still bear, had suddenly…disappeared to heaven.

i needed to feel connected to the earth, to this life.

and, for the first time, it didn’t matter not one bit if i made pretty or even useful things or learned my recital-dances perfectly well. (it’s a good thing, too, else the perfectionist in me would have had a complex regarding both.)

my head hears my great-uncle’s voice saying sometimes, when you think you’ve lost your way, go back to the place you last remember. you’ll find your way again. perhaps my time and life and routine are still recovering from the last few months.

i have to fight to stay connected sometimes. if i’m not careful, i’ll just sort of…drift…and not think too much about what i’m doing or with whom, as if i don’t really care.

but i do. so much, sometimes too much. deeply, i care.

i know it’s a tool of the enemy.

i know isolation is the primary weapon in his arsenal against me, perhaps against us all.

and he will not, has not won.

so i fight extra-hard for a sense of connectedness lately. to stay in touch and see people and do things i don’t feel like doing simply because i don’t feel like doing them. yes, because it’s christmas…also because of…just life

and i know it will pass.

but…in this moment…i also know that this isn’t my battle to fight. that my job is to surrender not to the enemy, but to the one who already fought for and won me so i wouldn’t have to fight for myself. i don’t have to fight at all but sink back into the loving arms of the one who fought for me. and won.

i guess it’s both/and, in a way. like drinking, for example. god’s not going to make me not drink. i have to remain vigilant to maintain my sobriety. i fought too hard for to keep it this long, i can’t get lazy now. even so, the second and third steps are to recognize god and surrender to him. and if my heart is fast after him, then i won’t make decisions that will lead me to drink again.

and isn’t this what it’s about? that this whole big…thing…isn’t about us? that life is all about being connected to god and to others?

thankfully, i have some of the best friends a girl could have who see this without seeing it and know it without me saying anything and they call not because i’ve been disconnected, but just to be connected.

to be present, in this moment.

here, now.

and i am.

got five minutes? join me and other bloggers over at the gypsy mama’s house for five-minute friday. always, like today, i have revelation in those five minutes of where i’ve been or where i’m headed or to whom i belong. 

my one suggestion is that you read before you write, so that the words of you heart aren’t filtered through others’.

as always, feel free to utilize a comment block in this space if you don’t have one of your own. you are welcome here.

that kind of friend.

harvest on the hill o4

many years ago, i told tiffany that she was teaching me how to be and have a friend. over ten years, a husband who i respect tremendously, four babies i adore, several miles plus the years of my crazy between us, she remains one of my best and most committed friends. our love for one another has not once wavered, even if our time together has.

when we first became friends, we would sneak into our “office”, which was more like a military bunker, and we would giggle and gossip about things we couldn’t say out loud at work.

she and i created the princess plan of physical perfection together. (it worked for me, too, let me tell you…)

she was the first friend i had who moved away, if only temporarily, and stayed in touch. we spoke almost, if not, every day while she lived in california.

market on the hill spring o4

she hostessed my going-away party when i left for new york. she was my first cheerleader going and then coming home, even when no one knew i had come back. we started a business together that spring and she squealed for my vision every morning as we woke up with new ideas.

about a year later, god made it clear it was time to sever the most important relationships in my life (outside of my family), three to be exact. (for the sake of brevity, i won’t get into the who and the what and the why.) i couldn’t even give words to it when i broke up with tiffany, and it happened awkwardly over lunch. it was incredibly painful for both of us.

that summer, i said ‘yes’ and then i said ‘no’ when she asked me to be in her wedding.

and then, in the fall, we went out for our birthday lunch as we had in previous years.

and do you know what that precious girl said to me? she said she understood why there had been space between us. that jesus and charles showed her why even when i couldn’t.

and in a moment, god wrapped our hearts around each other again and we reconciled.

it was too late then to be a bridesmaid in her wedding a month later, but i did get to sing for them and was a part of all of the festivities. no role in any wedding has meant more to me than that, when i would have been happy to have just received an invitation by then.

it was even after that when my brain took a sabbatical from my body and yet she remained loyal even when i couldn’t be open with her then about my crazy.

only she and i can know the cost of our friendship over so many years. tif is a friend of the truest kind, who empathizes in both joy and sorrow. she has been and is the friend i want standing next to me on the most beautiful and wretched of days, when i am my best and my worst. because i know she and our friendship can take it because we already have.

she is that kind of friend.

superbowl 2o1o

and then there’s karen and mel, or k-cobb and mel-p as i like to call them. (actually, mel, i’ve never called you that before, but i’m going to start now, okay?) karen & mel are my heart’s dearest and truest friends here in the town where i live.

we only met two-ish years ago. i know this because i remember karen started showing up to our bible study around the time that my dad died.

we laugh now because, for a while, i thought she was too clean to be friends with me. i thought i was too colorful for her. and…that’s all i’ll say about that. (i’m not saying but i’m saying.)

i remember my first conversation with her as we stood in leslie’s living room. rather, i don’t remember what we talked about but i remember what she was wearing and that we hugged for a long time and it was precious, even though i still thought she would be too conservative for the likes of me.

no, caroline, i'm not speaking today.

we prayed into being her baby who i love as if he is my own child. 

you have heard me call her and her husband my co-spouses. when we talk about ben getting a job after he achieves his mba (this week!), we talk about where we’re all going to move together and what color to paint my room.

and then one day i ended up with her and ben at mel’s house to “watch the superbowl” and it was all over after that. we were bff’s from that moment on. (their husbands were roommates in college so they were friends long before me. in fact, mel had also been roommates in college with one of my oldest family friends.)

they are the kind of friends who do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it, no matter what. they are fiercely loyal, without question.

like tif, they teach me how to be and have friends.

for my birthday this year, karen invited our besties around her fire-pit where we made s’mores and told stories and laughed hysterically and i cried because there, they each shared stories of my friendship with them. they reminded me why anyone has friends at all. 

out on a pass.

there was one particularly difficult weekend in the fall when i was on big myra-duty. i had a brief respite that saturday morning after not sleeping at all for two nights and i. was. so. exhausted. like, the crying, can’t-make-sense-of-anything-at-all kind of exhausted. they found me unnerved at our church yard sale and despite my most polite southern efforts to insist they not come, they left their families to show up at bedtime, made a pallet in the living room and helped me throughout the night – to the point i had to just sleep and let them take over. some of my favorite memories of my life were made with them that night.

yesterday, karen said she wants to have an mk-revival at the beach around the first of the year. i asked her if she meant she wants me to preach or if she means to bring me back to life, which the latter would make more sense than the first anymore.

they are that kind of friend.

the kind of friend i hope i am, the kind i want to be.

that i would ever have that kind of friend? i couldn’t ask for more than the gift of each of these women in my life. i am stronger, softer and more beautiful because of them. my friends are the reason my heart beats and i haven’t even gotten around to telling you yet about amy, leigh & het, kim, catherine, jenny, annya, the other girls who sat around karen’s bonfire, the chapel hill social club or why kel is the reason i am funny, if ever i am funny at all. there will definitely be a part two post. and a part three.

for now, for today, i honor these three women in my life, and the jesus who shines so purely through them.

tif, karen & mel, thank you for the gift of…you. for living so completely, totally and honestly into who god has created you to be. for showing up, for laughing and crying…and laughing til we cry, for just being present.

my life is richer, fuller, and certainly more fun, because of you.

do you have that kind of friend?

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