Stories By Strangers

On a recent adventure, I found myself standing behind an aged couple in the airport security line. I try my best to not insert myself into other people’s conversations, as refrain does NOT come naturally to me. ..and although I did not involve myself in their “discussion”, I FELT like I was right smack dab in the middle of it. You see, i gathered that the woman had left something behind on the way to TSA. I assume she went to retrieve it, and was taking a while to make it back.
*I didn’t have to assume that last part. Her husband, who had entered into the screening line with BOTH of their boarding passes instead of waiting patiently for (or helping) her, made it abundantly clear. Over and over again.

Now, I know traveling can be stressful, and it can bring out the worst in people’s personalities. However, my instinct (and involuntary visceral reaction) tells me: that wasn’t the case here. ..buuuuuut this story is less about them & more about me.

As I struggled to keep my mouth shut, listening to this man continue to shamelessly berate his wife, I started to look inside to see why I felt so strongly reactive about it. He gave me many opportunities to do so, as he was RELENTLESS – pausing for periods of time & starting up on her again. Each time I heard him tell her she was “stupid”, “slow”, how it was “her fault”, or any of the numerous attacks he spewed, I didn’t just feel sorry for her (and him). I felt a deep sense of grief & fear, that I couldn’t escape. At one point, I had to physically turn my body away from them, close my eyes, and breathe deeply. It wasn’t until I heard her response that I realized WHY I felt this way.

When she started apologizing & defending, and continuing to engage & cower to her hostile/unreasonable “partner”, it hit me like a FULL flight of baggage. Familiar images and stories flooded my mind. I held back tears thinking about the men (and the occasional women) in my life who have spoken to the people they love in this way; Consistently using their words and actions to cause powerful & talented people to feel inferior, useless, undervalued, and unworthy. I swallowed those thoughts back down deep and focused on getting through the terminal, to my gate, before the flight finished boarding.

FLIGHT

As the plane lifted off the runway, tears streamed down my face. I stopped pushing down the feelings & memories, and let it out. All of these experiences have shaped how I view myself, the world, other people, and at the root of it all: LOVE. I’ve watched people closest to me use words to build up and tear down, just as quickly as waves on the sand. I’ve learned that the choice is ours of how we use them & we also get to decide which beaches are dangerous, and choose which ones we want to frequent. I thought about how far I’ve come, and how far I still have to go.

I know I still struggle with my own value & validation, because I often seek for it in other people. I am sometimes that woman in the crowded line, letting a companion rip her apart in front of strangers ..AND STILL APOLOGIZING. I am sometimes her husband, picking every little thing apart in the people I love most, because I’m insecure in myself. On that plane, I took a moment to forgive myself for my mistakes, and forgive others for theirs. We do the best we can, until we know better. Then we get to choose to do better.

Keeping my traveling companion’s feelings in mind, I didn’t make a scene in the crowded line, but I do wish I had made it through security in time to have a private conversation with the two of them:

  • I would have told her she is amazing & she doesn’t have to defend him when he’s wrong. She doesn’t have to respond to his venomous accusations, or give that any place in her heart or mind. I would tell her it’s ok to walk away from things that are not safe or healthy, even if you love them.
  • I would ask him if he had a daughter, and if that’s how he wants someone to speak to & treat her. EVER. I’d ask him if he can forgive himself for whatever it is that brews up that hate inside him.
  • I’d ask them both if this is what they want & I’d tell them to do what makes them happy. WHATEVER that is!
  • I’d put one hand in hers, and the other on his shoulder. I’d bow my head for a moment of silence. With tears streaming down my face, I’d lift my head, look them in the eyes & say, “You ALWAYS have a choice, and you can change at ANY moment. It can be EXACTLY what you want it to be. You CAN experience pure joy, regardless of what you’ve done or what’s been done to you!”

I didn’t get to say ANY of that to them, but they did allow me to remember to say it to myself. Life is too short to be sucked into that ocean of toxicity! WE GET TO CHOOSE!

Today, I choose to let go of all of the beaches I’ve stopped visiting, and build my own sand castles wherever I can.

 

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People vs. Things

I like things.

Cute things. Shiny things. Pretty things. New things. Old things.
Cool things. Nerdy things. Techy things. Nostalgic things. Clean things.
Smelly things. Art things. Organized things. Musical things. Quiet things.

THINGS.

I value people MORE than things.
Meaningful relationships & experiences are important to me.
Memories matter.

My hope is that my things will only be the vessel for expanding my relationships & creating experiences.

If my happiness is merely based on the things I have, I will live unfulfilled.
I do not want to live my life by what I have to get, but instead by what I have to GIVE.

To me:  People > Things

Status

So, this year I beat my standing record for longest time since last posting here. I’ll be drafting my award speech after I complete my next post. But don’t worry.. I won’t be finished with that until at least the time my kids are in college!

It Won’t Be Easy.. but it will be OK

It’s been almost one year since my last post. I have at least 9 unposted drafts, which I started but never finished. I have had a LOT on my plate and on my mind. Some people have told me I should have been posting during all that’s been happening, but I’ve felt like I’ve had so much to focus on that I couldn’t effectively nail down ONE coherent thing to articulately write about. I have had some time to sit down and reflect on all of it. I’ve taken a look at the past year as a whole, gained some insight, and am finally ready to let it out, and move on.
Do you know how you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
You might want to grab a seat, make a sandwich, and pour yourself some wine (or whiskey).. cuz this one could be a doozie.

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No matter what happens today, I’ll be OK..

A few months ago, I was introduced to the brave & inspiring story of Heather Von St. James, and a few clicks later I was watching this video, trying not to let my kids see me cry. “In 2005, at the age of 36, and only three months after giving birth to [her] beautiful daughter Lily Rose, [she] was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.” She was given just 15 months to live.

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My first 90 days (and beyond)..

In the last 6 months, I have started a new job, redecorated & reorganized our home, gone off the budget deep end & then gotten back on board (maybe a couple times), and most importantly: tried to work on myself, my family, and my relationships. Let me start by saying, I feel blessed EVERYDAY to be in the position I am. Maybe because I have previously had imperfect situations for comparison, or because I’m just at a point in my life where I don’t want to be bogged down by negatives. I know I don’t keep my home as clean as some people think I should. Yes, I don’t always get the time I want with my family or friends. I probably yell at my children more than I am proud to admit, and I don’t give my husband as much attention as he TRULY desires. BUT, I have some of the GREATEST people in my life & I enjoy EVERY moment I get to share with them (virtually or in REAL LIFE)! And sure, there are some people I sometimes have to interact with professionally that I would care NOT to.. but, for the most part, I LOVE my coworkers, my job, the company, and my boss! I am undeservedly blessed beyond explainable gratitude!

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