Ready to forgive?


A wise woman once told me that forgiveness is acceptance that the past cannot be different. When we forgive, we have to accept. And that’s where we all tend to get tangled up.

I am certainly not a champion for forgiveness. I’ve fought against most of my life. It just wasn’t something I could entertain. How could certain people deserve forgiveness?

So I heard a lot from others about how forgiveness is something you have to do for yourself, not the person. That if you don’t forgive then you are subject to hate in your heart, and that hate will just weigh you down. Maybe. But for me, not forgiving you doesn’t mean I hate you. And it also doesn’t mean I’m still hoping things will be different.

So how do we forgive? How do we move forward? We can all attempt forgiveness. I’ve said it out loud on numerous occasions. I’ve reconciled that the past isn’t going to be erased. But in the end, it’s not 100%. Forgiveness doesn’t clean the slate. It doesn’t give anyone a free pass to hurt you again. That’s maybe why they say forgive but don’t forget.

There’s no innocence with forgiveness. It doesn’t rectify the hurt. Ultimately, forgiveness may mean something different to each person who has the capacity to forgive. When I have forgiven, it helped me stopped playing the past over and over – waiting for a different ending. It stopped the blame. It’s way too easy to blame yourself for everything, especially when you are a kid. As children, we aren’t sophisticated enough to understand we are not the cause. When something traumatic happens, a child can’t comprehend the way an adult can. It’s either blame the adult or blame yourself. Children blame themselves. To blame the adult would seem unfathomable for many kids. Because we usually love and trust the adult. This creates an internal struggle and a rejection of self-love. We don’t learn to love ourselves. We learn to blame.

I’ve blamed myself for much of what has happened to me. It’s a vicious cycle, often hard to correct. I’m better than I was, but the question is, have I forgiven myself? And this may be the hardest part of forgiveness. I’ve come to realize that forgiveness for myself is the first step. Everyone else had to wait.

Self-awareness can empower you to forgive. It can help you see the logical side of any internal argument. I’m still my biggest enemy in many ways. To forgive myself, I have had to accept my actions and choices; some of which were really bad. I can’t change the past. I can only hope that I honestly believe now that it cannot be different.

I’ve forgiven exes. Most of which didn’t ask for it. I once wrote a long email to a man I had loved. I had ended the relationship well over a year before. It took that long to heal. It took that long to forgive. I think he needed my forgiveness. It wasn’t easy to give. When someone hurts you, someone that you love, it can be hard to come out the other side. I did, although with some wounds that may never completely heal.

I’ve forgiven friends who have hurt me, knowing that we all make mistakes. I’ve forgiven my mom for not being perfect. I’ve forgiven my former bosses for treating me terribly. And yes, I have forgiven myself a million times. I’m sure I will a million more times.

But I haven’t completed my forgiveness journey. I still find it not within my current grasp to forgive one person. This person let me down my entire life, never there when it mattered. This person isn’t in my life anymore and hasn’t been for some time. No matter how much I want to forgive, there is something that stops me from being able to completely. There’s never going to be any resolution; I know that. Nothing will change the past. And I don’t have to ever give this person another chance to hurt me.

For now, the forgiveness is still a work in progress, as am I. Eventually, I think I’ll be at 100%. Forgiveness is not something this person ever asked for, and at times, I think it’s something undeserved. I’ll let go of it all one day. I’ll be brave enough to forgive.

When people hurt us, it’s hard to recover. It’s hard to stand back up and pick all the little shivers of pain out of your palms. When we are hurt, it changes us. Forgiveness doesn’t change us back. It simply helps us from wishing every day for a new ending. History cannot be rewritten. I will keep trying every day to forgive a little more.

Conflict and Kindness


Conflict is a part of life. No matter how much we’d like to avoid it, it’s inescapable. After all, we are all different and unique. We can’t all agree on everything. Nor should we because that would probably be a very boring world.

But when we disagree, does that mean we have to be enemies? Does that mean we have to be hateful? It seems pretty simple to say of course not, yet that doesn’t seem to be where we are as a society.

Before the advent of social media, we probably kept our opinions and our beliefs a bit more to ourselves. Now everyone has a platform. And everyone has an opinion, which is fine because you are entitled to your opinion. Just remember it’s yours. That’s right, it’s your opinion. You can’t make it be someone else’s. Opinions aren’t facts. They are what we believe about a certain situation, which could include a lot of different things, including bias.

