A Grieving Human

I’m standing on a terrace overlooking a calm blue ocean. Palms trees sway in the ocean breeze that is kissing my cheeks and kicking up the ends of my hair. I stare up at the sky with tears streaming down my face. 

This is unfamiliar territory. Every time my heart aches now, I think “this is a hole I will have for the rest of my life.” It’s a helpless feeling to think that the pain I feel will never change. It’s humbling. I tried to escape it, but it still found me. Even on the terrace of a 5 million dollar apartment on an island on the other side of the country, there is no escaping it.

My friend Sofia sent me an article about grief by a woman named Sue Hawkes. Sue says “grieving is one of those profound, vulnerable experiences that make us feel incredibly human and entirely mortal.”

These are the perfect words to describe my experience with grief thus-far.

On many occasions, I have felt reduced to a helpless child and elevated to a powerful woman almost simultaneously. I have ventured across a wide field of emotions. I have ventured so far that I have found myself accessing levels of pain and emotion I’ve never experienced before.

It seems to be an initiation of sorts. In many ways, being ushered through this darkness seems to be a journey back to self. No matter how much my chest knots up in pain, I still am grateful for the experience to feel what I feel.  I am reminded of who I am in the most vulnerable way. 

I am reminded that I am human.

Lesson #1: You Deserve It

The first time we kissed, we were laying next to each other, with the back doors of his converted sprinter van opened wide. The night sky had wrapped itself around the mountain tops and the cool air moved to the sounds of crickets in the dark.

I dug through the archives to find this photo – the actual view from the van. 
It is the day everything changed.

When his lips touched mine, my insides started screaming. It felt like my heart grew arms inside my chest and were pounding its fists against my sternum as if to say “STOP!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!” 


He pulled away and tears welled up in my eyes. I started sobbing, and his eyes grew so big I could see them clear as day even though we were in the dark. Worried he had done something to hurt me, he pulled me close.”Oh no, what’s wrong? Did I do something? I’m so sorry.” He wiped the tears from my cheeks. “Talk to me. What’s wrong”

I was mortified. I was overwhelmed. I was stupid.


“I”m so sorry” I managed to choke out. “I just – you’re so wonderful, you’ve loved me so well through our entire friendship, and I just – I’m so messed up. I’ll mess it up. and I don’t want to hurt you.”

Over the next 6 or 7 months, I would wrestle with this belief that I didn’t deserve real, beautiful authentic love.

But what really matters in this story is not what happened, it’s what didn’t happen.

I didn’t run.
Something told me to stay. 
That really quiet voice in the back of my head – and a conversation with my beautiful friend Johnnie helped me relax.

“Let a good man love you, Annabelle. It’s the most amazing adventure you can have”
This was the beginning of a true saga. A series of lessons and a period of growth that is nowhere near finished, but after nearly a year of this adventure, I’m ready to start sharing the lessons.

This is Lesson #1 – the first lesson I had to learn about real love. Whether you believe it or not, you deserve to be loved. You are made to love and be loved. This is a GOOD thing. Lean into it.

To hear more about my love story and journey so far, check out the conversation I had with Sophie Kowk, the founder of Love Intently on their podcast!

Love Intently Podcast: 
Episode #19 Moving to a Secure Attachment Style
Dec. 30 2018.
Link to Spotify | Link to Itunes

Thank You

Feminists are often mistaken as “Man Haters”.

And because I call myself a feminist, I also like to emphasize that I love, respect and admire both men & women equally. (Feminism MEANS the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men – READ THIS) 

Except after my last “situationship” went south a few months ago, I’ve been really jaded. I felt myself slowly slide into man-hating and I started to blame eveything on men, and thought that my life would be a lot better without them.

My professor in college told us that our experiences shape the way in which we see the world.
He told us that your expereinces are like bugs that fly into the windshield when you’re driving. They alter what you’re able to see, sometimes blocking your view.

So if you think about all of the expereinces that have gone “splat” against my view of the world, it makes sense that I got jaded…

I was raped by a man.
I have been talked down to by men.
I have been lied to & used by men.
I have been manipulated by a man.
I have had my dreams squished by a man.
I have been honked at & catcalled by men.
I have been sexually assaulted by men.
I have felt worthless because of the way men have treated me.

