Friends + Family

Me and my cousins, Elkton, VA, 1976

Me and my cousins, Elkton, VA, 1976

There was a time in my life when I wanted to know everyone. The more people I knew, the better. As an only child of divorced parents I was used to having special relationships. I had a special relationship with my mother, I had a special relationship with my father, I had a special relationship with all of my friends. I felt good at being a friend. It was one of the only things I felt good at. One year in the third grade, three different girls told me I was their best friend on the same day. I remember feeling honored… and terrified. How could I give all of myself to so many different people at once?

By dividing myself into a million parts. By merging. By consuming and being consumed. Ripping myself loose from some of my most deeply embedded relationships has been some of the most painful healing of my life. Learning how to keep some of me for me, learning how to love without complete submersion, has been no small part of my life’s work.

And I’m really not that great at it still. Right now way too many of my friends and family are suffering. There are too many diseases doing too many terrible things to people I love too much. The honest truth is I want to smother my friends and family with my love and protection and I want to run away from them screaming. I want to lay on them with my body until they are better and I want to bury myself underground until these storms have passed. But that’s not the practice I am practicing. The delicate balance between caring for myself and caring for others. The tight rope walk of keeping an open heart without scooping that heart out and serving it raw. Allowing for love’s full flame without burning.

Valley HaggardComment