Here's What You'll Wish You Knew
To the Girl Who Doesn't Want a Puppy,
I was you eight years ago.
My husband brought home a twenty-four pound, eight-week-old ball of fluff--and it was completely against my wishes. Let me be clear: It's not that I hate dogs. I'm an animal lover to my core. It's just that, well, when you buy a house and start a brand-new teaching job within the same two-week period, it just doesn't seem like the right time to buy a puppy.
And it definitely doesn't feel like the right time to buy a puppy that will turn into a two-hundred pound, horse-sized creature.
Thus, when my husband returned from a six-hour car ride with that ball of fur, I swore two things:
1. If the puppy woke me up or was a pain, our marriage wouldn't last.
2. I was not going to love that puppy. Ever.
Henry, as we named him (After the Henry & Mudge series, my favorite growing up...my husband didn't like the name Mudge, so we settled on Henry), didn't make it hard to hate him in the beginning, in truth. As twentysomethings who never had a puppy as adults, we naively went to Wal-Mart to buy a baby monitor because we were terrified we wouldn't hear him if he cried in the middle of the night. Needless to say, we didn't need the monitor to hear his howls from downstairs. Somehow, though, as the days turned into weeks, my husband simply "didn't hear him" in the middle of the night--and Henry didn't understand that three a.m. was not the time to play hide-and-seek under the deck steps.
There were plenty other incidents, too, that resulted in my haughtily looking at my husband and wordlessly reminding him that I was right--getting a puppy was a terrible idea. There were chewed shoes--I can still picture those leather kitten-heeled shoes from T.J. Maxx that were shredded--and chewed baseboards. There were popped cans of soda that resulted in sticky messes all over the kitchen, and stolen bags of Cheese Puffs that resulted in a very nauseous mastiff puppy. There was the time I decided to give in and maybe love Henry a little bit--and then he peed on my lap while I was holding him. There were nightly frustrations as I tried to do lesson plans with a puppy tugging at my pants.
There were so many times that I swore up and down that I would never love the puppy. I would never, ever be best friends like him. Dogs might be man's best friend, but women knew better than to be friends with a slobbering, terribly behaved creature, I assured everyone who would listen.
But to the girl who is nodding along now because you don't want a puppy, either, here's what you need to know: Enjoy every damn minute of it. Every single second.
Soak in every angry time you call that puppy and he flops down in the yard instead. Enjoy every chewed shoe, every mess, every wild moment. Enjoy every playful excursion and every second of training that puppy.
Seriously soak up every single second, even when you're convinced that puppy will never be a friend of yours.
Because here's the thing. Even when you feel like you might hate that puppy, even when he drives you crazy and he sheds everywhere and there are not enough Clorox wipes in the world to clean up his messes, you will miss these days. They go so fast, so very fast.
And before you know it, before you can even realize it, your heart will soften. Suddenly, that puppy that is nothing but a reminder of why you are so tired will, in fact, worm his way into your heart. Before you even know what's happened or how, he will be the one you look forward to seeing when the world is falling apart. He'll be the one you laugh with and rely on. He'll be your rock in a life that can be so, so hard. He'll be there when you're crying your eyes out over lost friends and lost jobs and lost everything. He'll be there to share cupcakes with and run through the sprinkler with and dance to Taylor Swift with. He'll be the one you take too many selfies with, you buy too many toys for, and that you hurry home just to be with.
In short, somewhere between where you are now and where I am, you'll fall in love with the puppy you swore you didn't want. He'll become your best friend, your confidante, your world.
You'll build a friendship that is impossible to understand and impossible to foresee. But built it you will. The days will turn into weeks and the weeks into months. Years will pass and you'll get fooled again--you'll get fooled into thinking your friendship will always be there.
To the girl who doesn't want a puppy, though, here's the thing. I know you can't see it now through your sleepless nights and accident cleanups, but there will come a day when you miss that puppy energy. There will come a time when suddenly, that puppy can't zoom around the house anymore. There will come a day when he doesn't chew shoes because it's too hard to bend down to pick them up. There will be a day when his legs don't work anymore and you can barely remember a time when you dashed through the sprinkler or danced in the kitchen.
