“You Were Never Meant To Be Here”

qctimes

Several months ago, I had the unexpected privilege of sharing my heart with a room full of folks battling and in various stages of recovery from drug, alcohol, and other addictions at a treatment facility in the Mountain West. It was the last place on earth I ever expected to find myself, which likely was evident from the freshly pressed khaki pants and button-down Polo shirt I was wearing and the fish-out-of-water body language that I’m certain was oozing out of every pore of my skin. But, I’d promised someone I care deeply about that I’d be there to witness their graduation from the program and so there I was – in the front row no less – feeling quite content to mind my own business. Unbeknownst to me, however, the staff had very different intentions. Apparently, it had become customary for invited guests of program graduates to speak (or at least be given an opportunity to speak) in support of their loved one at the end of the ceremony and, as I found the microphone being passed to me, I realized that night would be no exception. I also realized, from the tightness that immediately took my chest hostage and my racing heart, that I wasn’t prepared to speak.

“You were never meant to be here,” I began, wondering where those words had come from and then surrendering to the Spirit that gave birth to them as a hush fell over the room. “You were never meant to stick a needle in your arm, hold a spoon full of crack or meth over an open flame, put a rolled up $20 bill in your nose, pour alcohol into your body until you passed out, cut yourself, or starve yourself until the distortions only you see in the morning mirror match the “perfect” image of self your eating disorder voice demands. And those things were never meant to become the centerpiece of your life, your reason for getting out of bed in the morning, the objects of your “affection”, the things for which you’d “gladly” sacrifice everything and everyone you once held dear – your friends, spouses, partners, siblings, faith, freedom, employment – even your self-respect. And yet, that’s exactly what happened and here you are – some for the first time, others likely for the second or third – searching for answers, trying to understand the ‘why’ and the ‘what’s next’, and hurting. I know, because I don’t even know you, and I hurt for you, as I’m sure do those who do know and love you”.

“I want you to close your eyes for a minute,” I continued. “I want you to think back to a 4-year-old ‘you’ playing with your friends at the neighborhood park. I want you to try and remember what that looked, felt, and sounded like – the smell of the freshly cut grass, the wind in your hair as you chased your friends from one play station to the next, the feel of the sand against your skin, the sound of laughter, the warmth of the sun, the fear and exhilaration of going down ‘the big slide’ for the first time. That ‘you’ didn’t even know what drugs or alcohol, or eating disorders, or addictions were. You didn’t give a second thought to the past or have a moment’s anxiety about the future. You were engaged in the moment and fully alive. It wasn’t that you didn’t experience the full range of human emotions (e.g., joy, sadness, anger, love, hate, frustration, pain, comfort, kindness, etc.). You did – intensely – often all in the same day! It’s just that, perhaps intuitively, you knew that they were just feelings, that they would come and go, so you didn’t get stuck in them. That uniquely beautiful, carefree, innocent version of ‘you’ is the reason I can say – with confidence – ‘you were never meant to be here’ – and yet here you are. So, what happened?

Life happened. S*#t happened. I know because it happens to all of us. Sometimes it happens thru no fault of our own and no matter how careful we are in trying to avoid it (e.g., a traumatic event, a breach of trust, the unexpected loss of a loved one, a radical change in circumstances, a sense that life is hopelessly spinning out of control, etc.). Sometimes we pile it on ourselves. We don’t do it intentionally. We’re human. We make bad choices. Those bad choices have consequences. Some are really harsh and hurtful. But, regardless of the source, the end result is the same: Before we know it, the playground version of us gets buried under a mountain of ‘adult’ debris and begins to suffocate. Sometimes the weight of it all is too much to bear and we make even worse choices. We try to run away from the pile and hide, rather than commit to digging ourselves out – one shovel (or spade) at a time. We isolate. We numb. Eventually, we forget that little boy or girl gasping for air is even there, let alone what their love of life, quest for adventure and curiosity feels like, and we end up here – lost, ashamed, afraid it can’t be undone. But, it can. That “you” is still in there,” I said through tear-stained eyes.

“Look, I’m not a doctor or a therapist or an addiction specialist. I can’t tell you how to get from Point A to Point B. I’m also not suggesting for a minute that anything about the journey is easy. Truth is: It’s probably the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. But, I believe this with every fiber of my being: You were never meant to be here. This is not the fullness of life you were called to. That’s out there,” I said pointing to the door. “It’s on that playground. And, I encourage you to do whatever it takes and spend however long is required to get back there.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbCVcPst6J4

Image credit: qctimes

Rewrite The Rules. Retire The Cape

Super

I suspect, at one time or another, all of us have donned The Cape.

