Awhile back someone said something to me that drove itself right into my ribcage and has been lodged there like a hard, sharp stone ever since. They told me I make it hard for people to love me. It was a heated conversation and there was so very much at play, but those words stood out to me like a bold, all caps attempt to hit me where it hurt. I don't think that person could have known but THAT is the wound. That accusation has sat at the base of my existence for as long as I can remember. A few years ago someone stepped right on that tender part of me from a different direction and it drove me to do a shit ton of healing work (I'm glad for that part). And then this. Those words have been making me catch my breath everytime I turn, or bend, or try to breath.
The very first thing I did after I heard those words was go deep into my own interior. I felt it out, does that exist here? Is it true? Have I missed something vital? I went to my inner circle and I asked for brutal, compassionate honesty. I called Gina right away and asked for truth. I knew that I could either blow it off as the angry words of someone who didn't know ME, or I could let that deep ache lead me to self honesty. And even if it turned out to be someone else's perception and not an inch of reality - the way it triggered me was a sign that I needed to do some healing work around this. So I did. And I have. Not to spoil the ending, but those words aren't true. What IS true is that boundaries suck and we don't always all speak the same language. What IS true is that it's hard to do life with people you don't trust. What IS true is that I'm not everyone's cup of tea. What IS true is that I was once a people pleaser, a codependent, and an avoider of conflict. But healing has changed me, it has not left me the same as I once was. Who I am right now is not cohesive with who I once was - and that can be uncomfortable for some people so, without shame or resentment, I'm learning to forgive and release.
Yesterday though, shame and fear were creeping up in me. I was circling the trigger, and the hurt, and the question of AM I HARD TO LOVE? I was remembering how it has felt to round out my edges to fit into someone else's version of me, which is how I had lived almost my entire life. I was remembering the way I had once exhausted a massive amount of energy trying to stay on top of someone else's manipulation and constantly wondering if what I was hearing was true or another lie. I was remembering how much of myself I gave to one relationship in particular and how overnight things changed, she couldn't see ME anymore.... or if she could, it was with eyes that could only judge what she saw. Every time a pastor, a leader, a friend, a boyfriend, a co worker, a distant family member looked at me with THAT look, the same look on drastically different faces, I knew that I was hard to love. I knew that I didn't belong, so I had to work really hard to fit in. You know where that spiral leads a person? It only goes low and narrow, creating a spiritual claustrophobia.
This morning, unexpectedly, I spent time with a friend who I have loved for twenty four years, but haven't seen in person in at least twelve years. It was like time hadn't happened, even though there are six kids between the two of us and we're not driving into the desert at night in a crappy car with a pack of cigarettes. But this isn't just an old friend. This is a friend who has repeatedly seen me at my worst, but who has always made me feel like I was still my best. This is a friend who I grew up with, who I stood on the fringe of Christian culture with - waiting to see where it was all going to lead. This is a friend who has known me and I have known him, who has never been anything other than honest, and safe, and vulnerable, and consistent. Probably the very first person to understand the wildness and anxiety that lived in me without needing to give it a name.
And guys, I realized on that patio today that it's not hard to love me. If it was going to be hard to love me it would have been all through those years, it would have been when my anxiety was out of control, when I was suicidal, when I felt alone, when I was a dramatic, teenage mess, and when I was lost and wandering. It would have been then. If it was hard to love me I wouldn't be sitting at a table with someone who has known me for twenty four years - outside of my family NO ONE has known all those versions of me - and who still doesn't make me feel like the messy parts of me are too much. I didn't know I needed to see him today, or even that I was GOING to see him today, but there it was: Divine Love breathing into my ribcage where that stone has sat for months.
This afternoon I sat on my patio in the sun and wind to meditate. As soon as I closed my eyes I saw that stone and reached for it. I held it in my hands as tight as I could, willing it to dissolve. I sat with it all. I let the people who had told me, in one way or another, that I was hard to love pass in front of me. I let the few people who have never left me feeling like I needed to be more or less of something in order to be loved pass in front of me. I felt all of it. I felt my own life force like it was emanating out of my body and I felt the wild, present, never still Divine pressing in on my skin. I sat with that stone, cried as much as I needed to, released the weight of those words, and felt my ribcage crack open a little more, letting my heart breathe again. For a brief moment I felt The Way, the one Jesus paved, spread out a little wider underneath me.
Ultimately, friends, I have to believe that humanity steps on one another sometimes. We can't see through each other's eyes, we can't feel through each other's hearts, we can't hear with each other's ears. If we are ever assuming the worst in someone, instead of the best, we're going to act in ways that aren't true of who we really are. I've done it and it's been done to me. This wound, this trigger, those words, the path to healing the fragmented parts of me - they are all my teacher. Forgiving is not forgetting, releasing is not entering in again, and assuming the best in one another is not an invitation back into the deepest parts of ourselves. I'm learning to hold my own story like something too precious to spill out too often. I'm learning to keep my hands open - what is meant to stay will stay, what is meant to leave will leave. Either way it won't be because I controlled the outcome, it will be because not everything we love is meant to stay gripped between our fingers forever.
I'm learning that it's not hard to love me. Other people's own stories, paths, circumstances, and triggers will probably always try to tell ALL OF US that we're hard to love. And I'm willing to bet that the person who threw those words at me did it because they didn't feel loved either. Healing is coming, guys. It's coming because it has to, because we need it and we aren't hiding from it. Have you let meditation be a healing tool yet? Sometimes triggers and wounds build up in us until we feel paralyzed - and all we need is a release. Rather than trying to create a reality in which shitty things don't exist, let your emotions, memories, and fears say what they need to. Let them be heard so they can move on.