Lent 2014-24: Letting Go Of What Was So I Can Celebrate What Is

To say that I have been blessed with the relationships I’ve had in my life would be a drastic understatement.  I have had the pleasure of having the most amazing family, some of the world’s best friends, fantastic teachers, and a plethora of significantly above average coworkers. I often marvel at how one person could find herself mixed in with so many stellar people.  However, even the best relationships don’t always last forever.  

A few years ago I found myself as part of a trio of friends.  Dave, Sarah, and I were inseparable (the names have been changed to prevent people from trying to poach my amazing friends).  Our names became interchangeable as people would use only one name to refer to us all.  For example, “Is Dave coming out tonight?”  actually meant, “Are Dave, Erin Elise, and Sarah coming out tonight?”  I look back now and I have no idea how we spent so much time together.  It honestly feels like we spent more hours together than there are hours in a day.  It was one of the most unique situations that I have ever found myself in.  

But, like everything else in life, we had a season and, one day, our season came to an end.  Sarah moved away and got married and had a new life that didn’t include Dave or I.  At first, she kept in touch.  She would call, send emails, mail care packages, but as the days went on the contact became less and less.  Dave and I tried to maintain our friendship but, whenever we were together, it always felt like something was missing.  We couldn’t find our stride because we spent so much time walking around the hole that was Sarah’s absence.   I became resentful of the fact that Sarah obviously kept in touch with Dave more than she did me.  She would invite Dave on vacations with her and her new husband and I would stew in anger because I never even received a call.  For his part, Dave would avoid bringing up Sarah’s name at all costs; this just caused even more of an issue because he would lie to me in some misguided effort to spare my feelings when I would ask if he had talked with her.  He wanted to protect me from the truth I already knew, Sarah hadn’t just moved, she had moved on from me.  I was a page in her story and my chapter was over.  I was heartbroken.  I was angry.  I felt like I wasn’t good enough.  And I didn’t understand why she picked him and not me.  I couldn’t handle being around Dave anymore, the resentment filled the hole where Sarah once stood and I knew that it wasn’t healthy.  So I ended my friendship with Dave.  

Many months passed of Dave and I not talking to each other.  We were cordial when we found ourselves in the same room, we would ask canned questions about each others families, but we never went too far below the surface.  We regained our status as individuals and no one expected me to show up at social engagements with Dave by my side.  I had moved on.  I stopped thinking about Sarah as I closed that room in my heart, she no longer belonged there.  

One day I needed a favor and Dave was the only person I could call. I knew that, even though we weren’t active friends, he still cared about me and would be there if I needed him, just as I would be there if he needed me.  He came over to my house and we spent a few hours together and then talked over some beers.  He casually brought up Sarah’s name and something strange happened, I didn’t cringe inside.  I found that I was completely unaffected by the fact that they were obviously still friends.  I had done it!!! I had successfully moved on and let go.  After that day I invited Dave out to dinner to thank him for his help.  We went out and had a nice meal and Sarah was no where to be found.  It was just the two of us, and it was lovely.  In the weeks that followed Dave and I spent more and more time together.  It wasn’t like our all consuming days of the past, it was moderate and balanced and healthy.  We found that we still had a place in each others lives.  

Tonight I realized that we achieved the impossible.  People spend so much time trying to fix bad relationships.  They just go at it and keep fighting thinking that that is the only way to make it work, when in reality, they are beating the relationship to death.  Dave and I were “walking the Green Mile” when I decided to walk away.  I could have kept at it, I could have fought, clawed and argued my way to the bitter end. I could have forced Dave into the new mold of whatever we were becoming, but I didn’t.  I said goodbye, I mourned what once was, and I let him go. I let us go.  When we eventually found our way back to each other, I knew that it would only work if we started from scratch.  We were no longer Dave, Erin Elise, and Sarah.  We were just Dave and Erin Elise.  And you know what?  We’re doing alright on our own.  