You know the one I’m talking about – the one with the big “S” emblazoned on it; the one we use to first try and convince ourselves (and then others) that we’re fully in control at all times; the one that whispers in our ear that there is no power in the Universe, let alone on Earth, so great that it won’t bend, if not break, before our will; the one that assures us there is no mind so sharp or clever that we can’t outwit it; the one that makes us believe we’re tough, that there’s no “boogie-man” so devious that we aren’t able to defeat it; and, perhaps most delusionally, the one that lures us and those “fortunate” enough to be within our sphere of influence into a false sense of security (i.e., that as long as we’re in the area they are out of harm’s way, insulated from the adversity and uncertainty that is so much a part of others’ lives). In short, it is The Cape, which, worn long enough and with just enough “good” results, makes us believe that we (and through us those we love) are invincible!

Maybe you’re one of the ones who put theirs on in the parking garage at work, where, in a misguided effort to prove your “worthiness” or, better yet, your indispensability, there is no hour of the morning too early for you to arrive or hour of the evening too late for you to leave, irrespective of what you have to give up or what compromises you have to make to accommodate that level of commitment; there’s no project too big or too complex for you to handle on your own no matter how much more expeditiously, efficiently, and expertly it could be handled by properly delegating aspects of it to a willing and trustworthy group of colleagues; and there’s no amount of supervisory (or co-worker) neglect, criticism, or “abuse” you’re not willing to endure in the hope of future advancement or out of fear of losing your job no matter how unfounded, misplaced, hurtful, disrespectful, or inappropriate that criticism or abuse may be.

Maybe you put yours on at the bus stop or in the parking lot en route to school.  Maybe your cape is the one that simply won’t allow you to tolerate even the slightest academic misstep no matter how inconsequential it may be to your future; the one that insists you not only take a full load of, but excel in the hardest courses your school’s curriculum has to offer, so that you will be uber-competitive when the time comes to apply for college; the one you rely on to enable you to put on a “brave face” so that you can appear to be unfazed when your peers bully you, bombard you with demeaning, even dehumanizing comments and slurs or ostracize you from the “in group”; the one that demands that you not only participate in, but fight for a leadership role in every available extracurricular activity, so that you scarcely have time to catch your breath, let alone have a life outside of school.

Maybe you quickly put yours on before you step through the door at the end of an undeniably long day and assume the role of parent, so that you can create the illusion that you have unlimited stamina and strength; that you don’t tire like normal people; that your energy knows no boundaries; that you not only are desirous, but fully capable of being all things to all people at all times; that, unlike most, you have the seeming ability to be in several places at one time; that there is only one speed in the life of a super hero (full out, 24/7); that normal human emotions which might distract mere mortals from the task at hand (e.g., sadness, frustration, anger, hurt, discouragement, moodiness, etc.) have no place in the world where super heroes roam and, therefore, are to be “fixed” rather than felt. In short, The Cape that enables you to create the illusion that you’re perfect – or at least a perfect mom or dad.

Or maybe you put yours on first thing in the morning, while you’re still wiping the sleep out of your eyes – before you get to the bathroom mirror to make that critical first assessment of “you”.  Maybe your cape and the expectation of superhuman perfection that comes along with it are what “prompt” you to look past the multitude of visible and invisible characteristics that make “you” inherently beautiful to the rest of the world and, instead, demand “answers” as to why your hair, your eyes, your complexion, your teeth, your nose, your lips, the shape of your face or jaw line, your neck, your figure, your smile, your eye brows or lashes or some combination of the above haven’t magically “adjusted” or “corrected” themselves overnight so as to more closely resemble the “super image” you (all of us?) have in mind for ourselves – The Cape that makes us oblivious to the reality that NO ONE meets that standard.

Don’t get me wrong: Having worn The Cape in all of these settings over the years, I’ll be the first to attest to how intoxicating it can be, particularly when you actually appear to be performing at what by most objective measures is a “super human” level.  But, even on its “best” days, wearing The Cape is exhausting and, more often than not, it’s downright unhealthy.  Inevitably, we are reminded of our humanity (and all that goes along with it) – as well we should be – and we’re forced to let go of the illusion that The Cape instills in us.  Sometimes those reminders come in subtle, almost imperceptible ways – other times we are hit over the head with the Life-equivalent of a boulder of Kryptonite.  In each case, however, the message is the same:  There is a reason Superman/Superwoman have been relegated to fictional, indeed comic book, status – they’re fun to imagine, but no “fun” at all in real life.  Trust me on this one.

