And I Can’t Help

Your arms around me,
security, not a cage.
With your sleepy sigh at my back, I smile.
I know you will wake as soon as I touch my phone.
And you will pull me closer to you,
hot skin warming my everything.

*   *   *

Our mornings and nights we spend wrapped around each other, and our days we spend roaming your city. There are a million places you want to show me, and I can hear the disappointment in your voice every time I say that I’ve been there before with my sister. You want to be my first for everything, to show me why I should love your town as much as I love my own.

The thing is, I don’t always love new surroundings. I love familiarity. So being in this town that boarders both new and familiar, with my hand firmly in yours, or your arm draped around me, it makes me love the place more than I ever did.

You cater to my every need with a playful smile and a happy heart. We hop from place to place, just enjoying each other’s company. The playful flick of my toes against your shin, your goofy grin as you hold my hand in yours on the bar top, the sweet cheek kisses as we make harmless jokes at each other’s expense. It’s the same scene at every bar, champagne bubbles caressing my lips as we remain mentally wrapped up in nothing and no one but each other.

Your love and support astounds me. You haven’t said it yet, but I can feel it. I wiped a lash off your cheek and told you to make a wish, and you looked at me before you blew it away. I asked what you wished for, and you refused to tell me. “I want this one to come true,” you smiled. And I smiled back, my eyes falling to the floor as I blushed. I feel it.

And your support… you’ve never even thought of knocking me down. And every time I say something about myself, you correct me in a loving way. You have no idea how I haven’t been snatched up by someone else before you, why others would pass on such a soul. That’s how I know it’s right. From playing video games in your messy apartment on a Friday night, to teeing it up at a driving range for the first time, you have never laughed at me for trying new things. You have always been on my side. I want you on my team forever.

At the end of the day, after we’ve made a simple dinner, had a few beers, and watched an episode of our favorite show, I’m in your bed again, head on your chest, falling asleep as you stroke my head. And with each sleepy twitch and each deep breath, I realize I’m falling more than just asleep.

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First Dates and Second Weddings

It took all of my focus to keep my hands from shaking every time I took a sip from my glass. I sat there, cross-legged, waiting for your arrival.

Nervous shakes grew into playful banter and genuine laughter. I glanced at you and was overcome with this urge to kiss you right then and there, but I knew if I did we wouldn’t even make it out of your apartment.

So I waited. And in the morning I woke up in your arms, to the soft, melodic sound of your breathing, fast asleep. And I smiled.

* * *

The shakes came back as I stood in a wine red dress in a room full of strangers, sipping my cocktail as fast as I could. You disappeared in this sea of strangers, but I found I wasn’t drowning just yet.

A fake proposal and real tears around the room, the buzz finally started to hit me. With your knee touching mine, you made sure I was having fun and I made sure you knew I was, that you would be too, as you grabbed your napkin.

And I grabbed your hand and led you to the dance floor, where I could see in your eyes that you were entirely too nervous about how you would look.

As the night drew on and the collection of stirring straws grew larger and larger, I could see the light in your eyes. You felt comfortable finally, in your own skin as I tugged at your tie, the smile on your face as wide as your heart. You pulled me into a slow dance, prince and princess at our own private ball, your lips sugar against my ear.

Up in arms and hand in hand, the wind toyed with our hair the whole ride home, the fresh air cool against my skin. Your head against the seat, your cool blue eyes finding me when it wasn’t, your sweet words floated in the breeze.

We trudged up to our room, lying against each other as I started to drift off, feeling at home in this foreign room, in this strange town, with nothing and no one but you. Once again, I awoke with your arms around me, a love song in my head, and your sigh at my back. Your soft murmurs became a new song that I love to sing as you traced my back with your fingertips.

***

This time you had the shakes as we drove through the rolling green hills I call home. It was your turn to sink or swim in a sea of strangers. You floated.

Your blue eyes sunk into me, butterflies zooming through my belly, and you smiled when I hadn’t made a joke.

“I’m just happy.”

Me too.

 

 

Strapped

I’ve finally found a moment to sit and write, and even now I’m distracted by this boy blowing up my phone. But it’s okay, I really like him.

