I’ve known Keri for many years, I think initially through her attendance at my events (pitfall of the job — I meet so many folks, it’s hard to keep track of the initial when, how, why’s). I’ve always found her to be a thoughtful, kind, participatory spirit, eager to support others and to challenge and work on herself. I witnessed her adorable relationship with her parents (even ran into the three of them at a restaurant once) and her heart-warming relationship with a male youth she tutored for many years (the image of him at a Bulls game, hugeeeee grin, is still easy to recollect eons later). She was part of my mass exodus of Chicagoans to other places a few years back, in her case, DC. While I miss her physical presence in the Mac & Cheese world, I’m very glad she’s remained in the online sphere of mine. One of the primary reasons is that she’s happy AND sad. She lives a full life with FRIENDS! TRAVEL! GOING OUT! but also with QUILTING! SOLO MEAL COOKING! STAYING IN! She’s transparent, share’y, and sit in the muck but eventually pull yourself up’y, all Life of Yes℠ traits.
When I saw one of her recent posts, I was a) moved and b) desirous of giving Cheese-Its access to her journey. Which leads us to this Guest Post. I hope you find her words to be as I did, like a pair of slippers and a mug of cocoa, exactly what you need when you’re feeling alone, devastated, lost.
I encourage you to follow and interact with Keri on social and to share your own stories of muck there and here in the comments, if so inspired. It’s cocoa’y to hear we’re not the only ones.
[Confession: when someone says they’re cleaning at all or in a certain way because of you, well, let’s just say they forever have a spot in my love-nest.]
This girl. A year ago she took a chance, jumped in feet first, threw caution to the wind and said yes. She opened up to possibility, and let herself be really, deeply vulnerable. She knew it might get messy, that it probably would be hard, and even have some rough patches. She said yes regardless, because sometimes the hard things are the ones most worth doing. It didn’t turn out the way she hoped, but this girl still believes in magic and happiness and love, and still recommends going for it if you think you have the chance to find it.
And if it doesn’t end up that way? Sometimes when things go badly, and it’s worse than you could have ever imagined, that’s when you realize how much support you have and how many people are there for you when you need them. I have to figure out and re-imagine what my life will be. As I’m working to figure it out, I have some advice for you, and for myself: things I’m trying to remember and live up to in my own life.
Be scrupulously honest with yourself and others.
Don’t cushion the blow of what might be bad news. Respect the people you choose to have around you enough to know that they can handle the truth and make their own decisions. Relationships require talking, especially when things are tough. Learn to talk, really talk, about the little problems before they get so big in your mind that you think your only option is to leave. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
If an interaction or a person or a situation feels gross or manipulative or like it is trying to make you feel or be small: walk away.
If someone tells you you’re too much, believe them and let them find someone who is less. You deserve more.
Listen to your body when it tells you something is wrong and ask how you can be better in alignment with your truth.
Take care of yourself, mentally and physically. You control your destiny more than you realize and remaining positive and open to opportunity and help is a large part of that. Keep talking things through with someone like a therapist or a professional coach, who isn’t invested in a particular outcome.
Once you love someone don’t ever stop loving just because it’s scary or might get hard or you might fail or because you don’t see the path forward. Trust that love is the whole purpose, the entire reason we’re here. Everything else that you think you’re looking for, that you think you have to achieve all comes back to that: needing to love and be loved. Don’t get so caught up in the specifics of what you want to accomplish that you forget the reason why.
Even after the end of a relationship that meant more to me then I ever thought would be possible, I truly hope and pray that each of us in the future finds someone again who loves us as much as we loved each other. I hope that this love is returned, generously and without condition or reservation. I think everyone deserves to find that, and have to believe it’s still possible, even for me.
I’ll leave you with a poem
“I loved you” by AS Pushkin (translated from the original Russian)
I loved you once: perhaps that love has yet
To die down thoroughly within my soul;
But let it not dismay you any longer;
I have no wish to cause you any sorrow.
I loved you wordlessly, without a hope,
By shyness tortured, or by jealousy.
I loved you with such tenderness and candor
And pray God grants you to be loved that way again.
Director of Research Innovation, National Committee for Quality Assurance
Instagram: @BreakupArtTherapy @christensenkeri