Writing, sharing, friendship and the ocean

So I have this friend I send pretty much everything I write to. A decent portion of our texts are my sending him links to google docs and his sending me screen shots of lyrics or videos of music he’s working on (hey you, finish your EP! also, everyone else, he’s super talented: go check out his youtube and pester him to make more videos).

We have this delightful creative semi-collaboration going on, and it’s one of my favorite things. It’s nice having someone who’s opinion I trust and who genuinely cares about reading things.

Anyways, I’m not sure if he remembers this, but I sent him a link to something I wrote a few weeks ago. He called me in response and said, “Michelle, do you ever send any of this to anyone but me? Because it’s really good. You could connect with a lot of people.”

“Sometimes Brenna and sometimes my mom, but mostly just you,” I said.

I rarely think about the things I write being able to resonate with others because they’re often about rather specific situations and deeply personal. It takes a lot of vulnerability for me to share things most of the time, hence why I only send it to my best friend.

But Zach and I made a pact to kick each other in the ass to do more with our creative passions so I started thinking more about sharing.

The night after we had that conversation, I went through my google docs and discovered I have nearly 50 pages of poetry just sitting there, collecting virtual dust. That doesn’t count the notebooks I scribble into for weeks then shove onto a shelf.

I have a library of material I’m doing nothing with, and that’s stupid.

So I think i’m going to start trying to share things more regularly. Maybe a poem a week. (Someone hold me to that. Zach, I’m lookin at you, dude).

Today you get three pieces that I wrote pretty much simultaneously. They’re all on the same subject matter and very similar but also wholly separate, at least in my brain. Maybe they’re all pieces of a larger poem? I don’t know. I’d been blocked for weeks so I was just happy to be writing again.

They don’t have titles yet so my creative self decided to call them ‘1,’ 2,’ and ‘3.’ I’m a creative genius, I know. Hold your applause, please.

Anyways. Read. Enjoy. Let me know your thoughts, feelings, etc. even if you hate it.

we are sitting on the beach
in complete silence
except for the sound of the mesmerizing waves
and the song i don’t know
blasting through the speaker he put between us.

in my head i’m taken to the last time we were on a beach together
we were together,
on paper at least,
laying on the most gorgeous beach
on the edge of a grecian island deep in the mediterranean.

and we were silent.

i tried to ramble
about the thoughts inside my head,
but you never wanted to hear them.
i tried to play a song to fit the moment
but you didn’t like my music
until it was the only connection you had to me.

so we sat in silence in the most beautiful place in the world
both wishing we were with people we liked better
because we were so obviously wrong for each other,
but too scared to admit it.

clinging to this idea we built
that was never our reality.

i escaped to the ocean alone
because being alone was less lonely than being with you.

i floated along
and thought the ocean was going to take me away
and i wished it would.

because anywhere was better
than with you.

and now here we are,
on a beach in the silence
and i ran to the ocean alone
because you still don’t care about me
only how much you can control me.

but i, much like the ocean,
will never be a force anyone can control.

you say that makes me unlovable,
and maybe it does,
but i’d rather be alone than with anyone who wishes to suffocate my spirit.

2

i’m circling a drain
that leads to a deep pit of depression and anxiety.

i used to call that place home,
but not since i left you.

i packed up and moved out of it
with no intentions of returning.

you wanted to spend three weeks riding the nostalgia train
and drug me along even though i didn’t buy a ticket.

you never cared much for what i wanted
because you never cared much for me.

i deserve more from this life
than to feel a pit in my stomach
and a weight in my chest
and like i’m worthless.

i was your emotional punching bag,
around to boost your ego and fill a void.

i was never someone worthy of love
or even to hold a place of sincere importance.

i know you are wrong
and the picture you have of me is not reality.

the facts may be true,
but the way i am with you is far from the best example of my character.

i am the girl with the heart that’s too big for her chest,
that loves with no expectation of anything in return.

you never believed in me
or my strength or my words
so you took them away any chance you found.

you say the truths i hold close to my heart
are nothing but lies
because in your world, i’m cold-hearted and cruel.
you cannot wrap your head around the fact that i’m easy to please.

you ask about him,
and i tell you that being friends with me is easy
if you don’t treat me like a piece of shit.

