Another Round of “What Not to Say to Your Struggling Friend”

e4fdff0a1508f0c5e69dcbc04de02a21But wait! There’s more! In my aggravated haste, I missed some of the BIGGEST offending phrases! BIG as in WAY too awful to be left out! If you missed the first list, check it out here. And listen, we’ve all been guilty of being in a tender spot with a struggling friend and not known what to say– myself included– but there are still some things better left unsaid.

So  please…Join me for another round of “What Not to Say to Your Struggling Friend!”

God has a better plan

Sighhhh. Of course He does. That would be just like him, wouldn’t it? How sweet. And maybe next week or next month, or next year, I will see that and find peace in that. But today, right now, I wanted THIS plan. MY plan. And I’m sad and disappointed that my plan did not work out.

God must have something really special in store for you

I am totally calling bullshit on this one. I have heard this line for 20 years. Maybe He does, maybe He doesn’t.  Because maybe–just maybe–this is just how life goes. Sometimes, really crappy things just happen. And the only reward for living through it is…living through it. (Which, you know, IS a big deal, but still…)

Don’t Cry

Don’t tell me what to do. K. Thanks. Because I am crying. And when you say “Don’t cry”, now I feel like I have to fake my behavior because you’re uncomfortable. People cry. We all survive. Trust me. I would’ve drowned by now.

Someday this will all make sense

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Today, it doesn’t. Today it sucks. Can we please just acknowledge the suck of today?

And finally…(but certainly still NOT a conclusive round-up!)

Things could be worse

SIGH……(I’m yelling now) WELL OF COURSE THEY COULD BE WORSE! Let’s now list all of the ways things could be worse. I don’t even know where to start. It’s long and involved and ranging from the house burning down to starving children in Africa. The only way you can use this phrase– THE ONLY WAY– is if you look at your very, very close friend and say it JUST LIKE THIS, “Shit could be worse. I mean, you could have bad hair. Or ugly feet. Or no style. On top of everything else you’re going through.” And then, after that, buy her a beer. Because you both know you’re kidding. Period.

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{A perfect example of what NOT to say to your friend.}

I loved hearing YOUR input on the first list! If you’ve got more, lemme have ’em!

And I promise– A list of helpful, validating, gentle things to say is on its way…

 

 

To Believe in Love. Or Not.

ImageOn a recent snow day my girls and I had settled in to watch Yours, Mine and Ours–a favorite movie from a few years back.  The storyline gets laid out pretty quickly: Widow meets widower, they fall in love, get married, and proceed to merge 18 kids into one very messy blended family. And as the new family bickered and snickered and generally acted ugly toward each other, Emery (age 11), looked at me with mock horror. “Don’t ever do that to us! I don’t want to share a room and do all that!” She was kidding, but not really. And so I laughed and reassured her. “Don’t worry Em. I won’t.” And then, before I could back the truck up, this is what flew out of my mouth:

“I don’t think I ever want to get married again, anyway.” And in witty Emery fashion, she gave me a knowing look and asked, “Too much disappointment?”

I nearly spit out my drink. She knew she was being snarky with her little assessment of my unfortunate marital history (widowed and divorced)– and so I laughed and smiled back.

“Yes. Yes that’s exactly it.”

And that was that. We ate our popcorn and scoffed and marveled at the comical antics of this crazy blended family. (IF ONLY, people! If ONLY blended families were THAT much FUN.)

But that little dialogue stuck with me. Partly because of Emery’s very insightful question that seemed well above her age and maturity level.  But MAINLY because of my quick answer and the very clear message I was sending my daughters in that moment:I don’t believe in lasting love. I don’t believe in marriage. I don’t believe in happily ever after. And I certainly don’t want to take THAT risk again. Big. Heavy. Sigh. Oops. (But let’s be honest- married 3 times?? No offense…but no thanks. And I’m not quite sure my mother could survive another marriage with me anyhow. Thanks, Mom. I owe you. Like, in such a big, big way.)

