“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
― Henry James
Writing is a concentrated form of thinking…a young writer sees that with words he can place himself more clearly into the world. Words on a page, that’s all it takes to help him separate himself from the forces around him, streets and people and pressures and feelings. He learns to think about these things, to ride his own sentences into new perceptions.”
“There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.”
― Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
“Under the seams runs the pain.”
― Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red
In nature, nothing is ever black-and-white, and every yin has its yang. Time and time again we discover that things we thought were unequivocally unhealthy—like germs or UV rays—can sometimes be quite good for us. (We’re still waiting for some happy news about French fries.) And now researchers are beginning to find that the same is true of our habits and personality quirks. “In certain situations, what is typically a detrimental trait can turn out to be a good one,” says Bryan Gibson, PhD, professor of social psychology at Central Michigan University. In other words, what you perceive as faults—even minor ones like blurting out curse words when things go wrong or doodling whenever your boss fires up an Excel spreadsheet—can, in the right context, be strengths. Here’s why.
his weekend we lost some friends.
The news came in the form of a phone call from one of the parties involved. It was a sad goodbye, letting us know that our couples/family friendship, which we both enjoyed, was no longer. Their marriage was over. The culprit, of course, was sex.
I won’t pretend to empathize with either party. The pain they both must be going through is beyond my frame of reference.
I’ve determined that every Best Actor and Actress has something in common. They pick roles that will shock people. They pick roles that are challenging. They pick roles that will make people love them because, deep down, they hate themselves so much. The least we can do is award them with some kind of trophy for all their hard work on top of their enormous salaries.
photo getty images
Manic depression pushed Ashley Prentice Norton to the brink of suicide. It took six months, her husband’s love, and 17 rounds of electroshock therapy to bring her back to her kids–alive.
It’s 8 a.m. on a Friday morning in early May. My 8-year-old daughter, Anderson, and I hold hands and walk up the three flights to her classroom. Normally, she leaves me standing outside in the crowd of parents, waiting for her to blow me a kiss. But today, I’m helping the girls make sandwiches for the local community food pantry. In her free hand, Anderson swings the supplies I bought the night before: a pound of smoked Virginia ham, a pound of Provolone, and three loaves of potato bread.
Almost all of the girls are already there, sitting in their mini-chairs with plastic gloves on. I know these girls. I was here in October to help them put on their costumes for the Halloween parade, have had them over for play dates, have listened to Anderson talk about them at the dinner table. I know they’re all going through a Harry Potter phase, racing to see who can finish the books first. They are adorable, familiar.
I turn and greet their teacher, and she returns my hello with an effusive hug. “Thanks for coming, Mrs. Norton. We’re so happy you’re here,” she says. It’s the enthusiastic welcome you’d expect after an absence far longer than the 18 hours it’s been since school pick-up–and I understand why. There was a time when I rarely made it to pick-up or drop-off, when I could barely slap together one sandwich, much less help with 40. I couldn’t retain the name of Anderson’s teacher. Honestly, I wasn’t even completely clear on where the school was.
The following article hits especially close to home for me because many years now (decades actually); I have tried to have a loving relationship with my sister. It has been mostly a tiresome and extremely hurtful journey for me so recently I made the decision to let her go. I read something once that spoke to dysfunctional family relationships and it explained that just because people are your family, it does not give them the right (or allowance) to mistreat you & cross boundaries time and time again. This made perfect sense to me due to the fact I feel very strongly that family should care for you, love you unconditionally. Shouldn’t family members be a source of support, security and comfort and offer a safe place for you to fall when times get tough? I think so, and I have lived my life treating my sister as a precious gem only to be rejected by her time and time again. There have been times I have questioned what’s so wrong with me that my sister chooses to treat me so disrespectfully? Well, I now know that although I’ve not been perfect, I have given our relationship my all and then some. I am given out. I now have made the decision to sit back and what will be, will be. If she chooses to reconnect with me, I will always be there with open arms to welcome her back into my life; but the relationship we’ve carried on in the past is not an acceptable one. Boundaries will be set and therefore reinforced. I do pray our estrangement comes to an end with much hope, sooner rather than later.
“Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together.”
At the end of my first long-term relationship in college, when it was clear there was nothing left to salvage, I told a mutual friend that I “had to make it work.”
The idea of moving on seemed incomprehensible. I’d invested three years. We’d loved each other, laughed together; hurt each other, grown together. I was young and I made him my everything. How could I possibly let go of us when my own identity was inextricably wrapped in our pairing?
The friend told me I talked as if we were married with kids. I didn’t have to make it work. There was no good reason to stay other than my resistance to the pain of leaving.
How do you ever know when it’s time to walk away from anyone? It always feels so much safer to stay—in a friendship, a romance, and especially a relationship with a family member.
It’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea that love often means letting go. We can still have feelings for someone and recognize that the relationship is irreparable. Sometimes moving on is the best way to love ourselves.
It’s a choice to set two people free instead of continually reliving the same arguments, denying the same incompatibility, and opening the same wounds knowing full well they’ll only heal with time and space.
But the truth is there are no simple step-by-step instructions for knowing when it’s time to move on. Surely there are signs. But the most important is that small knowing voice within that says something isn’t right, and it can’t be fixed.
It may never be easy to admit this. Endings always lead to uncertainty, and that can be terrifying.
But they also beget new beginnings, and new opportunities for relationships that don’t leave us feeling depleted and defeated.
How do we know when it’s time to move on? It’s when we find the courage to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that staying will do more harm than good.
We’re the only ones who can admit this to ourselves. And we’re the only ones who can change our lives for the better by finding the strength to walk away.