Tuesday, April 8, 2014

5 Years Ago Today


"I am your parent, you are my child. 
I am your quiet place, you are my wild."
~Maryann Cusimano


5 years ago today, God chose to make me a mother. 

He looked down into my neatly, organized life and thought, "I know how to shake things up for this girl!". And with that thought, He gave me a baby girl of my own. 

When I found out I was pregnant, I cried and then proceeded to convince myself that I knew absolutely everything there was to know about motherhood and parenting.

A baby is a piece of cake, right?! 

Wrong.

A baby is not a piece of cake. 

A baby will humble you. A baby will teach you things about yourself you didn't even know existed. A baby brings out a strength, a drive, and a protectiveness in you that you didn't even know you had. A baby produces words, sounds, and emotions from you that will literally leave you speechless at times. A baby makes everything else in the entire world seem like it pales in comparison. And before you know it, God has entrusted you to mother a beautiful, rambunctious, never-stops-talking, takes-thrity-eight-minutes-to-eat-anything, silly songs in the car, Disney princess stuff everywhere baby girl. 

You.

Just like He trusted Hannah with Samuel.

Just like He trusted Elizabeth with John the Baptist. 

Just like He trusted Mary with His Son. 

He trusted me with her...His Emma, and I have and always will take my job very seriously. 

She is and always will be my greatest accomplishment.

Did I know that fact or the fact that my life would be where it is today 5 years ago?

 No. I didn't. 

But you know, I wouldn't change one moment of our journey. Everything we've been through-she and I-has brought us that much closer. We have a bond that she will never have with another human being on this earth.

She is my child.

I am her mother.

And no matter where this life takes us that will never change. 

Today, I feel incredibly blessed to be Emma's mother. Today, I have looked at myself in the mirror more than once and reminded myself that even though it feel like I'm failing at everything right now, she is the one thing I AM doing right, and that is enough.

Motherhood is enough. 

She is enough.  

Happy birthday, baby girl.

I can't wait to see where this year takes us.


Monday, March 31, 2014

The Art of Letting Go


"But she did look back, 
and I love her for that
because it was so human."
~Slaughterhouse Five

I guess I knew this day was coming. I have prayed about it. I have attempted to mentally stabilize myself for it's blow. But, I failed.

Miserably. 

Yes. I made choices. Terrible choices. I broke promises. I broke hearts. I broke a home. And I know that I forfeited "our" life a long time ago when I made those choices. I know that house is no longer my house. I know that kitchen is no longer my kitchen. I know that I don't come home from a long day and sit in those chairs, or go to sleep in your bed. I know.

I know.

But, in my heart that is still "our" home. Our first home. The home we searched and prayed for. The home where you proposed to me. The home where you carried me across the doorway in my wedding dress. The home where I paced the hallways for countless hours with our first baby. Our Emma. The home where we laughed, cried, and fought. The home I nursed fevers, and burned cookies. The home I spent too many hours cleaning.

Our home.

And as hard as you try, you can't forget that there was at one time an "us". Me and you. Two crazy, stupid kids trying to take on the whole wide world.

My mistakes don't erase that fact. They can't and they won't. As much as you wish that they did...they just don't. That place-that house was a huge part of me for a very long time. You can't make that go away.

And so that's why it killed me to see her there. Cooking in what used to be my kitchen. No warning. No heads up. Just a pretty girl making herself at home in what used to be my home, and you pretending like it didn't matter-like I didn't have the right to be upset.

Hateful words were exchanged. Salt rubbed in almost healed wounds.

And me left here strangely broken hearted and trying desperately to catch my breath.

Yes, I know I made these choices.

Terrible choices.

Choices that haunt me every. single. day.

But, just because I made those choices doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to hurt from them. It doesn't mean that I don't-at times-carry regret like a weight around my neck.

I know you are moving on. I know in the deepest, unspoken places in my heart that she makes you happy. I know without a shadow of a doubt that she is a good girl. I know all of these things.

But, that doesn't make it any easier. It doesn't mean that I am all of a sudden an expert at the art of letting go.

God, I wish that I was. 

