When anxiety attacks

I had a full fledged anxiety attack the other night.

A drunken, crying on the floor of the shower level anxiety attack.

In the process, I made someone I care about feel like shit. I’ve apologized to this person several times, but I will again. I’m sorry sometimes I lose my shit (for no apparent reason), but thank you for dealing with me. Thank you for listening to me rant and letting me sleep it off and still wrapping me in a giant bear hug and staying up until 2 a.m. talking to me about everything under the sun.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

It used to be much worse. As much as I needed someone there for me the other night, I knew I would be okay. I used to cling to Christopher. I would scream and yell and beg him to fix me. I would tell him surely the anxiety would kill me, or I would end up doing it myself. We may have had our issues, but Christopher never deserved that, and neither does anyone. 

The other night was different. I knew I just had to keep my head above water long enough for the wave to wash over me and take the parts it needed and I would be alright. 

I didn’t need anyone to fix me. That’s a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on a single person. No one can really fix anyone, that’s absurd. I don’t want anyone to ever look at me, even in my most broken, and think I need fixing. I’m a little bent, a little bruised up, but I don’t need a first aid kit or a savior.

I’ve learned to take care of myself for the most part, but sometimes I do need someone to wipe the tears and remind me that I’m stronger than this.

My poor friend got the brunt of my insecurities.  He stood there asking me what to do, how to help, how to make it stop. He thought it was about him, and it wasn’t. He just happens to be a place where I feel safe and cared about so I broke down; even though as I did, I was sure I was destroying everything that felt so effortless about us. 

The thing about anxiety is that it can creep in at any time, even when things are okay, and it turns even the best of us into self saboteurs. This friendship is one of the things that makes me the happiest.

Sometimes, though, I don’t think I deserve it. I don’t think I deserve to be deliriously happy. I don’t think I deserve someone who is so undoubtedly there for me, not out of necessity or obligation, but because they legitimately care.  

I’m always looking for something to be wrong. I get it in my head that surely things will blow up in my face so I might as well light the match and do it now, that way I’m in control of it. That way I decide how deep below the surface the flames get to burn.

I’m aware of it so I can usually rectify the situation before I blow the whole thing to smithereens, but I have to stop doing the same things or I will lose the people I care about. 

So I went to walk in the woods. 

I forget sometimes, how much it helps. Mostly because it sounds so silly, but there’s a solace I find in nature that I can’t find anywhere else. Not in any person, not in any bottle, not in any substance, not in any book store or library.


I even let my anxiety ruin that, too. I tossed and turned last night imagining I had an anxiety attack on the side of the trail and ended up surrounded by five hungry alligators.

That’s what anxiety does. It makes every single thing seem like a huge deal.

It makes you feel like the world is spinning and you are in a pool or a lake or an ocean or a gator swamp and you’re splashing around just trying to get your footing or even just a solid tread but waves keep coming and you think surely you might die because even the smallest things are so goddamn overwhelming.

I think that’s why I’m so drawn to water when I get anxious. Why I end up on shower floors or throwing myself into the ocean or the pool: if I feel some real water crashing down on my skin, I can focus on that instead of all the “what ifs.” It’s the way I take my power back.


I might lose everything, who the hell knows. All I do know is that if I keep obsessing over losing everything good in my life, I definitely will.

So I cleared my head. I realized that sometimes the anxiety creeps in, and I can’t explain it. There usually isn’t a reason –other than not trusting things to be good.


As I drove home, the sun was shining but it was raining. Pretty hard considering the sky was still so bright.

It was bizarre and beautiful and was the perfect metaphor for all the ridiculous anxiety I’d been feeling lately.

Everything is bright and beautiful, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed with emotion that I cry anyways. 

It happens. I break down. I lose it. I make people around me worry that they’re hurting me when they aren’t.

But it’s okay.

Today in the woods (swamp, really), I was reminded that everything doesn’t have to be such a big deal. That things are good. That I don’t need to push situations or people.


I spent so much of my life being defined by my anxiety and depression. To my parents. To my teachers. To my boyfriend. Everyone always had to watch out for me having a panic attack or falling into the pit of depression.

