Letters to Weary Women

Announcements, Books + Stories, Letters to Weary Women
On words, silence, and an invite into our cozy fort
September 13, 2016 at 4:21 pm 0

Dear loyal, kind, harried reader,

I know you have precious little time these days. What time you have to read is spent on the latest and greatest novel, the magazine you flip through to get a little peace, and the pertinent article you click through from Facebook as you stand in the grocery check-out line (if, of course, you aren't wrangling a toddler or two and trying to make sure they don't lick all the chocolate at their eye level). We have so very many words thrown at us these days. They are often big words full of scandal and political angst. They are words meant to critique with a knife-point edge, not to eradicate the ivy grown around our hearts, but to show us the dexterity of the surgeon. I've just had the pleasure of reading so many books that welcome us into worlds where words are all about flourishing. I'll be sharing more and giving them away because, after all, words are gifts Can you imagine with me: words that do not wound, or if they do -- the wound speaks to your own hidden hurts and someone's words makes you feel less alone? They are words that nudge in the best sense -- to see anew. To pay attention. To find beauty right here in the harried middle. succulentbook I can't wait to share some reviews with you shortly! And hopefully some free books too! (Eek!) I'm planning for so many lovely little things in store on this online space. I'm practically bursting at the seams from all the good ideas. But, dear reader, as a mama to four who chases dreams and words and quiet in very small slivers of time, sometimes the birthing is unseen. As far as my own words go, they've been slight here of late. I've been practicing the holy art of saying "no," or "wait," or "I don't need to be all things to all people all the time." It's a tricky thing to say. It's something that I'm learning slowly, feebly as I back off from being superwoman. "It's okay. We're all breathing. Life goes on." I'm not sure if you're in a quiet season, too. We've had a touch of cool here in southern California and it feels like blessed relief (though I'm sure it'll get back to 80F in a manner of days). I grabbed my boots and drank a bunch of coffee and desperately want to go and get a pumpkin spice latte because everyone on Instagram is doing it. But quiet internal seasons often accompany climatic changes too. As the leaves begin to change (in other parts of the world), I realize that change and even death of good things are necessary for life to grow. For life to flourish. I'm still here, writing away, but it is unseen now. I have books and documents spread and my eyes are opened anew to the gifts and landscape around me. I'm breathing it all in. And for once I'm realizing I needn't make it happen on the Internet for it to happen -- for it to be full, meaningful, rich and important. I can savor in the quiet, unnoticed spots. I can write there too. There is something both terrifying in being unseen and something quite delicious -- as if my words and I were huddled under a secret fort built cozily just for us. tent1 I'm planning on opening bits of the tent soon -- as we continue to share our stories together (go on over here and submit yours!), as we savor good books together, as we learn to chase beauty and sustained attention in a world full of noise. Because there are words shouted at us, there are words that are irrelevant mere seconds after we refresh the page, there are words we wish we could draw back from our mouths. Here, though, there will always be words that refresh. There will be words that sit with you in your pain and show you hope. Join me -- if you haven't already -- in signing up for my little newsletter. On there, I share with you first picks of what I'm reading, all the newsy fun stuff, behind-the-scenes on book-writing, and little gifts. It's just a little thank you for coming in and sitting in my fort with me. Grace to you today, dear one,


