Get Out of Your Box and Find Your Circle

Yesterday was a good day.

Did anything go according to plan?

Absolutely not. The online information for the aquarium was inaccurate, so even though I purchased tickets I didn't get them, and they refunded my money without informing me. The conservatory was beautiful, but the butterfly show was over for the year. Still, Aaron and I found a way to find some joy in it. It actually turned out for the best; I think. I was looking for this amazing experience... the perfect outing... the wonder I've been missing.

When that didn't happen, again and again, the unhealthy parts of me spoke up. "This is just my life."

Ouch. Aaron and I dissected that statement until it was made evident that I expect bad things to happen and am thoroughly surprised when good things do.

Yuck! I don't want that anywhere near my life.

So, how do I change it?!

You know, sometimes we just let people and things hold us down for too long. It's nearly impossible to let go of disappointments and the choices of others that affect you. 

I know I talk about it often now, hopefully that will change at some point, but the divide we've experienced due to religion and people connected to us is just so angering. It splits families; maybe not completely... but when you're the one on the "outside," it's clear that things are not the same. 

I get it, though. We have different opinions, goals, interests, contacts, events, etc. We don't know the same people anymore. We don't have our entire year booked out for us now. (Thankfully!) We are so determined to make up for the adventure we missed as kids, that we want to experience everything these days. That's not shared by people that are still living in their box. 

That may sound harsh, and I'm sure I'll get some flak for saying that... but this is my story. This is my viewpoint based on the experiences I've had and the events I've witnessed. 

I used to live in that box, so it's not like I'm speaking out of ignorance. I remember when my world was small. I'll never forget the pressure to meet all expectations and make every event. I thought I was doing it all right. But now that I'm way out of it... I realize that while you're living in a box, you miss the people put in your circle. 

Here you are... placed on this earth to love and build up. There are a handful of people that were tied to you from the start. Purposefully put within your reach.
Family. Neighbors. Coworkers. 

Do you even notice them? Allow yourself to get close to them? To talk to them about things that you may not agree with respectfully... just to get to know them? Do you make it a point to let them know you're thinking of them? Hoping the best for them, really? Being someone in a circle outside the box, I can say that I doubt it for most people. 

It's really hard to comprehend how many people love you somewhat unconditionally but only accept you under their conditions. They may never be vocalized, but "actions speak louder than words" is still around for a reason. 

No one wants to constantly be reminded that you're not what others want you to be. So why do we continue to put ourselves in that company? It's debilitating. Hindering. 
I think people put up with it for so long because they're hoping things will change and that relationship that should be there one day will be. But it's not your responsibility to change others... just like it's not theirs to change you. So, if they don't celebrate you as a person, and look for opportunities to be around you in your full self, that's okay. Really. Others are just waiting to fill that void for you. But, if you're constantly focused on the ones that aren't, you'll never see those gems right around the corner. 

You can love people that don't give you what you need. It might be love from a distance, though. I talk about "front porch friends" all the time. That came from an analogy that my therapist used with me to explain how I need to keep people in their place. Expecting specific people to be for me what I need doesn't ever guarantee they will be. So, I have to pay attention to what they do provide and keep them where they belong.

Some people will simply be those that you pass on the street and wave to. You might stop for a second to chat about the weather, but the relationship never goes further than that. 

Others may join you on the front porch for a cup of lemonade. You can talk about what you did last weekend and what you're making for dinner... Maybe even mention your plans for the holidays. But that's that.

Then you have a few more than you let come sit on your couch... but not before you fluff those pillows up just a little bit. You know... you'll get comfortable around them, sure. But you're still on guard and don't want them to see the mess. Leave them there. You need them, too. 

And then there's your messy bathroom people. The ones who have proven to you that you are safe with them no matter what. They're not scared of your mess, and they won't shame you for it. Those are the ones you hold closely. And even though it can be discouraging that there aren't many... bathrooms are small for a reason. They're not meant to hold too many people at one time. 

Therapy has opened our eyes to the mountains of emotions that we never let ourselves feel or work through. Forgive us for talking about it all now. It's a new thing for us. It's hard to speak about these disappointments. There's the fear that people will start to get annoyed or that those feelings will continue to be invalidated as they were for so many years. But we do it anyway, because life is a journey that you'll be on until it stops. And I for one want mine to be the best kind possible. 

It takes work to move forward.

It's uncomfortable to grow.

But you start to see the obstacles that have been in your way. You begin noticing the trends that lead to your depression. It becomes apparent who doesn't exhibit acceptance and where you feel unconditional safety and love. Take notice... so you can make necessary changes. 

It's up to you to draw those boundary lines. You have to. Because being on the verge of tears on a regular basis is no bueno. Carrying around anger is tiring. Feeling hurt or less than just sucks. 

Lay aside expectations. Accept what is. And shoot for what can be... that YOU'RE in control of.

At the end of the day, you have to live a life that brings you peace and joy. While I'm not at all encouraging selfishness, I am stressing that self-care is a must... whether everyone understands your needs or not.

All those people... all those things... every bad scenario you play out over and over in your brain... let them go. Send them on their way. You have places to go and people to see. Take those dusty dreams back off the shelf and go for them... because they are yours for the taking. You have them for a reason. Don't give up on them. 

Magic is out there. Fulfillment. Wonder. Peace. Joy. Opportunity.

Start living like you believe that again and watch your world change.

I love you, friends. Truly. I'm here for you. Rooting for you. Let's do this.

High fives and fist bumps,


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