The perks of being true to yourself

8 Comments

I was recently rummaging through my writing desk when I came across a letter I had long since forgotten.  It is not the typical style of prose I would choose to hang on to but it is a glaring reminder of how therapeutic it can be to exorcise a toxic friend from your life.

Toxic friendships start so innocently.  The relationship begins to build on a foundation of trust and common interests, a bond is evident and the rules of the alliance seem to be clearly outlined and understood by both parties.  Each participant silently vows to put the other’s well-being ahead of the general population and to always have the other friend’s back.

But, somewhere during one particular friendship of mine, the rules changed.  My toxic friend began to show the obvious characteristics of being narcissistic and she no longer had a genuine investment in my feelings.  She began to pollute my reality with her selfishness and her uncanny ability to focus solely on herself.  Although the previous vows of our friendship still may have percolated in the back of her mind, she forged ahead only looking out for herself, completely negating any regard for my feelings.

Unfortunately, I have fallen victim to more than my fair share of toxic friends.  I have created excuses for their behavior, forgiven them on many occasions for the negative effect they have had on my life, and the lives of others, and defended their antics ad nauseam.  For the duration of those relationships my toxic friends broke all the fundamental and universal laws of friendship and yet I found it difficult to break the bond of our kinship.

I keep this letter, still, as a reminder of the journey I took to find my worth.  This one solid shred of evidence is proof of the strength I possessed to finally walk away from a toxic friendship and put myself first.  It is a letter, penned by a third-party, written to attack my character and accuse me of misrepresenting myself as a friend.  Although this letter initially angered me because the author was completely ignorant regarding my history with this certain friend, I now look at the words and smile.

I was accused of being a bad friend, and I was a bad friend – to myself.   I was accused of changing, and I did change – for the better.   I was told I would regret ending this one-sided friendship and, yes, I did indeed have regret about ending this particular friendship – but only because I didn’t have the balls to do it sooner.

into a new freedome

(image credit)

I made a monumental decision that day and one I will never regret making.  I finally gave myself permission to define how I let people treat me.  My friendships now are nurturing and reciprocal and the friends I have in my life treat me with the same respect I show them.  It was a bumpy road for a while but knowing when to let go was a lesson I learned the hard way.  I may have a few cuts and bruises from having walked into a new freedom but I shall wear those scars with pride.

The things I should remember

9 Comments

I have been thinking about, and talking about, my parents a lot lately.  For a person my age, it is sad that I have to talk about how they used to be because they were taken far too early, both victims of the serial killer known as alcoholism.  I wrote a very heartfelt blog post here telling the tale of what my perspective was like growing up as a child of alcoholic parents.  But after I read it again, and cried again, I realized I had been doing them a grave injustice.

So, I went back to the beginning – back to the days before that serial killer lurked in the shadows of my house, back to the days when life was great and back to the days when no elephant existed in any room in our home.

new-39

My mom and dad were a lot of fun.  My brother and I had many parties at our family home and my parents would remain in their bedroom allowing us full access to the house to host our friends.  But at the end of the night, the number of our friends watching TV with my parents in their room far outweighed the number of our friends in our living room.  Those were my parents.

They played strip ping-pong with the neighbours.  They ran naked from the neighbours’ sauna to roll in the snow and then back to the sauna.  They enjoyed life, they made the most of the good times and they truly loved each other.

When I began to think of what they were like as a couple, I couldn’t help but smile remembering how my dad used to look at my mom.  If my mom was within arm’s length, his hands would make contact with whatever part of her he could reach.  He would pat her bum as she walked by him.  He would kiss her every chance he got.  And when he grabbed her hand, I could see his hand physically squeezing hers several times in a sworn gesture of being smitten by her.  It was all about being able to touch each other, just to remind each other that they were there for the right reasons.

I had long forgotten those moments.  I was so marred by the effects that alcohol had on their relationship that I failed to remember the beautiful connection they had to each other.

And now that I have blinded myself to the painful memories, I will embrace the images of their fingers intertwined without realizing they were holding hands.  I will cling to the thought of how my dad just wanted to be close to her.  And I will forever hold close the knowledge that a simple touch from someone who means so much can change everything about your day.

