Second Place

Throughout their short lives I’ve tried to teach my kids that you don’t always have to be in first place.  Winning isn’t everything.  As long as you had fun, that’s all that matters.  As long as you really try, it was worth it.  These are wonderful sentiments when it comes to sports or grades, but in the world of relationships, it’s harder for them to find a place.  As children we rank ordered the people in our lives quite frequently.  There was usually nothing more devastating than finding out you were someones “second best friend”, especially if you considered them your “first best friend”.

Luckily, as adults, this isn’t a problem we frequently deal with.  It’s usually pretty easy to figure out where you stand in someone’s life.  When we were little we were verbal about it, having no problem shouting to anyone who would listen about our important list of people.  As adults, we tend to be more subtle, and actions, rather than words, show all we need to know.  When the words do come, they are not surprises.  We already could feel the love and understanding through each action, small or large.  Effort made.  Heart full.

There are those times, of course, that the words and actions don’t match up.  There is a disconnection, a breakdown in communication that makes us feel lost and confused.  What I’ve found most often is that the words are there but the effort is not. It can usually be broken down into two types of friendships.  One of them superficial, at best, and we know that it’s only a matter of time before these friendships are filtered out.  The second kind is far harder to break free from, usually because it causes a great hole in our lives that we are not sure we want.

The Superficials: We have the friends that are nice to our face, but tend to lie or tell half-truths (Past post about this) in some sort of effort to feel better about themselves or “seem cooler” to us (sorry for the middle school terminology).  While this is less than an ideal friendship, those types of people are easy to spot and even easier to let go when the time comes.  Eventually we get fed up being lied to and simply let the friendship dissolve until all we have left is the memories.  This is an end we see coming and usually, it’s one we’re ok with.

The Devastators: The other type of disconnect is more brittle and reaches the depths of our core a little more.  It’s the people who tell you exactly what they think you want to hear, but only because they’re truly nice people. They know all the right words and they say them at the right times, essentially causing us to believe everything they say.  And really, it’s because they just want to make us happy.  The trick, as always, is to look deeper, to see how much the actions match these words. In the best kinds of friends, you don’t have to look hard.  They match right up.  These are the people you want in your life.  These are the people you never let go.  And then there are the devastating times when they don’t.  You keep listening.  You keep wanting to believe.  You keep hoping the effort catches up to the words.  So many times, it doesn’t, no matter how much you want it to.

And when it doesn’t you have a decision to make.  Do you stay in that relationship, knowing you are essentially “second place”, a back-up plan only worth half?  Or do you simply break free?  Which pain do you endure?  The pain of staying or the pain of going?

Well?

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We’ll all float on Ok.

I don’t seem to know who I am anymore.

Not so long ago I felt like I had it all figured out.  I’m a mom.  I’m a runner.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a friend.  Things were going well.  I had a wonderful new daughter, two amazing boys, and a fantastic support system of friends and family.  I literally had no complaints and was perfectly content any happy.

And then I broke…again.

This wasn’t like the first time I felt that I had broke, when my dad had died.  When that happened I feel apart all at once so it was almost easier to out myself back together.  The pieces were right there and easier to find, not scattered over space and time.

I wish I could say I knew the exact moment that it happened, but really it was a series of events that started small, each one separately almost microscopic in size, but together crumbled my world into a million pieces.

I cut back on my running and dropped out of the NYC marathon.

An old friend came back into my life just when I thought I was finally over our past.

I lost a person in my life who I thought was a good friend.

The separation began…and ended…and began…and changed so much that I don’t even know where we are at this point.

Most recently I’ve done things I probably shouldn’t have.  I’ve eaten things I probably shouldn’t have.  I’ve stopped running altogether.  With each passing day, the numbers on the scale keep inching closer to where I said I never wanted to be again.  And the worst part of it all is that I just don’t seem to care.  Not about being a bad person, or losing certain people from my life, or even losing everything I worked for.  None of it.