There are just some memories I wish I could forget. Memories that would make all of this letting go and moving on business that much easier.

Unfortunately, I can't and I won't, and at some point I am going to have to learn to how to do that with all those memories still intact.

But, today I hurt. I ache for terrible choices and wounds that just can't seem to heal. And for that, I am sorry. I am sorry that I don't know how to not be broken hearted about it. I am sorry that I am not all the way healed. I am sorry that my choices aren't a good enough reason for me to move forward. I am sorry that I am just not ready for someone else to come in and steal all of your memories of me away. And I am sorry that all of this makes you SO angry.

Yes. I am perfectly aware that you don't care.

You've said it one thousand times.

I know. 

But, this is the truth and I decided a long time ago to start telling it more often.

I don't know when or how we will actually start to get the hang of all this-this whole moving on thing. But I know that someday, hopefully very soon, we will. I know that eventually it will all click, and this mess we've placed ourselves in will somehow in some way sort itself out. I know that in no time at all we will find our bearings, and we will successfully parent our daughter into adulthood together.

But, for now, it is a struggle. A never ending battle of give and take as we dance on a very fine line of caring, but not too much. It's exhausting.

I want you to know that I keep on fighting for our someday. I keep picking myself up and dusting myself off and starting over from square one AGAIN. I keep biting my tongue, and holding my breath. I keep trying to figure this out and reminding my heart to just be quiet.

Just to please be quiet.

Because eventually the hurt will heal, and the wound will close completely. I will finally feel better, and I won't constantly be trying to catch my breath and reminding myself that I am not "allowed" to feel this way.

That day is coming.

It's just not today.

And I'm sorry.

Friday, March 28, 2014

An Open Letter To Every Single Teenage Girl I Know


I know I seem like I'm a thousand years older than you. I know you wonder how I can possibly remember what is was like to be 15, but I do.

 I know the crow's feet around my eyes, and the laugh lines that have settled in around my mouth give away my age, while my "mom haircut", my obsession with cardigans, and the little person who keeps wandering around calling me, "Mom", does very little to convince you that the years that span between us are few.

But, trust me, they are.

As my 20's draw to close, I am beginning to realize just how little time has passed between 15 and now. And as I watch you struggle, my heart aches for that 15 year old girl I used to be. The one who once thought she knew everything-the one with the big dreams and the high hopes. The one who seems to have disappeared into the woman who stares back at me from my mirror every morning. But, I know she is still in there. I can feel her, even if she is a little less awkward, a little less insecure, and a little less naive from the lessons this life has taught her.

Don't get me wrong, if someone would of wrapped up the lessons I have learned in a pretty bow and handed them to me when I was 15, I would of probably just rolled my eyes and ignored them-shoving the gifts aside to some far away recesses of my heart and mind. I would of told the gift giver they were crazy. That I knew exactly how my life was going to work out and you couldn't of told me any different.

But, now that I am older, I wish someone would of told me a few things about real life, and I wish I would of had the heart to listen to them. I think that I could of saved myself from a few incredibly painful lessons, if someone would of sat me down, looked me straight in the eyes, and told me these things.

Well, sweet girls, this is me sitting you down. Imagine that we are at my house, curled up on my couch. Imagine that we are drinking your favorite coffee from Starbucks, and we're just talking about life, boys, and clothes. Imagine for a moment that so many years don't separate us, and for just a minute listen to what my 15 year old heart has to say to you.

*******

1. Finish school. Not just high school, but college. Finish early and finish strong. Don't wait until you're almost thirty with a small child and a big kid job. It's WAY harder. Trust me.

2. Real women do not look like Victoria's Secret models. Your quest to fit into the media's mold of beauty is futile, because women like that do not exist. It's amazing what a computer and the right program can do to anyone's hips, thighs, and breasts. The sooner you realize those images are fake, the sooner you'll quit asking yourself why you don't look like that.

3. Learn to manage your own finances. Your parents aren't always going to be there to bail you out, and I hate to break it to you but single, good looking millionaires are in short supply. So do yourself a favor: get a job, get a checking account, and learn to support yourself. Stay away from credit cards. Do not abuse student loans. And learn to appreciate what it feels like to work hard for every single thing you have.