After so many daily thoughts about so many things that don’t matter, I finally realized…..these are the things that I should remember.

 

 

 

 

I cry a thousand tears

11 Comments

cry

~~

A thousand tears have fallen

and saturated my face.

Keeping alive the memories

that time will never erase.

Salient thoughts burden my brain,

each with a life of their own,

keeping me close to my ardent emotion,

my sadness never far from home.

A rushing wave of sorrow,

an eclipse of what was good,

 trying to find the buoy of happiness,

in the sea of misunderstood.

Embracing loss, moving on,

clinging to what I hold dear.

Knowing that the emotion I feel,

others keep just as near.

I cry a thousand tears,

knowing I am not alone,

 and I hold tight to those who cry with me,

 feeling that they are my home.

(image credit)

Rather, the light saw me

19 Comments

I have started this new year feeling better about myself than I have in a very long time, maybe ever.   The scale still hovers around the same number, the grey hairs seem to multiply exponentially while I sleep and the lines around my eyes seem to be getting deeper.  But those lines around my eyes are being etched further into my skin because my smile seems to be a permanent fixture on my face.

I will be the first to admit that I have never spent much time volunteering for anything.  Sure, I jumped on the “pay it forward” bandwagon and I have even blogged about that very phenomenon.  But there is something much more rewarding about really putting in the time to help someone rather than just buying a coffee for the person in line behind you.

What began as helping a friend, who is currently tackling an undiagnosed medical issue, spiraled into a concept that is slowly growing into something I am becoming very passionate about.  It combines two of the things that I hold near to my heart – cooking and being able to help people.

Some of my blogs over the last few weeks have alluded to the Sundays we have spent cooking in the kitchen of the family resort where I am employed.  We have successfully sent almost twenty freezer slow-cooker meals to a young family who lost their home in a fire just after delivering twins, and we are gearing up to do it again this Sunday to add ten more meals to their freezer.  In a few short hours in the span of three Sundays, we have provided a month’s worth of dinners, giving them more time to devote to their children and their next step rather than having to think of what to cook each night.

I also had the pleasure of delivering the first of those meals to my very dear friend on Friday, the friend who inspired this journey.  Just knowing that I can alleviate the tiniest bit of his stress pays me in ways that I never thought possible.  It is a very emotional feeling and, even as I write this, it brings tears to my eyes.

light in your eye

I have watched them before.  I have seen volunteers many times and noticed the light in their eyes but, until now, I had never really understood the source of that light.  I get it now….and it is a light that I would like to have continue shining in my eyes for a very long time.

(image credit)

 

 

 

Beyond the open door

4 Comments

IMG_2609

On Friday night, I stared at this painting for a long time.  It hangs in a conspicuous spot in a familiar room but I had never seen it before.  Perhaps it was the shaded lighting of the late evening that made me study every detail in those brush strokes or, quite possibly, it was the collection of components in the painting that intrigued me, but every single item on that canvas made me linger and give it thought.

From the cracked tiled floor to the chance assortment of belongings, each item was distinct and gave me the feeling that any one of those things could feasibly represent a chapter in my life story.  That thought made me stare even more as I tried to piece together the narrative that the artist was trying to communicate.

I got a strong sense of the feeling of wanting to stay connected.  There is great comfort in keeping familiar things close.  But there is also the fascination of what may exist beyond our comfort zone.

That open door is the focal point that grabbed and held my attention.  In a room full of things seemingly collected on purpose, this door opened my curiosity.  What magic or what memory lay beyond that partially opened portal?  What is there to be found if we are brave enough to push it open all the way and take a chance on what is on the other side?

Sometimes being complacent with the things we have become accustomed to blinds us to what may lie just beyond the threshold of our comfort zone.  Maybe the memorabilia in the foreground is meant to alleviate any pain while it draws us towards the next step.

There is a warmth in just having things fit into the right place and having that place feel like home. But maybe the real feeling of home is just a few steps away and we just have to walk through that door to discover the hidden treasures that await us if we are brave enough to explore the possibilities.