1. Fran Stekoll says

    In thinking about the prompt, Promises I’ve made that I no longer wish to keep,
    what I’ve said yes to that I wish I hadn’t. The only regret I have is telling my ex I would no longer need his pension and would send it back. He is struggling, I am not; but his struggle is of his own doing. I called him Mr. Minus. I was always Mrs. Plus. It’s hard being around negativity for 46 years. I was powerless, or so I thought, until I cut that cord and got my power back. Being a Libra and a hopeless romantic and a giver, I try each day to live life to the fullest and want peace at any price. Confrontations and unrest just don’t sit well with me. Recently my uncle passed away and I could easily return that monthly pension; but why should I. I deserve it.

    • Barbara Keller says

      What is the “yes” I no longer mean?

      It’s not so much “yes” that I say. It’s “no.” No, I’m never going to live in Tillamook again. No, I don’t care to work as a teacher any more. No, I won’t ever gain that weight back. No, I won’t ever fall in love again.

      Over time I realized if I really wanted to do something all I had to do was say “No, I’m not doing that again.” I’m much more careful about making those blanket statements now. Do you know how many times I did move back to Tillamook, Oregon? Five. I moved in six times and out seven. I stopped saying I’ll never live there again.

      I’m more open. What happens happens. Sure a lot of my willingness to go along for the ride rests on my believe in God, that He does love me and wants the best for me. So far it’s worked out better than I could have imagined. And not making those arbirary declarations is easier on the heart and soul. I’m not fighting my way up stream anymore, like a dying fish trying to get home to spawn.

      I’m not real sure where home is, and I’m no longer willing to put up a fight to get there and do it on my terms. To my great relief. You can’t imagine how much of my life energy was spent trying to make things come out the way I thought they should. Too much. I might not be in charge, but I’m a lot happier.

      • Laura Davis says

        Barbara, I love what you wrote–especially the part where you said, “You can’t imagine how much of my life energy was spent trying to make things come out the way I thought they should.” I’m sure all of us who love control could relate perfectly. What a wonderful lesson you’ve learned–and now we can learn it from you.

      • Barbara Keller says

        It would be a better story if I could count. I think if I moved to Tillamook 6 times, I probably left 6 times as well. Not seven. Sorry. Barb

      • Debbie says

        Barbara – I could definitely relate to the freedom that comes from letting go of the notion of being in charge – along with some of the accompanying anxiety. I enjoyed your post.

  2. Cathy Hall Stengel says

    I said yes, meant yes, that I could be, might be, should be, proficient in all manner of things, giving the impression of near perfection. This promise rattles and shackles me.

  3. Jim Dowling says

    That we’d hang together for the duration. That the comet would blaze on and on, bright and hot as ever, until … who knows, who cares. That, in spirit, there would be no compromise, no reckoning with the ravages of time. No fear diluting addiction to raw experience or the unknown.
    It was like that. We hit many roads together, eyes-wide, breathless and insatiable. And that was our creed…hammer to the bell, burn baby burn, last one standing, farther.
    For a time.
    For me, something changed. When the quest was finally ‘articulated’ and defined in all its glory, the magic faded. It became mantra, a routine, just as mundane as the world we shunned; a nagging sense of youth being ground to dust. Time wasted. Anyway I got out, bailed in relatively good shape. And thank God: For the job, a good women, an evolution of perspective. I learned it’s okay to slow down. The roses actually smell kinda nice.
    It wasn’t all bad. Hell no! I’ve come away with plenty of rare memories, lots of stories to tell. Okay, some regrets, too, but feeling fortunate. Like I dodged a bullet. Got off the train in time.
    But you? From what I hear, you’re still out there. Doin’ it. Holding the torch high. A maker of myths…Hunter Thompson without the Cadillac. Well, how you holding up? I’m afraid to ask. ‘Cause I know. I do. It’s late in the game. So hey, here’s the standing offer: Give a call if you care to explore a different road. If you have the courage.

    • Laura Davis says

      Jim, thanks for this thoughtful and honest assessment of how it takes courage to change–and to let go of who we used to be.

