Tag Archives: change

Love Never Dies

Love. A tiny word with so many variations. Romantically, often confused with infatuation. In a family, often taken for granted. In friendship, sometimes forgotten over the years. Does love in any of its shapes or sizes ever truly die? Or, once planted, is it a seed that never exhausts its generative power?

I’d be less than honest if I said this was a purely theoretical post. I feel firmly planted in the no column for the first question and the yes column for the second. Today, I revel in the fact that the love I feel for a friend is as true, strong, and full of acceptance and forgiveness as I always hoped it would be.

There’s not a person on this planet that doesn’t struggle with something. For some people it’s drugs and alcohol, for others depression and emotions, still others fight disease, apathy, and even their own selfish nature. Watching a person you love struggle can be so painful that at some point you may choose to turn away, hitting that hard to accept realization that the only love that can help your friend is the love that they need to feel for themselves. In loving, knowing the limits of your own personal power is both liberating and devastating.

I’ve been in that place of tension with one friend for almost ten years. Unable to be present because of the self-destructive choices I could not influence, control, or change. I gave up a physical presence in their life, but held onto the seed of love in my heart. I prayed for their recovery, I sent small messages of love and encouragement usually around birthdays, I cried many times hoping against hope that they might feel a small fraction of the love I had for them, for their self.

And then, it happened. I started noticing small changes. Little things that gave me hope. I tested the waters, looking for old clues and praying that I wouldn’t find any, knowing that I needed to respect the fact that my lack of physical presence in the past years may have impacted how much they wanted to share with me. Knowing that though my love never went away, it may not seem that way in the light of their new world.

Yesterday, I was able to stand next to my friend and know that they were in a good place. Finally I was able to set free the love that had prayed, hoped, and mourned for this person. I was able to see the beginnings of confidence and self loving that I couldn’t find for them, but could only be found through their own journey and struggle.

In giving those hello and goodbye hugs, I was overwhelmed by the unalterable and eternal qualities that all variations of real love share. My love and friendship for this person exists now, just as strongly as when I first felt it. It is a gift and seed God planted in my heart when I was twelve years-old and though it’s grown and changed over 27 years, it’s survived. And I believe it always will. Love to you, Friend. Always.

Are we really chained to our past?

There is a me that used to exist.  I can access her thoughts and feelings.  I can remember things she said and did.  What I can’t do is feel her influence in my choices any longer.  I’ve been mulling this post since June 2012, when over dinner with a friend, I proclaimed that I was not affected by the things that happened to me in my past.  What I meant? I have experienced some things that perhaps others would use to define themselves throughout their lifetime, but that I no longer think about, or consider relative to my present day identity.

The years I spent claiming her as my identity were many.  Viewing each new thing that happened to me through the lens of her experience was common. However, with the passing  years I used her lens less. 

Today I can explain to you why I saw things the way I did.  I can show you how my past self influenced many of my choices for good and for bad, but what I can’t do is say any of my current life decisions manifest from those actual events. They may manifest from values formed or personality traits honed in the years following said experiences, but not from the actual experiences in anyway.

 I understand when people say we are shaped by our past. The experiences of my 15 year-old self and the struggles for me to find meaning in what I went through and how I moved on and learned from them have changed me, but I am who I am in this present existence.  My body is made from completely new cells than the cells that made her body.  She only exists in the synaptic connections forged in my brain. 

I am no longer that person, nor do I wish to be. I can look at her objectively.  I can see her fears. I can feel compassion for her pain and understanding for all of her rash choices and mistakes, but I am done owning her mistakes.  There is no part of me beyond a memory that would think, act, or feel the same way that I did at that age or the years following. 

Some would say it’s delusional to think that I am a different person, but I wholeheartedly  believe people change everyday and choose who they are. I no longer look at her story and use it to explain why I do things or how I feel in the present.  It can explain some of my past, but the story stopped resonating for me long ago. I choose to be the woman I am today knowing that the woman I will be tomorrow may or may not use the lens of my current self in the future. And I feel free and really good with that.

Leaving the “Waiting Place”

I remember reading Oh the Places You’ll Go when I was seventeen, a graduation gift from a cherished first love complete with obligatory love letter of platitudes appropriate for the occasion. I skimmed it, quickly surmising  that said first love believed in me and I would definitely be going places in my life sooner rather than later. Looking back, I wish I had paid more attention to the twists in the road of life Dr. Seuss so aptly described. If I had, perhaps I wouldn’t have lingered as long as I did in the “waiting place”.

I think we’re fed a lot of bull as we grow up about what our lives should look like.  Some people wade through the manure easier than others.  An ailment from which I suffered that made it harder to get clarity was that of being a people pleaser.  I did a good job at faking independence and looking like I was making choices for myself but really, I went to work for the CHURCH after twelve years of Catholic school.  I was addicted to approval.

I guess I just thought that everything would fall into place and I’d be a teacher, get married, have kids and I don’t know what…that’s what all my friends were doing and I was sure that’s what everyone wanted me to do, too.  So I waited because, let’s face it – sometimes the waiting place isn’t that bad a place to hang.  I was never lonely. I was never bored.  But I was also never proactive when it came to really making my life what I wanted it to be.  I guess what I thought was “just happening” with my friends getting married and starting families was really them making choices in their lives.  And working and teaching religion was easy and fun, so I lived in the waiting place – stuck in a nice existence where I never made a choice because everything was good enough.

It wasn’t until I started writing a few years ago that I finally saw the path out of that waiting place.  It was illuminated by this creative urge that started blinking off and on.  At first it was more off than on.  Now it’s more on than off, but it’s still not as steady as I’d like.  I need it to shine bright enough that I can’t find my way back to the waiting place.  Writing woke me up and helped me say, “Wait, I never really knew if I wanted to get married or start a family and I never really wanted to teach religion my whole life.” So maybe I need to start choosing.

The actual choices I’ve made in the last few years have been full of risks I never would have taken in the waiting place.  Writing conferences, directing, performing, teaching marketing in addition to religion…they’ve all been steps away from that old molasses swamp.  I’m starting a Masters in Educational Technology in the spring and I’ve finished two books (although still haven’t made the choice to actively work towards publication).  I’ve worked on myself both inside and out.  I’m in a good place now and it’s one where I really can’t wait to see what MY future will hold. I’m leaving the waiting place behind.  Guess I should dig out that book and see what’s next!