I have lots of opinions and beliefs. And I have plenty of people in my life who have polar opposite opinions and beliefs. This includes in my own home. Justin and I have a great love for one another and also respect. But we are different. We came from different environments and have experienced different things. On the core, non-negotiables, we are pretty aligned. Other things not so much, including politics. I loathe politics. I feel like we have a very dysfunctional system. So does he. We just have different thoughts on how to fix it. Yet, we can live together and be happy. With the current state of the country, it’s hard to miss all the hate and rage being supplied by both parties. We try to keep our differences on these matters out of sight. Although sometimes, I can’t help myself. I will honestly admit that I threw a dog treat at him a few weeks ago. I apologized. Not my finest moment.

So here we are cohabitating, not arguing. Because I know what matters is that he’s a good man who treats me well, is a great father and is respectful of everyone; not who he votes for. Although, I’ll be honest, it’s sometimes been hard to separate the two.

Apparently, we are the only ones that seem to be able to get along. People are spending hours on social media being vicious and disgusting to one another. Why? What will this solve? I don’t post anything on social media about my political beliefs. This is private. The only thing I will publicly speak out on is the discriminatory and unconstitutional passage of HB2. If you want to attack me because of this or no longer be my friend, I’m okay with this. I stand proudly with all those in the LGBT community and their allies. I will never support anything that chews away at the basic human rights of any citizen. Not to mention the financial ruin it has caused this state and how it makes us look to the world.

Other than this, I’m going to keep my thoughts to myself. It’s funny how people will just assume you are on their side about something and begin spewing away. Don’t ever make assumptions about how others feel. You’ll be wrong. I am reminded of a dinner I was at many years ago with friends and acquaintances. A controversial topic came up with many at the table saying some terrible things about anyone who was on the other side. I did not join the conversation. I simply got up and went outside. I came back later. The conversation had moved on, but it changed the way I felt about some of those people that day. It made me realize that if I didn’t want to get attacked, I should probably keep a lot to myself.

I’ve also been sickened by the way people have taken down those in the public eye for having an opinion. If you are a celebrity or famous, you do have a platform. You can use it as you wish. My girl Sara Bareilles has been vocal about her vote. It’s her opinion. It in no way impacts her music or the amazing, talented person she is. But she’s got people almost threatening her for having a voice! Just unfollow her if it bothers you so much, but why hate her and tell her she’s scum because she has a different opinion than you.

So as we head into the final few weeks of this election, can I please persuade you all to be kind? It’s not too much to ask. I don’t have to agree with you or even like you to be kind. At the basis of human dignity is kindness. I am not your enemy because we disagree. I am not delusional, despicable or repulsive because of my opinions. I know they are mine. I don’t plan to force them on anyone. So take all that energy you are using to fuel your hate and do something wonderful with it. What kind of world could we really live in if we practiced kindness? It’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a possibility.

What Love Means to Me


I once thought love was about finding someone you couldn’t live without; that loving someone was the same as your need for air. Because this is what I learned about love, beginning with fairy tales and reiterated by rom-coms and just about everything else I absorbed as a young girl. Popular cultural has been teaching girls for ages that love is something that envelops you and sinks down into your every pore. And that without it, you’re nothing.

The reality of love is far different. But it took me a long time to come to the conclusion that love is really about finding someone you can live with, flaws and all.

I am not an expert on love. I have been an utter failure at it most of my life. I do know that my thoughts have changed, and even though love has been heart breaking at times, when it’s right, it’s a wonderful thing. I’ve only been in love three times. Here’s how I found my own meaning of love.

I was probably always a little boy crazy. Most of the time in elementary school I had a boyfriend, whatever that meant. Although I do recall kissing in kindergarten during nap time. In middle school, I bloomed and got noticed more by boys. I never had a problem with boys liking me. I just usually liked a different one! Pop culture allowed me to believe that someday I’d get the boy I wanted; after all Molly Ringwald did.

But I never really had real heartache until high school. My first serious boyfriend was much older and more experienced. And for some reason he liked me. I felt special. I thought he really cared for me, and he probably did. But I was naive; life had not hardened me yet. I still remember when he broke up with me at the movie theater. I cried for days. I didn’t understand why. Hadn’t I done everything right? Hadn’t I been the perfect girlfriend? It was a good learning experience about “love.” I didn’t really love that guy. I did trust him and cared for him deeply. It changed me. It made me realize that I should protect my heart more, and that’s about the last time anyone broke up with me. Many years later he apologized to me, and I really appreciated that.

