Many years ago, I was a starry-eyed young woman who fell in love with an angry young man. The relationship gradually chipped away at my vitality, leaving me shattered and disconnected. Despite this, I couldn’t summon the resolve to end it. Until, that is, I received a simple and powerful piece of insight from my brother-in-law.

Terry married my older sister when I was just 5-years-old. He taught me how to skate like a hockey player, burp on command, make toot sounds with my armpit, and throw a football with the perfect spiral. More apt to talk about sports than feelings, he’s not known—at least on the outside—for being sensitive. A soft heart rests beneath the tough exterior.

One day, reeling from my boyfriend’s latest emotional blow, Terry asked if I wanted to join him on an errand. I sat silently beside him in the car, lost in a fog of sadness and uncertainty. After a few moments, he said: “You know what you need to do, you just haven’t done it yet.” And I listened. 

Those words were a gift. A ray of light, they pierced through the murk. They helped me remember who I was, deep within. I did know what I needed; there was a part of me that always knew. I stepped back into my life, and away from the relationship. I relearned how to be true to my self and my needs. Twenty-some years later, that practice remains strong.

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