I get it, and I’m grateful for the countless people in my life who have helped me or saved me or been there for me, but I don’t need it to be my defining factor any more.

When it creeps in, I let it take over because it feels so familiar. I forget that I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m stronger than that.

I’ve said all year that “I believe in good things coming.” I’ve written it in almost every blog post. I write it down on pastry bags at work. I fill pages with that single phrase when I’m overwhelmed and need to write but can’t find more specific words.

I need to get that inked on my skin.

I believe in good things coming.

The good things are here. They’re here. No matter what the voice of anxiety says in the back of my mind: good things are here, and good things are coming.


On relationships, breakthroughs and happy times

Lately I’ve been working on putting smaller pieces of larger stories together. I’ve written about this weird block I’m working through, and that’s a big part of it.

I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding telling stories or processing things or dealing with things, and now that I am, I’m trying to figure out how it all fits together. First in a collection of poems, but on a larger scale, how these events have changed my life and shaped who I am in smaller ways.

The large ones are obvious, it’s the smaller shifts I like to explore.

There’s a saying I hear often (that I’m likely going to butcher) that says something along the lines of “you don’t know the important moments are important until later.” It’s rather obvious, but it’s interesting watching that idea manifest itself in really tangible ways in your own story.

I’ve been writing about Greece a lot. I always knew that going to Greece would change my life, but I never though it would have occurred this way.

That trip was really the moment (collection of moments rather) when I decided that my marriage was over. I didn’t look at it like that then because I was still trying to convince myself there was some semblance of hope that we could fix things, but there wasn’t.

My favorite moments of that trip were the ones where I was alone. Then there’s dirt house story I told here. Then there’s when I was at the most beautiful beach in the world, floating in the clearest, bluest water I’d ever seen, and I still felt empty. I knew at that moment it was as good as it was going to get. Going to Greece was always my life dream, and Chris made it happen, but I still couldn’t be happy.

I’m sure he felt as though he’d given me everything he could give, but it would be unfair to speak for him.

I knew then, though, that if I couldn’t be happy in that space, nothing about that life was for me. I left shortly after that, but the way it all unfolded just kind of came together for me recently.

Since then, though, I’ve been paying extra attention to small moments.

I went out with some friends last week, and we had a really good time. I’m really fortunate to have met some of the best people since I moved to Florida, and we had fun.

We took this picture (below) the other night, and I love it for a few reasons.


First, that lip color, though. I’m obsessed. Second, do you see how amazing the people I’m with are? They’re freaking great.

Mostly it’s the fact that I look so genuinely happy in this photo. Because I am. It isn’t just the tequila/sangria, I promise.

Let’s rewind.

Earlier this evening, I’d had a really dumb situation happen with a not-so-dumb boy. Sort of a misunderstanding, sort of a moment where I had to check myself to make sure I’m not selling myself short like I frequently do. Boundaries and expectations in relationships are freaking hard to navigate, even if things are super casual.

Anyhow, he hurt my feelings, but instead of going home and crying about it, I went out with my friends and had a seriously good time dancing all of our troubles away.

For once I didn’t make other people more important, I just took care of myself.

Judging from the three texts I received from said boy while I was in the club, he knew he upset me fairly immediately. It didn’t matter.

Funny, though, how people only want to show you that they care when they think you’re halfway out the door. I wish more people would appreciate the people they have in their lives while they’re there.

Anyhow, said boy and I worked it out. I didn’t write this to bash on him, he’s a good guy. Anyone who let’s me ramble/overthink to them in a series of novella-length text messages usually ends up good in my book. But we’ll see how this story unfolds. Who the hell really knows.

I wrote this to point out, once again, how far things have come. Brenna spent a lot of time with me last fall when the actions of one particular jerk (who will remain unnamed because evidently I’m only good enough behind closed doors) would ruin our nights out.

I’d end up a wreck. Crying in a bathroom or on a bar stool because some idiot wouldn’t pay attention to me. Because he decided that he could pop in and out of my life as he so chose, and I let him. Always waiting there at his beck and call whenever he needed an ego boost.


