Monday, November 7, 2016

Color Our World

My 18-year-old daughter, who's two hours away at university, called me on the weekend. She needed to talk, she said. There's this guy, she said. She likes him.
But? I said.
She's afraid, she said. Every time she likes someone, it ends in heartbreak. Even when she's breaking the other's heart, it hurts too much, she said.
Better, she told me, to just not take the chance.

I remember teen heartbreak. I remember being so shattered by a longtime boyfriend who took up with my best (ha!) friend. I remember realizing that heart+break was the perfect description, so sure was I that I had felt my heart literally shatter. The pain was physical as much as emotional. It hurt to breathe.
And it hurt for a long time.
Even years later, my stomach would twist at mention of either of their names, at a chance encounter with either though they had long since broken up.
And though I fell in love with another, my not-quite-healed heart left me vulnerable to choosing someone else who wasn't, in hindsight, the best choice. Relying on another to heal my broken heart was a mistake, I've learned. Heart healing is an inside job.
It's also part of life, I said to my daughter.
Sure she could simply avoid making herself vulnerable in any way and, therefore, avoid heartbreak, I said.
But at what cost? It's possible this boy isn't interested in her. But, after the sting of rejection fades, she'll be fine as long as she reminds herself that another's assessment of our worth is inherently untrustworthy. Like asking a coal miner to gauge the value of a diamond.
Of course, they might fall madly in love. They might experience that incredible feeling when someone you think is just awesome thinks the exact same thing about you. And together you experience that mad rush of new love that makes the world seem so beautiful that your heart can't contain it all.
And it might end, leaving them with shattered hearts.
But, I reminded her, she's been hurt before. And she survived it. People she felt deeply wounded by inspire little more than a "meh, whatever" from her now.
Hearts are resilient, I told her. Especially hearts as huge as hers is, hearts that make room for so much and so many. 
And the risk is so worth it.
But it starts with stripping ourselves of armour, of fear that we'll be hurt, of that deep shame that tells us we're unlovable. It starts with recognizing, as BrenĂ© Brown says, that being alive means being vulnerable. 
And it starts with understanding that the very thing we think makes us vulnerable, emotional exposure, is also what fuels a beautiful life. Being willing to stand exposed, to be seen with all our flaws and trust that we are lovable, is the whole point. 
Yes, it's scary but that's what courage is. Being scared and doing it anyway.
Yes, it's hard when we know the pain of heartbreak but that's what resilience is. Remembering the pain but being willing to try again. Trusting in our rusty old tool box, the one filled with self-compassion, with kindness, with self-respect, to tend to a heart that gets bruised or battered again.
And yes, it's worth it. Even this formerly shattered wife who, at one point, imagined death as preferable to another moment of the pain of betrayal, would risk it all again. Is risking it all again. There are no guarantees, save one: Closing ourselves off from connection ensures a smaller greyer life.


  1. This is a conversation I need to have with my daughter. Knowing what she knows she has avoided relationship s in high school. Has even talked to me about how she only dates people she doesn't have strong feelings for because that's safer than getting hurt. She even talked about how she doesn't know how she will ever have a real relationship as an adult because she couldn't deal with not being enough for someone. Just ouch.
    I try to reflect and hear and yes it's scary. But thst choice by another person is not about your worth. It's about something missing in them. I told her that her parent's story is not her story. She can have her eyes wide open but she'll need to have her heart open too.
    How did I get here? How am I in so much pain but still having conversations with my daughter about being courageous and vulnerable? How do I feel dead myself and still hopeful for her ( and maybe for my own future??? Maybe?)

    1. Still standing
      I've had to have this conversation with my daughter as she struggled through a nasty separation from her baby daddy and the custody battle was even nastier. She struggled just to have male friends that first year. She gave her life to Jesus and has been following His plan for her ever since. The first two guys she dated scared the hell out of us but she dragged each to church and once she realized their salvation was their choice, each of those men faded out of her life and finally see met the man of her dreams in church. He proposed in front of both sets of parents on Christmas Eve last year and were married in a fairytale wedding in August! The hopeless feeling she and I shared during the struggle of the separation drew us closer together than we've ever been and gives me hope for my future with my h to be the best decision I've ever made! We still have our struggles, but we're full of hope that together we're going to be okay! I'm still convinced that you are going to arrive at the best place for you because you deserve so much more than what has been shoved upon your shoulders! Keep finding those things in life no matter how small that make you feel confident in the choices you make each day as it comes! My dear you are a great role model for your daughter! She sees your strength every day! Hugs!

    2. Still Standing, I find it really hard at times addressing friendships and boy issues with my daughters. My kids do not know anything about what happened between my husband and me. I have one that is an early teen and one that is not a teen yet. So we are in the early stages. But as I told my husband it is really hard for me to talk with them. I feel like this betrayal has given me clarity and more of a knowledge of what to say to them. However at times I want to say run protect yourself. And at times I want to just be quiet feeling like maybe they will do a better job. I thought I did so well and was smart about my dating life and marriage and I ended up in not the best spot. I find a lot of the lessons I have learned apply to not only boys but friends too. And you layer on social media and very different times than when we were in middle and high school and yikes! I find good and bad in what I have learned from this betrayal experience.

