What’s in a name…

It has been a hot minute since I’ve participated in a FMF writing prompt, but when the mind finds itself wide awake at 2:30 a.m. on a Friday, I have to guess it really wants to… (You can join in and link up here, or just check out the other writers who are participating!)

There are relationships in our lives where, to the other person, we often become less of an individual and more merely a title of how they feel to call us. No longer do our identities belong to those pieces of life which make us. Instead we grow, within their heads, to the villainous character they desperately need for us to be, validating their own inadequacies.

We all have the possibility of such construction, no one is except from the label creations or the being created non-consensually. Suddenly, beyond a beating heart, a mind and a flawed human being, we simply become the whatever.

This insult.

The bitch.

The whore.

The parent.

The wife.

The bad guy.

the liar.

The one.

The blame.

The name…

Often we fail to comprehend the damage we can cause by giving name to a negative thought regarding someone. To anyone really, including ourselves. Negative thoughts happen, we’re human- it’s life… But once we allow ourselves to give birth to reducing an entire person into a neatly labeled, ugly little box, things change. Toxicity sets in and decay is inevitable. Perceptions change, our ability to dwell in reality changes. We change…

Sometimes life is hard. (most times, actually) There are days we wake up ready to run the race, face the music, suit up for the fight of it- other times we don’t. These are the moments we are most at risk of ourselves, these are the times when we need to embrace the courage to process through a moment, through a thought, through a feeling and then be completely honest with ourselves. Avoid the naming, avoid the box. While it’s easy to embrace the name-game today because it balms our spirit for a moment- the grave reality is far darker, later on.

It is so much harder to undo something that never had to be done.

Melt…

We recently heard the history of St. Valentine and honestly, I feel like this is the ultimate romantic story. How has this not inspired a major motion picture? How is this NOT a story I had heard, ever, in the history of all Valentine’s days, school parties, etc???

I have never been much of a Valentine’s Day lover. I see it as one of those marks towards the top of the long list that represents all of the things we use to tell us we aren’t good enough, are not truly loved, and design completely unrealistic expectations around. This aspect of reality has grown so much with the rise of social media, the idealization of grand gestures, and the obsession with mimicking the entertainment industry.

This is sounding more soapbox than I am intending…

Here’s the thing though, my husband doesn’t believe that he is capable of romance. He is confined by the restrictions of finances, opportunity, and all of the other real life things that prove how attainable a movie life is. I look back at his childhood and cannot fathom where this shaping of “romance” originated, but for twenty-five years the majority of what I hear is that he’s sorry he isn’t more romantic, or sorry that he can’t do more. The truth is, I have never been that girl who longed for the big Hollywood style romance. There are certain fresh flowers I love, and I’ll take being surprised by them any day, (or let’s be real, I’ll buy them myself too!) Beyond that though, the traditional sense of “romantic gestures” isn’t one I identify with. Don’t bring me chocolates, or candy of any kind… BUT, an occasional fancy cupcake might be nice.

My poor husband has never been able to grasp the personalization of an authentic romantic gesture. He has done them countless times, but would never “hashtag” them as romantic. Instead he’s waiting for the hand in hand stroll beside the Eiffel tower at sunset to see himself as romantic, while I’m over here kind of like “Meh, Paris…” Ha!

I wanted to share a few things here, that make up some of the most REAL romantic things I’ve ever heard of- and they happen to be things this man has done for me… (It isn’t for bragging purposes as much as to illustrate the very idea of a “romantic gesture” is personal. What gets my heart melting isn’t likely what works for you.)