From here on out, “Clark” will be just fine – thank you!

Image credit: screenrant.com

A Letter To A Friend Who Misplaced Her Heart*

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I recently received an email from a young colleague in my firm. I’d given her and her precious 4-year-old daughter, Briella a gift, the cornerstone of which was a delicate, ruby red glass heart. “Thanks for the gift, Don. It was very sweet of you to think of us. Briella loved the heart. In fact, she’s hidden it in a very special place (so “special” that she can no longer remember where she put it!!!). Good times!” That’s cute, I thought as I headed out for my morning walk with a smile and certainly something all of us can relate to: the putting of special things (e.g., keepsakes, photographs, love letters, etc.) in secret places and the frustration of later forgetting where we put them. But, after six (6) miles of walking, I realized that “misplaced hearts” are another matter altogether. The following morning, I left this note on my colleague’s chair – for her, her daughter, and all the “Briella’s” in the world:

Dear Briella,

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret:

At one time or another, everyone (even your mom and dad!) has misplaced their heart.

Some do it by choice – by entrusting their heart to others who don’t deserve it, fail to care for and nurture it, don’t value its unique beauty, use and abuse it, badly bruise it with unwarranted guilt and shame, ignore or abandon it, and, in the process, violate that trust.

Others decide as a result of subtle or not-so-subtle messages they receive at an early age that their heart is unworthy of being seen, that it’s not only not beautiful, it’s ugly (imagine that) – and they hide it far away from the world, where even they have trouble finding it.

Still others, who once proudly displayed their hearts for all the world to see, one day decide theirs isn’t pretty enough, funny enough, engaging enough, desirable enough – and they bury it beneath layers and layers of what they perceive to be what the world values.

And then there are those whose hearts are being held hostage (under lock and chain, in seemingly impenetrable fortresses) by insidious diseases, alcohol and drug addiction, anxiety, depression, the venomous and unrelenting voice of an Inner Bully, or loneliness.

But, here’s the thing:

While they may have been misplaced for days or months or even years – and have the scars to prove it – nothing about these hearts is lost. To the contrary, when they’re eventually found, their owners discover that their essence hasn’t changed at all, that their hearts are as uniquely beautiful today as yours is (and theirs was) when they were four.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that, let alone to find your way back to that heart and allow yourself a second (or third) chance to more fully explore and experience just how beautiful it is, especially when you get older and you start to forget the way it “looked” the last time you saw it clearly, playfully, magically – unadorned by all that other “adult” stuff.

With that in mind, maybe today you (or your mom) could jot down a few of the things that make your heart smile and tuck the note away just in case your heart too goes missing someday and you need to be reminded where to find it. In the meantime, please accept this “second chance” heart from me to you as a symbol of this important truth.

Your friend,

Don

 

*Image Credit: Hidden Heart by Millsy Art https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-HIDDEN-HEART/807242/3107790/view

 

It’s A Matter Of Moments

moment

Several months ago, I was sitting in a therapist’s office recounting (okay, maybe “venting about” would be a more accurate description!!!) a series of events that, in my mind, had “ruined” the preceding day, if not my entire week, when the therapist interrupted. “I thought you had lunch with (a mutual friend) yesterday?” she asked. “I did,” I responded, realizing that in the midst of my efforts to marshal evidence to support the miserableness of the other 22½ hours I had completely forgotten to mention the lunch, if not mostly forgotten it happened at all. “Well, how did that go?” she inquired, patiently, with a knowing tilt of her head and a slight smile. The change in my demeanor, the softening of my countenance, and the quieting of my tone likely said what she already knew. “Great”, I confided, returning my gaze from the rain-drenched tree outside her office window and meeting her eyes, “our time together is always very special”. She let me sit with that for a few minutes – all of it – the pain, the confusion, the anxiety, the misunderstandings, the brokenness, the “not enoughs”, the “why me’s”, the warmth, the vulnerability, the empathy, the compassion, the silent tears that the weight of it all triggered – and then she leaned in. “Don’t you see?“ she asked, as if it should be as obvious to me as it obviously was to her, “you missed The Moment”.