    • Ilana says

      Well done, Jim- I love how you showed us how it was in the beginning and then took us through the process. Thanks for sharing this story. IM

    • Fran Stekoll says

      Great perception Jim, I could relate. Nothing is Forever. Life is like
      Photography- We develop from the negatives!!!

    • Patricia says

      Jim, Your anthem, for me, was more about sensation and images than words. I read it as fast — to keep up with you — with your pace and energy. My heart was beating faster and my breath was shallower by the end — as if we had sprinted through your story.

      I feel it is ‘late in the game’ — there is a term in sports that has to do with ‘recovery time from an error’. For instance, in golf, I have more possibility for recovery on the 6th hole — than on the 16th hole.

      I still have many options — but pursue few of them — because the possibility of many of them not working out is high — or, it really is just too late –and I do not have a lot of resources to recover: not much time left on the clock.

      Life seems to evaporate as it happens — and I hate to admit it, but the chores of daily life — just keeping up with the basics — is often more than I can handle. I get very tired — where did that vital energy go? Is it possible to get some of it back? I try and just get more tired.

      I just returned from 3 weeks in San Miguel de Allende — my 8th visit in 9 years. First time not in winter. September was sweet and fresh and green and tranquil. I went for renewal and rest. After my return home, I started feeling weak and tired. I have reasons — but why do allow them to have such power?

      • says

        Patricia, thank you for your honest and eloquent response to Jim’s post. I was moved by your words and your dilemma. I especially like the line, “Life seems to evaporate as it happens.” Welcome to the Roadmap blog. Come back and post often–coming here only requires the energy of your heart and your mind. Keep coming back.

    • Debbie says

      Jim – I really enjoyed this post! What struck me was the power of the myth we create around our lives. And that the myth seems more real than the grounded activities you identify with pride and caring. There are those who do get trapped in the myths of their lives – we watch them, sometimes envy them and often miss them, too. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Jennifer Ire says

    The yes is an unconscious promise to those who could not love and accept me, that I will not love and accept myself as I am.
    I am no longer keeping that promise. It was a big error of judgment on my part that has now ended.

    • Ilana says

      Wow Jennifer- This is so close to home for me that it is startling. I admire your strength to call it like it is and to take active steps to make it into what it should be. Bravo! And thank you so much for making it clear for me as well. IM

      • Jennifer Ire says

        I did not know I have had such good company on that end of life. Now it is good to know that there is company on this end of the change. Thanks for your company. I don’t feel strong simply determined to really find the me who came in to life to live me to the fullest that I know how to. The train got derailed, it is back on track!?

    • Debbie says

      Bravo! I echo Ilana’s comments completely! There are so many of us who fell under the spell of another expectations for us. We are breaking free even though it is frightening. Thank you for saying it “out loud” giving me, and others, the place to say “me, too!”

  5. Sangeeta S. says

    The “yes” I no longer mean are all the “yesses” that I used to say that I never should have said in the first place: I take them all back. No is my new answer. No to the people who wish to take advantage of kindness. No to the people who want to use you because you never got the chance to develop proper boundaries. No to the ones who also do not have proper boundaries (used to be me) and who violate yours because that is what they know. No to the people who abused me and attempt to continue that cycle because they never learned right from wrong. No to the man on the street who checks you out and visually rapes you because he likes your boobs. No to the store vendor who is rude to you and passes on that rudeness because he feels entitled to. No to the guy who pushes you into doing something you don’t want to do. No to the little child who asks for too much candy. No to the dry cleaner who purposely stained your shirt and refuses to pay for it. No to all of the people who do things that they know is wrong and refuse to acknowledge it. To all of these people: I say, NO.

    Now, to the people who I have said yes to that I should have said no to at the time, I say this: How dare you? How dare you take advantage of a little girl who was defenseless and did not know how to say no. How dare you abuse the acts of kindness of a young woman who was only trying to help out and was manipulated into giving you way more than you deserved–and ended up using her more than she ever had been previously. How dare you continue a dysfunctional cycle of abusive behavior towards one person when all she is trying to do is get on with her life. How dare you act as though you did nothing wrong when you did nearly everything wrong. How dare you continue to act as though everything is fine when everything is still a freakin’ mess. I hate you, you yes-mongers!! Yes, that’s right, H-A-T-E. You’ve ruined lives and hurt people and you continue as though you are entitled to. To you, I say this: F-You and your kind forever! I am now living a better life and it’s only getting better by the day. So take that to the bank and cash it, because to me it’s worth about a billion dollars. Good luck to you people, you will not change and you will continue to pay the price.