I feel like I’m on the roundabout on the playground spinning more and more out of control each day.  The sad part is that I know I’m the one that’s pushing it to go faster and faster.  I am in complete and utter control of this and I can’t seem to jump off and just stop. Because I know that when I do I’m going to break even more from the impact.  I know that I’m really going to have to work to find all the pieces and put myself back together again.  Not only in the “now” but in the past too.  The task seems daunting and so impossible that 99% of the time I don’t even have the desire to try.

But then, out of the blue, today happened.  The 1%.  The one glimmer of hope I had been hoping for.

We’re driving to the park and the library and all three kids are squeezed into the back seat.  Charlotte is singing along to Modest Mouse playing in the background while Oliver and Max argued about how many sheep are in an adjoining field.  The sun was shining in the blue sky as wispy clouds float by, my hand out the window rising and falling in the warm air.  I finally felt it.  What I had been longing to feel for so long lately.  A sense of peace and contentment.   A sense of placement.

This is where I was supposed to be.  Maybe not forever, but at least for right now.

And with that tiny feeling of hope, I know that pretty soon I’ll have enough courage to make the leap off the roundabout.  And maybe, just maybe, my feet will actually hit the ground and I’ll be able to pick myself up and begin to collect all the pieces.

Processing

It’s been a while since I have written anything.  Life has been busy, and wonderful, and messy and excruciating all at the same time.  But that’s usually how life is; the good with the bad, the best with the worst.


As the weather gets warmer I tend to spend most of my time outside, soaking up the sunshine, recharging my batteries, and just letting my mind wander to the tune of a gentle breeze and warmth on my face.  Lately my mind has been drifting more and more to the relationships in my life; friends, foes, loves, lovers, children, colleagues, etc, and how some stay and some go.


Recently, I lost a friend.  I’ll save you all the dramatics that surrounded it, but quite simply, one minute we were friends and the next minute we weren’t.  And quiet honestly it was for a stupid, arbitrary reason that I won’t even dignify by putting it into writing.  There was no falling out.  There was no betrayal.  Quite simply, it just ended.  But irregardless of the reason, I have one less friend than I had before.  Because of that I feel like “less” than I was before, like something in my life is missing…because it is.


And I’m sad.  I miss my friend.


There’s something so refreshing about having people with which you can be your unequivocal self, with no questions asked and no judgements posed.  I have very few people like this in my life, so when I find someone who’s soul meshes well with mine, I try to hold on to them for as long as I can.  I’m fiercely loyal and protective of these friends, so when one of them has to leave, it hurts.  A lot.


But all this aside, my most recent friendship ending has led me to evaluate many other friendships and relationships in my life.  I have best friends, and close friends, and acquaintances, all of which play integral roles in my life and help shape who I am.   And they all play their self-selected roles well.  We’re there for each other.  We check in.  We do the celebrating when it’s warranted and the cheering up when needed.  Just by being in my life, every single one of them makes me a better person.


But if that is the case, if I have some truly amazing people in my life, then why, oh why, do I continue my relationships with the toxic ones as well?  Those are the friends that lie, cheat, and manipulate their way through friendships and relationships.  It’s usually directed towards other people, not at us.  And we sit back silently and watch the way they treat other, judging quietly, but not saying anything.  Because it will never be us.  They’ll never lie to us or manipulate us.  We’re safe, we believe.


Until we’re not.  Until we realize that we’re the ones being lied to. And the moment you catch them in that lie, it’s like the wind gets knocked out of you.  You have no breath, you have no words.  And then comes the anger…followed shortly after by the overwhelming sadness.


And we tell ourselves that’s just the way they are and it’s something we need to put up with in order to keep the friendship.  And up to a short time ago, I would have believed this.  I would have put on my game face, hoped they didn’t do it again, and let our lives move on just as they had been doing.


But today…no.  Today I say THIS IS BULLSHIT.


Why the hell am I going to continue to put up with someone who treats me so poorly?  And not just me…but everyone else as well.  And the plain and simple answer is: I’m not.  I have some amazing people in my life, including my most recently lost friend.  I don’t need to continue to be friends with the toxic ones; the ones that make me feel less than, the ones that always make me second guess the truth, the ones I simply do not trust.


