Run away, let go

My mom told me I need to hang some stuff on my walls so it looks like I’m staying put. She took my suit cases from my room, and every time we argue, she tells me she’s afraid I’ll run away.

I never realized I was so much of a flight risk.

I have deeply rooted attachment issues. Usually my friends pick on me (lovingly, mostly) because I get attached quickly. To jobs to things to people to boys who won’t give me the time of day.

I don’t know how to let go. I stayed in a marriage that was so obviously wrong for so many reasons for far too long.

I’ve spent months chasing a boy who doesn’t have the decency to call me back or own up to how he says he feels about me.

I’ve bent over backwards for friends who wouldn’t do the same for me.

I hold on until the bridge is torched. I was talking to Emma the other day about a particular situation and I told her “I either need this to go somewhere or completely blow up in my face.” I’ve been told I go to extremes, and while that’s probably true, there are few things I hate more than not knowing where I stand with someone.

Yet I keep poking the bear. I answer every sporadic text and allow people to come in and out of my life as they please. I hate it. It makes me feel weak, one way I promised myself not to feel again as much as I can help it.

The wound can’t heal because I keep slicing it open. Over. and over. and over. and over. and over. It’s bled dry, scabbed over, scared and reopened more times than I care to admit. I’m a little ashamed of it, but someone recently reminded me there’s nothing wrong with a little shame.

I don’t know how to let this go. I don’t do well without closure. I don’t do well not knowing what someone expects or wants from me. It makes me crazy(ier).

Why keep coming back if you’re just going to disappear without a trace again? Why can’t you just let me go? I have about a million questions that will remain unanswered.

I’ve come to that conclusion about 100 times, but somehow I keep having to circle back to convincing myself that’s okay.

I can’t let go. I keep trying to walk away, I ran for miles, but I keep getting pulled back. I’m given an inch of hope, and I take miles and miles.

But I can’t do it anymore. It’s unfair to me. It’s unfair to him.

Yet I’ve never been one to be able to squash my feelings. They won’t go away. I want to bury them in an underwater treasure chest guarded by mermaids and a sea witch, but that’s not how I operate.

Someone told me it’s beautiful, the way I feel everything so deeply. The way I feel pain and joy so intensely.

I told them it sucks, and it is an ability I would gladly give them.

I don’t think I can handle it. I don’t think I can handle all of this emotion because I don’t know what to do with it.

I’m not equipped to handle it.

My body is tired, my brain is a mess, my heart is sore. I’m trying to write it all out, but nothing makes any sense.

I’m sitting, spending another night waiting for a call that will never come. Evidently it’s too much to have a conversation about things. God forbid I ask you to take me out of the back pocket you’ve been keeping me in because I deserve to be so much more than your dirty little secret.

I wish I was as much of a flight risk as my mom thinks I am. I wish I could convince him that he could lose me. That instead of taking care of other people and trying to fulfill the roles that other people want me to fill, I could look out for my own feelings and my own heart first.

It should be so simple, really. But it isn’t.

I had a heart to heart with a good friend yesterday, and he said something that’s been stewing around in my brain since then. “Things are very black and white, but the reasons behind them are convoluted.”

He’s so right. Things are quite simple, but emotion and human nature make them far more complicated than they should be.

I shouldn’t let things get to me so much, but I can’t help it.

I want to be good at running away from things. In some ways, I am. I’m an expert. Once I do decide to let go, I burn bridges. I cut people off. I shut people out. Just look at how many times I’ve packed up and moved in the last few years.

Running.

As much as I obsess over things, I also avoid them. In a different heart to heart with the same friend, I told him I’m the queen of avoidance and an expert at running away from my problems.

I spend a lot of time trying to pretend I’m chill and that things don’t get to me, but I spend double the amount of time in my head internally panicking about everything.

It’s a difficult balance.

His response was probably perfect, that running away from anything will kill me eventually and not to be stupid about it. It’s nice having someone in my life who understands how my brain works, doesn’t judge and completely gets it. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a friend like that. People you connect with on another level don’t come around often.

In fact, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a fantastic group of people. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have such incredible friends, but man do I have some mad love for you guys.

You’d think with all these lovely people around, I’d care less about the ones who treat me like shit.

Hearts don’t work that way. As Emma said, hearts are a little slow sometimes.

I’m gonna need my heart to pick up the pace because I’m ready to run away from this situation for good.

Don’t worry mama, only metaphorically. I’m staying put, and I’ll hang some things on my walls soon.

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The dog days are over

Late summer.

