Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Bye-Bye Binky

I was talking to my sister this morning and she told me about a friend of hers who recently “broke up” with her. My sister said her friend, “treated her like a binky.” In other words, my sister’s friend complained relentlessly about the woes of her life and when my sister reached her limit, she responded to her friend with some direct feedback. The friend did not take it well and told my sister that she was the problem and essentially shut the friendship down.

I had a similar experience with a friend. When I felt maxed by the content of her life, I told her so. And then we were no longer friends. Like my sister’s friend, she shut the door and told me it was over. I feel terrible about it. I miss my old friend every day but I don’t have a repair. The door is locked. I have no key.

How do we create balanced friendships? I have always had a tendency to withhold the problems in my life and my friend (and my sister’s friend) are the opposite. In my friendship that ended, my friend got into the pattern of bringing so much meat to the table that the serving platter overflowed. I, offering none of my own problems, asking nothing from my friend, became an empty serving bowl, quietly being loaded up until I myself overflowed. 

I can see my role in that friendship ending. I went too long without sharing what was going on in my own life. I felt like, by keeping my problems and concerns to myself I was being a good friend. What I was actually doing was creating wide-open space for my friend to vent without limits. Had I shown up more authentically maybe our friendship would have felt more balanced. For me. For both of us.

When my sister said that her friend used her as a binky I immediately had an image of my daughter’s very intense, very dependent relationship with her binky.

When my daughter was an infant I relied heavily on her binky. As long as she had access to her binky she was consolable. No matter what else was happening, when the binky was in her mouth my daughter could be quiet for a little while. She was comfortable and content. 

As my daughter older got she developed her own obsession with her binky. When she was two, she liked a fresh binky, the feeling of the dry rubber in her mouth. She’d suck her binky for a while and then take it out and sweep it up and down, like a paintbrush on a canvas, twice vertically on each cheek, then twice horizontally on her forehead, and then in a grand finale twice on her chin. After the binky was dry she’d pop it back into her mouth and suck on it again until she needed a refresher, at which point she’d engage in the binky brushing face ritual again.

I had a binky dependence too. One of my earliest memories was standing at the second-floor window of our three-story Victorian house with my parents and my twin. We were about 2 1/2 years old. My mom told us we’d outgrown our binkies. She opened the window and told us to throw our binkies into the garden below. As soon as we could, my twin sister and I ran down the stairs and outside into the front yard. We searched through the flower beds and behind the bushes to find our lost binkies, but they were gone. Our dad had anticipated our response and collected the binkies before we had a chance to recover them. When we were older he told us he’d buried the binkies in a petrie dish in the yard.

My parents chose the tough love approach. One day it was just, “goodbye binky.” With my daughter, we did a much slower transition and she finally gave up her binky at age three. We tried to give her some control over the loss of this comfort object in her life, letting her taper and go without her binky for shorter, then longer periods of time. But we still had to hide binkies from her for a long time. She continued to crave that habitual comfort. I don’t know if my parents’ way was better or worse than the slow process we did with my daughter. Letting go of the binky is hard either way.

Without proper care and consciousness, friendships can become like babies with their binkies. We might weigh more heavily on certain friends to support and comfort us without noticing if their needs are being met too. When this happens, there is a risk that we become unconsciously dependent on these friends; that they will become like our personal binkies. 

But like with toddlers who outgrow their binkies, the dependence is unsustainable — for the binky sucker and the binky. Both parties want something different — the toddler wants a new, fresh dry binky, and the binky just needs a break from being sucked all the time. 

If my friend hadn’t ended our friendship, maybe I eventually would have ended it. The imbalance was unsatisfying and unsustainable. I’ve learned a great deal from the loss of this friendship. These days I make more of an effort to come to the table more authentically with my friends. I try to share my problems too, to trust that they want to support me just like I want to support them.

My twin sister and I survived without our binkies. So did my daughter. We each found ways to comfort ourselves without them. I’m sad that my friendship imploded because of the binky imbalance that I helped to create. But the binky metaphor has helped me understand the end of this friendship a little bit more clearly. Giving up a binky is never easy. Sometimes you have to say “goodbye binky”, throw it the window and never look back.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

My Butt Moved to My Belly


My Nana was one of my favorite people. She spent most of her time reading and doing crossword puzzles. She suffered from back pain as long as I knew her. She rubbed many people the wrong way, coming off as snobby and judgemental. But she loved me and I loved her. A black and white photo of her sits on my desk reminding me of that abiding feeling of unconditional love I experienced with Nana.