In the blink of an eye, you'll be me, eight years later, watching her very best friend in the world fall apart a little more each day. You'll be me, looking at those sad eyes and gray fur and wondering where the time went. You'll be me, wishing you had savored the moments a little more, taken a few extra pictures, and not spent so much time trying not to love that fur ball. You'll sit and remember all the moments, good and bad, and realize that they were what built your friendship.
You'll realize that those puppy years and all the years after didn't just grow a friendship--they grew you. They changed you. They made you who you are today.
These final years are perhaps even harder than the puppy years in some ways. Now, as I sit and know that our goodbye is coming sooner rather than later, I have a heart full of memories and a memory full of love for that puppy I didn't want.
But I'm not that girl anymore. I have Henry to thank for that. He taught me what it was to be patient and to love, to truly, unconditionally love--destroyed kitten-heeled shoes and all.
So I know you might not want that puppy.
I know you are going to have hard days.
I know you'll probably threaten to divorce your husband several times--and probably, deep-down, mean it a little.
But to the girl who doesn't want the puppy...you will. Oh, someday you will want nothing more than to have that puppy back.
Trust me--from one girl who didn't want the puppy to the next, you will want these days back more than anything.
Hours and hours of hard work, of fighting with the images in my head, of putting down words despite my own self-consciousness. Hundreds of dollars on a cover, thousands of pep-talks. Chocolates by the fistful (I’m a stress eater) and wine to soothe my nerves.
All for what? Apparently one single star.
A few years ago, when my debut thriller got picked up by Avon Books/Harpercollins, I thought it was finally my time. I thought all of the tears over bad reviews, rejections, bad book sales, and empty book signings would be over. When that debut hit the USA Today Bestseller’s list, I thought for sure my hard work had finally paid off and I would reap success. I could finally tuck away that self-doubt that had been my nemesis for years, the voice always huskily whispering to me that I wasn’t enough.
But here’s the thing, dear writer—the self-doubt never dies. It’s always gnawing on you from within. Sure, hitting a list or scoring a sought-after publishing deal might squash it for a while. But it’s always waiting for the right moment—another rejection, a bad review, or a bad sales month. Then, it rears its ugly head once more and you realize the harsh truth. No matter what you do, self-doubt will always find a way back in. More often than not, the imposter syndrome and the feeling of not being good enough will worm its way into your brain at the exact moment you feel like quitting it all anyway.
Thus, after my third and fourth thriller manuscripts were flat out rejected, my self-doubt and imposter syndrome crept back in. I thought for sure I was done. I felt like a one-hit wonder, a washed up, terrible writer. I let the self-doubt monster within convince me of what all writers perhaps fear the most—I wasn’t a good writer after all.
This funk went on for several months until finally, thanks to my husband and a long look inside, I told myself to get back up. I was a writer. I had a voice I needed to share and stories to tell. I was meant to keep writing.
Thus, I flung myself into the world of self-publishing. I decided I would stand confidently and be my own supporter. I would skip all the gatekeepers in the publishing world. I had learned enough to spread my words and to tell the stories I wanted to tell. I wouldn’t cave to pressures to write the norm. I would write my stories that stepped out of genres and out of the confines of the publishing world. I would stand tall and proud in my words. So I did just that—I self-published those rejected manuscripts and put them out into the world.
And it’s had its ups for sure. I’ve won an award on my first self-published book. I’ve gotten enough positive reviews to keep the self-doubt monster from preying on me. I’ve been able to stand steady in my boots. I’ve even convinced myself that this was the writing path for me all along, that maybe my own journey would inspire others to stop depending on publishers to feel successful.
Tonight, though, the monster reared its ugly head out of nowhere. As my latest self-published book has just hit Netgalley, I’ve been staring and waiting to see what others think. Perhaps this is the problem—I have not yet gained the confidence in myself to ignore what others think and to only hear my own voice. I am still looking for validation. Because as I sit here staring at my first review on Netgalley, it’s a one-star review. And as I study the scathing words and the knocks on my writing, I’d like to say it doesn’t matter. I’d like to tell you dear writer, that I’m going to ignore it, shake it off. That I don’t care what others think of my book, let alone one person. That would all be a lie, though.