Truth is: I didn’t see it and, regrettably (for ALL involved), I hadn’t seen, let alone understood it for many/most of my first 58 years on the planet. But, I see it now, clearly, and she was right. I know that, in part, because as I sit here baring my soul (yet again) several months after the fact, I have almost no recollection of any of the events that turned that day (or any day like it since) upside down, but I quite clearly remember the lunch, as I do similar moments like it that I’m learning to search for, recognize, and embrace to fuel my soul and inspire me on this journey we call Life. It’s more than a change in perspective. It’s an entirely different, more intentional way of living – and it changes everything! It’s the difference between allowing the smallest of bumps in the road (e.g., a misstep, a slip, a sideways glance, a hurtful word, a painful memory, etc.) to ruin a day and opening our heart wide enough, even in the midst of bumps, large and small, to allow the purest of moments (e.g., an unexpected act of kindness, a hug or kiss held just a moment longer, a word of encouragement or affirmation, a next right step taken when you were tempted not to, an expression of gratitude, a shared confidence, knowing that you’ve been heard, a gentle caress, a feeling of inclusion and true acceptance, etc.) to make it!

And, here’s the good news: You too can experience the day-making magic of a “moment” starting right now. All that’s required is a small pad of paper, intention, and an open heart. Here’s how it works: When you see, feel, experience, or, better yet, are responsible for creating something  (ANYTHING) that makes your heart smile, if only for a moment, jot it down. At the end of the day, whether there’s one item on your list or a dozen, let it/them be enough – enough to have made the day worth living, worth loving, worth giving, worthy of the label: “A Good Day!” Because here’s the thing: If you don’t, if you continue to insist instead, as I once did, that “A Good Day” requires that everything go precisely as planned, that every waking moment be misstep-free not only where you, but those you love are concerned, that every bump, obstacle, and pothole, large and small, in the road be one that you anticipated or at least caught a glimpse of (and could prepare yourself for) ahead of time, you likely will spend a lifetime searching for it – and you still may NEVER find it. Worse yet, along the way, you will have missed thousands of sometimes good, often great, and frequently unspeakably beautiful moments. Trust me: In time, you won’t need the pad. It will become as reflexive as breathing, and your heart will feast on how much goodness there really is to be seen!

https://tinyurl.com/y8mtsr7a

A Letter From The Brink Of A Relapse

Journal

For the past few years, I’ve made it a point to segregate the writings I’ve done as part of my advocacy and support work in the world of eating disorders from my personal blog. Recently, however, I learned that all of those writings inadvertently “disappeared” from the internet, when the blog I was contributing to was abruptly shut down.  I was heartbroken, in part because many of the writings were deeply personal and I’m told by those who read them were instrumental in helping those who’d “lost” or temporarily misplaced their voice share their struggles and their hearts with loved ones.  This is one of those pieces, which I happened to save, borne of conversations I had with someone fearful of having to tell her loved ones that she was struggling – again – and in desperate need of help.  The names, of course, have been changed, but the emotions seldom do.

“Just eat for God’s sake, for your sake – for our sake!”

Dear Mom, Dad, Husband, Brother, Sister, Friend,

I know you’re frustrated and angry that I’m struggling – AGAIN! Believe me, I am too, but I’m also terribly afraid – afraid of slipping back into the quicksand of this insidious disease, afraid of the darkness that I know is waiting for me if it succeeds in pulling me back in, if it is allowed to re-gain a foothold.

Most of all, I’m afraid of disappointing and hurting you – even more than I already have. I’m afraid that every new misstep and slip will be the proverbial straw that finally breaks the camel’s back, that this time when I reach out for your hand to give me a reason and the strength I need to pull myself out it won’t be there. You won’t be there.

That’s the part that’s unbearable to me. The disease is a tough enough adversary to fight with an army behind you, let alone when you’re alone. It’s doubly difficult when you’re saddled with guilt and shame, like I am (like most sufferers are) for having put so many others, especially those I love, through so much.

I wish I knew what to say. I wish I had words that could make you understand what it’s like to live with this disease, why I get stuck sometimes – why I stumble. The truth is: I don’t really understand it myself. There are, however, some things that are very clear to me that I want – actually, I need – you to know:

I’m committed to battling this disease until I beat it.

I’m grateful for all you’ve done and how patient you’ve been with me.

Your belief in me and in my ability to win this war matters – a lot.

I’ve never wanted or intended to cause you pain or hardship and now is no exception.

I may have taken a step back, but it’s only a step (or two). It’s all part of the journey.

I can’t afford for you to give up on me. I’ve/we’ve come too far.

In fact, I need you now more than ever. I’ll find the courage and I’ll do the fighting, but I need your support. I need your love.

You have mine.

