On donuts, uncontrollable weeping and the treat of falling only to find open arms everywhere

 

If you take time to snap a photo of your donuts before you eat them, you're not doing it right.

If you take time to snap a photo of your donuts before you eat them, you’re not doing it right.

This is a story about donuts.

Yesterday, I spent much of my morning trying really hard to stop crying. Without success. Because, friends, apparently sometimes we just have feelings. And apparently some of these feelings simply have to happen. You’ll know the requisite-expression variety when no amount of stifling works to vanquish them. So, paying heed, I simply sat down and sobbed.

When you have the kinds of feelings I did yesterday, there’s no sense of up or down; it feels like you’re falling. I didn’t know where or how, or even if I would ever land, and it scared me. I’m a happy person, you know? And I hate to brag, but I have an outstanding bag of tricks for managing feelings and navigating difficult experiences. Still, every magic wand I have was powerless against the raw realness of my day. Terrifying.

Of course the loneliness in these moments feels desolate. Undiluted emotion can be alienating—it requires a rare courage to be able to sit with someone while they’re falling apart (see here for a tale about one such person). You have girlfriends, you have a sister, you have plenty of people strong enough to sit with you, but you still feel painfully alone.

Desperate for a break from the fearsome falling, I called Brian. “I just wanted to tune into your energy for a minute,” I said, weeping. I didn’t ask him to come home. In fact, I told him not to and meant it, but 20 minutes later, he walked in the front door full of lightness and compassion. He quietly held me while I soaked his dress shirt with tears and then fell asleep in the afternoon light of our bedroom. When I woke, my feelings were a different color than before. They’d seen the light and had a witness, and it helped.

But this story is about donuts.

Liz is one of my oldest friends and lives just a few miles away, yet we hadn’t spent time together in way too long. So when we found ourselves sitting at the bar of Fat Rice in Logan Square (shout out to the beef heart salad, y’all!), the drinks and the conversation flowing, I could scarcely remember the terror of my emotional vertigo just a few hours earlier.

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See? Look how happy Liz makes me.

“I almost cancelled tonight,” I confessed. “I had such a weirdly difficult day and I’m exhausted and I didn’t think I’d be any fun for you to be with.”

“I am so glad you didn’t cancel,” she told me. “I would want to be with you however you were.”

Magic words.

We ate, we drank. And then Liz presented me with a glorious white bag.

“Donuts,” she said. “For you.”

She knew I’d been having a lot of feelings lately. And somewhere in the recesses of her memory, she called up the one thing I know to be true in this world: Donuts = happiness.

I don’t talk about donuts a lot—not nearly as much as I talk about bouncy houses. And I don’t recall ever dropping any hints that “you know, if you ever want to cheer me up, go spend too much money on gourmet donuts and bring them to me.” (In case you want to get in on this Chicago-rific donut party, I usually brake for Do-Rite Donuts, and I now know that Stan’s Donuts, too, has magical healing properties.)

I opened the white bag. In it were three of the most beautiful buttermilky, fried-just-so cake donuts in pistachio, vanilla and blueberry. Not only did Liz remember that I love donuts, but also that they darn well better be cake—not yeast—donuts. And that pistachio-flavored treats are my jam.

I started crying. And squealing unintelligibly. And crying more.

What else could I have done? I had to pay heed. And so I ended my day the way I started it. In tears.

A couple of very courageous people showed me they’re in this with me in simple yet profound ways and, as a result, there are a few more things I know to be true: I am seen. I am known. I am valued.

I suppose it doesn’t take an overture to show someone you see and value them. In my case, a little time, open arms and three donuts had an extraordinary impact. And today it has me thinking: “What can I do to show Brian and Liz—and everyone else I love—that I really see them?”

For now, all I can think to do is pray. So today I’m praying this simple prayer for Brian, Liz and for you:

May you see and feel seen, know and be known, love and be loved.

And, as long as I’m talking to God:

May you receive your own version of epicurean cake donuts when you most need them and pay heed to the fullest expression of your feelings when it happens.

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PSA to those considering leaning on their inner circle: Do it.

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These ladies–my goddess girls who gather to celebrate the equinoxes and solstices–have gotten an earful about me over the years. God bless them.

For the past few months, I’ve been super needy.

My poor friends. (Seriously, Kellie.) With those in my inner circle, instead of the traditional give-and-take of conversations among women, it’s been all about me. For hours at a time. “Can I talk about this? Would you help me process that? Because, oh girl, I’m struggling. I’m going through this and I am trying to make sense of that and I just really need your help with the other thing…”

Need, need, need. Take, take, take. If I counted up the hours my nearest and dearest have listened to me over the past few months we’d total at least a full 24/7 of conversations about me. Me, me, me. Friends, you know who you are.

It doesn’t feel natural for me to be this needy. In most of my relationships, I feel comfier as the question asker, the listener, the fixer, the how-can-we-make-this-better-let’s-put-our-heads-together-and-figure-this-out-we’re-not-leaving-till-everyone-feels-hopeful-again friend. But I just haven’t been in that space lately. I’ve been so consumed in my own stuff that I’ve needed lots of extra love and support lately, and there’s been no option other than for me to just own it.

Unexpectedly, I think it’s been kinda good for me.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, but I think I just want to come out and say to all my fellow fixer types out there that owning a little neediness is hella empowering.

In revealing my raw, real self to my inner circle, I’ve experienced a kind of grace I can’t quantify.

For one, inevitably, these friends listen and, what’s more, all my stuff stays safe with them. Beyond that, if you could just see the looks on their faces when I talk, the soft curve of their smiles as they listen, the warmth in their eyes and the gentleness and strength of their arms around me—it’s lush and wonderful. It’s a kind of love that, as the fixer, you so often give but so rarely allow yourself to receive.

It feels miraculous to allow myself to lean on my people, some new, some tried and true, to help me navigate the trickiness that crops up in life. It’s not a practice to which I’m accustomed, this leaning completely into the love of friends, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. If perchance you feel like you don’t have these people in your life at present, call them in. Ask the Universe to bring you people aligned with your highest and greatest good, trust they’ll show up and then receive.

This is all a tad stream-of-consciousness-y, but I guess I just want to encourage anyone out there who’s feeling a little needy right now—and I know you are many, you immaculate fixers, you—to reach out to your inner circle and receive. As the beautiful, imperfectly perfect person you are, you have a little friendship coming to you. Just sayin’.

 

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I’m also sayin’ thank you to all my people. Like this one here. I travel to her baby shower and she ends up showering me with love. Who does that? Linds D, that’s who. (and this is funny because i’m clearly trying to rock the L.A.-girl-hand-on-hip-for-the-camera pose here, but i am laughing bc I obviously have no idea how to do it for real.)