So I’m going to tell you the truth.
It hurts. It stings. It sucks.
And the self-doubt monster is now consuming all those lists I’ve hit, those achievements I’ve had, those successes. It’s gobbling them up one by pretty one and spitting out the remnants of a writing career I was once proud of. It’s convincing me with its confident stance that I am a failure, a nobody, that I never really was that good.
It hurts like hell because, like so many writers, I’ve felt called to this. I’ve always wanted this. I’ve hung the past six years on this impossible dream. I’ve listened to the podcasts and written the positive sticky notes to tell myself to just keep going. I’ve talked the talk of finding confidence and celebrating your achievements and never backing down.
Yet that one review has slaughtered all my faith and has made me truly feel like just quitting, like it was all for nothing. That’s the truth of how I’m feeling. I am devastated. I feel like a loser, like an absolute terrible writer.
Why write this, then? Why spread my morose feelings of quitting and failure?
Because I think so many times in the writing world, the loneliest part of it all is feeling like you’re the only one struggling. It’s bad marketing to talk about failures and bad reviews, we’re told. People don’t want to hear about your struggles.
That’s probably true. But when, as writers, we stop talking about the hard times, the problem is that we set a dangerous precedent for our peers—we make them feel like everything should be perfectly rosy for them, too. We convince them that no one else is crying over a review or feeling like a failure or wondering if they even are talented at all. We make them feel even more alone than any scathing review could.
So tonight, as I wiped away tears and the painful sting of failure, I write this with one hope: That somewhere out there, another writer who is suffering, too, will find peace in knowing they are not the only one. I hope that by sharing these raw feelings someone out there can understand that list or no list, published or not, we all face hardships in our self-confidence as writers. We all get rejected and bad reviews. We all think about quitting. We all, in short, feel like shit because someone hates our work.
But then, because we are writers to our core, we get back up. We put pen to paper again. We let our voice sing on the page once more, even at the great risk of having others critique us harshly again. Because, even in the middle of feeling like a failure or like quitting, we know that there are worse things than failing—and that’s to silence our writing voices forever.
So I carry on—sub-par writing, clunky verbiage, forgettable characters, and all.
Mexican Gothic Book Review
I have been seeing this book all over Instagram and couldn't wait to get my hands on it! Perhaps it was because of all of the hype that I felt a little bit let down by this one because it definitely wasn't one of my favorites (as I'd anticipated).
What I liked:
I loved the eerie atmosphere in this book. From the beginning, it has a "Yellow Wallpaper" vibe, which is my FAVORITE creepy read of all time. I loved the almost haunted feel from the very beginning of the book when Noemi first arrives at the mansion looking for her cousin. So many creepy things occur right away--from the staff at the house to Virgil to the silent dinners. I loved how the author established that vibe right away.
I also liked the last 20% of the book because it was intriguing--very, very weird, but intriguing all the same. It was unlike any book I'd ever read before, which was a good thing.
I liked how Noemi's character wasn't predictable and was a strong protagonist.
What I didn't like:
I didn't like the pure Rebecca vibes at the beginning of the book. It felt so similar to the movie I watched (I didn't read the book), and for me, that detracted from the story. I also felt like the pacing/flow was off. It seemed almost like two different books. The first sixty percent of the book was pretty dull, slow, and rooted in realism. The fantasy elements that were introduced in the last part of the book, thus, didn't feel as rooted in the story and I had a hard time suspending disbelief. While there were some creepy scenes for sure, I was pulled out of the horror element by the truly odd storyline. This one is memorable, but it definitely didn't resonate with me. I found myself skimming the last chapter just to finish it because I wasn't as invested as I would like.