I’m 35 years old and I know that I still have a lot to figure out when it comes to life, love, and relationships.  Most days I feel like I don’t know much at all.  But I do know this.  I’m no longer going to allow these people to be in my life.  I may not always be the most self-confident person, but I do know I’m better than that.

Self Absorption at it’s Finest

“I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” ~Marilyn Monroe

As you may have read before, I gave up Facebook…for a day.  I deleted my account last night and I’ll be reactivating it tonight…but not for reasons you might think.  I thought I was getting too obsessed with Facebook; checking it all the time, always posting, wasting time that I could have been doing other things. I figured that without it I would barely pick up my phone.  Instead you know what happened?  I checked Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and my email all day.  I have an app that tracks phone usage and I used it the same amount of time as I had been…without Facebook.

What I realized (besides the fact that I’m addicted to my phone itself and probably should do something about it) is that I’m completely self-absorbed and I do have my tiny Facebook break to thank for that a little bit.  Because of this all the time I spend on my phone, you’d think I’d be the most awesome friend ever, always knowing what is going on in the lives of others.  Engaging, relating, conversing. The reality is less than admirable.

I simply use the damn social medial tools to tell everyone all about me.  I over post assuming that everyone wants to hear all the random crap I have to say.  I over scroll because I can’t seem to be left out of anything and need to know what everyone else it do (and even more embarrassingly, why I’m not included).

In a nutshell, it’s all about me.  I’m as self-absorbed as they come.  And it’s downright shameful.

A while ago I lost a friend.  There’s an amazingly long and heartbreaking story behind the whole ordeal that I won’t bore you with now, but essentially we were friends and now we’re not.  I have spent a large amount of time fixated on this friendship wondering what I did to get to this place, wondering what I could do to make it better.  Me, me, me, I, I, I.  During this time other friendships have come and gone and I’ve barely noticed.  How crappy is that?  People sent messages, tried to make plans, were legitimately interested in the goings on in my life.  And yet, here I was making all kinds of effort for someone who basically didn’t give a shit about me.

Which basically equates to me being a giant tool.

I know I tend to push people away.  Yet, I don’t think this is necessarily about that.  I just know I need to be a better friend to the ones I have. And while Facebook is good for the superficial aspect, I need to do a better job of being a friend in “real life”.   I need to engage, work, try, and make an effort.

If not, I may not have anyone left.

This is for all the lonely people…

“Being alone is very difficult.” ~Yoko Ono

Marathon training is not only hard, but it’s lonely.  I don’t think it’s something you can truly understand until you go through it yourself.  I have friends that have run marathons so I thought I got it.  I most certainly did not.

I remember being out with friends, begging them to have one more drink, one more bite, one more anything, and scoffing when they said they couldn’t.  Of course they can, I thought.   They’re just being (insert word here).  And of course, that’s when you could get them out at night.  Because most times, you can’t. Now I know, though, that you can’t eat one more bite, because it might be the thing that puts you over the edge during your run that evening.  And you can’t always have another drink or go out at all because you have to get up at 4 am to run X number of miles.

I know all this now.  And it sucks.

What I need is someone to say “Let’s stay in and watch a movie tonight because I know you have a long run tomorrow.”  Or “Here, have some water with lemon to hydrate for your run in the morning.” Or how about someone to tell me to put down the fucking cupcake or smack the Ritz crackers out of my hand.

But I don’t have a person like that.  I don’t have a partner in crime for this adventure.

It’s hard to go through this alone and I wish, now, I would have been more understanding of my friends that have gone through it before me.

Balance is key, in all aspects of training, and I have to admit I’m doing a terrible job.  I’m either too serious or not serious enough.  Eating everything in the house or nothing at all.  Running all the miles or hardly any.

And now that I’m injured, I am feeling all of this times 10.  I know I need to rest, but I know I can’t not run.  And no one gets it.

It’s officially 100 days until the marathon.  I just have to make it through and then everything will go back to normal, right?

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Remember when we were friends…

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” ~Jane Austen

Shockingly enough this is not a post about being a mother.  Nor is it a post about running or some form of transformation I hope to create for myself.  This is, in simplest terms, a post about friendship.  I’m not quite sure where in my sub-conscious it formed, but I know it’s a story I need to tell.

