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Grief, forgiveness, and love

Monday, August 28th, 2017

A few months ago, my life was completely upended when a man I deeply loved betrayed my trust and broke my heart. While the details matter to me, all I’ll say is this: I was planning to move to Nashville so we could be together, but it didn’t happen. The relationship was serious enough to warrant me selling my house and putting a down payment on another — but when a man tells you there’s someone else, you do not follow through with a move across the country to be with him.

I have hesitated to write about this, because in doing so, I can only share my own experience. This person is living a now separate narrative, and despite the pain that his choices have put me through, I am not out to demonize or villainize anyone involved. He meant more to me than that. I’m just sad.

I want to be honest about what I’ve gone through, what I’m still going through. I am not writing from a place of resolution or remedy; the heartache is still very much in process for me because I lost so much. I lost a man who had become my best person. I lost a relationship I had been led to believe was “it.” I lost a dream of a future that had made so much sense — even felt confirmed and ordained by God, to be honest. I lost not one, but two houses. I lost any sense of direction or home. I lost the ability to trust. I lost 15 lbs and a whole lot of money. I lost everything we had been building toward. Cruelest of all, in some moments, I lost all hope.

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How do you hold the conflicting emotions of heartbreak, anger, and the remnants of love all at the same time? It’s an unbearable tension. But here is what I’m learning.

GRIEF
To experience grief in all of its awful fullness is human and healthy. To sidestep it, whether through alcohol, travel, social media, shopping, sex, or tattoos, is to cauterize our humanity. It’s best to lean straight into the pain; if we don’t, it will seep like oil through a bed of dead leaves, poisoning life from the ground up. Numbed-out grief leads to anger, anger leads to depression, depression leads to a critical spirit and a lack of peace.

But grief? We are promised that grief leads to comfort. Beauty. Dancing. I want to be a person who looks my pain in the eye, regardless of what it costs me, and then rest in knowing that there is still goodness ahead — eventually.

FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is not primarily for the one you are forgiving. It’s for you. Choosing to forgive sets you free from the bondage of what was done to you, the pain that was inflicted upon you. It doesn’t change it, it certainly doesn’t excuse any of it — but it loosens your chains and allows you to move forward, inch by inch, breath by breath, day by day. When you release the grip on your right to harm the other person, you get your hands back. You get your life back. Slowly.

It doesn’t happen all at once. I’m finding it’s something I have to do over and over in the hopes that one day my heart will match the choice. It stings like a death; a grave is involved, the burying of a perfectly good hatchet.

Nothing about it feels fair. Nothing about it feels justified. But isn’t that the point?

LOVE
You cannot love without risk. There is no such thing. The pain I’m in comes from the love I felt, because I was brave enough to show up as my fullest, truest self and enter a relationship that mattered. And when you truly love someone, you don’t get to be in control. To force, to clutch, to cling, to do whatever it takes to get your way — that is not a picture of love. That is a picture of fear. Fear is a liar, and the opposite of love.

This may have ended in disaster for me, but I will never regret opening my heart to hope and allowing myself to be known by another. It’s the bravest thing I’ve ever done, and a testament to strength, not weakness.

:::::

I am not “recovered.” This experience has altered my insides in ways I struggle to articulate. I was left heartbroken and homeless, and some days I’m still so sad, when I walk around I swear you can hear my heart rattle in my chest. Time truly is the only healer for something so brutal, and unfortunately, there’s no way to fast-forward. But I’ve made it through these first few months; here I raise my Ebenezer.

You may be wondering where I am. I obviously had to move out of my Minneapolis house in July, gutted and reeling, suddenly with nowhere to go. But thanks to my amazing friends and family, I’ve found places to go. Foxy is with me, of course. We’re being taken care of.

I have missed sharing my life in a virtual way. It didn’t feel right for me to carry on posting like nothing had happened, because racking up likes and comments is a false balm. The pain of this betrayal has been potent, and it’s been important for me to honor it by bearing the full weight of what I’ve lost. But I’m still here.

The path I took to get here has washed out behind me. The way forward isn’t yet clear. But I’m gathering the broken pieces in hopes of building something new. It’s not the future that I wanted, but it’s the future that I’m going to get. And somehow, I want to live it well.

You’ll be hearing from me again soon, grief and forgiveness and love intermingled, moving forward and holding on to hope for dear life.

Huge thanks to my amazing sister-in-law Ashley Parsons for capturing this image. You’ve helped remind me that I’m strong in a season when I’ve felt anything but.