    • Laura Davis says

      I appreciate your passionate rant. Claiming your space–and what you need to say. You’re showing the power of words to reclaim what was taken from you.

    • Ilana says

      Sangeeta- I really enjoyed reading this. There is so much raw anger that turns into power. In my writing group yesterday we talked about the use of obscenities. They need to be used carefully or they lose their power but if it is done well they can accomplish so much to communicate the point. I feel you have perfected this in your use of the word “H-A-T-E”. The way you express your anger is very powerful and empowering to me as a reader. I also really enjoyed the ending “You will not change and you will pay the price.” Well done! IM

    • Debbie says

      Sangeeta – I have a confession to make to you; after all these years I am still uncomfortable with clearly expressed anger. I could feel myself shrinking from your words as your rage became more well articulated and clear. So I read your post again, and again until I let your anger, your words serve as a channel for my own, unexpressed rage at injustices old and new. Thank you for helping me in this way.

  6. Ilana says

    So Much More Than the Yes That Has Grown Stale

    My promise was that I would get over what my brother did to me and let him back into my life. He’d never admitted to it, claiming that I remembered our childhood all wrong. I was the little princess that my parents favored so much and he was punished severely for even looking at me cross eyed. It was nothing of the sort. He did whatever he wanted to me and I was punished for complaining. “What did you do to set him off?”, “Don’t call us from our date just because you guys are fighting.”, “Do what you have to to keep the peace, step around and don’t make waves.” These tag lines were repeated so often that I learned to live by them. What Andrew did to me was inconsequential. They knew what was happening. I told. They even found photographs of me naked. They just chose not to believe it. What they believed was that Andrew was “fucked up” and we had to do what we could to deal with a bad situation. He was mean and difficult but certainly not abusing me.

    In 1994 at the age of twenty, I had my flashbacks and nightmares. I confronted him but the discussion ended in my apologizing to him. A few more times over the next 17 years I brought up the truth. It always ended the same way. Andrew explained to me what really happened in our childhood and forgave me. “It’s okay, Ilana. I don’t hold you responsible. That was mom’s fault, not yours.” In 1998 my father said he believed me and agreed to participate in the confrontation. But when Andrew sang his usual song good ol’ dad abandoned ship. He responded to this by saying, “There is Andrew’s reality and there is Ilana’s reality. The truth is somewhere in between.” I cried for two hours after that one while the gentle heroes quietly discussed their law practice in the next room.

    Over the years, though I never forgot the truth, I learned to put away my feelings. It wasn’t so bad. He didn’t actually rape me. Not with his penis, anyway. He never left marks or broke any bones. And it really was my fault to begin with. I was the one who “set him off”. I never used the word “incest.” My mother had explained to me long ago that if the abuser doesn’t put his penis into the girl’s vagina then it wasn’t incest. She was right. It really wasn’t the same thing. So I had always promised myself and my parents that the day Andrew admitted that I wasn’t the pampered princess; the day he said, “I was mean to you. I shouldn’t have treated you that way.” I would accept him back into my life with open arms. Until then, I would talk to him on his birthday and at family functions but that was about it.

    It never happened but I always had hope. In 2009 I gave up waiting for the impossible. I called Andrew and told him that we could have a relationship based solely in the present. “You will believe your reality of what happened and I will believe mine but we will never speak of the past.” The silent part of the agreement also included my overlooking his continual transgressions. When he made comments about my breasts or claimed that my naked body was “nothing I haven’t seen before.” I held my breath and waited for the icky feeling to pass. Everyone did. These things were said in public, at our younger brother Matty’s wedding. In front of his date! Everyone just glossed over it. This was how it was going to be. Andrew could believe that I was the favored child and even continue to talk about my body and we would have a “surface” relationship that denied the truth. I accepted that. I had promised to have a relationship with Andrew and when he couldn’t fulfill what I had said I needed from him, I’d lowered my standards.