Letters to Weary Women
Sometimes you need help and that’s okay
October 29, 2015 at 1:40 pm 3
Letters to Weary Women Dear weary woman: We have just a few more days of weary and hope all muddled together in this series. I wanted to be forthright with you. This move has thrown me for a loop. That, along with the seasons never changing in southern California, and my hormones, and I'm finding myself in need of some help outside myself. I'm looking for a therapist. I'm trying some natural hormonal balance stuff from Whole Foods. Plus, one of my sons is having a hard time controlling his emotions at school and I feel like a failure (because, really, I have not modeled terrific self-control). All the problems feel so very rooted to who I am. How can I pluck out the little roots, or take a magic pill, or even know where to start when I find a good counselor? And, how do you untangle your childhood, your adulthood, and your deep-seated proclivity to perform for praise? How do you learn how to rest in Jesus and who he says you are? How do I let it all just be enough? curtains I grew up in a culture where you didn't go to a therapist, that was for people whose lives were really falling apart (if you were on the brink of divorce or you were grieving). Sure, I lived in Utah where prescription meds for anxiety and depression were at a terrific high (the highest state in the use of anti-depressants per capita). Sometimes when you're stuck, you're weary. And sometimes you need others to help get you unstuck, to cheer you on, and to remind you who you are. And if you need help it is not weakness to say so. So, friend, I hope if you feel stuck you'll let yourself be carried by others around you -- by a spouse, by friends, by your church community if you have one, by trained therapists. We were never meant to do this life alone. Way back in the garden, God told Adam it wasn't good for man to be alone and he gave him Eve. He gave him someone who gloriously fit with him, to fulfill God's good plan of stewarding the garden together. God gives us to each other. Sometimes the giving hurts when we rub up against another's rough edges or when we're called out on our junk  -- from the small stuff to the big systemic injustices like racism that we are tacitly a part of*. Carrying others and being carried hurts. Our muscles tire and seize up and it is just so much work. But like carrying a child, it's joy, too -- the nearness, the knowing that you are fully present to someone else. And if you're the one being carried, relax into it. It is good to know we are not alone. Ashley   *Two writers for the Mudroom recently wrote about blackness and racism and please do yourself a favor and read Velynn's and A'Driane's words.   Letters to Weary Women Also I’m giving away Seth Haines’ book, Coming Clean. Enter to win here! I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.
Letters to Weary Women, Review
A Book to Meet You in Your Weary: Coming Clean by Seth Haines
October 28, 2015 at 10:36 am 7
Letters to Weary Women I have a book that will meet you right in your weary. It's a book that's terrific about being present in the process of uncovering the pain. My friend Seth Haines wrote a book called Coming Clean: A Story of Faith and it's just out (as of yesterday). It's his story of his first 90 days sober. His youngest son (not yet 2) was losing weight rapidly. The doctors didn't know what to do. So Seth turned to a Nalgene of gin poured over hospital ice to numb the pain -- to get out of his head, to not not feel anymore. Coming Clean is a story about sobriety, but it's more than that. It's a story of faith and healing -- not in spite of hurt and pain, but through it. It's a terrifically honest book. It's a book for those of us who cover up our pain -- maybe not with alcohol -- but with distractions, what we eat, how we exercise, shopping, making ourselves feel important, you name it. It's a book that helps meet you in your own pain and pushes and prods you to find out what's underneath your coping mechanisms. I think we're weary often because we just aren't honest with ourselves. Seth's book is a great guide to to uncovering what's at the root of our languishing. I was privileged to get to read it early and write about it in Books & Culture in a web exclusive. I loved being able to put Seth's book in the context of confessional literature and the history of testimony. If you want to know all I think about the book, I hope you'll read my full review here. It was such fun to write for Books & Culture, to put on my scholarly hat for a bit; it felt very much like a homecoming. But I want YOU to get a copy! Here's how it goes: If you already subscribe to my newsletter, let me know in the comments; otherwise follow along with the Rafflecopter prompts below. The giveaway will close on Sunday! a Rafflecopter giveaway // If you don't want to wait, you can order Coming Clean here. Books you order through this link will help make sure that I can pay for my blog domain.   Letters to Weary Women I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.
