lastmandystanding

Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Blogger. Aspiring writer. Smartass. Sometimes I say funny things.

Archive for the tag “love”

A few words about heartbreak. Listen to me.

You, there… with the broken heart, right in the thick of all that hurt. Yes, YOU.

• Listen to me…

I know that right now, what you’re going through, is the worst pain you’ve maybe ever felt in your life, up to this point. I know how your heart physically aches in your chest at the mention of their name. At the glimpse of a picture you’d forgotten about. At the sound of the first few tunes of a song that was special between you. At all those damn awesome memories that just keep playing like a movie in your mind, the world’s sappiest love story/rom-com.

• Listen to me: Stop looking at the pictures. Stop listening to the playlist. Stop that movie in your head. Don’t just pause it. Stop it. Take it out. Put it back in its case. Put it back on the shelf. Stop.

I know how it feels to be legitimately upset that the sun has the audacity to keep shining. Especially when warm, sunny days remind you of him/her. You wish it could just rain for infinity, because that matches your mood. And those emotions do need to be FELT (as if you have a choice in the matter) but I mean you wanna get DEEP down in those awful feelings. And while you’re down there, ruminate over all that other awful stuff you’ve been through. No wonder you’re convinced you’ll be alone forever. I mean, just look at ALL the other crap you’ve been through.

• Listen to me: If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through ALL. THE. CRAP. You’ll make it through this, too. Was ALL that other stuff easy to get through at the time? Nope. But here you are, on the other side of it. There’s nothing in life that you haven’t made it through thus far. Read that again in a day, a week, a month – it will still hold true.

I intimately understand feeling like you simply cannot breathe. Feeling as if all the air has escaped your lungs… and if you’re being completely honest, you could care less if it ever finds its way back. Those dark, ugly moments you wouldn’t dare share with even those closest to you. The ones where your thoughts have scared even yourself, and if anyone else knew them, they’d surely never look at you the same.

• Listen to me: There is NOTHING and NO ONE on this earth who is worth that. Do you hear me? NOTHING. NO ONE. This is non-negotiable. Slow down…inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth, slowly. Feel that? You’re breathing. It hurts. And it’s taking your concentration. But you’re breathing.

I know how every time some well-meaning person tells you “it’s their loss; you deserve better; they’ll regret this someday; you’ll be ok; you’ll feel again; you’ll find someone, blah blah blah” you think to yourself (or out loud) “you just don’t understand… this was my person.”

• Listen to me: They are not your person. They might have been for a little while, but “your person” would never do this to you. And (spoiler alert) – all those well-meaning people? THEY’RE RIGHT.

I know what it’s like to pour over every single detail, every conversation, every moment, every memory, every text message in that thread, wondering where it went wrong. Wondering how in the world he/she could possibly do this to you after all you’ve been through and all you had planned for the future.

• Listen to me: It does not matter HOW they could do it to you. All that matters now is that they DID. And that, my friend, is one hundred percent on THEM. Stop beating yourself up over someone else’s actions. Matter of fact, stop beating yourself up for your OWN actions, too. You’re not perfect. You never will be. No one is. No one ever will be.

Look, I know this probably sounds great in theory, right? But you may be thinking “what does this broad even know?” Turns out, a LOT more than I’ve ever given myself credit for. A lot more that a lot of people have ever given me credit for. I’ve been counted down and out more times than I can even count. But look at me: still here. Scar tissue and all. I’m no different than you.

You are grieving a tangible loss; the death of everything you had envisioned and hoped for. Not all that different from grieving a physical death. I’ve grieved both, and I dare say that grieving someone who’s still alive just might be harder. There’s no timeline on grief. One day (might be months from now, maybe years?) it will literally feel like you just woke up… different. Not perfect. Not like everything is fine and nothing happened. Just… different. Maybe not even a firm “ok” but you’ll have the belief that things WILL BE ok. Your mood shifts. Your brain shifts. Your outlook shifts. That first layer of dark clouds lifts and you’ll see the sun peeking through and not be pissed at it. And then another day, you’ll realize that another layer has lifted and you can actually see blue sky, and it won’t remind you of their eyes or the fact that they liked the sun or that the sky was blue so many times during your (however many) year relationship and all those other things you now realize were ridiculous to think about. In fact, as those clouds begin to dissipate and lift, you might even see things you didn’t see before, and start realizing that this short term pain in exchange for long term happiness is much better than long term pain in exchange for mediocre happiness. You are not meant for mediocre. Then one day, you’ll delete the pictures, and you’ll delete that entire text thread. Yep. The entire thing. And once that happens, friend, you’ve just reached the top of that mountain and your imminent descent is actually where YOU. WILL RISE. You will mount with wings like eagles. You just have to hold on and keep going long enough to get there.

