Hell, Yes

You love most of all those who need you/ as they need a crowbar or a hoe.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

There is no finish line. There are no shortcuts to mastering life, or to mastering ourselves.

The journey is all there is.

There’s always something ending and something beginning.

How can we say yes to new beginnings when we’re holding on to the remnants of all of our endings?

We can’t.

So often, we let go, but we can’t tolerate the emptiness. When we have newly discovered time, we say yes to every request made of us, subsequently filling a void.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I’m horrible at saying no.

Even when I am brave enough to withhold a yes, I still struggle to say no. Whatever time or energy I have left in me, I feel responsible to keep giving. To whomever most needs me (or asks the loudest).

I read this week that maintaining healthy personal boundaries means taking responsibility for our own actions and emotions, while NOT taking responsibility for the actions or emotions of others.


I feel responsible for everyone.

But I can’t heal the world, and I know I need to stop stepping in to rescue. In my case, at least for now, all rescuing (outside of the parameters of my job), is dysfunctional rescuing.

Anne Lamott says it’s ok to change our minds, that every single day, she tries to figure out something she no longer agrees to do.

I remind myself that order creates stability, while chaos creates space for things to grow. If you’re orderly, one should make room for chaos. If you’re chaotic, find the thread of order.  

I’m looking for the thread of order.

I’ve always thought that loving is messy and difficult, that love requires us to let go of control. Mary Oliver says there are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving, but, who wants easier?

I don’t want easy. I don’t do easy.

But sometimes to love another, we have to learn to love ourselves. And loving ourselves means giving ourselves permission to make mistakes on the path to discovering what we really want, and who we really want to be.

If whatever is being asked of me this year doesn’t make my heart expand, I will learn to say no.

The reward for consistently playing the role of giver, is that everyone likes you except yourself.

So, if it’s not a fuckin hell yes this year, it’s a solid no.

And love is a hell, yes.

Michelle Dowd