Saying what you need to say

The other day, I got a message from a friend who sent me something she wrote. It was akin to a journal entry, and with it, she had simply said something along the lines of, “Had a rough day and wrote about it if you want to read.”

Of course I want to read, I thought. I read through it, and immediately messaged her back, letting her know how glad I was that she shared, how much compassion I felt for her experience, how I could relate and understood, and that I would be happy to hear more, read more, or talk at any point.

What she did – reaching out, without qualifying it, without apologizing, without drowning herself in shame, is still hard for me. Not always, but often. Especially when what I want to reach out and talk about feels big.

And I get stuck in spinny loops of thinking, but the problem with spinning thoughts is that when you’re having them, they seem incredibly logical.

Maybe I should call her and ask if we can chat. Wait. She’s been so busy at work, and I remember her talking about how tired she is. So really, if I asked for an hour of her time, it would be adding to her stress, therefore burdening her, therefore I am a burden. Good thing I thought this through, not a good plan to reach out.

Yes, of course, looking at that now it’s clear how illogical it is. But when you’re in it, you don’t see it.

Which is why I have conversations like this with my therapist:

Me: So this week I’ve been really feeling like I need to reach out and connect and talk about those things on my mind but I just haven’t.

Her: Oh? Why?

Me: Because those things are big and heavy and I don’t want to be a burden and dump on someone.

Her: Nothing you’ve ever told me indicates that you unfairly dump on people.

Me: But people are busy and have their own stressors and I don’t want to add to that.

Her: Hmmmm. [eyebrows raise]

Me: I know, I KNOW. I already heard your voice in my head yesterday about it, telling me, What would you do if the tables were turned? Would you view a friend needing to check in with you, because she was having a hard time, as burdensome and ‘too much’, even if it was a big or heavy topic? And no, the answer is no.

Her: [laughs, because in therapy, I’m hilarious]

Me: But it’s different. I mean, I know it’s not actually different. But it is. I just worry and feel afraid.

That’s the part where she encourages me, dispels all my arguments, and then (nicely) tells me that enough is enough. That if I need connection, if I need a conversation, I need to ask for it. I need to not sit back and hope that someone turns into a mind-reader and figures out that there’s something I want to talk about. I need to think of those people who have always responded to me with empathy, and not just sympathy, those people who have unconditionally said, I’m here, say whatever it is you need to say, no matter how big or intense. I need to go up to those people and, just as my friend did by sending me her message, say to them, Okay. I need to say it.


Quote by Maya Angelou


I also saw this article yesterday, which seemed to tie in nicely as well, and also help me sort through the thought processes that I default to. Lots of thoughts on that.

I am so interested in this topic, in trying to figure it all out. Does anyone else do this, where there are times that you hold yourself to a higher (or lower) standard than you would others? Where you can so clearly act in one way, but are afraid of doing it when the tables are turned? I am equally fascinated by the difference in how I feel when I am met with empathy vs. sympathy. More to write on that some day.

Anyway, I’m working on it. Working on reaching out, making the moves, despite the fear, despite the anticipatory worry. Whatever it’s about, however big or small it seems. It’s a good exercise, really, to ask for what we need. And something I suspect that many of us don’t do enough.

Dropping the rope

This summer, I spend time talking with one of our campers who refuses to walk away when another camper is upsetting him. “But then he will win,” he tells me. “I have to argue back until he accepts that he’s annoying me.” I explain that by walking away, the same message gets sent. Drop the rope.

One of our kiddos walks into a situation where another camper is, who triggers her. She tenses up, then takes a deep breath, and asks, “Can I please move to a different location?” She drops the rope.

I am losing consciousness and about to pass out. I fight it, I’m determined to beat it. But I’m losing. So I stop fighting it and let it go. Whatever happens, will happen. I drop the rope.

I’m in a moment of increased anxiety. A few thoughts and fears spin and swirl around my head and I am so tempted to focus on them, dig into them, pull them apart. And I do, at first. I think and spin and check and worry and try to push everything out of my head. But it just increases my anxiety. So I breathe. And I sit with it. I drop the rope.

This concept is new for me. But now that I’m thinking about it, I realize that it’s everywhere, in all of my life. At work, with kids, with friends, with loved ones, with myself. 

When you find yourself in a tug-of-war, there are two ways to handle it. You can pull and pull until you can’t pull anymore. Or you can drop the rope and let it go. And it’s a concept that it’s hard for….well, everyone, I think. It’s something we teach our kiddos all the time. Ignore, walk away, focus on a different thought, take a breath, you’re okay. And it’s so hard for them because they want to fight the anxiety, the meltdown, the annoying peer, the fear. And really, I can’t blame them. I want to fight all of those things too. Sometimes there’s a worry, “But if I’m not fighting, I’m giving in. I’m giving up. I’m losing.” Giving in is not the same as giving up. Surrendering is not the same as losing. You are still in control. You’re still making the choice. There’s a peace that comes by dropping the rope. Which isn’t to say that the trigger, the thought, the person, the situation goes away. But it’s empowering (albeit hard and scary) to take control of the situation and decide to let go. 

You know I love metaphors and analogies – they help me understand everything, my work, myself, life. So. If you find yourself dumped into a big pool of water, your instinct is going to be to panic. To flail, thrash, scream. You’re panicking and the more you panic, the more you fight, the worse your fear gets, the more exhausted you get, and you accomplish nothing. But if you breathe. If you lay on your back. If you float. You’re still in that pool of water. You might still be scared. But you’re giving yourself a breath, a lift. You’re accepting where you’re at, and you gain both physical and emotional strength by doing so.

Sit with it. Drop the rope. 

And gain strength.


p style=”text-align:center;”>

On my mind right now

-Am I useless? Am I accomplishing anything with my life? What purpose do I serve?

-How was there another school shooting? My heart hurts so much.

-Thoughts and emotions are flying around my soul and I can’t close off to them. It’s been a long stretch of increased permeability and it hurts.

-Am I an awful fiance/daughter/sister/friend? Because I feel like it.

-Am I responsible for everyone? Can everything be traced back to me? Do I hold the world’s suffering in my hands?

Writing about writing

I spend so much time worrying about blogging, worrying that nobody would read it, worrying that I wouldn’t be a good blogger. But now, a year, two years later, I still am not regularly blogging and I still wish I was. So really, I’m just scared and I need to stop being scared and just write, even if nobody reads it, even if it’s just for me. Because time is passing and there is no magical moment when I’ll be ready.

I want to blog but when I sit down to blog, the words stop. In fact, I spend so much time thinking about how I’m unable to blog, that in that wasted time, I could’ve written five posts.

I have things I want to say, but I don’t know how to get them out.

I have topics that I’m interested in, but I’m afraid that nobody will care.

I want to blog but I’m afraid that I only have one shot — that if I don’t have a wonderful, fantastic blog, filled with insightful posts, then going public with it is useless because everyone will be like, “Why does ___ even bother blogging, it’s all rambles that she shouldn’t publicize.”

So. At the core, maybe it’s fear. Like always.

How do I get over it? I know, I know, just do it. But is it that easy? Do I have to be a good, perfect blogger?

%d bloggers like this: