What Love Isn’t

At the beginning of this week, I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine on the topic of heartbreak. Though not a topic I’ve discussed in awhile, it brought a lot of memories to mind as I recollected on my past. Then today as I was driving to volleyball I heard the song Love Ain’t by Eli Young Band on the radio. The song portrays what love is by giving examples of what “love ain’t.” It had me thinking even more deeply on the topic. Add this with the knowledge that this weekend marks six months of married bliss — something which I once could only dream of achieving — I formulated my own version of what love is not.

Playing off the idea from the song Love Ain’t, I began to take note of instances in my past which I thought were love but turned out to be a mirage. Fleeting and forced feelings, endless questions, and a myriad of memories where silver-linings are hard to find.  With all these circulating thoughts, I began to consider the misguidance and mishaps of my past which shaped what love truly means to me.

My love-journey captures a variety of things: from snippets of hurt I’ve seen in my friends’ lives to the pain of my own, as well as my own failings in relationships and regrets of what I could have done instead. Pain is unavoidable through Life, but I’ve always aimed to learn from the hurt. Without knowing what love isn’t, I would never have discovered what love is. As I move forward with joy over the true love I have found and relish in knowing the pain it took to realize what I deserved, here is my own version of what love is not…

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Grow Through It

I remember feeling that 2016 was a horrific year and I couldn’t wait until 2017 rolled around to begin anew. I had high expectations for this year and what it was going to bring. Or rather, I held high expectations of what the year should not bring — I craved a drastic shift from 2016. I expected more gains than losses, I expected a lot of love instead of grief and pain, and I expected much happiness, the type of happiness where I wouldn’t spend a single night falling asleep to tears. It’s true how the saying goes, friends, don’t go into anything with expectations because you’ll only be let down.

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2016 in Reflection

It’s that time of year again. The time of year where Christmas music has officially been blasting in all retail stores for three months, temperatures have dropped below freezing, my warm fuzzy socks hide the fact I’m no longer shaving like its summer (#sorrynotsorry), and the Facebook Years in Review are rearing their superficial, only-choose-pictures-with-the-most-likes heads.

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Does Grief Have An Expiration Date?

Grief is a big bowl to hold. It takes so many formations, so many textures and colors. You never know how or when it will rear its head and take a hold of you. Sometimes you cry unfathomably, some days you feel guilty because you haven’t cried, and in other moments you are so angry or filled with anxiety you just don’t know what to do.

Grief is one of those emotions that has a life of its own. It carried every feeling within it and sometimes there’s no way to discern it.

Today was a hard day.

Usually I am able to hide my feelings well. Usually I can paste a smile on my face, exude positivity, and not allow anyone to know that I am being eaten away inside.

Today was not usual.

Today I had more meltdowns than I can ever remembering facing on any given day in the past. Today I found myself becoming angry and hostile about the littlest of things. Today I awoke from a daydream to find tears leaking down my cheeks. Today I curled myself into the fetal position and sobbed.

Today I grieved. Or at least my grief finally came out…

It has been a month since my friend Denise’s death and I still don’t think I’ve truly taken the time to grieve her loss. Sure, I’ve cried in the late hours of the night, but I hide that sadness during the day so the world won’t see my weakness. I have not wanted the world to know that I am hurting. And I feel more guilt as time keeps ticking away that I’m not better yet… that I am not as strong as I pretend to be.

I feel like I should be nearing the end of my grieving period… and that is the issue!

Certain things need an expiration date. Milk, eggs, meat, yogurt, the salad that gets pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten… An expiration date means there is a time we need to be done with these things, a time for them to either be a gone or thrown away. I get this. I’m in perfect understanding of this. But why do I also feel like grief has an expiration date as well? There seems to be this under-laying concept in our society that allows grief to have a shelf life and then it needs to be permanently removed from the house and home.

I think this way of thinking comes from those who have never experienced a great loss. Good for you! You are so blessed! But unfortunately, there are a number of people in the world who cannot say the same. The majority have suffered devastating losses and therefore know the truth — grief does not have an expiration date.

Everyone fears facing such a loss. Alongside that fear, they are also hopeful that their grief will only last a certain amount of time, that it will only take “so long” to recover. So until they are faced with the reality of a loss, it is a lot easier to think, “This won’t happen to me, and if it does it will only be awful for a short amount of time and then SNAP! Back to my happy-go-lucky self and all the sadness will be magically erased.”

Friends, this way of thinking sets us all up for very disappointing expectations!

The reality is, everyone deals with grief in their own way. If someone spent years loving another person, that pain will not simply be removed due to society’s belief that it should be over at a given time.

The same can be said for people who made a lasting impact in another’s life, just like Denise did for me. Her loss is something I still not comprehend, and I’m finding it difficult to “get over it” in a timely manner simply because I doubt how well I am coping — or if I am coping at all.

