i woke that morning my stomach in knots. i glanced over at my husband, still breathing deeply beside me, and maneuvered my way out of his embrace as gracefully as i could without waking him.

i needed some time alone.

in the shower, the tears fell freely. i thought of what was coming: a conversation, some truth, grabbing whatever courage i hid in the crevices of my heart and laying it all bare in front of those who left me frozen more often than not. suddenly, it all became too much. i rested my head against the tile, the steam rising around me, and i gasped for strength i didn”t feel.

it”s not every day you share your most painful secrets. facing this hurdle seemed impossible. i had over 25 years experience hiding the wounds that keep me raw and force me to stay invisible. and now, in the middle of feeling the frustration of shame and knowing i couldn”t do it anymore, i was expected to just shine the light on those dark spaces? just like that?

he was awake when i opened the bathroom door.

“morning.” he muttered, reaching for my hand.

“morning.” i repeated.

he studied my face for half a second before pulling me close. “you okay?” he whispered against my shoulder.

my breath caught.

“no.”

he held me there for a moment – two – three – until my breathing slowed and the tears dried. his prayers fell over me and the fear quieted to a dull roar. for the first time, i felt like i may make it through the day.

later, we sat outside target eating our breakfast. it was in the middle of writing our shopping list that the first friend called.

“can i pray for you?” she asked.

and i sat there, quiet as her prayers gave me strength. my husband glanced at me from the corner of his eye and understanding what was going on, grabbed my hand and squeezed it.

“let him fight for you.” she reminded me with ferocity at the end of our conversation. i smiled, humbled by friends who invade my space.

i told everyone that day we wouldn”t need company. it really was a simple conversation made difficult by the topic. all i needed to do was open my mouth.

“you know we can be there, right?” they told me. “you know we”d all randomly meet you there if you only asked?”

and i knew. i knew they”d be there in a second when they hugged me close and kissed my cheek and held my hand and their own tears fell on behalf of me.

so i wasn”t surprised when they casino online showed up anyway.

sitting in the booth, the heavy weight of secret pushing in on me, i saw them out of the corner of my eye walk past and sit two booths in front of me. one caught my glance and smiled. we were at the end of the conversation then, my emotions sapped and heart rattled. my therapist would later tell me i”d just completed the most difficult thing in this process of healing – sharing my story with those who must know – and i couldn”t imagine spending one more second sitting in that space.

when our company parted ways, we walked back into the restaurant and collapsed into the booth with our friends. immediately arms were wrapped around me.

“i”m so…so...proud of you.” she said, whispering in my ear. i kept my gaze down, afraid the tears would scare the boys sitting across the booth.

“thank you.” i whispered, squeezing her arm, amazed at the sense of loyalty i felt radiating from my friends.

they really will fight for mei thought to myself.

 

relationships have never been easy for me. i constantly question everything anyone tells me. it”s not a great trait of mine, and i”m learning to cope with my anxiety, but there”s nothing that opens up the gaping wound of friendship than meeting new people.

it”s just one more place to not belong – one more disapproving stare to endure – one more way to be found wanting.

but.

lately, God”s been showing me the beauty and awkwardness and raw truth of real relationships.

these aren”t your high school best friends.

these are the i”m coming even if you say no because i know you”ll need support type of friends. they”re i can”t wait until this burden is lifted from you type of friends.

they threaten to break in new boots on those who”ve hurt me and turn red-cheeked over those who speak against me. they make me laugh, remind me to find joy and understand my need for quiet.

it”s a breath of fresh air, really.

after years of not investing for fear of rejection, my abandonment-weary heart is beginning to trust again. 

and even though relationships are hard and awkward and require work…i would be lost without those in my life who fight for me and remind me of my strength when all courage is gone.

41 comments

  1. <3
    you are so brave. beautifully so.

    Reply
    • you are one of the ones who make me brave. love you, friend.

