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X's and O's

This week’s beginning was the antonym of hugs and kisses. It was the opposite of hope and celebration. It was the week of mental middle fingers and four letter words. It was a long and challenging week of a mental game of chess. It was a week filled with discouragement and disappointment. It was not a hopeful hippie kind of week. It was a week where my hobbling hippie persona took over.

A former colleague (and current friend) happened to call me out of the blue. With the kindest and most sincere question, “How are you, Hopeful Hippie?” I responded with a choked up mess of tears. “I can’t go on with this. I’m so frustrated. I’m having a horrible time. I never feel this hopeless and when I do, I just need a good night’s sleep!” I continued babbling on about the fact that I never have a full week where I can’t get it together. I never have an entire week where I feel this frustrated and have a pervasive down on my luck pity party.

This is the same friend who was hit by a pickup truck while walking and left injured in a hit and run accident. She knows, with the utmost of her being, the kind of frustration that met her when I answered her phone call. She has been there and done that. Her response to me was the medicine the doctor ordered. “It sounds like you need to sit with your feelings.” I needed to be validated. I’ve pushed through three hip surgeries and a spine surgery in almost 18 months. For the most part, I’ve been very optimistic sometimes even to a fault. Perhaps all of the frustration came bubbling to the surface and my exhaustion no longer allowed me to stuff it down and put my stiff upper lip on. I so much appreciated her telling me that it was okay to have these feelings of frustration. She gave me permission to feel the disappointment of ongoing and slightly different ills. She gave me the permission to be frustrated. Through the telephone lines, she provided me a high five that did not include a middle finger.

I also talked with another friend the other day who understands the nuances of language and we got to talking about my next move and the power of words. It’s really an X and O moment like that old game of Tic Tac Toe where there is always a winner. A child’s game where there is a predictable pattern to winning and losing. And it can even be a game of chess. What’s the next move? Is my next move to wear my stiff upper lip without validating my own struggles? Is my next move to let others only see me with strength and no vulnerability? Is my next move to assert that I should be able to have moments of frustration and the need to meet me there? Is my next move to “sit with my feelings” but be balanced with an ability to look forward?

In chess, the queen has mobility and freedom. In Tic Tac Toe, there is a pattern to winning which usually means being the first player to make his or her move. So I’m going to turn the X’s in my current equation of struggles to equal the O in the word Hope. I’m going to allow myself to embrace the hugs and kisses of hope. So that’s my move. What is yours?

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