The only guy I really loved from my adolescence was a guy I met when I was dating his friend. Then he and I realized we had feelings for each other. We didn’t date long. Instead we stayed friends. I went on to date others, but my heart was always his. What I remember most about him were the late night phone calls that lasted for hours when we were really honest about everything. A few years later when I was in college, I told him I loved him. He told me he loved me, too, but he couldn’t be with me. He didn’t think he was good enough. I didn’t know what to say so I put some distance between us. And in that distance, he met someone. Not long after, he told me he was going to have a baby and was getting married.  That summer was brutal. I still remember him telling me; nothing was ever the same. 

A few weeks later, I spent the last night in the house I grew up in with him. But he still got married and became a dad. He still called me all the time until one day I said stop. I didn’t want those calls to stop, but he had made his choice. I needed to get on with my life. I never stopped loving him or thinking there might be a time for us in the future. Then he died. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in years. I knew his life was kind of a mess. I only hope that he always knew that someone loved him.

I didn’t really fall in love again until my 30s. My early 20s were full of lots of non-commitment then I met my ex-husband. But as I clearly know now, I never really loved him, at least not romantically. I was not in any condition to love at that time, which is why I married a man I didn’t love.

This next love was after him, and it was a train wreck from the start. We were co-workers. I was still married when we met. We were just friends at first. After separating, he and I knew we couldn’t start something. It was too soon. But there was something very intense between us. And honestly, I had already fallen in love with him over the many months of long conversations at the office. I tried to move forward and not think of him. I started dating; met some guys I liked. It was him I wanted though, and we couldn’t stay away from each other. About a year later, we finally made a go at it. It was never easy. There was a lot of baggage. There was fighting and anger. I loved him fiercely. I stepped on my heart until it burst to stay with him. Slowly, I fell out of love with him and had to go so I could save myself. I’ll always care about him. I have forgiven him. He wasn’t my happy ending, no matter how bad I wanted him to be.

After that, I needed to just work on me. It took a long time to heal from that heartbreak. I was fine being alone. And when I was in a good place, something amazing happened, I fell in love for the last time. We were friends at first. I wasn’t sure where it would go, and that was okay. When you’re older and wary from what you’ve been through, you have a different expectation, which is that you don’t have any expectations!

He won me over with his easy way about him that’s just so relaxing to my soul. He is bright and kind. He is a good father and a wonderful partner. I never knew it could be so easy to be with someone. There’s no drama; our only fight is what to have for dinner (and that topic itself could be a blog – coming soon!).

What he has taught me about love is that it can be unconditional when it’s right. He lets me be me. I let him be him. Yes, we still have to work on our relationship, but we do that every day by talking to each other or not talking. Regardless, it’s honest and sincere. It’s a really nice way to live. I once had this checklist of what I thought love would be. It’s long in the trash! That’s not how the real world works. As I get closer to becoming his wife, I absolutely believe we will make it because he’s the one I can live with.

The Secret of Shame


Shame is a terrible feeling, like the worst case of heartburn coupled with a swift quick in the gut. But what is shame really? And more importantly, why do we give it so much power?

Shame is defined as, “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable or improper done by oneself.” Shame is a nutshell is about self-inflicted pain. Shame doesn’t just stick around in the immediate aftermath. We think we need to carry it around, hold onto it, keep it alive.

Is shame useful? Well, sure we’ve all done things we needed to feel shame over. However, most of us in the world don’t go around doing really horrible things. Yet we still want to keep our shame! That’s not okay. Shame is a secret self-hate that we polish with additional feelings of disgust and inferiority. Shame means we don’t deserve forgiveness or the right to move on.

Shame is something we are taught to feel as a child, as in “shame, shame I know your name.” In a way, it teaches us right from wrong. Then we grow up. As adults, we mess up a lot. But there’s shame to greet us and remind us we’re terrible human beings. We welcome it. We let it cloud our minds, making us completely irrational. Shame doesn’t allow us to let go of what happened. It sticks out its tentacles and lashes on. We’re stuck in shame.

I am not immune to shame. I’ve been my biggest disappointment many times. I’m sure I will be again. Shame doesn’t have a hold on me anymore.

I’ve felt episodes of shame many times in life; the biggest being due to the many bad decisions I’ve made in relationships. I’ve hurt people. I’ve hurt myself. Probably the biggest shame I allowed to invade my life was the shame of divorce. Nobody wants to say, “I’m divorced.” I didn’t grow up dreaming of my divorce, but I certainly knew what it was since I was so young when my parents divorced. Divorce is very common in our culture; some people do it a lot! I don’t think, though, that most people go into marriage thinking about divorce.

