Real Hearts Talking Real Hard Things

The diamonds are in the shit and this is true. I've been in regular therapy with the same Psychologist since February 2013. This list comes from feelings and thoughts written in my journals, texts, emails, notes. The feelings I had were from 24 months before that. I wasn't ready for them then. I am now.
  1. β€’
    Sometimes patience with yourself is the best thing you can give to you.
    You would give it to your friend without them even asking. I know you would. You're your friend too.
  2. β€’
    Tell people how they helped you.
    Tell them if they shared a story with you that made you different. Tell them if you saw them be vulnerable in a hard situation and it gave you freedom to act. Tell them if they made a place safe for you. Thank them if they let you show up in your scared, frantic state and made you hot chocolate. Tell them how much the 12:30 am phone call they took because they knew you and they knew you needed someone to be on the other end of the phone when you called meant. Share.
  3. β€’
    Ask people to help you.
    It's okay to text someone and and say, "I need help processing something- can I come pick you up and take you to dinner?" Odds are they'll say yes. Odds are they might come to you with wine and cheese and curl up on your couch.
  4. β€’
    Be honest.
    Your heart knows what it wants. Let it speak.
  5. β€’
    Be honest somewhere in private first.
    Try a notebook or a journal or a diary or a note on your iPhone or an email draft that you never send. It is okay to keep something close, and quiet and just for you. It is okay to feel unsure about sharing the real, scary, hard parts of yourself. Especially if your wounds are fresh.
  6. β€’
    Show up for others.
    The more you do this, the easier it is
  7. β€’
    Include.
    Do you have a friend that plans everything? They're probably a natural at this. Start asking if you can +2 or +3 to their invitation
  8. β€’
    Share your shit.
    You're scared and so are they. Sometimes if you share a real, hard, scary reality or fact about you, people will open up and meet you there in the vulnerable, safe space that you made
  9. β€’
    Connect.
    If you don't have a connector friend, you can try being the connector. It can be scary, but I will tell you something my sister Sarah told me when she moved to Minneapolis from SF: "Tell people what you need". She went up to a girl buying leggings at TJ Maxx that she really liked and asked her about them and then they started talking and Sarah said "hi, I'm brand new here and don't know a ton of girls- can I give you my number?" The girl said yes, and the girl had Sarah be in her wedding
  10. β€’
    I never felt like I had a group. And I always defined myself by that. I was a one or two friends only kind of girl. I wrote about that here- in my list to my sister, who seemed to know what to do at all times.
    WHEN YOU ARE A SHY LIL BUG AND YOU HAVE A SOCIALLY COMPETENT BIG SISTER (What Happens When You Have a Highly Socially Competent Older Sister, and You Are a Shy 'Lil Bug πŸ›) and here I am seeing Emily for the first time in San Francisco after 6 long months apart.
  11. β€’
    And I counted myself out of a lot because I thought they don't need my perspective and that I was not a good friend.
    When my Emily moved to San Francisco, I sat down and made a list of local friends I had. There were 2. Both coworkers. I added my sister, then decided she didn't count, and I cried.
  12. β€’
    And I wasn't invited to a wedding for a college friend and it devastated me.
    And I carried that for a long time. I thought that said she didn't care enough about me. What it said was she had 50 seats, a big family, and a destination wedding. My invitation was not important in this perspective.
  13. β€’
    We met in Houston where she was living as a married lady. And she was still my Fave Ave.
  14. β€’
    Forgive yourself.
    For things done and left undone.
  15. β€’
    Forgive others.
    For things done and left undone.
  16. β€’
    Start with forgiveness first.
  17. β€’
    Say yes.
  18. β€’
    Say no.
  19. β€’
    Acknowledge that you may not be ready to have a conversation and tell your conversation partner that.
    They will understand. And if they do not, you do not need to have that conversation with them anyways.
  20. β€’
    Affirm yourself. If you can't affirm yourself, let someone you love and trust do it for you and hold on to it. If you can't do that, let poetry do it for you.
  21. β€’
    Draw Boundaries.
    You need and deserve them.
  22. β€’
    Keep Boundaries.
    Lord, bring a hedge of protection around Anna, as my dad prays over me every time I drive back to my apartment and leave my home. And know that you can make that boundary your hedge.
  23. β€’
    Respect Others Boundaries.
    They are doing this work too. Respect them enough to let them.
  24. β€’
    Learn to say "I am sincerely sorry."
    Learn to mean it.