4. Those boys who only want one thing-stay away from them. No. Seriously. Run. Run very, very, very fast. Those boys do exist. And when you meet one, your brain and your heart will be screaming at you. Listen to them. Even if you don't want too, because you will be so glad that you did. I am here to tell you, that despite what they say, giving yourself to them will not make them love you. Ever. If you ignore every other lesson I'm trying to teach you, don't ignore this one. This one will save you from a lot of heartache. I promise.

5. Quit trying so hard. You will spend all of your high school years and most of your early college years trying to fit in. You will allow your worth to be defined by the boys who like you, the girls who hate you, the clothes you wear, and the grades you make. Well, DON'T. Just don't. 10 years from now very few of those people will actually still be in your life, that shirt that was cool when you were 15 will not be cool when you are 30, and no one...literally NO ONE will remember what grade you made in your sophomore microbiology class.

6. Find your passion. Do you want to sing on a Broadway stage? Go for it. Do you have a desire to travel the world? Do it. Are you destined to be the next great American author? Take that extra creative writing course. Are you a brilliant artist? Fill your home with your artwork. Do you have a heart for the needy? Start making a difference. Whatever it is. Whatever you are passionate about. Do it. You are never too young to start chasing your dreams. So, chase them and chase them hard.

7. Make a bucket list. No. Seriously. You need a bucket list. I know it sounds cheesy, and that you probably think only old people have these, but trust me, you need one. And you should compile your list now before life, work, finances, marriage, and children cause you to try to fit your list into the grown up box which is now your life. Write it all down, keep it somewhere safe, and then start checking them off. This life is too short not to embrace your dreams.

8. Family is everything. I don't know your family dynamic. I don't know what dark family secrets your hiding. But, I do know that at the end of the day, family is family. They are your blood and some days they will be all you have left. Learn how to forgive them, because most likely there will be times when they have to forgive you. Trust me, grudges are not worth it.

9. When you finally find your best friend, hold onto her. I hate to break it to you, but your best friend from high school probably isn't going to be your best friend in real life. Over the past two years, I have learned a valuable lesson about what friendship...real friendship...truly is. A best friend is someone who knows absolutely EVERYTHING about you and still likes you. She is always on your side, even when your side is probably wrong. She will never ask you to be fake or ask you to pretend to be something you're not. She knows which songs to be quiet to, which places you just can't go, and how to effectively guide you to a quick exit when you are about to make a fool of yourself. You can go days without talking to each other, and still be best friends. You can talk about anything, enjoy complete silence with each other, and you laugh...a lot...about the weirdest things. That's friendship. Real friendship. Friendship that walks through the fire with you, and dances in the rain with you. Friendship that sees just how ugly, mean, and not very pretty you can be and still takes your face in their hands and tells you that you are worth it. When you find a friend like that, hold on to her with everything you have. Because in my opinion, that type of friendship only comes along once in this life.

10. There is no such thing as a knight in shining armor. I know that one is hard to swallow. I know I have literally just crushed every fairy tale you have ever been told. But, I'm here to tell you that men on white horses do not exist, and if you find one refer back to lesson #4. However, real men do exist. Men with flaws and perfect imperfections. Men who don't always say or do the right things, but who will love you at your worst. Men who will make you fighting mad, who will call your bluff, and who will still be standing there when the flames finally die down. Men who will hold you when your scared and who will actually mean it when they tell you that you are beautiful. Men who who don't just make children with you, but who actually raise those children with you. Real men with real hearts. Just like your's. And when the time comes to choose, that's the type of man you want. Not the fake one on the horse. I promise.

11. Your mom is a pretty smart lady. I know that you do not always see eye to eye with her. I know she drives you crazy, and sometimes you feel like she just doesn't "get you". Well, I'm here to tell you that she does. She "gets you" better than anyone else. All of her rules, her lectures, her ridiculous curfew, and her inability to let you leave the house in those shorts are her way of guiding you and protecting you. So, do yourself a favor, and just listen to her, okay? God entrusted you to her, and as your mom, she doesn't know how to do anything BUT protect you. So, try...just try...to see things from her point of view. I promise, ten years from now you won't think she's so crazy anymore.