    My parents were thrilled and everything seemed to be okay for a while. At Andrew’s wedding Molly asked me to be her maid of honor. When I made my speech, though I did not lie about our past, I stuck to my promise and simply pretended that it hadn’t happened. Instead I toasted the two women who I was “So fortunate to call my sisters and so honored to call my friends.” And I meant it. They are both lovely woman. Focus on the present, I kept telling myself.

    It worked right up until Andrew called to tell us that he was going to be a father. I was happy for them… outwardly. Molly had been convinced she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant because of her age. She was 38 years old when the baby was born. Everyone was so happy. I kept up the façade for a month or so but it was obvious to my husband that I was not okay.

    The next part gets blurry for me. There was a downward spiral. I remember that; panic attacks, the physical illnesses and a strong desire to hurt myself and end my own life. A lot of the time, the only thing that kept me going was my responsibility to my husband and three young children. None of it made sense to me, though. After decades of playing it all down and blaming myself I could not understand why this was hurting me so much, now. I joined a support group but it took me a long time to believe I even had a right to be there. Then I read something that explained it, put my feelings into clear view and things started to make sense. It was something a survivor was quoted as having said in Laura Davis and Ellen Bass’s book “Beginning To Heal”. This survivor had said, “I could rattle off the facts of my abuse like a grocery list, but remembering the fear and terror and pain was another matter entirely.” The authors explained that some people never forgot the events but minimized the importance, denied the impact or been numbed to their feelings. This plus the assurances from my sister survivors that what happened to me was incest, that it wasn’t my fault and I did not deserve it, helped me begin to understand and begin to heal. It’s been a hellish journey but I’m finally starting to see why so many of us are willing to drag ourselves through it.

    Somewhere along the way something truly amazing happened to me. I began to challenge my lifelong hatred for “Little Ilana” the child who had been sacrificed by all of us. Instead I learned to hate the real villains of my story. I hated Andrew for what he did to me. I hated my parents for letting him do it and convincing me that it was nothing more than I deserved. I hated Matty for turning his hurt at what Andrew did to us against me. But I no longer hate Ilana.

    Free from my hatred of her I find myself unable to continue to sacrifice her in order to keep my promise. I have pulled back my hand and taken back the yes that has grown so stale. There is no more guaranteed forgiveness waiting for Andrew should he ever decide to admit the truth. I may never speak to him again. My parent are a slightly different story. I hope that one day I will forgive them but it is not a guarantee, not a promise that “Little Ilana” owes to them. I have purchased the book “I Thought We’d Never Speak Again” and when I am ready I will read it. I own it. I hold it and I hold hope. For now that is enough for me. No more guarantees, no more promises. Except for one. There is one promise I will hold myself to. I promise here and now, with all my heart, that I will learn to love “Little Ilana”. I will give her what she really deserves. There is so much at the end of this difficult journey. There is life in the end. There is peace, there are full breaths taken in with confidence and entitlement. There is joy and there is love. There is so much more than the yes that has grown stale.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, I imagine you throughout this story and applaud each stage you’ve clawed your way through. One sentence that jumped at me was “I cried for two hours after that one while the gentle heroes quietly discussed their law practice in the next room.” Gentle heroes. I hate to say this, but I can imagine how you felt. I felt the same. You go, woman. Enjoy those breaths with entitlement and love that little girl. Cherish her and the grownup version of her in your very own skin. She is beautiful.

    • Debbie says

      Ilana – I am full of joy for you after reading this post. These lines, particularly brought tears of happiness to my eyes:
      “No more guarantees, no more promises. Except for one. There is one promise I will hold myself to. I promise here and now, with all my heart, that I will learn to love “Little Ilana”. I will give her what she really deserves”
      Yes, oh, yes! That is a promise meant to be kept! “Little Ilana” is one beautiful, determined strong survivor!

  7. Vicki says

    The “yes” I no longer mean: “Yes I’ll do anything. Just please like me”. It was torturous living like that. What happened to make things better? A million little things, a few huge things and just being sick and tired of it.