My shame about divorce was really about the fact that my ex-husband was not a bad guy. We had problems, but it was never ugly between us. He loved me very much and was good to me most of the time. I hurt him badly. There’s nothing I can do that will ever change that. I’m sure he has healed from it and moved on with his life, hopefully to find love. But the fact is I married someone I didn’t love, and three and half years later, I finally had the guts to say so.

So I became the bad guy. I was the bad guy. He didn’t really see me this way because that’s not the kind of person he was. But others did. So I let the shame roll over me. It was intoxicating. I deserved it all. I messed up both of our lives for a little bit. I never meant to hurt him or myself. Sometimes, we do the best we can.

In the immediacy of the break-up, it was not something I wanted to reveal to anyone. There have probably been many people I’ve known between then and now who didn’t know. And occasionally when I was honest about it, I would get interrogated as to why! Sure, it’s personal, not really something that comes out naturally. But I was a bit shocked that even the doctor’s office wanted to know. That’s right, on the form there was a checkbox for single, married or divorced. Why is this information their business? Does being divorced mean the doctor gives me a sad face? So I knew logically this was ridiculous, but I still checked single. That was shame winning. I was too ashamed to check the right box. Even though, I don’t believe this is information they should be privy; I still felt too ashamed to check the damn box.

So how can we shed shame? It starts with forgiveness. You can hope that you’ll be forgiven by others, but don’t count on it. Instead, forgive yourself. What’s done is done. You can’t change it. You can be accountable and remorseful. You can try to be a better person.

No one is perfect. We are a breed of imperfect creatures. Life is hard enough without the added deluge of shame. If you can shed that shame today, just think of how much more room you’ll have for joy and acceptance.



Pop and me at Tweetsie, circa 1982

We don’t all have the good fortune to have great role models. I had a lot of exceptional women around me, but there weren’t many examples of how a man should be. For the first 12 years of my life, I did have my Pop. Although he’s been gone for quite a while, I think of him often.

This is what I can tell you about my Pop. He was a doting husband, father and grandfather. He was always so sweet and sincere to my Granny. My grandparents had a real love story. I still have letters that he wrote my grandmother through the years from first dating to long married. When I think about a happy marriage, I think of them. They laughed a lot and were always very affectionate. I’m sure they didn’t agree on everything (she was a Democrat; he was a Republican), but I never heard either say an unkind word about the other.

My mom was a daddy’s girl. She was much closer to him than my grandmother. It wasn’t until after his death that my mom and grandmother became close. My mom loved sports and was very athletic, which meant she had more in common with my grandfather. My Pop even played minor league baseball when he was younger. After being wounded in WWII (he was shot in the hip and received a Purple Heart), he was never the same physically. He and my mom watched a lot of sports together and were always talking about the Yankees or the Redskins, depending on the season.

To become this eventual great man, my Pop had to go through a lot. He lost his parents and younger brother in an accident at a young age. Only he and his older brother survived. They were then raised by his grandmother. I don’t recall him ever talking about this to me. I’m not sure how old he was when this happened, but I’m sure it shaped him forever. It led him to be thankful and grateful for life. He always seemed to convey this with his smile and kind nature. I’m sure he never got over it. And that’s why I’m glad in a way that he passed when he did. He would have been devastated to watch my mom go through her illness. It literally broke my grandmother’s heart; I’m sure it would have done the same to him.

What I remember the most about my Pop was the time we spent together. He often picked me up from school and took me to dance class. He had this green Hornet that I can still picture. It was easy to spot! When I would visit, he always had time to play with me. We’d set up Monopoly or play banker. He would often tell me ghost stories, which fed my hungry imagination. As I got older and started writing, I’d read my stories to him.

He always smelled like aftershave and tobacco. After he passed, my grandmother held onto many of his clothes for a while. I’d sometimes go in the closet and smell them so I could somehow feel him around me.

My Pop was never really sick. He did have Parkinson’s. I remember his shakes and tremors. But I was never fearful. Eventually he had to stop driving, but he was never feeble. He passed one night in his sleep. It was my first death. I was 12. I didn’t really understand it all. Until I went to my grandparents house, and he wasn’t there. My Granny certainly brought a lot of life and joy into their home. But it was never the same after Pop passed. His kind eyes and sweet voice were such a big part of my experiences in that home.

