Where to go...

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Choice

Let me tell you a little story about choice.

I got married at the age of 32. This was a conscious decision. Not to search out a rightful partner and marry them, but to make a commitment at an age where I was ready to respect everything it encompassed.

We've talked about what life would look like had we not met; or if (God forbid) something happened rendering either of us spouse-less. And my answer is the same.

It's always been the same.

I would go on living my exact same life, partnerless. Maybe a dog or two, maybe a change of location, maybe a tweak of habits here and there. But mostly, my life would look the same.

And I think that's what life... marriage... partnership is all about. Two people stepping toward one another, closing the crevices of experience and doubt and opinion and individualism to form a cohesive unit. A team. Forging into life as a united front. A choice.

Sometimes daily.

Sometimes hourly.

Sometimes, albeit rarely, minute by minute.

Our society and celebrity have lent us to the notion that partnership and romance cannot exist without one another. And while each complements each other, they do not need each other to survive in each second of each moment of life's microcosm. Life is not always romantic. And that's okay. You choose your partner beyond what romanticism will offer you. This is the person you will trudge through the mire and muck with. Your trusted confidant when you can't bear to open your eyes upon the glare of the real world. This person is designed to reach out a steady arm when you're stumbling. When the decisions hold too much weight. When it all just doesn't add up or make sense.

This is your second brain. Your additional set of legs.

Your subsequent heart.

Your only choice.

You choose this person every minute of every hour of every day.

And oh, how lucky you are.

How lucky am I.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Walls and Ceilings

I think I may eventually get to the point where I can just lay all my insecurities out there plain as day. When someone will ask me, 'What's wrong?' I'll be able to answer truthfully justlikethat.

Last night, I had two of my closest friends over and for the first time (in ever) I was comfortable enough to lay out my anxieties willy-nilly. They tumbled out of my mouth and danced between us while I laughed them away.

This is just me, I finally thought.

'This is the weird stuff that goes on in my brain,' I said out loud.

And for once, the weirdness didn't feel like a burden, but rather a banner. And suddenly the banner was easy to carry and didn't feel so neon and white hot to the touch.

I think this is what love is all about.

The one thing (if I can really call it a thing) that I can't write about is my childhood. I wouldn't even know where to begin and if I began, I think that the words would never stop. They would be loosely strung together and trip over themselves to the point where it would just be rambled pain. And the point wouldn't be the pain, but to open the door to a dust filled room. To show you that light can creep in and make the bad stuff good.

That it isn't always all dark, all the time.

That abandonment isn't a life sentence.

That being forced to believe that you are unlovable and not worth fighting for isn't forever.

That friends and other families and husbands and wives and dogs can come in and breathe life where there wasn't any. That things can be re-taught. And relived. And rehashed. And it isn't your fault.

That you are an incomplete human being trying to patch the holes in the drywall and sometimes you're ill-equipped. But sometimes, life will bring you someone, or multiple someones, that will have tools and experience and patience and love and before your very eyes, will rebuild your walls. And those walls will have plenty of windows and doors to let in the sun and the breeze.

That this life can be owned, created, loved and celebrated multiple times over. And the shadows of memories that wake you in the middle of the night, cold sweaty and tear stained, are only fleeting. That there is a warm body next to you with a strong heart, and big arms, and even larger shoulders who will, without fail, carry your burdens around for you while you sift through your own mess.

Life will provide you a way to talk about it without talking about it. And sometimes, that's just enough.




Friday, July 31, 2015

Love Letter (to J.K. Rowling, and Harry Potter)

I shrugged my shoulders and finally picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when I was 21.

I was on 'vacation' with my boyfriend-at-the-time's family. More accurately, he and I had driven down to Newport, Oregon to spend time with his father. This side of my ex's family was relatively estranged. The visit had multiple purposes... But, we'll get to that in a minute.

In hindsight, I can piece the puzzle together quite easily. My ex's parents split while he was very young. He then lived with his mother, who was a drug addict and blatantly neglectful. This side, the father's side, was so ridiculously stable, it was almost laughable. But that's how families work, right? Function and dysfunction. Yin and yang. The yo-yo leads to instability, which leads to a very broken human being.

