To My Younger Self

To my younger self, and for the young ones yet to come. There’s a lot of weight in being able to love yourself properly. There’s life changing, breathtaking, endless possibilities in allowing yourself to be wherever you’re at, 100% of the time. Even if that somewhere is in the floppy untied shoes of a pimple faced teenager, that feels so uncool next to all of the “actual cool kids”

We are young, and we are naive, and we are so desperate for independence. We are desperate to leap from the nest, with outstretched wings, ready to tell Mom and Dad off, believing we are ready to be on our own. But, I’d say to you, wait a little longer. Hold off just a little bit longer. Let your Mom kiss your head and hug you tightly. Let your Dad tease you about your silly teenage ways a little longer. And if your parent is a single parent, well, wait even longer. Ask your parents for help. They love you, and want the best for you, even if it’s not what you think is best. Because in no time at all, you will look back, and that time will be nothing but a vapor, a memory that you can’t even remember properly.

I look back at me as a kid, from what I can remember. And honestly, it kills me. I wish I knew that I was loved. I wish I knew that I didn’t think I had to sell myself short with the hope that someone would notice me. I wish I didn’t waste all of that time, lying to my parents faces, hiding behind fake smiles and a fake personality. I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself. I wish that I had learned that I was good enough so that I would value the friendships I had instead internally battling with anyone I thought was better than me.

I wish that I had known that it’s okay to speak up when someone hurts you. I wish that I had known that I had the ability to change the course of my life just by speaking up, becoming brave, simply by asking for help. I wish that I had known that if a man touches me “there or there” that I could tell an adult and I didn’t have to be scared and that I wouldn’t have to perpetuate a cycle of abuse for years, even into my adulthood.

I wish that I didn’t need more than two hands to count the number of friends who have died, living to fast, too eager to grow up that they forgot to slow down. I want to bring them into the future with me, but all I have are memories. Fragmented memories.

To the younger ones who are reading this: Slow down. The world will not go on without you. There is no one on this earth that is worth forsaking your happiness, dreams, hopes, and peace of mind for. There is no one that can love you better than your parents. And if you don’t have any, then think of someone who loves you most, even if that’s yourself. Life is so short. It’s a vapor. You, believe it or not, are not invincible. You can be broken. You can die. One day you will look back, and you will wish, just like me, that you had slowed down just a little more.

Enjoy each moment to the fullest. Hug your family members, whether they be blood or by choice, a little longer. A little tighter. More often. Forgive when you can, and always move forward. Don’t lose yourself trying to be someone else. You, are one of a kind. Infinitely valuable. Ridiculously talented. Exceptionally needed. Eternally wanted. You are bright, beautiful, and full of life.

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To My Younger Self

Peonies

peonies… a strong yet delicate flower, where if the roots take just right, it can grow on and on for 100 years. ———————————————————

the last few weeks (months) I haven’t been sleeping. And it has been wearing me out. I’ve been having nightmares day after day and the last week and half they’ve only gotten worse. I’ve gone from no panic and PTSD symptoms to a painful and familiar trip down PTSD lane. with the good (my amazing, charming, loving guy), has come the bad (years of unresolved, swept under the rug, trauma that I thought I had moved on from). Having a boyfriend is great, but it doesn’t make the problems go away… they just all bubble to the surface. ————————————————————-

I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally worn out. I’m mentally fatigued. I’m also a little more than pissed off. As most trauma survivors will tell you, a few years after trauma you’ll experience some level of PTSD. But the Doctors say it’ll eventually fade out. But here I am, as if everything happened only yesterday. —————————————

I didn’t get a half sleeve because I was a bad ass. I got it because I was in significant amounts of pain the day I got it, and the only thing I could think to do is get a tattoo where it wouldn’t be considered self harming. I decided that day to get the tattoo I’d been thinking about: Peonies. I wanted flowers, to represent growth and life coming from pain, and grief. It was an outward symbol of a hopeful, prophetic growth that I longed to see come from my life. And for years the garden of my heart and soul has been taking root, learning and blossoming. And the little seedling has finally decided to pop its head through the dirt and the rubble. And it’s painful. And it’s difficult. And honestly most days I go between feeling nothing at all, and a sort of pain that can’t be described. I feel an immense amount of love and care and simultaneously a heavy weight of loneliness that I’ve never felt in my life. The process of growth is painful. There’s nothing beautiful or poetic about it. It rages, rips and shreds through everything that’s fighting it, especially if the call on that plant is to grow abundantly.

Peonies

Finding My Voice

The last few weeks I’ve been on edge, sitting on a cliff and holding my breath. Hyper conscious of every inhale and and shake, every nerve in my body. I’ve felt more happy than I thought possible and more sadness than I have before. It’s trying, feeling two polar opposite emotions at the same time.