It’s the boy I casually mentioned last time, my sister’s fiance’s friend. He’s a really sweet guy, and I’m excited to see him soon. We couldn’t find any time to get together before I went on my trip, so our first date is the 11th of August and he’s taking me to a wedding the 12th. He stuck with me through my entire trip, always eager to know what I was doing, never happy when I lost service at the campgrounds. Very sweet and charming and respectful. Talk about a breath of fresh air.

My trip itself was fantastic. I was terrified of seeing bears, but I think I handled it really well for being my first time camping ever, let alone for two weeks straight. We survived a 5.8 earthquake that hit Montana, we swam in glacial waters of  Lake McDonald, we slept outside during a thunderstorm in Yellowstone, we heard wolves/coyotes howl just over the mountain ridge, we woke up early in search of bears and other wildlife, and we went to bed late, usually with some kind of alcohol in our systems. We climbed a 10,000 foot peak, and I got a tattoo in Denver. My only regret is that I forgot a notebook, because I’ve since forgotten so many of the inspired thoughts I had while on the journey.

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But the MOUNTAINS. The mountains were just more beautiful and magnificent than I could have ever expected. It felt a little strange coming back home, seeing my mountains and thinking of just how small they were in comparison. I’m hoping they don’t disappoint me…

Phoebe and I had plenty of great conversations, but the one that stuck with me the most was just eye opening to me. It was something that I’ve always kind of known in the back of my mind, but that I hadn’t really had to process it before.

You can’t love someone wholeheartedly if there is no trust. I remember the days of anxiety, the edge of suspicion to every text message and every name that came in the aftermath of being cheated on. I remember the knots in my stomach, the sleepless nights, and the pure worry, even when he and I were trying to work things out. Even when it seemed like we had, I was still always wary, ready to jump to the worst conclusion, because I had learned that the worst conclusion isn’t always wrong.

I remember enduring the same storm with Adam, with girls he told me not to worry about, who he then had to own up to. “Nothing happened, but…” Everything before “but” is bullshit. Something happened, and I was back in that hole, empty and broken at the bottom. Somehow he got mad at me for all of it, and my lack of trust was supposedly why he dumped me so harshly. Even though I was walking on glass, dancing around my own feelings to spare his, to ensure that he still loved me, that he still thought I was “cool.” I’ll tell you what, he didn’t, but I still get texts from him whenever he’s drunk and horny. To that I say, fuck you.

I say that you can’t love someone if you can’t trust them. You can’t wholeheartedly be your best self. You’re always being careful, always watching your back or barking at others to stay away. If there is no trust, there is nothing. I understand why it’s hard to trust, but you have to give that new person a chance. If nothing else, you’ve made it through heartache before and you will again, but it’s important to love as if you’ve never had a broken heart. I’m still trying to incorporate that into this new relationship, and he has been very understanding of the times I haven’t been able to.

I was telling Mom the other day how I’m just so sick of the dating scene nowadays. Everyone’s excuse is that they’ve been hurt before, so they’re “not looking for anything serious.” So when they do find someone they’re interested in, they refuse to put labels to anything. Because if there are no labels, it doesn’t hurt so much when someone gets hurt, right? We never made anything official, so she can’t be mad that I’m on a date with someone else. She’s not really my girlfriend, so I shouldn’t invite her to family events. I’m losing interest, I should just stop talking to her and she’ll get the point. If she says anything, she’s totally crazy because we aren’t anything and I told her I wasn’t looking for anything serious…

It’s all bullshit, and it’s all the same. Maybe if we as a species all grew a pair and gave it another shot, picked ourselves off and dusted ourselves off when we got hurt, we wouldn’t end up hurting so many people. We would love others instead of playing mind games. We would respect one another, and if we fell in love, we fell in love. Perfect world, right?

Spread some love and have some hope.

Dani

 

Summer Rain

To set the mood: it’s a arid, rainy night, the rain sloughing off the humidity. Lightning flashes silently, its applause so far off I can’t hear it. Listening to something I recently discovered thanks to Spotify.