“if only they knew what the worst of you was like,”
you say in regard to anyone i let close to me or hint might be important
as if you have the power to destroy the good things i’ve worked hard to build.

you cannot fathom
that there was far to me than you ever saw.
i shut you out
long before i told you i did
and you were far too busy with anything but me to notice.

to you, i’m unlovable.
to you, i’m walls of defenses three layers deep,
and i never want anyone else to have fight so hard to get in
because who i am with you
is not me.

3

you took away my voice
silenced me
siphoned all the ink from my pens
and robbed me of my words –my only solace.

i sat quietly while you belittled me,
every jab cutting deeper.

you used to live in my dark place, too,
so you know how to appease my demons
and drop one liners
that drop me to my knees in emotional agony.

sometimes i think you don’t really mean what you say,
you just want me to hurt as badly as you do.

then you say, “i’m just being honest, michelle,”
and i look at you in disgust
the person i once loved.

it’s worse, though, because you don’t seem like a stranger to me.
you seem like a familiar hell.
a place i’ve been time and time before,
because in some fucked up way i’m a sucker for people who treat me like shit.
you made it clear, though, that i deserve no better.

it disgusts me that you are who i put so much effort into loving.

i left because neither of us should feel as awful as we do together,
but you insist on keeping us in turmoil
growing angry whether i hand you your power back
and let you tear me down
or if i stand up and say no more,
allowing my inner warrior to rear her head –the part of me that always scared you
because that’s the part that left you
alone
when you thought you had all your pawns in order.

we are a losing battle,
and one i don’t have an inkling of desire to fight.

our war is long over
and neither of us were the winner,
but if it means that much to you,
you can have a crown, a trophy, the grand title:
anything you want,

except for me.

because someone like you
doesn’t deserve someone like me.

i deserve someone who thinks the world of me
the way i would of them
if i decided to let anyone that close again
but you may have ruined me for anyone else.

i’m far from indestructible,
but i’ll never let you, or another, be my downfall.

 

 

Writing, blocks and the woods

I went to the woods today, and I didn’t come out overwhelmed with inspiration.

Normally, I go in with a million thoughts swirling around in my grey matter, and come out with dirt stained pages of ideas, snippets, new directions for existing projects, lines that may fit places and just an overall clarity about life.

Today I went in without much of importance on my mind, and came out feeling kind of bleh.

It’s just been that kind of week, honestly.

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It’s still so beautiful, even if it didn’t clear my block.

I’m coming down off a crazy creative high. I rode the wave, got all of the things in my head out on paper, and now the wave has deposited me back on the shore with a lot of stuff to work through and not a lot of motivation to work through it.

I have pieces of poems stashed in random notebooks, some poems that right now are two, but are likely different drafts of the same piece. I have some I’ve literally cried over because I can’t get right. Some I’ve spilled beer on because I’m frustrated (and also clumsy).

This is the time when writing feels like work. When the words don’t come smoothly sailing out of my pen and on to paper. When I don’t feel like a creative genius. When I feel like everything that comes out sucks and is worthless.

I hate times like this.

It’s not even writer’s block, it’s…editor’s block? It’s a lack of motivation? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what it is. All I know is that it’s testing me.

Testing my resolve to make this work and make something of myself.

That’s why I went to the woods. It’s my happy place. The place I can usually find clarity and direction and all of the things I need to be successful.

Today I just discovered I’m really dehydrated, and that hiking three miles in direct sunlight with no shade was not my brightest idea. I miss my mountains terribly.

The trees in the woods I hiked in today valued their personal space too greatly. I didn’t feel enclosed in a comforting blanket of branches and leaves and Spanish moss. Today I felt exposed. I felt like anything I stopped on the trail to write down would be instantly out there in the universe not simply scrawled on a dirt-stained page of my notebook.

I have a strict no music rule when I go into the woods. I like to connect with myself, connect with nature, and let’s be honest….listen to know if any snakes/gators/bears/cougars might be trying to plan a sneak attack.

Anyways, today I didn’t even have thoughts swirling around in my head. I didn’t have anything I was overthinking about or anything to even get out. So I turned on the music to simply have something to occupy my brain other than when this steaming hot, seemingly never-ending hike would be over.

It was that kind of hike.

It sucked.

I’ve word vomited everything. I’ve said all that needs to be said so now it’s just working with it.

I don’t know how to do that. I’m good at the initial dump, and I love the catharsis that comes from that. Once it’s all out there? I’m not good at that. I’m not good at doing something about things, or in this context, polishing poems and other pieces.

It’s an interesting space to be in creatively. I’m overwhelmed with the amount of work it still takes after I have everything down on paper. The projects I’m working on still have so far to go. It’s terrifying and exhausting.

