Thank God for girlfriends!
Aside from my usual right arms, I’m in a bookclub with four amazing women, helping me navigate through another edition of Brenee Brown’s instructions on wholehearted living, “The Gifts of Imperfection”. If anyone is ever interested, I’d highly recommend getting a bunch of gals together, ones you trust and can be open with; and dive into a Brenee Brown book. There is nothing more enlightening than unpacking one’s life baggage with fellow women warriors, willing to talk out the weight of our lives in a safe space of trust and honesty. In our last meeting, I was struggling with the concept of “owning one’s story”. It sounded like a mythical concept, of course a super productive one…but practically speaking, how does one ACTUALLY accomplish that? One friend asked me how I knew I hadn’t yet….good question!
The need to own my story resonated with me the minute I read it. I couldn’t describe why, other than knowing intuitively I just haven’t yet.
I’ve felt like I have been existing in some tense place of unacceptance and resistance, without really knowing where that’s coming from. As if some of the fun stuff we do with friends and family, have been like a welcomed surface level distraction from the well of stuff brewing beneath the good times. Like an underline current I don’t know how to throw a line into and dissect…less it pull me in.
But in our first meeting, my friends highlighted the caution Brenee Brown gives, the safety net. We would never talk to our friends, the way we talk to ourselves. We would nneeeevvvveerr let our friends drown in their disappointments without hope and encouragement, so why then do we so readily accept our own? I’m HUGE on supporting those around me, encouraging friends and talking through stuff until we come to a better place together….so why then hadn’t I ever applied that same level of care and support to my own thoughts I wonder? With that in mind and with the hope of understanding what parts of my own story I hadn’t yet owned, I pulled out my trusty journal.
I started with gross honesty. Ugly things I had been telling myself without ever confessing them out loud. Really negative things I hadn’t admitted before. And after that vomit dump of heavy emotion and pages and pages later…I made a bullet list of my complaints…ooooohhhhh – thhooossee are the things I am struggling with – those are the things that are muddying up my waters, parts of me and my story I wasn’t acknowledging or looking at…So true to their caution, I consciously decided to respond to these complaints as if it were a girlfriend saying these things to me about herself. I actually wrote down a couple of friends’ names to center and really evoke the care I would feel if someone precious to me was struggling like this – so I continued to write…I wrote how I would respond to her…knowing that I deeply needed to feed myself truth over these ridiculous lies that had been festering for God knows how long.
It was cathartic…freeing in ways I would never have imagined. I wasn’t expecting God’s grace and presence there in that yuck – I wasn’t expecting freedom in confessing….so I want to share pieces of what I was struggling with, in case it lands somewhere helpful…the realizations were long winded and oh so personal – so maybe I’ll just share a bit….bits and pieces…peaces….over the next while. Bear with me… <3
#1 Complaint – I feel like I keep letting my parents down. I feel like I am trying and trying to do right by them, but always wind up short. It’s one thing to cook for them or help them with things like cleaning, appointments and errands – but I don’t feel like I am providing for them on a deeper level. But with the things that I do, do; I don’t feel they fully recognize or value the effort or care I take. I don’t feel appreciated for the way I bend for them, the yes’ I say or the miles I run sometimes. I constantly feel stressed and frustrated trying to provide what they need and inevitably feel like it’s never enough. Our time together is filled with just their “I needs, I wants” and never feels like soul connecting time anymore. I feel like our relationship is constantly tense and full of unnecessary stress that I always hope to change….without ever feeling like it does.
Relationships with parents are tough. They inevitably come with a lot of baggage – and dealing with aging parents is tougher because there is a feeling of helplessness everyone brings to the table in this difficult season of life. While their needs go up, you get pulled in a million directions – and to boot, there are a million communication breakdowns which create huge barriers between you guys. You feel responsible to them and for them, but it is impossible to always want to say “yes”. You are not perfect. Their holes will always be deeper than what you can fill, because they won’t ever be able to truly communicate what they actually need. They don’t come from a culture of self awareness and reflection, so you’ll never be able to provide what you don’t know is missing. Whatever culture of shame, fear or privacy they come from will never allow you guys to ever connect on that emotional level you wish for and have always being holding out for. None of you will ever be truly known or understood by each other. But that doesn’t mean it’s not love. Between your version of love, and their version of love, is an exchange of love. Accept their love as that provisional and transactional love that didn’t express itself in words but in actions of care, you intimately knew and relied on while growing up. And in return, let yourself do what you can with a heart that knows it’s good intentions. It’s not just their limited capacity in this season of life, it’s yours too; and we are all just human, imperfect human beings.
Rest instead knowing that you are a daughter of the Most High – already fully known, fully loved, understood, created and loved.