Sara

On White Hats And White Horses (In loving memory of Emily Echerd (3/16/82 – 1/3/16))

sorrowfulangel.com

“There’s always some reason to feel not good enough.” Sarah McLachlan*

There was a time (not so long ago) when I naively believed that there wasn’t a problem in the world (at least in my world) that I was incapable of solving. I’m not entirely sure where that fanciful idea was born, but it was very real and before long it expanded to include not only my problems, but the problems of others (e.g., friends, family members, colleagues at work and later my children). From my perspective, no problem was too big or too small for my white hat and white horse. Or so I thought. And then, one day, our daughter stopped eating.

I will never forget the day I came face-to-face with our daughter’s eating disorder for the first time. I will never forget the frail and frightened look on the face of a young woman who I barely recognized as my daughter sitting wrapped in a woolen blanket in a nearly fetal position in the corner of the oversized couch that dominated the small living room in her apartment or the battle that ensued as my wife and I tried to convince her to allow the contents of a small can of protein drink to pass over parched and quivering lips that were desperate for even a brief reminder of how food or liquid tasted. I hardly knew what to say, let alone do. It all seemed so surreal, so incredibly irrational. Two things were, however, painfully obvious: (1) if our daughter didn’t eat or drink something soon, she was going to die; and (2) she and her eating disorder, which by then was firmly in control of the situation, couldn’t possibly care any less.  Indeed, both were openly, almost combatively, defiant.

Miraculously, after 2 hours of encouraging, cajoling, imploring, insisting and finally dictating in anger, the task was complete – the small can empty – just in time to start the gut-wrenching process all over again.  I’d seen enough. Like Pavlov’s dog, I leapt into action. I threw my entire arsenal of problem-solving skills at her eating disorder.  I contacted some of the leading experts in the field in search of understanding and then used what I learned to put together a game plan – a course of treatment that I was certain would dispel this insidious enemy just as quickly as he had moved in and taken as his hostage the most beautiful soul I’ve ever known.

Before long, however, I was forced to confront a very sobering and heartbreaking truth: There I was, faced with the biggest and most important problem I had ever faced, with my daughter’s life, a life for which I would gladly and unhesitatingly sacrifice my own, literally hanging in the balance, and I was powerless to fix it.  In fact, I couldn’t even understand it.  Over time (lots of it), my super-hero persona surrendered and my heart opened wide to the realization that:

We can hold the light for our loved one (and we should – steadfastly), but, at the end of the day, only they can choose to step into it.

We can show them the truth about themselves (and we should – unhesitatingly), but, at the end of the day, their eyes are the ones that have to see it.

We can shower them with words of affirmation and encouragement (and we should – enthusiastically), but, at the end of the day, only they can allow those words to take up residence in and nourish their soul.

We can point them to the pathway that leads to recovery (and we should – lovingly), but, at the end of the day, only they can take the first step (and the next).

We can rush to their side when they slip and fall, as they likely will, along that sometimes treacherous path and offer a hand to help them up (and we should – empathetically), but, at the end of the day, only they can reach out and take it.

We can implore them to live fully and unabashedly (and we should – whole-heartedly), but, at the end of the day, only they can choose life and do what is necessary to sustain it.

I was reminded of these difficult truths (and my humanity) again at 5:47 a.m., on Monday, January 4, 2016, when The Bully reared his ugly head again, this time in the form of word that a young woman named Emily, who I’d been supporting and encouraging for nearly 3 years in her ongoing efforts to recover from a long and difficult battle with anorexia, had died suddenly the day before. Seconds later, as I lay still in the darkness rereading and trying to process that news on my phone, warm tears began to pour spontaneously down the sides of my face. “This is not possible,” I thought – “not Emily. Wasn’t it just a few days ago that we’d corresponded in anticipation of the holidays? I hurriedly pulled myself together and went to the computer searching for anything in our most recent exchange of texts and FB messages that would bring some semblance of sense to this otherwise senseless and heart-breaking news.

What I found instead stopped me in my tracks.

Emily had been telling me that she still had not found any relief from bouts of vertigo and that the accompanying nausea was making it difficult for her to eat. I, in turn, had been growing increasingly concerned and urging her to use her voice to insist that her doctors find an answer:

Me: “Emily, Emily, Emily: I think I’m gonna have to fly up there and personally see to it that you see a SPECIALIST who can get to the root of this problem and resolve it. I hate the fact that you are suffering with this – and that it’s impacting all aspects of your life and your health.”

“You don’t have to do that,” she replied – punctuated by a smiley face. “And, anyway, why would you do that for me?”