• Listen to me: You WILL get through this. But in my opinion (based 100% on experience) these things are crucial to your survival:

1. Your faith – whatever that means to you. My faith is in God. Yours may be different. Whatever your faith is, even if it’s simply the faith that one day it won’t hurt this much, cling tightly to it. Both hands. White knuckle. Death grip. For dear life.

2. Your family and friends, or random people, or strangers. Mine were (and still are) crucial to my survival and wellbeing. Those people who come and MAKE YOU get out of the house (greasy hair, no makeup and soft-cup bra that is basically only for decoration because it surely isn’t supportive, unlike your friends) even if it’s just to ride in the car with them while they run errands, or the ones who come and bring pizza and wine — THEY ARE YOUR PEOPLE. Find them. Love them. Be loyal to them. Keep them. These are your “ride or dies.”

3. Laughter. I can’t stress this enough. Through your swollen, almond-sliver eyes, watch as much mind-numbing hilariousness as often as possible. Netflix. Amazon. Hulu. Memes on the internet. Cat vs cucumber videos. Videos of people doing ‘what the fluff’ challenge with their dogs. Spongebob. The Office. Basically any of the Disney movies. Something funny. Trust me on this step, because one day, you’ll hear this sorta familiar weird sound escape your cake hole and you’ll realize you can still actually laugh.

4. Get up. Dress up. Show up. Every day. Sometimes, that may feel like too much. That’s ok. Two out of three ain’t bad. Get up. Show up. Even if that’s all you do that one day, it’s probably more than you thought you were capable of, and it makes it easier the next day, and the next day, and the day after that.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, by Colette Werden:

“It’s OK if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.”

• Listen to me: The WHOLE. DAMN. FIRE.

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A short poem… deep in the feelings tonight.

I want so badly to hate you for what you did to me. To us.

I want to scream and throw things.

I want to curse your name.

I want to hate you.

I want to go back to the night we met and un-fall for you.

I want to go back to every time I found myself falling even more in love with you and stop myself from doing it.

I want to feel the sun on my face and not immediately think of you.

I want to go to a beach someday and not be heartbroken that your feet aren’t in the sand next to mine.

I want to see an eagle and not feel sadness for what it meant to us, which is now all but lost.

I want to cook while listening to music and not ache for the many times we did that together, stealing kisses…flirting.

I want to be cooking in the kitchen in my underwear, dancing, moving my hips to the music, sipping wine, oblivious to the fact that you’re staring at me, completely in my zone, and have that moment when I catch you, catching me, and have that moment of “hey… I see you… where have you been all my life?”

I want to go back and un-believe everything I ever believed about you.

I want to forget you, as if that would somehow make the hurt stop.

I know that it won’t.

I can’t un-remember.

I can’t un-feel.

I can’t turn off my feelings, as much as I wish I could.

I want to un-plan our future.

I want to un-dream our dreams.

I want to un-need you.

I want to un-want you.

I want to un-love you.

But I can’t.

Not today.

The Thing About Pain

It’s much easier to say “my arm is broken” than “my heart/spirit is broken.”  Both can be detrimental to one’s health and well-being. Speaking from my own experience, both hurt like hell.

A broken arm receives immediate attention. It is thoroughly checked over, x-rayed, set back in place and in a cast so that it heals properly. It might even require surgery – going deep inside to fix the problem so that it can heal the way it is supposed to. I fell and broke my arm once, and it was evident to everyone within earshot that it was extremely painful. It hurt so badly that all I could do was cry and cuss. (And then I apologized to the doctor and nurses for cussing.) It became top priority to make sure that broken bone was taken care of and set up for proper healing. THAT was a pain you could see.

The latter, however… it is harder to see, but it is real. It is painful. It needs to heal. But, attention? No, not usually. It’s too uncomfortable. No one wants to talk about emotional pain. But yet, we walk around in a world full of broken human beings. Broken children, who will become broken adults. Broken adults, who, as children, were not set up for proper healing. Broken adults who didn’t become broken until they were older, but still have not healed. No one wants to dig deep and fix that pain. Hell, most people don’t even want to talk about it, let alone DO something about it. So, there in the darkness, it sits. There, it festers. It infects other parts of our lives. It infects other people. Why? Because hurt people HURT PEOPLE.