I never knew the truth of what happened and why these people were so far away, both geographically and emotionally. However, they were wonderful people. Sweet, gentle and kind. Involved in their church and community, and clearly in love with each other. To put a finer point on my confusion, my ex was abusive, controlling and miserable. (I wrote about it here).

This visit was my attempt to patch together what was so very broken and lost in my ex. I naively thought that if he spent time with his estranged family, something inside of him might repair. And if it repaired, I would be safe. It was selfish and silly and wrong. But I was alone and I too, was in need of happiness, stability and a father figure.

Mostly, I wanted peace. And safety.

And that's what I remember. My ex's step-mom was reading Harry Potter to her two sons. She handed me the first book and told me to read it. This was 2001, and the Harry Potter notoriety was just beginning to crest. I began reading that night, before bed, and was hooked from the very start. I felt safe. And peaceful. For the first time in so. very. long.

The vacation, and my peace, lasted a very short time. As soon as we were back on the road, the abuse picked right back up. There was no wasted time in his verbal backlash... probably years of anger and confusion and neglect from a life so wonderfully paraded over the past week. And I was a very easy target.

I went home with the first three Harry Potter books. And reading them was my only respite in a tattered and shorn time. It was a world I could fall into easily, and in those days and hours and minutes reading, I would remember what joy felt like. Reading helped me remember that there was a life outside of abuse. And that words were magical and beautiful and melancholy and poetic and full of life. The life that I couldn't be a part of, but remembered.

These sacred moments with J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter brought me back from the brink. They brought me back from depression, fear and anger.

I left my ex in a fighting fury one night. But I never stopped reading Harry Potter. Those three books were lost in the wreckage of that relationship, but I have the hardbacks of the last four. And even though the last four books were read during a significantly lighter period in my life, they have been read and re-read during the most trying of times.

These reasons are why people read, passionately. This is why people like me (and you) love Harry Potter. Or whatever else happens to tickle their fancy. The memories are tied together...life and words. Seasons and stories. Packaged in worn bows, taped together with a little love and a lot of gumption.

I guess you could say this is a bit of a love letter to Ms. Rowling. Who saved me, many times over, and didn't even know it. She, and Harry, gave me life in a time where I could barely hold on long enough to breathe.



Happy Birthday, Harry Potter.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Elephant

There are plenty of secrets to be held. Plenty of elephants in countless rooms.

The thought of laying any vulnerabilities out makes my throat tighten and my heartbeat thud in my ears. Suddenly, breathing becomes a chore.

Sort of like anxiety.

Or exactly like anxiety.

But this is important and important things deserve time and care and space and kind words. Just like you. Just like me.

My freshman year of college was, at the very core, a blur of survival. I can clearly and acutely recall several moments where the weight of life was just a tick away from being unbearable. I was constantly dancing on the edge of clarity, my sanity a foggy mess that dangled itself in front of me, hovering just beyond the horizon. I clawed and grasped, desperately wanting to be ever closer, holding my breath and counting my tears. At my weakest, I just did not want to be anymore.

Let me be clear: I did not want to die, but I did not want to be in this life.  It had simply become too much.

And this is where the anxiety festered and took root.

That year came and went, but my anxiety stayed. I attempted to cope on my own by smothering any anxious thought that entered my brain. My concentration and life's focus aimed at overcoming it by achieving.

Success was my antidote.

Avoidance was my mantra.

Do you know what antidote means? A substance that counteracts a poison. A poison. Anxiety, when left to run amok, is a dramatic and systemic poison to your mind and body. And this is how I operated - by running - for a considerable amount of years. My value was measured in mental strength; a stiff upper lip and sharp tongue. I don't think that it is much of a surprise that my tightly wound galaxy eventually imploded, collapsing in on itself.

I think it's vital to point out that I have never been cured of anxiety. And since we're almost down the rabbit hole, I might as well pull you all in for a tumble:

Things that seem mundane to some people can trigger years of obsession in me. Counting repetitive behaviors, while soothing, can become mentally draining. I tangle myself in compulsive loops over certain things (the garage door and my hair straightener). Social settings can be downright over-stimulating to me. Some days, I barely have a hold on it all. Some weeks, the really bad ones, are peppered with intrusive thoughts (those are fun), considerable amounts of coping skills, and constant reminders that I am neither crazy nor weird.