All in all, I gave this one a 3.5 stars. The writing is certainly stellar. It was just the overall plot and pacing that fell flat for me. I definitely recommend you check it out, though, if you like a dark, gothic read with a strong supernatural element.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
Dear everyone: please stop hating your body
Yesterday, I stared at myself in the mirror after my shower. Naked and vulnerable, I studied my body. My eyes danced over the bulge on my stomach, the cellulite chunks on my legs that were gross. I looked at my chest that was too flat, my arms that jiggled. I shook my head at the eyebrows that were too sparse, a victim of the early 2000s overplucking craze. The eye wrinkles I have now made me curse my twenty-year-old self for not using more eye cream. I looked at my too shiny forehead, the mole I hate, all of the things I notice every single day.
Then I did what so many women do. I headed to my closet and looked for the shorts that weren’t too short so that dimple I hate is covered. I put on the flowy shirt to cover the bulge, the one that isn’t too low cut. I pulled out the fabrics that would cover and tuck and give the illusion that I fit the mold.
Yesterday, I beat myself down for not being the flawless symbol of beauty I strive to be but never quite reach.
So many of us, especially women, get so used to finding the “flaws” in ourself that we forget what else is there, too. Most importantly, we forget to see the warrior woman in our eyes.
So today, I looked in the mirror and challenged myself to quiet the inner critic. I challenged myself to see the strong woman in my eyes who loves and feels and believes and dreams and gives. I told myself to stop covering up who I am.
Is it easy? Hell no. But so many of us need to remember we are more than a mole or a bra size or a cellulite chunk. We are more not in spite of it, but because of it. Every bump and freckle and line makes us who we are today. Stop mourning for yesterday’s body. Stop worrying about what tomorrow will bring. Let your confidence shine. Smile in the mirror at the woman you have become because life is beautiful, and so are you.
#bodypositive #mondaymotivation #motivational #empowered #beautiful #bodyimage #bepositive #beconfident #shinebright #pretty #bodypositivemovement #nobodyshame #loveyourbody #healthateverysize #selfacceptance #blackandwhitephotography #selfie #loveyourbodynow
Meet L.A. Detwiler, USA Today Bestselling thriller and horror author
Thanks for being here with me! I'm a high school English teacher and a USA Today Bestselling thriller and horror author. My debut thriller,The Widow Next Door, released in 2018 with HarperCollins Uk/Avon Books. Since then, I've also published The One Who Got Away, Her Darkest Hour, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and soon, A Tortured Soul.
I love writing gritty, dark, disturbing stories that go to emotional places and cover horrifying themes. I'm not afraid to haunt my readers long after the last page. I want readers to be able to interpret and bring their own perspectives to my stories. I often write about disturbed female protagonists, but I also love to play with the idea of villains. I love when readers leave a book not quite sure who to root for because I think it opens up discussions about darkness.
If you love authors like Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, and Karin Slaughter, I hope you'll check out my works. If you click here, you can get a FREE copy of my exclusive short story, "I'd Kill For You" to get an idea of what my writing style is like and see if it's for you.
Let's get to know each other! Tell me in the comments what your favorite creepy, dark reads are and where you're from ❤️
Stay Safe and Be True,
Can we stop sugarcoating domestic abuse in fiction?
Why didn’t she just leave?
They should’ve seen the warning signs.
They always seemed so perfect together.
It’s not my business, so I don’t want to get involved.
He isn’t perfect, but how bad can it really be?
It’s no secret that as a society, we look at domestic abuse from an often haughty, distorted lens that tends to be contradictory. On one hand, we promote the message that domestic abuse is wrong and that we would do anything to stop it. On the other hand, though, so many of us sit back and toss around condescending, judgmental ideas like the ones above.
In truth, it isn’t completely our fault. If we haven’t been through domestic abuse, it’s hard to wrap our heads around the fact that it takes on other forms than what our very skewed movies and pop culture show us about it. We have a very defined idea of what domestic abuse is—and isn’t—thanks to the books, movies, and articles that try to tell us all about it.
But here’s the thing—abuse takes on many forms. It isn’t something that can be stereotyped or classified. Abuse looks different in every situation, for every person. And oftentimes, it is much uglier, more manipulative, and scarier than we ever can begin to understand from a few movies or television show portrayals.
