rule book | the both and | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk1This week,
I broke a rule.

The kind of rule that
has been peering down its nose
through its wire-rimmed glasses
and raising one eyebrow at me as if to say
“don’t you dare”
for so many years now that
I can’t actually remember
living without it.

A rule about what is right
and wrong
okay and not okay
for me
to do
and say
and be.

A rule that falls into the same general category as
always be nice
never have a need
don’t make eye contact with that elephant in the room

The kind of rule that
several years ago
I began to recognize for what it is.



Smothering my chances for peace
and happy
and love.

At least the kind I want.

And so I have been chipping away at it
for some time now.

But this week,
I literally broke it.
In half.

Which might sound like a lovely victory.

Maybe it was. But it didn’t feel very lovely.

Turns out, that kind of rule
– the kind that thinks it runs the place –
gets quite offended at the first sign of a crack,
much less a break.

It doesn’t leave quietly.

So this week,
when I all-out busted
this rule that once ran me,
things got ugly.

It went something like this.

I stepped outside the bounds.
The rule flashed its teeth.
I kept going.
The rule shot arrows.
I kept going, acting all smooth and cool,
as if this was going exactly as I had planned
while meanwhile I am freaking out and my hands are shaking from the tension of it
because I have absolutely no idea what the new rules are out here
or what the heck I am supposed to do next
or if I can actually survive without that rule
and also those arrows kind of hurt.

It was a messy, sloppy, wobbly affair
that maybe,
I will handle a little more gracefully next time.

It wasn’t just messy.

It was scary.
I dug courage out of places I never knew I stored it.

And, oh yeah, there’s also this:

This rule-breaking thing
(which I am still doing right at this very moment by the way)


As in, I’d like to crawl out
of my own

As in, ouch.

As in, maybe that rule wasn’t so bad after all?

Hmmm. Yeah. No.

Instead, I’m reminding myself that many good things, like running a marathon perhaps (not that I have ever run more than one mile) – or even just training to run one – are probably also incredibly, excruciatingly uncomfortable at times. Heck, holding a yoga pose can be. Moving any muscle you haven’t moved in a while (or ever)… hurts.

But uncomfortable won’t kill me. It hasn’t before.

In fact, maybe,
it will make me stronger.

And more free.

Here’s hoping.



P.S. Because so many of you care, I’m adding this: Don’t worry, I’m ok. I’m just pretty dang uncomfortable. As I told one friend today, most of the discomfort is coming from my own head and body, which are screaming, This is not the way we do things! Undo! Undo!

Yes, I lost some things in this rule-breaking episode. But I did it for the hope that I will gain much more. I am safe and sound and still hoping… Also, I am not alone. This isn’t the kind of thing you do without your fall-back team in place, which I do have.

So I’m riding this out for the sake of freedom. I’m choosing to believe that if I do this enough times, that silly rule will have no power over me anymore.

Here’s to breaking the rules, friends.


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