Letters to Weary Women
How Just Showing Up can Save Your Life
October 27, 2015 at 8:00 am 4
Letters to Weary Women Dear Weary Woman: We had an excellent weekend full of friends and fun. So much fun in fact that Monday was spent catching up and it's nowhere near completion. But I'm just leaving it. Slowing down is hard because all the little cracks and crevices show when we say "no" to the busy. I like being out, eating out, having a drink with friends. I like the new adventures. I don't usually think of myself as naturally extroverted, but there's something special about getting dressed up and going out. It makes me feel young, if only for one night to escape from the routine, the bed times and dishes. So today, when laundry and dirty dishes called loudly, I wanted to run away. My eyes begin to roam everywhere and I start to create stories of others' successes and make myself small in comparison. I whine. The other day, I even said out loud I wanted to go home. Starting over, creating a new home, is achingly hard. I miss my routines, my places, the crispness of the fall in Salt Lake City. I miss my friends' houses where we could sit on each other's carpet and share a cup of coffee together. I miss my 100-year-old house. And the loss is so dizzying sometimes that I want to both never move again for the plucked-up heartache and also never settle down again so it doesn't hurt so bad -- so I can keep having adventures and run away to Italy and eat pizza and drink wine and laugh under twinkling lights. I lose it. I get sad and mope. I complain. It's more than okay to ache and miss places and people. I miss my Thursday tea and prayer with Melissa the most. She gave me the gift of just showing up, week in and week out. And yet, I know that in this dark shadow of waiting for home, that there is good, too. There's got to be. Circling the Story I feel like I'm on the edge of something. I realize it's transition and we're trying to birth a little band of Christ followers into a church, and I'm writing my first book. Wonderful and crazy-making things. But there's a deep underground burrowing happening now, where something is dying to be brought back to life in the promise of spring. It all just feels a bit dark now, though. And the temptation when it's dark is to believe nothing is happening. To push away the darkness with other, lesser things. I see my heart and how it runs to so many different weary-making things to solve the ache -- to a bigger/newer/better house, to comfort, to food and drink, to exercise, to perfect behavior from my children -- and all that comes of this is just more need. I'm so very quick to look to other things to make me feel okay. To feel seen. To feel valuable. To feel loved. So I'm rooting myself in the mundane as an antidote to my wandering heart. I want to show up in my own life and not spend my time scrolling on my phone or not doing the next hard thing just because it's hard. I'm resolving to do little things like getting sunshine, exercising, eating good food, reading a chapter from my Bible, and cooking meals. Little things that like a weekly tea and prayer time will build up over time to create new rhythms and make this new place a home, too. So, friend, if you're weary like me because you have a wandering heart, I hope you'll dig in to the right now right in front of you. Just show up. It doesn't feel like much, I know. If it's entering expenses on a spreadsheet, or doing the dishes, or following up with a client, or giving your dog a bath -- it all feels pretty inconsequential. But it's also monumental, it's the warp and woof of our lives. I know I want all the big glory moments -- my social media highlight reel -- constantly in front of me. But the discipline of the mundane helps to ground me. It gives my hands useful employment and keeps my mind from turning things over again and again into an endless loop always about me. Thank God I am not the hero or villain. I'm so thankful the story is not about me. So go for a walk, notice things around you, and invite a friend over for tea. To finding the joy in the mundane, Ashley Letters to Weary Women   I'm over at Cara Meredith's site talking about my weekly tea and prayer ritual with my dear friend. I hope you'll read more over there. It fits in quite nicely with today's letter. Also I'm giving away Seth Haines' book, Coming Clean, later this week. Make sure you subscribe to get another chance to win it! More posts in #LettersToWearyWomen can be found here
Letters to Weary Women
Let’s Talk About Sex
October 26, 2015 at 5:00 am 8