  25. β€’
    Learn how to fight for yourself.
    You are allowed to say no. You are allowed to offer no other explanations. No is no and that is enough. If you have to say a horrible, cutting, bitter and excruciatingly well-aimed barb at your narcissistic and manipulative manager, do it. She will not threaten you again.
  26. β€’
    See how far you've come.
    Stop. Know that you are working hard. You are doing what you can. Growth is hard. Life is hard. It does not mean it is not worth every horrible pang. Reading the blog I kept at 18 hurt me so so good. Because I could hear that scared, angry, brave girl in my head again for the first time in 5 years. She wasn't gone. She was there. (Legalistic Independent Baptist Christian School Stories πŸ˜­πŸ‘ΌπŸΌ)
  27. β€’
    Build your own personal guidebook.
    Mine are my commonplace notebooks. I also have an Evernote folder where I save poems, articles, photos, anything from the Internet that I want to keep safe to learn from later. You never know what you will need. And when you already have what you need and can read it in your own hand? What a treasure. Make notes in the margins. Those might be the most important.
  28. β€’
    My Commonplace Notebook (My Commonplace Notebook(s))
    Understand that the bits you save do make you whole.
  29. β€’
    My mother helped me. More than anyone. And that is a list for another day, but because she had faced and fought and been defeated and fought again the very real demons of mental illness, and come out the other side safe? She was a living, tangible promise to me that I could too.
    And I managed to tell her that, in the car outside the psychiatrist's office where she had been admitted for inpatient therapy 4 years before.
  30. β€’
    I sat in the front seat and she was holding my hands so tightly and I managed to say:
    "I think I know why I saw what I saw that night when I was 17 and you and Dad were upstairs and I had to call the ambulance. And it's because the Lord knew that I would need that terrifying experience now. When I am so scared and you are here. To prove to me that we can be scared and strong together. We've done it before. We can do it again. And again and again as many times as we have to."
  31. β€’
    Because I trusted my mother, she saved me.
  32. β€’
    We all contain multitudes.
    My mother suffers from Bipolar Disorder. She is also a strong, fierce funny lady who will fight for you. The Most "Mom" My Mom Has Been
  33. β€’
    I contain multitudes too.
    I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder but that is not who I am. I don't have a lot of sexual experience. But that is not who I am. I was raised in an oppressive patriarchal and legalistic environment with the best of intentions, and even THAT is not who I am.
  34. β€’
    People can fail you once, and still say exactly what you need them to say and do exactly what you need them to do.
    Because we are all scarred, scared, beautiful messes.
  35. β€’
    Understand That You Might Be Uncomfortable.
    Understand that this is where your blessings come. Like @bware427 and @katiesham
  36. β€’
    You Will Definitely Be Uncomfortable.
    I took a flight to Boston this summer to meet my sister for our sister trip. My seat mate was someone with extreme anxiety around flying. And while I have no problems flying, I have extreme anxiety in many other areas of my life. She asked if we could hold hands when the plane landed. I said yes and held that sweaty stranger hand all the way into Logan.
  37. β€’
    Give up control.
    My friend Alysse has a friend, Lauren. I had only met her once.
  38. β€’
    I said yes. And Lauren came. And we had the most wonderful, purely fun night. And both she and Alysse slept over at my place- Lauren in my bed with me.
    And it was not weird in the slightest. It was an honor. And I wrote this list during it, and I treasure it: Tonight
  39. β€’
    Set people free.
    Understand that they need to do these things in their own time and way, and you can not goad or cajole or force or love them into it. Remove your expectations. You don't need them.
  40. β€’
    Recognize that real friends understand when you need a minute. And they will be there waiting on the other side for you when you return.
    My college friend Lauren and I haven't seen each other in months but she got engaged at Christmas. I called and asked her to dinner to celebrate, a little nervous because of how much time has passed. Her dad died last year and I sent a card but did nothing else. We showed up, were real with each other and cried over our Manhattans at Kimball House on Monday night.
  41. β€’
    "In every important way we are such secrets from each other, and I do believe that there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence."
    But it is important to share. And important to understand.
  42. β€’
    It's painful.
  43. β€’
    That's good. You are growing and it hurts.
  44. β€’
    It's a tiny, beautiful thing unfurling in your chest.
    It will let you say something meaningful to the girl you were. And the girl you are.
  45. β€’
    And soon you will be a tree 🌳
    I don't know what this app IS or IS NOT, but I'm glad we are meeting here. ❀️