And neither are you.

Just know that I get it. If this is you... if you're reading this and you're nodding along, take away this one point: I. get. it.

I get you.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Silver and Gold

I watched my dog root around the patio this evening. His nose was intently pressed into the aggregate concrete, wrinkling into rolling folds with each sniff, passing over and wading through scattered pieces of wood chips that he had chewed through earlier. Soon, he would take off like a terror, splash landing into a plastic pool full of icy hose water.

The moments are simple. Bare. Light. Like the breeze through the vegetable garden, unexpectedly easy.

This is a life that I didn't dream putting together.

Ease is so often under appreciated. Don't you think?

Death Cab for Cutie released a new album a few months back titled, Kintsugi. And while I'm not overly fanatic about their music, I do listen. But more importantly, I listened as they dove into the definition of kintsugi, a Japanese technique of repairing broken pottery by sealing the cracks with a lacquer infused with metallic dust. So the cracks aren't hidden, they're highlighted.

Celebrated.

The repair becomes a part of the story of the item. It is equal to the history and just as important as the pottery as a whole. The reparation reaches to illuminate the vulnerability to breaking and the beauty of resilience.

I'll be 35 here, soon. And I cannot think of a better way to view my life. Age has never been a cause for concern for me. My vanity hasn't been tested and I don't know that it ever will. I've never been the person to put timelines on my life; I've never had a checklist of things to achieve. I haven't felt like I have failed at much, which is either ridiculously naive of me, or incredibly lucky.

The sharp edge of this is that I have had enough thrown at me to turn cracks into jagged shards. And I can unabashedly admit that some of those breaks took years to fix.

All I've ever wanted was to be at ease. And I am.

The cracks are healed, sealed with silver and gold, glimmering veins connecting all the solid pieces together.




Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Flood

I haven't been able to write lately.

Or at the very least, write the way I like to when I want to and how I have to in order for the right things to get out onto paper. I have a process. My process. And it is the only process that works for me. I can't sit and toil and think-think-think myself into making the words string together. 

That scenario only ends with a rapid-fire delete assault.

Things come to me in a flood. The words spill out in front of me and I can't focus on anything other than getting them out. 

But I've had a dam as of late. Or, had.

You see, extreme stress will ruin a multitude of things. It robs you of energy. Of light. Of happiness and laughter and will remind you in those free moments that it still lingers. So the cracks of joy aren't as sweet because they have a bitter shadow. 

Stress will sneak in when you're attempting to be still, and wag its finger at you while you plead and dig at your brain to please be quiet. It is persistent if nothing else. And it will not fail at taunting you that it is there, in between your ribs and your belly button, nesting in and taking root.

I had been in a constant, gnawing and grinding state of stress for so long that I literally forgot what it was like to not be. 

And now I'm not. The how, where and why isn't important. Yet. 

Maybe, one day, I'll write about it. When the words start to come again.





Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Balance

Balance is a fickle beast.

The pendulum swings back and forth, briefly hesitating over moments, steadily swinging to and fro. There is simultaneously enough time and not enough time to ruminate in the rhythm.

I am lucky enough to see a big change on my horizon. The pendulum has paused just long enough for me to duck through its bow, and run along the threshold. This change did not come easy, as big things rarely do (as they say). But I'm aware enough to give a nod to timing.

So I see a change building to a crest in the distance and I get to wait for it to crash at my feet. In the same turn, I hang in the balance on another, less tangible decision.

I was approached to pitch some content ideas for a pretty significant website. So pitch, I did. And I heard back, requesting more. Again, I did.

And now, I wait.

It's the waiting where the worry sneaks in. Smoke under the doorway, seeping its way in and under, giving me pause for my purpose. Doubt rides its coattails and I am left second guessing every word I think and type.

But with balance, comes a fantastic set of cheerleaders.

And on this very day, I balance between their two birthdays.