Mom, I forgive you

Dear Mama,

We’ve worked a tremendous amount on our relationship over the years, and I am so proud of how far we’ve come. I used to dread Mother’s Day because it was a reminder of how awful things were between us. I’m glad it isn’t that way anymore.

While we’ve talked a lot and had many a heart-to-heart over the past year or two, and especially in the past few months, but there’s one thing I don’t think I’ve said in such plain language.

Mom, I forgive you.

I forgive you for all of the times you weren’t there. I forgive you for the birthdays passed without a call. I forgive you for the visits you missed. I forgive you for the times your actions and decisions made me feel unimportant and disposable. I forgive you for the times I needed you, but you didn’t have the slightest clue how to be there for me.

I forgive you for the times you would change your phone number and forget to tell me. I forgive you for the letters and packages that got lost in the mail. I forgive you for the hurtful things you’ve said.

I forgive you for all of the things you are still so angry about.

I know you’re still mad at yourself for a lot of things, but I need you to know that I’m not mad at you anymore. There is no anger for the way my childhood went. Yes, there were parts that were shitty. There are parts that I wish never happened. No one wants to have grown up primarily without their mother around for what (at the time) felt like her choice. I understand now a lot of the reasons that I didn’t understand before.

I know you were operating from a place of love and doing the best you had with the cards you were dealt. Maybe looking back you can see places you could have improved, but that’s just the nature of life.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

I forgive you so I need you to forgive yourself.

You are here now, and that is what is important.

Thank you for that. Thank you for turning things around. Thank you for forgiving me for my mistakes and letting me in.

Thank you for allowing me to watch the world break you. Not because I enjoyed seeing you hurt. Not in the slightest. Watching you struggle and be in pain has nearly destroyed me countless times. Thank you because watching you build yourself up into the strong, radiant, beautiful woman you are has had a profound impact on me. If you can come back from the things you have been through, then I know that I, too, will defeat the things that haunt me.

I’m proud of you.

You are an incredible example of strength. I hope to be even half as strong as you are, wonder woman.

Thank you for always being open and honest in showing me your flaws. Thank you for being quick to admit your wrong-doings –and even for occasionally admitting you’re terrible at admitting your faults because like me, you think you have to pretend you have it all figured out.

Thank you for calling me on my faults and for recognizing where they come from you.

Thank you for showing me that it is okay to screw up. The true test of character comes from how well you bring yourself back from your mistake.

Thank you for allowing me to learn from your mistakes but also understanding that I have to make my own, too.

I know all you ever wanted was for me to be better than you, and I’m sorry that in so many ways I am not. I know I’m reckless, overzealous, oversensitive and frequently very one-track-minded. You are quick to call me on that when it is getting in the way of what’s important, and I appreciate it.

But I never want to be a disappointment to you.

Thank you for knowing who I am and helping me to become the best version of myself rather than trying to make me into someone I’m not. Thank you for reading my writing and loving most of it, but also for not being afraid to tell me when it sucks. Thank you for encouraging all of my creative pursuits.

Thank you for all of the nurturing and mothering you’ve given the past few years. Thank you for being a steady presence in my life lately. It means more than any showy, over the top gesture ever could.

Thank you for being there when I took a sledgehammer to my life and sat lost among the wreckage of everything I thought I would be. Thank you for not being disappointed that I’d failed on such a grand scale. You were just there to help me see how to be rid of some pieces and fill in the gaps with new, better things.

Thank you for reminding me that I’m stronger than I think despite how broken and weak I feel.

Thank you for kicking me in the ass when I get too whiny and emotional and need to just get shit done. Even if I cry in a corner about it for a little while, I do appreciate you and your directness.

Most of all, thank you for loving Sophie. Thank you for being there for her. For doing her hair for school everyday, for making her lunches and doing crafts with her. Thank you for spending time with her in ways you didn’t, and couldn’t, with me.

I was worried it would hurt, but it has healed more than I ever thought possible.

I’m so grateful for the relationship and the love between the two of you. And for all of your help.

mama

I love you, mama. Our relationship hasn’t always been perfect, but I wouldn’t want anyone else as my mom.

Thank you for the laughs, for (sort of) dying my hair purple even when you had an allergic reaction. For car jam sessions, coffee dates and hugs. Thank you for passing down your love of music and writing. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for the qualities you’ve instilled in me: strength, creativity, enthusiasm for life and honesty. You’ve taught me to always stand on the side of the truth because the truth will set you free.

