The Weight of Love

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”

— Charles Bukowski

Over the past year or so I’ve spent a lot of time alone. They say that that’s supposed to help you to “find yourself”. Well, I call bullshit. I’ve known myself for 25 years now. Sure, I learn new things about myself everyday, but that’s a part of the human experience, right? You’re supposed to learn from the trials and tribulations that this wonderful thing called life puts us through. I guess the good news though is that we’re all in this together and no one gets out alive.

But I digress…

I’ve been alone for more than long enough to get to know myself properly. I know what makes me happy, what makes me tick, what can demolish me in a second and what can build me up when I need it the most.

But now, I think I need, or at the very least, want a giant spoon to scoop out all of the heaviness that’s wrapped itself around me, both internally and externally. I don’t want to be sad anymore.

This year marks the five year anniversary of my dad’s death. Two days before the anniversary I’ll be on a plane coming back from a two week trip with my classmates. In almost five years I haven’t been near my dad’s grave or to his house that had to be sold upon his passing.

In the years since his death, especially this one, I’ve contemplated going to his house or to his grave. However, now I’m not so sure about going to his gravesite since it’s just a box under the ground. Whereas at my dad’s house, provided if the new owners will let me on the property, my dad’s spirit is still there and things that he has touched and built with his own two hands are there. My family said our last goodbyes to him there. It only makes sense.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking for at these places, but something inside of me is telling me that I should go if I can just to find out what it may be.

I’m not entirely sure what I need to do to get this leaden armor off of me or to stop the gnawing in the pit of my stomach to go away, or even the void in my heart to go away. I just know that I want it gone.

Since I’ve been in college I’ve been trying to find ways to get these feelings to go away. I’ve tried to be as least self-destructive as I could be. So far I’ve seen a counselor, I’ve been told to get medication twice now and I’ve also attempted to get out and be social. However, that’s a bit of a problem  when you’re a person that never stops thinking no matter how much they try to shut off their brain.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Though upon reflection, maybe trying to ease my wounds by throwing myself into one of the most stressful environments that a single person can willingly throw themselves into wasn’t the greatest of ideas; but here I  am. 

With one year left of school and the rest of the world at my feet I want to try to go out into the world and not be weighed down by sadness.

Edit: It’s been four days since I’ve published this post. Today I called one of my dad’s closest friends and who was basically one of his main caretakers when he was sick. He (his friend) is going to get me the number of the guy that currently lives in my dad’s house so that I can go out there this summer on the anniversary of my dad’s death.

Roots and Wings

I graduate college next year. I graduate college next year, and honestly I think that I’m a little terrified. I mean, that’s usually the natural response to something like this. Or at least it has been for everyone that I’ve known that’s graduated already. But they eventually picked themselves up and have started to make something out of themselves.

I just hope that transfers to everyone that turns their tassels come graduation day.

The only difference between me and most of them is that while they are laying down roots I’m trying to figure out where my next travel destination will be. There’s so much more of this world that I have yet to and want to see and explore. So, unless I get a job out of college that lets me travel and work at the same time that I actually enjoy than I may be forced to start rooting myself. That would be cool if Missouri was where I wanted to stay all of my life. Which I don’t. I’ve lived here for going on 26 years, and while they’ve been some good years, they haven’t made me want to stay much longer.

A while ago during a late night Facebook conversation. a friend of mine pointed out to me that I was restless. Of course I am. I’ve seen five countries in the span of two weeks and what I saw was very little. Of course my natural inclination right now is to fly rather than fight.

Google.com

A few things that I’ve noticed while I travel is that that big black cloud of depression that likes to hang over me in my daily life seems to dissipate and the straight jacket of anxiety tends to loosen up its hold. So, obviously I’m doing something right. Right?

However…..

I have this nagging feeling deep inside that I want to lay down some roots or something. I think what it is is my desire to want to take care of something and in turn be taken care of.

While I’m quite fond of being the independent woman that I am (I think I am), I have also been single for going on four years now. I realize that that’s not a lot of time compared to some people. For example, my mom; she’s been single/divorced for almost eight years now and she seems to be doing pretty well. But there are days when I know that she would do anything to have someone by her side to help carry some of the weight of her stressful life. For that I don’t blame her either. If anything, I want her (and my brothers by proxy) to be happy.

I come from a family of tough, driven and stubborn women so it could be years before I reach whatever it is I really want out of life. So for now I’ll just have to work at chipping away at this shell that I’ve built up around myself by myself.

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.

Destroying Magazines to Rebuild My Own Heart

My emotions have been all over the place lately. I’ve talked to a counselor, I’ve attempted to get lost in a rotation of at least four books at one time and even in my studies, and yet, nothing seems to work when all of my emotions and nerves feel like they want to push themselves out of my skin and just leave me in a heap on the floor.