Life moves on. It keeps rolling with no intention of stopping, neither for the good nor the bad. Life continues.

For me, it has meant a lot. I’ve graduated. It doesn’t feel like it yet, but maybe it’ll hit me in August when I’m not packing up to go anywhere. My grandparents are still in the hospital, and I am adjusting to life back home.

Exciting things happen! Last weekend my sister got engaged! It was a beautiful, magical moment, and we both cried tears of joy. I think for her it seemed like the end of a long battle between her heart and her anxiety. For me it was a mix. I was so happy for her, but some part of me felt like I was losing my sister. I know it’s not true, I’m really just gaining a brother who is pretty much me in male form.

There were also times that I felt a little hollow during the celebration. My family was saying “Oh you’re next!” And the smile just couldn’t reach my eyes. How can I even entertain that idea when I don’t have anyone? The only person I was interested in clearly was not interested in me. I had a few small flashes of loneliness, but they were quickly swallowed by my happiness for my sister and her now-fiance. He’s a great man, and I’m happy to welcome him to the family.

As it turns out, things may have stirred somewhere else, a friend of my new soon-to-be brother-in-law. But I’ll wait to delve into that until there’s more to talk about.

I have noticed I am more open this time around. Recently, my social anxiety has gotten the best of any semblance of love interests. It scared me whenever they were flirty or wanted to see me. I felt awkward when they showed any emotion, and I refused to show any back. I’m not sure what it meant, whether it was my intuition protecting me or just succumbing to social anxiety, but either way this time is a little different. My emotions are still dulled at this point. I wish I remembered what it felt like to wholeheartedly be excited at the start of a new romance, but it’s been a while, and I’m scared of overwhelming anything. Both because it may scare off the other person and it may hurt me in the end. But I hold on to the hope that this one may be different, and that in itself is something I haven’t felt in a while.

So we’ll see how things play out. Until then, I will be working and hiking (drinking).

Love

 

 

Mortality

My grandfather is in the hospital. Yes, the one that lives with us, the one who has just been an asshole of a human being to my mother and father, the one that I just kept hoping would die.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little happy when he went to the hospital with pneumonia, something very strange to catch at this time of year. I was. It was almost a relief, that maybe we were finally nearing the end. Of an endless stream of nurses, of my father muttering under his breath every time the nurses had to move my grandfather, of my mother having to sacrifice her weekends to care for a man who was entirely ungrateful for her help.

And so, he is in the hospital, nearing the end. He chose hospice care. We think that after years of fighting so hard to hang on to life, he has finally accepted that he is going to die, in his own cynical way. For a psychiatrist, it’s weird to me that he has such a hard time processing his own feelings and emotions, but maybe that’s not too unusual with psychologists and psychiatrists. My mom and I are only able to guess at what he’s feeling, but we we think he has finally come to accept his own death.

So Mom asked my sister and I to visit him in the hospital, just in case he doesn’t come home. I walked in there, slightly annoyed, afraid, and hungover from celebrating my graduation. I have no connection with this man and I’m terrified of hospitals, so my own feelings manifested in annoyance. Just one more thing this man will put us through.

What I was surprised to find was how I actually felt sad when I saw him. Not pity, but sad. I won’t miss the man, but there’s something so haunting about seeing someone who is, for all intents and purposes, dying. Leaning across the bed, eyes closed, a once towering man now shriveled and deflated, struggling to breathe easily. At the end of his life, despite how hard he has clung to this world.

Mom and I wonder why he has clung so tightly. He claims to be a good Catholic, so shouldn’t he be excited for heaven? We think he is still fighting his own demons. Maybe he realizes he wasn’t the best person while on this earth, and he is afraid of judgement, should it come, should it be real. It just makes you wonder.

It was the first time I had been in a hospital for someone who is dying. I have been when my sister got cleated during the only softball game I went to, I’ve been to Hershey Medical Center when my cousin was hit by a truck, I have been for my own personal health issues, but never for a dying person. There’s something so private, that silence just hanging in the air. No one knows what to do or say, because what else can you talk about? You try to make everything seem normal to give that dying person a sense of peace and, well, normalcy. But that elephant in the room is there, clear as day, as obvious as the IV in his arm.