I won’t do that again. I won’t be that for someone ever again. Although sometimes it’s hard to tell when you fall into that role.

Hindsight is 20/20. My regular vision…well, I should probably wear my glasses more often.

Anyways, I did not end up in a puddle of tears in some gross bar bathroom. That, my friends, is progress.

That, my friends, is me taking care of me. And that is how you get a genuine smile.

It was a small moment, one night out with those fabulous people in (hopefully) a series of them. But it did not go down as “the night Michelle ended up crying over some dumb dude.” Instead it’s “the night Saqif showed us all up on the dance floor.”

It was a small moment, but those are the ones that make all the difference.


Rekindling my love affair with words

I’m back, I suppose. Maybe. For now. This will be one of the first times I’ve put pen to paper within the whirlwind of the past few months. I think I needed the break, but I’ve felt the pull to come back so here I sit with my notebook open. Now all that’s left to do is bleed, right?

That’s what one of the greats said. Hemingway, I think? I should know that, but my mind is a cloudy mess that can’t quite pull out literary trivia.

I’m sitting here with so much to say, and yet so little. I don’t feel as though I owe anyone an explanation, but I’ve always been honest and straightforward about my life. I tend to err on the side of oversharing, and lately I’ve been keeping to myself. I think that’s been a necessity, but it also feels out of character.

So I’m here, sharing my story because it’s burning a hole inside of me.

To answer everyone’s burning question: No, Christopher and I are not together. He is in Germany, I am home in Hickory. Permanently.

My heart hurts, but also feels lighter than it has ever before.

I have no further explanation for you other than sometimes as much as we want them to, things don’t work out like we plan. Some betrayals cut too deep for us to gloss over –even if we spent a fair amount of time trying to pretend we could. Ultimately, we though we had everything worked out. We thought all we needed was a plan. We failed to remember that people change and plans need to adapt with them.

We thought we were invincible, and nothing hurts more than realizing you aren’t. 

We are only human. Nothing hurts more than getting everything you said you wanted –everything you worked so hard for –and realizing it wasn’t what you wanted at all.

It hurt to walk away from what should have been so comfortable. It hurt to lug two suit cases and my daughter through the un-air conditioned Munich airport in the August heat to move home and start over. It all hurts. Nothing about this decision was easy or taken lightly, but I’ve never wanted anything more than to be a good example to my daughter.

How can I teach her to love herself first when I didn’t? How could I teach her self-reliance and independence when I set up a life that made me completely reliant on someone else? How could I teach her to be careful with her heart when I was handing out forgiveness to a number of people who didn’t deserve it?

I couldn’t. I couldn’t be the mother she deserved when I was miserable. I don’t want her growing up thinking she deserves to be anything but insanely loved and so ridiculously happy.

I’ve been drowning the past few months. It’s only been within the past week or two that I’ve felt like I can come up for air. Like maybe I have at least one foot firmly planted on the ground.

When I came home, I didn’t only lose my husband, but I lost a few friends as well. In retrospect, those were relationships that needed to end, but knowing it is for the best doesn’t quite ease the sting of loss.

I’ve since surrounded myself with much better people. People who love me and believe in me and have taken care of me. People ho have let me cry, scream, bitch and yell. People who have made me feel beautiful and worthy of being loved. People who have listened to Adele and eaten ice cream with me while I cried. People who have been there anytime, day or night, if I’m falling apart or simply don’t want to be alone. People who have reminded me I’m a good mom and am doing everything I can for my girl.

Eden, Brenna, Kelsey and Devan, I love you four so much. I’ll never be able to thank you enough for all the support you have given me the past few months. You guys are incredible.

I don’t really know where things go from here. I lived my whole life with a plan, and now I don’t have much of one. It’s terrifying, but also freeing. I get to decide what comes next. I get to plan how I spend my time, what I invest myself in and where things go.

I’m terrified to screw up. I already have in so many ways. I’ve learned a lot in the past few months about who I am, who I want to be and more importantly, who I don’t want to be. I’ve messed up. I’ve made questionable decisions.