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Except for one thing.

I’ve taken to collecting random issues of Glamour, Marie Claire and even a Cosmopolitan magazine or two and reading them and then sharing them with my roommate & then cutting andtearing out random inspirational things that I find in the rags. I then proceed to put the emaciated models and the beautifully placed pictures and semi-cliched but also words of wisdom on the  doors in my room to serve as a reminder.

A reminder of how awesome I am and that my anxiety and weighty depression will not win. No matter how hard they try to pull me down.

I actually used to do this when I was younger but with copies of my sister’s Jane, Delia’s,  J-14 and the occasional Glamour and Cosmo. As they got older and started to pass the Holy Grails down to my other sister that was close to my age and I relished the days when we got a new “magazine delivery” from just a few feet away.

Instead of having walls and doors to plaster the beautiful pictures and inspirational words I kept them tucked away in my bottom dresser drawer in an old glass case that once held a shop’s worth of my sister’s makeup in it. They didn’t stay locked away for long.

When I started to get allowances, I used to buy a lot of random journals from the grocery store by our house because I really really wanted to be a serious writer when I was 12. I had a crazy notion at that age that if the outside of the journals that I hoarded were going to be beautiful then by God so were the inside covers!

I spent hours after school and on weekends poring over the glossy, sweet, perfume-sample filled pages trying to find any and everything that stood out. Thankfully some of the magazines of yesteryear weren’t quite as terrible as some are today and I began to find myself in between the pages.

Now, at the ripe old age of nearly 25 I am still poring over the glossy pages of multiple random magazines on weekends and after school for hours on end and looking for things that jump out at me that make me feel like more of a human.

Only now the magazines are inspiring and shaping my future and creating a sort of solace in hunting down those words and images and cutting them out and exacting the edges to fit in the front and back covers of my journals.

There’s something about taking care of something else, even if that something is as simple as cutting the perfect edge around an oddly placed grouping of words to size, that can make those of us that feel like they’ve been forgotten by those they hold closest feel like they will be okay in the end.

Even finding the perfect placement for the found objects in the covers creates a purpose that has been left dormant for days, months or years and the pieces just seem to fit together perfectly, eventually.

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  

On How Not to Feel Guilty for Taking a Personal Mental Health Day while in college

  • eat chocolate
  • wear sweats, hell stay in them for the next two days if you have to
  • study for the test you have tomorrow while eating copious amounts of junk food
  • watch SNL reruns
  • vent to friends and roommates
  • ignore your phoneImage
  • get yourself caught up on your writing assignments so that you won’t be behind once you recover
  • Tumblr
  • DO NOT WORRY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MISSING ONE MEETING BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN UN-TREATED ANXIETY DISORDER
  • breathe
  • talk to your “person” (that’s right I’ve found one)
  • read your favorite magazine
  • take a long hot shower or bath, whichever you prefer
  • drink some hot tea
  • stare at some hotties (see what I did there?)
  • watch your favorite tv shows and/or movies
  • find a dog or cat to cuddle with

I wish I had a “person”

Meredith Grey had Christina, Lorelai had Sookie and Rory had Lane…but I feel like I have no one.

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At least that’s how it feels anyways. I probably do have someone that is my “person” that I can tell any and everything to, but I think that the fog of my mild depression that I fell into last year is still lingering. Even though I have my own room and am trying to do more to get involved at school this year by doing RHA and participating in our 48 hour film festival later this year but ever since I moved out of my community oriented dorm I have felt like I am missing something, even though I do work there there’s still something that feels off inside of me. I just can’t put my finger on what it is and it is killing me!

Now, I do realize that I am surrounded by a bunch of wonderful people and that I have access to resources that can help me sort my stuff out like counseling and RA’s that are supposed to be there for you, but on those tough nights where you need someone to just hold you and tell you that things will be okay, they can’t be there for you, because some are much older than you and they aren’t really your friend’s they’re your confidants.

I realize that I’m probably overexaggerating (I have a tendency to do that a lot) or that I’m probably just being a big baby, but looking back over the years of my college experience I’ve only had one really great year and that was freshmen year with a bunch of random wonderful things up until this point and I know that I need to work on making myself happy before I even begin to entertain the idea of getting into a relationship again one day and I really want to be happy. I just don’t know how to get there by myself.

“No, it’s not so bad. I’m lucky, I know. I just. . .I feel like I’m never gonna have it. . .the whole package, you know? That person, that couple life, and I swear, I hate admitting it because I fancy myself Wonder Woman, but. . .I really want it – the whole package.”

– Lorelai Gilmore (who has been like a second mother to me this week & for a good portion of my life)

What do you do when you’re feeling extremely vulnerable?