I’m Trying to be a Good Person…

It’s perhaps one of my most commonly used phrases.

I’m trying to be a good person…

To clarify, I don’t think I’m a bad person. I normally find myself using that phrase to remind myself of why I’m doing something – even if it’s not necessarily what I want to do. Sometimes I do things simply because they are the right thing to do. You hurt me and I still find it in my heart to help – why? Because I want to set an example. I want to be the bigger person. I want to make it clear – you know, you hurt me, so you’re going to sweat for a few days and maybe I’ll help and maybe I won’t, but if I decide to, it’s not because I forgot what you did – I did because it’s the right thing to do. It’s what good people do. Good people help out even if they don’t want to – because it’s right. It’s never okay to punish another person for the actions of someone else, so sometimes it’s about setting aside the hurt feelings and doing what is right – despite your feelings on the situation.

I feel I’ve been placed in this situation a lot lately – and I’ve reacted differently each time. One time I stuck to my intuition and continued to say no. Another, my intuition told me to help – so I did. The important thing is that I never ignore my intuition – and I’m still learning that. It’s taken me years to admit when I need time to get away from everything and I’m slowly learning to find that balance between what I need and want and helping others. I’ll probably struggle to find the balance for the right of time – and that’s okay. I’m a good person who wants to help and sometimes has a hard time taking time for herself – I’ll learning.

At times I also think it’s a way to remind myself of why I’m doing something. I spent years feeling like a bad person based solely on my upbringing and the hidden secret of what home life was really like. I never truly felt like a good person during those years. I felt like I was always hiding and was secretly a bad person who was only good when I was around the public. Of course – I now know that this is silly – I was never a bad person – I was a person in a difficult situation.

We learn. We grow. We aim to be good person who also don’t neglect ourselves. It’s a learning process. In my case – a slow learning process. But I’m getting better. And I’ll continue to get better.

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To the Boy Who was Never My Boyfriend…

I was never sure if I had a crush on you or not. I think part of me did, but part of me was confused by the endless chatter of co-workers. Flirting with you was fun, picking on you was fun, as well being picked on by you. Your dark hair made me melt a little every time I saw you, but did I really like you? I’m not sure. Perhaps I’ll never know. I liked you enough to potentially date you if the time ever arose, but those paths never crossed at the right time. Whenever I dated someone else, I noticed the change in your behavior. Gone were the days when we picked on each other. I never could quite figure you out.

Thank you for the walks around the lake and the days getting dinner and ice cream together. Thank you for the talks about life – where we wanted to end up, where we wanted to live, how many kids we wanted to have, what our goals were for the future, where we wanted to travel. It was fun dreaming about that stuff with someone for a change instead of spending countless nights dreaming alone. Thank you for always bringing a smile to my face.

You were the first true friend I made in this new city. When I popped my tire in the dead of winter, you were the one to come help me change it, and then take me home when it was frozen on. You were the one who drove me to get my wisdom teeth out and then stayed with me until it was time to go to work. You were one of the first people I ever told about my childhood and you never batted an eyelash or looked at me differently because of it.

I was so excited the last time we had dinner together. Once again, we talked about our lives and our plans for the future. And once again, I found myself confused by my feelings and trying to figure out if there was anything there or not. I don’t think there was anything there for you – or perhaps I was always too confused that I just couldn’t sort out my feelings. We were best as friends. And I treasure your friendship. But when the mixed signals started flying, I became lost.

We never kissed…we never even held hands. Yet, sometimes the heart cries out for all the things that could have been but never was true as our minds picture life together 20 years from now. It’s already picked out the wedding date and named our five children and our house full of animals and laughter and love and dreams and found the perfect house for all of us. It can’t help but picture life with you – trying to figure out what is there, if anything.

At the same time, the heart cries out begging the mind to stop dreaming of a life together. It tries to explain that it’s never going to happen. Then a call, a message asking to grab dinner and it becomes a cycle all over again. The heart cries out for the mind to say no even though it wants to say yes. The heart hasn’t been able to figure out how it feels. It needs time to itself.