Thanks to Cara Strickland for writing a vulnerable and beautiful post to weary unmarried ladies today. You can find her first two letters here and here. -- AH

Letters to Weary Women

Dear Weary Unmarried Woman,

Let’s talk about sex.

In most rooms, especially those filled with Christians, I don’t feel like I’m allowed to do this. I’m not supposed to know enough to contribute to the conversation, and if I do, it’s not something that is held in the same regard as the words spoken by those safely ensconced in marriages.

Whatever you have to say on the subject, you can sit with me. Maybe you’re sexually experienced and you regret it (or you don’t). Maybe you’ve never been kissed, never held hands with someone you thought was pretty cool. Maybe the entire question of choice was taken from you by force and the thought of sex fills you with dread. Whatever story your body and mind tell about sex, this is a safe place.

Whatever way you’ve settled your sexual ethic (or the ways that it’s still in flux), it’s a challenge to be single in the world. Once, a married friend shared with me that for her sex wasn’t as exciting as she’d expected. “It’s an appetite like any other,” she said. “It’s like when I’m hungry or thirsty and I eat and drink.” I wanted to tell her that I get hungry and thirsty (and horny), too. I can go to the grocery store or pour myself a glass of water (or wine), but the rest of the equation isn’t as straightforward.

Let's Talk About Sex Circling the Story

I don’t know about you, but the churches of my youth didn’t talk much about desire (certainly not female desire). It’s amazing how much shame about sexuality I’ve internalized over the years. That shame has seeped into my body and mind and I’ve had to learn to fight it. Sometimes that means that I go to dance class or really let loose at the funky casino club my roommate likes to frequent. Sometimes that means that I put on the the high heels, or the dress that makes me feel curvy and beautiful. Sometimes that means that I buy myself the lingerie I really want even though it’s “just for me.”

Maybe you’re a single woman who would love someone to spoon with, who longs for human touch. I still remember an experience from several years ago when I brushed past a waiter at a restaurant and it stirred up a deep haunting ache in me. Maybe you relish your physical independence or wonder if you would even enjoy sex. Just like it’s incorrect to say that men only want one thing, it’s also incorrect to say that all women do (or do not) want something. When I do enter into conversations about this topic, I’m always amazed at the wide variety of thoughts and feelings about sex. There is nothing one-size-fits-all about this topic.

Letters To Weary Women: Cara Strickland on sex and singleness

In Christian culture, it’s easy to feel like sex is always up for discussion. You’ve probably seen two or three articles about it today. Maybe you scroll to the bottom and see that it’s written by yet another married person, even though it’s directed at single you. Here is what I want you to know: whether or not you are having sex says nothing about your worth, your chosenness, your adorableness, or your successfulness. I’m sure you know that, but it’s easy to say and harder to believe sometimes (at least for me).

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we took just half of the energy that we spend talking about sex and used it to create art, set up single friends, or simply make them meals.

Remember this: you don’t have to engage in conversations that you don’t want to. You don’t have to nod and smile when people complain about being touched all the time. You don’t have to feel guilty for wanting to have sex, or for not wanting to have sex.

Let’s level the playing field a little bit, shall we? Your sexuality is an important part of who you are, but it doesn’t come close to fully describing you. You and I are made up of all of the experiences, conversations, hopes, talents and desires that we have and have ever had. You can’t be reduced to the sum of your physical parts (and neither can your married friends).

I don’t know about you, but I thought that by this time I would be married. I thought that my sex life would no longer be up for discussion, scrutiny, or concern. I thought that sex would be a team sport by now. For me, some days, that’s really hard, and I’m guessing that if you’ve made it this far, it is for you, too. I hope you can find someone close and supportive to talk about this with, someone who won’t tell you what to feel. I hope that you’re creative with the ways you express yourself in public and private. I hope that you always remember that sex is about you, not the other way around.



Letters to Weary Women

I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.

