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The value of letting others in.
Softened butter. That’s how I picture my heart. It used to be a solid refrigerated stick.
*It’s been a little bit since I included a voiceover with one of my newsletters. If you want to listen to non-professional iPhone recording of this newsletter feel free to listen!*
That’s how I picture my heart. It used to be a solid refrigerated stick. There is nothing wrong with cold butter, but it’s a little harder to work with, and you sure can’t bake tasty things until it softens a bit.
In the wake of my dad’s death and throughout my mom’s illness, I had a choice. I could leave my heart in the refrigerator and make due with what I had or I could soften. I wanted to believe that the world was full of love and hope despite my challenging circumstances. I quickly learned that choosing love required me to soften, embrace vulnerability and trust that people who cared about me would show up.
This was a big deal because just one year prior, I was in a tailspin at the thought of having to ask someone to pick me up from the oral surgeon after getting my wisdom teeth removed.
Letting others be there and trusting in the authenticity of their love, was a radical shift for my cold butter heart. It’s still a continual practice. Patterns aren’t changed overnight.
I was reminded of this shift yesterday.
Holidays are weird for me. I’m single with no kids. My parents are dead. My relationship with my one living sibling is a little distant and in flux as we both navigate our new worlds. My lack of nuclear family really is exemplified on holidays. However, Easter doesn’t really put a pit in my stomach the way Thanksgiving, Christmas or the 4th of July do. Truthfully, I could’ve stayed home, spent the day outside and probably would’ve been fine. But I have a softened butter heart now and that means I had an invite to Easter dinner that I accepted without skipping a beat.
As I sat around a table sharing a meal with people I’ve known for over a decade, I found myself grateful. Grateful that they want me exactly as I am–baggage and all. Grateful to be in the presence of people who I have a shared history with even if we aren’t related by blood. Grateful for laughter. Grateful that they thought of me. Ask me two years ago if I pictured myself there and I would’ve said that I loved them, but that it wasn’t my place–cold butter. Even if my parents were still alive, they would have welcomed me with the same open arms. I just wasn’t ready to receive it until now.
Just like a stick of softened butter, living this way can be a little messy.
In order to truly feel love, I have to wholly feel the hurt. I wasn’t more than 3 minutes into my walk home after dinner when the tears came. The enormity of what I’ve lost and how quickly it happened slapped me in the face. I longed for my family. But, what happened next is the beauty of choosing to soften and let love in. All of those feelings moved in and out in less than 10 minutes. In that moment I was able to hold both truths—my longing and hurt right alongside the gratitude and love.
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