12. You are enough. Yes, you. You know that girl starring back at you in the mirror? She is enough. She is pretty enough, smart enough, and strong enough. You are so loved and so many people are so proud of the beautiful woman you are becoming. Don't ever let this world tell you any different. You deserve amazing things, and you will get them. Just don't sell yourself short, okay?

*******
Sweet, beautiful girl this life is hard-so very, very hard. Boys will break your heart, friends will let you down, and you will be asked to do things that compromise your values and fight against your inner compass. You will make mistakes...LOTS of them. But, pretty girl, I am here to tell you that those mistakes don't define you. It's the lessons that you learn from them that do. You are a child of the King. A princess of the His heavenly court. He created you in His own image and when He looks at you, He sees a masterpiece. He has an amazing plan for you life. And, trust me, the most amazing things in this life are truly worth the wait. You'll see. Everything doesn't have to happen all at once.

So, don't rush growing up, don't jump into everything feet first, and accept the guidance of others. 

Because, some of us actually have quite a bit of wisdom to offer you. 

I promise. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Days of Little


Since the moment I gave birth to my one week late baby girl, I have heard these words:

"Enjoy it. These days will be gone before you know it." 

And I have.

I have enjoyed every single moment so far.

Through the past four years of sleepless nights and mornings that always seem to come too early. Through the crying the ENTIRE time we were in Walmart phase, the potty training phase, and the why-the-crap-are-you-feeding-me-mashed-peas phase. Through the times when we watch the same movie over and over and over and over and over again until I find myself thinking, "If I have to hear Colors of the Wind one more time, I will pull all of my hair out!". Through the bath tub hair washing drama, the "you are the slowest eater in the entire world" dinner wars, and the "Oh my God, I sound like my mother!" lectures.

I have loved it.

Through the middle of the night snuggles where the only place she would sleep was perfectly positioned on my chest. Through the sick days. Through the silly songs we sing in the car, the tea parties, and the endless summer days spent by the pool.  Through learning to swim under water without her floaties. Through her first tooth, her first word, and her first step. Through the nights when "Mommy, can you read me just one more book?" becomes our mantra. Through her first day of preschool, her first sleepover, and her first time going down the slide all by herself.

I have loved it.

Every single moment. Good, bad, hard, or easy. I have loved them all.

And as I watched her spinning on a busy sidewalk at the mall the other day without a care in the world, my heart skipped a beat. I realized that this moment-just like all the ones that came before it-will soon be gone.

Soon my almost five year old beauty queen will be too big to hold my hand in the store, too embarrassed to sing songs with me in the middle of the department store, and too preoccupied to race me from one end of the playground to the other. She won't need me to kiss her boo boo's or say her prayers. She won't want to sleep with me on Wednesday nights or get excited when we wear the same color. She won't be infatuated with my high heels or my jewelry, and dressing up will mean more than slipping her Princess Anna play dress over her jammies.

Soon.

So very soon.

And as I watched her spinning around and around-her skirt swirling around her leggings, and her long hair floating behind her-I just wanted to push pause. To keep her right there in that moment.

That moment of little.

That moment before she outgrows me. That moment before we're fighting about homework, boys, curfews, and no-you-are-absolutely-not-allowed-to-wear-those-shorts. That moment before her first date, her first kiss, and her first broken heart. That moment before she begins the battle to be skinnier, prettier, and smarter. That moment before her first encounter with a mean girl, a demanding boss, or those boys who only want one thing. That moment before she has to fight for acceptance and learn how to find herself in world that can be anything but kind.

Those moments that will make me wish for days just like these.

The days of little.

The days that show me that no matter how exhausting and challenging motherhood can be, these are the days I will cling too. The days I will remember as an old woman sitting on my porch drinking tea. The days I will remember proudly as my greatest accomplishments.

These are my days-my moments.