I’ve started going to therapy. Which is great and awful simultaneously. Great because I’ve been able to untangle a lot of fine pieces of yarn in my thinking, but awful because I’m a whirlwind of emotions as I piece together my life and remember more and more things I’d like to forget.

Psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified the way humans process grief in five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Now I did study Psychology in High School and College, but never truly caught on to the whole five stages. Mostly because, as I am now realizing, I opted to go straight for depression, not purposely. But I was trapped within events, and social pressures, and personal pressure, and people pleasing. I didn’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. I didn’t want to be a burden, which left me alone to carry all of my burdens.

Therapy has encouraged and pushed me to find my way back to those very first stages of grief, and I’ve realized in my efforts to protect other people from what I was feeling, it only encouraged mindsets of isolation, fear and anxiety. My life had becoming a breeding ground for every negative, unresolved emotion and I didn’t even realize it.

I’ve tried in these last few weeks to begin taking steps to properly heal. And in the process I’ve encountered more disdain from loved ones. I’m not one for speaking up for myself, but for the first time in my life I tried, and I was immediately shut down. I’ve shame spiraling through loneliness, anger and confusion. It was as if as soon as I made a step to free myself from grief, I was met by a massive do not enter sign. This has taken a toll on me emotionally, and if you ask my boyfriend he’d tell you that I’m a glass bottle, ready to burst and shatter at annnyyyy moment. He says it’s a good thing, I’m not so sure.

Despite what has happened, I’ve decided to go ahead with being brave anyway. For years I have compromised my joy for the sake of protecting those that I love, in an effort to keep the peace and not “rock the boat”. And that’s great and all but it actually isn’t. For people who have experienced abuse and trauma, the most important thing to hold on to in that process is their voice. And I’ve allowed my voice to be the voice of reason for everyone but my self. I made concessions to others’ fears and experiences as if I had none of my own. That’s has suffocated me, and additionally suffocated my relationships with people.

The hardest thing to do, when you’re facing great loss or grief, is to find your voice. And I’ve seen the quotes about not letting anyone steal my voice and yadda yadda And I thought I had done that. But instead I was screaming behind a wall that formed as a 2,000 foot enclosure. Inside the wall are spiders and bugs and hungry lions and bears, eager to eat me alive. While outside there’s banners and streamers and balloons everywhere. Funnel cakes and cotton candy and all the things that welcome people to stop and stare and take and be merry. Unbeknownst to the visitors, there’s a side door for anyone and everyone to enter in, if only they’d look past the candy and music and decorations. The music and laughter is so loud that no one would have a clue that’s there’s a screaming girl just behind that giant wall, limbs being mauled by everything that wishes to destroy her.

Therapy is giving me a voice. It is taking the wall down, brick by brick. And with each brick that is removed, the guttural screams are finally reaching the outside of that wall, and like an earthquake, the cries are shaking down the streamers, causing the ground to rumble and shake, and brick by brick the wall does fall.

We all have a voice. Some a whisper, some a roar.

If you can roar, roar for others.

If you can only whisper, keep trying.

Every roar started small.

M.L. Shanahan

Finding My Voice

Home

I’ve always dreamt of home as a place

Where I can kick back, and take a deep, long breath and just be.

I’d curl up on a deep, cozy, couch, wrapping myself in a blanket, knit with time and love by hands that have wrinkles that tell the most mesmerizing stories.

I’d have a cup of coffee and a puzzle before me, 1000 pieces, because there’s no such thing as too many pieces

A little bit of rain, or even a little bit of snow, reminding me it’s good and well to slow down.

Some music in the background to fill my ears with melodies that sing my heart and harmonies that sing peace for the days when i forget.

A fireplace to keep me warm, blue, orange, and yellow flames flickering while their shadows dance along the hard brick fireplace to the beat of the music, a slow, steady, dance.

I’ve always dreamt of home as being a person.

The person with deep, dreamy eyes that stare right into my being.

A stare that makes me want the hide and strip bare simultaneously…

With hands that know every imperfection and crevasse of my body, and a minds eye that sees beneath the surface down into the garden of my heart, where lavender bushes and peonies and honey suckle reside.

They’d brush away the cobwebs of years past and inhale deeply upon the scent of my potential, just as mindful of the delicate nature of my garden as I am.

They’d leave goosebumps on my skin and morning dew on the flowers of my inner most being.

I’ve learned that home is a constant state.

I carry with me the scent of coffee and firewood, ever reminded that peace is always a choice that I get to make.

The puzzles I love represent every opportunity to see things differently and to sit with my fragmented parts long enough to recognize that each part has a place of belonging.

The dancing flames remain burning, reminding me that even when it hurts, I should never give up.

That blanket, oh I carry it daily, wrapped within the generations of love that fought for my existence so for the days that I grow tired I remind myself not to quit this beautiful, complicated, worthwhile life.

