If the sky falls…hold up your hands.

I’m tired.  If you knew how much courage it takes for me to admit this you might be surprised.  I am really tired.  Trust me here….this isn’t a post for a pity party.  This is honestly my deep and true feelings.  It’s hard to explain, but for me being tired is being weak. I haven’t stopped since I started, not even to have a well deserved breakdown.

My wings have grown and they are beautiful, but I am too tired today to use them.  Year after year I remain strong for my kids, my family, and myself.  These years have worn me down and today I am really feeling it.

This year I started Rebel Thriver because my best friend had gotten so tired he gave up. I don’t think he consciously meant to die on me and the kids, but he was just too tired to go on.  Life had beaten him up and he didn’t have the strength to continue on so he left me behind.  I miss him.  Everyday.  My children miss him.  I know that missing him won’t bring him back, but my heart aches nevertheless.

I started Rebel Thriver in an attempt to fill the space in my soul that he left.  In order to try to make sense of his death I needed to reach out to other people who might be feeling tired like he was.  We called our family the “tribe”.  When I started Rebel Thriver I decided that I would just grow the “tribe”; I am not surprised at the ease in which this has happened.  The tribe is growing and will continue to grow because we all need to feel loved and belong somewhere.  

My path couldn’t have taken me farther from where I started.  On my journey I have followed the curves of the road and held on tightly over all of the bumps and dips. I have found a place where I fit in and I feel loved.  Besides being a mother, and protecting my children, I feel as though I have found my purpose.  Although it came as a result of my friend’s death, I celebrate him with every post and with every workshop we run. He was a storyteller; a photographer and a movie maker.  He believed that in helping people tell their stories healing would begin for both the story-teller and the listener.  In deciding to keep his dream alive I started this blog to tell my story.  My hope is to help other people who have been knocked around by life; to help them grow their wings and to keep pushing forward.

We cannot take on life alone.  We need a human family.  Sometimes our birth families as amazing as they might be cannot relate to the things that we have lived through.  The truth is too hard to hear. Thus is my case.  I feel like a stranger amongst them at times.  We get together and I feel like I am on the outside peering in.  I have lived through so much and I have kept so much to myself.  The secrets that I keep I do not speak out loud for there is no purpose in that, but they are there and they flash back to me in my memories when I am feeling weak and tired.

I was married for 11 years and I never thought I would get divorced. I loved my husband.  I think I loved him too much though, and in doing so I lost the love that I had for myself.  In trying to help him, I got hurt.  The man I met and loved so much slipped through my fingers and crushed my dreams.  Oddly enough I miss him sometimes.  I don’t miss the anger, the intimidation, the threats, the lies, the bruises, and the psychological mind games, but I miss the laughter and the companionship that we had when he was feeling his better self.  I miss the vision that I had for our future together.  The moon eclipsed the sun so quickly and the darkness fell into the darkest of nights.  I didn’t think I would make it out alive, but I did.

I have survivors guilt.  I feel guilty that I left him ill and alone.  I feel guilty that I didn’t leave him sooner.  I feel guilty that my children were exposed to his insanity.  I feel guilty that I burdened my family.  I feel guilty that I made bad choices.  I feel guilty that the next man I truly loved died.  I feel guilty that I feel guilty.  This guilt doesn’t weigh me down, but it is there and it prevents me from feeling human at times.  What I mean by this is that I don’t allow myself to feel it for it doesn’t serve me to do so.  So I carry this guilt around quietly because I don’t want to be a burden to anyone else. I just keep pushing through.

I have been tying for years to find myself again in the midst of the chaos of being a single parent living on the run.  I am exhausted and I just want someone to hold my hand and walk with me.  I am scared of being left again.  I am afraid of extending my hand for fear that I will be left standing alone again, but I am tired and it is my hearts desire to share my life with someone.  Somehow in spite of it all I still BELIEVE.

I wanted my children to have a perfect childhood.  They haven’t.  They are loved beyond measure though, and they know it.  Unconditional love is what I can give them.  I can’t conjure up for them the father they so desperately want… and I feel guilty about that too.  I will continue to protected them from evils of this world and I will guide them through this maze of life.  I see the light ahead of me and I just keep following it. I trust it.

This light is my beacon…my lighthouse on the banks of the tumultuous seas.  It is my desire to connect to others and help them to find this light.  To help even one person get through some of the despair that I have felt is what keeps me going.  Yes, even I get tired sometimes and I have to stop and take pause.  What gets me through these times is gratitude.  I am so incredibly grateful for everything in my life and I am even grateful for all that I have lost.  I am simply grateful to be alive to see my children grow and laugh.

Gratitude is my magic balm.  When I feel down and alone I write my gratitude list and it is long.  I don’t have much in the way of material things anymore, but I have hope.  I have true friendships and I believe that we can overcome the toughest of struggles together.  You won’t hear me say I’m tired very much, but tonight I am wearing it like a heavy cloak, and I am simply being open and honest.  We all get tired, and when I do, like today I reach out to my friends and try to help them to keep shining.  This simple interaction that is born out of love reminds me that my wings are big, strong, and beautiful.  I have made it through the darkness and I am surrounded by light even if I am tired.  We all get tired, and you know what?  That’s okay.  