The woods didn’t work for me today, but maybe that isn’t their job. Maybe I need to stop looking to so many outside things for motivation and validation in writing and probably a lot of other parts of my life, too.

But that’s a different story for a different time.

If anyone has any motivating tips, playlists, suggestions, etc., send them my way. I’m always open to suggestions!

Gentleman (Poem)

Despite the fact that I have notebooks and notebooks full of material, I rarely post poetry on here. I usually keep it to word vomit/life updates, but lately I’ve been feeling the urge to publish other things.

I’m used to getting personal on here, but this is a different kind of personal. Here is a poem about the time I learned to confuse sex with love. About how people aren’t always who we think they are. About when I learned that not everyone values transparency and honesty the way I do.

Anyhow, I’ll stop rambling and let the poem speak for itself.

Gentleman

She called you a gentleman,
but I didn’t get that side of you
when you fucked me on the driver’s’ seat of your car.
You moaned my name
and told me I was the best you ever had.

Your hands traced my skin and gripped my body
As we moved together.
The tight space between my back and the steering wheel
Forced us to be closer,
Breathing the same air.
Our respective moans swirled together in a
Steamy fog of passion and lust.

You told me you wanted all of me, but
You only wanted my body.
I gave it to you easily,
Crawling out of my bed and into the shower
In the middle of the night
To get in your car
For a quicky and a heart to heart
In a nearby parking lot.

You weren’t a gentleman when you flicked your lights off
Before pulling into my driveway.
A condom in your glove box
Ready to take what you wanted
Knowing I was willing to give you my heart.

There was nothing gentle about you
When you pulled my hair
And claimed me as your own
Before disappearing for weeks at a time
Tossing me to the side like I was nothing.

You weren’t a gentleman
when you said we would go out
And never had the decency to call and cancel.
I waited by the phone,
Desperate for your name to pop up and give me something
When I’d given you everything.
How gentlemanly of you to lie to my face
Time and time again
When all I asked for was a bit of honesty
Even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

How stupid of me
To make excuses for you
Time and time again.

You weren’t a gentleman
When you let me hand you my heart —
Words scrawled out across a page as neatly as I could manage
Then folded into thirds
And handed to you as I hugged you goodbye.

You, the gentleman,
Couldn’t even be bothered to read it.
You’ve left it crumpled in a box under your bed
To make friends with dust bunnies and other forgotten things.

She called you a gentleman,
But you were anything but gentle with my heart.

The ocean, love and holding back

The ocean and I will always be the best of friends.

I throw myself into its waiting arms with reckless abandon, like an overeager lover.

Overeager, overwhelming, over dramatic, over enthusiastic, too much. You name it, I’ve been called it. I love fast. I love hard. I know it, I try to calm it. But calming my desire, my need, to love others deeply, truly, wildly, is like trying to calm the ocean’s waves.

Impossible, and quite honestly, a stupid thing to attempt.

I spend a lot of time at the ocean now that it is 45 minutes from my house. (In case you missed it, I moved to Florida a month ago. Despite the numerous tearful goodbyes I said, it seems I sort of left without announcing it. Anyhow, now you know).

beachin.jpg

The ocean and I have rekindled our love affair and man is it exhilarating.

The ocean may be the only thing I’ve ever loved that hasn’t let me down. The only thing I can throw myself into and know that it will always catch me.

The ocean may toss me around a little bit. I may tumble within a wave or have my legs scraped up by the sand on its floor, but it also supports me. It is also the only place I feel entirely free. It is the only place I don’t have to worry about my joints failing me. It is the only place I can let go of my need for control.

I can hand control over to the ocean and just relax.

My body is supported by the water, and I move easily over the gentle waves.

When the rough ones come, I throw myself into them, back arched moving along with the currents.

beachhhh

I’m unafraid.

I’ve crashed and burned enough times. My heart has been bruised, beaten, taken for granted, drug through the mud and left washed up on the shore enough times that I know I can handle it.

I know that whatever happens, I’ll be okay. I can take care of myself just fine.

None of the bull shit I’ve been through has taught me to be guarded. None of it has hardened my heart the way people tell me it will.

I’m only 22, there’s still time, but I’m afraid to see what it would take for me to build walls the way others do.

