Vulnerability is a Four-Letter Word

Like. Love. Pain. Hurt. Loss.

Those are the words that best describe the flurry of emotions that I’ve been feeling more and more of for the past year and a half or so.

Unfortunately, they’ve been felt in much higher concentrations than normal over the last month or so more than anything, and all because of a boy.

But that’s how it always starts, isn’t it? A boy or girl careens into our lives without us realizing its even happening until we are wrapped in a blanket burrito on our floor with all of our emotions oozing out of our face. It’s never pretty and the only people that seem to have a better view are the people that just drug our emotions through the ringer.

Something happened to me my freshman year of college that completely obliterated my pre-college emotional stability and it took me roughly a year and a half to get through all of the bullshit that it came with.

Long story short; I started dating a guy that I really liked, and we essentially jumped into our relationship and it was good until it wasn’t anymore and I basically carried all of the weight of the relationship for a few months, plus everything else that I had going on. It was NOT a fun experience for me since I prefer to work as an equal in a relationship and it felt like he was taking more than he was giving. So I dumped him and he started to date my RA roughly two weeks after and I had to see them ALL of the time and it hurt.

That summer I fell into a deep and dark depression that I fought in vain to keep at bay so that my outward appearance made me seem okay. Unfortunately that front didn’t last very long because my roommates at the time found ways to coax my problems out of me. Granted, it was a little like pulling teeth to get me to talk, even though they had a good idea of what was going on with me, but goddamn did they work hard. Especially when I insisted on staying in bed all day or going straight to bed and shutting off my brain as soon as I got home from work. Then one day one of them came in while I was writing or reading or something and they forced me to spill, and I (finally) did. I bawled in my friends arms and finally got some semblance of a release that I deperately needed that summer. But something still didn’t feel right after I cried. I still felt the enormous weight of the depression and agony of seeing them together on a regular basis.

I realize now how petty that is to say, but I had invested a lot of time and energy into that relationship and I didn’t feel appreciated on top of everything else. So, my natural response is bitterness followed by a hefty dose of depression.

Unfortunately, depression has always been something that I’ve fought tooth and nail to try and pacify, but it has this awesome knack of always coming back, and usually with a burning vengeance. I think, no, I know that it has something to do how ridiculously sensitive to the world around me that I am. I’m a walking, talking sack of nerve endings and sometimes I put myself into situations almost accidentally that leave me with no other choice than to cauterize my emotional wounds.

Then at the beginning of this semester I met someone that I felt a strong connection to and I somehow let them demolish the heavily guarded walls around my heart with a high-grade flamethrower. We hung out a couple times, intimate things happened and then they dropped a  bomb on me that I wasn’t entirely expecting. Their news was that they don’t want a relationship this year, but I do, so of course my heart started to kind of break in that moment and it has been unfortunately breaking more and more ever since. Mainly because I keep letting them into my life and my room, and they keep doing things that a boyfriend would probably do, like caressing my face, and kissing my cheeks and forehead, and every time they did it I would let it happen because who doesn’t like to be held and have affection when they’ve gone nearly three years without any proper connection and the connection is so great??

Why would you say that you don’t want a relationship but when you get the person that you know has more than lukewarm feelings for you you proceed to drag their heart and emotions through the mud?

 So last weekend I walked up to him one day and announced that we had come to an impasse and I gave him something that signified a white flag. I felt strong. I had prepared what I was going to say to him and how I was going to say it to him in the strongest tone I could muster and I was going to look awesome doing it. Then he hugged me and I melted into him again.

Now I’m currently cauterizing my wounds and I’m pretty sure that if I do it much more that I’ll be completely numb to everything and shut down more and more every time something horrible happens to me emotionally..because that works, right?

Unfortunately, this fiasco happened to me right as I was starting to feel completely healed from the last time this kind of emotional trauma happened to me and I felt like a shattered mirror, seven years bad luck included.

I hope that the bounce back from this doesn’t take as long to recover from as the last experience did. I don’t think that I have the energy for it anymore since it happened the last time.

A person can only take so much.

On Chivalry.

Chivalry isn’t dead, not really.

In fact it’s alive and well and here’s how I know.

Tonight at work I covered a shift for a friend and I came in feeling particularly drained thanks to this semester. All of a sudden I hear the distant noises of an acoustic guitar coming from one of the corridors and it was one of my (guy) friends just casually strumming his guitar. You know, how boys do and such.

All of a sudden he sits down next to the chair by my desk and starts to sing a tune that sounds oddly familiar to me but I can’t quite place it, until finally he starts to sing the chorus and I realized that it was Tom Petty’s  “Free Falling”. I don’t think that I’ve ever loved an acoustic cover of a song more than in that minute right then and there.Oh how  wrong I was, because after a short tuning after “Free Falling” he started to sing “Hurt” by Johnny Cash and I more or less melted right then and there since Johnny Cash and Tom Petty are coincidentally two of my favorite artists.