  • We were young and stupid. We got engaged, and then broke up. Even then, before Youtube and flash mob proposals, he felt far too much pressure about the importance of that moment. He tried too hard, cloaked in too much pessimism about his abilities, that though I said yes- (I helped pick out the ring, so it was pretty much a formality anyway) the proposal itself was not the basis of a great story. As I mentioned though, we broke up… And then we found ourselves sitting in a pew of the church that I had grown up knowing I would one day get married in, and he held my hand. Then, he let go of my hand to draw my ring on the back of a “connection” card, and wrote a simple “check yes or no” beneath it. MELT…
  • Not long after we were married, drowning in medical debt (yep, I was a big contributor to the awesome stuff like debt, hospital stays and a solid string of health issues, pretty much from the get go.) he irrationally enlisted in the Air Force. The recruiter painted it as the best solution, (it was not) and so he jumped. This was pre-9/11, when there were far too many people enlisted and so Chw got sent home along with lots of others. The first night he was back, he sang the lyrics to our song (We were so on trend… Always, by Bon Jovi) as we slow danced in the dark. He’d been gone several really hard weeks, and he had spent an insane amount of (pre-birth-of-google) time writing out the lyrics and memorizing them. MELT…
  • Fast forward awhile. He’s working at a glass factory. During his lunches he had cut a glass heart out, for me. He bevelled the edges and then frosted the words I Love You into its surface. I have never been a kitschy, knick knack lover but that heart seared itself into mine. (which is good because we no longer have it.) When he gave me this beautiful gift with an equal mix of pride over his creation, fear that I would hate it and doom that it wasn’t good enough. Heartbreaking! But honestly, the most precious thing about this glass heard was that there was so much of himself within it. Seriously, I LOVED it. Major MELT…
  • Sometime later, he was helping a group of kids make homemade playdough, at my parents. He then took a bit of it and carved an amazing rose for me. I kept it for years, until it was so dry it crumbled. I loved that eerie blue flower more than anything he’s ever given me- glass heart aside. MELT…
  • One Christmas, money was really tight and gifts in general were pretty much a negative. In our garage, in stolen moments I never knew about, he made me an ornately carved wooden business card holder. I had a photography business at the time, and it was such a gesture of support. I love it still and it sits on my desk… MELT.
  • I’d had surgery. There was a tumor the size of a nerf football in my uterus. The doctor had taken it, along with an ovary. Once I’d woken up, in recovery, I was miserable. The pain was huge, and my heart was broken. I wanted to be a mother so badly, and if I hadn’t been able to do it with two working ovaries and a non-compromised uterus, how would I possibly do it after this? Shattered, (which felt like a life theme at my twenty-two years of age) and feeling so alone, they wheeled me into my hospital room. The second I caught sight of him there, waiting for me, I felt grounded in gravity, so stable and most importantly: SAFE. This was the very first time in the history of my entire life that I remember distinctly feeling safe. He’d brought me a little figurine that said “You are my sunshine”, and though it was cute and STILL sits on my nightstand (twenty years later), never far from where I lay my head, it is valuable to me because it tethers me to the most amazing moment I have ever had, thanks to my husband… MELT…

The most romantic things that this man has ever done, (and there are others… these are just the ones that come to mind right now) were when he allowed himself to just authentically be, without the pressure or lofty projections of someone/something else. This is true for all of us, I suspect. When we are our most authentic selves, is when we are our most beautiful… St. Valentine was a man, and this was simply his name. He signed a letter, before his death, “your Valentine.” Over 1500 years later the anniversary of his death is recognized as the most romantic day of the year, by the majority of the world. Remember that when the pressure and expectations presented by film, tv, novels and Instagram tell you what things should look like…

To Build…

It is Friday and that means I am again linking up with several lovely writers over at Kate’s Five Minute Friday spot!

(If you aren’t familiar, every friday we free-write for just FIVE minutes, prompted by one word. This week’s word is BUILD.)

~

The foundation was shaky, shattered, torn.

I was broken, this I knew.

My heart lived, aimed, at the idea of a family and a home. My seventeen year old daydreams saw myself with a faceless husband doing household chores in a sleeveless t-shirt, laughing with a laugh which melted my heart. I imagined no lavish excess, just a simple roof over our heads and three beautiful faceless children. I knew they were two girls and one boy, and I knew that although I could not see their faces, this feeling they pricked deep within my core was the motivation for everything.

I sat, in a breakdown. Devastated, exhausted and so damaged from break-on-top-of-break, of my scarred girl heart. That dream propelled me forward, daring to believe there had to be something more than abandonment and loss.

And there was.

It may not have been how I had thought it would be, and it certainly was not all roses and sunset kisses, once I got there, but I did build a life, despite that terrible foundation. I learned the pain, and the redemption, in tearing out that foundation and laying a new, truth-bricked one in its place.

Together, that man (whose laugh I had dreamed up at seventeen) and I built a home. It was not composed of roof tiles and painted walls, but rather a space that moved wherever we did, warmth and rich in unconditional love, support and the freedom to grow as we needed.

This home was everything neither of us had known, as children, and just what we had needed.

~

(My inspiration for this piece is the song To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra. It is beautiful and it deserves a listen.)

I’ll show you my brave…

www.rainydayinmay.com

Brave to you will likely look very different then it does to me…

I was recently challenged to consider the bravest thing I have done. I thought, instead, of all of the courage and bravery I have seen in the people I know and love. I have friends who have literally chased down muggers/assailants. I have law enforcement friends. I have inner-city-teacher friends. I know several people who travel the world, adventuring into unknown and remote locations… (I recently read a story about an Anaconda, in the Amazon, that stalked someone in the water. It STALKED them. Snakes are in the wild, unknown and remote locations. This is a problem for me.)

My sister Joy lives in a beautiful home in south-eastern New Mexico. (she also has snakes who stalk and intrude on her life) My son is a soldier, as are so many friends. I know a beautiful soul who is a surrogate. The list goes on and on. I see bravery demonstrated so regularly and, when I look at myself, I feel like there is no comparison.