I do not have any strong feelings towards my grandfather (not positive ones, anyway). But you never want to see someone suffering, someone miserable, someone who is clearly afraid of the next adventure. It’s sad, seeing someone who is at the end of his life. It is.

At first, it was strange to me that these emotions were even touched when I have harbored such negative feelings for him all these years, but the more I think about it, the more I understand it’s normal.

Despite the fact that I don’t like my grandfather, I would have to be heartless not to feel something at the sight of a dying man. It is the first time I have ever really seen him any kind of emotionally vulnerable. And it’s tough to face death. It’s hard to face your own mortality. To think that one day I will be on my deathbed too, and what will I have made of my life then? What relationships will I have sown? What memories, should I still be lucky enough to have them, will I reflect on? Will I be able to let go of my life with grace, or will I be just as afraid?

I can’t quite put words to what seeing him today has brought me, but I think I needed it. In a way, I feel I have come to peace with my feelings towards my grandfather. And I didn’t know I needed that, but I did.

Until that moment comes, I will be there for my mom as she processes her own confused feelings for what will inevitably be the death of her father. I will sow my relationships, thankful that I have been blessed with so many loving people.

Thank you. Love.

Bad at Goodbyes

My introverted attitudes might sometimes disagree with me, because I love experiencing people. Not bumping into everyone in a crowd, not trying to tune out the mindless chatter on the bus. But exploring people. Seeing more of who they are.

I recently went to Florida with some close friends and some acquaintances, and I was definitely given a glimpse into their lives. I think my favorite was Harry.

I’ve known Harry since he was in 8th grade and I was in 11th (SSL). He was one of my favorites in that class – we bonded over music. He came to work at the cup a few years ago, and I was so thrilled to see him I think he was scared. Ever since then we haven’t really had much of a conversation, though he seamlessly melded into (and possibly took over) the friend group.

He’s a kind soul. Very crazy, a little weird, but quite a gentleman. While we shared jokes and stories while waiting in line for rides, I think we were both kind of surprised to see how much we enjoyed each other’s company. Which was good news since we were the only two trying to catch a flight home on Sunday, and who knew how long we’d be trapped at the airport together.

The conversation was awkward and a little forced at first, flowing later on. Every time I pick up my (Trevor’s) Game of Thrones book, I think of him. He told me how he’s a voracious reader, how he would sit for six hours just reading. I told him that I couldn’t even do that.

He said “yeah, I would just chill under a tree and read for the day, it’s the best.” And that struck me as odd, almost too romantic for the categories in which I had placed him. It was beautiful, I loved it. Here was this crazy boy who loved headbanging, mosh pits, and metal music… and I could picture him sprawled under a tree on a hot summer day, consumed in a book. It was nice.

There are so many things I don’t know about people. Strangers, my family, my friends. Experiencing them.

The conversation came easily afterward, and the woman at the ticket counter moved people around so that we could catch the 8:40 flight home together. He let me have the window seat even though he moved through the aisles ahead of me (I told you, a gentleman), and I caught him staring past me out the window to see the beautiful glow of the city lights as they webbed their way across the dark expanse of earth below us.

As a fellow romantic, it was really nice to see that side of Harry.

***

Lauren and I talked the weekend before, just sharing life and the warm spring sunshine in makeshift chairs on her front porch. She asked me what exactly it was that I wanted in a boyfriend, and I couldn’t tell her… because I couldn’t tell you what it is myself.

But a piece of advice struck me recently. “Wait for the man that makes you want to be in a relationship.” Had I read that a year ago, I would have interpreted that as “don’t get into a relationship if you think you’re just going to cheat anyway.” Fair, and some people probably still read it that way. Maybe the author intended it that way.

Recently, ever guy that’s shown an interest in me has made me uncomfortable. I just want to avoid it or them. It almost makes me sick, and I wasn’t sure if that was my intuition or nervousness or social anxiety. Maybe all three.

