I started and stopped writing a blog post on October 22. I gave up writing that post and haven’t opened my blog app up since. I find it ironic that the title I gave it was ‘wading’ and opened with this:

Brené says, “People who wade into the discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.” Most days, I don’t want to be a badass. I’d rather hide and never have conflict. I’m learning I don’t understand how to communicate in the best and most healthy ways. I suppose that’s what happens when you shut down for about 7 years. There’s not a lot of conflicts, but there’s even less real communication. Some days, I feel like I don’t know how to have a real relationship.

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I still feel that and fear it. I’ve felt like I’ve sunk over this last month. I quit wading into vulnerability, and communication, and shut down. I’ve sunk lower than I’ve been in years. I’ve let survival mode kick in and run the show. I’m trying to give myself space, grace, tell myself it’s ok for a short time to endure this way. We had a major event happen, and we need time to find our footing and heal. It’s hard to heal when each day feels like an uphill battle against an invisible foe.

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My word for 2020: Permission. It’s a doozy of a word choice. Back in 2015, you and I sat in some Starbucks somewhere and talked about how we were picking these, “words for the year” and we how had never done it before, and it felt kind of strange, and really exciting. You picked Surrounded and were later, literally, surrounded each and every day by the tiny human growing inside of you. The bravest thing I ever watched you do. While I chose Brave and had to keep pushing myself to say ‘yes’ to new adventures.

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We started out incredibly hard and brave in our word choices. We’ve picked our words separately each year since, but we’ve met each December and talked about them. Pondered, wondered, dreamed of what the new year would bring. Since 2017, my word sneaks up on me around November, and I know it’s what I need when I have an adverse reaction to it, and it won’t let me go. When Permission snuck into my thinking I knew it meant 2020 would be a doozy. It has not disappointed.

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I’ve given myself permission to stand my ground, speak my voice, tell the truth, move on…

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I’ve given myself permission to write, quit writing, start a business, quit a job, rest.

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I’ve given myself permission to question how I always believed things to be. Try new things, decided I loved them, hated them, disagreed, or still agreed.

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2020 has given us all permission to sit in our homes and rethink our entire lives and change what we must.

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This November, we sat for a weekend, not a few hours, and discussed our words for the year, our word together, schedules with kids, church, my spiritual life, worries, and fears, how incredibly hard life has felt since September. We talked and talked and talked. We journaled, we read, we did art, we laughed, a lot. The same but different.

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I’m giving myself permission to live in survival mode for this short time capsule. It feels necessary. It feels like choosing to keep going instead of giving up. Because I want to give up, I want to give in, I want to quit. It sounds appealing in the dark moments. You reminded me it’s not. Quitting isn’t easier. This morning I made the first choice out of survival, out of forgetting my voice, out of rolling over and letting life happen, I got up early, and I wrote.

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We can spend a weekend talking, but if I refuse to move, it changes nothing.

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Permission. Permission to be brave, to stay present, to process what was and what will be. Permission to keep moving forward. Permission to wade out into the vulnerable parts of me and share them. Permission to have hard conversations and say, “I don’t know. I don’t have an answer.” Permission to say, “I thought it was God but maybe it was just me.” Permission to say, “I hear you and I understand, but I also need to survive this time with my family. I’m making this choice instead.” Permission to rearrange the room and put it back how it was. Permission to say yes and no or not yet. Permission to watch the sunrise or sleep well past it. Permission to see the world as what it is, not black and white. Permission to keep wading out into the deep, trusting I won’t sink, knowing no matter how much I question, there is always a light that will bring me home.