There’s a saying that if we all put all of our problems out in one big pile for all to see, we’d probably gladly pick our own problems back up. Meaning, someone always has it worse than we do, and we should just keep our own problems to ourselves. But does that mean we just don’t talk about them?

There are a lot of people out there hurting, pretending that they are not. Because they feel they can’t possibly expose that raw, imperfect side of themselves to the world ruled by social media likes, follows and shares. That’s not shareable. That isn’t likeable. We don’t talk about those things. Pain is not pleasant. It is not pleasant to experience, and it is not pleasant to talk/read/hear about. By definition, pain is physical or emotional suffering. It is everywhere. It surrounds us as does the air we breathe. Yet no one wants to talk about it, or admit their own. And my friends, THAT is a problem.

Because here’s the thing about pain: It becomes comfortable.

(What did she just say?) Yes. You read that correctly. Pain becomes comfortable when you’re not even looking.

I am speaking from my own experience here, but maybe you can relate in some way. I have chronic low back pain, bursitis in both hips, disc issues, etc. I’ve had back surgery. I have had multiple steroid injections for the pain. The injections contain steroids, anti-inflammatories, and a numbing agent (similar to Novocaine at the dentist.) They are NOT pleasant to receive, in fact they hurt like an S.O.B. But there is this blissful window of a few hours afterwards, when the numbing agent is in full effect. Due to the location of the injections, it’s almost like having an epidural for a short while. It is in that absence of ANY feeling that I most realize just how much pain I have been living with. The extent of the pain numbs the true extent of the pain.

Let that last part sink in for a moment. It is only when I am completely NUMB that I can acknowledge the full extent of my constant PAIN. My pain is replaced with a new, foreign feeling: relief.

My relief forthat particular pain comes in the form of spinal and hip injections. Other people have pain (physical or emotional) that can only be numbed with alcohol…or drugs…or self-harm…or sexual promiscuity, etc.

But I have a confession. I am doing my part in starting a conversation that is uncomfortable. It is mostly for my own catharsis, but also to let you know that you are NOT alone.

I have come to realize, and now freely admit, that I am seriously lacking in the emotional pain relief department, and this is a pain that I have carried for far too long. Sure, I have band-aids for it. Emotional Tylenol, if you will. My family, my love, my friends, writing, making funny videos, photography, creating something with my hands, be it painting, cooking, baking, decorating, organizing, etc. But even when you see me at my “best” – my funniest – my most supportive of others – my happiest – my most loving … it is there. In fact, it is very possible that in those moments, it is its loudest. I realize that may not make sense to most people.

It has been there for so long, that it is actually comfortable to me now. It happened when I wasn’t even looking. It came right into my life when I was too young to stop it, and ever since, it has just attached itself to me and started calling the shots. I didn’t even notice. I always knew the pain was there, but I became a master at functioning with it. I am a master, still. But it’s getting harder to keep that title.

Going back into my youth as far as I can remember, I can’t recall a time that I WASN’T scared and anxious most of the time. About what? Everything. I experienced trauma at a very young age. Young, but old enough to remember. I’m not ready to go into that just yet, but it was legitimate, deep, life-altering trauma in every sense of the ugly word.

Now, science and medicine can tell you what trauma (and the lingering stress and anxiety) does to the mind and body over time. I can tell you that every bit of it is true. It is hell. It is exhausting.  IT. IS. PAIN.  I can honestly say that it has affected every single aspect of my life. My personal relationships, friendships, my health, the way I parent my children, the way I mentally and verbally respond to certain things, my work performance, my self-image, self-esteem, self-worth, how my body reacts to things, my social life, how I handle stress, how I treat my own body…the list could go on and on.

I know what you’re thinking – she needs counseling, she needs to give it to God. Oh, I’ve been to counseling – several counselors as an adult; nothing as a child. I’ve TALKED about it to counselors (and one pastor) ‘til I’m blue in the face. And trust me when I say that I have screamed and begged and pleaded with God to just – TAKE IT. I don’t want it anymore, and I can’t carry it anymore. And I feel like He is giving me a clear message that He indeed WILL, but I have some work to do first. I can finally let go of the pain, but I need to bring others on my journey. Maybe that’s you? Maybe it’s someone you know. (He hasn’t told me that part yet.)