Each night I say goodnight to the Rebel Thriver tribe and leave a little note for any of them that might be struggling; tired from the daily push and pull of life.  I tell them to hang on because tomorrow is a brand new day to start again. A clean slate. That’s the magic in life…if we are lucky we get to live to see another day.  We get another chance to try again, even if we are tired…even me.

xo Ella

30 thoughts on “If the sky falls…hold up your hands.

  1. I’ve been reading you via your posters with El and Running From Hell with El. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to sit down with one of your essays. I am so very moved. I think we all have moments of feeling tired, too tired, too too tired. But then there is the promise of tomorrow.


    1. Yes, Kelly…tomorrow promises us all a new beginning. It is this promise of the new dawn that I fall to sleep each night and rise in the morning. To be a better version of myself with each and every day. xo Ella


  2. Dear Ella,
    What courage and beauty you have in acknowledging and sharing your feelings. That’s what the life of the human heart is. Acknowledging our obstacles and making the effort to surmount them. I was born into an abusive family and found the courage to leave. Eventually I was also a single mother of 3 special needs children. After decades of mothering, now they have moved away for school. I’m thrilled at the success we achieved. That is what we do. We find the courage, the mental strength (if not the physical strength), to strive to do our best, and we go on. We are tired and go to our rest knowing we did our best. We strive to give the best to our children and when we miss the mark they love us all the more, knowing that for love of them we achieved more than we thought possible. For love of our children, we recognize the arrogance and wrongness of expecting and trying to do it all alone. For we (any human being) were not created to do it alone. We (every human being) was created to first reach within and then reach out for the miracle that can only be called love. We create true success and beauty in our lives by holding love as our beacon. Love our children and they will spiritually thrive. Love ourselves and we will find the courage and humility to be open to the pure nourishing joy of love from others. Sleep well Ella and know that there are those in this world that love you.


    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It is sharing my life with you and you with me that I find the strength and the courage to continue my journey. I am so proud of you for finding your way out of an abusive home. I am so incredibly proud of you for raising 3 special needs children on your own. You are a strong and brave woman…a Rebel Thriver for sure. I want you to know that in sharing your love you are so very loved. xo Ella


  3. They are loved beyond measure though, and they know it.
    This love was the single biggest shaper of my life. It didn’t undo everything that had been done, but it gave me the confidence to face my darkest days so far. That love is the greatest gift you can give. Truly. It’s what will remain.


  4. This . . . You — so beautiful. I read this and it fills me with respect and love for you . . . and aspiration. A wish to make it easier for the women who follow us . . . and a wish, as your friend, that I could make your path an easier one.

    Thank you.

    Thank you for being the wonderful woman you are.

    Sharing this with love.


  5. Dear Elle, you Are my hero. I came across your FB just a few weeks ago. I just read your post moments ago. My life flashed before my eyes. I don’t allow myself to cry but the tears are running down my face. It was and is what I have lived for 14 years. Everything. What is different is he survived. This is like a death only hauntingly worse and I also live with the guilt that I made the choice to leave. I feel your ‘tired’ so deeply. He too was my best friend and everyday the ache of missing the so very wonderful versus the ache of the prison I lived with my children is like a cancer eating way at me. It has been 4 months and along the way I have lost many friends and them some.

    For the first time in what seems like a lifetime, I do not feel so alone.
    You are my hero and my inspiration tonight to continue on this journey of finding and freeing myself and give back a wonderful gift as you have.

    Love from a wanna be thriver, Liz


    1. Liz, thank you so much for your comments. I am hardly a hero, but it is sharing my story that I hope to connect to others like you. I am so proud of you for holding your head high and moving on in spite of the pain. When you can embrace the pain and continue on towards the light then a thriver you are…welcome to the tribe Liz. xoxo


  6. I wish I could make it easier for you, give you a hammock to rest in as you give so many of us a place of succor and ease.

    Your spirit shines so bright, you draw us in like moths to the light. Of course you will be tired sometimes, you are human like all of us. You carry the loving your children best and most which is no burden at all, but I think sometimes you love us all as your children also. Perhaps as you have gathered all of us together with our broken wings but dancing feet, we also make you tired.

    You so many times lift us up and ask nothing at all from us in return.

    Thank you for telling, sharing and for being you. Rest peacefully.


    1. Val what a beautiful post. I want you to know that you give me hope and the desire to continue taking my steps forward. We all get tired, but RT has changed my life and without all of you fireflies I would be a light alone in the darkness. I adore you all xoxo


  7. So much swirling through my brain after reading this, but I’m too frazzled today to put the words into something that makes sense. Except this…Your kids DO have the perfect life because their mother loves them unconditionally and they know that. It is from this that their foundation grows. That, Ella, is perfect!