Letters to Weary Women
The 2 things you need for your weekend
October 24, 2015 at 8:24 am 2
Letters to Weary Women Dear Weary Woman: It's the weekend. If you're anything like me your weekend is full of many good things. We have a Halloween party to attend to tonight. I'm going as 80's icon Charlie from Top Gun. She's fierce. We have soccer games and church. I'm spending this very moment in a coffee shop writing. Then I'll switch off with my husband so he can get some alone time in. It's what we gotta do as introverts and parenting four littles. Sometimes all the good things are so very good and you're tempted to keep grabbing after them, to gather all the things to you and to feel full. After a tiring week of work, the weekend is yours, right? It's meant to be a reward for all the daily grind. This weekend that looks like parties, catching up with neighbors, going to a harvest festival at one son's preschool. Sometimes, too, it's a good idea to just curl up and recover -- to grab your people, to look them in the eye, and love them well. We all need to be seen.    IMG_1785 Who can you see this weekend? Is it your child, your single friend, your neighbor? I think so much of our weary comes from our own inability to get outside of our heads. We focus on what everyone else has, what we feel like we should have, and we're stuck on an endless loop of dissatisfaction. Comparison, C.S. Lewis said, is the thief of joy. So here's just a little thing I'm trying in tiny bits and pieces. First, when I catch my mind looping in negative self-talk I remind myself who I am: I am a daughter of the King. I have a loving Father in heaven who runs to meet me. He is good and kind. No matter my performance, I belong. Then I'm trying to see others. When my son melts down, my first go-to is how it affects me (I don't have time for a meltdown...I can't believe this is happening again. I feel powerless to help.) I'm trying to get on his level and ask good questions instead: How are you feeling? How can I help you? Tell me more. In your weekend, friend, no matter how full or how relaxing, remember 2 things: who you are and how you can see another person today. Now I'm off to finish writing! Ashley Letters to Weary Women I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.
Letters to Weary Women
Are you wiggling around like a permeable proton? I think I am.
October 22, 2015 at 1:16 pm 3
Letters to Weary Women Dear weary woman: Sometimes I feel like my own capacity is very small. I've seen others writing about it too. They need to limit outings, errands, and too much mad dashing-about to preserve some kind of inner peace. I get it. Recently my husband and I watched a YouTube video about emotional intelligence.  I gotta admit, I got a little peeved because I saw myself as a wiggly little proton that couldn't keep its own shape. I morphed into others' feelings. I took them on myself. Perhaps this sort of morphing lends itself well to empathy, it is after all, common to the NF's on the Myers Briggs spectrum. But darn it, I do not want to be a wiggly proton, where my borders are so permeable that I get sucked into drama, my kids' own feelings, or I lose it if I get cut off on the highway and am running late. There are a ton of things we can do -- when you start to feel totally uncontained -- to cope. I've noticed for myself that I'm starting to really love working out. I think it started because I wanted to get in shape and fit into my clothes. But now I'm finding it's all about my mental health. When I'm working out hard, I can get out of my brain for a little bit. I can inhabit my own body -- which is hard for me to do. (I'm going to start reading Embracing the Body again to this end!). And I can be totally present in the moment (again, also super hard). It also floods my body with endorphins, so that's a total plus. You might really need alone time (me too!), or more time to check in with your mental state, or to draw or paint or chat with a friend. All of these strategies are good but they don't get to the heart of the problem. I think we're often so weary because as women we lose our own self-containment.  We try to be all things to all people. We try to do too much. We feel isolated and alone and then we compare our bodies, our houses, our spiritual selves with our neighbors. And comparison is the thief of joy. I guess step one is realizing the problem. We need containing. We need to meet all the crazy from a place of strength rather than running to put fires out. I think this just might be part of my own life's work, learning how to be contained. As a Christian, I know it's got to come from a source that's bigger than me, that will contain all of my frazzled ends. (I just read Micha Boyett's lovely book Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer and loved her use of Benedictine prayers to help her as a mother pray throughout the day. So I've started looking into lectio divina and am trying to actually read a Psalm or two before going to bed.) Those are little steps but I hope little morsels will help me to hunger and thirst for a God who is big enough to contain me. Because my self-image can't contain me, my kids' good performance can't contain me, and there's no way my husband can contain me. It's got to come from outside myself and yet I need to be rooted in that identity so that I can stand without being so upset by others. I'm still thinking through it all. But if you're feeling like you're needing containing, you're not alone. And like a dear friend told me, no matter if you can get ahold of yourself or not, Jesus loves you. He sees you. You are his precious child. That's the best end to any story, no matter how murky the middle.  Yours in the chaos, Ashley Letters to Weary Women I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.