      Reply
  2. These are the friendships that have kept me from drowning. These are the friends that quietly take away the razorblade and bandage the hesitation cut and put on the new playlist and hand you the coffe and sit in the dark and stare at the wall with you. The ones that show up with shovels and sleeves rolled up. The ones that disobey your direct order to ignore your problems. God bless the show-up-and-lean-in ers. And thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • oh, shan. this comment….it’s absolutely beautiful. grateful you understand this kind of friendship.

      Reply
    • Wendi

      Amen, shank k., amen. I’m so blessed to have a friend and a husband who do this for me. And I’m blessed to be this person to my friend and my husband.

      Reply
    • Wendi

      Tonight we almost drove over to my best friend’s ex’s house. We were going to throw roadkill over his security fence for breaking her heart, pretending to mend it again, and breaking it again. There was no question of taking on her pain if it reminded her that there were good people in this world who thought she was an absolutely amazing woman. Sometimes we talk and he never comes up and sometimes she cries and talks and I just listen. Other times she listens and I talk.

      You are brave and, wow, what amazing friends you have. *gentle hugs*

      Reply
  3. Georgi

    I heard Him whisper to me once – “Don’t defend yourself.” I knew He would fight for me, and it was so hard not to block the verbal attacks on my character. But in the end, it was exactly what He wanted me to do, and what needed to be done.

    And my ” i’m coming even if you say no because i know you’ll need support type of friends” – there’s just no way to describe how precious they are to me. Thank you for this.

    Reply
    • it has been one of the hardest lessons for me to understand that He will will fight for me. i probably need to tattoo somewhere on my body that verse about Him fighting for us – all we need to do is be still.

      Reply
  4. This may be the bravest thing I have ever read. Thank You.

    Reply
    • this comment made my breath catch, bob. thank you – so much.

      Reply
  5. I love that line about your friends fighting for you. Convicted to fight for my own friends. Thanks for this piece, Elora.

    Reply
  6. the courage to SAY is supernatural, don’t you think? praying for you right now.

    Reply
    • thank you so much for the prayers, kendal.

      Reply
  7. heather

    much, much love. you’re amazing.

    Reply
    • thanks for showing up even when i tell you no. ;)

      Reply
  8. I am proud of you, too, sweet friend. It takes guts to bring secrets into the light, especially in telling the people that must know. It takes guts to open ourselves up to new friendships, to risk sharing the parts of ourselves that make us uncertain and unsure about who we are and where we’re going. You are brave and beautiful and reflecting grace through all of this, Elora. I look forward to the day that we can sit face to face.

    Reply
    • hopefully that day will be sooner rather than later, leigh. :)

      Reply
  9. Agnes

    You.Are.Beautiful. I don’t even need to see you to know that.

    Reply
  10. Tessa

    Reading this with tears streaming down my face. You have such courage and beauty. You and your friends leave me speechless and full of hope.

    Reply
    • this means a lot, tessa.

      Reply
  11. Becky

    I one day hope to have friends like this…

    Reply
    • i hope and pray this for you as well, becky.

      Reply
  12. My heart raced reading your story. You made me feel like I was in that booth with you..I was you. I felt so connected. I too have revealed secrets that could not be kept another day. I continue to say in my comments that what I feared the most is what set me free. It has become my anthem. I am proud of you and of the friends you described having. Valuable aren’t they! I am leaning in with you. Hope to know more of your story some day.

    Reply
    • what i feared most is what set me free…

      yes! love this, jennifer.

      Reply
  13. Elora: E-xquisite, L-ovely, O-pen, R-eal, A-dored. That is what I see in you. And what I hear in this beautiful story–what it all boils down to–is that YOU are embracing the real you. And you are surrounded by others who see you too.

    Bravo, beautiful one. You are sowing GOOD seeds and you will REAP!!!

    Reply
  14. Ruth

    so needed to hear this, every word of it, thank you so much.

    Reply
  15. We all need those friends who will fight for us. Beautiful post Elora.

    Reply
  16. Elora,

    Thank you for sharing this…the blessing of community cannot be overlooked.
    I blogged about this beautiful need for life spent together a few weeks ago….check it out if you get the time. :)

    http://kaitlincurtice.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/koinonia/

    Thank you for posting.