I still think about the old days from time to time and I am so thankful for the memories they gave me, but I know now that they are just that, memories.  Every now and then Sarah will cross my mind and I will reach out to her but only with the expectation of nothing in return.  Occasionally she will respond, more often than not she doesn’t, and that’s okay.  I know where we stand now and I know that, should Sarah ever want to be a part of my life again, she and I would have to start over from scratch because we can’t build a future on the past.  

 

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Lent 2014 – 23: A Woman With No Children Is…. Okay!

Last night I had the strangest dream.  My sister, mother, and I started this underground ring of baby savers.  We would find babies who were being abused or unwanted and channel them into loving homes.  It was dangerous work as we were basically kidnapping the babies from their abusive or neglectful parents and we were almost always on the run.  At one point in the dream my sister, Lauren, told me that I needed to stop getting attached to the babies.  So I took a baby and hid in another room as I cooed at it and soothed it for hours while I rocked it back and forth.  In my dream I remember thinking about how I cared so much for this baby’s well being, yet I still had no desire to have an actual baby of my own.  

When I woke up from the dream I had to laugh.  Even my dream self knew what I wanted, or didn’t want, out of life.  The funny thing is that I have spent my entire life telling people that I don’t want kids.  Aside from the fact that actually becoming pregnant would be incredibly time consuming and expensive as I suffer from PCOS and my ovaries have been shooting blanks for years, I’ve just never felt the desire to have children.  And you know what people always tell me when I tell them that I don’t want kids?  They say, “Just wait, you will change your mind.”  

Just wait?  Just wait and I will change my mind?  Are you serious?  Why is it so hard to believe that a woman, of any age, doesn’t want to have children?  People also say that having children will change my life.  Yeah, I know that, which is why I choose NOT to have children.  Maybe for some people they did change their minds. But I’m 32 years old, I’m fairly certain that my mind is made up.  My mind has always been made up.  Do you know what I played when I was growing up?  I played “Office”.  I would beg my mother to bring home unused forms from work so that I could fill them out.  I would fill out each form and pretend that I was the CEO of a company.  Or, if I’m really honest, that I was a secretary.  For some reason I thought that being a secretary would be a really sexy job.  I knew, even then, that I wanted to be a career woman. I wanted to manage things, I wanted to be in charge, but I didn’t want to be a mom.  

When I did play “House” I was either the mom or the baby.  I played the role of “baby” because I am the baby in my family, so it wasn’t much of a stretch.  And, before you go all crazy saying, “See, you did want to be a mom”, you must first understand something about my family.  I grew up in a single parent home where my mother was the last and final word on everything.  I didn’t have a male role model to show me a “woman’s place”, so I grew up thinking that women can control everything.  I played the role of “mom” because she was in charge and made all of the decisions.  As it turns out, to this day, I really like having the final say on things.  

I don’t look down on people who have children.  Having children is an excellent option for those who make the choice to have them. I don’t dislike children.  I find them to be horrible conversationalists and they are the worst to take to a party, but other than that, they are quite darling.  But I know, just as you knew that you wanted to be a mother/father, that I don’t want to be a mother.  And that’s okay!  I just really wish that people would stop telling me that I will change my mind.  Because here’s the thing, when you tell me that I will change my mind, you are suggesting that you know me better than I know me.  You don’t.  I have lived inside my head and heart for 32 years now and I think I have a pretty good handle on who I am.  Also, I know that people say things without really thinking about them, but in what other situations would this be appropriate?  How about when you finally land your dream job, instead of congratulations, I tell you, “Just wait, you’ll change your mind”.  Or, better yet, from now on when I get invited to weddings, I’m going to insist on giving a toast.  I will stand up, before all of the friends and family, and say “Way to go!  Just know though, that you will change your mind.”  

Lest you worry for my poor childless soul, don’t.  I’ll be just fine.  God filled me with love for my fellow man and I choose to live my life sharing that love.  So, while I would love to adopt teenagers who are about to “age out” of the system one day, I have no intention of being a conventional mother, so please stop telling me otherwise.  

Lent 2014-22: We All Have That “One” Friend….