I guess I’m just not afraid to risk it all for love. I’m not afraid to love all the pieces of someone. The thing about me is that whether friend or more than that, I want to see the dark places of people. I want to know what makes them tick. I want to know what they’re passionate about. I love watching someone light up when they talk about what they love. I love being able to assure people that their crazy is lovable. People are flawed, and I think we oftentimes forget that it’s okay to be that way.

I don’t want “perfect,” I’ve been there, tried that, didn’t bother to get the T-shirt, and we all saw where that got me.

The perfect life, the perfect relationship isn’t all its cracked up to be.

I don’t want that. Never have.

I think that for me, I would just eventually like to be with someone who gets that we all have baggage. We all have a past and things that hurt us and things that changed us. I guess I just want someone to accept that about me and understand that I’m willing to accept that about them.

I don’t know why I’m word vomiting all over the place right now. I don’t know what the point of writing all this is. There was just a little voice in my head telling me to word vomit.

I’ve been blocked because I’ve been avoiding my feelings. Well, sort of. I don’t know that I’m actually capable of avoiding my feelings.

I’ve been avoiding writing them down. I’ve been avoiding putting these stories to paper because I’m worried about hurting people.

How dumb is that? I’m worried about hurting people who had no regard for me. Who knew me, who knew how my heart works and shit on me anyways.

Seriously, I’m too sensitive for my own good. I care far too much.

I often wonder if there is even anyone else out there who gets it? Or am I just this crazy, oversensitive anomaly that is destined to end up with a broken heart over and over again?

Who the fuck knows.

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Anyways, there are a million things that I’ve wanted to write. A million words to put on paper. A thousand stories to tell. They’re trying to claw their way out of me. My hand itches every time I pick up a pen.

But I haven’t told them because I’m too worried about other people’s feelings. My tears have stained numerous pages as I try to protect people who usually never even gave me the time of day.

Fuck it.

I’m sensitive, but I’m strong. I’m loving, but I’m done with bull shit. I’m done with ghosting, pulling on heart strings and dishonesty.

So I return time and time again to my lover the ocean. I come back to the water to remember that life is hard. Life will knock you on your ass hundreds of times, but strength lies in your ability to get back up and keep fighting and keep loving.

And usually things are worth the risk.

I’ve been told that I need to get a thicker skin, that I need to stop being so willing to let people in.

That might be true, but I don’t think I’d be me anymore if I stopped feeling everything so intensely.

I’ve worked too hard to regain my sense of self in the last year to ever let that be taken from me again.

“Love can change the world in a moment, but what do I know?” –Ed Sheeran

You’re crazy, but you’re also sane

Here I am. Yet again, surrounded by boxes and half-packed suit cases, trying to sort through the piles of clothes, books and toys to pack them away.

Again.

I’ve moved five times in the last two years. Five. Not counting the three times we switched hotel rooms in the four months we lived in Virginia.

Five times.

I should be an expert at this by now. I should have a method to the madness of moving, but I don’t.

I don’t have a method to much of what I do in life. I have a restless spirit, almost to the point of recklessness. I’m a wanderer, physically and mentally. I day dream more than the average person, and I’m frequently wishing I were somewhere else. I can’t sit still to save my life so here I am, packing. Again.

My books and notebooks are off their precisely organized shelves and packed neatly into boxes. They are usually the only things I pack with any semblance of care. Seeing my journals filled with the stories, thoughts, mistakes, regrets and dreams of the past few months (or years) in a box always has an interesting affect on me.

Most of the time I feel like a complete mess. Once everything is packed though, and the physical parts of my life are put away, I can’t help but hope that maybe the less tangible parts of my life can be that organized. Doubtful, but a girl can dream.

I know it is time to have new experiences to fill more notebooks with.

It’s time for a new chapter. Again.

There is something exhilarating about starting over. New opportunities, new challenges. I know this next step will lead me to some great places. There are quite a number of good things coming my way, I can feel it.

Still, it is hard to leave other things behind. There are people I will miss more than I know how to handle. Some I know will still be around, their loyalty has been proven time and time again. I’m grateful to have friends who don’t care about my geographic location.

Others, well, I worry. I worry that not being here means those relationships will end. They likely will, and that means they weren’t meant for me anyways, but they aren’t things I’m ready to let go of.

I’m big on closure, and there are some things that will feel unfinished.

I’m still trying to convince myself that is okay.

My fear about this next step comes from my lack of a back up plan. In every scary step I’ve taken, I’ve had a clear “If plan A doesn’t work out, then I will…” So as much as I’ve felt like I’m diving into things head first, I’ve always known what I would do if it didn’t work out. My issues stem more from a lack of confidence or courage to act on those plans.

