Bright-Sided

limitationsdemotivator
My favorite demotivator — because it’s actually about perseverance. Get it?


There’s a book called “Bright Sided.” I haven’t read it. But I know what it’s about, and I identify. I am the one who’s grateful for having my life and my health when my whole house has blown down. But…

After years of feeling like a negative person, because all the positivity crap bothered me, I finally realized what’s missing from that bright-side message. We are skipping acknowledgment. Yes, if you lost your home in Hurricane Harvey you might feel lucky to escape with your life and family, but that does not diminish the fact that you lost all you possess on this earth. So often, we respond to people’s tragedy with, “yes, but…” blah blah blah all the things you should be grateful for.

We skip the part that recognizes their pain. There is ALWAYS some way things could’ve been worse – always something to be grateful for. But where is it written that we can’t be both grateful and grief-stricken at the same time? So, the next time someone you know is going through something hard, resist the urge to point out the positives before you acknowledge their situation. A statement as simple as, “Man, that sucks,” can go a long way. People’s pain and struggle needs to be recognized before they can really move on.

I KNOW this. I refused to acknowledge my own pain for decades, and instead jumped over that phase to the “how am I going to fix it” phase. That doesn’t work so well. Don’t skip the acknowledgment. Sometimes, life is hard and just because someone else has it harder, doesn’t mean you’re not in pain. That pain doesn’t exclude you from personal responsibility, but it does deserve to be recognized. So say “hello” to your pain, or someone else’s. Look it in the eye. Really see it. For as long as it needs to be seen. THEN, get to what’s next.

Broken – A Love Note

73418340 - abstraction of broken relationships. a lot of torned pieces of paper

When I saw Jason, I was broken.

You couldn’t tell.

I was married.

I got up and went to work every day, I went out with friends on the weekends. And sometimes, when I was driving home by myself after work, I would get a sensation — something’s missing. I hadn’t a clue what it was, so I stayed busy and ignored it.

I had friends but not really. Javier’s friends had become mine by default, and I neglected to keep up with my real ones. Javier did all the social planning, and I went along. Or not, if I was too tired and needed alone time. He never understood when I didn’t want to go out  — the plight of the extrovert and the introvert.

When I met Jason,

I had selfish thoughts.

I had dated a lot of people. I was always trying to fix them — make them happier, shore up their self esteem, give them the gift of me. In Jason, I didn’t see a person I could fix; I saw someone I admired,

a person who could help fix me.

He GOT me. And when he didn’t get me, he worked to understand. I’ve seen people look at me in confusion, anger, exasperation and complete bafflement when I cried for no apparent reason, but Jason was the first person to knit his brow as I tried, in my bungling way, to explain myself. I’ll never forget the first time I saw that look on his face, and I realized he wasn’t trying to win the argument, he was trying to understand my perspective.

At the time I left Javier for Jason, everyone in my life was shocked and confused. And now I finally have the words to explain it.

I saw a chance to reclaim myself.

Jason is always his true self, unapologetically; I wanted that. I needed space to explore who I am, and I knew he could help me with it. I could say Jason helps  me be the best version of myself, but more accurately, he helps me be the TRUE version of myself. I can own it all: I am a brilliant writer. I am a shitty driver. I love gardening, and I hate doing taxes. I am a feminist, and I don’t want to be a lawyer or an engineer. I am an artist who does art for the process of it. I am irritable when people interrupt my thinking.

I cry sometimes because the world is so confusing and beautiful.

Jason accepts it all without judgment. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t sometimes get annoyed with me, but I can feel that he doesn’t wish to change my true nature, whatever that is in the moment.

Someone told me once, to solve a problem, you must deconstruct it, step back, then reconstruct it. This is what I did with my life when I was thirty. I had flash of clarity while standing in the shower, shortly after my birthday. It said, in a convicted whisper…

 You don’t need these people. 

So, I stepped out of the life I had built, and the house came crashing down behind me. I left Javier, left our friends, and a short while later, left my job. I was in no doubt that it was the right thing, but to say it was hard is laughable.

It was excruciating

like child birth, coming and going in waves for years. When the pain would subside momentarily, I always knew it would come back. I was giving rebirth to myself — the person I am at my core, the person I was as a child, before I shielded myself from the harshness the world can be.

I am empathic; I feel things deeply and sometimes even mistake others’ emotions for my own. When you are that way, being in the world can be painful, so I built a shell to protect me and wore it for so long, I forgot it wasn’t really me.

In my reconstruction, I continue to discover more of myself every day. I have reconnected in true, deep ways with my family and friends. I’ve made new friends — ones I chose not by circumstance, but because I saw a kindred spirit in them.

Javier and I had tried to have children, but I miscarried no less than four times. Talk about painful. But I didn’t know…

how could I give birth to anything new, when I had yet to find myself? 

Now, I have two children. They are pieces of me and pieces of Jason, and they are their own selves, unique from anyone else in all the world. Maybe they will grow up knowing that, unapologetically, and not have to re-find themselves.

I am not filled with regret — not for blowing up our lives twelve years ago. I recently read some things Javier wrote, and it struck me that he and I have evolved into similar life philosophies. We couldn’t have gotten there together, though. We held each other back.

Javier was my friend before we were lovers, and my only regret is the loss of that friendship. When we first started dating, we were concerned about ruining what we already had, and in the detritus of our divorce, I used to joke through my tears that we DID ruin our friendship; it just took a lot longer than anyone thought.

I am writing this because I finally get it.

When I left Javier, everyone in my life was shocked, because I hadn’t shared my struggles with them — struggles I hadn’t even admitted to myself. When I left, it was my first intuitive act in many years, and as much as I tried, I couldn’t explain it to anyone at the time.

I left because, even though I looked happy, even though I told myself I was happy,

I was suffocating.

I was finally running out of air under that shell I thought was me. Jason peeked under the shell, offered me his hand and made me feel safe enough to come out.

What I always felt the worst about was blind-siding Javier — ripping the pretty bandage of our marriage off so abruptly and leaving him raw and reeling. He was better off without me, but the end doesn’t justify the means.

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to grow up, to start my life, get married, have children. I was running on logic and hormones and had

forgotten I even had a thing called intuition.

My regret is that I didn’t know myself very well, that I didn’t make better decisions in the beginning. My regret is staying under that shell until I was gasping for breath so desperately, I couldn’t do anything but throw it off and run for the hills, regardless of whom I took out in the process. That was always my nature, though — to sit there and take it, to stay in the relationship until it sucked all the life out of me, and then abruptly leave, the need to get out privately overwhelming me. They were always left standing there in the aftermath, wondering what the hell just happened.

I am reclaiming my true self. I am being that person unapologetically, and it’s a good thing, not just for my own happiness but for everyone around me, who will no longer be totally baffled by my seemingly random actions — those bursts of self that only came out when I could no longer hold it in. Now I am all “burst.” And I am not a writer, a mother, an ex-wife, a spouse, an introvert, an organizer. I am me. I am April. I am a little weird, and you don’t have to like it. I’m okay with that.

 

Photo Credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_freedommaster’>freedommaster / 123RF Stock Photo</a>