These moments of  watching her spin on a busy sidewalk on perfectly gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

And today, I am incredibly grateful for them.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dear Hater

Tuesday night was a great night for me. I had just finished my very first studio recording session, and I was on Cloud 9! All I wanted was to go to my favorite local watering hole and enjoy a drink with my best friend and my sister to celebrate. That's it. Just one drink to end what had already been an amazing day.

I saw you sitting there when I walked in the door. You were nursing your ego at the bar. I made brief eye contact with you. You looked like you had been there for a while, and from the glaze in your eyes I knew your sorrows wouldn't be coming up for air any time soon.

I wasn't even sure you recognized me. And even if you did it wouldn't of mattered, because I walked right past you to the table where my sister and her friends were sitting. I ordered my drink, slipped a few dollars into the jukebox to celebrate, and proceeded to mind my own business. I danced with my sister, laughed with my best friend, and ended my night on an amazing note.

It was a good night.

No.

It was a great night.

So, why on earth did you feel the need to call him?

Why would you attempt to derail 3 months of slow, painful baby steps in the right direction? Why would you tell him that you overheard me bad mouthing him? Why?

What did I ever do to you to deserve that? 

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

And today as I cried and fought desperately to mend what you intended to break, the truth hit me: it absolutely killed you to see me smiling and laughing with my friends, didn't it? This fragile life that almost eight months ago was barely breathing, but now seems to be thriving. This girl that should have tears in her eyes and be drowning her sorrows just like you, isn't doing that at all. She's living.

And you hated it.

If your goal today was to hurt some girl you barely even know just to make yourself feel better, you succeeded.

Congratulations.

But, please know, all you've done is loosen stitches that can be repaired and awaken sleeping demons that can AND will be put back to bed. There is nothing irreparably broken here.

I hate to disappoint you.

But, if I've learned anything in the last eight months, it's that if you allow people's jealousy, bitterness, and hate control you, you will never get out of bed in the morning. And if you do manage to brave the day, you will end up right where I found you Tuesday evening-drowning out everyone's opinions one glass at a time, and that is a terrible place to be.

So, after a good cry and a drive to clear my head, I am happy to report that you didn't win today, dear hater. Nope. Not even close.

Because this girl is turning out to be a lot stronger than anyone ever thought she was going to be, and for the first time in forever that smile you saw Tuesday night is actually genuine. The girl behind that smile? That's me. The real me. And she is beautiful and smart and oh, so brave! And unfortunately for you, it's going to take a lot more than your petty gossip to put out her light. Yes sir, you are looking at a real life survivor of rock bottom, and no matter how hard you try, I won't be going back there again.

So, as I finish typing these words and prepare to go to sleep tonight, I want you to know that I prayed for you tonight, dear hater. I prayed for the tremendous pain you must be feeling in your life to want to cause hurt in mine. I know exactly what that kind of pain feels like, and I am truly sorry for you. I genuinely hope that you find peace and that you to can find your smile-the genuine one. The one that reaches your eyes. Just like me.

I can promise you that it won't be easy. Not one little bit. But, when you finally do let go of all that hurt and start focusing on your blessings instead of your curse, you will be amazed at how joyful your life can and will be. And maybe, just maybe, dear hater, you to will choose to leave hope and peace in your wake instead of the destruction you tried to cause today.

I promise. You will get a lot farther with love than you ever will with hate.

Trust me.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Penance


"Have I really lost my soul?
If so, I don't know where it went.
And if there's no other way back home,
I guess I might as well repent."
-SheDaisy

When I sixteen, my dad left my mother for the first time. I remember everything about that night like it was yesterday: my mother crying in her rocking chair from her darkened bedroom, my grandmother sitting on the edge of my mother's bed-her quiet presence always the "glue", and the whispering deacons of our church milling around our broken home-their sad faces offering anything but answers. I can hear my sisters crying in our living room, and see myself walking back out the front door and kneeling on the pavement of our driveway. I cried and plead with God a lot that night, because I knew that our family was part of the bedrock that made up our newly formed church. We were apart of the inner circle, and in the inner circle there was no room for error.  This costly mistake on my father's part would never do.

