When I look back and think about my life in years, I always tell people that 2015 was truly one of the most heartbreaking and toughest years I’ve ever had. But now, there’s 2020. It’s been a wild one hasn’t it? I’m nominating it for Best Shit Show of the Century.
There were truthfully some real dark seasons this year. A lot of things happened that triggered me, and a few times it sent me down this weird spiral where my body literally shut down. I didn’t have the capacity for those around me the same way I normally would. There was this boy, and I couldn’t quite make out what was happening with him. I had experienced a lot of grief and the loss of people, unexpected death of friends. It all forced me to really step back, slow down and create space for processing and healing.
WHERE THERE IS DARKNESS, THERE IS ALSO LIGHT.
The healing journey is never an easy one. And gosh, those few months felt like a million years. There was one particular morning where I was sitting in the sand staring out into the ocean sunrise (as I do a lot in seasons when the noise of the world is way too loud to bear), relishing the stillness. The thoughts just kept coming and the words falling out like waterfalls, supernatural peace around me, and I wrote this:
It’s the tiny moments that keep our heart beating and our lungs breathing—a glimpse of orange glow in the sky, a sip of iced caffeine, the moment our bare feet touch the sand. I am slowly coming out of a season of devastating heartbreak, grave disappointment, and unexpected grief. Spending time to think, to pause and recalibrate in my sacred safe havens have revealed the realities of what is. It’s a strange place to be, there, in the silence—things get clearer, things unfold, things are remembered, and things begin to resolve in your heart. But it is so necessary because it’s the type of transformation that only happens when we intentionally create that kind of space for ourselves. I am slowly returning to the center: the place where faith and reality meet. As difficult and as painful as it is, I think we have to be still long enough to let everything catch up to us. The truth is, our souls are screaming to be heard and the deep wounds inside us want to be healed. And in the questions, in the wrestling, in the quiet, you start to learn just how many unknown terrains are deeply engraved within you; that healing only happens in what you’re willing to honestly acknowledge and feel. It happens when you begin to dissect those parts of yourself that have been left abandoned and neglected for far too long.
I didn’t get to that place by myself. Obviously, God was working, He always is. But also, this is my public thanks to the people that helped keep me sane during those times: The friends that checked-in over and over again, even when their calls were ignored. The friends that shared a couple glasses of wine on the beach listening to me process through my thoughts. The friends that literally showed up to my door and physically had to drag me out of bed because the sadness was so real and I was drowning in all of the heaviness that the world was serving that season. Thank you all. I don’t know what I would have done without you.
I never knew his real intentions. I guess I could have asked. I should have, but I didn’t and that was on me. But he truly had me convinced—hours upon hours (and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning) of texting and FaceTiming almost every day for almost a year. Coming around all the time, buying me things, telling me everything I wanted to hear… I let him in. I let him in pretty good and he had more access than most to both my family and myself. And then it all just stopped. It was the strangest thing. Ironic, even. Because it blows my mind that people can treat you like you mean the world to them but then brush it off in an instant, as though it never happened and didn’t mean anything at all. You just don’t treat people you supposedly care about like that because it’s hurtful, and honestly, I’ve yet to understand. But even so, I’m learning to bow out and walk away with grace.
THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN LOOK AT IT.
Maybe it’s because my skin is tougher now or that I no longer tolerate certain kinds of behaviors. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s the resilience. Maybe it’s the wisdom. I don’t know. I would be lying if I said there weren’t disappointments. But the cuts don’t feel as deep, the stings don’t last as long, and pouring salt on the wounds don’t feel as painful as they used to.
Sometimes people leave and that’s literally it. You don’t know why, you don’t get an explanation. You have a gazillion questions, but you know they’ll never get answered. They don’t come back because they’ve gone elsewhere, you don’t get the apology that you wanted, and there’s nothing more to that relationship other than what you shared up until that point. The moment they departed, the moment they decided to start keeping you in the dark—that was the end of everything between you two. And as shitty as that feels, you have to keep in mind that things tend to end before others begin. Chapters close so others can be written. One heart needs to break before another can be mended… and that’s the only perspective you can have without it entirely crippling and breaking you.