Earlier today I received a text from a friend saying she saw a certain friend of mine having lunch with someone else I knew.  It was semi-shocking news knowing these two people have a tumultuous history, but nothing completely out of the ordinary.  What struck me most was the fact that for awhile, this friend and I had been rather close, inseparable even, and now it hard to remember when I last talked to or even saw this person (actually, it was December 2013, so about a year and a half ago).  While the “conversation” didn’t really make me miss this particular  friendship per se, it did get me thinking about the idea of friendship in general.  In the most juvenile terms it really had me thinking “what happens when you’re not friends with your friends anymore?”

Last August I wrote this post about friendship.  I talked about how amazing my friends were at helping me through a really tough summer after my dad died.  And yet, out of the four people I named in that post, I haven’t seen two of them since last July, and one of them, I haven’t even “talked” to except maybe once or twice via text.  That’s not to say that I don’t think about these people or wonder about them or even miss them, but it’s just interesting how one minute someone can be one of the most important people in your life and the next minute you have trouble remembering the last time you had a meaningful experience with them.

I can literally name maybe five people that I am legitimately friends with at this moment, but in full disclosure, I tend to just have a few close friends instead of a large amount of acquaintances anyway.  I think in the era of the “Facebook Connection” we tend to think we have more friends than we do.  We think that all these social media platforms are helping us, but rather they are actually harming us and our friendships.  We, as a society (me very much included)  don’t feel the need to reach out and keep a tangible connection to the people in our lives because people are “right there” with the touch of a button.  These quick connections take all the effort out of maintaining a friendship and friendships, like any relationship requires work.  We post posts or like photos with the feeling that we are keeping some form of connection going when, really, are we?

And what happens when someone, a friend, doesn’t like out photo or our post?  Half the time we run through the following thoughts and questions: Are they mad at us?  Are they being petty or jealous?  Do they agree with me and my opinion? Or maybe, the thought that never occurs to us, maybe they don’t spend every minute on social medial and didn’t see the actual post.

I realize I went off on a little bit of  a tangent and with all my post-pregnancy brain-ness I don’t really know where this was going in the first place.  But I think what I’ve gotten out of it is that I need a break.  A break from all the wondering.  A break from trying to figure out people or even figure out where I stand.  A break from feeling like I’m losing something that wasn’t ever really mine in the first place.  A break from the second guessing of certain friendships and relationships when I have a house of people right here to focus on.

Because you can’t fight for everyone, especially those people who don’t want to stay in the first place.

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What defines us…

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” ~ Walter Anderson

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post.  Too long.  I really have no excuse.  I seem to form a million posts in my head every day but they never make it down.  Things have been busy, school was ending, and a million little things kept piling up and it was hard to keep my head above water most days.

I did accomplish something though…I ran my first 10k.  I won’t go into too much detail here because that is a post in itself but it was hard, scary, amazing, wonderful and a million other things all rolled into one.  It was the most fantastic accomplishment I have to date and has actually made me a little excited about tackling the half marathon in October.

I posted a few pictures to Facebook earlier today and although I live with myself every day, it’s crazy to see the changes that are happening, especially within the last year.  I run everyday. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve never felt better.  I have made so many lifestyle changes that I can’t help but be proud of all I have accomplished.  And yet…

There are other things I know I still need to focus on.  Character, emotional instability, and simply overall personality.

I tend to get angry too easily, and sometimes for reasons even I can’t identify.  I yell too much, and usually at the people who love me the most. At times I can be completely and utterly selfish…forgetting that it’s not just me in my life anymore, but that I’m also a wife and a mother.  I tend to push people away and challenge them too much…and not in a good way. Most days I am simply too much; too overbearing, too emotional, too demanding.  A tornado when most people can only handle a rainy day.  A hurricane when most people only want a light breeze.

And the worst part of it all?  I know most people can’t handle it.  But I still fault them anyway.  And the ones that can handle it?  I don’t cherish them as much as I should.

I seem to have the physical changes down…but maybe it’s time I start working on the other aspects of my life.

Because what’s the point in moving forward if I have no one to share my life with?