…. you know the one I’m talking about.  The person who is fit beyond reason.  The person who has an ounce of body fat on them.  The person who plans and preps their meals on Sunday and then eats “clean” all week long.  This person spends hours in the gym working out and usually comes across as arrogant and judgmental.  They have an opinion about your body and they are not afraid to share it with you.  I don’t like this person.  

About six years ago I met this person.  We are about as opposite as we could get.  He looks forward to a night pumping iron and flexing his muscles and I look forward to a night of pot roast and a good book.  But we somehow managed to forge a friendship and shared a fondness for each other.  (I feel like I should also mention that when I say he is “that” guy, he really is “that” guy.  He is in great shape, he has a beautiful family, lives in a beautiful house, goes on fantastic vacations, and you generally just want to punch him in the throat and say, “Enough already”.)  I think we became friends because we worked on the same team and both spoke our minds.  If one of us had an opinion, you were going to know about it.  I think we respected that authenticity in each other.  That’s not to say that we didn’t both cross that line at times.  As if turns out, you don’t actually have to say everything you’re thinking every time you’re thinking it.  Huh!  So, we both had a lot of room for personal growth.  But isn’t that one of the best parts of friendship, being able to watch your friends grow?  

Over the years that I have known him, I have had the opportunity to see growth in him, and I am proud to call him my friend.  He doesn’t always say things in the right or most delicate way, and he doesn’t have much time for sugar coating things (in fact, he would probably judge you for putting sugar on your words, empty calories and all), but his message is always one of good intentions.  He genuinely wants people to be as healthy as they can be so that they can reap the rewards that a healthy lifestyle has to offer.  He has been criticized by many who say that he “fat shames” and maybe he does at times.  But let’s be honest, if you’re overweight and someone mentions it, no matter how delicate they are about the subject, you’re probably going to get defensive.  And that’s normal, especially if you are someone who struggles with your weight, you usually want to pretend that no one else notices it.  But if he does mention it, it is because he wants to help you change it, if that is what you want.  

I was reading a blog today by Dances With Fat.  The purpose of her blog is to increase size acceptance and to let people know that you can be healthy at any size, not just a size six.  One of her posts is called, The Penguin Principle (you should read it, it’s short and sweet).  She ends the post with this quote:
“To me the core of activism is to live from a perspective that works for you and share that perspective with others authentically and without any obligation.  They can take it or leave it – as long as they know that it’s an option, we’ve done our job.  We can never change someone’s mind – they have to do that, it being their mind and all –  but we may be able to expand it with a new idea, a new perspective, a new option and that is powerful.”

As I read this, I realized that this is what my friend is doing.  Hate him if you will, but he is simply giving people another option.  We sometimes get so stuck in our ways that we forget that another way is possible.  We pave a way through the forest of life and decide that our chiseled path is easier than cutting a new path through the brush and overhanging branches.  We become complacent in the lives that we are living and we forget that there is another way, that there are options.  So while he may be brash at times, I am glad that he is my friend and that he is here to remind me that I do have options, whether I choose them or not.  

Lent 2014-21: My Obsessive Streak

Over the years people have called me obsessive, anal, particular and perhaps I am.  I tend to like things a certain way (the right way) and I will occasionally get stuck on a thought or idea and I won’t be able to let it go.  Often times it happens with words and often times it happens at night.  Usually it has to do with the way a word is spelled.  I will be watching thoughts run through my head and a particular word will jump out at me and I will need to spell it as I think it.  Once that happens, I will usually spell that same word over and over and over and over again until I fall asleep in a fit of madness.  I don’t know.  Some may think it’s an issue, but I think we all have little things that we obsesses over.  I will also fixate on an idea and I won’t be able to let it go until I have researched it or discovered what the original idea links back to.  

Tonight is a prime example of that situation.  I was over at my friend’s house where I enjoyed a nice meal and an evening of catching up.  Throughout the night I played, pet, and loved on their German Shepard.  He and I are long time friends and I have spent many hours loving on him.  Tonight though, for whatever reason, I ended up having an allergic reaction to him and my eyes became incredibly swollen and itchy.  I knew it was time to head home when I was rubbing my eyes so hard that I was worried I was going to push them back inside my skull.  

