Friends Beneath the Sheets

In the same week my Jenga tower collapsed, my roommate built a fort in our living room.

I have long searched for a safe place. A refuge. A place to be me. And unknowingly, a place to be messy.

This week, I found that safety in the form of twinkling lights and linens clothespinned together and draped from the the ceiling. A return to childhood, a time of blissful innocence where anything is possible and I can be whatever I choose.

For a moment, I found myself living in a fairytale.

If you know my love for dinner parties, you know I couldn’t pass up an opportunity for a dinner party in a fort. We indulged in fried things and fresh things and belly-laughed when somebody stole the caramel straight from Danny’s apple.

By the end of the night, the dishes were stacked a mile high and flour dusted the counter tops like winter’s first snow.

Under the sheets of the fort that night, people were nourished body and soul. And I felt safe.

This fort made of sheets, clothes pins, pillows, and blankets is a safe place. Within its walls I find refuge, comfort, peace. I’ve sat with friends and I’ve sat here alone. Beneath these sheets, I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve prayed on my knees and on my face under the linens and lights. Under the sheets that make up this fort, I have been the most real I have ever been with my friends, with God, and with myself.

Lately, I’ve been frustrated with how messy I have become and am always telling myself to lock it up and pull it together. I am sick of being a burden to others when I am supposed to be the strong one.

When I looked back on that night and the many nights leading up to it, God whispered something to my heart:

You’ve been this messy all along, but you have never felt safe enough to open up and let others in to see it, not even yourself.

And that is when I suddenly felt okay with not being okay.

Love takes risks. Vulnerability opens you to feel both the good and bad. As much as it hurts, I have to be glad that it does. It means I am finally in a safe enough place to be open, to share, to feel, to cry and be hurt, to not be okay.

I am thankful for my fort, my safety, my friends. The people who have held my hand as we’ve entered into this safe place together.

I love these people. So much.

And I don’t know what my life would be without them, without the safety of my fort. Without the twinkling lights always reminding me of the beauty of life no matter how painful, as long as I am surrounded by people I love who love me back — no matter how messy it gets.

It is painful, yes, all growth is. But the silver lining I am defending is turning gold, soon to illuminate my skies brighter than the darkness of my sorrows.

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When the Last Piece is Pulled From Your Jenga Tower

Remember the game Jenga?

The game’s objective is to remove as many wooden blocks from a tower without letting it fall. You take turns with your opponent and if the tower falls at your play, you lose.

You remove each block with steady hands and give a big exhale when you realize the tower is still standing. You didn’t even know you were holding your breath until all the air comes rushing through your mouth and nostrils with a sigh of relief. As sweat falls from your brow  you think to yourself, “Really, pull yourself together, fool! It’s a game.” (Or is that just me?)

The past few weeks, months maybe, my life has been a Jenga tower.

One by one, blocks have been pulled from different parts of me. A struggle here, a heart string there. Family members are sick, friends are hurting, and the goodbyes never seem to stop.

Some of the blocks needed to go. Blocks marked with indifference, defense mechanisms, and lies. Nonetheless, these blocks were once a part of me, leaving me a little wobbly without them.

Leaving me vulnerable. Raw. Exposed.

Last week, someone removed the final block, the linchpin piece from my tower and it all came crashing down.

And I want to tell you I am writing this from the other side, from a place of recovery and reflection. But I am not. I write this from the thick of the apocalypse and pain. And tears.

But I realize in the thick of it is exactly where I need to be. I’ve spent my life getting over it and moving on without ever dealing with anything. Being the strong one, the stable one, the one who has it all together so everyone else can be a mess.

Today, the blocks are scattered across the floor. Jumbled, messy, disheveled. I’ll rescue the ones worth holding onto and throw out the ones that are not part of who I want to be.

I will build my tower again. But not today and not tomorrow either.