And, lest you fear you’ve stumbled upon a holy-rolling religious fanatic, let me assure you – I am neither. But I am deeply spiritual. I believe in God. I believe in salvation. I pray. But I do not go to church (gasp!). I do all of this from wherever I am, because HE is wherever I am. And yes, I talk to God – not like most people probably do, but I like to think He and I have our own little way of communicating. I imagine he face-palms and shakes his head at me a majority of the time. I talk to Him more like I would talk to a person in my living room over coffee. Me to God: “I’m sorry – you want me to do WHAT now?” For instance, I recently had a very vivid dream about a girl with whom I went to high school. I think I’ve seen her exactly twice in the twenty-three years since we graduated. As clear as day, I got the message that I was supposed to reach out and tell her about the dream, because she needed to hear it. Me to God again: “Ummm, have we met? It’s like you don’t even know me. Huh uh. Wrong girl. Not doing it. Next topic, please.” So, I ignored it for about a week. Then, just the other day, I woke up and was like “OK, FINE!! WHATEVER, GOD” (in my most teenager-y, whiniest voice, arms folded, heavy on the eye-roll.) So I reached out to her. And as you can imagine, it started out like “Hi, ok so I don’t usually do this – in fact, I have never done this, but here’s what I got… Oh, and P.S. Please don’t think I’m a lunatic…” She was moved to tears, thanked me profusely for reaching out and said she needed to know she was not alone. (Wipes forehead) PHEW!! Thank God! No, literally, me to God again: “thank you, God. I was a small blessing to her today. Let me be that every day to someone. “

But I digress. Back to the discussion at hand… THE PAIN.

Counselors, check. Pastor, check. Ask for God’s help, check. And yet I hold on. Because it is comfortable to me. My biggest pain is also my comfort and my oldest friend. It knows what no one else knows. It’s been a part of me for so long, that I truly cannot grasp what it would feel like to be free of it. Who am I if I’m not hurting? Who am I if I’m not broken? Who am I if I’m not consumed by grief? Who am I if I’m not anxious and worried all the time? The answer to that is – I don’t know, but I’m going to find her. Step one in doing so is admitting my pain, my trauma, my grief, my loss. I refuse to allow another day/week/month/year/decade of my life pass by, suffering in silence, praying that one day, it will just go away.

My experience matters. My trauma matters. My pain matters. My suffering matters. I matter. I am not alone. YOU are not alone.

In order for the woman to heal, she has to bring to light, that which the girl has kept in the dark for far too long. Heal the girl, and the woman will appear and reach her full, God-given potential and purpose.

Starting Over and Stopping.

I’m going to apologize now for the (very uncharacteristic) serious tone of this particular post, and for the delay since my last post.  This one has been in the works for a couple weeks.  I promise the next one will be more like my usual comedic self. So, without further ado…

I was reminded recently by my 8 year old daughter just how simple love really is, or rather, should be.  With timing that couldn’t have been more perfect, she gave me a little handmade card that said “I love you” on the front, and on the inside, it said “I love you because…” and she put the following: “you help me get through problems, you make supper, and you love me.” Nowhere in there did it say “because you buy me cool things and take me places all the time” – just the basic needs:  kindness, food, and love.

Do you even remember when it was that simple? When it used to be as easy as “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” When people said “I love you” – and meant it, in every sense of the word.  A time long before a rampant divorce rate. Long before social media. Long before societal pressures reached a fever pitch. I’m talking about way back when…like when your grandparents fell in love, and even though they went through some really awful times, they stayed together, no matter what, until the day they died.

Somewhere between the innocence of an 8 year old and becoming an adult, we (grown-ups, collectively) have royally screwed things up when it comes to love and relationships.

When you break it down to its simplest form, the basic needs haven’t really changed. We all need a little kindness – both to have it and show it to others, and to receive it from others.  We all need “food” – as in, “to be fed” – to have every part of our being taken care of.  To be fed emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially, professionally, etc.   And we all need LOVE. Plain and simple.

So how did it get so damn complicated?  Why is it so hard for two human beings to make it work? Do we get caught up in infatuation and idealism? Do we expect too much? Do we put too much pressure on each other? Do we get strangled by envy? By selfishness? Are we consistently fooled by the proverbial “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome?  Do we just give up too easily?

I think it’s all of the above.

As a woman who’s been through a divorce with young children involved, I speak from the heart when I say there have been times in my life over the last few years when I honest-to-God thought that the heartache just might do me in.  I’ve dropped to my knees in utter despair, cried until I gagged, thrown my fists up in anger as I cried and screamed through clenched teeth, re-lived every second of my failed marriage to try and find an answer for what happened, cried to my mother/sister/best friend that I just didn’t think I could survive it. It was the worst heartache I have ever been through. And mine wasn’t just an “over and done” type of pain. It was a long, drawn-out, holding on out of desperation – kind of pain. The kind that leaves scars.