  8. Dear Ella:

    What a beautiful, beautiful, heart-wrenchingly honest post. Thank you so much for letting us in to see this. I empathize with your feelings of guilt (how beautifully worded!) – one of my husband’s pet names for me is “the guilt monster.” It’s often difficult to explain that while I feel guilty often about so many things, most of the time, I don’t feel like that guilt is a bad thing. In many ways, it makes me more aware, kind, and compassionate. It lets me realize when I’ve done something wrong and keeps me honest with myself and others – it gives me the humility to go to people and tell them that I’m sorry. You expressed the tug-pull relationship with guilt so much better, though!

    I also agree with what Carrie above said – your kids are amazingly blessed because they have what so many other kids don’t… a mother who loves them completely and unconditionally. I know I didn’t have a perfect childhood, but boy do I feel lucky that I always knew my mom loved me (even if she struggled with illness herself – even as a kid I knew there was the sick mom and the not sick mom… I would take the whole package all over again, because I know how deep that love was that she had for us kids).

    Thank you again for sharing this wonderful post!


    R.R. Wolfgang (a.k.a. “the Rambler”)


    1. Thank you so much. This means so much coming from you. It is so amazing when other connect to my writing. I am trying so hard to be more open and honest and it show here in this post and with the responses I have received. Yes, the guilt is there and i like you that it isn’t necessarily bad thing for it does make me more aware, kind, and compassionate. What more can there in this world than to spread love and kindness to our fellow beings. In doing so we grow, learn, and rejuvenate the world. xoxo


  9. Ella… I read this with tears in my eyes. Your honesty is brutal, touching and inspiring. I felt and understood so well, every word and every feeling expressed. Though our paths are not the same there are many similarities. My own experience did not include physical abuse or death of a loved one, but I can very much relate to feeling broken down by someone I loved, loving some who is “sick” and to losing both myself and them in all my desperate attempts to help and fix them. I too have been feeling the weight of being oh so tired. Oddly enough I feel it now more than ever, now that my son is grown and its just me. for so long my life has not been my own and now that it truly is, I sometimes feel I don’t have the energy left to live it. But OH how I WANT to LIVE IT! I’ve found a lot of strength and hope in trying to do just what you are doing….reaching out to others who are struggling and just trying encourage, inspire and to hold each other up a little bit. Thank you for being one of my inspirations and sharing your truth and your story with the rest of us.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. It helps so much to know that my words reach others and that they have helped you to feel like someone understands…just as hearing back from you makes me feel like I am not alone. Thank you. xo


  10. If I had wings, I would fly to you, pick you up and soar into the sky. I wouldn’t let you go until you remembered how to use your wings again. That’s what friends are for.

    Friends pick you up, dust you off and help you on your way until you regain your footing. I would do that for you, RT, because you (in so many ways) have become my friend.

    That sweet caress that you give to each of us as you say good night has created a bond. Our bond is in your tribe, which you so admirably lead. How does one say thank you for that? The feeling of being loved by someone we’ve never met, someone I will never meet on earth,too extraordinary for description. Yet, you do that for the whole tribe.

    Why am I in your tribe? I don’t know. Through a friend, I found the Rebel Thriver page. I LIKEd it. Someone was giving you a hard time because he wanted the men’s and women’s groups mixed together. I spoke up. After I said my piece, you invited me into the group. I thought I was there to help. The joke was on me because I find I am getting more help than what I’m giving. I’m glad to be part of your tribe! I’m glad you reached out to me and invited me in. If you hadn’t, I never would have joined. You touched my heart. You touch my heart every night and day. You touch everyone’s heart.

    Because I can’t be there to physically lift your wings, my earthly angel, I’m writing this to you. I ache for your pain. Let me lift your wings for you. Allow me to hold them open so that you can fly again and do what you do best… touch the lives and hearts of people the world over.

    Thank you for being you in all that you are and who you are. Look upwards toward Heaven and find renewed strength. I’ve prayed that God would send you armies, upon armies, upon armies of Angels to protect you from all evil, harm, sin and suffering. These Angels will help you to relieve your burden and cast off the yoke that weighs you down.

    Put away yesterday. Today is the new day. You are loved.



    1. Robert you sure know hw to get a girl to smear her mascara. Wow…you just touched me in a spot of my heart that has not felt in such a long time. Thank you so much for your kind loving words…you have no idea how much it means to me to hear them. I am so happy to know that I am making a difference in someones life. I am trying so hard because I NEVER want anyone to feel the way I have. I am committed to this tribe and I love you Robert. Thank you my friend for your incredible support. I appreciate it more than my words can express. Thank you and God bless you my friend. xo Ella


      1. You touch so many people, not just one. You don’t need to try so hard at something that comes naturally to you. Love is your gift. You have it and you give it. If I can touch the part of your heart that has been dormant for so long, truly there are people in your proximity that can touch it even more with their love and their physical touch. If only you could see yourself the way the rest of us see you, then you would know what a blessing you are to the world. My love I give to you in return for all the love you have given me. It is natural for us to give this love. XO


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