Letters to Weary Women
Guess what? More information won’t help the weary
October 21, 2015 at 2:02 pm 9
Letters to Weary Women Dear Weary Woman: To you, who is overwhelmed and feels so incapable to helping everyone in her life, I get it. I'm right there with you. I go into hyper-research mode and get a bit frantic and try to solve problems when I start to feel a little out of my depth. Take a current issue with one of my children: I feel like a failure because I didn't model what he needs. I'm realizing that both of us need better tools. Usually I focus on tools and the solutions. Those are good things. I have articles all open in my tabbed browser. I bought a book at the thrift shop today that I'll spend time reading right now, while my kids are having a quiet rest time. But you know what? More information doesn't bring healing. More resolve to do better doesn't bring healing. lake You know what does? A few simple words: "I'm sorry." "I love you." "You are loved and seen and important no matter what." "Let's work together." So I'll continue reading but realize the weight of fixing all the things does not rest on my shoulders. And it means I've got to slow down and simply enjoy.  I'm learning not only to offload the hard into the hands of caring friends, but also to do the hard work of leaning in to God. I'm a pastor's wife but there's no way I've got this faith thing figured out. Reading my Bible consistently is hard. Just like working out, I know it's good for me, I know it'll refresh me, but oftentimes I just don't want to do it. I think -- also like working out -- it takes awhile for one's appetite to develop. To replace my appetite for "me, me, me" and replace it with God is no small endeavor. It's something that Seth Haines writes about beautifully in his new book, Coming Clean. (Go and order it now!) Leaning in to the presence of God is scary. But doing so is more faithful and effective than simply muscling through, gaining more information and resolving to do better. Oh friend, that just puts us right back on the treadmill of anxiety, worry, depression and so much weariness. Let's be scary brave together. Take care of yourself and lean in to the things that will really bring healing and rest to your soul. And toss up a prayer for me and my kids, too. xo, Ashley   Letters to Weary Women I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.
Letters to Weary Women
To the anxious and depressed at heart
October 20, 2015 at 5:00 am 2
Letters to Weary Women Dear weary anxious one: Thank you for sticking with me, for garnering a bit of hope alongside of me this month as I write you letters. Today's letter is for those ladies feeling a bit hopeless. Cara has kindly written two great letters to single ladies with one more to come, and I'll be going through lots of vulnerable topics next week, too. (Sex! Losing faith! You name it!) Today's letter is for a group near to my heart, the first-time overwhelmed mama. If you're not a mama, or are unmarried, I just bet there might still be something in it for you. Aren't we all a bit crazy and overwhelmed? My own story starts of course where all anxiety starts -- in the gap between my lived experience and my ideals. I've said before that I didn't exactly want to be a mother, not pining away for domestic bliss anyway. But if I was going to be a mom, I was going to do the very best I could without a large margin of error. But that first baby came in all the wrong ways. His heart rate declined, we had to go to the hospital for an induction. All of my beautiful water-birthing ideals were out the window when I found myself lying on a gurney, drugged-up and prepped for a c-section. Then, because of the more traumatic birth experience, my milk took a good long while to come in. And though it did increase to feed my baby, by day three of his little life, he was screaming for food. I felt like a failure and I resolved to do my best to overcome it.  When we finally came home, I’d nurse him every 3 hours around the clock and hand him off to my mom or husband to bottle feed, while I continued to pump milk. Milk became the metaphor for my loss of self—it was all being poured out and it didn’t feel like an offering. It felt like death. And still the crying. It was all supposed to be so much different. One night, with my baby strapped into one of those vibrating baby seats, I thought I’d take a warm bubble bath. It felt amazing to sink into the water, to have it surround me, like my own water had surrounded my son. I just wanted one bath to erase the muscle tension, to feel like I could be rewarded for all the sacrifice. I just wanted one bath. And then the crying started and I had a fleeting thought: I could just sink down right here and it’d all be over. My nerves would no longer be shot. Maybe they’d be better off without me. (I've written more about my overwhelm at The Mudroom and I'd be pleased if you'd read it. I'll wait.) Circling the Story series, #LettersToWearyWomen: Maybe it takes a lifetime to get used to occupying your own body. So to you friend, who feels overwhelmed with anxiety, with the demands of others upon you, I want to offer up this little space to tell your story. They don't need to be perfect and clean. They don't need to be the sanitized versions. You can tell your stories of postpartum depression, or hating you're single, or trying to find your way back to a childlike faith you once had, this space is open for you. My own stories are muddled and like Mary Karr wrote recently in The Art of Memoir, "Maybe it takes a lifetime to get used to occupying your own body, writer or no. Self-deceit is the bacterium affecting every psyche to varying degrees, especially in youth." Which is all just to say, that we need to come to grips with who we really are. We put on selves, we shove our anxiety, our fear of missing out, our overwhelm, because we argue them away -- they don't fit our version of ourselves. But they are true. And true stories can be told here. By the way, I'm still looking for November stories to feature here on the theme of "enough." Be sure to check the details. I'll hold your story with you. To big deep breaths one after another, Ashley Letters to Weary Women I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.  