So yes, chivalry is actually alive and well, despite all of the overwhelming evidence against it in today’s ridiculous society. The secret to finding some is to know where to look. I know, I know, it’s a bit of a process. I wasn’t even expecting anything like that to happen to me tonight, but here we are.

However, when/if ever you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this rare bird make sure that you mentally photograph every tender moment of it. Remember everything in that moment. Everything from the color of the shirt you were wearing, what the presenter of whatever chivalrous moment you just experienced was wearing and how lucky you are to be in this moment, even if it is purely coincidental or even accidental.

Enjoy these serendipitous moments when they happen to you, because for that moment in time, no matter how long it lasts your life is a movie. Or at the very least a lot like one. Drink in the moments like these because to quote Sarah Louise Delany, “Life is short , and it is up to you to make it sweet”.

So, go forth my lovelies and be chivalrous and sweet and loving to everyone around you because everyone deserves moments like these in their life, even if for a minute.

 

Losing Touch

In this low context, polychronic day and age the loss of connection is basically the worst thing that can happen to a person. Especially, if that connection is a wifi connection. But when it’s a loss of person-to-person, human connection we all seem to be slightly more okay with it.                                                                                             

ImageWhy do we do this to ourselves? We’re social animals with a strong desire for connection but now it all seems to come from the internet and other forms of social media. Don’t get me wrong, I get a twinge of satisfaction and connection when someone likes a post on my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even here on my blog, but something’s missing. It has been for sometime now, I think.

The other day in my Nonverbal Communication we started to discuss the idea of Haptics, which is any form of nonverbal communication involving touch and that’s when it hit me. I’m sorely lacking it. I feel like if my life were being tracked on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that I’d always be ping ponging between the bottom two, if not the entire thing.

Now, I do realize that being alone and getting to know yourself is an integral part of growing up, and I do make efforts to get out, but being alone and being lonely are two distinctly different things that both need to be handled in their own ways. But it doesn’t make them suck any less.

I just need a good platonic hand hold or a cuddle puddle with friends that lasts all night or something. I’ve gotten way too comfortable in my solitude over the past year and a half or so and I’m not entirely sure how to feel about it either, besides confused and ready for a change.

So what’s a girl gotta do around here to be held for awhile?

You can be lonely even when you are loved by many people, since you are still not anybody’s one and only.
Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due (or Finding Inspiration in the Financial Aid Office)

Earlier this week I had a meeting with the dreaded financial aid office with my uncle in tow to talk to the head of the department about  my current financial situation.

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Like any normal person I entered the office a little bit on edge because the financial aid office is scary no matter what school you go to, right? As my uncle and I walked into the office of the head of the department the tension started to slowly lift from our shoulders. We discussed everything about how the financial aid and student loans work to my uncle because he has never really had to do something like this before.

Since I was in the office I took a small chance and asked the lady that we were meeting with if I could get a copy of my transcripts because I needed them for another meeting that I had that day. Since she’s a school administrator she had full privelege to them and she pointed out that I had a 3,0 GPA after my first semester of going to school here. As she silemtly read my transcript to herself she began to ask me why it took me so long to come back to school. My answer was basically because I had gone through so much in the four years that I had been out of

high school and that I had finally decided what to do with my life, to a point.  I then preceeded to tell her that I had gone through in those four years including breaking my back, getting diagnosed with cancer, and then my dad being diagnosed with cancer too and then shortly passing away from it.

She looked at me like I had told her that I was actually an alien. After the shock wore off she told me something that immediately added a thick layer of icing to this surprisingly sweet and painless meeting. She to

ld me that I needed to stop being so damn hard on myself for all of the things that I do and to take more credit in life for the things that I have done, like beating cancer and finding the gumption to get myself back into school and setting attainable goals for myself.  My uncle, being the ever-so-caring and loving man that he is immediately agreed with her and began to count off all of the things that have tried to take me down in my lifetime and failed and made my emotions soar even more.  Througout the entirety of that week I basically soared on the high of the words from the angel in the financial aid office and from my caring and loving uncle that always has my back and will cheer me on when others are too busy to.

So, I guess the moral of this long-winded story is that no matter what you’ve been through in life remember to give yourself credit for all that you’ve been through and what you will continue to go through in your life. You will do great things because you are capable of them and make your support system as big as you can get it!

 

The Stories my Scars Tell

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me.” – Across the Universe, The Beatles

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I’m a master at navigating the stormy waters of anxiety and almost chronic depression.

I hide it really well in front of my friends and family and I should own those drama masks that are perpetually smiling and frowing. On the internet however it is another beast entirely. I have a problem with tweeting a lot of my emotional struggles & it’s not okay. Especially when I’m on breaks (like this one) that are only a month long but thanks to the weather they feel like an eternity.