Men, have made my life way harder than it needs to be and hurt me in so many ways. These experiences have created a reeeeally nice layer of bug guts on my windshield, and after so many hurtful expereinces with men, I started to feel like I would never meet a good man in this world.

Dramatic I know, but remember my windshield was dirty, and any time I thought about men, I couldn’t see clearly – only a dirty windshield.

Last week, I assigned homework to our interns to write Thank You notes to three different people. I made it my homework to write each of them a Thank You note as well, and as I was writing, I thought it would be nice to write a note for each of the two men I work with too.

One of the men is Kelby,
and when I sat down to write Kelby’s note, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for him.

Kelby is disciplined, listens to loud Electronic music, works out so that he can “look good naked” (his words),  is very organized, clean, and leaves a lot of space inbetween you when he gives hugs.

I realized that he is a beautiful example of what a good man can look like – not becuase of his taste of music or love of working out but because of the way he’s treated me. And because of him, it’s impossible for me to be a “man hater” because to be a “man hater” I would have to hate all men, and I don’t hate all men because I love Kelby.

In my note to him, I thanked him for making me feel respected, heard and valued always. I thanked him for his vulnerability, his loyalty and for the way he communicates. At the end of the letter I asked him to hold on to these qualities, even though the world might tell him otherwise, because they make him an amazing man.

I made Kelby read the note before I left that day, and when he got down to the bottom of the letter he smiled, and gave me a hug. This time, with no space inbetween.

That day, I realized that we don’t celebrate our men enough. We don’t celebrate and thank them enough for the qualities that make them good humans. And I think we should because our culture constantly tells them that hyper-masculinity is the only way to be a man.

So I decided to write down a list of men in my life that I love and admire to write thank you notes to.
And that list is now longer than the list of men who have hurt me.

This has been one of the most healing things I’ve done.
Who knew that Thank You Notes could make such great windshield wipers?

Intimacy



What are you built for?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I sift through different ideas & possibilities for my future.
I’ve thrown myself into different situations over the years to see what I’m made of.

Each situation or space in my life pushed me a little bit outside my norm, causing my natural abilities to express themselves & opportunities to arise to work on skills that didn’t come so naturally to me.

I’ve been thinking about my identity… my 2018 word, & in that the things that I feel that I have a natural gift for.

I have a natural passion for dancing.
I have a natural gift for writing.

I do not have a natural gift for cooking.
I do not have a natural gift for math.
I do not have a natural gift for taking directions.

I have a natural gift for connection & community.

I have a natural gift for vulnerability & intimacy.

That’s something I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately too…

I always talk about how humans were built to be in community with each other…
But tonight I started thinking that maybe humans were built for vulnerability… and somewhere down the line some of us were hurt so badly that the fear of being hurt again keeps us blocked off, rigid, & angry at the world.

But I think we are built for vulnerability.
We are built to be vulnerable.
Becuase there is no connection without vulnerability. 

But me… Annabelle Evangeline in particular……She was made for some kind of insanely raw vulnerability, deep love & and connection – deep intimacy.

Not only is intimacy a natural gift for me, I crave it. 

I skip the boring surface level conversation as fast I can because I want to dig deep. I want to know who you are – and I’ve had people tell me that they feel so comfortable around me I don’t even have to ask! They just share.

I like to understand the “why” behind anything and everything people say or do. I like sharing my thoughts because I like to connect with people…

I love the idea of marriage & spending a lifetime getting to know someone that deeply. I love the idea of someone wanting to know & cherish me that much…

Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’ve thought about the idea of marriage incessantly since I was like 13 years old.
I used to stress about this shit.
I wish I was kidding.  

I never told anyone because I was embarrassed to talk about it.
I was 13! I knew I didn’t have any business thinking about marriage… but I would dream about the day I could ride off into the sunset with someone I would spend forever with.

Now, I see that some of that obsession might have been fueled by one too many Disney princess movies, but now I’m thinking I might be hard-wired for a deep intimate connection with another human being. I mean, I’m sure most people are, but I really feel this and I don’t see other people talk about it the way I feel it.

To be totally real
(this scares me to write because it’s really real) 
I think it’s why I struggle with sex.

or at least part of the reason.

