Alone doesn’t need to mean lonely

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Not long ago I had one of those moments you see in movies where a lonely person walks down the street and finds herself bombarded by happy couples. They’re sharing ice cream cones. Reading aloud to each other. Canoodling on park benches while their perfectly behaved homeschool kids fly their stupid kites over Lake Michigan.

I dragged a cartoon rain cloud the whole way home. Why me? Why am I the one who ended up all alone? What did I do to deserve this punishment?

Like most American girls, I wasn’t raised for alone-ness. I was fed a steady diet…

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Lived Through This

We all need a witness, even in our darkest moments

Photo: Thomas Winz / Getty Images

In Chicago, on a May morning so bright it teased tulip heads from their sleep, I nearly killed a man I’d never met.

I had just dropped off my daughters at school and was headed to work. I turned off the radio, unable to focus on it anyway. Even though I functioned and appeared fine on the surface, the combination of a new divorce, a new boyfriend, and my children’s emotional needs had turned my brain into a tangled mess of anxiety and grief that needed a daily combing out.

So, on that short little car trip, I did what…

How a little self-talk rewriting can flip your point-of-view

Photo by Caroline Veronez on Unsplash

“Imagine this,” Nina* says, taking off her glasses and leaning into the screen. “You are swiping through dating profiles. You are reading the messages they send you. But here’s the difference: you know, deep within, these people are contacting you because they want a job.”

My therapist pauses for emphasis.

I lean in too.

“But this isn’t just any job. They are here because they want the best of the best. They want a job at Harvard. No, Google! And being Google, you’re only going to accept the best of the best.”

Nina knows I am low on self-esteem fuel…

It’s all about boundaries and protecting my kids

Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

I pride myself on being an open book. I’ve written about sensitive topics like a partner suddenly dying, a miscarriage, and living in a commune. But there are other subjects to which I only make vague references or give only the information necessary to get the point across.

Some people find relief pouring out their souls on their personal blog or Facebook. In a crisis, vulnerably sharing your pain to ask for prayers, support, or financial help can be an opportunity for real healing and growth. Everyone wants a community to stand with them in their toughest times.

But when…

I endured pain in the arms of someone I loved. This is the new path I’ve chosen going forward.

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash
  1. Love doesn’t feel like pain or look like violence.
  2. Love feels like mutual respect. It is demonstrated through shared power.
  3. I am worthy of being loved by someone who loves in a healthy way.
  4. Perfection is not the goal in a human or in a relationship. The goal is kindness that is consistent and reliable.
  5. When someone shows me who they are, it’s in my best interest to believe them the first time.
  6. I’m better off operating in the reality others present for themselves — not the hoped-for reality I have for them.
  7. I don’t need to prevent a crisis…

Reflections on an Easter like no other

Photo by Courtney Christine, April 4, 2021

I’m not the kind of person who sees symbols in everything, but it was impossible to miss that this morning’s sun on Lake Michigan was a big, red, upside-down exclamation mark. Someone else pointed out that it looked like the “i” on the logo The Incredibles wear. However you looked at it — starting out as a red ball, then turning exclamatory, then becoming so bright you couldn’t look at all— it was worthy of beholding.

For decades, my church has held a simple sunrise service on Easter Sunday. It starts at 5:45 in the morning with a few quiet…

Breaking the habit of giving up power, a few words at a time

Photo by Henrikke Due on Unsplash

I have an embarrassing problem. A problem that pokes its tiny stupid head above the surface when I least expect it.

Recently I was walking my dog around the block, admiring the snowdrops coming up in my neighbor’s lawn. Suddenly both Ginger and I had to jump and scatter to avoid collision, because a biker barreling down the sidewalk finally looked up, swerved, and just barely missed us.

Stunned, I shouted out the first words that came to me —


In a moment of heart-stopping shock, before righteous anger set in, before I had time to think through a…

Can you trust your gut when it gives you the green light to forgive and move forward?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I once had a friend who oozed sweetness when the two of us were alone. I should have paid attention when she talked at length about herself. She shared her experiences, her family, her dreams for the futures — never asking about mine. I was hooked on her good qualities: her love of foster children, her adventurous spirit, her biting wit.

When we were in the company of other people, she morphed into someone else altogether. Suddenly all her jokes were at my expense. She pointed out my tendency to stumble over my words, which only made me stumble harder…

Lived Through This

Thanks to my dad’s profession, the unmentionables were part of regular conversation

Microscopic view of human cancer cells.
Microscopic view of human cancer cells.
Photo: PansLaos/Getty Images

I had to get used to unmentionable subjects as a kid, because body fluids and odd animal injuries were discussed over dinner the way some people talk about weather or distant relatives.

My dad is a country veterinarian and took emergency calls in the kitchen; pretty much everything was on the proverbial table. I have a distinct memory of my dad cutting his steak while assessing a client’s cow’s prolapsed uterus, the long, twisty phone cord draped around two of his children’s chair backs. We kids kept eating, kept up our chatter, but Mom put her fork down in disgust…

I’m learning to be more like that

Photo by gryffyn m on Unsplash

My grandmother slowed her ’88 Dodge Dynasty to a full stop in the middle of the road. “Listen,” she ordered, motioning for us to roll the windows down.

It was a precarious place to park: the crumbled pavement so narrow only one car could fit. The forest so thick you couldn’t see around the bend. And the hills on both sides just steep enough for an unsuspecting car to gain speed.

Strapped tight in the backseat, we grandkids were too drunk on the promise of a day roaming free at Grandma’s farm to sense danger. …

Courtney Christine

Storyteller. Solo parent. Social worker. Published in Forge, Human Parts, and more. Lover of frisbees, ukuleles, and lists of threes. I’m on FB @courtneycwrites

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