As a society, we tout that we understand the struggles of abuse. We share hotlines, we offer meek attempts at consoling men and women who are in abusive situations, and we offer expert advice on getting out. These are things that can, in truth, be helpful. There are many organizations who are doing amazing work to help victims of domestic abuse. Still, for many of us, our goodwill attempts in public often equate to a faux rallying of the troops that we’d rather just leave for someone else to deal with. Because many of us would rather close our eyes to the uncomfortable truths about the abuse that goes on around us than actually deal with it or really understand it.
I am not a survivor of domestic abuse myself, and I don’t claim to be an expert on it. I, too, understand that this limits my understanding of the true horrors of surviving it. Furthermore, I realize that this isn’t a problem that is simple to solve. So many factors hinder our real-life ability to effectively reach out, to make changes, and to offer a true, genuine lifeline.
However, I think because it is such a difficult problem to overcome, we need to converse about it more. Furthermore, we need to have deep, real, and raw conversations about abuse, not sugarcoated chats that cover up the true ugliness of the problem. Our society’s thinly veiled attempts to skirt abuse under the rug in order to focus on prettier concepts is, in truth, a hurdle to effectively helping victims.
We say we understand the dangers of abuse—but we get uncomfortable when someone talks about it. For many of us, domestic abuse is something that happens to other people. We pride ourselves on spreading “awareness” about it, but we don’t actually want to see it, to deal with it, to handle it.
When I wrote A Tortured Soul, I knew it would ruffle some feathers because the abuse portrayed in the book is uncensored. So many times, I think the media muffles and mutes the harsh realities of abuse, which is dangerous. Don’t get me wrong—any abuse is horrific. It is something we need to seek to stop in our society. Still, I think the danger in a muted portrayal of the abuse so many women and men are undergoing is that as a society, we think it’s not that big of a deal. We run the risk of closing our eyes to abuse happening around us. We fool ourselves into thinking “she can just deal with it on her own” or “he should just stand up for himself” when so often, that isn’t the case.
I wanted to paint a dark, grim reality of abuse in my thriller because I think we need to stop shying away from the dark realities of abuse in the real world. Is it unpleasant to look at domestic abuse in its rawest form? Yes. But do we need to recognize the struggles of victims in our society? Absolutely.
It is by recognizing the true horrors of domestic abuse that we as individuals can stop silencing the truths around us. It is by seeking to understand the harsh realities so many are living with that we can seek to set things right in the best way we can. We can start to demand justice. We can stop pretending to spread support and start actually doing it. We can start finding the courage to look at the ugly truths around us to better support those who are living through them.
We can stop hiding behind a face of anti-abuse messages and seek to find a deeper sense of problem-solving as a society.
The most poignant scene in A Tortured Soul for me, as the writer, comes near the end, when the sheriff notes his own fault in the major conflict of the book. He takes ownership for the fact that he had been too weak to see the true horrors of Crystal’s abuse. He had turned a blind eye and decided it was for her to deal with on her own.
It was a scene that made me question my own understandings of the struggles of abuse victims. It was a scene that held up a mirror and made me ask the question: have I been blinded to the real horrors of domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse isn’t something we all live through, thankfully. Still, it is when we can begin to actually internalize what domestic abuse looks like that not only our empathy can be enhanced, but our will to do something to stop it.
L.A. Detwiler, USA Today Bestselling author
This book was AMAZING. A true page-turner and the kind of dark read I love.
The book is about Rose Gold, who is in her early twenties when her mother, Patty, is released from prison. Patty was locked up for child abuse. She poisoned her own daughter and convinced everyone that Rose Gold was sick when she wasn't. Thus, Rose Gold enters adulthood with a very warped view of the world (understandably).
The book follows Rose Gold as she deals with her mother being released from prison, but it also flashes back to the early days after Patty's arrest when Rose Gold has to learn to navigate a new view of life. I love that the book also shows us Patty's point of view. Even though she's a character who is easy to hate, she also has some charming qualities that add complexity to the tale. I loved how each character had a distinct voice.