But then I saw that quote, and I thought “maybe someone will come along one day and when they show interest I won’t shy away. I’ll think this is right, this is natural, this is what I want. And that’s what it will mean to wait for a man who makes you want to be in a relationship.” I won’t be tired. I’ll be ready. And that was a nice hope to hang on to.

Drink Your Poison

Noise overstimulation has become a big problem lately. I’m not sure if I had would have more patience if I wasn’t surrounded by blaring sirens and the honking horns of pissed off drivers, but I can hope. It’s gotten so bad that sometimes it’s unbearable to listen to my roommates’ mundane and polite conversations.

Yoga usually helps clear my head. Alex and I chuckle side by side as we pick apart our yoga videos online. It’s probably the brighter side of most of my days, just social enough while also allowing me to retreat into my mind shortly afterward. Plus, when you feel limber you feel good.

Today we watched Boyhood, a movie that follows a boy and his family over approximately 12-13 years of his life, from age 5ish to his first day at college. We all kind of criticized it; the mother for her horrible choice in men, the father for his immature parenting style, the daughter for her boring and sassy attitude, the boy for his gloomy speeches about existential crises.

As much as we criticized, it was interesting to watch, and in ways it was very relatable. You grew to connect to certain characters and their fucked up life stories. I definitely related to Mason on not wanting everyone breathing down my neck about what to do with my life, something I’m sure many people our age experience. Even following the petty high school break up experience. There was something so quietly entertaining about watching these events unfold, partially because there wasn’t really any action – kind of like real life. There weren’t many dramatic scenes, no thickening movie plot. Just life and how it moves, changes, unfolds. How people develop, for better or worse. How life just goes on.

It’s an incredible juxtaposition to the other show I (and the rest of America) have been watching: 13 Reasons Why. That is quite the dramatic show. With some terrible acting and cheesy one-liners, but that’s what sold in middle school, when I first read the book that the series is based off of.

It seems to glorify suicide in a vengeful way, something that I can’t get behind showing to the vulnerable young-adult public viewers. It makes me mad. This girl is so dramatic. The things she faces in life are by no means easy to go through, but I think they are things she could get over without taking her own life. Granted, I didn’t have the mental stability I like to claim I have now when I was back in high school, so she probably doesn’t either. Hindsight, I guess.

Regardless, the thought of vengeful suicide angers me. It’s such a final, definitive move. But in the same vein, it’s not final. Hannah commits suicide and supposedly her pain is over. Except her pain lives on through other people. It’s not a final move, just the next one. A transfer of that energy. A selfish act. It hurts me most when they show the parents as they struggle to find out what went wrong, why their daughter was capable, why she felt this was her only option. This girl had a support system – two loving parents. They weren’t drug addicts, she wasn’t neglected. They cared about her. I can’t imagine doing that to my mother. I can’t imagine someone doing that to me.

It really struck a nerve because my friend’s dad committed suicide in December, and that was its own transfer of pain. But the cases were different. Scott had a mental illness that he couldn’t beat, and it took him. It took him from his wife. It took him from his three kids, the youngest of whom is only about ten. It took him from his friends, his church, his community. It left a scar so deep we don’t talk about it. People ask me how my friend is doing and all I can say is “good” because how am I supposed to delve into that kind of pain with my friend? How am I supposed to ask him how he’s holding up since the man he looked up to from day one decided he couldn’t take it anymore? It’s created a barrier between him and his friends, the wound we never touch, and one that will never heal.

But no, Hannah Baker gets groped by some jerk, nasty rumors spread around her, a stalker taking her pictures. And that’s all it takes to push her over the edge. (I’m not finished with the series. Maybe it gets worse and makes more sense, but for now I’m just angry). And the show seems to glorify suicide as the final, vengeful act, this girl only caring about how to end her pain than think about who her death with destroy. At the very least, the number to the suicide hotline should accompany each episode.

*   *   *

One episode brought me plummeting right back to you. You know how indie shows now use indie songs by unheard of artists just to seem cool? Yeah, well, I recognized Lord Huron in there. A beautiful song shared between Hannah and Clay. But I couldn’t pay attention to the show once that song came on. I just thought of you.