Nana had a beautifully chiseled jawline, a strong nose, and high cheekbones. She had a long neck and thin arms and legs which she accentuated by wearing solid colors, often black. I remember her most in black turtlenecks with a large artistic necklace hanging right at her sternum.

In addition to her long thin arms and legs, Nana had a hard, round stomach which got bigger as she got older. It was there in my first memory of her which meant that she was in her early fifties. I remember her little round belly growing over the years. Nana never wore loose clothes. She never donned moo-moos or loose blouses. She always wore close-fitting knits that showed her whole body.

I have many of the same characteristics that my Nana had — thin arms and legs, a long neck. Like Nana, I love to read. I’m in my early fifties now and I notice my body changing. Last night lying in bed I said to my partner, “I feel like my butt migrated to my stomach.” She laughed in agreement and understanding. She too is experiencing this physical shift in her body.

Whatever butt meat I had before has left the room, walked across the hall, and made itself comfortable in a circle right around my belly button. When I wear high-waisted pants now the waistband has a little platform to sit on. My belly isn’t that big yet, but if I follow Nana’s path, it will only get bigger.

I remember Nana’s belly. It seemed so out of place with the rest of her body. I have images of her in her black bathing suit — long arms and legs, strong, pronounced collar bones, and a little paunch right at the belly. I regularly accompanied Nana to the swimming pool on the top floor of their apartment building so she could do her physical therapy exercises. She’s put a volleyball under each armpit and float while she moved her legs to release the tension in her back. 

My belly isn’t always pronounced. Around my period it gets bigger. If I have gas it grows. But it’s always there, no matter how much weight I lose, the shape of my body doesn’t change — long, thin arms and legs and a little butt belly.

Nana’s belly is the one I remember most clearly but most of the female elders in my life have had the same progression of the butt rounding the corner to live at the belly. It’s easy to complain about this, to lament the fate of the aging body. But complaining is a waste of energy and completely unproductive. I could commit to doing more core work to try to get my butt to move back to its original position but I’m not sure I really care that much.

Mens’ bodies change too; their butts also move to their bellies. But men aren’t considered physically the way women are; they aren’t objectified from puberty through death. They aren’t socialized to keep up their looks as they get older. 

Why are women fighting this battle? Why am I? For whatever physicological reason, my butt has decided it would be happier on the front of my body than it was at the back. So what. When I think of Nana, sitting in her chair, reading Russian literature, one elbow resting on her belly as she puffed away at her True cigarette, I think of how much I loved her, not about how big her belly was.

It’s profound, to think that, with all that is going on in the world, that I, that millions of women, are focused on the changing nature of their bellies. Right now my belly feels a little like it did when I was very newly pregnant, not quite showing the world, but fully aware that my body was changing. I could feel the tightness of my jeans, the subtle discomfort of something shifting. 

Maybe that’s how to think of this aging body belly — there’s new life there, new possibilities, dreams, and hopes. Growing my daughter in my belly, giving birth, and raising her has been one of the greatest joys of my life. 

I’ve been lucky. Besides my butt moving around the bend to my belly and my hair going gray, I’ve not had many other physical changes with getting older. There is so much room for new life experiences and growth as we get older. Focusing on my belly is an unnecessary distraction, a pull away from all the good stuff that comes with aging. 

I wonder if Nana thought about her belly; if she tried to tame its growth. I have some of her jewelry, several of those ornate necklaces she used to wear. I’ve rarely worn them because I haven’t felt like they quite suit my style yet. Until now, they’ve felt too “old” for me. But my body is changing. I’m getting older. Maybe now is a good time to try on some of those necklaces. I bet they’d look great with my new belly.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Riptides and Other Life Adventures

Yesterday my sixteen-year-old daughter Lucia went surfing with her friends. She’s only surfed once before in Mexico and that was when she was ten or eleven years old. She went surfing with her cousin and two friends, all sixteen, to a beach two hours away.

We live in the Pacific Northwest and the water is cold. People die in that water every day. As a mother, especially the mother of a teen, I live in a constant state of low-grade anxiety for what I do not know and what I cannot control. I worry about the big bad world eating up my little girl and spitting her back out. 