The description in this book was phenomenal. Wrobel is a standout writer and really shines with this book. This book looks at the mother-daughter relationship in a very warped light. This is a book that you'll fly through because you just can't look away from the dysfunctional family. It will stick with you long after the final page, however.
I loved the ending. I loved everything about it. Read this book if you love dark, twisted, introspective thrillers.
This book was scary for me to write because it was very different than anything out there on the market.
t's told EXCLUSIVELY in diary format, something very tricky to pull off for thriller. It's also very dark and gruesome.
Still, Ruby's story haunted me until I wrote it. It haunted me until I put it out there in the world.
This thriller isn't for everyone. It might be too dark or too different of a format for some. But that's okay.
It's the story that was on my heart about nature versus nurture. I wanted to explore the idea of where our dark tendencies come from. With a serial killer as a father and as her only real supporter in life, will Ruby follow her dad's path or find morality on her own?
Thank you to everyone who has read and shared love for this book, which is very close to my heart, as all books we write are.
Stay Safe and Be True,
You won't always have a tribe
An inconsolable mess of hot pink, stuffed animals, and tears, my five-year-old self remained buried face first in the princess comforter on my bed. Through racking sobs, I tried to explain to my mom what was so terribly wrong.
“I don’t have any friends,” I coughed out in between gasps. It had been a terrible day of Kindergarten. I’d done something to make my friends in the class angry, and they’d shunned me during playtime. I didn’t know it then, but I was on a long path that would be riddled with problems with friendships; female friends always seemed to dart in and out of my life. The road was just beginning, though, and it was the first time I’d suffered such an immense heartache as being left out.
My mom, as mothers do, hugged me tight, dried my tears, and tried to console me.
“What’s going on?” a male voice asked from the door of my bedroom.
My mom explained as the tears still fell down my cheek. “She’s worried she doesn’t have any friends.” The way my mom’s voice quivered slightly, I could sense the empathy along with the trepidation that perhaps, somehow, the child she’d worked so hard to raise had turned out to be a loner incapable of social relationships. Considering I was an only child, this was a very real fear, I realize now.
My dad walked into the room, and I peered at him through my blurry tears. I watched him shrug and look at me.
“Well, you don’t have any friends,” he uttered matter-of-factly.
Que more racking sobs, even more inconsolable now.
Que an angry sigh from my mother as she shook her head at him.
“What?” he responded after the glare my mother gave him. “It’s true. You don’t have friends. I don’t have friends. What I mean is, don’t worry. No one has friends. You are your only true friend in life.”
My mother shooed him away, knowing that a five-year-old needs hugs and advice on how it would be better tomorrow, not an existential examination of the meaning of friendship.
We still tease my father about his words of wisdom that day. In many ways, that was the first scarring moment in my five-year-old life. What did my dad mean I had no friends? What was wrong with me if even my dad thought I had no friend to speak of? At five, I couldn’t really comprehend what he meant. Luckily, my mother managed to calm me down enough to get me to go back to school and try in the friendship department again.
Nevertheless, I didn’t forget my dad’s words. And even if I’d wanted to forget them, I couldn’t—because over the years, they basically rang true.
My father is not a literary man by any means. Even though I’m an English teacher and he was the one who sparked my love for reading and writing in many ways, he does not value Shakespeare, Emerson, or poetry. Still, I can appreciate now, decades later, the Emersonian quality to his phrase—this idea of being independent, of being your own best friend in life, and of chasing your own desires no matter what others think.
He was trying to impress upon my way-too-young mind that people will always come and go in life. People will get angry at us when we deserve it, and they’ll get angry at us when we don’t. People will claim to be friends in the good times and leave during the bad times. And sometimes people will just up and leave because they can. There’s only one constant, one person you can depend on to have your best interests at heart—yourself.
I think that these words ring even truer for females.
