Monday, December 21, 2009

Storybook Endings

There's a sign above my bedroom door that says Happily Ever After. I bought it on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey a couple of years ago. It's perfectly viewable from the whole room and the last thing to read on my way out my door every morning. Just a little reminder that my Happily Ever After is out there.

In the sixth grade, I did a book report on Happily After All by Laura Stevenson. In the book, the characters explain that the phrase "happily after all" is more appropriate to the way things go in life. You never see what happens after the prince and princess ride off into the sunset (except in straight-to-DVD sequels). Since the plot is so fraught with difficulty, the real reason we celebrate at the end is not because they will live happily together forever, but because they are now living happily after all that they've been through.

I try to remember that whenever things are pushing down on me; that this isn't the end. In fact, I'm going to have a LOT of endings.

I had lunch today with this incredible person. Smart, funny, and totally resilient despite an overwhelming obstacle in his life. After hearing his story, I couldn't help but wonder what I would do if faced with the same situation. How would I survive? Could I be as happy, or would I drag others into dealing with my internal conflicts?

It's not always easy to remember the good stuff. It seems so normal, so carefree. If my "today" was a storybook, it couldn't possibly have a happily ever after. Nothing can stop a trial or tribulation from popping up tomorrow, so there's no guarantee of happy then. I could focus on that, or I can look back and say that I'm happily after all.

So what if I didn't finish all the house cleaning I wanted to? The federal government (and therefore my office) is closed tomorrow on account of snow and ice; I can finish it up then. So what if I burned the last batch of cookies tonight - I was hanging out with my roommate and having a fabulous time, and she's worth so much more than those cookies.

The good in my days outweighs the bad 99% of the time, so optimistic me would like to say that it'll be happily ever after. But practical me knows that things will come up, bad stuff can happen, and having everything go right and perfect would be boring and spooky anyway. So I'm reveling in my happily after all today. And rooting for one tomorrow. And a forever full of happily after that.

Love always, ~Heather

Monday, December 07, 2009

Silence

One of the hardest things I've ever had to do is not speak to someone. That sounds strange maybe, but it is an incredibly difficult endeavor for someone who loves to keep in touch (as this blog should prove).

I've had to stop communication with people lots of times in the past, and it never gets any easier. The first time was arguably the most difficult - though not the most gut wrenching - because it was a friend with an eating disorder who I realized I couldn't help. It took me years to realize it, but until she was ready to help herself, not even my friendship could make her happy.

Of course there are people who just fall off your radar, but I'm talking about cold turkey not speaking to someone anymore. The first two weeks are the worst. Because you inevitably run across something you know they would think is really funny, or an event they'd love to go to, but you can't send them the link. Then come the times when you might have regularly spoken to each other - like on the way home from a game or night out; but now you can't. Now you must abstain.

Because as my Aunt B once put it about one of the people I had to cut out of my life, he was like crack to me (if I did drugs, which I never have) and the only way to "quit him" was to eliminate all the places in my life he used to be.

I've always told myself that if one of these people ever showed remorse for whatever they did, or had grown up in a way that would make our friendship mutually beneficial and asked to be back in my life, that I would welcome them - maybe warily depending on the person - but they'd always be allowed back (turning the other cheek and whatnot).

Only one of the five or six has ever tried, although I now count two of the others as casual acquaintances. Now I fear I may have to add a few more people to my "silence" list. It's not an exciting proposition.

But it isn't about vengeance or selfishness, it's just that whatever kind of friendship I have with these people has become toxic in some way, where it hurts me more than it helps. Maybe I'm always the one who has to make the plans or be the listener or drive a distance. Maybe the other person hasn't put effort into the situation in recent memory. Or - in two cases - maybe they did something so horrible that I couldn't, in good conscience, continue to associate with them.

Still, it never gets easier. My heart still aches for the hole that is left; the space where our friendship used to be.

Some holes are bigger than others. Sometimes it feels like I've ripped something out by the roots, but that the roots actually had spread and grown under the surface in ways I couldn't begin to visualize until they left a void.

I know in the long run it's better. I know there are just some things that can't be fixed by one person alone. I know that the places that feel empty will fill with something else eventually.

Like a garden, I'm looking forward to the spring. Maybe some of my old friendships will come back and grow again. But if they don't, new people will appear as I continue to grow and change. And slowly, slowly, their voices will replace the silence.

Love always - even to those who don't hear from me anymore, ~Heather

Sunday, December 06, 2009

When all else fails...

...write about the good stuff. It'll make you feel better.

I just spent 30 some odd minutes writing this long post, trying to be all profound so I could hide the thing I was really worried about in the post without having to say it outright. I didn't even have to read it back to know that it was a waste of electrons.

Instead, I would like to tell you that I am LOVING the live Christmas tree I bought on my way home from church today. A seven foot balsam. It smells lovely, and I know it's going to look even more amazing as soon as the branches start to fall out a little more. I'll post pictures of the whole decorated set-up in a few days.

Also, played in a fellowship this weekend and did okay. I desperately need to work on my serve receive, but had as many blocks/touches at the net as everyone else and only missed two out of how many ever hit attempts I had and one serve all day. I also managed to get rated as an up-ref and a scorekeeper. One test and three ratings to go, and I'll be official on all counts. I would like to brag and say I did my second scorekeeping evaluation all in pen (since the pencil broke) and still knocked it out of the park.

Clemson lost, which was brilliant. I'm a little sad about Florida's fall to Alabama, but am confident that whoever they face in the National Championship is going to get pummeled. Oh SEC, how I love thee.

Other notable weekend tidbits:
  • We got some snow, though certainly more outside the Beltway at the tournament.
  • I pulled the last of the produce in from the garden and filled the compost bin with heaps of plant matter.
  • Had Advent dinner with a good friend who wore my elf hat and laughed at me as I hauled the tree in the house all by myself.
  • I did not get lost in Clarendon, though I thought I was, and two quick U-turns later I was back in my original, totally awesome parking spot.
  • Liberty Tavern makes a strong yet wonderful Long Island Iced Tea (for you non-drinkers, this is not actually tea).
  • Going to get things cleaned up around here so I can finish decorating before my match tomorrow night.
Off I go to do the end of weekend prep stuff. Hope you had a good one.

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - Today's quote: "Whoever is happy will make others happy too." ~Anne Frank. I don't know how they're generated, but their significance to my posts is uncanny sometimes.