My Pop was an amazing man. I wish I knew or remembered more about him. There’s no one to really ask anymore. I suppose what’s important is the feeling I have when I think of him: love, safe, peaceful.  He was the greatest man I knew. He shaped my life a lot in the 12 years I knew him, and I’m so very glad for that.

The Lonely Introvert


I am an introvert. I’m not sure if I always was. Life and circumstances have a way of changing us. But as an adult, I have certainly always been an introvert. I don’t think that’s a negative think, it’s just the way I’m wired.

I wouldn’t say that I’m shy or socially awkward. I think being shy and being an introvert are different things. I’m never afraid to speak my mind or stand up for myself or others. I can behave extremely normally at social functions (whatever that means!). I just kind of feel really drained after.

A lot of people can be seriously draining to introverts. Or really large social settings where everyone looks like they are having the time of their lives. And I’m wondering when I can go home! Introverts, like me, tend to like smaller circles. I often joke that I don’t really like people; I prefer animals, which is sometimes very true. The people I do love, I love hard. They are easy to be around. I don’t have to worry about anything but just being me.

As an introvert, I’ve had to put myself out there and go outside my comfort zone. It’s been necessary for my job and my social life. I try hard to be a more charming version of myself, usually failing. I think it’s good to push yourself even if it goes against your natural inclination. As an introvert, I feel like I have to be “on” in some of these settings. But I don’t think I’m ever far from my genuine self, just maybe a bit more talkative.

I need a break after times like these. I need to cocoon a bit and recharge. I’ve always been fine by myself. I don’t mind going places and doing things by myself; never minded traveling alone. Through all my travels, I never had more than a few sentence conversation with anyone sitting beside me. I wouldn’t say I’m not friendly. I just tend to have my nose in a book. I’m rarely interested in what’s going on around me.

However, I do get lonely. That may seem contrary to everything I’ve just written thus far. I never feel lonely at home. I’m blessed to have an amazing connection with a great man. I just sometimes feel disconnected. Most of my favorite people are not close by. And because I work for a huge company with colleagues all over the globe, I don’t really see anyone all day. Most meetings are virtual and literally no one sits around me when I go into the office. It can be really isolating.

The truth is the older you get the harder it is to keep and make friends. We stay in touch with those closest by and who we have the most in common. I could do better. I don’t call my west coast friends near enough. I don’t make plans with the ones closer enough. Because you know, life gets in the way: responsibilities, projects and work. I want to be a better friend. I want the people I love to know it. I am grateful and thankful for them every day, and I know that even if it’s been a day or month or a year, we are always in each other’s hearts.

As I reflect on friendships, I can’t help but also think about the friends I have lost. Most because we fell out of touch or grew apart; others needed to be let go. Even if we haven’t talked in years, there are so many out there that are and were wonderful lights in my life. There is a sadness that comes with this when you think back to people who were such important parts of your life. Now they are just people you used to know. In times like these, I think mostly of two friends that I still miss and think about all the time. I met them at a critical time in my life. I was trying to start fresh and carve out a place for myself in a new city and new school. The weight of everything that had happened in my young 20 years wasn’t clear, not yet any way. I needed to have fun. I needed friends. I needed people to see me differently than others did who already knew my story.

For the next six years, those two girls were so much to me. I couldn’t have survived without them. I believe I was a good friend, too. I’m still not really sure what happened that caused our rift. I haven’t seen them now in over a decade. But I keep up with them. I have so much love for them and wish them joy and happiness. They’ll never read this. They’ll never know how much I think of them. I’ll probably never see them again. It’s sad but that’s life. It’s not fair but sometimes people are only in your life for a short time and hopefully for a good reason.

Loneliness is not my unique malady. I’m sure we all suffer episodes of it. Loneliness isn’t about being alone. I’ve felt lonely in a room of people. It’s not about not wanting time alone. That I don’t mind and recommend. Loneliness is about the absence of the faces and voices you love. It’s about not being able to say everything or nothing at all to the people you want by your side. Loneliness is the feeling of wanting to be connected to more than just your own thoughts and feelings. It’s a powerful emotion, one often hard to detect and even harder to remedy.

What’s even more interesting is that we enter and leave this world alone. Humans are not solitary creatures by nature. Yet loneliness may be an evolved emotion as our brains and social structures have matured. So should we be lonely? I don’t know. I just know that I am sometimes. My ask to you is that if you are lonely or missing someone you love, reach out to them. But don’t mistake any company for a cure to loneliness. Sometimes we are better off on our own. It’s knowing the difference that’s so hard.