I saw you the other night. You stopped by our old place of work and introduced me to some girl. I don’t even remember her name. I found myself instantly wondering who she was to you and if perhaps we were in the same boat. Maybe she likes you and maybe you’ll return those feelings.

But I let those feelings go. I let the thoughts spin around my head for several days before sitting down to write this to you. Although I now realize that there weren’t any feelings on your end, I’ve stopped trying to figure out mine. It doesn’t matter how I feel because there was nothing there.

So this is to you – to the boy who was never my boyfriend. Thank you for being my first friend in a new city. Thank you for letting me share my dreams with you. Thank you for never looking at me differently.

Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

“Fine!” she yelled across the room. “I don’t want to be your friend anyways. Just leave like everyone else always has.”

Tears streamed down her face and he looked at her with concern.

He didn’t know what do say or do, so he did the only thing he could, he wanted away.

She sank to the floor crying.

Why was she always pushing people away?

She knew the answer.

She was terrified of being hurt, so she pushed them away before they had the chance to hurt her.

It crushed her soul.

She didn’t know how to love anyone anymore.

Years of being alone had taught her to enjoy her own company.

Her own solitude.

She didn’t know how to open up to anyone anymore.

Sure, she laughed with her co-workers.

But she went to bed alone.

She was fighting this continuous battle within herself.

Fighting for the urge to change while the comfort of her surroundings were there.

She looked up and saw that he had indeed walked away.

Great…another one was gone.

All she wanted was for someone to look at her and tell her that they were’t going anywhere.

All she wanted was to stop pushing people away.

Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

“What’s this?” he said as he held up the plain black journal.

“It’s a gift for you…for us. Open it up…read it…” she said as he stared back at her.

He opened the journal and read silently, the words of his soulmate filled the pages.

“It’s beautiful,” he replied as he closed it.

“I’ve always wanted to share a journal with someone,” she began to explain. “If you want,  I thought it would be nice to write letters back and forth. Leave it for each other to find – anywhere you want. It’s okay if you don’t want to, I’ll keep writing, but I thought this was a good way to share my passion with you.”

He reached out for her hand, pulling her close.

“I love it. It’s a great idea. I can’t wait to write to you.”

She leaned in for a kiss.

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

It’s the Way I Grew Up…

(paraphrased)

“Do you know how many people I’ve told about you? About your story? You came from nothing and here you are…”

(end paraphrase)

It’s the way I grew up. The fights. The yelling. The hitting. The name-calling. The hurting. I thought it was the way everybody lived. I never doubted even for a second that my dad loved me – I knew he did. I doubted if anyone else did.

As a child, all my extended family either died or disappeared from my life. By the time I was 11, everyone seemed to have left. Our family was dysfunctional at best. My dad tried – he tried to be the peacemaker, tried to take us to church, tried to turn us into a functional family – but the damage was already done. Everyone had left and I didn’t understand why. I hated being home – it didn’t feel like home. Yeah, I survived and I’ve even learned how to deal with my family as an adult, but some scars don’t heal quickly. 

I didn’t really have friends in elementary school. I was smart and I knew I was smart and I held onto that. There was a group of girls I would play with outside at recess – until the day they told me they didn’t want to play with me anymore. I remember walking away feeling heartbroken – these people I thought were my friends really weren’t my friends. I didn’t understand what I had done wrong. I cried and tried to have fun at recess, but my feelings were too hurt. I didn’t really make friends after that. I stumbled across one around the fourth grade – we had known each other in preschool and I feel like God brought us together when we both needed it. We both needed a friend at school and so He gave us each other. My mom would spend the rest of my school years comparing me to her. Everything was a competition and I had to win over my best friend. It made me feel like she wasn’t my friend at times – she was someone I had to win against. But she was my friend. Was being the key word – I lost her in October 2012. She’s fine – don’t worry – but I made some bad choices and we grew apart. Part of me wishes I would have reached out to her and told her what I was going though. Part of me felt an overwhelming need to protect her from my life. In the end – I lost. 