    • Ilana says

      Bravo Vicki! I felt freedom and peace as I read this. Perhaps it was because I could relate so well to the “torturous” way of living that you describe. It is a beautiful thing to free ones self from that. I found your writing a celebration of my own freedom. Thank you! IM

  8. Terry Gibson says

    Most of my life, things happened around me and to me with the strange absence of my approval. I was so lost, I never noticed I didn’t say ‘yes,’ until I was being grilled on whether and how often I said ‘no.’ In fact, I didn’t say anything at all. Between humiliation, sexual shaming, and incessant ridicule, I had retreated so far away inside myself; I was putty in everyone’s hands. I was a hollow body and lived in between the spaces of people’s conversations.

    “What are they doing now?” Mom asked Bob, in the living room.

    This rattled me. Two plates, slippery with soap, suddenly clanged together. I jolted at the noise. Now they’d come check up on us immediately. I didn’t have the dishes done. Nor had I used that spray stuff to shine up the taps, sink, paper towel holder, bread box, table, stove, refrigerator, and countertops. I shot my sister a look as if to say, “Hurry.”

    “If that dish water isn’t hot …” Bob said, threatening me. “I’ll give you something to cry about.”

    Wincing at his reference to my breakdown earlier that day, I turned the hot water on full blast until my hands were red, swollen and burned. As I heard him stomping toward us in the kitchen, I plunged my hands to the bottom of the sink. That made the water overflow into the opposite sink on one side and on the counter on the right. I just made an even bigger mess. Suddenly giddy, I wanted to let all the water out. How would he like no water at all? He’d go ballistic.

    “Get back here,” Mom directed him. Heavy footsteps back to the living room. “She’s in there slamming things around,” I heard her say, with her voice getting louder. “I won’t put up with it!”

    “Yes, Mother,” I heard him say.

    “She’s always defying me,” she said, bursting into tears. I heard their bedroom door slam.

    Two minutes later, Bob stood beside me, slapping me. “Look at this!” he yelled. “That’s not clean. Do it again.” I wiped off the table. He hit me again. “Use a little elbow grease.” He grabbed the cloth from me and rubbed at the ketchup splotch. “Like that. Do it.” He shoved the cloth at me and then slapped me. I didn’t pick it up quickly enough. “You’re trying to defy us.” Unwittingly, I rolled my eyes; I never knew when this would happen but wished I did. He punched me in the face. I over exaggerated my ‘elbow grease’ then as I felt the coolness of my blood streaming from my nose.

    I dabbed at my nose just nown I remember this scene because my nose started bleeding just now. It happens sometimes, especially when I’m stressed. I hate thinking about my inability to defend myself. My absolute terror of the threat of violence. The embarrassment of being defenceless. Then having people tell me I have been making my own choices—of my own free will—all along.

    How could I not become a ‘yes’ person? A peacekeeper? I watched myself from afar back then. Saying ‘no’ could also incur the rage of someone. So I said nothing. It was much safer. After the first rape, I knew just how much safer I was to just play dead–to simply shut off all reactions in my body.

    So, almost all of my yesses have gone stale. The ones given by my saying nothing. The approval assumed by the absence of a clearly stated ‘no.’ This was a serious problem. An extreme example is when I lived with a boyfriend, even though I knew it was all wrong for me; he was an alcoholic, not very intellectually stimulating, and he seemed to aspire to do nothing. It didn’t last long but I wasted a lot of precious time.
    I no longer have time to waste. It grieves me that I I ever did. I must continue my hard work of sorting myself out, defining myself, and working on my communication skills. Only then will I say ‘Yes’ and really mean it–without fear of anything. Only then will my stale and mouldy ‘yes’ be replaced by mindful, self-aware nods in agreement of that which I truly desire.

    • Terry Gibson says

      I don’t know why I felt the need to post this at 1:30 am. Just felt compelled I guess. Actually, I fell asleep in between some edits! :) Woke up and saw screen still there on my phone. :) So this is rough. First draft.