On the move… again

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

This little dream house… I can’t believe it, but I’ll be handing the keys over to someone else in July. My two years in Minneapolis have been abundantly sweet, rich, and healing — and now it’s time to go.

I will miss the amazing friends I’ve made, my perfect fence, and the cheese curds. I will grieve the loss of my trails every single day (although the projected Southwest light rail was going to ruin them eventually anyway, ugh). I CANNOT BELIEVE I’ll miss the chance to rent this house through Airbnb for Super Bowl LII. But I will always, always be grateful that I had the chance to live here. Minneapolis was never on my radar until I started flying here for work in 2012, and I fell in love with it. Everyone should be so lucky to get a chance to live here — not just despite the winter, but even because of it. It makes you tough, it’s pretty darn beautiful, and even if you hate it, the summer makes up for it all.

As for where I’m headed, well… see you soon, Nashville!

Never wasted

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

I spent last weekend in Nashville, and it could not have been better – not even if Ryan Gosling had given me a puppy.  Not if I’d found a bucket of gold.

I’m at a loss as to how it happened, but in the two short years that I lived in Tennessee, I somehow developed the deepest of friendships with the widest network of people.  It’s like that song that kids sing in Sunday School, “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide” – except I won’t make you sing along with hand motions.  There is no dancing on this blog.

I was in town for three days, and every interaction, every conversation, felt meaningful.  Knowing how dry my spirit has been these days, my mom’s hope for me on this trip was that I would “only spend time with life-giving people” – which, given the folks I know in Nashville, is the easiest thing ever.

Miranda Runcie, Catherine Clement, Kelley Kirker, Kelli Liszka, Emily Konouchi, Ansley Quiros, Melissa Sproul, Julie Ott, Joy Beth Bodie, Cara Meissner, Hunter Lane, Duane Stephenson, David Nguyen, Zac Kubilus, Amanda Williams, Meg Souder, Joey & Brynn Sanchez, Annie Downs, Hitoshi Yamaguchi, Meredith Gruner, Paul Zimmerman-Clayton: time with you, no matter how short, is never, ever wasted.

Second place

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Today is my last day at Emma.

My sweetie friend Miles – the one who played guitar for my original LÄRABAR song, the one who gave me my most favorite nickname of all time (“Persnicket”), the one who makes work so much more fun – made me this.

That?  Is awesome.  And hilarious.

Thanks for the wonderful years, Emma.  Thanks for introducing me to some of the greatest people in my life.  Thanks for the chance to make Nashville home.  Thanks for acting as training wheels for my transition to Denver, and now launching me out on my own.  Thanks for teaching me how to talk to all sorts of people, and giving me the confidence to confront conflict, and guiding me toward grace under pressure.  Thank you for being exactly the right place during exactly the right time.

I kind of feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Except for… um, her?

Really, internet?  Really?

Well, so, okay.  Second place, I guess.

The time I said “EXPLODE” to homeland security

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

So there I was at the Denver airport, heaving my bulging black suitcase onto the conveyor belt for the x-ray machine. This was just my carry-on – my REAL bag (a behemoth red Samsonite) had already been found 6 lbs. overweight at the ticket counter, leading me to put on my boots and jacket, stuff my curling iron and jewelry into my purse, and relegate various items of detritus to my smaller suitcase.

As the carry-on inched toward the x-ray machine, the TSA agent observed the swollen vessel, and made a comment that he didn’t know that it would make it through the machine.

“I know!” I laughed. “It’s about to explode!”

And right then and there, all of the air was sucked out of Denver International Airport.

The silence coddled the word like an overindulgent mother.

Explode.

EXPLODE.

I literally clapped my hand over my mouth, realizing what I had done – and then I sprung into action.

“Haha, I mean explode with my stuff. My STUFF – nothing dangerous, nothing sharp. I mean, except for high heels! Haha!”

No one else was laughing.

“Ma’am, we’re going to need to take a look in your bag.”

I was led to a sterile table where a blue-gloved person (man? woman? man?) asked, “If I open this bag, will anything harm me?”

“No! No, not at all,” I rushed. “All that’s in there is shoes. Oh, and a bunch of computer things. And I guess some snacks.”

Snacks is right.

The agent slowly, hesitantly, cautiously unzipped the suitcase, and beheld the contents.  “Ma’am, why do you have so many energy bars?”

Full disclosure: in my bag were hundreds of LÄRABARs.

“Well, those are for my co-workers in Nashville.”

“Okay…?”

And then, without further prompting, it all came tumbling out. “I resigned with the company – just last week, actually. I’ve been working for an email marketing company that’s based in Nashville – but I’m switching jobs. To LÄRABAR, actually. They’re based in Denver – I live in Denver. I just wanted to bring my Nashville friends some bars – as a little farewell, I guess.”