Letters to Weary Women
This letter is about breakups
October 19, 2015 at 5:00 am 6
It's an absolute pleasure to host Cara Strickland again at Circling the Story as she writes to weary single ladies. Check out her first letter here. -- AH Letters to Weary Women -- On Breakups by Cara Strickland Dear Weary Unmarried Woman, This letter is about breakups, the kind that shatter you, leaving you weak and grieving, and the kind that free you, reminding you of everything that you appreciate about life (though most of my breakups have been a combination of these two). There are no standard sympathy cards for breakups. Usually, no one coordinates with your friends to make sure you have meals (though I have had friends take me to lunch and text me to make sure I’m eating). No one is dead and there are no visible wounds. I find that I’m still in need of support after the flurry of texts and calls and emails have stopped and everyone has gone back to their own lives. In that place, it’s hard to reach out and ask for what I need (especially when I’m not always sure). It’s okay to be fractured, for as long as you are. Entering into a relationship with the full consciousness that it might end is one of the bravest things you can do. You extend yourself, your time, your mental space, your physical presence. In a relationship, you make yourself available to love, as well as heartbreak. There is no other way. broken-window-960188_1280 In Nora Ephron’s last collection of essays, I Remember Nothing, written before she died of an illness that gave her some warning, she wrote two lists, one about things she would miss and one about things she would not. I’ve found that if I spend a little time with the relationship I’ve left, I see things in those two lists. I don’t always have the emotional energy to do this right away, maybe not until I’m at the end of another relationship, or feel distant from the pangs of pain. As I write them out, the things I miss and the things I don’t, I realize that even the most precise surgeon could not separate the two. What worked and what didn’t are close friends, and they hold hands tightly. I don’t get to keep one list without the other, remembering only what I want to keep close. This process feels a little like a long, challenging yoga class after you’ve been inactive for a while. There are moments of euphoria and freedom and that “this feels so good” stretch, as well as times when you think you are going to fall over, or that your muscles will snap. Sometimes, I’m alone in my car on my way somewhere and I’ll hear a song from those days of happiness or angst. Right now, Meghan Trainor’s song “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” is one of those songs for me. One of my exes introduced me to it very early in our relationship and listening to the words: “I’m gonna love you like I’m gonna lose you. I’m gonna hold you like we’re saying goodbye” sounds hauntingly true in context. Every time I hear it, I think: we lost each other. I always find it hard when people tell me that I’m going to find someone else. Sometimes that’s because I’m not ready, and sometimes it’s because I know that there are no promises. I always say I'm looking for a witness. Someone to see me. -- Cara Strickland for Circling the Story #LettersToWearyWomen I know that breakups are hard, no matter how long you’ve been together or how serious it was. I know that there are still moments when you reach for your phone to text that person you used to share your everyday with, that you wonder who to contact when your plane touches down at the airport, that you miss warm fingers tangled up with yours. I know that all this is true even if it was a good thing that you broke up, even if it was your idea, even if you never want to see that person again. I always say that I’m looking for a witness. Someone who will see me as I struggle and succeed, someone who will have a rough idea that I’m eating or whether I’m doing all right, someone who will notice. I don’t think there’s any accident in phrasing that we talk about “seeing someone” in relationships. When we break up, we “stop seeing someone.” This always tops my list of what I miss. I miss seeing someone, and being seen. In the moments, days, weeks, months, and years after a breakup you can start to wonder if you’re doing something wrong, if the problem is you because you are the only one who has been in all of these failed relationships, if you’re simply not worth being chosen. It’s not true, my dear. We all have things to work on (and therapists can be wonderful companions for the journey), but regardless of your relationship status, you are worthy of love and belonging. I can’t tell you that you will go on to have exactly what you think you want, but I can tell you this, which I believe with everything I have, along with Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. Love, Cara   Letters to Weary Women -- On Breakups by Cara Strickland   I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.