      • Ilana says

        Terry- This piece is very intense. You drew me in right away. It was sad to hear about all you had to survive but that made the ending so much sweeter. You did survive and it was thrilling to hear you make a new promise, to yourself. You promised only to say “Yes” when you really mean it and not waste any more time. What a triumph! Would love to read the final draft when you are satisfied with it.

        Oh, and as for needing to post at 1:30am.. Been there! Done that! Sometimes I feel so compelled to share my post that I don’t want to wait another minute, even for the sake of catching a little sleep. 😉 Take care of yourself. IM

        • Terry Gibson says

          Thani you! Unfortunately, I need to write this awful stuff but I must do it so I can weave the present ‘me’ in. To show just how far I’ve come. Dinner time, a time when normal families enjoy each other’s company, was deadly. Surviving the meal was a feat in itself, let alone the pre- and post-dinner hours. The table, a circle of unity, was the center of so much of my story. That and the kitchen itself. Yes. I need to read people’s responses at all hours. I get so much sustenance from them all!

    • Laura Davis says

      I especially loved, “I no longer have time to waste.” You are demonstrating that in every aspect of your life. It’s like that old line I love so much, “The best revenge is living well.” You go, girl!

      • Terry Gibson says

        That’s right, Laura. No time for anything that isn’t about nurturing (myself and others), kindness, learning, deepening my personal growth and writing. Oh yes! I love that kind of revenge. My being happy must rot their socks and I love it oh so much. I wasn’t going to put up another smiley face but now need to, in the spirit of revenge. :)

    • Debbie says

      Terry – Often when I read your posts, I picture us all at Commonweal sharing with each other. I know if I had been sitting in the room with you when you read this out loud, it would have taken all of my self-control not to gasp, or give myself over to angry feelings about what you had to endure. I am totally in awe of where you are in your healing – and these lines of yours are both funny and inspirational –
      “Oh yes! I love that kind of revenge. My being happy must rot their socks and I love it oh so much.”
      You are an amazing woman to hold so much gentleness after all that transpired.

  9. Beverly Boyd says

    I’m glad you posted this at whatever time of day especially in the middle of the night when it must have been heavy on your mind. It must have been a difficult story to write. I appreciate your courage in telling it and I’m sure if there is more you need to add it is welcome here in your community of writers. I can only imagine what it must have been like in your home. I experienced psychological abuse that was so subtle I was in my thirties before I suspected it. Checking it out with a younger brother and sister confirmed it. My sister had no children by choice because after her own experience and, as a “fly on the wall” (her description of how she felt in our family), witnessing mine she believed she had such a poor model of mothering she did not want to pass along the abuse. Fortunately for my children, by the time my oldest was four, whenever I “heard” my mother’s voice in the things I said to my children, I often realized that was not a message I wanted to send. I thought of better ways to express things to them…or sometimes not express them at all.

  10. Terry Gibson says

    Beverly, Thanks so much for writing this response today. I seemed to need that though I kept busy and didn’t focus on it. It’s wonderful to find three responses, all of which were so positive. I’m sorry you were abused, Beverly. However, I’m happy you had your siblings to ask on the subtle stuff; it helps when you can. My brother’s memories saved my life. I understand about not wanting to turn into our parents. But it sounds like you’re doing well by wanting to be aware.

  11. Bobbie Anne says

    I didn’t say yes to being taked advantage of, I didn’t say yes, stale or otherwise, to being abused, every which way to Sunday, ever. I didn’t give my consent to anyone. Yet the abuse happened. In my family of origin and outside my family. It was how I was brought up. I am amazed the strength of my fellow sisters on this blog-we have all been through so much, and with God’s help, we survive! Here is something I’d like to share with you:


    She was pushed and shoved
    she was bruised and battered
    she was sexually assulted
    yet she survived

    He deviated her septum
    with his fist
    ignoring her pleas
    to cease and desist

    He punched her in the
    chest because he said
    her breasts got in the way
    she survived

    He threw her down the stairs
    while falling she wished she
    wore rubber soles so she could
    bounce off each step
    right out of his life

    Yes she survived

    • Terry Gibson says

      I’m happy to read your post, Bobbie Anne. Not happy for the pain but ecstatic over the resulting triumph of survival. Always working on ‘thriving.’ That’s what we deserve–the right to thrive and be happy. To live without fear. (Glad you’re here this week, Bobbie Anne!)