And as a result, we would forever be marked by the sins of our father.

And we have.

Even though I have long ago forgiven my father, the world has not. I have watched as he has been turned away at the doors of churches, seen him endure years of silence from his children, and watched as he has never quite been able to rise above the stigma he has attached to himself.

 I have also heard it said that my mistakes are his fault-bad blood, if you will. Not only does he pay for his choices everyday, but there are people in this world who would force him to pay for mine.

Yes, it would be so much easier just to blame him. To write my sins off as a bad draw from the gene pool. To chalk my heartache up to my endless "daddy issues".

And for a while, I did.

I blamed my dad. I told myself I hadn't been loyal, because he wasn't loyal. I said that I didn't know how to love someone else, because he didn't teach me. I blamed his selfishness, because that's what my mother did and it just seemed easier.

But as I sit here on my bed typing at 4:00 in the morning, I suddenly realize exactly how he must feel. How it feels to have almost the entire world against you, to be forced to pay for mistakes day in and day out, and to never be allowed to move forward, because the world has you chained to the whipping post of your sins.

Your back is bloody. The sun is hot. And the only thing you long for in the entire world is a drink of water. Water that will quench your parched soul and revive your life. Water that comes in the form of forgiveness-sweet, refreshing forgiveness.

Forgiveness that unties your hands and applies balm to your wounds. Forgiveness that has seen your penance and heard your cries for help. Forgiveness that allows you to go free and live your life without the chains of your past.

Forgiveness from a world that is SO unforgiving.

But as much as I long for forgiveness from them, I realize that in some ways I will never receive it. And while this breaks my heart, at the end of the day I have to realize that the only one whose forgiveness truly matters has long ago pardoned my sins.

He pardoned them over 3,000 years ago when He sent His only Son as a sacrifice for me and everyone else in this unforgiving world.

He wiped my slate clean that day and every day after that. He has heard my prayers, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am forgiven. And in the middle of my darkest nights, He pulls me into His lap, wipes my tears, and reminds me of that fact.

Because when it feels like the entire world is a against you, you just need to be reminded.

Reminded that His love and His love alone is enough to cover any weakness.

You are not bound to your sins, because He has freed you from your sins. You are not required to pay penance, because His one and only Son was your penance. You do not have to keep apologizing, graveling, and begging, because He forgave you the very first moment you whispered the words.

Yes. At the end of each and every day, I am graciously and mercifully forgiven. So, who I am to withhold that forgiveness from someone else? What makes my sins any different from your sins? Why do I choose to make the monsters hiding in your closet scarier than mine? How is that fair?

It's not.

If I have learned anything in the past few months it is that I have no right to hold anyone's past or mistakes against them, because my Heavenly Father has already forgotten mine.

And that...well, that should be enough.

Enough to forgive my father and let him off the hook for my choices, as well as his. Enough to forgive all the boys who have ever broke my heart. Enough to forgive a world that is hell bent on making me pay.

Enough to forgive myself and walk away from my past, while the rest of the world chases after me with the chains.

His forgiveness is enough.

And all I want in this life is to be a reflection of that. A reflection of mercy, grace, hope, and forgiveness.

Because there are enough sinners chaining sinners to whipping posts around here, and I shouldn't be one of them.

I should be the one untying them and offering them water. I should be the ones binding up their wounds and showing them where to lay the baggage of their past. I should be the one wiping their tears and telling them that He has heard their prayers.

That alone can be my penance.

The penance of showing a lost and dying world that there is no such thing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

An Open Letter: To Every Single Boy Who Ever Broke My Heart


Well, here we are.

Is it fair to lump all of you into one category? Probably not. Each one of you has been different-oh, so different. From the one among you who took my first kiss at the age of sixteen to the one who took my first kiss after my divorce. You've each been one of a kind-I have loved you differently and the same all in the same breath. And while I have learned something different from each one of you, it seems that I have been forced to re-learn the same lesson over and over again from you:

No.

The lesson of no.

The lesson of not being "the one".

The lesson of not being "good enough" or "smart enough" or "patient enough" or "perfect enough" or "pretty enough".