Not to edge over into the realm of sexism, but honestly, ladies, aren’t we sometimes terrible to each other? Manoeuvring the catty world of junior high and high school with my bad haircut only to get to adult world and find out it doesn’t end—it’s been a tragedy worse than that seventh grade shaggy haircut I had and lack of hair styling techniques. All relationships are hard, but female friendships sometimes carry an extra weight with them. Competition, jealousy, and manipulation all seem to worm their way into even the best-intentioned friendships.
I’ve had friends and lost them. I’ve been backstabbed and lied to over the years. I also have done some things I’m not proud of in friendship. I’ve let jealousy or distance get in the way. I’ve failed to be there for the female friends in my life in ways I should have been.
In short, friendships do come and go, and sometimes it feels like the coldness of my dad’s words ring true—no one has any friends at all.
It seems like a stoic lesson on humanity, one that there would be no recovering from. Still, my dad’s words have helped me stay positive in the face of loss when it comes to relationships. At a young age, despite my mother’s eye rolls, he taught me to be independent.
My father taught me that happiness shouldn’t come from external forces. He showed me that a big part of life is learning to be your own best friend, to have your own interests at heart, and to let go of people who just don’t get you.
In junior high, I had a substitute teacher who I was convinced hated me. She was a long-term substitute for our home economics teacher, and she often got frustrated with me because I was, shall I say, somewhat of a failure in the cooking and sewing and everything domestic department (some things don’t change). I remember going home with my whiny, thirteen-year-old complaints about how unfair life was and how much she hated me and how mad I was.
My father’s advice?
“Some people won’t like you just because they don’t like you. They don’t need a reason. Just keep on going, don’t draw attention to yourself, and do your best.”
That wasn’t what my thirteen-year-old “life’s not fair” self wanted to hear. But even then, he was true to his mantra.
Not everyone will like you. Not everyone who says they are your friend will stick around. People are fickle.
You have to learn to be more than just okay with being alone. You have to learn to be confident in who you are, where you’re going, and sometimes hold your own hand on the way. Sure, along the way, there will be people who lighten the journey. There will be people who walk with us for a few miles or maybe even thousands. There will be friends who get us, who really get us, and who love us despite our shortcomings.
But there will also be people who don’t. There will be people on the sidelines pretending to cheer us on only to cheer louder when we trip. There will be friends who are actually enemies wearing friends’ cloaks. There will be friends who turn and leave when we need them most.
We will all find ourselves a teary-eyed mess, face down in our comforter wishing our mom could tell us of course we have friends and tomorrow will be better.
But as one of my favorite female writers and speakers, Rachel Hollis notes, you can’t let the opinions of others impact your self-worth. You have to ignore the negative opinions of others and realize they don’t change who you are.'
I’m thankful for my dad’s words because he set me on a path of being okay alone—more than okay alone. He taught me to find self-worth and self-identity outside the views of others. He taught me that it’s okay to walk by yourself sometimes through life—because we all do that from time to time.
There’s a wonderful quote in the book and movie P.S. I Love You where the mother is consoling he sobbing adult daughter when she is grieving over her lost husband. The mother says, “So now, all alone or not, you gotta walk ahead. Thing to remember is if we're all alone, then we're all together in that too.” It always reminds me of my father and his advice. It reminds us that human friendship is a struggle for everyone—we’re not alone in facing this.
However, we need to be confident enough in ourselves to walk alone sometimes. My father taught me that alone isn’t a scary, tearful thing. It’s just a part of life, and one we all can get through when we must.
There isn't a right way to handle the COVID-19 Crisis
We, as Americans and as worldwide citizens, are in crisis. There’s no denying it. Many of us feel like we’re free-falling into financial ruin, illness, and isolation. The COVID-19 crisis has not only put immense pressure on nations but on individuals as well. It seems like so quickly, our lives all changed, and now we’re left in an uncertain aftermath.
If you turn on the news or browse online, you can find numerous articles and ideas on how to best handle the social distancing and stay-at-home decrees. Psychologists will weigh in and tell you how you should handle the changes, and all sorts of people are issuing ideas on social media. All around, everyone seems to want to generalize how we can best endure the seemingly forever changed status of our individual lives.
