When Happy Up & Walks Away

How perfectly draining to at the same time always feel like far too much and yet never quite enough. – Tyler Knott Gregson

Be prepared;
Insecurity is going to come
It will not knock, but break down your door during a dinner date
Invite itself in and sit at the table,
Foam at the mouth like a hungry dog
It’s okay, let it in, set an extra plate
Tell the boy he has to leave, it’s not a good time,
Insecurity has something to say and you need to hear it
Feed it and love it, for this is a gift in disguise

It has a message and it goes something like this:
You are confusing the people you should love with the people you shouldn’t
You are confusing the people who love you with the people who don’t

Insecurity is here to teach you a lesson about packaging
The boy has a great singing voice, he makes a lot of money
He does things you wish you could do,
Volunteers with children and uses a French press
He showed up on your doorstep in a shiny new package
And when the magic hits you, you forget the reasons you are special

In the brightness of his light,
You forgot all the reasons you love yourself
After all, the package you are wrapped in was stamped and sent decades ago
You were swept away by all the reasons you love him,
it’s okay. Insecurity is here to teach you that new isn’t better,
Shiny isn’t superior, trendy isn’t triumphant
When he held your hand while you dreamed, you forgot the magical way you can quiet your own mind when it’s time to sleep
When he rolled with you down the hill, you forget that you once climbed a mountain all by yourself

And when it’s over,
You might be scared because your happy seemingly just up and walked away,
You are confused because lonely looks different than you remember it
It’s no longer an empty room,
But, rather, a room filled with thirty people and none of them want to hold your hand

It’s okay, remember, your happy isn’t gone;
Your happy is just no longer 5’9” with strong arms,
It’s the tall peppermint latte you buy yourself on a long day.
It’s a short trip to the bookstore to buy flimsy paperback books.
And, it’s okay, it’s still your happy. It just looks a little different now.

And, baby girl, remember your strength isn’t gone just because insecurity outstayed it’s welcome

Don’t forget; strength isn’t a penny pressed in a factory,
It is the painting that didn’t come out like you wanted, but still looks beautiful
Your strength hangs limply on your wall, when everyone else’s dances in the night
The rest of the world has strength that screams out loud, and yours never speaks up
It’s okay; your strength is quiet, maybe different, but it’s there
It’s spending the day simply just trying to survive your unwelcome visitor
It’s learning how to weather phrases like, “I just don’t like you that way”
It’s being brave enough to cry when your mind tells you not to

In time,
You may wonder if anyone will ever notice how hard you are working
The person next to you just fed fifteen homeless people
All you did was get out of bed.
It’s okay, keep working.
Your strength doesn’t have to grunt like a jock at the gym,
It just needs to get the job done.

And, now, finally, insecurity will pack its bags and leave
Because you gave it everything you had and it still took more
It chewed up your carpet so now you can build sturdy hardwood floors
Ripped off your packaging so now you can choose your new design
Your colors will shine brighter, you’ll wrap yourself in translucent paper
So people can see your humble soul instead of just your tough skin,
And, maybe now, it’s time for that dinner date again



far from the tree

In the most cliché scene known to man, I cried big, fat, overdramatic tears on my living room couch as I held on to my dog. His Facebook page lit up in front of my eyes, showing the latest picture of him and his new girlfriend. The girlfriend I knew nothing about because let’s be honest, no one was exactly excited to break that news to me.

My mom walked in the room with a frantic look in her eyes, as I’d just been laughing three seconds earlier.

“What is going on?”

“Mom, I shouldn’t have looked. I know I shouldn’t have. Why did I look? Why didn’t you tell me?”

My voice was desperate. My mind was in a million difference places. He was happy and I was sobbing on the couch.

My mom just looked at me wondering how I even saw his page anyway and then it clicked; it didn’t matter if I blocked him on my page if I could just sneak on under hers. I admit it was a complete junior high trick, pretty immature for my 24-year-old brain, but I was heartbroken and I was in love.

“Well, I’m just going to block him, too. He’s not worth the pain,” my mom said, even though she probably knew as a parent and grown adult, it might look a little childish. Okay, it was childish that she needed to protect her adult daughter from seeing a picture on social media.

This was a long time ago and seemingly irrelevant. In the age of Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat, it’s not uncommon to come across pictures of your ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. Also, what good mother wouldn’t comfort you with a hug and a kiss and a quick “let’s delete him out of our lives” conversation?

I also admit, it wasn’t my most graceful of times, either. Having moved to a city on my own, I was just making it paycheck to paycheck, I lived in a less than desirable studio apartment in a sketchy part of town and for the life of me, I could not stop living in the past.

Over Chinese food, my mom reminded me gently that I still needed to eat even though my ex-boyfriend moved on. She also reminded me that I had dated two other people since him, even if they didn’t turn out to be serious. I didn’t care. I was allowed to be happy, he wasn’t.

Anyway, time marched on and so did I.

When I was growing up, I didn’t always understand my mother’s strength. She didn’t hide her tears when she was hurt. I knew if she was worried about something and she definitely was never afraid to speak up to those who did her wrong. I mistook this all for weakness. Tears are weak, worrying gets you nowhere and could she just keep her feelings to herself once in a while?

Then I became an adult and realized the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’m the apple and she’s the tree, just in case you didn’t pick up on that. I’m an anxious mess most days. I ignore people after I’ve been hurt by them and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tastes so much better when sprinkled with my broken-hearted tears. My mom is usually there, ready with her spoon.

My mom is my hero. Her life hasn’t always been easy. In fact, I’m not sure I’d describe her life as ever being easy. Still, she loves with her whole heart. With my mom I’ve picked delicious strawberries in the middle of hot summer, I’ve walked beaches to find seashells at the crack of dawn and I built forts in my living room that she let me keep there for weeks. At my mother’s side, I’ve learned how to pick the most amazing treasures out at yard sales, search for the rare gems that can be found at second-hand stores and craft my findings into a stunning piece of jewelry.

Maybe more importantly, I’ve learned that even when I feel as though I am at my weakest point, my strength is probably poking through. Set by my mother’s fierce example, strength is not hiding your emotions and putting on a brave face. It’s admitting that you are scared, you are sad, and still figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other despite it all. Strength is realizing that you’ve felt so broken before and made it through to tell the tale.

So, this Mother’s Day, I need my mom to know that if given the choice, I’d choose to fall from her tree every single time.