There it was. And there it is.

The suddenly indifferent agent waved me through security and all the way to Nashville, where I’ve given the bars to my friends at Emma – an understated thank you for the three years of support, camaraderie, and friendship they have given me.

Come January, I’ll join the marketing team for LÄRABAR, a brand that I have been evangelizing on my own for years. I am leaving an incredible company for another incredible company, which is not lost on me: this basically makes me the luckiest girl in the world. This is one of those moments where I can look back and see how the complicated, jagged-edged pieces have fit together perfectly, creating a gigantic flashing arrow, pointing me toward this next step.

So my suitcase may be emptier – but as much as my heart is tempted to feel the same (after all, I am giving up what has been a very good thing), it’s actually full to overflowing. I will spend the next week with some of my favorite people in Nashville, and then gently close the door on what has been a beautiful season in my life.

The goodbye is bittersweet, but the future feels warm and bright. In fact, my heart is exploding with sprinkles.

Just don’t tell TSA.

Row boat

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I’m back in Nashville this week, working in the office and seeing friends.  Every time I come back to Nashville, I’m struck by two things: how much this place still feels like home – and how things can’t ever be the way that they were before.

The longing for “the way things were” is my Achilles’ heel, and it has the power to sink me like a cinder block.  It doesn’t matter what my present looks like, or what the past actually was like – nostalgia is a revisionist, and cuts out the tough things so that only the best memories remain.

But I’m in my little row boat on the river of life, and time is the current that’s pulling me forward, forward, forward.  I’m thankful for the places I’ve seen, and the the people I’ve met, and the opportunities and adventures that have surprised me along the way.  I’ve survived rapids and waterfalls and the occasional overturned boat, only to find that the stream just keeps going.  Paddling back the other direction doesn’t get me very far, and leaves me frustrated and tired (not to mention hungry for a hot dog).

So I choose to be content in this little wooden vessel, oars at the ready to help determine my course, but ultimately trusting that the river is pulling me in the right direction.  This week, it’s looped me back through Nashville – and as always, I’m grateful.

Talk about my booty on the internet?

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Don’t mind if I do.

And in case you think I’m a fraud because I’ve said I’m not training anymore, I ran 5 miles on the treadmill last night, and 7 outside on Saturday.  So, see?  I’m still doing my thang (although last year at this time, I was running 12 miles, so YES I KNOWWWW).

East Nasty really is something special.  If you live in Nashville and are a runner – or have any interest in becoming a runner – these are some of the greatest folks you could ever meet and run with.  They meet on Wednesday nights at 6pm on the corner of 11th & Holly in East Nashville – I think you should go.  Tell them Booty Girl sent you.

O-Emma-G

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Fanciness, merriment, and roistering.

Bacon-wrapped jalapeños stuffed with cheese.

And then, as if the night couldn’t get any more awesome, KARAOKE.

And even better, twirling at ROBERT’S.

I didn’t even look like a hobo.

Today, though?  I totally do.

Lordy.

Holiday hobo girl

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

This is the week, the one that happens every December, the one that I always tell myself that I’ll do differently next year but I never do.

It’s the week before Christmas, which always seems to be busier than the week of Christmas.  Parties, people, events, high heels, big hair, sugar, wine, beer, money that slips away like a hand full of water.  It’s the most fun, most crazy-making week.

I haven’t worked out since Sunday, which makes me feel completely deranged.  There is a pile of clothes, shoes, coats, and bras on my bed, and I just keep pushing it over to climb under the covers at night.  I haven’t been getting enough sleep.  I’ve eaten cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  My toenail polish is chipped.  I haven’t responded to emails and texts and phone calls (I probably owe you one – I’m so sorry).  My level of busyness is making me a gigantically cranky stress ball.

Tonight is our company holiday party, and last night, I pulled out the dress I was planning on wearing.  It’s wrinkled and dirty from last year.  Why do I never learn to have the dress dry-cleaned at the end of the season so it’s fresh the next year?  Now I’m going to look like a hobo.

So yes.  If you see a cranky, deranged woman in a stained satin dress wandering the streets of downtown Nashville tonight, hobbling in her high heels because of her broken toe and carrying her lipstick in a bindle instead of a purse, that’s me.

Or it’s Mindy McCready.

It’s either Mindy McCready or me.

Moving on up

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Nashville – #10
Denver – #9

Apparently, I’m getting prettier.

Also: woe to Memphis.