I remember wanting to try out for volleyball. I remember my mother’s words. “You’ll never make the team – only the rich kids will make the team.” Way to crush my hopes and dreams. Everything was always about money – my family didn’t have enough, we were poor compared to other people, we were in debt. However, we never went hungry. There was always food in the house. We stopped going to the doctor and the eye doctor and even the dentist annually, but at least we never went hungry. 

All the relationships around me were rocky. My dad’s relationship with my mom was rocky – to the point that I remember the day he asked me if I thought we would be better off if he divorced her. I remember the tears in his eyes – he was scared that if he divorced her that he would never find someone who would love him. I question sometimes if my parents ever truly loved each other. Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful they met and married or I wouldn’t be here and my little brothers wouldn’t be here – but I question what their marriage was built on. My mom’s relationship with everyone was rocky – there were more arguments than I could count. I remember the hitting and kicking and yelling. I remember the day I realized I was big enough to fight back. Most of the time I just wanted everyone to stop. The relationship with my brothers changed as often as the time on the clock. The relationship with extended family didn’t exist. I grew jealous of my classmates who talked about spending the weekend with their grandparents or aunts and uncles or cousins. I may not have had friends in school, but I hung onto every word my classmates spoke.

I remember my first crushes. Some of them went on to become really amazing guys. Others not so much. In sixth grade this boy asked me to the dance – I was crushing on someone else (hoping he would ask me) and so I said no. The whole class thought I was mean and that other boy never asked me. In seventh grade I asked an eighth grader to the school dance after art class one day. It had taken me days to get up the courage to ask him. He said yes and I was so excited. A day or two later he came back and said that he couldn’t take me because he had to take his girlfriend to the dance instead. Then I moved onto someone else who I would spent the majority of middle school and high school crushing on. He liked just about every other girl in school – except me. We became friends and we studied together. He started to attend church with my family. I admitted how I felt to him. He didn’t feel the same. We stayed friends for a while and then slowly drifted apart. I gave up on boys after that. Three strikes and I’m out. About halfway through college someone new entered my life. I wasn’t sure if I liked him or not – but he gave me attention and at that point in my life, I was craving some attention from a boy. We were good friends and I knew he liked me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He would give me my first kiss. He would become my biggest regret. I guard my heart to this day because of what transpired.

Sometimes I drive people away before they can hurt me. It’s what life has taught me – that people will leave you and people will die and then I will be left heartbroken. The people who haven’t been driven away are the special ones – they’re the ones I realized were worth fighting for and will continue to fight to have in my life. The guys I’ve dated here and there though – those are the ones I tend to drive away before they can hurt me by leaving. My heart can only take so much heartache. 

Losing my dad ripped my heart apart. I didn’t know it was possible to be in so much emotional pain until he died. It all still haunts me. I would give anything to wrap my arms around his neck once more. To tell him I love him. Sometimes I feel guilty when I laugh because he’s not here to share it with me. Other times I’m relieved that life is working out okay. It’s a struggle.

I remember the day Allison invited me to stay at her house. I didn’t know what to say or do. I had moved out of my mom’s house a couple months beforehand. Allison cared and was offering me what I needed most – stability. I remember watching how her family interacted and being amazed. They functioned like a “normal” family should. There wasn’t the fighting and kicking and hitting going on. I saw what it looked like when two people who love each other work together to raise a family. I was amazed every single day.

Later I found out that she was worried I wasn’t going to graduate college. I had shared with her everything that was going on and she spent a while worrying about me. She would also introduce me to the college therapist and I would spend the next thirteen months trying to figure out life in that office. 

I cried a lot in therapy. I tried to work through everything that had happened. I tried to figure out how to move forward. I tried to make good decisions. It was a struggle. There were so many things to talk about, so many things to work through, so many things that I needed to say.

I was a very independent person – even back then. My therapist saw it, but he also saw how guarded my heart was. I was trying to protect it from being broken again and I was willing to protect it at any cost – even if it meant being a loner. I still hear his words to this day. “You don’t need anyone to save you, you can save yourself, but someday, it might be nice.” He’s right. I don’t need anyone to save me. I can save myself. One day maybe it’ll be nice. One day maybe I’ll be willing to take a chance with my heart. One day maybe I’ll find someone who’s worth the risk. 