Self help books may be all the rage these days, but there really is no instruction manual for how to cope when your world crumbles around you. I chose to walk away from our relationship, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

It hurts like hell, but there’s really nothing to do now but keep moving forward. Words have become my friend again, and I’m happy to be back with ink staining the sides of my hands.

“There is nothing to writing, you just sit down at a type writer and bleed.” –Ernest Hemingway 

Find your tribe, love them hard

The idea of soul mates seems to come up quite frequently in my life whether it’s quotes about it on social media or Chris and I are talking about it. In today’s culture, it’s this strange idea that you are made for only person in the universe and you better get looking.

Neither of us seem to buy into the “one perfect person” ideology, but we, or at least I, can’t nail down a definition. I was thinking about the connections I’ve made with people, and I can’t seem to get on board with the fact that your soul mate has to be a romantic love or the person you marry or spend your life with, if marriage isn’t your thing.

I’ve been lucky enough to cultivate the most beautiful friendships with some of the most incredible people over the years (Amy, Emma, Eden, I’m lookin’ at you.) These girls have seen me through everything, and I feel so connected to them it’s sometimes hard to comprehend. Their pain is my pain. Their joy is my joy. Their tears are my tears. As different as we all are, and even though we are all in different parts of the world doing different things sometimes I forget where I end and they begin. They all understand different parts of me. They bring out the best, worst, but definitely the realest, rawest, most honest parts of me.

I couldn’t imagine life with out any of these three women in my life, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d survive it. In many ways, I consider them my soul mates just as much as I consider Chris my soul mate. If all four of them were in a burning building, I wouldn’t be able to choose who to save. I’d grab a bag of marshmallows, and we’d make s’mores as we all went down together.

find your tribe, love them hard
So much love.

There are different types of love. Anyone who I’ve considered a close friend can tell you that when I love, I love hard. Almost too hard. I’m fiercely loyal, almost to a fault. It’s certainly burned me a few times, and I’ve lost many a friendship I didn’t want to see go, but it’s also led to my having these wonderful people in my life. I don’t see much of a point in doing something if you aren’t willing to put your whole heart into it and risk being hurt.

They, Christopher included, are my soul mates. My soul sisters. The love of my life. My life has been tumultuous and busy and inconsistent the past few months, but I’ve always been able to count on them.

They’ve been the people who stood by as I took a sledgehammer to my life.

The people who let me do my thing, but weren’t afraid to call me on it when I took it too far.

The people who still loved me and helped me put the pieces back together when I did dumb things anyways.

The people who never, ever judged me.

The people who stayed up with me night after night to rehash the same shit over and over again.

The people who know when I need margaritas or a walk in the woods, and are always ready with either.

The people who take care of me when I’m sick or broken.

The people who drunk cry in the bathroom with me.

The people who let me smother them with love and affection, even if sometimes they’d rather I didn’t.

They are the people who know all the weird, random thoughts inside of my head and love me anyways.

The people I’ve chosen to be my family, no matter what blood or biology says about it.

They are the people that I know if they died, a piece of me would go with them.

We haven’t had perfect relationships. There are parts of all four of these relationships that I’d like to brush under the rug. I’ve been hurt deeply, but it’s only shown me the importance of forgiveness and the capacity of love in my heart. Loving someone deeply means also giving them the power to hurt you deeply. You trust they won’t, but we are all human and we all make mistakes. I’ve learned that short of intentionally hurting Sophie, there’s nothing these four could do to make me love them any less. You guys are stuck with me, even hen I’m an ocean away.

I’m lucky to have such incredible friendships in my life, but now I live on a different continent where making friends is hard. To say I miss them terribly would be an understatement. I’ve had these girls in my life for so long I forgot how to make friends. I stopped trying because I didn’t have to, but now I do have to, and I swear I feel like I’m online dating sometimes. How do adults make friends? It’s not as easy as it sounds. The need for human connection runs deep, but I’ve forgotten how to initiate such connections.

I had to remind myself that making new connections doesn’t mean getting rid of the old ones or that the old are less important. Not everyone has to be everything. (That seems to be a theme lately…) No matter what, they’ll always be there. I don’t think I know the right words to express how much they mean to me.

For that, I am extremely grateful.