    Reply
  17. Laura

    What a beautiful blessing community is….you painted an amazing picture of what friendships are. Thanks be to God for fighting for us and sending others to surround us when we can’t muster up the courage to fight for ourselves. What a gift….and amazing gift! Thank you for sharing, Elora. Blessings to you!

    Reply
    • it is a gift. an amazing one.

      Reply
  18. Sharon O

    Those words are so beautifully written. The wounds and scars that we hide because we must.
    Not sure if the story has ever been told verbally it has been written and shared using words on paper and pictures drawn to describe pain and the deep woundedness.
    I am in my 50′s now closer to 60 and the story is still present but not as frozen. Not as hidden. Not as forbidden to share. The years that were fractured are now healed for God says he gives us beauty for ashes and pays attention to our tears.
    You are brave. You are beautiful. It is raw and painful and only shared with those who have a heart to understand.
    thank you

    Reply
  19. Risé

    Elora ~ What you wrote here really tugged on my heart-strings. I cannot tell you how much I’ve experienced what you have experienced – to the letter. It reminded me of the pain, of the rejection resulting from the abuse of a parent. My most painful secrets I never shared with anyone until I found an awesome Christian therapist who listened without judgment, who listened and explained to me, “It’s not your fault.” I cannot tell how many tears I have cried trying to make things right when it wasn’t mine to make right in the first place.

    These words you wrote, “i had over 25 years experience hiding the wounds that keep me raw and force me to stay invisible. and now, in the middle of feeling the frustration of shame and knowing i couldn’t do it anymore … ” – they could have been my words, they are my words. A year and a half ago is when the secrets came out. It was awkward and scary and the risk of rejection was great, but I was at a point where if I was going to be rejected by family by exposing my mother for her abuse of me, then I was ready. I was so tired of the silent whispers and the ‘sympathetic’ looks that said, ‘I wish she’d just get over it.’ Confronting them, surprisingly, was the most emancipating thing. Secrets like these are the worst to keep – they eat at our souls while we go about life trying to shine. Trouble is, no one can truly shine until we release ourselves from the burden of it – however it is done.

    I put off confronting my family for far too long … and even though I no longer have relationships with them, I am far happier and joyful than I ever thought possible. Don’t mistake me though, it was painful – still is sometimes, but being a part of them again is just not an option. I will not endure abuse just so family can go about pretending that ‘family is everything.’

    I have another family that is everything – they are my husband, my kids … they are friends and my brothers and sisters in Christ. My blood related family are those that are tied together by the blood of Christ – in my life, they are the family that matters. :)

    Reply
    • so much in this comment makes me want to jump up and say “amen!” – i hate others know the pain i’ve felt, but it’s been my experience that the more i tell my story the more freedom i feel and the more courage it gives others to share their story as well. after all, it was a close friend who gave me the courage i didn’t think i had to accept my past for what it was -and to embrace healing. thanks for the comment, rise.

      {and i love your name – i think i may have told you this before.}

      Reply
  20. Risé

    Jennifer Upton …. I can so relate … “that I feared most is what set me free.”

    Reply
  21. Like Elisha’s servant, you looked up and saw the circling chariots and angels. Oh, my – what a beautiful story of courage (yours) and commitment (your friends’). Thank you for sharing it so very beautifully. He will fight for you, indeed. Shaky voice, quaking knees, trembling heart – all of it offered to the Lord of Truth. Yea and amen.

    Reply
    • what a beautiful picture you’ve given me! thank you so much, diana.

      Reply
  22. Adelweiss

    I don’t think I have a single friend who would fight like that for me. I feel incredibly abandoned and alone expect for my fiance. I think all those who have abandoned me will say it’s because I was a church leader and I fell into sin that I refused to repent of. I really don’t care what they think but you can be certain I will never again visit a church in hopes of making a true friend.

    Reply
    • this breaks my heart for you, adelweiss. i don’t need to know the situation, but i’m so…so sorry you experienced hurt. i’ve been where you are and i know not much will help, but please know i’m praying for you – praying for healing and for soul-friends to show up and fight for your heart.

      Reply
    • Delly, I love you. xo

      Reply

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