    • Debbie says

      Bobbie Ann – It is hard to say I really “liked” your poem because it is so cruel that anyone had to endure the situation that spawned those words. But I am touched and moved by your post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  12. Debbie says

    This prompt goes out as a salute to everyone in this community who posts their raw, honest feelings crafted into such beautiful, powerful, thought-provoking, and life altering stories. Over the past year what has been shared on this blog by myself, and others, has challenged, comforted and carried me through some of the most difficult days of my adult life. And last night was no exception.

    I responded to Laura’s prompt about secret resentment then granted myself the delight of reading everyone else’s posts. This is my pattern. I do not read the posts until I write and post my own. I finished up my essay on resentment later than planned deciding to write a response to the “Yes I no longer mean” prompt on Sunday morning. I had already decided on the story I was going to create after a couple of weeks reflection on the topic.

    But a remarkable thing happened this morning! Instead of that safe, perhaps mildly entertaining piece I was planning to create, bits and pieces of the stark, intense posts read last night kept popping into my right brain demanding a fair hearing. And here is what my soul was softly trying to convey across the cacophony of distraction that is my conscious mind. “The YES – which is holding you trapped, which you need to release, is your silent agreement with the notion that you are unwanted, you were discarded for lack of value, that you are a woman left behind by another.”

    This awakening coursed through my body like an electric shock and I could feel the tears starting to slide out of the corners of my eyes. Fumbling for my sunglasses, I quickly slipped them on, feeling conspicuous inside the restaurant . Leaning back against the well worn booth, my glazed turned to the people of the beach who walked, ran, biked and rolled just a few feet away from where I was sitting.

    When a truth cracks you open like that, there is just no denying it. So while working to even out my breathing, I sat with this realization trying to sort through all that it meant. In my mind’s eye I could hear my words, so many times over the past year, defining my life in terms of the now defunct long term relationship; the days, months and now year since it had come to an end. How many of the writing prompts over the past twelve months had served as the palette on which to paint a picture of my existence with a void in the spot where my partner once stood? How many decisions had I made without acknowledging the silent hope that this being apart thing would just turn out somehow to be temporary so I didn’t need to invest that much in my new life, separate and apart?

    I sat shell shocked barely registering the parade of bodies and accessories that had melded into a glittering kaleidoscope of colors, metals, fur and musky scent. The gentle morning breeze brought me back into my body. A sweet, salty kiss from mother ocean. I looked out across the sparkling waves and inhaled the fresh air. Grateful, forever grateful, that I can be comforted by nature even in moments of great despair.

    Digging into my socialized reserves, I paid the bill and made pleasant small talk with the waitress. Walking slowly to my car, feeling evicted out of my own life story – I realized the work of integrating this “Yes I No Longer Agreed With” into my life, into my “bones” was only just beginning. Blinking back still more tears, I look up at the sun in gratitude for being whole, healthy, with the freedom of choices so many might not have.

    Turning the key in the ignition, I paused, and asked myself, “So what WOULD YOU do with today if it was the first day of your new life?

    • Ilana says

      Debbie- Welcome back! This post was so liberating, so clean and healthy. I loved reading it. Probably will again. I know the feeling of hoping the ending of a relationship was just a temporary rift. The realization that “it really is over” was painful but when I finally turned the old, stale page to a new, fresh clean one it was amazing. I love your imagery; the kaleidoscope of colors glittering around you. There is a whole world out there of people who do appreciate you. We all come out of that post relationship lack of self appreciation when we are ready. So I say to you,again, “Welcome back!” IM

    • says

      Debbie, thanks for sharing this raw and honest and beautifully rendered account of a very, very important awakening. And I’m glad you ran to us to post it. Thanks for sharing such an important and inspiring moment with us.

      • Debbie says

        Thank you both. It was a “big deal”. And has stayed with me so far this week even with all of the distractions of work. I catch myself drifting toward old ways of thinking and literally tell myself “Stop!” – and switch my focus. Really interesting and, to use Ilana’s word “liberating”!

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