Last week, my roommate was shooting part of a music video in our apartment – I woke up late that day and waltzed into the kitchen in my robe & came face to face with two full-grown men with cameras.

Awkward.

Fortunately, they thought my robe was cute (it is) & we all ended up having a really great conversation. At one point I asked one of the guys a question prompted him to proudly announce to all of us that he was a virgin. You could see how excited he was to be able to share that level of intimacy with someone he really truly deeply loved. I wanted to be happy for him but instead, I was angry.

I was a virgin when I was raped. 
& I constantly think about whether or not I would have waited until marriage to have sex.

I didn’t get a chance to give myself to someone the way I wanted to.
& to cover it up I had sex with the next person I dated as soon as I could.

& since then I’ve been saying I’d wait,
but then have sex again.

I have a weird dichotomy in my head about sex… 
it’s something supernaturally binding & beautiful and at the same time it’s also whatever.

So I guess now I think of marriage as that point where the real untouched, raw, vulnerable, intimacy lives.

& I want it.

Actually, I’ve been studying for it.  (stop laughing at me)

After putting myself through some unfulfilling (to say the least) & heartbreaking relationships, and simultaneously unlocking the power of goal setting, I decided that I can goal-set my way to marriage.
Yes. Really.

I figured if I want a healthy, authentic relationship with someone who loves me for me, I have to do the work! I need to have really high emotionally intelligence & the tools to communicate effectively (Hence me reading Attached – WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and also be pursuing the things that make me, me!

Eventually I’ll attract the right guy.

… right?

The other day I had lunch with a friend who’s been married for a while. She shared a little bit about her idea of marriage, which was bleak compared to mine & she laughed at me a little bit for my goal setting approach. I laughed at me too.

Will it work?
Only God knows.

Until then I think I’m going to accept the fact that I hope to be married one day. I will shed the shame on the fact that being with someone is something I want. I know that it doesn’t make me any less independent or capable or smart –  I just want a partner for this crazy beautiful difficult thing called life.

And to be totally honest, knowing what I was built for & owning it feels good… 

Feel All the Things

Yesterday I went to a mid week church service and got to listen to Judah Smith preach!
If you’re wondering why that name sounds familiar it’s because he wrote the book “How’s Your Soul?” That I’m a fan of.

I was standing with everyone during worship and let the music sway my body side to side. The perk of going to church in Los Angeles is that everyone knows how to sing. The girl next to me was rocking my ears with an incredible harmony and I felt #blessed.

And then the tears welled up in my eyes and I started crying. 

HOLD UP – WHAT’S GOING ON?

Judah had just preached about Joy and how God is joy and how important joy is.
We literally had listened to a 40 min sermon on joy and I was crying.
Seriously.

Here’s a Recap:
During his sermon, he talked about the difference between passive joy and permanent joy. The “live for the weekend” kind of joy and then the “I feel loved and am happy to be alive joy”.

That second joy comes with an acceptance of Grace and Love in your life – despite the pain or hardship you feel you can still have joy if you accept Grace and Love. The joy doesn’t make the pain go away – it gives you the strength to get you through it.

So I’m sitting in worship thinking about all of this and saying whaddup to God for the first time in a few weeks and I’m crying.

And I realize, I’m crying because I’m tired. 

I kind of numbed myself a little bit to do this move, which I think is normal. I kept shoving my fear and my doubts down so I could focus on getting everything done. But like I’ve mentioned a zillion times before, if you numb the bad, then you also numb the good. To feel is to feel. There actually isn’t a good and bad feeling for your soul, the way that there are good and bad bacteria in your body. You might feel things you don’t like, but that doesn’t mean they are bad feelings.

Anyway, the point is I tried to feel this joy that Judah was talking about and I released a plethora of emotions along with it.

Then I wrote this:

You can’t let yourself be swept up in grace and love without feeling the strength of the waves.

Meaning – when you start to feel, to accept, to gain strength, you are able to step out of the darkness a little bit, you are able to step out of your situation and often times that’s when the pain hits you the most because you didn’t realize how tired you were until your soul is given a chance to rest.

I always say to Keep Pushing Forward, but sometimes I think the best way to move forward is to pause, rest, and feel.