And therein lies the issue. There IS no comparison. My brave won’t look like yours. While it may have been brave for me to fight for my marriage and stand by my husband after infidelity and betrayal, it may be brave for another woman to walk away from a similar situation… And that is the thing about courage- no one else gets to decide it. A soldier, in and of itself, does not make them brave. A soldier who is willing to protect us and fight for what is right, even if it costs him his life- THAT is the brave part. Courage and selflessness in the face of danger is their brave. We can define ourselves a thousand ways, but brave will never be located in the title.

My brave can be found in my pursuit of motherhood long after I lost my uterus. I was shattered, but did not give up.

My brave can be seen within the moves I’ve made, the jobs I’ve taken.

My brave is there, beyond my comfort zone. In the once-awkward situations, the stranger-conversations, the elements of life just beyond my natural limit. I have grown to push myself there, into that place. Sometimes it is downright nauseating.

My brave is rooted deep, in my writing. To be authentic, raw and displayed does not come naturally, but it is the only way that it feels right.

My brave may have been born the day that I realized it was up to me to stop the patterns of sexual abuse that were happening within my childhood. There was no shame, only a concrete knowledge that the more  people I told, the less likely it was to happen again.

I told everyone.

It never happened again.

Perhaps the most ironic part of each one of those things though, is that they never felt brave. They often felt woven with elements of worry, anxiety and more than a healthy sprinkling of fear. Second guessing was my second nature during the seasons that, upon reflection, reveal themselves as brave. Bravery often makes me feel like I need to throw up, pass out, curl up in my bed and hide… The list goes on and on, but never have I though Woah! Now that, Misty, that was one mighty fine act of bravery! And it’s pretty unfair for me to hold myself to another soul’s standard of bravery before I’m willing to label it is as such.

Maybe you scale rocky mountainside’s for fun, eat nails for breakfast and only date psycho clowns- if so, my list probably seems pretty mild to you. (I’d also like to point out that two of those three things aren’t brave, they are reckless and that’s not actually always a fine line. Sometimes it is a gigantic 8-lane interstate.)

I don’t know when I’m brave, always.

I am pretty sure I could sit here and list out the ten-thousand ways I have felt and acted the opposite, just this month.

I’m working on accepting my brave for what it is. I’m learning I don’t need my neighbor, brother, husband or friend to call it brave, for it to be. Most importantly though, I know to my core that I need the brave list to be growing longer, by the day, while the other list grows smaller and smaller…

So that’s my plan.

(Minus any and all snakes, anyway.)

What has your brave looked like?

 

Obstacle vs. Victory…

Statistically speaking, it was seven miscarried pregnancies, a tiny sneak peek of uterine cancer and a medical procedure to eliminate any chances for the same sort of bad, (or much, much worse) to occur…

Humanly speaking, I was a shattered twenty-four year old woman having an emergency hysterectomy after my heart had been ripped from my soul and trampled on seven different hellish times. My body was worn, my womb twisted, scarred and reaching it’s expiration date…

The two perspectives belong to the very same story, but they each tell an entirely different tale.

In the midst of the story is infidelity, adultery, deceit, abuse and so much more. The bad moments, the broken and bloody miscarriage moments last a lifetime- there, shattered and bleeding on that lime green tile floor. By my now ripe age of forty-two I have lived at least a dozen lifetimes, it feels

And yet.

This humanly statistical story of life and luck-gone-nightmarishly-wrong did not end with the loss of life, loss of womanhood. It continued and holds, within it’s oxygen bound chapters, reconciliation, redemption, reconnection, three lovely little childhood souls without a mother and this aching mother’s heart without children to love. Mine is not a statistical story about loss, but gain. It is not about hopeless longing, though it did contain that then. Instead it is a story of a miraculous weaving, of a family that grows despite the odds. Imperfect and yet perfectly real.

This is my story. We all have them.

We have all had hardships which stood between us and something bigger, something looming impossible. We’ve all known our greatest obstacle- and our stories did not end there.

Rocky is a timeless tale still loved and embraced decades after its creation. This is because Rocky’s story resonates with us. After all, isn’t that why art exists, to connect us with our inner-self, our God, the world around us and each other? Art opens and exposes us…

And just like our own stories, art never ends.

I am really excited to share with you about Creed 2… (like, REALLY excited!)

www.rainydayinmay.com

PRIDE. LEGACY. FAMILY.

This fall, there is more to lose than a title.

In Theaters Wednesday, November 21st

Official Synopsis:  Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.

Release Date: November 21, 2018

Director: Steven Caple Jr.

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris, Russell Hornsby, Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu, Andre Ward, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Distributor:  MGM, Warner Bros. Pictures

#CreedII

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