I was a mess. I’d just lost my husband. I’d just lost my best friend. I’d just lost the person I’d (wrongly) expected would be thrilled to see me come home. The rug had been ripped out from under me. Rather, I’d ripped the rug out from underneath myself. In what feels like a never-ending blame game, it has been pointed out to me thatΒ IΒ am the one who did this to myself.

It’s true, I did. But it’s also the best decision I ever made.

Anyhow. On this particular day, I sat on my friend’s couch clutching a bottle of tequila because who needs to dirty a glass when you are trying to drown a pain that feels insurmountable?

We sat there together. Him playing video games, me guzzling tequila like my life depended on it and drowning out the thoughts in my head with music because I still couldn’t formulate words of my own.

“The Dog Days are Over” by Florence the Machine came on.

 

 

The two of us were coping with heart break, and the dog days were far from over, as he so kindly pointed out.

Cue my guzzling more tequila.

I remember sitting there in that moment listening to the lyrics. “Happiness hit her, like a train on a track.”

I felt like I’d been hit by a train, but a train of pain and tears and an endless hangover.

I immediately started ugly crying because how on earth were the dog days supposed to be over? How was I supposed to put back the pieces of my life that I shattered with a sledgehammer? I remember wondering why I even did this to myself –why couldn’t I have just continued to suffer in silence? I still hadn’t realized I deserved far better, we both did.

I didn’t think there was any way I would possibly get through it. My dog days were just my life. They would be over when I was dead.

“One day, the dog days will be over, and we will sit here listening to this song and think about how ridiculous we both were.”

Mostly I think he just wanted me to stop crying, because I sat in that spot with a bottle of something or a pint of ice cream at least three times a week for a while. I stared keeping ice cream and tequila in his freezer so I could listen to Adele and cry with someone next to me.

If you’re reading this, and I haven’t thanked you recently for holding onto all my shattered pieces so I could put them back together and for being my safe place and for all the things, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

That moment has stuck with me. I think about it often. Usually when I’m drunk and confused, but more recently in a better light.

The song came on our playlist at work, and I immediately started singing along and jamming out while I was doing my little barista thing.

Then all of the sudden it hit me, like a train on a track.

The dog days are over.

The dog days are fucking over.

I’m happier now than I think I’ve ever been. Life isn’t without it’s struggles or stresses, obviously, but I’m so happy.

This move to Florida was good for me. It was without a doubt exactly what I needed to do. I’m writing more than I ever have. I’ve met people who have inspired me and pushed me and who believe in me.

I’ve healed relationships that have needed healing for a while. Life has just been an incredible whirlwind of good things lately, and more good things are coming.

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Everything it must belong somewhere. I know that now, that’s why I’m staying here.Β 

The dog days are fucking over. I survived the worst thing I thought could ever happen. I lost everything I knew, everything I thought I wanted. I threw everything away because I knew I was miserable, and it wasn’t fair to anyone involved.

The dog days are fucking over, and I couldn’t be happier.

The search for clarity

Today I went to the woods, and I walked. I got chastised by my dear friend for embarking on such an expedition alone, but I made it out alive (obviously). While I’m ultra sensitive about people feeling like they have to take care of me lately, I’m happy to have people who care if I get eaten by a bear or taken out by an axe murderer.

It was a cold morning, but I wrapped my flannel tightly around myself, and I walked.

The cold air chapped my lips and blushed my cheeks, but I walked. The sky was grey, and the December air sent chills through my body, but I kept moving –willing myself forward as though whatever it is I am looking for lies buried within that forest.

In some ways, maybe it does. What is it I’m searching for? Clarity? Understanding? Love? Belonging? A cure to the existential dread that hits me harder and more often than I care to admit? A treasure map? Some actual treasure?

I might have better luck finding it if I could name it, but I walk anyways.

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I walk until my head is spinning with thoughts and memories.

It’s like I’m in one of those movie montages where a character goes back to an old place and memories and voices and scenes from earlier in the film are artistically faded in. Those scenes always have me in tears.

Today I was in my own version of that, except there is no screen, no fancy transitions. This is all happening in my head –behind my closed, tear-filled eyes as I breathe in breath after breath of cold air hoping to stop my head from spinning.

I remember one of the last times I was in these particular woods. I wasn’t alone, I was with someone who was once very dear to me.

I was then, much like now, searching for some form of clarity.

I stood in the middle of the path, and I couldn’t hear the whisper of the wind or the chirping of the birds or the babbling of the creek.

All I could hear was us. My voice,Β asking why over and over and over again. Why to me? Why lie? Why do this to me, of all people? What did I do to deserve a betrayal that lasted so long and cut so deep?