My guilty pleasure from high school onward was Walker, Texas Ranger. Gosh – I still love that show to this day. But it was never the action that pulled me in. In was the way that the good guys always won. The way you knew everything was going to turn out. It was the way Walker protected Alex and how you could always tell how much they loved each other. I was never drawn to the fighting scenes – I was drawn to the way Walker loved Alex and I often wondered if anyone would ever look at me the way he looks at her. I understood it was a fictional television series, but in my childhood world of wondering what it was like when two people loved each other, Walker and Alex were the example I found and hung onto.  

I’ve loved animals since the beginning of time. Have you ever looked into an animal’s eyes? You can see straight into their souls. Each one has a story and each one has their own moods and emotions and attitudes. I wanted to go away and study pandas as a child. Then I wanted to ride free on the back of a horse. I thought about becoming a vet but science and I were never friends, I decided against it. Now I have dogs with dreams of recusing and fostering more one day. 

I love writing. Inspiration doesn’t always strike, but when it does, I can spend hours upon hours writing. Sometimes it’s a story that’s popped into my head. Sometimes it’s something that someone says to me. Sometimes it’s just how I’m feeling. I drift away from writing from time to time, but I tend to always find my way back to it. It’s the hobby I won’t let disappear, no matter how much time lapses. 

I want to get healthier. I want to finally run a mile without stopping. I want to look in the mirror and love what I see. I want to see what other people see in me. Sometimes I’m just not sure how. 

God and I have drifted apart many times throughout my life. I aim to be a good Christian, but in fall short daily. I will go periods of time without going to church or reading my Bible. I haven’t prayed daily in years. Yet, I know that despite all my struggles, God doesn’t leave my side. He walks with me and talks with me. He’s my comfort when I lay awake at night crying. He protects me when I can’t figure it out. Most of all, He loves me – despite everything that has happened in my life. 

Which leads me to here – what is the point in me writing all of this now? My friend said she wanted to understand why I’m so scared – she wanted to help. I don’t understand myself sometimes and I didn’t know where to start so I figure I’d start at the beginning. Sometimes it’s hard for me to sort through all the feelings running around my head, but it’s easier to sort through them when I write. 

I’m scared of falling into financial trouble like my dad. I’m scared I’ll marry the wrong person and have a marriage like my parents. I’m scared I’ll never have kids and if I do, they’ll lay awake at night questioning if I love them. I’m scared I’ll raise them the way I was raised, despite my promises to myself that I would never do that. I’m scared that I’ll never find a group of friends who I can rely on and will always be there whenever I need them. I’m scared of leaving my comfort zone and I’m scared of falling. I’m scared that I’ll always hear the words ringing in my head that I’ve heard all my life. I’m scared of having my heart broken again – I’ve barely survived it every time before when it’s broken. I’m scared of being in a loveless relationship. But most of all – I’m scared of missing out on wonderful things because I’m scared. 

There are people around me who I know will always be there for me. I’ve discovered which family members will be there through thick and thin; and which ones I need to set boundaries with. I’ve discovered co-workers who have become family. I’ve discovered a family I never knew I needed but always wanted.

Sometimes I feel guilty for this – for loving the people in my life. I’m on this path because my dad died. I’ve met most of these people as a result of this death. I wish I could say I would give all of them up to have him back – but honestly, I don’t want to go back to my childhood life. I just wish he could be here and I could keep them. It makes me feel guilty most days. But I can’t feel guilty for living. 

It’s often easier for other people to realize how strong you are as a person. When I look at my life, I don’t see myself as someone who is strong. I see myself as someone who has learned how to survive but at the expense of being fearful. Other people see a strong person who has overcome so much to get to where she is. 

Perhaps it’s easier for others to see our strength. We don’t see it within ourselves because we are too busy trying to figure out how to survive. Maybe it’s about taking a step back and realizing everything that you’ve overcome. Maybe it’s about realizing that there’s still a fight left within you. Maybe it’s about fighting for the life you’ve always dreamed of.

