Owning Words

Marlo Thomas has written two books called The Right Words at the Right Time, which are compilations of essays by famous people about things others told to them that stuck with and really helped them.  In my own life, I have kept waiting for something like this.  Something to hep me get through all of this stuff the last few years.  And in the midst of my grief and trying to return to normalcy, people have been generous with their words and compliments.  

Phil calls me awesome all the time.  We even have a saying in our house:  awesome looks like tired.  So, if we are looking pretty run down, it must be because we are being awesome.  But the truth is, I don't feel awesome.

The other morning, as I fought through anxiety, hyperventilating, and the feeling of a heart attack, I spent my whole drive to work saying, "I must go to work.  So not drive into the ditch.  I must make it to work.  Do not drive into the ditch."  Later in the day, my mom called me and I was telling her about my morning and she said, "I did call you at work didn't I?"  My mind exploded a little as I realized what I had accomplished.  She called me amazing, and I probably was, but I didn't feel amazing.

I have been called brave and inspiring.  I have been told I'm strong, tough, spectacular, incredible, marvelous, and a multitude of other beautiful, well-intentioned compliments from a wide variety of people.  And I knew what they were trying to tell me.  They were acknowledging all I have overcome.  And I am grateful.  I needed each and every one of those compliments.  Unfortunately, I couldn't own any of them.  None of them felt right on me.

Until a few days ago.  A friend was talking to me and he told me:  There is no question you are resilient.  The moment he said it, something clicked, the lights went on, and the heavens opened.  Like a key that finally opened the lock, at last I had a word that represented overcoming my struggles that I could finally wear comfortably and proudly.  Yes!  I am resilient.  

It was a word that spoke to my own actions and abilities.  I did this.  I worked for it.  It wasn't a big boastful word, but it had substance and authority.  Like finally finding a pair a jeans you want to wear everyday and that also make your butt look good, I was so excited I just wanted to take the word out and show it to everyone.  

Look at me!  I'm resilient!  I'm still standing!  I survived!

So, if you're like me, and struggle to receive or own a compliment, don't give up.  There is a word out there for you that will feel like a second skin.  Keep looking for it.  And in the meantime, know that everyone who pays you a compliment you aren't ready to own just wants you to feel as special as they already know you are.  You are loved.  

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