And those eyes. Those eyes that know me, whether they belong to a lover or the eyes of God Himself, I know full well that my heart can call those beautiful eyes home.

Behind those bright shiny pupils, I find consistency and kindness, I find patience and hope. I find the belonging my soul has always longed for, the belonging I was made for.

And I’m reminded everyday that this home is a place where I can sit back, take a deep breath and remember that all I need to do is just be.

Home

Anxiety, A New Year Kiss

when I was in fourth grade, my mom and dad had a parent teacher conference with one of of my teachers from school. It wasn’t anything out of the norm as all teachers held conferences with parents at least once a year. But for me it was different. I was deeply convinced that my teacher didn’t like me as a student so she would say all these bad things about me to my parents. Anxiety overtook me and I made myself ridiculously sick for two weeks. That is my life.

This past year has been full of downs for me. Not because I am a debbie downer, but because it seemed like nothing was working out. I felt squished and worn down by the trials of my life. MDD has overshadowed most of my year, since the end of June. And as I lost traction I found every fear, every worry, and every anxious thought overcoming me like a riptide hellbent on dragging me under. I have been diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder, PTSD and MDD. And since I left the hospital all three, until this year, sat on the back burner, resting on a low heat, controlled and maintained in a somewhat healthy way. Until this year. Since the end of June I have felt like I couldn’t breathe, anxiety stripping me down to the bone, overshadowing me and melting me to the ground. I managed it until September, when even in my own job I was overtaken with anxious busy thoughts of everything that has happened to me. The second to last week of September I became very ill, and having been battling illness and a weak immune system since.

I never took the time to realize how my own anxiety was killing me, goading me towards death and despair. My anxiety, paired with MDD and PTSD has been slaughtering me since June. And tonight as I sat in my bed, I became painfully aware of that anxiety as I felt a weight pressing down on my chest, daring me try to fight it. Anxiety was my new years kiss. A kiss hello and a kiss goodbye, as I confronted the very thing that has tried to kill me for the very first time, and kissed it goodbye, sending it off to a far away place. I don’t have my anxiety under control. I’m not even sure what it looks like to manage it let alone conqueor it. But I do think I am one step closer to slaying it to death, simply because I acknowledged it.

Anxiety, A New Year Kiss

Then There’s a Song..

For the past few months I’ve been feeling like I’ve been drowning. This year has come so hard and so unclear for me, and the past few months I’ve been battling self harm and depression.

And then I opened my mouth and sang. Singing always transforms something in me. It makes my night into day, depression into hope, emptiness to overflowing. That’s what happens when I open my mouth. I get to move past all the things that scare me and feel like they’re killing me and actually see the light at the the end of the tunnel.

Last night while sitting on the couch I tried to keep my mouth shut, for many reasons, feeling guilty about my action these past few months, and the fact that I haven’t tried to sing at all. But I couldn’t help myself and I opened my mouth and words began falling out. And suddenly I felt a pair of strong hands grasp my waist and lift me up and I was taken into a vision. I knew Jesus had picked me up from the ground and I could see above all of my situations and problems. He lifted me higher and even though I thought I had set up camp at the bottom of the mountain, having given up and quit,  he showed me that I hadn’t and that even through the painful process I had continued to climb up the mountain. He showed me the places that I had already conquered. Then he gave me this verse..

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me upon my high places. Psalm 18:33

 

 

Then There’s a Song..

The October Air

3 years ago I overdosed on a load of pills. It was my last attempt at committing suicide. It’s crazy because It didn’t work. LOL. I was inpatient at this hospital where my socks always got stolen and where people would wake up in the middle of the night screaming and yelling about how Obama was out to get them. There at the hospital, 2 hours away from where I live, I met my plug, the weed man, who just so happened to live 10 minutes from me.

When the dust settled, I found myself four years out, questioning who I am and what I want to be- where I wanna go and what I want to make for myself. Hope has never come easily for me. It’s not something that stirs inside of me. I wouldn’t call myself a dreamer. I don’t dream. I live realistically and aim for the best. If I hope anything I hope that my life doesn’t implode on me.

I’m learning to navigate my emotions like a ship in the storm. A lot of people would say don’t let your emotions effect you. That’s been my problem all along. I haven’t let my emotions affect me so much so that I can’t even figure out where they begin. But I’m figuring it’s worth a shot.

Four years ago, September 2012, was the first time I tried to commit suicide. I spent a few weeks in the hospital, only two leave for a day and come back. When I walked outside it was a crisp October day. Hurricane Irene was coming through. I hadn’t been outside into freedom for weeks. As my friend Ricky picked me up in his fancy camaro to take me home, I almost fell apart. Being outside was amazing for me. I saw the clouds and I felt the cool fresh air. And though it took some time for me to grasp, I found that the October Air brought me some much needed clarity. So here’s to October. And here’s to hope.

The October Air