This time, I don’t have a back up plan. I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t get things to work out. On the one hand, I have every confidence that I will figure it out. On the other, trying to be okay with uncertainty is a constant process.

I feel very Rory Gilmore in the revival, except I know where (most of) my underwear is, and I (unfortunately) don’t have a super attractive international lover. Man, would I be less upset if I had Logan Huntzberger in my back pocket.

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Scratch that, I would be happier if I had Jess Mariano to remind me that I’m still a contender. 

I rambled about this to my lovely friend Eden earlier today. She told me that my uncertainty shows I’m a mature and sane adult.

“Mature and sane?” I questioned. “Those aren’t usually how people describe me.”

Her response?

“I mean girl, you cray. But you’re also sane.”

She’s right. I’m cray. I keep thinking I need to tame myself, to “get my shit together.” I don’t even know what that would look like. I keep thinking that maybe if I were less restless I would be happier. That if I didn’t let people in so easily I would be happier. That if I got a better job or a retirement fund or something that I would be happier.

Fuck that. 

The people in my life love me despite my crazy. I will forever be grateful to them and will constantly search for ways to show them just how much I love and appreciate them.

I have always had this need for outside approval. I can’t do anything without running it past a panel of people. I either do what they say, or I do something because they told me not to, and I felt like I needed to prove to them that I’m a grown ass woman who makes her own decisions.

Neither of those are good ways to make decisions. Doing anything based solely on anyone else hasn’t gotten me far in life. In fact, it made me completely lose my sense of self. I’m just starting to get it back, and I’ll be damned if I hand it over to anyone else again.

The past month I holed up. I didn’t drink. I didn’t go out. I hardly saw anyone, and I didn’t reach out much to talk or catch up.

It was just me and my notebooks (and Sophie, of course). I needed clarity. I had decisions to make and things to figure out.

Usually, I would feel terribly lonely and anxious. I actually enjoyed the alone time quite a bit.

For one of the first times, it is nice to feel like I am doing what I need and not what other people need from me. I suppose I’ve been doing that a lot over the past few months, but it is nice that it feels like a new normal and not just a whim I followed.

I’m so tired of taking better care of others than I do for myself. I always talk about how I love big, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes people aren’t deserving of it, and I have to realize that taking my love back doesn’t make me a bitch. It just means I’ve learned to love myself as much as I love others.

That’s another story for another time.

All I know right now is that it’s okay. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. It’s all gonna be okay.

Poetry, dates and coming home

I took myself on a date tonight. Make up, clean pants, brushed hair, favorite lipstick color and all.

It is part of my effort to be more comfortable doing things alone. Too often I skip out on things because I don’t have anyone to go with, and I don’t have anyone to drag begrudgingly along anymore.

I’m learning to enjoy my own company. It is uncomfortable don’t get me wrong, but I’m actually really glad I went out by myself tonight.

N.C. poet laureate Shelby Stephenson was speaking at the coffee shop downtown so I figured I would go listen to what he had to say and hear him read some of his poetry.

There is something magical about listening to a poet read their own work. He read with such enthusiasm and confidence. I hope one day to write things I am that proud of.

I’m not used to doing things alone so I assumed I would end up a wall flower among the gallery portraits in the crowded cafe. Attendees included groups of old friends, fellow writers and creative writing students from local university, obviously there out of a class obligation judging by their discussion of ‘the assignment’ on the evening.

Right before the event began, a table in the very center opened up. Quite the juxtaposition from the position I thought I would occupy. I sat down and was shortly joined by an older couple rushing to snag a table before Stephenson began to speak.

The husband was a fiction writer and an old friend of Stephenson’s. Ironically enough, my table mate wrote fiction because he couldn’t find his rhythm in poetry. I told him that I gravitated toward poetry because I couldn’t find my voice in fiction.

We chatted for just a few minutes, but it was nice. It was interesting having to define myself to a stranger. This person knew nothing about me, had simply sat down with me for lack of another option.

I didn’t quite know what to say when they asked even the most basic of questions. I have spent the past few months rebuilding and regaining my sense of self, but this might have been the first time I had to introduce myself to and make small talk with someone who had no background knowledge of me.