“Because I’ve always liked white hats and white horses and helping rescue damsels in distress!” I said.

To which Emily responded, “LOL” followed by an even BIGGER smiley face and a LARGE thumbs up! It was the last contact I had with her.

12 days later, she was dead.

As I pushed my chair back from the computer, I thought to myself, “Maybe I should’ve added ‘and because I value you, because you’re worthy of good health, deserving of happiness and of a full life, because the world is a better place with you in it, and because I love your smile, your spirit and your Southern accent!” Then I realized I’d told her all of those things and more – at least 100 times in the preceding three years – and I gladly would have told her 1,000 more if only she’d given me the chance . . . if only she had lived.

My heart was broken – and it breaks again today two years later remembering her.

But I refuse to allow The Bully to claim Emily’s death as a victory. Instead, I am committed to honoring her life by continuing to encourage others to honor theirs and I would ask that you join me. If you are suffering from an eating disorder (or other addictions) and considering treatment, honor Emily by seeking it. If you are in treatment, honor her by taking full advantage of it. If you are in recovery, honor her by taking the next step, eating the next meal, refraining/abstaining from substance use, and/or treating yourself a little more gently – a little more kindly – a lot more compassionately. And, if you love an “Emily”, honor my friend by continuing to love open-heartedly and unconditionally.

Then Emily wins, then we win – then Love Wins.

http://tinyurl.com/nhrvqp7

*April Koehler’s impossibly and hauntingly beautiful photograph entitled “Mourning Angel” is copyright protected and used with permission. April’s other work can be found at: www.aprilkoehlerphotography.com

The Snuggle Is Real

snuggling

Take it from me: There isn’t a man or woman on the planet Earth who doesn’t love snuggling. Oh sure, some, men in particular, will scoff at that suggestion. In fact, I can picture them now – rolling their eyes, flashing their Man Card and wondering when, where, and why I misplaced mine.

I know, because for the better part of the past 5 decades, I was one of the “some” – but, not by choice. No, my skepticism, indeed my ignorance about the soothing, transformative power of snuggling and the soul-replenishing intimacy it engenders was borne of fear.

Fear that if I allowed someone to get that close to me for more than 5 minutes, they would surely discover what the little boy in me believed to be true about himself from a very early age: that he was unlovable or, worse yet, unworthy of love – and then they’d leave.

That’s one of the things that happens when your childhood takes a back seat to a bottle of scotch, when empathy is replaced with anger, when a mother’s vision is too blurred to safely navigate her way home, let alone notice the needs of the small, sensitive hearts she’s responsible for waiting inside.

And so the walls go up. Not just any walls. Walls constructed of titanium. Impenetrable walls. Walls designed to keep love at arm’s length, to protect the remnants of the innocent, child-like heart they encase, and give the bruises time to heal. It’s a matter of self-defense, of emotional self-preservation.

It’s not a choice. There’s nothing conscious about it. And yet, the funny thing is if you live locked away in that castle on the hill long enough, you actually manage to convince yourself that it’s where you want to live, that it’s more desirable than what you imagine awaits on the other side of the shark-infested moat.

But then, one day, you decide to confront your fear. You lower the drawbridge and crack the front door to your longing-for-a-lifetime heart ever so slightly and you steel yourself. You let him or her (and their love) in and everything starts to change. Not all at once. Not in a flurry of fireworks.

It changes one gentle touch at a time. A touch finally, fully felt. A caress. A butterfly kiss. A noticing of the way things “fit” – how her head rests perfectly in the nap of your neck, how your hands intertwine as if they were created to be together, how bended legs tuck seamlessly one pair into the other.  Her softness.

And, if you will allow, if you will trust it, slowly the walls you once thought would never come down will start to melt away and be replaced by an unquenchable desire for more of it – more warmth, more vulnerability, more closeness, deeper connection, true intimacy.

It’s called snuggling, but it should be called love fertilizer. It’s quiet and peaceful, restorative and invigorating. It supplies the strength needed to face a new day and the comfort required at the end of a long one. For those of faith, it’s an Earthly reminder of a Heavenly Father’s presence.

Oh, and guys, here’s the most amazing thing about snuggling: It does all of this and it doesn’t require you to say a single word. “All” it requires is your presence, a heart open and willing to be filled up, a laying down hug (see photo!), and a desire to hold that hug a little (okay, a lot!) longer than usual.

Believe me: the last part will be easy!

Image Credit: http://www.bonde.com.br