I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you.

A heaviness hit my chest. I don’t think that song was even out by the time we ended things. Maybe it was. Did you listen to it? The summer that Lord Huron was your muse? The medicine that also broke your heart, that album on repeat as I danced my cares away with a boyfriend that shouldn’t have been more than a rebound? Did you torture yourself with one of my favorite bands as a way to expel your thoughts, your sins? You deserved this, you thought, to wallow in pity and despair. You did that whenever you messed up.

I broke away from you, turned my back and ran. That was when you finally listened to all the songs I had been suggesting for months, the movies I’d wanted you to watch for years. I just wanted to share them with you, appreciate them and analyze them with you. We were insightful, emotional.

My favorite memories with you aren’t even memories. We would lay in your bed, ready for sleep, wrapped around each other, talking. Just talking. We would have those insightful conversations, ones that I wouldn’t remember in the morning. We would talk until we couldn’t move our lips anymore, couldn’t form the sounds. Sometimes we talked about how much we loved each other. When things got bad, we talked about what we were sorry for. How we could work on things. And sometimes we just talked about our thoughts. The world. The universe. We were in love. We were present in that moment, our energies floating through the universe, anchored by a warm blanket and each other’s presence.

I think back, and I miss those moments. Will you always be one step ahead of me? Would I feel the same as I did back then? Or would I be afraid, as I am so often now. Of letting you in, of being hurt, of committing to loving so wholly again. I know it is brave to love. But it is also tiring.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that you are my first love. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know if I’d believe romantic love existed at all. I’d think romance was all just a game. That connections were impossible to keep for more than two months. That boys were all liars that just wanted to fuck. Thankfully you showed me that that isn’t the case. You showed me love, intelligence, emotional and intellectual intimacy, and I am truly lucky to have found that in my first boyfriend. And this time it’s me who fucked up. But it’s all about how gracefully you let go, right? You were water.

Thank you.

Clustered Tulips

It’s late night dance parties in your studio,

Early morning kisses in your attic,

Getting locked outside in your clothes,

Talking to your mom as if I were here every morning.

Every little bit makes it harder to let go.

*   *   *

You found out she got married this weekend. In a little black dress at the county courthouse, with the brightest smile you hadn’t seen in years. My heart broke for you as I felt your last thread of hope peeling away. It was so subtle, with the impact of a guillotine. What could you do about it? She is not yours. You’re not sure she ever was, but maybe that’s what kept you on your toes.

So what did we do? We got drunk. I was excited to see my friends, some unusual faces in the crowd. I think you were torn between distraction and numbing. I got you to dance, but that’s the best I could do.

We slumped up the stairs, falling back to our puzzle piece rhythm. And my own misery couldn’t hold it in any longer. I asked you about it. I asked if you were okay.

In those moments, I feel like your friend. One that just wants you to be happy, to be okay. That one that’s empathetic because she’s been hurting too, one that shares your pain because it’s all she knows how to do, how to comfort, how to react. You talked, your voice plain, and I asked more, careful questions. In those moments we know each other. In those moments you find solace of your loneliness with my head on your chest and your arms around me. You find a love that you don’t know how to hang on to, and you’re too tired to try. I am too.

Like probably every other girl that’s tried, I want to fix you. I want to love all your broken pieces back together. Save you from your past, from your loyalty, your first love. And like every other girl that’s tried, I can’t.

*   *   *

I had a really great time visiting home this weekend. Work was hectic and annoying but we made it through as usual. Any motivation for free alcohol right?

I live for the nights that I can connect with people. As someone who has been introverted (and extremely shy) her entire life, relating to people and connecting to people through conversation is very inspiring and fulfilling to me. Some of them were my coworkers, and some my own family members.

I woke up to his kisses Friday morning, somehow made it through the entire day on four hours of sleep.

