By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
May 19, 2018,
She is suffering, but no one knows that, because she hides the pain some place deep inside. The last thing she wants is pity.J.M. Storm
Have you heard that saying about always being kind to others because everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about? I’ve often wondered how many of us have waged a whole war and still kept a smile on our face while our neighbors and acquaintances were none the wiser.
Fourteen years ago my mother decided that she no longer wanted a daughter who was gay. Unfortunately, I was her only child…
My father abandoned us when I was three years old, and she was left with nothing. I know that my mom, along with my grandparents, worked very hard at providing what they believed was a stable and proper environment for me. I was taught their version of morals, values, and work ethic. I was also deeply indoctrinated into a cult-like religious faith. She made some pretty egregious mistakes, but as an adult, I’m able to extend her forgiveness and see that she did the best she could at the time.
My mother and I had always been extremely close, and when I told her I was gay (in a very clichéd Thanksgiving moment in 1995!) she said she had suspected for a while. She included my first partner into the family for the next ten years. When that relationship ended, my mother decided that it was time to straighten up, no pun intended, and fly right. It was time to, “Get right with God.”
I tried. For ten, solid, prayer filled, church going, come-to-Jesus months, I tried. I tried my gut clenching, soul twisting, brain aching, hardest to be the straightest heterosexual Southern gal you’d ever see. It didn’t take. There’s a story there, but I’ll save that gem for another time.
I thought, at the time, that being disowned would kill me. The suffering was intense, long-lived, and almost unbearable. The longing was deep, and the loneliness was palpable. The outrageous unfairness of literally being thrown away over something I had no control over was blinding in its injustice. I was horribly stunned, immeasurably broken, and indescribably furious all in equal measure.
For years, I sent long rambling letters, sweet cards, and issued heartfelt apologies to my mother to no avail. She was lost to me.
As much as I don’t like the condescending saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…”, it’s true. On many occasions in my life, there have been times that I have wanted to curl up in the fetal position and just cry myself away on a river of sobbing, screaming, uncontrollable tears. There have been times when I have wanted to run so far away that I’d never be found. And, yes, there have been times when I have wanted to just close my eyes and never wake up. I hated, loathed, and despised my very being.
But here’s what I’ve learned:
You don’t die from a broken heart. No matter the devastation, your lungs keep working, your heart keeps beating, your kidneys keep filtering, your muscles keep moving, and your blood keeps pumping. Life does indeed go on. And! If you can just open your eyes, even for a brief moment, even battered and bruised, even dazed and hurting, even spent and scared, and let in just a little love, it will start to carry you through and bring you out on the other side.
So here’s what I want you to do:
Love hard. Love fiercely. Love with all you’ve got. Love so mightily and so well that it sets your soul ON FIRE! Open your heart, your mind, your arms, and your life to all that is possible. Allow your body to begin to heal itself, through good whole foods, through gentle exercise, through simple meditation, through restorative sleep, and through the power of friendship. And when your body has healed, you can then stand back in delight and watch your spirit soar!
Allow love to thoroughly course through your body, tear apart those jagged stitches, rip you open, turn you inside out, and wash you clean! Mother Fucker! It’s an amazingly delicious ride! Feel all the shitty, stored up emotion, from the top of your cute little head down to your perfect little toes. And then? Let it all leave your body with such awesome soul rendering force that it knocks you flat out on your perfect little ass!
Loving yourself and loving others, with every inch of your beating heart, truly is the healing balm for all that afflicts us. Seriously. No matter what you’re struggling with, the battles you’re fighting, the war you’re waging, love can and will heal you if you let it.
Not love from others, but love from within.
You cannot fully love anyone else until you are absolutely and wonderfully in love with yourself. This is not about ego, and it’s not about being self-centered. It’s all about radiating joy and love from every fiber of your true self in order to live your most authentic life.
Do you know what happens when you allow yourself to be completely flattened?
Do you realize how it feels to be washed beautifully clean from all the pent up sadness, anger, trauma, stress, pain, fatigue, anxiety, and other messiness that we all cling to?
YOU FUCKING RISE UP! Just like the much beloved Phoenix who rises like a queen from the ashes!
You can live a magical, majestic, magnificent life full of love and hope! You can live in truth and beauty! You can encourage others and also be encouraged! You can love and be loved in return. The possibilities are enormous and unending! And when you love yourself, then love is attracted to you!
