Wednesday, October 26, 2011

dear friends

I want to share a story with you.

Once upon a time there was a woman who was once a girl. From almost the time she began to remember things, she


She felt the strangeness and wonder of new countries, one after another after another.

She felt the newness and isolation of going to 8 different schools, each time needing to make new friends, each time feeling so very different from the people around her.

She felt the confusion and fear that came from a home life that was often unstable.

She felt the slippery path of panic when she thought about life, the meaning of, the inevitability of death.

She was 8 when she began to have anxiety issues. She was 13 when a family friend said, "You are too sensitive. Don't be." She was perhaps 15 when she thought, "I wish you could freeze time. Just stop this, this being. Take time to get your bearings, then wake again." She was a child when life sometimes seemed impossibly big and impossibly hard.

But she kept on.

She lived. And had some extraordinary adventures and made many mistakes.

She grew up and met an incredible man and had two beautiful children. She felt everything for them so big and sometimes so hard, that now and then she was nearly swallowed by feeling. She wobbled, she stumbled, but still she kept on.

In all this, nothing changed in how deeply she


To this day, to this moment here and now, nothing has changed in how deeply she


Which means this woman, the once child, is constantly heart-open and sensitive and sometimes laid bare with feeling.

It means that she has,

—that I have—

thought, "How do I live in a world so filled with things that hurt? Everywhere I look, there is suffering. The hardest to bear is the suffering caused by human choice. In the the treatment of children, of adults in crisis, in the treatment of animals, in the treatment of the land and the sea and the sky."

How does she

how do I

go on?


I suppose it is with

tiny steps.

Tiny step

by tiny step.

And sometimes actually, by bigger steps. Sometimes skipping. Sometimes holding the hands of loved ones. Sometimes leaving footprints in the sand as waves roar beside. Sometimes with the wind at her back, driving her on, sometimes running with her arms out, dreaming of flight.

And sometimes, you make decisions that make the steps feel light, and sweet and fine.

Sometimes you make choices that put you on a path away from suffering. You choose the path that doesn't cause or bring hurt.

Those steps are beautiful.

Those are the steps that make me want to write my Vegie Wednesday posts.

Those are the steps that make us search for vegan cheese, and adapt to putting oat milk on our cereal. Those steps bring us to polenta and bean mix for dinner, and insanely delicious lentil burgers.

And there are other steps too.

When my kids see me donating to charities and organisations like Oxfam, Greenpeace and Medicines Sans Frontiers, they see me making choices that can help ease pain.

When my kids see my husband rescuing the enormous (enormous!) huntsman spider from a bedroom and releasing it into the garden, they see someone mindfully choosing a path away from suffering.

Those steps are

filled with light.

But you know, we aren't perfect.

Sometimes we mess up. Even if we don't mean to. Even if it's the last thing we ever want to do, we hurt others.

Sometimes the choices we make don't prevent suffering; they actually cause it.

Here, right now, is the path where I am walking.

Two days ago a friend, whose family we love, and have treasured being around, told me they no longer want to continue our friendship. It had been coming for a while, with them gradually slipping away. I didn't understand why—I was simply asked for space and gave it. So it's been a confusing and difficult time for me and a strange time for my kids. When the decision came, so very finally on Monday, it was devastating.

The reason? I guess it could be summed up as, "It's not me, it's you. More to the point, it's your children."

As a mother (as any mother knows), hearing criticism of your kids can be incredibly painful. But the issues raised were issues I believed we had resolved. When they came up a long time ago, I had spoken with my kids. They had listened, and agreed to change what they felt they could or should change. And then they (we) thought the issues resolved, let go.

I remember at the time thinking, "Ah, this is a bit tricky." I thought, "I guess this is the sticky stuff that life and interactions with other human beings brings you into. But the love gets you through, right? You ride it out, right? The hard stuff. Because at the core," I thought, "there is love." So perhaps I didn't work hard enough to sort it all out. I didn't realise that what seemed simply sticky to me, and would pass, was actually impassable for them. I made a mistake. I am so sad, so sorry about that.

My kids are not malicious kids; they are as sensitive as me and love as big and deep as I do. They would never have intentionally hurt their friends. But it seems they did hurt them. And I did. We did. And it wasn't mended in time, and now it's too late. Now, my kids are baffled and sad. As for me? Well, I am broken-hearted.



I wrote a post about this on Monday, and then deleted it. It felt too raw then. It feels too raw now.  Thank you to Jessica and to Deb for the comments you left. Did you wonder where your words went? They were incredibly kind and supportive, and I am so grateful to you for them. I can put them back in the comments below, if you want? Just let me know.

And dear friends, I hope it's okay if I write about Vegie Wednesday on another day? I can call it, "Vegie Wednesday on a Friday" or something clever and inspiring like that. I'll be sharing my recipe for lentil burgers and writing about a book I read. I do hope you come by. It would be so lovely to have you here.



  1. Helena,

    We are human. Our children are human. We err. We apologize. We learn. We grow. We will err again. It is human nature.