Over the past month, I’ve learned a few more things about grief. Grief will take on different forms in different people. Not everyone cries while others cry all the time. Some people exercise a lot, others talk about the situation often. Many seek counseling or look for support groups.

I’ve come to enjoy the company of good and understanding listeners. This is a big step for me — when I start to feel sad, I actively look for someone to listen to my feelings and give me support.

I called Wilbur today for that support. I felt awful doing so, and I actually retracted my invitation for help only a few minutes later, but he came over and lent me a helping hand to get through the evening. He reminded me that I am allowed to feel the pain of Denise’s loss and that it is healthy to do so.

From past experience, I know that the frequency and intensity of grief’s pain will lessen over time. However, the reality is that those memories will resurface and the pain will itch its way back into Life every now and then. Everyone grieves at their own pace and in their own way. There is no set right or wrong way to grieve, and that is something we as a society need to start incorporating into everyday life.

Grieving in a healthy manner and taking steps forward does not mean you won’t have tough days or moments. Grief is a way of life, but you can continue to lead a happy life by choosing to do so and putting in the necessary work.

There is no expiration date on grief. When you’ve faced a tragic loss, grief never fully goes away. This doesn’t mean you will be sad forever though, and that you can’t choose to be happy in the future. Take however much time you need to grieve your losses, because, luckily, there is no expiration date on the love you shared with your lost loved ones either.

In Memory of Denise

It is hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.

Today the world lost a special person, my dear friend Denise. We’d been friends since the day we met, only two years ago at a planning meeting for Little Black Dress. I didn’t know then what kind of impression she would make on my life and it is with a very heavy heart that I grieve her loss.

Denise was the type of person who was adored by everyone she met. She had a contagious smile, a loving heart, a fighter’s strength, and a glorious soul. She was never more than a phone call away, even with her crazy schedule of juggling motherhood, work, and being a breast cancer awareness advocate. There is no way to fully express her impact in the community and in my own life.

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10 Rules of Christian Dating and Why He’s Not “The One”

I’m a Christian, in case that hasn’t been clearly stated yet, friends. I’m a Christian who values her faith and Lord above all things, but I am also human. I ache to love and be loved in return by those I can physically embrace. I’m beside all the people in the world looking for a place to belong, a group to belong to, and a person to make my life better. So when it comes to dating and looking towards the future, my thoughts are a jumble of what I need, who I like, and how the two can intertwine into respect for my faith. I’m not the type of girl to believe there is only “One” person out there for me. I believe there are many people who fit the bill and who are compatible with my beliefs. This fact makes dating even more difficult though… or does it?

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook a few days ago and the first time I read it through I was like, “Yeah. He is so right. This is what I feel.” I mean it, the entire article speaks so perfectly on my beliefs and morals and faith it’s almost spooky. It is a discussion on society’s views for dating, a personal view of dating, and God’s call for dating. Considering these 10 rules might just make things a little bit easier for those needing the strength and guidance. So for those of my readers who are Christians, I urge you to read through this article. I know it has some length, but Frank’s words are true, justified, and right on point.

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2015 in Reflection

I wrote a reflection on my year in 2014 (2014 in Reflection) and, looking back, to see when and where I was in my life at each month in the past is a very powerful experience. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can change and directions in Life can alter. This time last year I was preparing to begin a new career, was steadily becoming more infatuated with a new relationship, and the worst loss I had to cope with was that of a broken heart. 2015 brought about a whole new level of craziness that only reinstates Peonies ‘n Mint’s tagline: I am truly blessed to have loved, lost and gained so much.

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5 Ways to Stay Positive in Negative Situations

Everyone knows what it is like to have a hangnail: no matter how hard you try to ignore it, all you want to do is get rid of it. So you pick or pull or find nail clippers to get the job done. It might hurt, but once it is gone, you feel a tremendous sense of relief. Only once it is no longer dangling, catching on your clothes, and being a nuisance can you get on with the more important aspects of your day.

Negativity is just like that hangnail. It pierces your consciousness, inflames your mind, and consumes your thoughts. How many times have you caught yourself laying in bed after being hurt or angered and continuously processing it in your mind? I have one-sided arguments with myself frequently. This week, for example, I had an argument about once every hour as I went through what I can honestly say was the worst week I’ve had the misfortune of enjoying.

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Staging Lies

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The stages of grief: a method to gauge and measure grief. It is the belief of observation and theory that when a person is grieving (specifically the loss of a person in their life) then he or she is expected to move through this series of clearly defined stages and eventually come to a completion of acceptance. It is the belief of professionals that there is a right way and a wrong way to grieve. The right way is to process grief in an orderly pattern, the wrong way is to never actually heal.

If I were a professional psychologist, I would definitely say I am failing at grief. Being a writer, however, I feel fully comfortable saying I am winning at grief. That is because I have come up with my own stages of grief, and let me tell you, I like mine a whole lot more than the majority of psychological science’s stages of grief lies.

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