Recently, I was attending a memorial service for a dear friend who had lost her life partner. The things that were being said about this person and their life were amazing and inspiring. Beautiful. Death brings light to life.
Think about that sentence.
Death brings light to life.
Some would argue that the opposite is true. But is it?
In death, we see things that we normally would not see. We see families devolve and fight over things that don’t matter in the long run, in a desperate attempt to keep the person that has died, close to them. We see the ways the deceased touched others in their lifetime. In good AND in not so good ways. We see personal struggles of the deceased that come to light, that we had no idea they were struggling with while they were living. And we see the people left behind, make transformations in their lives, that may not have been made otherwise. We see people inspired by a life lived. A reaffirmation of life, if you will.
Death brings light to life. Do you see what I mean now?
And it made me think about this journey I’ve been on. About time here in this life’s existence. About letting things go that no longer serve who I am or what I’m meant to do. About living every moment. Not like it’s your last. But like it’s the moment that it is! Right there. In front of you. In you. Behind you. It’s gift. It’s a chance to change your destiny constantly. We can be more than we think we are, in every SECOND going forward.
But some of us choose to stay mired. Complacent. Angry. Sad. Bitter. Victims. Powerless.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in those kinds of moments (and I’ve had plenty of them) and I don’t want to stretch those out anymore.
There have been lots things that have happened in my life in the past few months. A lot of changes. So am I living the best life I’m meant to live? Am I doing the things that call to my heart? Am I being the change I wish to see?
I’ll be completely transparent here, because that I what I promised to you dear reader. That this blog would be honest and no holding back.
I am vulnerable. I find myself living on a daily basis, in a place of overwhelming emotions. I have been like that since I was little. I can get into the struggle of what that is like and how people react to it. Another time though. But I will say, there are times when others need to feel something and it’s a moment of honor when your sensitivity can affect such inspiring change around you… (My call to be an actor may tie into this) 🙂
Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m fragile. I’m not. I’m sensitive. But I’m by no means fragile. A lot of people mistake the two. Being sensitive, I’m in tune to emotions and feelings and I express them. That doesn’t mean that I’m broken and can’t handle life. I’ve handled a lot of ugly things in my life. Looking at me, you wouldn’t think that I have. I guess we all reflect what we’d like to see in ourselves, onto everyone else.
I have revised this blog a few times this AM. Because I wanted to inspire you to think instead of it becoming about a venting session for me. Also, I needed time to sort my thoughts. To get to the root of why I really wanted to write this blog.
I think what that memorial service really inspired, was a thought process in me. A review on life maybe? It also happened to fall on the anniversary of my Grandmother’s death, and I miss her, because this is a conversation I would have with her.
At a service, do you ever find yourself thinking, “What would people say about me?” “How would I be remembered?”
I had to ask myself, do I live with a passion for life everyday? Why do people come into our lives only to be yanked out? It’s not just death that yanks them out. There’s break-ups, divorces, fights, accidents, work, callings, all kinds of things that take people from us. How do I deal with life changes that are seemingly out of my hands? Because these are the things that happen that make life more challenging and may make us “give up” living, for fear of being hurt, for being left behind, for making us feel too much.
I think the point of those hardships and challenges are to inspire us to find ways to move beyond the pain and live even better! Not give up. Not hide behind an armor of anger or bitterness so that we don’t get hurt.
I’ve been through a lot of life altering experiences. But here’s an example of how growth can come from chaos. I’ve been pretty mum about up it to this point. Only a few people really know what happened, and it’s going to stay that way for the most part. I’ll touch on it here though, because I think it merits the growth process experience discussion.
I recently was in a complicated situation with someone who I considered a very close friend. What I didn’t see for a long time, was who they really were. Whether it was to ridicule the things in other people’s lives that identified them as an artist, or criticize other people’s personal choices they made, this person, consciously or unconsciously, was not a very nice person sometimes. It kind of snuck up on me. The occasional venting session or sarcastic remark turned into a daily mire of negativity. Everyday, in some way, shape or form, they would give clues to the deep chasm of unhappiness that resided within them. There were a couple of specific circumstances that clarified this. Not getting into it here.
I never felt (and still don’t) that they were/are a bad person. I knew the circumstances that shaped them. I truly believe that people can change at any point, if they really want to. So, I excused things that I shouldn’t have because I saw a different bigger picture. (Oftentimes this is my downfall as evidenced by a myriad of complicated and challenging relationships I have been involved in)
LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #1
You have no control over what others feel or how they act. You can’t “stick it out” till you change them. You can’t change anyone.
Our friendship started to get challenging. Did I mention before, being the bleeding heart is often my downfall? Been there, done that. Here I was again. Dammit. And sure enough, it began to unravel. Like it had done so many times before. And this time, instead of fighting it, I let it unravel. I let it get all tangled up to where it all exploded. That was where my growth and change was in this situation. I have never let things go like that. I was the fixer, the peace maker. I would morph MYSELF before I let somebody else fall. This was unusual for me to let something self destruct like this. I think deep down, I knew that this a was lesson that I had been tested on numerous times. This time I was going to take a stand. I was going to pass this test and advance to the next level. I was done with this lesson. It was time for me to put on my big girl panties and take it like a woman.
It started when, apparently for months, the gossip machine had turned on me. This person had been informed by another that I had been voicing some unhappiness and lack of caring in our relationship and that I was saying derogatory things about them. However, this person didn’t come to me and confront me. There’s not enough time on this Earth to waste second guessing the motives of rumours and gossip. But they chose to believe the gossip before the truth. They started setting me to up to fail. They watched my personal social media, assuming posts that alluded to (but never named) circumstances in my life were about them. They started asking people that were close to me what I was saying and doing when they weren’t around.