It was fun being able to tell them I write. Maybe if I say it enough times to enough people I will start to really believe it’s true. Lord knows I’ve been working hard at it, submitting all over the place and surely developing a case of carpal tunnel due to my incessant need to write everything by hand the first go round.

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The woods will always be my happy place. 

Stephenson started out talking about the idea of “home” or where you come from. He stumbled over his words as he tried to sum it up, and I couldn’t help but nod my head in response. How does one sum up where they come from in a meaningful way?

I have no idea. The concept of home is one I mull over quite often in my writing but don’t know if I share often.

I was struck by his words, or lack thereof, in that moment. All I really knew was that I felt a strong connection to this place. This tiny little town that we all couldn’t wait to leave, yet many of us returned to even after we spread our wings a little.

There is a force as strong as gravity that pulls us back. Maybe it’s toxic, and we are all just crazy, as one of my friends so often says. Or maybe there really is something magical about this place, something deeper than the surface that can’t quite be explained.

My heart hurt as I thought about leaving it. Hickory was the only place I wanted to come back to when I left Germany. I couldn’t imagine finding myself and rebuilding anywhere else. There was a pull to this place I couldn’t deny even though my family left years ago.

I’ve been back for a few months now, and despite the love I have for this strange place, I know it is time to go.

I rediscovered myself. I cut ties. I picked up the pieces of myself that I left here, and I claimed them as my own. I learned how to be defined by my values, strengths, weaknesses and interests rather than by my ties to another.

I cultivated friendships with people who were quick to remind me that I don’t need them. That while there is a lot of love, it isn’t a love of necessity. It is a love that is not conditional to my geographic location.

I needed to come back here to collect myself, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay.

Sophie and I are off to the next adventure in a few weeks. Packing up and moving and uprooting our lives yet again is terrifying, but it is the right thing to do. The sunshine state is calling us, and good things are coming.

I can feel it.

A battle between head and heart

My mind is a muddled mess of opportunity.

I think I’ve written that line before. In fact, I’m sure I have. It isn’t the first time in my life I’ve found myself at a crossroads, and I doubt it will be the last.

I had this idea growing up that one day I would have it all figured out. That I would grow up, build a life and suddenly know what I’m doing or where I’m going. I had a map in my head. I didn’t quite know what was on it, but I assumed it would be as simple as following it and life would work itself out.

I’ve learned that it isn’t that cut and dry. If we’re being honest, most of us don’t have it figured out. I just have a hard time accepting that I may never really know what I’m doing or where life is going to take me.

I stand here with numerous opportunities open before me. The world is my oyster, as those in favor of cliches would say.

If there is a map, it leads to too many places. There are too many times where I have to choose which way to go. Isn’t it supposed to lead me? That’s what I always thought.

What do you do when you know there a million and one ways to be happy? When you can see numerous paths to fulfillment?

I’ve always been one to follow my heart. I wear it on my sleeve (there are those cliches again). I hand it out openly, I lead with it. I love big, and because of that, I fall on my face a lot. Because of that, I tend to crash and burn more often than my more cautious peers.

Caution isn’t in my vocabulary. I throw myself into things whole-heartedly and run with it until it doesn’t feel right.

I don’t mean to be so indecisive, but is there really any other way to figure out what is right for you? If you don’t try, will you ever know? Or will you live in a constant state of what ifs and wishful thinking?

I’ve rarely regretted throwing myself out there and bearing my heart for the world to see, even when it doesn’t work out in my favor.  You can say a lot about me, but you can never say I don’t try.

My point is, how do I know when an opportunity is worth it or if it is a big waste of energy –physical and emotional?

I tend to fall in love with possibility, with the idea of what things could be. I’m a dreamer and my head is in the clouds more often than it is present here on earth. But how beautiful would it be if I somehow made all those dreams swirling around in my head a reality?

My brain is muddled. My heart wants to leap, but my brain is a mess.

I’ve become sure of who I am lately. I’m sassy and loud and indecisive. I come on far too strong, and I’m a hopeless romantic that believes love will always in in the end. I feel stronger than I ever have, but it hasn’t made me any more sure about the specifics of what I want out of life.

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All I know is I want to be happy, and I want to do right by my little girl. What that means or what happiness looks like is a mystery to me.

I don’t know why all of this stresses me out so much. I don’t know why I can’t just make a decision, choose a path, and stick to it.

Maybe because I like the idea that life is fluid and that we don’t have to be stuck with things we don’t want forever. That it is okay to decide something and realize that while it may have been the best thing at the time, it isn’t the best for forever.

