Less than

It took me one single day to find inspiration in others' writing, and now I have a page full of drafts on this lonely little blog. 

Kris at Pretty All True always writes things that get my mind racing and my heart beating heavy and hard. One of her posts last week just made me ache, more so than I already was. It was so spot on! I felt anguish, frustration, fear, doubt, disappointment as I was reading it...all the things I have been feeling lately anyway. 

Reading it made me feel less alone. 

And then, this comment she left in response to someone's comment: 

" Some of us are less, because we believe ourselves to be less. 
Subjective trumps objective, every time.
Every time."

Silly fear of mine. I've struggled with this for YEARS. This less than

I can't really put my finger on when it began, the origin of my less than. Was it when I didn't get a part in the play freshman year of high school? Was it when I began to be talked about at school, made fun of, ridiculed? Was it when my then-boyfriend slept with someone else on my prom night? Was it when a friend chose drugs over me? 
Or was it later, when my now-ex-husband discussed our pending divorce long before we ever thought of divorce? Or was it when he chose work over time with myself and our daughter, for years? Or was it after the divorce?

I think maybe all those things laid the groundwork for this less than. I think this less than has followed me well into adulthood, gaining strength with other things like lack of self-confidence and fear. 

So here I am. 
Less than. 

Objectively, cognitively, I know I am not less than. I know that I am valuable and priceless and full of worth and power and strength. 

But subjectively? Emotionally? Ah. Such bullshit.

I am less than at work in terms of priorities for my boss. 
I am less than at home in terms of everyone else's drama.
I am less than in my relationship....less important than everything else, everyone else. 
No matter the objective, the words said....I still feel it. I still see it. 
It is a terrible weakness to feel less than....to actually feel and say "I wish I was someone's first choice." 

I don't know why I feel this way. I don't know how it started. But damn if it isn't painful. Because this less than teams up with that doubt and that fear and it's a hell of a weight to carry alone, a hell of a storm to fight alone. 



"I would attempt to capture
…what it feels like to be loved unconditionally...
…what it is to know true contentment."
~Nichole @ In These Small Moments

As a child, unconditional love was my father's smile when he hugged and kissed me good night; the smell of my mother's perfume in the morning; my grandmother's vegatable garden in her backyard; waking up to find my little brother's thin warm body next to mine in bed, surrounded by all of his stuffed animals. 

As a teen, unconditional love was sneaking out of my house to soothe my boyfriend after his father abused him; Friday night football games in the stands, cheering for my best friend; the smell of my secret crush's cologne and the twinkle in his eye as he called me "Dan"; lying on my driveway staring up at the stars, wishing for my future; a single kiss on a playground; a hand on the small of my back as I cried. 

As a wife, unconditional love was home-cooked meals and lying on the couch all day Sunday watching TV under a blanket; compromises; forgiving despite the dread in the pit of my stomach; giving me courage when I didn't want it. 

As a mother, unconditional love is "You are the best mom ever"; waking to her hand reaching for one of mine in her sleep; kisses on the forehead; sweet concern behind her frown as she asks if I am okay when she sees tears in my eyes; full-on belly laughs to the point of losing our breath. 

As a social worker, unconditional love is a guiding hand, comforting words, and helping even though it hurts yourself to the point of tears and fatigue.

Unconditional love is ever-changing, growing and evolving, gaining strength and stature as the years go on. I am overwhelmed by the amount of love I have for my daughter, for the love I feel from a handful of friends that seem to know the exact time to reach out to me, for the surprise of true love in my boyfriend's eyes. 

After the debacle of my separation and divorce, I was unsure of the definition of unconditional love. I had been trained by my ex husband to believe that all love had conditions, that surely I didn't deserve it unless I earned it, by his rules & standards. That it had an expiration date. I watched that love grow hard and then brittle and eventually disappear. And I let others tell me what unconditional love was. Their take on it, their twisted and sad way of justifying the lack of it in their lives. 

I would be lying if I said that unconditional love was pain free. It sucks that this isn't the truth. Oh damn, how it hurts sometimes. Enough to bring me to my knees. It can be sharp and blunt, fierce and timid, brutal and lenient, comforting and lonely. And bad love doesn't always ruin good love, later. Not unless you let it. But then: it lifts me back up, comforts me, and carries me on. 

I am still learning, still experiencing. I feel the ebb and flow of it in my life, rocking me through both the good times and the bad. I still have fear, but I still have faith. I still play it safe, but I continue to take risks. I am fluid and solid, with the love I find, and the love that finds me. 

*This post was inspired by this post by Nichole over at In these Small Moments. The quote at the top is directly from her post. I've had these words locked up inside, not knowing they existed until that sentence unlocked something.*


The Worry List

"I'm tired and twisted, barely breathing, buried in the dark...
A could've been.
Don't be concerned, that's just the power of a breaking heart....
How good am I at hiding it?..
Take me off your worry list, it'll be better that way."
~Blue October

My worries are a mile wide, 
Ten feet long, 
As tall as the weeping willow in my neighbor's yard.
They drag me down, they slow me up,
But I never break; I always bend.
I got this. 

These worries were do-able, bearable, 
Before you.
It was stifling, I was worn,
But I carried them and filed them neatly 
in stacks on my dresser, 
being sure to triage them when time was on my back as well. 

There was a comfortable misery in my known unknowns. 
I was the person others would marvel at:
"How do you do it?"
Smile. Grin. Bear it. Add another worry to the list. 

Since you-
powerful, mind-blowing, earth-shattering peace, 
smooth skin and strong hands-
my worries are heavier, 
weighted down with tear-stained hopes,
mingled with weeks of weary disgust at my weakness,
wrapped in your hoodie I sleep with now that you are gone. 

Who knew fear and loneliness were so powerful together?, 
Adding decades to the sadness under my eyes and drowning out the sound of your voice in my ear.  


Hope floats

how she had grown to hate the word. It was an insidious seed planted inside a person's soul, surviving covertly on little tending, then flowering so spectacularly that none could help but cherish it."
~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

That word resonates behind my eyeballs, bouncing around among all these damn words in my head: faith, love, strength, peace, perseverance, forgiveness, pain, ache, fear...

I found other things in that word-peace, comfort, strength- was able to carefully balance myself on the edge of it, and push forward. Or at least teeter slowly as I waited for my life to begin again. Even in the most painful of storms, it was my buoy, a bright light in many a dark nights. 


("If today I lose my hope, please remind me that your plans are better than my dream.")

I can't single out the word, or feel it's power. It has very little pull right now. It's just another word, one I want to push away so I can curl up in a bulletproof ball in my bed.

But it's like the weed growing wildly in the flowerbed in my backyard: insistent, obnoxious, overpowering, and disgustingly beautiful in all it's glory. 

I want to turn my back on it.
I cannot.