At the same time, I want Lucia to have experiences in her life that will make her life richer, more fulfilling. I want her to do things that help her feel engaged and alive. When Lucia told me she was going surfing yesterday I immediately began to worry about her drowning. I didn’t even know one of the kids she was going with. Maybe he was an asshole, one of those kids you read about who is just a bad seed, who always brings trouble. Lucia assured me that this kid was a good kid and a good surfer.

When Lucia and her cousin got home last night they were rosy-cheeked, frizzy-headed, excited, and exhausted. Lucia told me how she’d been hit by a big wave and pulled out into the riptide. She said it was really scary, that she’d tried and tried to swim but felt like she couldn’t get anywhere. Finally, she was able to get back. It wasn’t that long, she said, but it felt like forever.

This is what I had worried about. That the Pacific Ocean would swallow her up and keep her. That her friends would lose sight of her or lack the ability to recover her. That she would die alone and afraid in the freezing cold water. But that didn’t happen. She saved herself. She figured it out. 

At that moment, time stopped. Light swooshed in and around me from all directions — from outside my body, from inside, from above, from below. I was like a time traveler coming back to the present moment. Everything was okay. All of my fears and worries, images of her lost at sea, whirled around me as I looked at my daughter — smiling, healthy, happy, and alive. This was reality. She’d made it. She had figured it out without me.

How many of these moments will my daughter have? Close calls? Almosts? Could have beens? And I will not be with her for most of these moments. The thought of her navigating all of that on her own overwhelms me. How do I prepare her for this life she is living, more and more without me?

When Lucia was little I had the daily satisfaction, a sense of immediate gratification when I helped her cross the street or put on her floaties so she could swim in the lake. I had so much control over keeping her safe. Now all I have are words that I hope she will hear and heed.

We talk about hard things all the time. About drinking and drugs. About dangerous things that might happen at parties. About sex and consent. About birth control. About drowning. But whenever Lucia goes out to a party or to the ocean or in her car, there is a part of me that worries that something will go array. The possibilities for danger in my crazy-mother brain are infinite and (often) irrational.

Yesterday when Lucia saved herself from drowning, I had a moment of clarity. My job is to plant seeds of guidance and wisdom and then nurture the seeds with water and fertilizer. I can share advice with Lucia and engage in regular conversations about risk and choice and discernment. But without sunlight, the seeds will not grow. 

That’s Lucia’s part. Each life experience she lives is sunlight on the seeds. Yesterday at the ocean when she got swept out and felt the fear of danger, that was a life lesson, sunlight on a seed. The time a few weeks ago when she had to call the ambulance for the girl at the party who passed out was sunlight on her seed. Negotiating with her boyfriend about how often she wants to see him is sunlight on her seed. 

I want to believe that with each of these life experiences the seeds are growing into thriving plants that will surround her like a beautiful garden as she moves through life, maybe even growing fruit trees or vegetables. Being the mother of a teenager is gut-wrenching but it helps me to look at it from this angle. These experiences that are scary for me are fruitful for her. Sometimes Lucia will fly too close to the sun, like yesterday in the riptide. I wish I could control that, but I can’t; without sunlight, seeds cease to grow.

In less than two years Lucia will be going to college. She’ll move away from home and have to make decisions mostly on her own. Until she goes I’ll keep planting the seeds, watering and feeding them. And she’ll keep being a teenager, going out and trying new things. And each time she does, I’ll take a deep breath, force a confident smile and say, “Be safe and have a good time. Don’t forget your sunscreen.” 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Opening the Joy Valve


Yesterday I was talking to a friend in England about the feeling of joy. We only talk once a month but it’s always intentional and enlightening. I look forward to these monthly chats. She associated the feeling of joy with the experience of discovering. For many years she was a teacher of young children, a path she chose because she loved being around them in their constantly discovering state.

I remember when my daughter was little. We used to take “night walks.” After dinner, with her sometimes already in her polyester Dora the Explorer short-sleeved nighty, we’d each take a tiny bowl of ice cream and walk up and down our street, eating little spoonfuls as we chatted. The walks were never more than a block or two because there was so much to see, so many questions to ask and answer.

We looked at the tiny blue weed flowers and took our shoes off to walk on the moss. Sometimes we picked blackberries or pondered over the big trash heap behind the house at the corner of the alley. After twenty minutes or so we’d head home, read a story (also an extended undertaking full of observations and questions), and kiss goodnight.