  2. Elle
    This was one of the first concerns that I would become a bitter old woman who could never love nor trust anyone including myself! It's a tough row to hoe, but God willing it's getting easier each day! Thank you for this blog!

    1. Theresa, That was my concern as well. I admire your encouraging words. My days are getting easier. My h has been wonderful since I told him these next few months were going to be especially difficult for me. I even told him I didn't know if I had it in me to decorate and "do" Christmas. He said I did have it in me and we could do it together. I certainly hope so. I need him by my side, enthusiastically and willingly, to get through these next months.

      SS, You are a wonderful person. It is so hard, I know, but maybe because you are hopeful and helpful to your daughter that can help you as well. We MUST believe in ourselves, our ability to get through this whatever the outcome. Hugs!

    2. Feeling lost, You made me realize that the most helpful thing my husband does now is saying he will do it with me or be by my side. I think he has always been let me fix it or don't worry about it kind of guy. Well all that did was dismiss my feelings over the years. Now I understand why due to his affairs. But the most powerful thing he can do now is say let's do it together or how can I help. It is so important when getting through difficult times big or small. It has helped me create new memories with him.

    3. Hopeful 30
      I really hadn't put the feeling into words but you confirmed for me that because my h is now capable of asking what he can do to help means more than the help he gives! The doing things together part is practically what led to my h choice for the affair and now that he and I are working together and playing together our lives are growing better and stronger. We fell into a routine of each doing our own thing and had really forgotten how much fun we could have together!

  3. Elle, thank you once again - exactly what I needed to hear. How is that? I haven't been on the blog in quite awhile - I come back to this. The timing couldn't be better.

    My h and I are getting a divorce.

    I have given it my all - and he is done - as am I, yet I question, "why am I not worth fighting for?" That was the question which kept me awake last night. Finally, at 3 am I went to my h - separate bedroom and asked him. His answer? "He's been trying; he has tried." Yet as many of you know he never went to individual therapy and he stopped marriage cunseling about a year ago. He said, "I went to counseling." We went very briefly to one, a few months to another, yet he abruptly stopped and would not go back.
    Then, this year, he proceeded to leave me weekend after weekend to help his family on their farm four hours away. When I would get upset he would do just enough to appease me. He admitted to me since we decided on divorce that he was running, avoiding rather than deal with the pain. the conversations. When I specifically asked if he would go to counseling - (just a few days ago) he said, "No, I don't want to spend my life in counseling, I want to live."
    I saw my therapist yesterday and when I said that h "can't" do the right thing and get therapy - my therapist pointed out that there's a fine line between "can't" and "won't".
    And now I struggle with my worth - I know intellectually. yet don't feel as such as the minutes tick through the night and I lay awake.
    Support please ladies ... and then I will start posting under the separated/divorced section.
    Sad. So very sad. The constant tears and lack of sleep ... yet I'm functioning... somehow

    1. Melissa
      I'm sending hugs! That's all I have as I've listened to your struggles through your pain and disappointment! Hugs!

  4. Melissa, i have no words. I see you in your pain. I get some of what you are feeling. I'm standing right beside you. Lean your head on my shoulder. Its so endlessly disappointing. I too have struggled with the why didn't he fight harder (or at all) for me? As I've been told over and over, its not about us at all, or our worth. Its about them and their inability to value themselves or deal with pain, face what they've done. Running is easier. its not about your worth. You are awesome, amazing, wholly loveable.
    Let youself feel the pain and cry all the tears. We've got you. And you know what? You've got you too. All my love, SS

    1. Melissa,
      Still Standing is so right. This has nothing to do with you or your worth. You are amazing and kind. In the time, I've been on this blog i've watched you pour your heart into your marriage. I've seen the kindness and support you've shown to others. I'm so sorry for the pain you're feeling.

  5. Melissa I'm so sorry for all your going through.. I can't imagine what your feeling right now but a friend of mine described her divorce as a huge loss, worse than death.. like many women here we marry for life although we don't have any control over the other persons actions or decisions.. Melissa this is not about you in any way your h doesn't want to do the hard work of sorting through his issues, he likely never will.. he will go through life this way.. I think I've said this before but your h has many of the traits as mine, won't go to counselling unless pushed then after 2 sessions decide it's not for him, putting everyone else's needs first the list goes on.. I'm 7 months separated Melissa and sometimes wish my h would make the decision and divorce me but he doesn't have the balls, so that will be another decision i will be making should I decide to do that.. Melissa read ss posts she's another amazing woman who is going through the same as you right now and in my view managing the situation impeccably well under the circumstances.. you will find your worth Melissa.. I think your healing will take place when your h leaves the house it must be incredibly difficult whilst your still living under the same roof.. Melissa please keep posting.. there's no easy way through this, you do whatever you need to on a hourly basis.. lots of love xx

  6. Theresa, Still Standing, Dandelion and Sam - thank you all for your kind words and support. Still standing, yes, I feel we are walking together right now. Sam A, yes you have pointed out the similarities between my husband and yours… And yes, you are absolutely right. I am now posting under the new section for separated and divorced… I will see you all there! I am so very grateful for everyone of my or Warrior Sisters!



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