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Hard Conversations...

God, have I had a lot of those lately...I feel like the world is falling a part at a new rate of speed these days. Everyone, particularly in one area of my life, seems to be checking out. I am not taking it personally but it seems like there is this mass exodus going on and I am not completely sure why.

This has been a hard and long year. I can’t believe we are almost to Halloween...the last seven months have been a blur. It is hard to keep your spirits up when everything, especially in one area of your life, seems to be falling apart. But everything is always falling apart and being knitted together so I try to normalize it with the understanding that though this feels different, it really isn’t. What is really missing is my delusional belief that I have much control over anything at all.

I have been privileged to have a lot of hard conversations this year. Which is not unlike any other year, really. But what makes them different, this year, is that I welcomed them more than I dreaded them. Hard conversations were always something to avoid, put off or evade for as long as I could. Something about this year, allowed me to just let them come, happen, and not get wound too tightly about them. I think, for the first time, I saw the hard conversations as opportunities, rather than something to be avoided.

I mostly avoided them in the past because they created so much uncertainty. But this year, the only thing that is certain is I think I just said, “fuck it, bring them on.”

I have spent the better part of my life avoiding talking to you about things that are interfering in our relationship because I was afraid you would leave, hate me, get angry with me or use the hard conversation as a launch pad for some sort of anti-Erin campaign. Abandonment, fear, disgrace. Those things, well, rather, fear of those things, kept me in check for a long time.

But something about 2020 brought up something in me that I had a hard time getting in touch with has taken me awhile to really see what that was. Fear, drove it as usual, but it was a particular fear that I was only vaguely familiar with previously...

Fear of you getting the data from me for you to make good decisions for yourself. Now this may seem weird. But there was really a part of me that didn’t want to tell you the truth because I didn’t want you to have all the information which might lead you to conclude that I was not good for you, good enough for you or whatever. I felt like I had to always manipulate the situation by constantly staying one step in front of you. Lest you might leave or decide something I didn’t want you to decide. Thus my avoidance at hard conversations...

But today I really want you to go if that is what is best for you. All of you. There may be pain in your departure but I really only want people in my life that really, really want to be here. I want people who can have hard conversations with me and tell me the truth, even when the telling of that truth may be an end point in our relationship.

I am not sure what I was doing before. But it was not being authentic and honest. I just wasn’t capable of having hard conversations because the fear was too great. The vulnerability of hard conversing just not something I could do or was willing to do.

The fear hasn’t really subsided all that much but it has been transformed into something greater, a fundamental and abiding belief that in order to create more opportunities for connection, I have to be willing, repeatedly, to have hard conversations. At every hard conversation threshold, my willingness to walk over it and through it, allows me to move closer to you, if that is what is supposed to happen in our relationship next. I am not always guaranteed a future with you or you with me. We are all really living in the day at a time zone. Which has provided me with a wonderful freedom and grace in each day.

Hard conversations are actually easier than I previously thought...especially when I remember that the energy expended to keep those people in my life that the universe is trying to take is much harder.

Today I want people who are willing to engage in hard conversations with me about things that matter to us both. If that conversation leaves either one of us in a place where we feel like we need to end the relationship, then perhaps, our willingness to talk about hard things moved us both closer to where we are supposed to go next.

Life does not guarantee us anything really. People come and go. People die. People fall in and out of love. People fuck it up. People change. People do not change. Life is inherently unstable. But being willing to have hard conversations has led me to embrace the ambiguity that is life and enjoy it.

The pandemic has caused me to wake up every day with a curiosity that was absent before. I took for granted the delusional certainty I believed my life contained. Today, I wake up and think, “Holy shit, what is going to happen today?” Sometimes, I am intrigued, sometimes fearful, I am always interested in what the fuck is going to happen next.

Hard conversations and my willingness to move toward them helps me remember that I am only loosely in control of any of it. Life is going to happen and my best use of it is to try to wake up and love to the best of my ability. Having hard conversations with people who are important to me is one way I get to practice loving. If I am talking to you about things that matter and are hard to discuss you can bet your ass it is because you are important in my life. Hard conversations, just like hardship, really are the pathways to a peaceful existence. Who knew?

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