But here’s the thing I keep thinking: I don’t think there is a single “right” way to handle this crisis as an individual. Sure, we’re all in this together. We all need to cooperate and get the financial and health crisis under control. However, from a psychological standpoint, there can’t be a “one size fits all” approach to coming out of this changed society feeling positive.
We all will handle it in our own way.
For some of us, we turn to humor. We share funny memes and jokes online about the crisis. This doesn’t mean we’re downplaying the very real threat or trying to mitigate anyone’s losses. We handle hardship with laughter. It’s just who we are—and that’s a perfectly okay way to endure this situation.
Some of us will find ourselves crying in the shower daily and just trying to survive minute to minute. Change is hard for us. Crisis is hard for us. We can’t help but feel anxious about the uncertainties and about what’s next. We feel sad about what we’ve lost. That doesn’t mean we feel like our cancelled graduation or concert is worth more than lives. It just means we’re grieving. And this is a perfectly understandable reaction to the crisis.
For some of us who are go-getters and goal setters, we feel the need to keep busy in this time. We’re the ones posting about learning new languages or reading more books or taking a class with the stay-at-home order. We need to feel like we’re putting this undefined amount of time to good use because we can’t stand wasted opportunities or minutes. This doesn’t mean we’re judging you if you’re struggling to get through a regular daily routine without learning Russian or French or taking a painting class. It’s just how we best cope with a negative situation. We feel the need to pull something positive from it in the form of goals and achievement of those goals. This is the best way for us to handle it, which is perfectly acceptable.
Some of us hate feeling helpless, so we turn to helping others in this time. We feel the need to sew masks or deliver groceries or whatever we can to feel in control of something. We need to express empathy, not just in words, but through doing. We devote our time to finding ways to rally behind others. It doesn’t mean we’re looking for accolades or trying to be Mother Theresa. It just is the way we feel most in control of the situation. That is a perfectly admirable way to handle this crisis.
Some of us feel the need to self soothe in these tough times in any way we can. We might be the ones in the stores accused of buying non-essential items. It isn’t that we’re trying to be disrespectful. We just need to find some way to bring a piece of “normal” life back, of happiness. For some of us that might be through chocolates at Target or a face mask that you don’t think is necessary. For some of us, that might be getting takeout or ordering from Amazon or posting about a new makeup product online. For some of us, that might look like pulling away a little bit and taking time for self-reflection and self-care. We aren’t trying to be selfish. We are just trying to get through, and that is a perfectly acceptable response.
Some of us will reach out to others in this time, needing social interaction in any form. We’re the ones making videos on social media or trying to organize family Zoom meetings. We just need people around us to help us feel like it’s all going to be okay. We’re trying to do our part to social distance, but it’s hard. And that’s a perfectly understandable response to the situation.
Some of us will find mixtures of these approaches to work for us or completely different approaches. Some of us will swear this is the worst time in our lives. For some of us, we will choose to look at the positives and find something good in all of this.
No matter how we choose to handle this crisis as individuals, however, that’s the thing--they are all acceptable ways. As long as we are doing our best to follow the guidelines of the state and the government to help put an end to this, there isn’t a single right way to handle our changed world. We all need to find the approach on our own that works for us.
However, what I do think we all need to do is be more understanding of this fact. I’ve seen so many articles, posts, and comments online slamming other people for how they are dealing with the situation. Please, please, please do your best to extend kindness and understanding to others. None of us expected this crisis or wanted it to hit home. None of us wanted to see family members sick or unemployed or struggling. None of us wanted to wake up to everything changed in our lives.
But here we are. And now it’s our job to do the best with it in the way that works for us—and to extend graciousness to each other in this difficult time. Wearing masks and social distancing isn’t the only way we can succeed in this together. It is also through extending kindness, understanding, and patience, especially online where it seems like judgement and anger run rampant.
So however you’re handling this crisis: Keep doing your best. Reach out if you need help. And remember that you’re doing okay, no matter how you’re doing it.
Stay Safe and Be True,
L.A. Detwiler, Author
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door