So I got home, changed my clothes, washed my hands and face and took an allergy pill.  Now, the right thing to do would be to go right to bed.  I have a very low tolerance for allergy pills and they usually knock me out very quickly and then make me incredibly groggy the next day.  So I was on my way up to bed when I started thinking about something I read about allergies because I wondered why I reacted to the pooch this time, but I haven’t reacted to him any other time.  I know that you can be exposed to an allergen multiple times before your body has a reaction, but it still seems odd to me.  In fact, as I was driving home, I remember that a family friend had a German Shepard when I was growing up and I was horribly allergic to him as well.  But, that was many moons ago.  What I kept thinking about though was an article I read about being allergic to avocados, which I unfortunately am.  So, instead of going straight to bed, like I should, I am researching information on the internet about allergies.  

This is what Wikipedia has to say on the topic:

Some people have allergic reactions to avocado. There are two main forms of allergy: those with a tree-pollen allergy develop local symptoms in the mouth and throat shortly after eating avocado; the second, known as latex-fruit syndrome,[53] is related to latex allergy[54] and symptoms include generalized urticaria, abdominal pain, and vomiting and can sometimes be life-threatening.

I fall under the category of a tree-pollen allergy.  I tried to pretend that I wasn’t allergic to avocados, since I love guacamole so much, but then I ended up in the emergency room where I had to get a shot of cortizon and epinephrine.  After that little experience I accepted the fact and said goodbye to my beloved guac.  

What is interesting about my multiple food allergies is that they don’t always seem to make sense.  However, during my research tonight I discovered something interesting.  In the second scenario of allergic reaction to avocados, they mention the latex-fruit syndrome.   Now, I have never had a reaction to latex (thankfully), but I still decided to look into that aspect of the situation,.  What I found was rather interesting.  On the list of cross-reactive foods associated with a latex allergy, I have had an a mild to serious reaction to nine of the items.  This cross-reactive allergy is what I was searching for.  I remembered that I have had foods that I have been allergic to with just a mild reaction before, but when I consumed them during a different time of the year, my reaction was more sever.  And that’s how I stumbled on this handy little chart.   Basically, what it means for me, is that since I have seasonal and food allergies, I should be mindful of completely staying away from certain known allergens during peak seasonal allergy seasons.  While our bodies are incredibly smart, they sometimes get confused.  For example, if you have an allergy to grass pollen and are eating a melon during the height of grass pollen season, your body may have a reaction (known as a cross-reaction) to the melon because your body is mistaking it for the grass pollen.  So while you normally react to the grass pollen allergy with itchy eyes and a runny nose, the melon may cause you to have hives, an itchy or swollen mouth or tongue, and you could possible, if the situation is sever, go into anaphylactic shock.  

The point of this rant is to help you educate yourself about your allergies, of the allergies of your children if you have them.  Also, it was to allow me to do the necessary research so that I can go to bed without obsessing about cross-reactions all night long.  Although, now I’m probably just going to spell anaphylaxis over and over again until I fall asleep.  

(Side note: I’m not a doctor. This isn’t medical advice. I went to business school, don’t trust me when it comes to your health.)

Until tomorrow…

Lent 2014 – 20: Another Night, and Still No Words to Share

Ugh.  I understand now why most people only update their blogs once a week.  It is difficult to be funny, or inspiring, or introspective every single day of the week.  And really, I’m sure you would all tire of it rather quickly anyway.  So tonight, has been yet another night where I have poured over the thoughts of another.  I have read their words and found the meaning that was so elusive to me.  The blog I would like to share tonight is from Ruddy Ruminations.  Short bursts of intense feelings and insights.  

Check it out:

http://wp.me/2XOgJ

Lent 2014 – 19: And Then There Are Other Days….