A couple of nights ago while trying to fall asleep my brain started to kick itself into over-drive. It started to create lists that I felt like needed to be addressed then and only then, because who needs sleep, right? It was one of those nights where my anxiety came in tsunami- like waves and my happiness only felt like sprinkles on an unbearably hot day.

Now that I’m back at school and the semester is only two days in I can’t help but feel that anytime now all of the good things are going to come to a screeching halt and I’ll be full of shrapnel.

Today I took a chance to help with the inevitable and scheduled my first appointment with a counselor in two years.

This semester I’ve also started to make promises to myself that I have resigned to keep and they are as follows;

1. If you’re feeling lonely seek out friends.

2. Don’t stress eat with food that will turn your insides into something unrecognizable.

3. If your head is becoming polluted with thoughts that shouldn’t be there go for a walk or something and clear that head!

4.  Don’t let yourself get overly stressed out-some stress is good-too much will probably kill you.

5. Smile more.

Finally,

6. Remember, masochism never looks good on anybody.

Even now looking at my scars from my five open heart surgeries and from my partial hysterectomy that runs from the top of my belly button to the top of my pelvis bone and the scar that my PICC line left, I am often reminded that even though my body has tried to kill me more times than I care to count I can’t give in and let it win now. Not when I have so much more to lose than I did just four years ago.

So here’s to a better today, an even better tomorrow because I have no reason to be as depressed and anxious as I am.

I found this quote last night and had to immediately share in on my Facebook and Tumblr because of how it resonated with me at that moment and as a little reminder to myself I got a picture of me when I was a kid and two note  cards and wrote the quote down and stuck it to my mirror.

“Picture yourself when you were five. In fact, dig out a photo of little you at that time and tape it to your mirror. How would you treat her, love her, feed her? How would you nurture her if you were the mother of little you? I bet you would protect her fiercely while giving her space to spread her itty-bitty wings. She’d get naps, healthy food, imagination time, and adventures into the wild. If playground bullies hurt her feelings, you’d hug her tears away and give her perspective. When tantrums or meltdowns turned her into a poltergeist, you’d demand a loving time-out in the naughty chair. From this day forward I want you to extend that same compassion to your adult self.”
Kris Carr  

2014: Now is the Time to Grab Life by the Balls

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I’m going to go ahead and say the thing that you aren’t exactly supposed to say about 2013; and that’s that it sucked. A big one.

With an hour and fifteen minutes until the new year begins I’m going to try to beat the clock and write that obligatory end of the year post.

I’m going to be honest and say that 2013 was not my best year, at all. Sure, there were things that  were good and made it all worthwhile. For example;

  • I met John Green and Rainbow Rowell and they are just as amazing in real life as they are on paper and on the internet.
  • I went to a Nerdfighter Meetup with some of my best friends and we rocked out to “Wrecking Ball” and other wonderful songs the entire drive down.
  • I found out that the The Fault in Our Stars movie is going to come out on my 25th birthday. So that’ll be a fun birthday. (More details about that day to come)
  • I went on a free trip to the Omaha zoo with a handful of some of the smartest and coolest kids in my school and I got to be an “on location” reporter of sorts.
  • I finally got a computer that I’ve wanted since I taught myself how to use them in the Newsroom of my school.
  • I passed my Macroeconomics class that I was sure that I was failing up until I took the final.
  • I interviewed one of my favorite people on the internet for a class project.

Other than those wonderful things I’ve fought one hell of a battle with depression and loneliness this year. I blamed my isolation on a lot of things. From my class workload to my lack of a boyfriend and to my moving into a new dorm on campus that allows me to have my own space (but looking back now those last two were a cop out).

This year I intend to actually keep my resolutions that I’ve made for the year and to expand my horizons both intellectually and travel wise. For starters, I will be going on the trip to Italy, Greece, London & Malta for conferences with my advisor and fellow Communication majors as well as my Journalism friends. I am also starting to plan my spring break, a little early I know, but it’s going to be great.  There’s a very high chance that I will get to meet my Twitter crush too while I’m there.

So since it’s officially the new year here’s my list of resolutions that I’ve actually been trying to work on all year. So this list shall just serve as a friendly reminder to myself of what they are.

  • study harder
  • have more fun
  • go to the gym and do more yoga
  • drink more water
  • drink less coffee
  • write more: in a journal as well as my blog
  • get closer to my goal GPA of a 3.0
  • eat more fruits & veggies
  • read more of the books that I own before I buy more
  • travel more
  • let love in

So yes, these goals can be reached as long as I don’t let myself turn back into the miserable bump on a log that I felt like I was over the past year. I can already tell that it’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s also going to be worth it and I know that everyone says it but, this year will be my year. I won’t settle for anything less than having almost all of it.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope your new year is wonderful and filled with extraordinary things and lots of cupcakes and wine.