Hard lessons to learn. Tough pills to swallow.

Each one making me long to crawl into my bed and just simply give up.

Do I know that I cannot place all of the blame on you? Yes.

Trust me, you won't find a martyr here. I know that I am far from perfect, and sometimes my many flaws and imperfections out shine the true beauty that is hidden beneath all this muck and mire. I know that I have had to take my fair share of the blame for the demise of each and every one of you, because relationships are two sided. A perfect balance of give and take. And so, with that said, I take my part of the blame. I always have.

 And with each failed relationship I pick up on one more flaw. One more thing that apparently no one can stand about me. And I carry those flaws around cupped inside my hands shoving them out for inspection to every single boy I meet. Some of them harmless. Some of the serious contenders. Nevertheless, each one is given the chance to run before they have even had the chance to try.

I make sure they see my flaws first, and then they hear my story. And sometimes my story doesn't even come from my lips, but from the lips of those who are hell bent on holding me to a past that no longer defines me.

And with that, the vicious cycle continues. Over and over. Flaws, story, run.

Flaws. Story. Run.

Well, not anymore. Today, I am done.

Today, I disown the lies that I am not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough.

Lies that each one of you has told me, even if that "isn't how you meant it". Lies that I have believed since I was sixteen years old. Lies that I have allowed to poison myself and every single relationship I have ever had.

Today the lies stop.

Because here's what you don't know:

I AM good enough. I AM smart enough. I AM pretty enough.

Yes. I'm a smart-ass, a fighter, and sometimes I say things I shouldn't. I am a little crazy, a whole lot of quirky, and I tend to be awkward-painfully so. I am loud, I can be be moody, and often times the first thing I will do if you try to get too close to me is run. And yes, I have a past-a dark one that tends to follow me around wherever I go.

But, you know what, some boy, somewhere, some day is going to see all of that and still choose me.

Me.

Just me.

Because the right boy is going to know that those things-those flaws-don't define me. They are a very small part of a much bigger picture.

The right boy is going to see my heart-my good heart. My heart that loves the unlovable and sees the best in everyone. My heart that is strong enough to go to sleep with tears in my eyes, and wake up to give the world a smile. My heart that has been beaten, broken, used, and abused, but that is still beating. A heart that is still capable of loving someone even after the hurt it has been forced to endure.

The right boy will see my silliness, my quirky antics, and how awkward I can be, but he will know that those things are not nearly as important as the way my eyes light up when I smile, the way I love to dance around my kitchen with a glass of wine and a good country song, and the sound of my laugh when I find something really, truly funny. The right boy is going to hear my story, but to him, it won't matter as much as the way I sing to myself in the car or the faces I make as I talk to myself in the grocery store. The right boy is going to know when to be quiet and just hold me, and when I want to be left alone. The right boy won't be scared away by moods, or how fired up I can get about this or that. The right boy will be strong enough to stand by my side-to face down all the hate and gossip. The right boy will see me-just me-and think that I am beautiful, not for what's on the outside, but because they have taken the time to get to know the girl on the inside.

And in return, I will love the right boy so fiercely. Because when I love, I love hard, and regardless of popular opinion, I don't let go.

The right boy will earn my respect, have my loyalty, and know what it is to love the heart of a good woman. A woman who may seem hard and tough on the outside, but who is perfectly willing to be lead and cared for by the right pair of hands.

Am I perfect? Absolutely not.

But, the right boy will love everything about me: the good, the bad, the flaws, and the imperfections. He will walk through the fire with me, laugh in the middle of the night with me, and quiet all my demons and every single lie inside of me with just one look.

He's out there. I believe that with everything that I am.

And when I find him, all of you, the boys who broke my heart, will be worth it. So very worth it.

Because the woman that boy is getting as a result of all of you is a good one.

A really good one.

And I promise, you will be sorry that you ever let me go.

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I do not receive monetary compensation from any of the products, companies, or organizations I promote through my blog, unless otherwise specified during a giveaway or promotion. I am just your average mom trying to share products that I enjoy with other moms, as well as organizations and charities I believe in.