I was never bored by these moments. To be in proximity of my daughter’s experience of discovering was a joyful, energizing experience for me. I understand my friend’s desire to be around that kind of energy all the time.

Last week I had a clothing swap for several friends and their teenage daughters. It was the first large gathering I’ve had in a few years. The idea was for all of us to bring clothes, shoes, and accessories we no longer wore, sort them into huge piles, and then shop each other’s rejects.

The seven mothers and eight daughters perused the piles finding little treasures that they’d try on and either throw into a “keep” pile of their own or toss back into the sorted mounds. After the first go-round people started to form little groups on patches of grass — having a snack, catching up on life, or sharing Tiktoks.

And then slowly people would revisit the piles, this time finding items that might be good for someone else at the swap. This is when it really started to get fun. Someone would hold a blouse up and shout, “Laura, this is perfect for you” or a mother would hold up a dress for her daughter, suggesting she try it. Occasionally, the daughter would say yes but more often she’d roll her eyes and reply, “You try it!” 

It wasn’t the outcome that mattered, it was the exchanges, the interactions, the idea of sharing discoveries with each other. It was the laughing, the teasing, the trying on, and modeling that sparked moment after moment of joy.

For the past eighteen months we’ve been living in relative isolation, at first because we were in fear, but later just out of habit. Socializing became more of a special event than part of daily life.

Reflecting on the sheer happiness I had at this gathering, I could see clearly that I have been living in isolation for too long. Isolation is truly the opposite of discovering. Isolation is quiet, still, hidden, and closed. Discovery is expansive, unknown, exciting, colorful, and thrilling.

During the clothing swap party, I became engulfed in a twister of joy that came from each of us, alone and together, discovering. I discovered a tie-dyed silk dress that I never would have selected for myself. My daughter found a simple beige t-shirt that ended up being perfect for her new job as a busser. One of my friends whose daughters couldn’t come, went home with two bags of clothes and shoes for them to try at home.

When I told my friend in England about how profound my joy was during this clothing swap, she wisely observed, “You have been missing this part of yourself and it finally had a chance to come out.” She’s right. My discovery valve has been sealed closed during the isolation of COVID. On that sunny Saturday in my yard, it finally opened up and the joy was released.

COVID has revealed many truths about our world — vulnerability, inequity, divisiveness, and fear. And all of these things have invited, for many of us, isolation. I understood isolation to be protective, and it was. But this protective isolation also limited opportunities for discovery. One can only discover so much in the confines of their home. True discovery, at least for me, involves other people, fresh air, and possibilities. 

I loved those night walks with my daughter, those short journeys filled with possibilities for discovery. And I loved the expansive happiness of the clothing swap too. The joy valve is open and I can feel the difference. The hidden darkness has lifted and I’m ready to be in the world, to keep discovering.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Flooded with Possibities

Lately, I’ve been feeling identity fog. All my life I’ve been able to answer the question, “What do you do?” or “What are you doing these days?” with a sentence or two. I’ve been able to respond with “I’m in grad school” or “I’m working as a blank at blank restaurant” or “I run a business.”

I intentionally took some time off from defining myself that way, hating the question every time someone asked it of me. But my break is over. I’m ready to move on. I’ve had a few interim jobs, places to hang my professional hat, during the last few years. I’ve been totally open, saying yes to lots of things. I intentionally spent these past years actively releasing myself from the need to define myself for the sake of answering the proverbial, “What do you do?” question. But lately, I want to answer the question for myself. I want to feel more focused, more rooted. I want to be able to answer that question for myself.

I am a curious person. When I go to Costco I think the people who work there look happy and I wonder what it would be like to work there. When I walk in the park and see rangers giving little kids tours of the waterfowl I fantasize about doing that job. Every time I go to the post office I can see myself in knee-length blue shorts and a matching baseball cap delivering mail. I dream of working in health care, real estate, finance, and baking. 

As a result, I am flooded with possibilities and the feeling is exhausting. I imagine a flooded street after a hurricane or heavy rain — lawn chairs, couch cushions, picture frames, cars, teddy bears bobbing around a flood-formed river. All of these lost items floating somewhere near their home but undiscoverable in the flow of the water. These items cannot be restored to their rightful owner until the water recedes and the lost objects stop floating.