50/50: A Health Communication Theory Analysis

Warning: this post is full of spoilers because I had to analyze it for a class.

In the beginning of the movie Adam, the main character, goes for a seemingly normal run, until he starts to experience a piercing pain in his lower back. He goes to the doctor to get the persistent pain checked out and his doctor breaks the news to him that he has a rare form of spinal cancer. At the doctors appointment Adam shows perceived susceptibility to get a disease such as cancer, “That doesn’t make any sense though. I mean… I don’t smoke, I don’t drink… I recycle…”. The story also involves perceived severity because of how rare his form of cancer is and the fact that once he does some of his own research into the disease that his survival rates are 50/50. Hence the title.

When Adam starts his chemotherapy he initially  pushes away his mom and dad from trying to help him and from getting too close when

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he needed them the most. The only people that helped him in the beginning of his illness were his friend Kyle who used  his desire to get laid and to pimp out Adam at the same time too as a coping mechanism.  When Adam starts going to see the counselor he plays it off as calm, cool and collected but his nonverbals say otherwise, so his counselor tries to reach out and comfort him-literally, “touching promotes trus

t among practicioners and patients.”.

When the effects of chemotherapy start taking hold of Adam his girlfriend doesn’t know how to respond to it at all because it scares her. So, in order to cope with it all she cheats on Adam and his best friend Kyle witnesses it. Which is for the better because she never went in to Adam’s chemo treatments with him because she didn’t “want to mix the energy” of their home life and his disease. Adam finds catharsis in destroying a painting that his now ex-girlfriend made for him with Kyle.

Adam’s therapist uses motivational interviewing to try to get Adam to really open up and tell her what he is really feeling during the entire process that he’s going through.   He begins to realize that his chances are really small when he finds out that one of his chemotherapy buddies has passed away after just seeing him with his wife and smiling.  His therapist gives what he’s feeling a name; the alienation phase which is the first psychological phase of dealing with cancer and it’s effects.

Since Adam doesn’t have a drivers license he relies on his friend to take him to all of his doctor appointments since his girlfriend is no longer in the picture. He also starts to talk to his otherwise alienated and overbearing mom once he finds out that she has been going to a support group for parents with children that have cancer. His mom’s overbearingness stems from her love for him and because she is having a hard time dealing with his dad’s progressively degenerating Alzheimer’s and his life-threatening cancer.

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Adam and his parents go to his last doctors appointment in which they discuss if the chemotherapy has been working and it didn’t so serious surgery is needed. Adam’s mom criticizes the doctors credentials because he went to a state school and she wants the best care for her son. The night before the surgery Adam and Kyle go to an old hangout to reflect on everything up until this point in their lives and Kyle gets drunk and can’t drive. So, Adam grabs the keys and begins to drive his frustrations with his life out-literally.  He eventually stops the car and breaks down and decided to call his therapist and finally come clean about his frustrations.  In doing so he finds comraderie, strength and love in her voice.

He finally gets Kyle home and while washing his hands in the bathroom he finds a book that Kyle had bought about how to help your friend going through a disease and how to help yourself get through it. in that moment Adam realizes that Kyle’s selfishness and pre-occupation with getting laid were just his defense mechanisms to deal with the fact that he’s really hurting for his friend.

On the day of Adam’s surgery the interaction between Kyle and Adam is very manly and subtle, but you can tell that there is pain and love there. Before Kyle goes to park the car Adam gives him a big hug (because of the books) and the go their separate ways.

Right as the doctor is about to administer anethesia Adam breaks down in his mom’s arms about how scared he is and how much he loves his parents. The fact that his first major surgery is also one that can either save him or kill him is terrifying him, and he doesn’t think that the medicine will keep him down for the duration of the surgery.

During Adam’s surgery while Kyle and Adam’s parents are in the waiting room Katherine, Adam’s therapist, comes into the room to wait for news. While there she hears Kyle talking to Adam’s mom reassuring her that he’ll be fine because they are all nervous and scared. Katherine introduces herself and tells them that he’s in the best hands possible because his surgeon is the best in the country.

Finally, the surgeon comes out and tells the family how Adam’s surgery went. At first she makes it seem like he had passed away because of the somber look on her face when she first comes out of the OR.  She says that there were some minor complications and that his recovery will be a slow one. Kyle who has been hoping for the best but expecting the worst for his friend asks the doctor why she never led with telling them that he made it through in the first place.

While Adam is in recovery he has help dressing his wound by his mother and Kyle, even though it visibly grosses Kyle out to see his friend’s scar he still comes through and helps to dress his wound because he loves him and that’s what friends do.

See trailer here: 50/50

All images provided by Google images