Nothing is permanent, and that is both beautiful and terrifying.

Or honestly, maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to be wishy-washy. Maybe I’m just enjoying the feeling of being in complete control of where my life goes from here for the first time in my life that I’m getting power hungry.

I feel myself looking for some sort of permission. From who? I have no idea. I’m 22, it has been at least six years since I’ve listened to a thing my parents told me to do, as I’m sure they will tell you.

It is a constant battle between head and heart. Between letting fear win and letting love win.

I feel less like there is anything tying me to one specific place. Less like I need to be tied to one specific place.

I spent my whole life searching for the elusive “home,” and I’ve realized over the past few months that it is less a place and more a feeling. In a lot of ways, I’ve come to accept that part of loving so many people means that my heart will always be stretched across the globe, and there will always be parts of me that long to be elsewhere to be with them.

What is important is figuring out where I want to be.

I’ve never felt more okay feeling so rootless, feeling so much like I can do whatever I want.

If only I had any clue what that was –or how to discover it.

Maybe love only wins in the end if we have the courage to overcome our fears and let it.

Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?

A story about the time a silly question I asked to pass time on a long car ride made me question everything. 

“Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?”

I asked you this as we drove through the mountains in Greece last summer. We were going clear across the island to a beach I found on the internet that was supposed to be absolutely incredible (it was).

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Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece

We got a taste of a little bit of everything the island had to offer on that trip: the beach, the mountains the incredible canyon, the cliffs, the mountain goats and the roadside stands that were someone’s livelihood.

I remember looking closely at all the people we passed: they all seemed happy and content with their lives.

I remember feeling like I could be really happy here, too. Like maybe the Greeks had it all figured out and life isn’t about money or cars or all of the things we make important. Maybe life is about the simple things like having someone you love to share it with.

I was contemplating happiness a lot that summer. Mostly because it seemed to be an elusive presence in our lives, but also because the things that make others happy has always fascinated me. We were experiencing all of these cultures, and I wanted to take pieces of what made these people happy and apply them to my own life.

My wheels started turning, and I asked the question as it floated through my mind.

“Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?”

You thought for a second before answering with words that shattered the very basis of what I thought our relationship was.

“I could be happy that way if I didn’t have you and Sophie.”

I felt like I’d just been punched in the gut and hit in the chest all at the same time. I’d never felt more like a liability, more like someone you just needed to take care of rather than someone you really wanted to share a life with.

I wasn’t suggesting we pack up and move, but the fact that you didn’t think you could be happy with me there hurt any way.

I asked you what if it was what I really wanted? What if it was my ideal life?

You still said no, that you had to do more –to do better. That it simply wouldn’t be enough.

Tears welled up in my eyes, but I just said okay.

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I could’ve stayed here forever. 

You were rarely honest with me when I asked things like this so even though the answer I got wasn’t the one I wanted, I was happy you told me your truth.

I always knew we were different, that we often spoke different love languages and that we challenged each other. In this moment, though, my heart broke a little bit as I realized that we didn’t value the same things.

All I want out of a relationship is someone who will love me for me, not because of what I will offer them or what I can do for them. I want someone who will be happy with me no matter where we are or what our life circumstance is.

I want love, real, raw, true love. The kind of love that isn’t necessarily easy. I don’t want my partner to be naive to my flaws, but rather to love me so completely that they love them, too.

More than anything, I never want someone to feel like they need to take care of me. I never want them to feel like they can’t take risks because of me.

I cannot speak for you now, it would be unfair, but in that moment, it felt as though you cared more about fulfilling your role as a provider than you did about me and my hopes and dreams.

You thought I needed a fancy house and nice things and the world handed to me on a silver platter, but all I wanted was for you to want me, no matter what.

It’s been months since we had that conversation, the one where you told me you would feel like you failed if you didn’t give me the life that looks good on paper, but I still can’t shake it.

You didn’t want to live in a dirt house with me.

I wasn’t enough to be all you needed, and that hurt my heart more than any of the other things that led to our eventually downfall.

Or maybe it wasn’t that you needed more. Maybe it was that I made you feel like I did. I didn’t, though, for what it’s worth. Probably nothing, at this point, but my love for you was never based on what you could or could not give me.

Maybe I’m naive. If anything, I am certainly a hopeless romantic, but I’d like to believe a love like that exists. A love where nothing matters but two people loving each other deeply and openly regardless of what their life looks like.