Yesterday was tough.  While I was at work I had the opportunity to facilitate the donation of a very large amount of food to multiple nonprofit organizations.  The first two that came to mind were the USO (which sends care packages to our soldiers) and the American Red Cross (which can use the food at disasters they go to or to sell to raise money for the local chapters).  I was happy that I was able to help these organizations and, by extension, help the people that they help.  So I was feeling really good until the Red Cross showed up.  They backed their truck up and we begin to load it.  As I stood there looking at the truck, a wave of emotion came over me.  I learned so much about life when I was wearing that red cross on my chest.  I learned so much about myself as I worked in three different states as a member of the Red Cross Disaster Team.  But that was a long time ago, and that was a different life.  That was a life when my dreams and plans for myself involved making a difference in the world, when they involved helping people who asked for help, helping people who couldn’t ask for help, and helping some people who didn’t even know that they needed help.  

Man!  How did I get so far off course?  How did I end up doing nothing that I set out to do?  How am I 32 years old and still just coasting through life day by day?  The easy answer is that I changed my priorities.  I decided to pursue an education and I am so glad that I did.  I decided to move out of state, and I am grateful for the opportunity.  But why have I not made it back yet?  I was supposed to be back “home” by now; back “home” in the life that I thought I wanted.  I was getting really down on myself when I realized that there are people in my life who would never have been here if I didn’t take this path.  And, can I honestly look at any one of them and say, “I would trade you for a different life?”  No way!! I am here! There is a reason that I am on this path.  There is a reason why I diverged.  There is a reason why I feel this longing to get back to something that once was and something that could have been.  As I was ruminating on this an older coworker/friend of mine showed up and started chatting with me.  I shared with him some of these thoughts and he offered some helpful insight.  But, what really got to me is what he said as he walked away.  

For years I have longed to hear my father’s voice and listen to any insight that he might offer about my life.  I have dreamed of knowing what he thinks of the woman I have become.  I have called out to him to ask for guidance and, every now and then, I hear his answer whispered in the wind or carried to me on the waves of Lake Huron.  But, more often than not, I am met with silence and loneliness.  So, as I sat and berated myself for straying from my path, my friend reminded me that many people lose sight of their goals/dreams/plans and that is okay, as long as you don’t lose sight of who you are.  And then, as he turned to walk out of the room, he quoted a line to me said by Jimmy Stewart in my father’s favorite movie, Harvey.  I knew, without a doubt, that while my friend was saying the words, the message was coming from someone else; someone who knew that I would understand the importance of a six foot three and a half inch tall white rabbit.  

So, while I may not be where I was, and I may not be where I intended to go, I know that I am still where I am meant to be.  I am in a place where I can realize what was and what is and make the choice to create what will be.  This is my story and I am thankful to Harvey for reminding me of that.  

Lent 2014 – 18: Finding Inspiration In Others

I spent a good portion of this last weekend reading blogs from other writers.  The truth is that I didn’t always read other blogs.  Sure, I read my friends, but why would I read a strangers? I’m sure they wouldn’t interest me.  That was my arrogance speaking, of course.  So this weekend I thought, well gosh darn it, I’m going to start reading a new blogs.  I have to say, what I have found has been touching, moving, and inspiring.  The one that has moved me the most and has made me feel like a bit of a stalker is written by a woman named Leigh.  Leigh has a young son and was told that she may only have a few years to live.  She started her blog so that she could share everything she wants to  share with her son in case she isn’t around to do it.  

For those of you who have kids, I’m sure you can imagine more than I can how heartbreaking it must be to confront this as a reality and not as simply a fear that you may have from time to time.  I think she is a great writer and she has an awful lot to say.  It is sad when you remember why she is writing all this, but try to push that aside for the moment and read her letters to her son, Loch.  She is asking herself a lot of questions about what she really wants for her son and how she wants him to be raised, which most people would never fully consider because they assume that they will be there whenever the time comes.  Take a moment, read a bit, send her some healing thoughts and send out some gratitude for your good health, if you are fortunate enough to have it.  

Check her out: 

http://incaseimgone.com/

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