And yet here’s the tricky part. I do believe in those things. Well…I sort of do. Well, I sort of do for other people but just not for me. (Clearly, I’m still working this out) In just about every other area of my life, I am the eternal optimist. I am a glass half-full kinda girl. I believe in silver linings. I look for the bright side. I believe in the sweetness of life and that it somehow eases the bitter. When life throws me a plot twist I’m usually pretty quick to find the positive. I believe that things have a way of working out. Blah, blah, blah. But love…ughhh. Love is a whole different beast.  Love has been…hard.

So. I need to do better.

Because it’s not okay with me if my girls think this way.

It’s not okay if I’ve somehow made them afraid of love or relationships or marriage.

It’s not okay if I’ve unintentionally sent the message that love will disappoint you. It will not win. It will not work out. It’s not okay to steal their girlhood dreams of Happily Ever After and Prince Charming and the Knight on the White Horse. I don’t want to tell them to be realistic. I don’t want to tell them there’s no such thing as true and lasting love. And I don’t want them believing it’s not possible for them. And in my heart of hearts, I don’t want to believe it’s not possible for me, either. So. Yeah. There’s that.

‘I asked her if she believed in love, and she smiled and said it was her most elaborate form of self-harm.’ ~Benedict Smith

Running Through the Pain

This is not a post about running. I mean, it is. But it isn’t. Running is so metaphorical with life that it’s hard to avoid using it as a continual source of inspiration.  So many of my blogs formulate while I’m running that it can be hard to disconnect. Unfortunately, I  haven’t been running as much lately because I’ve been sidelined with a little injury known as Plantar Fasciitis. This is code for “super intense foot pain especially when you get out of bed in the morning.” If you’ve gone through PF, you feel me right now. Because you remember how totally sucky it is. Thank you for feeling bad. It helps. And so I have spent the past few months on a seesaw of trying to find the balance between resting and running.  Trying to manage the pain. Half-heartedly doing some of the prescribed therapies that supposedly help heal and lessen the symptoms of PF.  But it’s been super frustrating. I am a horrible patient. And my foot was seriously hurting even when I hadn’t run in over a week! I was getting discouraged. And feeling chubby. And feeling jealous  of other runners and runner friends working toward their goals while I sat out. And yet every time I got back out there, the run itself would feel so good–mentally, physically, emotionally–that I got to thinking: Maybe it’s time to just keep running through the pain.

Predictably, this got me thinking about life. And what it means to keep running through the pain. What it means to keep going when you want to quit; when everything feels too hard and hurts too much. And how tough it can be to find the balance between giving yourself tons of slack and tons of grace and time to heal from painful circumstances– or just forcing yourself to get up and get out there, kicking ass and taking names– knowing that life goes on. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into years.  Life is happening right now, whether or not you participate. 15 years ago when my first husband was killed in a car accident, the ocean of grief was deep and dark and frightening. Life with two small, now fatherless children seemed utterly insurmountable.  My first thought when I woke up every morning  and my last thought when I went to bed at night was that I wanted to die. That life was too hard. That I couldn’t face this kind of pain everyday and survive. A year later, that type of thinking  had taken its toll.  I was only 26. I had a whole lifetime yet to be lived. And so did my kids. Something had to change. This was still my life; this new normal. It made no difference whether or not I chose it, liked it, wanted it, loved it or hated it. I needed to learn to run through the pain.

And so here I am again. In life AND in running. It’s not exactly where I wanted or planned to be at this point. And now I’ve sat around with this injury for a while, really feeling bummed about it. Disappointed and sad. Crying. Lots and lots of crying. But truthfully, I hadn’t really followed the advice I was given BEFORE the injury– and then it took several more weeks and bouts of pain until I decided to follow the NEW advice I was given to heal the injury. (I’m a slow learner. I like to take my time with my mistakes and make them repeatedly. You know, just to be sure.) But when I was out there running today, feeling like a rock star in 45 degrees and sunshine, I decided, once again,  it’s time to run through the pain.

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