I tried to limit my heartache to when my girls weren’t with me, and keep it together when they were around, but when the waves of emotion come, sometimes you just have to ride them.  I recall one particular night when everything just got the best of me all day long, all week long, and culminated with a gallon of milk dropped on the floor only to splatter all over every square inch of my little apartment kitchen.  I was literally crying over spilled milk…and a failed marriage, and feeling sad for my girls to have to go through all this, and feeling broken and alone and exhausted in every sense of the word.  Once I got the milk cleaned up, I just collapsed in a heap of sobs and was consoled – in the very same tender, loving, motherly manner in which I do them – by my two young daughters. 

That was a sort of wake-up call for me.  I told myself then and there that I would never allow them to see me that upset ever again – at least not if I could help it. And certainly not when a man was the source of my hurt.

I know that pain and heartache is not unique to me.  It is universal.  And no matter the source of the pain and heartache, the thought of making yourself vulnerable to ever being put through the same situation again is nothing short of terrifying. Becoming serious with someone new is hard.  It’s hard not to think they are going to do the same crap to you that the one before them did.  It’s hard not to group them into the same categories that everyone before them has been grouped into.  Starting over is hard and it sucks. But it’s a necessary part of living and growing.

I certainly have said “never again” more times than I care to discuss — I’ll never let someone in my heart like that again. I’ll never trust someone like that again. I’ll never believe another man.  If this relationship fails, I’m done for good, I swear it. I will never do it again. Ever.  I say that, but I know myself too well, and know that I won’t actually give up on finding the right person for me. I like the good parts of an honest, healthy relationship far too much to say “never again” and actually mean it.

Often times, when I am at my lowest of lows as far as loneliness, it’s usually in a crowded room full of people – surrounded by people, but not that ONE who just gets me. The one who knows what makes me tick, and can read my face from across that crowded room – and either shoot me a wink and a smile that speaks volumes, or know from my expression that it is time to wrap things up so we can go home. The one that looks at me across the room and just feels content in the idea of me being his girl – whatever that means. The one who would walk across that crowded room just to give me a kiss on my forehead. The one that I can trust – trust with my heart, trust with my mind, trust to let into my life – and know that, no matter what the day brings each of us, at the end of it, I can rest assured in the fact that I’m the only woman he wants to be with, and that he cares what I do and how I feel.  And vice versa. I don’t want someone perfect.  I want someone perfect FOR ME.   

I’m not foolish enough to think that available men my age aren’t going to have some of the very same wounds I have. Most are going to be divorced, and from what I have observed in the men I’ve dated or talked to, a large number of them were cheated on.  That wasn’t an issue in my marriage, but I have experienced it in my dating life. And I absolutely hate – no, I detest – that feeling.  The feeling when you first find out about it.  And then every time you think about it afterward (and get re-pissed, re-hurt).  Even if it happens before the relationship has been clearly “defined”.  It still hurts. It takes awhile to come back from that. But WANTING to come back from that is key to being successful at it.  If you want to move past it, you will.  But it may take time.

If you’re wondering what my point is, don’t feel bad – I’m wondering the same thing.  I know what’s in my heart and my head, but sometimes, getting it all to come out of my fingertips onto this keyboard is difficult to do.

I guess what I’m getting at, is that we all just need to STOP.  Stop over-complicating everything.  Stop taking people and things for granted.  STOP passing up something or someone really great because we think it might be just a teensy bit better on the other side.  I’m not saying we need to become stagnant in life and settle or lower our standards.  I’m saying that, if you find yourself sitting back in your life or your relationship and thinking “man…this is pretty damn good.  I’m not sure what I did to deserve this, but I like it” – then just stop.  Stop there.  Stop and take it all in and just…let it be. 

Don’t run when things are going good just because “that’s what you do.”  Don’t walk away for a possible “what if?” Stay right where you are and just take it all in for a bit. And whatever it is – a relationship or something else – if it’s working, do everything in your power not to screw it up.  And if you do, then do everything in your power to fix it and make it right. Because the person you hurt may have put everything in his/her entire being on the line in letting you in in the first place. It’s not easy, but in my heart of hearts, I have to believe that in the end, it’s going to be worth it.  

I read something the other day that kind of stuck with me. I’ve already forgotten where I read it, but I can’t forget what it said: 

“Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”

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