In some capacity, I think every single one of us knows what it’s like to feel like, “this is not how I thought it was going to turn out” or “this is not how I imagined it was supposed to be.” We’ve all been there, I can say that pretty confidently; to be in a place where you look around and wonder, “What happened, how did I get here?”
I wish we could pull maps out of our back pockets. Mark the map with a giant red “X” showing that “you are here,” then circling the destinations you’re trying to get to, then coming up with the most efficient route to get there—what’s easier, what’s faster, which has the least amount of stop signs. The list goes on and on, and while I, too, so badly sometimes want to teleport to those spaces on the map, I also know you cannot shortchange the process especially in a society where everything is instant gratification at the click of a button with insta-this and insta-that and buy now. Our God-given intricate timelines are not meant to speed up manually. You can try to force your way onto a “better spot,” you can try to manipulate and change current situations, but those ways probably won’t work. Accepting the process is key. Not in the sit on you ass and do nothing kind of way, but it’s about giving a hundred plus percent in your situations. It’s staying present to the things you still have blooming around you. It’s accepting that you are actually moving forward in a growth kind of way and letting go of the things you don’t quite have yet.
THE ART OF LETTING GO.
It’s not about letting go once. You can’t just say “I’m over it” and then it’ll be fine. It doesn’t really work that way. You let go, and then you continue to let go over and over again—the job, the guy, the girl, the circumstances in your life, the control you want over things. As many times as you refresh your email, hoping that you get good news. As many times as you look through your Insta Stories hoping you see that person watching them. As many times as you get your hopes up and you wait but it still doesn’t happen. THAT’S HOW MANY TIMES YOU’LL NEED TO LET GO.
We’ve seen the whole world literally fall apart this year, but what if it’s actually coming together?
I don’t think anyone would have anticipated what 2020 would bring (or didn’t bring): Changes. Shifts. Growth. It will probably go down as a year that did something to you; that left a forever mark, like a tattoo on our skin forever.
While many might feel like 2020 was the ultimate disaster, which it was in a lot of ways, it also felt like an opportunity to build in a new way. Because many of us began to unpack ourselves, our suitcases of baggage even more. We started to realize who/what is meant for us and who/what isn’t. I think many of us have probably figured out who their people are; who is actually going to stay and stick around for the long haul. We’ve noticed the things in life that bring us more peace or more joy or more freedom. We’ve learned who we want to build with and the relationships we want to invest into, and have also detected the manipulators, narcissists, control freaks, attention seekers, mental-health destroying leeches and emotional deadweights.
2020 shook up old ways, filtering out things that felt dead and comatose. It allowed me to hone in on what was actually important and let go of distractions—to see things more clearly, almost like an awakening from a dormant cycle and being propelled forward. I don’t know about others, but I feel like I have leveled up in so many ways—reaching long term goals I’ve set, feeling more harmonious with myself, continually stepping into who God has created me to be, and embracing the person that I am becoming. And though there are still so many mysteries and unknowns to this life, with faith, I feel incredible amounts of peace and I am so proud of myself to have made it through this year. It was unspeakably tough.
I want to sit here and write that 2021 awaits us with newness, but honestly I think it might be some of the same. I’m ready to tackle what comes and has been coming, but also know that it’s okay to want change and something fresh. So please don’t let me be the one to keep you away from setting new goals and resolutions, or pressure you to do more or be more or seek more. That’s up to you.
If you’re still reading, thank you. If you’ve ever read a blog post, thank you. If you’ve ever read even a tiny snippet of #WordsByJules, also thank you. I am beyond grateful that I get to show up in these digital spaces from time to time and pour a little piece of my heart in black and white for you all to read. Quite honestly, it’s a privilege to be able to do so. I’m looking forward to what comes next, to coming back after recharging and unplugging (hopefully more rested!) and releasing more things into the world that I’m learning. But until then, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!