not myself

I am not myself.

I am not this hunger

sitting in the bottom of my belly,

a concoction of

new medicine and a

desire to be pretty.

I am not this screaming,

this sobbing mess who

needs another to calm myself.

I am not this need for

affirmation from you,

telling me you chose me

over and over and over again.

I have not been me for

quite some time now.

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a weekend

My heart has been oh so heavy recently. I’ve been struggling to focus on the good and have continually felt overwhelmed by the negative things going on in my life. But this weekend, I visited Illinois, and I sat on the couch with my boyfriend, all of the windows open, wrapped in a blanket, the most wonderful dog on the earth sitting on my lap, and I was reminded of the good. Some days it doesn’t take much. It just takes waking up in the same place as people you love, or it just takes the perfect breeze blowing in the screen door and out the kitchen windows. It just takes hearing a little extra laughter and seeing the way a family looks at one another with so much love in their eyes. It’s seeing that look extended to me.

I have a piece of paper next to my door in my little home saying, “leave what’s heavy behind” – lyrics from a favorite song of mine, but a fierce reminder that when I walk through the threshold (whether I’m coming or going), I can shrug off whatever is weighing me down. This weekend, I was reminded of the peace that can accompany being utterly and completely content. It’s allowing myself to stay in the moment and not think beyond it.

There are things I need to worry about, things I need to let my mind linger on. But, overall, I need to give myself a break. I need to let myself dive into a moment without fear or without any heaviness, bobbing up a moment later. I think I’m finally at a place where I can give myself the permission to do that. I didn’t even realize I was denying myself a sense of happiness until I was in it, completely uninhibited. With this new permission, I know the people surrounding me will be able to sink into this place with me – this place where only love exists, and nothing else.

Alone

In the creation myth that begins the Bible, God says to Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone.” While I’ve always agreed with this statement, I’ve never really grasped its importance. However, I have recently discovered its profound meaning in my own life.

This summer was marked by chaos. I struggled to figure out my post-graduate plans, and vacillated constantly between teaching, working part time jobs, and grad school. Finally, within a few hours on a hot Thursday in July, my plans became clear, and I was accepted into grad school.

I moved into my own apartment in a small town in Arkansas on July 14th. My parents and a close friend helped me move in, and I was so excited. The next week was full of trips to the store, hammering nails into the wall, and adjusting things here and there. Finally, my perfect space was completed. I was living a real adult life, and I couldn’t be happier.

But as the days went on, this perfect space became my personal hell. My anxiety peaked in a way I never expected, and too many nights were spent lying on my bathroom floor crying uncontrollably and making myself sick. Night after night, I relied on people to pull me out of this place because I couldn’t do it myself. It became an unhealthy routine. The day would be full of ups and downs, but as soon as the sun set, I’d be in the same place as the night before, and the night before that.

A few things helped me realize how poorly I was dealing with my mental health, and I finally took action. My mom came and visited me, my boyfriend helped me put things in perspective, and I talked to a doctor about what all had been happening. Things slowly got better and better until one day, I realized things were completely normal. I had fallen back into place and back into the life I had tried so hard to cultivate.

I kept telling myself that as soon as school started, I would be so much better. I would find a routine. I would be busy. I wouldn’t spend my days alone in my apartment, counting the hours and the minutes until I could go to sleep. So here we are. I began school. I began work. I began to feel better again. But I am far from perfectly fine. Some days are marked by laughing so hard that I cry, and others are filled with stark mood shifts and tears that spring from my eyes without warning. Some days I feel so stable, and some days I can barely put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, I can’t sleep because I don’t want to be alone. Other times, I look forward to the moment I step through my apartment door into the quiet refuge that I’ve created. I’m slowly surrounding myself with people who understand me and can help me without relying as heavily on them. I’m learning that I can do things on my own, even when they seem impossible.

But there are still some days I make the phone call, “I just need to know that someone is there.” Humans were not made to be alone.

a week and a half

a constant need for noise, but

a constant desire for peace.

either too much or not enough.

i need you, but i need to respect your needs, too.

a lack of understanding, and

a push to see eye-to-eye

(because we desperately need to).

a need for both of us to hope

because it won’t work if we don’t.

not knowing how to change things, but

knowing they must.

i cannot bear to lose you now.

you are my soul.

7.10.17

There are times I find it hard to breathe. I lie in bed counting the inhalations and the exhalations, hoping that the lump in my throat will go away and not scratch and claw its way out of my mouth. I am trying to be quiet as my mind moves faster than it did the night before, or the one before that. One Google search after another leaving me with more questions than answers, although the, “No,” is heard above the noise in my head. No one wants me. I try to think of the least shameful way to make ends meet, the least embarrassing way to salvage some of my pride. I count the days until I see the face I love the most again, and the lump in my throat grows and moves closer to my gaping mouth. My legs won’t sit still until I rationalize things in my mind, and sometimes not even then. I make a plan for the next day and then the next, but it just seems like chaos in my mind. The harder I try to sort through the tangents, the more convoluted they become. If I could only find the center, the place where they become one. I eventually exhaust myself enough to sleep, only to dream of more, “No”s, other girls prettier and smarter, and accidents that strip me of my identity. Waking up the next day, finding that my plans are useless; I try to wake myself. “Today will be different,” I force my mind to tell itself as I shut my eyes in desperate hope of one more minute of fitful sleep. I’ve written down three different timelines and lists, but none of them go how I imagined, and not enough gets accomplished. I go and stop and go and stop until I once again lie in bed counting the inhalations and the exhalations, the lump in my throat getting in the way once more.

Moving

My life is slowly being placed in boxes, some things carefully wrapped, others thrown into boxes with intricate labels because there is no rhyme or reason to their contents. While nothing is set in stone, the plans I have made are incredible – plans to live near the people I love more than I’ll ever be able to express, plans to work passionately, plans to be my own person. I have waited for the day I would live on my own as an adult for as long as I can remember, and I know what they say: “Don’t wish away your time,” or “Adult life is not as fun as it seems.” I’m sure there’s truth to that, but I’m not drawn to the excitement of being on my own; I’m drawn to the mundane: the waking up, making coffee, rubbing my sleepy eyes as I pull clothes out of the dresser; the paying bills, which is proof of hard work and responsibility in my eyes; the cooking and washing of dishes, the scalding water pouring over my pale hands; the opening of my door and letting in friends and neighbors. I know that adult life will be different than what I have imagined over the past 22 years, but I think that it’s important to celebrate the excitement of challenges and decisions and work that all come with being a young adult. So for now, I’m still in limbo, quietly boxing up my life, knowing the celebration is coming.