I don’t need someone to give me anything but themselves. I don’t need money or a protector or a provider. I need love. We all need love.

I’ll wait for it.

2016: the Dumpster Fire Year

Every year I say I’m not going to write one of those cliched, over-done, “year in review” posts. Yet, every year I find myself sitting behind a keyboard writing one any ways. I kicked enough bad habits this year, I suppose this one will have to wait.

I have a difficult time categorizing 2016 as a “good” or “bad” year. It would be easy to say that it was the worst, in a lot of ways it was a complete dumpster fire. However, that discounts the good things that happened this year which feels unfair.

Whether good or bad, 2016 will go down as a pivotal year in my life. This year took me to places I only dreamed of, and it brought me home again. It ripped me out of my comfort zone and forced me to build a new one –and even to learn to be okay living without one for a little while.

I call it the dumpster fire year because it went up in flames before January even came to a close. While this atrocious year is finally ending, I still haven’t fully extinguished the fire. That’s okay, though. Good things come with time. If there is one thing I’ve learned this year, it is that there is no need to rush things. I’m terrible at patience, but I’m learning. Trying to, at least.

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What will go down as the most peaceful moment of 2016, and maybe my entire life so far. Walking, doing yoga and meditating on the beach at sunrise in Crete, Greece. 

 

This year was the year that I lost and found myself within one fell swoop. I uprooted myself more than once. First to Europe to build the life I thought I wanted with the person I thought would be my constant. Then back home again to figure out what the hell I actually want because I was so terribly wrong the first time.

I lost the majority of my faith in my decision making this year, but I learned a tremendous amount about my strength. I learned that I am far stronger than I have ever given myself credit for. I never thought I would have the courage to make such a drastic change to improve my life without someone to lean on as a crutch. It’s not to say that I didn’t have support, I certainly did, but I had to find the strength within myself to do what I needed to do because there was no one to catch me if I fell. It wasn’t easy, but the right thing rarely is.

This year I really began to embody the “do no harm but take no shit” mantra that spoke to me so deeply the first time I heard it. I learned I don’t have to belittle others to stand up for myself, and that I am worth standing up for in my own right. Not simply because of the role I fulfill for someone else.

More than anything, I learned to respect myself, and I learned to demand the same respect from others who wish to be a part of my life. I finally realized that I don’t deserve to be put down or shamed or treated badly by people who say they love me –friend or lover. I learned, and am still learning, how to set boundaries for myself.

That is a lesson I hope my daughter doesn’t have to learn the hard way.

I learned that goodbyes aren’t always negative and are often entirely necessary –even if they take a few pints of ice cream, a couple bottles of liquor and incessant bitching and ranting to get over.

I spent the majority of this year completely and utterly heart broken. This year brought me to one of the lowest points of my life. However, I’ll call it a win because I managed to feel completely overcome with depression and sadness and shame and occasionally far too much alcohol, but I never once felt like ending my life. That is an accomplishment, and yet another testament to the strength I have worked so hard to develop.

The year opened with news of a betrayal that shook me to my core, and it unraveled from there.

While my months in Europe were magical in so many ways, and I am so insanely grateful for that experience, they were also lonely. I remember being so overjoyed to be living my dream of traveling and exploring and seeing the world, but also so lost, isolated and that maybe, no matter how much I wanted it, it wasn’t where I needed to be right then. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more conflicted than I was this year, which is why it is so difficult for me to sum up.

My heart ached while I was in Europe so I came home.

The hurt has subsided. I no longer cringe every time I think about the way my dreams fell apart. I no longer question whether or not I did the right thing. I don’t cry myself to sleep any more, I’ve healed in countless ways.

I’m ready to slowly wade into this new year and see what it has to offer me. I’m ready for new beginnings. There are a few things brewing right now that I am excited to watch unfold.

More than anything, 2016 taught me about the power of friendship.

When Chris and I were together, he used to say that he felt like I loved my friends more than him. Honestly, it was probably true. Anyone who has been friends with me knows I love big, I love hard. I take care of my friends, and they are everything to me.

This year I felt that love back. I had to cut a few out, but it was worth it. I surrounded myself with the greatest people who supported me, encouraged me and loved me despite the fact that I’ve been a complete mess. You guys know who you are, and you know how much I love you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for everything.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to kiss an old year goodbye and welcome a new one with open arms. I’m going into this year with a smile on my face and a heart full of love.

Good things are coming, I can feel it.

I’m ready.

 

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