Love yourself fiercely, right now. Love, like your life depends on it! Because, my beautiful friend, it does…
Lyndsey, you give me chills with your words. Thank you for sharing yourself with this world. We need you. Xo Molly
Today’s recipe will love you up as much as you love it!
- 3 1/2 cups cooked black beans, divided (725g / feel free to use canned beans)
- 3/4 cup diced red onion (95g)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
- 3/4 cup water (or more if you want it less thick) (175ml)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz / 411g)
- Place 1 1/2 cups of the Black Beans (310g) in a medium-sized saucepan and set aside for now.
- Place the remaining 2 cups of Black Beans in your blender, along with the red onion, garlic cloves, chili powder, cumin powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, black pepper and water. Blend until super smooth.
- Transfer the blended bean mixture to the saucepan, along with the tomatoes and stir.
- Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer for 20 minutes, with a lid on the saucepan at an angle. Stir often to keep it from sticking to the pan and burning.
- Serve with chopped cilantro, diced avocado and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Have a happy week. May it be filled with LOVING.
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Yes, yes, YES!!! Thank you for sharing your story, Lyndsey, and for being a truly *uplifting* soul in this world.
You’re so very welcome!
Lyndsey, you are the very definition of what it means to be a “light writer” — one who, after plunging into great darkness somehow finds a light switch that illuminates her space, then turns to all others in darkness and says, “Here, I found this; it might help you turn on a light too.”
The Hounds of Hell are no match for you or anyone else who discovers that love of oneself, extended to all others, is the only salvation that transcends suffering. Thank you for sharing your story of love with the rest of us — much love back to you, my fellow Dirty sister! 🙂
Oh, Kate! You made me cry! Thank you so much for your kind words. Sending much love right back to you!
Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my badly scarred, almost closed off heart. Your writing inspires me. Xoxo
Stephanie, my friend, never close your aching heart off to the possibilities out there waiting for you! There’s always hope and always love! I’m sending you bunches of it right now!
Lyndsey – I’m so sorry for your loss and pain. No one deserves what you’ve been through. What’s wonderful is that your ability to be broken open and still allow love to flow through you, has led you to being a member of this Dirty family. It’s hard to remember a time when you weren’t here encouraging us, inspiring us, and making us pee our pants with laughter. Grateful for you and your spirit. Xo
Jill, thank you so much for your sweet words! I’m so grateful to have found CFDG and all of you! Xoxo
Sorry for the pain you endured, but thank you for the light you spread by being you and being authentic. My yoga instructor yesterday told a story about a donkey who fell into an abandoned well—-just like the donkey, you shook off the dirt and took a step up:
Thank you, Ellen! We all have to just get up, shake it off, and keep going. Hopefully, with a good attitude and a sense of humor!
Lyndsey- you spoke directly to my soul, and to those of many others; I suspect. Thank u for giving me the courage to do what I know I should and can do, namely, loving myself first, especially when I personally don’t always put ME first. U r awesome! And, so r u, Molly! Get ur ass back home from Asia, and let the weekly fuckeries continue! P.S. Molly and Luanne: I hope all is well for u guys on the home front with all the volcano eruption crap that is going on in Hawaii! U r in my thoughts!
Thank you, Bernadette! I’m so glad my words reasonated with you. Much love sent to you and yours!
Ah, Lyndsey, you bare your soul and make us cry!
Oh, Brenda! I’ve held it in for so long that it’s such a gift to share myself and my stories with all of you. Xoxo
Thank you so much for this……I needed to hear these words…..I felt like you were writing them just for me! Thank you Thank you Thank you!
Hi Kathy! I’m so very glad my words spoke to you and I hope you are inspired to love freely and passionately all of your days! Xoxo
Lyndsey, it feels like a miracle, doesn’t it? The moment when love washes the pain away. The sort of love, you say, which can really only come from within. I believe we come into this lifetime with an endless supply of love and joy in our soul tanks, but sometimes we are dealt a hand which just robs our soul tanks dry. It can take a good many years to remember how to top them up, and that remembering sparks a new beginning, the Act Two of our lives, our “moment “ when we reconnect with our infinite spirit. We get to live as we truly are, as the person who brings love, joy and hope to the world, as an instrument and true expression of Universal connectedness. As you say, love is all there is, all that really matters, all that really heals. Love to you sister. Keep shining your beautiful light❤️
Yes, Belinda! Love is a total miracle and I am so blessed to know it fully in my life! Big hugs to you!