It’s not always easy to keep fighting for what I want, sometimes I need a nap from all of it. It feels like an endless battle. I’m not sure if I can see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. 

But maybe if I fight long enough and hard enough I’ll finally have the family I’ve always dreamed of. 

“A warrior is the woman who gets up despite the enemy trying to destroy her. A woman who declares her victory before seeing it. A woman who believes she will receive her miracle because she knows the Lord she serves is alive and by her side.”

Excerpts from a Book I’ll Never Write

“Just tell me when it’ll all be worth it,” her eyes were begging to know. 

“I can’t tell you when.”

“Why? Why can’t you tell me when? You want me to take this giant leap of faith but you won’t tell me when it’ll pay off! Can’t you see how scared I am? I need to know!” she declared, tears streaming down her face. 

“You have to trust that it’ll all work out.”

“I can’t do that! I don’t know how. You don’t have to give me an exact date – just give me a year or tell me how old I’ll be when it finally pays off.”

“But then you’ll spend all your time waiting and you won’t ever do the things that will get you there.”

Tears streamed down her face. “Will you tell me about the moment I will know it has paid off then?”

“There will be a couple moments when you know it has paid off. The first is when you run that mile without stopping and you finally look in the mirror and are happy with what you see.”

“How do you know I’m unhappy?”

“It’s written all over your face. You think you hide it so well. You don’t hide it from me.”

“Okay – so I’ll be happy when I finally run a mile. Is that it?”

“No. There’s a few other moments that you long for but are scared will never happen.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked as she fought the urge to run and hide. 

“It’ll be worth it when you realize you’ve found your soulmate – the person who understands you and loves you just as you are. The first time you kiss, it’ll be like nothing you’ve ever experienced. When he wraps his arms around you, you’ll feel safe. You will talk about where you want to live and all the things you want to do and how you want to raise your children – and you’ll believe him. The day he asks you to be his wife – gosh – you’ll realize all the dreams you held onto for so long are finally coming true. Oh you’ll be scared – scared it’ll all fall apart – but the love the two of you share will see you through. You won’t plan a big wedding – you’ll probably elope. You’ll settle down into a nice house with a little bit of land and you’ll live a great life.”

“That’s it? But what about…” tears came to her eyes again as she thought about her greatest wish. She was so scared it may never come true. 

“What about children? You can say it. It’s your greatest wish and your fear. You want it more than anything but you’re scared to want it. You’re so scared it may never happen and that is your greatest fear. You’re scared that you’ll have held onto this dream forever and then it won’t come true. You’ve promised yourself since you were a little girl that your children would be raised differently than you, but you’re scared you won’t ever get that chance. You’re so scared that you’ll disregard the symptoms until you visit the doctor. That’s when you’ll probably find out you’re pregnant. In that moment, you’ll start to realize that it was all worth it. You’ll be so incredibly happy. When you see your baby on the ultrasound for the first time and feel your baby kick – you’ll know it was worth it. But the day of your firstborn’s birth, that’s when it will all finally sink in. On that day, you’ll realize that it was all worth it – the painful childhood, losing your dad, losing yourself and struggling for years to find yourself once more, throwing caution to the wind and not letting your fears dictate your life, going on that date with your future husband and realizing he was the one, getting married, buying a house, and admitting to yourself that you wanted all of it. When you look down at your child, you’ll realize that it was all worth it – all of it – and you’d do it all over again to end up in that moment once more.”

“Promise?” she asked barely above a whisper as the tears flowed unchecked down her face. She looked at the ground, to scared to look up. 

A hand reached down and lifted her head. “I promise, but it all starts with you.”

She nodded her head. “I’m trying. I promise I’m trying. I’m just so darn scared.”

“But you can’t let fear run your life. I know you’re scared. I know how much it hurts. I know that your mind is telling you everything that could go wrong. Have faith.”

She tried to wipe the tears from her eyes.

“It’s okay to cry. You’ve earned every single one of those tears. Just remember that it starts with you and it’ll work out – I promise.”