But never once, did they come to me.
LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #2
Always be authentic with how you feel, no matter the timing. There is never “a good time”.
They did, however, start holding me at arms length. And I felt it. They started coming down harder on me in situations that did not merit the level of intensity. And I felt all of this. And it made me sad. Hyper-vigilant. Guilt ridden at times when what I was offering was never enough.
So I made a mental plan, that I was going to go to this person and have a talk. Be candid about everything that I was feeling. But when the time came, they dropped some news on me, and the timing felt poor to bring it up. So I let it go.
This new thing called social media changed all that, and a posting on Facebook brought it to a head.
In a sense, we called each other to the carpet. Emails ensued. They were convinced I was talking about them. I was not. But there were things that needed to be said. The next day we talked over some food and a bottle of wine. It felt like the old days again. We aired out everything. We talked about all of it. We found middle ground and had some realizations of how others had misrepresented the truth. If anything came up like this again, we would talk to each other plainly and openly. Everything was all good.
It made me feel like I should have done it sooner.
LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #3
Always trust your gut.
The next few times I saw them, I felt better, but still a little woozy from the experience. I felt like now, I needed to prove myself more than ever. I felt like a bit of an outsider again. The friendship didn’t feel authentic as it should. But I kept going thinking it was just me over thinking it.
And apparently, I was right. When opportunity presented itself, my former friend read a mutual friend’s personal FB email. In it, was a discussion of a topic my former friend decided was inappropriate of me to be discussing with this person. And I was sitting right there in the moment they read it. I guess they didn’t think I knew. They kept quiet and let me go home without saying a word to me. And I, seeing where this was going to go, sat back and waited.
The friendship ended via email on a cold November night. Yes. Via email. “Due to conversations with <name redacted> I have no choice but to….”
Two things ran through my mind
1) Where do you get off reading somebody’s personal email and then getting mad about it and start retaliating?
2) Did they take the opportunity to make the change they had promised? Did they come to me to clarify anything? No. They said nothing. They did not uphold the promise to never let this happen again.
I should have listened to that uneasiness in my heart. It was trying to tell me something.
LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #5
When standing up for yourself, don’t make it personal. It’s counterproductive and unnecessary.
I responded with an email that confronted them right off the bat. That they had violated someone’s privacy and read someone’s personal email and that they were ending the relationship on yet something else taken out of context that had nothing to do with them personally. No more bullshit. And I’m not gonna lie. I felt relieved. I didn’t have to tiptoe anymore for fear of waking the beast. It didn’t matter anymore, it wasn’t my job to deal with it from this point going forward.
A flurry of emails ensued. Mine were plain and fact driven. Theirs, emotional, chaotic and full of vitriol. I was overwhelmed. And I would now have to explain the sudden absence of them from my life to a lot of mutual friends. How was I gonna do that? I needed guidance. When I showed several people the exchange, some of which knew this person, they were flabbergasted. The comments ranged from “This all sounds like a high schooler wrote it” “This all drama” “It’s like you’re dealing with a 5 year old who got their feelings hurt” to “You’re better off now” “I can’t believe this is what was going on, no wonder you’ve been a basket case” “This is a blessing that you have been released from this” I kept thinking if I’d have just done this or that differently…but then I had someone bluntly say to me “Stop it. This isn’t about you.” It made me realize for the first time in my life, that people who have problems are just that. People who have problems. And in reference to Learning Opportunity #1- I can’t change them. I couldn’t take on their issues. I had to let my ego get out of the way, and not make it about me.
LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #6
It’s okay to be mad. It’s ok to grieve. It’s better to forgive and move on.
At the time, I had to look at it from the standpoint of “What did we learn?” A worthy question in any given circumstance in life. And I grieved. And I got angry. And I grieved. And I let go. And I got angry. And I grieved. And I let go.
Why was I going through this nasty situation? Why did I have to deal with this?
Well let’s look:
I had become complacent in where I was. I was trying to fix something beyond repair. And I had to experience the above learning opportunities.
So armed with this new knowledge, I made some changes to better my life as a person and as an artist.
I accepted an offer of a job that I had been extended to me in August, but I had just been sitting on it for two months for various reasons. I moved to a more peaceful environment, out of the city and into nature. I started writing consistently and getting back to my acting. I started hanging out with people who kept at me to learn how to trust again, who treated me with genuine love and respect. Who had my best interests at heart. Sincerely.
A couple of months later, I got an email from my former friend, wanting to reach out to me. I didn’t really know how to respond other than that I wished them well, and had never seen that ending the way it did.
Life hummed on.
And then out of the blue in the beginning of January, I got a phone call from one of the parties who had been involved in the gossip mill during the breakdown of my friendship.
They profusely apologized for their role and for not standing beside me and for misrepresenting me. I don’t know if they ever told my former friend that they did that, but ultimately I guess that’s up to them. I was relieved to forgive and move on. I didn’t want to hold on to it anymore.
That same week, I randomly ran into the party who’s private email had been read and had been the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was more of a reconnection after an awkward incident kind of experience, but I was genuinely glad to put it behind us.
Then there was this kind of cathartic release after that. I was no longer angry, nor grieving, nor confused, nor anything. I was done. It was over. And it was a relief. I realized that in the grand scheme of things, it was everything and it was nothing.
I didn’t think of it a single bit after that day. I kept living everyday with a newfound gratitude and excitement for the opportunities that I was generating and that I hadn’t even seen yet.
I would have never gotten to this point in my life, had I not experienced it all and learned from it.
Death brings light to life.