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Saturday I was well rested (he was gone), so I hiked by myself through Harper’s Ferry. Though the inclines were incredibly steep, especially with a 10lb weight in my backpack to help condition, it was probably my most rewarding hike. I had time for myself, to do and think about what I wanted, not worry about keeping up a conversation (I probably wouldn’t have been able to anyway). The view was spectacular as I watched birds swirl high above me, heard the train rustle below, the river to my right. It was incredibly peaceful, and it made me excited for my trip. It was also the first time my legs had been so sore in a while, and it made me feel so alive, that I was heading in the right direction, that the plateau was over.

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I spent the afternoon sanding a breadbox, of all things. At first it was stressful and annoying, time-consuming. But as usual once I slowed down I really actually enjoyed it. Working with my hands outside. Nothing but me and my thoughts. The more solitude I have, the more I realize I like myself. I’m not a perfect person, but I make myself happy, and I appreciate my own thoughts in a strange, cyclical way. img_0129.png

That night I went out with Kristen, Rosie, and Heather. Kyle owed me some drinks so he gave me a good amount of patron for free (love it). I didn’t get to spend as much time with Heather as I wanted, but I got to spend some time with Rosie that I think she needed. I don’t think she has a great outlet, and she deals with a lot of shit in her life. She’s such a sweet person that just wants love, and she definitely deserves it. She doesn’t get enough from some of the places she should… lots of heart to hearts. Like I said, I love connecting with people.

Sunday was a day with the family. Lauren’s absence was noticeable, and I don’t think I filled the space to its entirety, but I think it was good enough.

Something that I recently admitted to my mom is that I think the Main Cup is the only place in which I have felt truly celebrated, and that was kind of a tough thought to accept. I have always had an immense love for my family, and like I said I’ve always grown up kind of in someone’s shadow without it really bothering me. I don’t need to be center of attention all the time, I just like appreciation.

I shared with mom that I’ve always been in the shadow of my sister, through no one’s fault. I’ve just always been quiet and reserved and she has fit in better with the extroverted side of the family. Most of the time when Lauren’s missing from family events, the first question I get is “where’s your sister?” like I’m not good enough to entertain them in the same way.

I don’t want to paint a woe-is-me story about my life, because I have been blessed in so many ways. I’m just saying it’s not always fun to grow up in someone’s shadow.

But Main Cup has been different for me. I’m a different person. I’m more confident because I’ve learned that people like me for me, that they give me a chance because they want to, not because they know my sister. That they aren’t comparing me to her, let down when I’m not as outgoing. It’s given me a sense of self. Of finding who I am with fewer influences.

I love my sister. But I’m happy to be discovering who I am on my own. Why I love me. Why others do too.

Love

 

 

Elastic Warriors of the Universe

There’s something to be said about not being the victim anymore.

For the longest time, I knew my baggage was “my first boyfriend cheated on me, therefore I am teeming with trust issues so you should be empathetic when I’m crazy.” It’s not a fun place to be, and I thought I would be that way forever.

But something happened about a year ago, and I just stopped.

I didn’t want to be labeled as “the girl that got cheated on”, I didn’t want to carry that baggage with me into every new relationship I had. I didn’t want to be crazy about the trust issues, constantly wondering where my new boyfriend was at all times, worrying over who he was with, if he was lying to me about something. I noticed all of those tendencies slip into my second relationship. Slowly, my trust issues receded, which was such a big relief for me.

Eventually the trust issues came back full force, but that’s what happens when you date sleazy guys that are down for any attention girls throw at them (no matter how much love and attention you give them).

It took a long time to get over labeling myself as a victim. I felt I had an explanation, a justification for my overly anxious attitudes, that whoever I dated next would have to be okay with me being worried about them all the time.

One day I realized I just didn’t want to think that way anymore. I didn’t want to have to worry every minute of the day. I didn’t want to have to check up on someone all the time and then not believe him anyway because I was lied to in my first two relationships. Relationships are built on trust and friendship, and I couldn’t have a good one if I could only promise half of those characteristics.

I can’t even explain how liberating it was to finally let it go. I didn’t want to be the victim anymore. I didn’t have to keep lugging around this heavy, anxious weight all the time. Maybe it’s naive, maybe it’s resilience, but I decided I needed to trust people wholeheartedly again if I was ever going to find a relationship that gave that trust back to me.