    My words were for you. You do not need to repost. I just wanted to know I am holding you and yours close to my heart this week. I have walked in your shoes. My children have as well. In our situation, my children had something very important to learn and they learned it the hard way. But part of me truly believes that a true friend will hold your hand while you walk in pain. A true friend may judge, but tries very hard not to. A true friend will be waiting for you to arrive with open arms.

    I am so sorry for the loss of this friendship.
    Be well. Be happy. Be at peace. Everything has a purpose.


  2. Lost friendships hurt so much. Hugs.

  3. A door closed...but perhaps a new one will open!
    I can't imagine anyone not wanting to share you and your families friendship! Their loss.

  4. My heart goes out to you and your family. I know how hard a loss of friendship can be. I try to remind myself that it wasn't meant to be. A professor in college once said, "People are in the business of relating. You have to go find them." I hope you find some peace in your heart.

  5. Helena, I understand what you mean about feeling big and deeply. I am so sorry for the loss of this friendship in your lives. I hope time brings some healing for you all.

  6. i'm so sorry about all of this. life is so so very messy, especially when you are someone willing to walk right through it instead of tiptoeing past.

    we had something sort of like this - only not, as it was not with a family we were close with, but neighbors with whom we had a dinner coop, taking turns making food for each other's families - but it happened a year ago, feelings misunderstood, explanations given, rethought, given again, accusations, and on...finally i felt i'd given all that i could give, and could sleep at night feeling like i had truly with a full heart dealt with the situation as well as i could and i had to be at peace with disagreement and no resolution. "at peace"? ha! it still turned in my mind regularly at a year's mark, and i would find myself avoiding situations where we would be forced to interact. finally, i saw them at the library and after some deep breathing behind the book stacks, i gathered my courage, literally felt as though i was forcing my heart as open as i could get it, and walked over to say hello. it was the best thing i could have done - she was grateful, open, welcoming, even relieved, where i thought she would be bitter and angry. it just took a lot of time, and some deep breathing.
    hang in there, the sweet mess is worth it.

  7. I think I can relate to the feeling deeply. So can my kids. And you know, I hate (hate) upsetting people. It makes me feel all icky inside. So, I feel deeply for you (and your kids). But maybe time will make the icky feeling go away and maybe there will be other friends to make and other families to get to know :-)

  8. I'm so sorry to hear that you've all been through this, Helena. Rejection is hard enough to bear when it happens to ourselves but when our children are rejected, it's a whole new kind of heart-pain.
    You said:
    "I remember at the time thinking, "Ah, this is a bit tricky." I thought, "I guess this is the sticky stuff that life and interactions with other human beings brings you into. But the love gets you through, right? You ride it out, right? The hard stuff. Because at the core," I thought, "there is love." So perhaps I didn't work hard enough to sort it all out. I didn't realise that what seemed simply sticky to me, and would pass, was actually impassable for them. I made a mistake. I am so sad, so sorry about that."
    Helena, you did all you could. You gave them space when they asked for it. But how can you work to sort something out when the other party has withdrawn from the negotiations?
    I don't think you were wrong at all. The love WILL get you through, you and your children. It will slowly ease your pain and help you grow through this experience and be a little stronger for it.

  9. Believe in yourself and your children and who you are.
    Love them and yourself.
    I was once told by an amazing woman that people are angels in disguise and we need to reflect back to us what hurts us to recognise who we truly are and live through that with purpose and truth.
    I feel for you all.

  10. Oh Helena, That is what I LOVE about you, your do love and feel deeply. Every word you write magnifies that.

    Words can hurt, even when we don't mean them too. I know your children from these posts, your wonderful sensitive, caring children. I know they would never intentionally hurt anyone. Sometimes things are going on that you may not be aware of...different things that had nothing to do with you or your kids. That could have just been the 'reason'.

    All you can do is try to make it better, apologize, talk and go forward. But it takes 2 to go forward. I am so sorry that you are feeling like this. Sending you love and hugs from Keilee and I.

  11. I am so sorry Helena, this is hard, tough, life learning stuff. Mistakes happen, and it sounds like you did your best to salvage what you could. Sadly we were never meant to always control outcomes, just do our best parts, apologize and forgive when we have to, and hope things go our way. Friends come and go for different reasons and the ones that were meant to stay, will, through thick or thin, strengthening the relationship you have. The ones that go, are meant to go. This is the natural balance of things, this is how we learn I think. Your kids have gained a powerful lesson and it will carry them through to their next relationships. They will be okay, I just know it, and you will too...
    much love to you during this time of healing and processing...

  12. So sorry to hear about all of the hurt feelings. We have also had a drastic change in friendships over the past 4 years, but I finally had to admit to myself that I am the one that was rapidly changing, and the people I had thought were good friends now found that I was not who they had initially aligned with. Being around people who are willing to play outside the norm can be very difficult for people who are still playing the game. I hope you don't feel you have to apologize for you being you or for your children being themselves. Stay on your path, it is less travelled, but it is lovely. Hugs to you all, I think this is called a growing pain.

  13. Oh honey. I'm sorry I haven't been online recently to read about your troubles and send you love. I have lots of thoughts but no cemented words so just know that I'm sending you love as you are sending them love. Somewhere in all of this love, something good will have to happen, right?


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.