I hear her, giving me an explanation. It wasn’t good enough, but I don’t think any explanation given for this particular situation would have been good enough.

There are some wounds that can only be healed with time. Some choices you can’t explain away.

She isn’t there, we don’t speak anymore, but before I know it the words are escaping my mouth again.

Why?

Seasons have passed, my life is completely different than it was back on that cold, February day when we were there together. Still, I am wondering the same things. Maybe it all came back to me because it was the same place, and the weather was the same, and I, ironically enough, happened to be wearing the same T-shirt. Funny how things come full circle like that.

I still don’t understand how someone could hurt their best friend like that, but I’m learning to accept that I may never understand. I simply have to keep moving forward and realize that some people, no matter how much we love them, aren’t meant to be in our lives.

What hurts more than anything, I think, is watching your best friend become a stranger and realizing that maybe you never really knew them at all.

So today I walked through the woods as if my life depended on it.

I walked until the cold didn’t bother me and I stripped off my flannel and rolled up my sleeves.

I walked until my head spun, and until it stopped spinning.

I walked until I had the unwavering feeling that everything was going to be okay.

It already is.

Write hard and clear about what hurts

Write hard and clear about what hurts. Write hard and clear about what hurts. Write hard and clear about what hurts.

The mantra repeats over and over again in my head. I remind myself of it when I feel stuck. I remind myself tear-stained pages are okay. I remind myself I’m no less beautiful with mascara streaming down my face. That the hurt will be there until I leap fearlessly into its waiting arms. Until I dive in to face it, submerging myself completely like I do at the lake on the first warm enough day of the year. The hurt, the longing won’t go anywhere until I make it. I have to work fight. Acknowledge. Acknowledge. But with so much swirling around in my head, how do I figure out what hurts?

Write hard and clear about what hurts. Sometimes the words flow from my pen faster than I can keep up with them, and I bleed all over the page making as big a mess on my brand new, pristine notebook as I seem to do in life. Sometimes I can’t stop them from coming out. Sometimes I look at them against the yellowish white of my notebook and just think “shit.”Because the pen goes places I don’t allow my mind to wander. It sneaks its fine tip into the corners of my mind I refuse to go because I’m afraid what I may discover. The pen tells me more about my feelings than I tell it. It hits at the truth I’m always trying to over think, to over complicate. So I run from it, like I do everything else. Because that’s all I know how to do. I find the loving touch of another escape, a favorite distraction. One that seems easier even if it’s not without it’s own complications. One that ignites a part of me I thought was lost, washed away in the mundane aspects of everyday life. One that masks the pain, even just for a little while.

Sometimes you just have to make a damn mess out of everything to figure out what the hell you want. And sometimes you look around at what you’ve done, and you still don’t know.

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My best friend takes some pretty rad pictures of me, then does some crazy ghosty things to them. Photo credz: Emma Whitley

Write hard and clear about what hurts. But what if nothing is clear? Make it clear. Let the words fall out of you until you have no more. Face it. Feel it. You can mask the hurt. You can build this place where you think everything could be okay, but if it isn’t based on truth, it will crumble. Then what am I left with? Someone new to blame the hurt on? The hurt was there long before anyone else.

Write hard and clear about what hurts. I repeat it. Over. and over. and over. and over. and over again. But I don’t want the pen to find the things I’m hiding. I don’t want to know the truth. It’s easier to keep running. Keep pretending. Sometimes I put the pen to paper and nothing comes out because I’ve built a fortress around those parts of my brain. Because telling yourself you don’t know what you want is easier than chasing what you want.

Sometimes you have to make a mess. I have this way about me of making things bigger than they are. Of needing everything to be catastrophic or romantically beautiful. I have this way of loving people harder than they could ever love me in return, whether that be romantically, friendship or family. I’ve been told I’m oversensitive. That I give love too easily to too many people who don’t deserve it. That’s probably true, but what’s wrong with loving with all you have? Maybe we need more of that.

That being said, some things are just things. Some things just happen and they aren’t any more than what they are on the surface: ill-advised choices fueled by some combination of alcohol, fear and a general discontent. Things can happen and then go back to how they were before because it isn’t that big of a deal anyhow. They just are. People come and go, and I need to learn to let them. They’ll come back if it’s meant to be. It’ll happen if it’s meant to, so someone once told me. And so right they were. So why can’t I apply that here? Because I’m not one to let things be, but it’d do me good to learn to.

I think a part of me will always think “what if, what if, what if” about a lot of things. But where has that ever gotten anyone?

Write hard and clear about what hurts. My pen hovers over the page, eager to bleed. Thoughts race through my head, but none of them come out. Something hurts, but it’s not clear what.