I know I have a big heart, and sometimes that’s why I get screwed over. But I try not to let it make me bitter. I know that there is so much good in the world just waiting to be unlocked, that there is so much love being shared out there. I know that if I put love out in the universe, it will come back to me somehow. Maybe I can show others how to love, maybe someone will surprise me by showing me that I can love more.

I’m still not perfect, I still see the trust issues creep in every once in a while. But I see the progress I have made, and I’m usually pretty proud of it. I believe that one day someone will prove to me that trust is real and true, that loyalty and commitment are not too much to ask for in this modern dating world. Until then, I will be working on myself, perfecting how to breathe, let go, and let myself be vulnerable to others in the hopes that they prove their trustworthiness.

The point is, you don’t always have to be the victim. Heroes don’t have easy histories. It’s not about how you fall, but how you get back up.

Nightmares

So I usually go through about a week of nightmares after not having them for a long time, and this week has been nightmare week. I typically get pretty freaked out by my nightmares, especially if I wake up and it’s still dark. I’d love to know what happens to my brain when I have these nightmares because they are always so emotionally charged, be it paralyzing fear or heart-wrenching sadness.

So, I’m kind of obsessed with Game of Thrones (after rejecting the fad for so many years), and earlier this week I had a nightmare that was GoT-esque but it also involved my family. I was fighting beside my cousin and Jon Snow, and my sister was fighting in the same battle elsewhere. In the battle, Jon and my sister both died and I was consumed by this overwhelming sadness. I woke up in tears for only the second time in my life (that I can remember, anyway. The first time was after my first cat passed away and I dreamed that he was still alive and I remember crying in the dream because I was so happy, and I woke up crying in my then-boyfriend’s bed. He didn’t do anything to comfort me, by the way. Similarly, he did nothing when I cried over that cat dying… I should have known then, right?).

The most recent nightmare was a little more plot-heavy. The government was infecting people with this zombie-like virus that was killing people off very quickly, it seemed very end-of-the-world. But we knew that the government was responsible for it, so to combat it, people were essentially suicide-bombing government buildings or else sacrificing themselves in other ways (hoping I don’t get flagged by the CIA or FBI here). I was kind of trapped in this room while most of it was going on, but when I was finally let out into the newly desolate world, I found out that just about everyone I cared about died trying to take down the government. My sister, her boyfriend, my best friends, my coworkers, all gone. And in that moment I was fighting back tears. I knew that they did it so that I – and other survivors – could live and be happy, but I suddenly didn’t want any of that without them. I think my parents were even still alive, but the thought of having to tell them that my sister was dead was dreadful. I didn’t want to live in a world without these people. I woke up, thankfully not in full-on tears this time.

It was just very odd, very eye-opening. First, I wonder why I keep dreaming that my sister dies. Then, I marvel in the fact that it was so easy for me to consider suicide or martyrdom without these people in my life. I have never admitted to having any kind of suicidal thoughts (other than the dramatic what would people do when I’m goneteenage bullshit), so it was interesting to see that my own motivation for living just depleted when I learned that these people died. It was just strange to me.

Corri asked me if I had anything on my mind, anything unusual stressing me out. Nothing out of the ordinary, honestly. I think this is the least stressed I’ve ever been about school (senioritis!), I’ve been taking care of my mind and body, I haven’t fought with any of my friends lately, and it’s the same old with my love interest. I haven’t been eating or drinking before bed. The only thing I can think of is that I was recently sick and maybe this is an aftermath of my weird fever dreams.

Or maybe I’m just overdue for some kind of mental/emotional breakdown. I’ve been telling just about everyone for two weeks that I’m overdue, which I guess is true even though I don’t have mental breakdowns that often. Sometimes you need a good cry – one that doesn’t involve your closest friends and family members dying.

Anyways, it’s late, I’m tired. I started a new book the other day, one I wasn’t totally sure about, but it’s gotten pretty good lately. Slade House, for anyone who’s interested. Also, if anyone knows anything about dream interpretation and can help me out, that’d be cool, comments are welcome.

Goodnight, blogging family!