I have lots of possibilities right now — potential roles I can fill, jobs I might take, that will make me feel like I am on more solid ground, out of the flood. And that’s part of the problem. All of these possibilities are floating around inside. For some reason, I’m unable to claim any particular one of them and hold on to it. 

I remember reading about a woman who had a beloved, prolific heirloom tomato plant that was returned to her after a flood. Someone in the neighborhood had recognized the pot and returned it to her. She was so happy to reunite with this plant that she’d grown and cared for and loved. She nursed it back to health and celebrated its new harvest. 

I find myself waiting for something to stick. I want one of these ideas that are bobbing around in my brain to stop moving so that I can attach to it, welcome it, and engage with it like that woman with her lost tomato plant. 

This morning I realized what’s missing. In an attempt to follow my curiosities I’ve sped up my daily pace and, as a result, neglected a daily contemplative practice. Only a few months ago I had a years-long daily meditation practice but in my busy-ness, I’ve let that go, replacing it instead with activities related to my searching. 

I will stay flooded until I make way for the waters to recede, for the sun to come out. I know myself and I know how to do this. I have to be quiet and still. I have to resume my daily meditation practice and make way for the flooded waters to drain. I know some of the ideas and possibilities will wash away as the water drains; other ideas will remain. 

Once I see what is left, I can assess the situation. I will be able to look at what remains on the street in front of me. I will pay attention to what calls out to me the loudest. Which of the items do I want to run to, to scoop up and hold onto, to dry off and nurture like that woman nurtured her heirloom tomato plant? I hope the answer will be clear. I am ready to be out of the flood. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Hurricane is Coming: This Time I'm Not Evacuating



Last weekend I held the second annual Mother-Daughter Clothing Swap in our backyard. We hosted the first one a year-and-a-half ago, just before the first wave of the COVID Pandemic. 

In January we held it inside, taking for granted that this was normal and okay.

Then, in March of that year, everything changed. Inside living became verboten and, if we gathered at all, we scrambled to find ways to socialize outside in the fresh air where the germs would not spread as easily.

We are now chugging up the long mountain of COVID’s Delta Variant in a shaky little gondola, puttering up the top with no idea when we will get there. We have the return of the mask mandate and an alarming number of COVID cases among the unvaccinated and vaccinated. School is in person and we’re going ahead with much of normal life as if we’re going to be okay, even though we have no idea what the height of this wave will look like.

At the same time that all of this is going on, Hurricane Ida is raging on the gulf coast. My partner Nancy is from New Orleans and most of her family and many of her friends live there. She is in constant communication with them about the impending storm and their evacuation status.

Nancy said that growing up her family evacuated many times for different hurricanes. Often the efforts of shuttering up the house, packing the car, and driving several hours north or east were for naught. The storm passed over and their evacuation had been unnecessary. 

Yesterday Nancy’s brother sent his two teenage kids and their grandparents (his parents) to Dallas to escape the storm. They will play it safe and hunker down in this place away from the storm where they can wait out the danger of it. 

Nancy’s brother would stay put with the two older kids and hope for the best. He, like many of Nancy’s friends, will shutter up his home, make sure he has enough food and water, fuel up the generators, and have faith.

The clothing swap yesterday felt like the last hurrah before people start evacuating away from COVID. I was aware that this might be the last gathering for a long time. The feeling I had yesterday as fifteen mothers and daughters gathered in my yard, stepping into the basement room with all the doors and windows open to try on clothes, was a sense of elation that bordered on mania. 

I actually felt like I was under some kind of influence; like I was drunk or stoned. The happiness and excitement to be gathering like this were profound because I knew this might be the last time for a while. Every sensation in my body was amplified. I was jumpy and giggly; I felt an explosion of energy, a rush of blood to my chest and head. I felt like I was on the upside-down loop of a roller coaster with both arms flying high above my head. 

In March of 2020, when COVID first hit, I was petrified. I feared COVID. It became enormous, a killer, a death wish. Following this fear, I evacuated with my family into the safety of our home, away from the virus. I didn’t trust that we’d be okay if we lived our normal life, even masking and social distancing —  I would never have held that clothing swap last year.