Thank you, Lyndsey. Your words touch so many in this incredible group, and your willingness to openly share both your joy and your pain is admirable. Namaste.
Thank you my Dirty Sister! I’m so glad you enjoyed my writing. So much love to you!
I love what you wrote Lyndsey, very powerful and direct, and I’m sharing this with everyone I know. When you wrote “Love, like your life depends on it! Because, my beautiful friend, it does…It brought to mind one of my favorite quotes.
“So the question,” Dr King states in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”,…“is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?”
Like you I’m choosing love!
Thank you, Bruce! That’s a lovely way to frame it!
Thank so much for sharing your heartfelt story. The one thing that I feel compelled to say is that you absolutely CAN love someone else fully without fully loving yourself. I say this from a place of lovingkindness and I don’t mean this as criticism of your lovely essay, at all. The sentiment that you must love yourself first is pervasive and one I’ve heard many times from many people. And I used to believe it myself. But it is also a sentiment caused me and many others unnecessary pain and I think it needs to be thrown out the window. In fact, I would say that the opposite is true – it is only through loving others that you love yourself.
The thing is love is not activated when some abstract level of self-love is reached. Everyone is deserving of love and can experience love at any and all times. There is no such thing as to “fully” or “completely” love. Love is love. There is no measurement on love, no magic place one reaches before one’s capacity to give love is activated. Loving others is how you love yourself. Because there’s no true separation between anyone; you, me, them – we are all one and the same. I have experienced and know many people who, without hestitation, would say they have loved others and felt love fully from others even while struggling with self-love. Including people who have commited or attempted suicide whose spouses and children never, ever, ever doubted they were loved.
To be clear, I am not talking about needing to receive love from others. I am talking about being able to give love to others.
I would urge anyone who thinks that they cannot completely love anyone else until they completely love themselves to abandon that thought. You absolutely can love others right now, no matter your state of self-love. This is a great essay on this topic: https://medium.com/@angrytherapist/you-have-to-love-yourself-before-you-can-love-someone-else-is-bullshit-2a43e59cffe3
Hi Kristen! Thank you for your comment. This is my personal experience and one that I know to be true for me. I’m glad that you have found another way to love. I wish you all the best.
Thank you Lyndsey for the BEST Fucking kind of LOVE, the Truth! Sending love back at you and the rest of this awesome CFDG Family! Hugs for the healing words!
Thank you Mindy! Yes, there is only truth in love and it’s the greatest gift we can give ourselves and others. Xoxo
Finally got around to reading this – I love reading all your posts and your guest blogs. Your words are highly expressive and I feel your feelings and tear up, laugh and celebrate with you. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
For the longest time, I used to think that the notion of loving yourself was…kinda weird, you know? Woo-woo crazy talk. LOL
Then I had a small series of epiphanies where it began to make sense, and I began to take the steps to do what was right and good for myself – those acts of love and compassion and respect that we strive to show those dear to us but that we all too often deny for ourselves. Like choosing to nourish our bodies with healthy food, and nourishing our soul’s need for doing things that are affirming and that bring us to a place of joy.
And then I had a hugely traumatic event that both highlighted why loving yourself is so important while also setting me back to a place where I had no choice but to believe that I was not worthy of love or respect. Being rejected by a parent is probably similar in many ways to discovering that your spouse has cheated on you – that level of betrayal takes such a huge toll on us!
That was three years ago. Three years is a long time to wrestle with what you know vs what you believe, especially when so much hangs in the balance. So thank you for speaking so beautifully and authentically and compassionately, and reminding those of us who sometimes forget, that the light switch is still there.
Thanks for sharing the recipe. It looks so yummy. I will try this recipe.
Thanks for stopping by, Riddhima! We hope you enjoy the recipe, it’s a delicious soup. ~Karen
Lyndsey, Here’s the thing, Dear Girl. There are mothers and grandmothers and all sorts and permutations of Dirty Dear Ones right here for you any time. As sad as it is and as unfair, you’ve used that experience to fuel a healing and that is just what I think Spirit INTENDS for us to do with just this sort of thing. Your courage helps us all in being honest about our pain and our next steps and so, although it sucks a big one, it is all good too. Yippee ki yay, from Granny Laramie in Arizona
I was looking for whole food recipes and got an amazing whole life story.
I just read this. Beautiful post! I’m so glad you’ve found self-love and I hope you know that God loves you just the way you are!