A few weeks ago I got together with my friend Katherine for lunch.  We hadn’t physically seen each other in almost a year.  Life, different schools, crazy-big-huge things had left us to just exchange sporadic text messages, once in a while emails but our lives didn’t allow any sort of actual contact.  Before we met, she sent me a link for some pre-date reading material…An abc news article about how life is way too short to have crap friends. I read it, we met, and it was lovely.

But yesterday I thought about that article again, as I drove home from Seattle by myself.  And I thought about my own life.  And I thought about my past year. And suddenly a lot of things struck me as important.

When I decided to unveil the Revolution of Real, through prayer and through a lot of thought after looking at the filtered lives we allow people to see and perceive as our truth, I was also struck by fear.  Fear that people wouldn’t like me anymore.  Fear that people would think a myriad of things about me, and would judge me.  But it wasn’t just about me.  It was about all of us, who stand in the wings and watch others do their final performances on stage.  The lighting is perfect.  Their tone is impeccable.  They are flawless.  We don’t see the practice, the fumbling, the real-life them.  We just see the performance.  But we compare, and wish, and think… if only.

If only I was prettier.  If only I was more organized.  If only I was calmer.  If only I was thinner.  If only I was more together. If only I was less sensitive.  If only I was better.  If only my boobs didn’t hang to the floor and my legs were always magically soft and that my hippie deodorant that was supposed to have less additives didn’t make me smell like a hippie.(No offense to hippies) Then…

Then what?  If only you were less real?  If only you were less you?  Because then people wouldn’t know the truth about real.

Real is messy and flawed.  Real is heartbreaking.  Real is beautiful, and not in a photo-shopped way…in a wrinkled around your eyes as you smile way.  Real is revolutionary.

This past year, as God strengthened my Real Friendships, and brought some women into my life who were not only real but beautifully authentic, I learned somethings about myself.

I’m over shallow friendships.  Friends who are only my friend occasionally, who never care enough to check in. Just because you like my FB status does not mean you know anything about my real, or care enough to be my friend.  By the way there is nothing wrong with liking my FB status- it’s just an example that we don’t always know what’s back stage. Friends who always have somewhere better to be.  I’m over small talk.  Unless you’re my grandma, I do not want to talk about the weather.  I’m over the “rest,” the people who burn my friends on social media or in life, or who use the guise of excuses to be passive aggressive and hurtful, and do good only to point out what a good friend they are. I’m over pretending it doesn’t hurt my feelings that you’re too good to be around me anymore.  Because I’m broken.  Because I’m not always funny.  Because I don’t want to hear the words “hang in there.”

I want to publicly apologize if I have ever used the words “Hang in There” to you.  You are not some cute orange kitten hanging with one paw.  “Hang in There” is annoying and discounts every emotion you are going through.  So if I’ve said it, I’m sorry for giving you a pat on the arm and negating your real.

Because if you can’t be real, you can’t allow yourself the grace to get better.  Or you’ll start to think it’s all in your head and if you just pray enough things will go away, but sometimes there are things that are much bigger.  And sometimes you’ve allowed yourself for too long to hang in, but you need more.  And all shallow does is make for a bigger crevice of loneliness..  Because no one wants to hear you.

I asked for prayer a lot this past year. But after a while I forgot how to pray.  I stopped asking God for help, because he hadn’t shown up.  At least I couldn’t see him. But it was because I had turned my back, towards the shallow – because it was easier than the real.  The real friends I had were concerned.  The real showed up, but I didn’t return calls.  The rest they just continued to be narcissists and didn’t notice anything outside of their “goodness.”

Real life.  No filters.

In July I was diagnosed with PTSD.  After months of dark, there was a diagnosis to shed light on the places that had seeped shame and sadness into my life.  I could cry for days and days. I couldn’t remember the past months at all–everything was foggy. I had spent so much time faking it, that I didn’t recognize myself.  But then I saw reality.  And it was scary.  Would I ever get better?  I felt ashamed, because I’m not a hero.  I haven’t lived through anything that warrants this sort of real.  And yet, only those who showed up this year knew what my life was like.  What I saw. What I lived through.  They knew…and they didn’t walk away.

I could have used my PTSD as a crutch.  Like so many people I’ve known in the past who continue to choose the shallow who don’t care, who continue to cling to agony because they don’t know how to live without drama and a cry for attention but do not truly want to get better. Then there are those who inspire me every day…who get up and survive, who live and who are real and don’t rest like a victim. But rise like a survivor.  So I turned, and faced it.  I got up.  One foot in front of the other. One step. And another.  And I asked for help, and prayer. And I turned from the shallow and there He was.

My God had  never left. But I’d turned away.  So I faced him.  And I told him off.  I said everything I had thought about his abandonment of my family this year, or how much he had allowed us to hurt.  And he didn’t move. He could handle it.  So I kept talking.  And he kept being real.  And kept showing up every day as I worked and worked.

And one day I didn’t cry much.  And one day the writing came back and I couldn’t stop my voice.  And another day I laughed so hard as I was writing my blog (the last one) that I remembered I was funny. And I smiled so big I had wrinkles around my eyes, and it was beautiful.  Even when I was real.

And for the first time in a long time I was like me again.  I still have to work hard, so I don’t have time for the shallow, the small talk, and the rest.  And I am grateful for those who have loved me at every point of this past year.

The real me, isn’t living in the if only’s anymore.  It’s freeing and healing.  And what’s more– it’s keeping the real close, and my God even closer.  Because that my friends, is living…