But this time I’m not evacuating. There are some changes in place that make this an easier decision for me. All of my family and friends are vaccinated and in our city vaccination rates are high and COVID rates are comparatively low. That doesn’t mean a storm isn’t coming, it just means that I’m more like Nancy’s brother this time, staying put, trusting that I’ll be safe, having faith in a positive outcome.

I’ve read the headlines and I know the Delta storm is building strength, that the eye has not yet touched ground, and it’s scary. But this time I feel more confident, braver. I’m not going to evacuate. I will metaphorically board up my windows by wearing a mask in public and keeping social distance. I will be prepared with daily vitamin supplements, a healthy diet, and plenty of sleep to keep my body healthy. I will get a vaccination booster when it is offered to me.

But I won’t evacuate my life this COVID go-round. I won’t live in fear. I can’t do it again. The storm might be bad but I can’t hide out like I did last year. I feel different. I feel more resilient, stronger, more capable. I know what I need to do to stay safe. I know that I don’t have to run away from the world to protect myself.

It’s more a state of mind than any kind of action. This time, as I watch the path of the COVID storm, I’m going to stay put, trust what I’ve learned, use what I know, and have an occasional, very safe, outdoor clothing swap. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

I Kind of Want to Die

Last week I went for a walk with a friend. We’re old friends and have gone in and out of seeing each other for the past thirty years. As we walked through the arboretum talking about all of the hard, sad things in this world right now I said something I would only say to a longtime friend.

“I kind of want to die,” I said to her. I am not suicidal at all and feel grateful that I don’t have any acute mental health concerns right now but I look with envy at my ninety-three-year-old stepfather sometimes. He’ll surely die before this world becomes truly unlivable.

“Me too!” my friend exclaimed, “I totally get where you’re coming from. We’ve lived a good, long life and we could be done.”

A few days later I was talking to another close friend. As always the conversation turned to the lamentations of our upside-down society and tortured planet. “Sometimes I really just want to die,” I said to her.

“I’ve felt that way,” my friend said, “last month when I was camping and I imagined having to pack up all the gear and all the food I thought to myself, ‘if I died now I wouldn’t have to do this.’” She continued, “Really, I would be okay dying now.”

She told me that her husband never feels this way but she knows that another friend we share does. 

When I got home last night I told my partner about these conversations. “I’ve felt that way,” she said, “I understand how you feel.”

I deliberated a lot before I started to write about this “I kind of want to die” attitude. But hearing my friends and learning of this shared experience of feeling the “I kind of want to die” bolstered my confidence to write about it. 

I am a mother and a wife. I have a large extended family and a huge community of people I love and care about. But some days, even on days when I am not aware of the ins and out of the news, the bad outweighs the good.

I’m just being honest. The intensity of the sadness, loss, division, racism, infighting, pollution, and denial is greater than the joy and delight that come from the daily interactions I have with the good parts of life. I can remember a few years ago, right after I sold my business, I was floating in a happiness bubble. Everything seemed to be coming up roses. My family was good. My friends were abundant. There was no COVID. Life was good and all was well. 

Now I feel like I scrape together happy moments like puzzle pieces, trying to create a full scene of goodness that I can step inside of like Mary Poppins’ chalk drawings. I try to breathe in every moment of a satisfying conversation on a walk with a friend. I intentionally slow down the family dinner, fully appreciating the precious time of everyone being together. I meditate quietly, closing my eyes to imagine what will feel good today. 

I’ve reached a new threshold, a higher level of tolerance for bad shit than I’ve ever had. It’s okay. I know things will probably get worse before they get better and then better again before they get worse again. I’m learning that this is life. The older I get the more I know and the more I know the harder it gets. 

 I have always been privileged, comfortable. I have always had enough, more than enough. I live in a country free of (for now) dictatorship, in a safe neighborhood. The critic in me scoffs. The gall of it — me saying, “I kind of want to die.”

The truth is that I feel liberated when I say, “I kind of want to die.” It unlatches a tight, little, bursting at the seams Pandora’s box in my chest. Life is too much sometimes and I want to escape. Saying the words is my permission to honor that experience of too much-ness. And it helps. Just saying those words, confiding in a friend about how big the feelings are, eases the pain. The box opens and a little bit of sadness hisses out so I can close it again and carry on. 

Bye-Bye Binky

I was talking to my sister this morning and she told me about a friend of hers who recently “broke up” with her. My sister said her friend, ...