Real

This is a thank you letter to the people who refuse to hold back their emotions in public. They might make some people uncomfortable, but I am not one of those people. I freaking love them for it because they aren’t trying to hide, cover, or not feel. Its refreshing when people give in and react to the moment, even if someone or everyone might see.

Dear woman quietly bawling on the tube in London,

I hear you sniffling and letting out those tiny, gaspy sobs. I keep glancing up from my book to see a constant stream of tears coming down your face. Oh shit. You just read a text on your phone and it made you cry harder. I’ve been there before, sister. Did you just get dumped? Did someone die? Did you get in a fight with your best friend? I wish I knew why you were so sad. When I get off at my stop, I’ll drop a travel pack of kleenax on the empty seat next to you as a token of my appreciation for the honest visual display of your current emotional state…and because crying that hard gives you a runny nose and it’s the worst when you’re leaking from every orifice on your face. Thank you for reminding me it’s okay when you can’t hold back tears. Just let those rivers flow.

 

Dear couple fighting in aisle 13 at Home Depot,

I’ve always been told that home improvement projects are the true test of a relationship. That seems to be a very real thing in this moment for the two of you. You apparently have very different opinions about which project is more important to finish first, but there has to be a compromise, right? Also, I feel like this argument isn’t actually about a project timeline. It sounds to me like this lady thinks you’re over estimating your DIY skills and wants you to just hire someone so you can focus on your relationship rather than drywall for awhile, dude. But she should probably just come out and say that to you. Oops. We just made eye contact and you guys got a lot quieter. But you don’t need to. Honestly. Don’t mind me. I’m just over here mentally cheering you on while I eavesdrop and make what appears to be a very difficult decision about paint primer. Thank you for showing me that I should probably never try to renovate a house with my significant other.

 

Dear girl telling off guy in the park,

There are people all around you: eating their sandwiches, power walking with their coworkers, biking to class, playing frisbee, reading on benches, etc. And then there you are just yelling at this guy. You look really strong. I imagine you feel strong. It sounds like you’ve wanted to say this for a long time. Maybe it’s been building in you. Way to go for telling him how it is and walking away. You didn’t turn around, but he watched you until you reached the street. Thank you for being loud and fierce. I felt empowered just observing you and I don’t even know you.

Dear couple breaking up at Smokey Row,

Here are your lattes. Oh. Oh no. This is awkward. You guys are totally breaking up right now, aren’t you? Wow. Did one of you plan to do this here? Because you’d think that initiating a break up in a cafe would come across as a terrible idea. Are you breaking up on a date? This is ridiculous. I feel so bad for whoever is getting dumped right now. I mean, you’d at least expect a to-go order so that this conversation can happen in the car…But alas. Here you are. Both staring intensely at your cups. I’m going to bring you a couple of free cookies and just set them on the table. It feels like the right thing to do since you brought me into this now. Thank you for being reallll real.

Love,

Taylor

 

Inner|Outer

“If we give priority to the outer life, our inner life will be dark and scary. We will not know what to do with solitude. We will be deeply uncomfortable with self-examination, and we will have an increasingly short attention span for any kind of reflection. Even more seriously, our lives will lack integrity. Outwardly, we will need to project confidence, health and wholeness, while inwardly we may be filled with self-doubts, anxieties, self-pity, and old grudges. Yet we won’t know how to go into the inner rooms of the heart, see clearly what is there, and deal with it. In short, unless we put a priority on the inner life we turn ourselves into hypocrites.” – Timothy Keller, Prayer 

One of the things about being an internal processor is that it makes me more prone to over analysing everything. This was solidified last week when my counsellor said, “You process everything so well on you’re own that I’m not always even sure how to help you. Girl, you’re even good at therapy.” Can I get that skill endorsed on my Linkdin page? Ha. But really, this more or less constant state of self-reflection is something I like about myself and on the other hand, it also drives me f-ing crazy. While it involves being well-thought out and intentional, it also means that I have worried a great deal on the inside about how things appear on the outside. I have given priority to my outer life more times than I can count. After all, it’s what people see that matters, right? Honestly, would we be as content with our relationships, talents, humour, appearance, and thoughts if we didn’t post them and receive the instant gratification of it being liked, shared, and commented on? Do we alone attribute value to those aspects of our own lives, or is some part of their worth in the hands of those we share them with? I don’t know.

I can sit at my computer and write about how much I’ve grown since moving here, how much courage I’ve gained, how strong I feel, etc., and all of those are true to some degree because I have made efforts to prioritize my inner life, but they’re still simply projections. I’ve had to face the fact that what I project is where I want to be and/or where I think other people want me to be. However, that is usually not where I really am.

Facing where you really are involves moving out of your own way. I’ve had to be conscious of where my thoughts drift to when nothing is forcing me to think about anything in particular and I’m not looking at a screen. That tells me a lot. The whole world-turned-upside-down-type stuff that has happened in my life this past year has made the inner rooms of my heart a very hard place to frequent. When I’m down, I keep picturing Jillian Michaels in that 30 Day Shred workout video screaming, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable!” That’s pretty much how it feels. Being on my own a lot…call it loneliness, call it solitude, has allowed me to see clearly what is there and I’m going to deal with it. The only thing that stands in the way of me getting to the place where my inside and outside match is me. As the brilliant Flannery O’Connor wrote in her prayer journal, “Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to…I do not know You God because I am in the way…I have started on a new phase of my spiritual life…the throwing off of certain adolescent habits and habits of mind. It does not take much to make us realize what fools we are, but the little it takes is long in coming. I see my ridiculous self by degrees.”

Reading that I thought, daaaamn that woman is honest. And then it hit me…

Being honest.

That is what has made going inward, seeing, and dealing so difficult. That’s what is uncomfortable. I have become even more conscious of honesty since being immersed in a culture that is generally put off by it. I have been learning how to be brutally honest in prayer. I find it weird. Unsettling. It takes practice. I have always gone about my conversations with God in a beautifully civil manner. Sure, I’ve prayed through a good sob session plenty of times but lately its gotten real real…you know what I mean? Angry. Pissed. Gutted. Destroyed. Lots and lots of expletives. My entire life I have been keeping myself composed in front of the one from whom I can hide nothing. I just didn’t get to experience the goodness that comes from brutal honesty until I moved out of my own way. Until I abandoned composure. Until I started identifying where I am really at, venting like its my job, and processing it all without an ounce of restraint in God’s presence.

Praying is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. Although it is the most referenced and commonly shared practice among all faiths, I think that prayer/meditation is one of the most talked about and least understood things ever.  For me, the confusion lies in that prayer is one of the ways I most profoundly experience God’s presence, and yet it is what makes me most aware of God’s absence. Keller also writes,”Perhaps we are so used to being empty that we do not recognize the emptiness as such until we start to try to pray.” Perhaps it is that loneliness which fuels our hunger; a hunger that is eventually always satisfied because ultimately, prayer is communion with God and that reciprocal love is God’s greatest desire.

Love,

Taylor

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