Offer it Up

cryingThe holidays can be a time of fun and love and laughter and family. Of slowing down and enjoying time with friends. But for many people, this time of year can also bring up profound feelings of sadness and loneliness. You might be mourning for something you’ve never had, or for something you once did, or for an idea in your head of how the holidays should look. We get inundated with images of families around a fireplace, everyone smiling and hugging, mugs of hot cocoa in hand. Images of couples ice skating, and proposals under the mistletoe. If you’re having a holiday season like that, that’s a beautiful gift in itself and I hope you soak in every moment of joy. But if you’re feeling alone, or struggling with family dynamics, or missing a person you can no longer hug but only remember, my heart truly goes out to you. And I just wanted to reassure you that you are not alone.

Life rarely looks like the picture in our heads. You may have had a plan that got completely rerouted; that happens in life all the time. It’s challenging to accept that we are always changing, as everything else is always in a state of flux. Nothing living stays the same. Not you, not other people, and not the space between the two (or more) of you, where the relationship happens. It’s even more difficult to accept this at times when it seems everyone else has it all figured out. There are those blessed people who have strong families, and healthy loving relationships, who resemble something like those images we see. But they’re few and far between. Most people in our culture struggle with loving relationships, and even just with relating. We haven’t done a wonderful job teaching compassion, communication, or what it means to truly love. To see with clear eyes and honor with open arms. To love in a way that liberates the other person, and not in a way that shackles them. To listen with ears that want to hear, and not an ego that wants to be right.

If you’re in pain, just open to it. Fighting it will make it worse, kind of like trying to hold your breath until January 2nd. You don’t have to buy into the idea that everyone is living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Many people are living in quiet agony, even though things may look perfect on the outside. I believe we should all open up about our pain when we’re going through it. I know we’re encouraged to display our highlight reel all the time, but giving people a peek behind the curtain on your darker days can also be a gift. It’s the gift of knowing we are never alone. We will all face pain at some point or another, and we can be here for each other. We don’t have to make things look perfect. Sometimes, we can just cry, and that’s the most honest, perfect, and beautiful offering imaginable. If I could, I’d offer you my shoulder if you need a good cry. Short of that, I offer you my love. Ally

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