Thank you for teaching me to be self-reliant even if it has been the hardest lesson to learn.

Thank you for being a complete (adorable) dork, and for being just as cheesy and excitable as me. Thank you for giving me your smile and your big heart.

I love you much, mama. Happy mother’s day.

Love,

Sunshine

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.

The why behind my words

My notebooks read like an ode to all the boys (and girls) who’ve broken my heart. Not a single one of them deserve it, but neither do I deserve to live with all of this hurt eating away at my insides.

So I sum up whole relationships, quick love affairs and broken friendships in a series of lines that cut people to their core –that give them that heart-dropping, gut-wrenching feeling we all crave but never admit.

I write it out, cry it out and move on.

My words will break your heart.

I’m the girl who will write you a three page love letter. I’ll write you lines about how beautiful things could be, even if they never end up that way. I’ll show you how wonderful I think you are, because I think everyone deserves to feel good about themselves. I’ll mean every word because I don’t see much point in writing something if it isn’t the truth.

I’ll write it even if I’m certain you’ll never read it because it isn’t for you, it’s for me. There isn’t room in my body for all of the words that come through my brain in a single day. So I write it down.

I write because when he asked me how I felt, what I wanted and what he could do to make me happy, I couldn’t tell him. All that came out of my mouth were broken phrases, a series of I don’t know’s (even though I did) and some inaudible noises.

There he was, willing to listen to me word vomit and ramble as long as I needed, and I couldn’t get it out.

But it’s on paper. I wrote pages explaining what I wanted, what I needed, what I craved. I do know, I’m just afraid to say things out loud because then I can’t take them back. If it’s on paper, I can rip it to shreds, burn it or lock it away and pretend it never happened.

If it’s only on paper you never read, you can’t break my heart. That, I think, is what I’m most afraid of.

I write because on paper is the only place I’m not afraid to say how I feel. I feel invincible instead of fragile.

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I write because my heart is a strong and fragile as a wild flower. If I don’t get the feelings out, they’ll destroy me.

I write because I thought I’d said it all. I thought I’d told him everything on my mind, but my words and feelings still caught him by surprise.

Some people write to remember. They pen their stories so they are committed to paper and won’t leave them.

I write to forget.

I write because there are images planted in my mind that won’t go away. I write because I’ll replay the same story or line in my mind on a repeating reel for days until I write it down. I write because if not I get obsessive. I’m easily consumed by thoughts and words and feelings, and if I don’t get them out of me in some way I’m certain they’ll drown me one day.

An overabundance of words or my caffeine addiction will be the death of me, I swear.

I write because if I don’t my words are written across my face.

I write because I don’t want perfect strangers to read me like a book. Mostly because they’re usually right, and I’d like to think I can keep some air of mystery about me, even if it is the ever so slightest bit.

I occupy this strange space of not having anything to hide but also not wanting to be so easy to figure out.

I write because it hurts when I don’t.

Physically. My hands get fidgety, and my throat feels like it’s closing and there’s a pit at the bottom of my stomach and a fist clenching my heart.

I write because nothing beats that high. Not alcohol. Not drugs. Not anything. Nothing can compare to the way it feels when I get in the zone and the words come out, and I know I’m on to something.

If not on to something, at least releasing something that has gotten far to comfortable existing within my mind.

Beyond that, nothing beats when someone connects with my words. I love knowing when people read my work. The stats on wordpress let me know that my word vomit reaches a lot of people, but only a select few let me know they’ve read it. Nothing beats getting a comment or a message that something I wrote resonated with someone. I want people to realize they aren’t alone, and we all deal with the same shit day in and day out.

I write because it makes me feel like an unstoppable force.

I write because I don’t know how to cope with life without it. It’s the only thing that keeps me standing on my own two feet when the world feels like it’s collapsing in on me.

Because it’s the only way I’m ever able to figure out what I want.

Flannery O’Connor once said “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

I write it all down because I know I’m an intense person. I feel things deeply, which is both a blessing and a curse because the people around me rarely do.

I write because I know I’ll scare people away if it all comes out out loud. Worse than that, I’ll push them away if I leave it all inside.

I write because I think I’ll fall over and die if I ever stop.

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.

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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.

Ew.

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.

 

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 that 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. 

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.

Forgetting Lane (Poem)

There are some people who come into your life, and your heart, with little intention of staying.

Yet somehow, people like me don’t know when to let go.

Forgetting Lane

I had forgotten.
Maybe not completely,
but I had traveled far enough down forgetting lane to know it wasn’t easy,
but it was a road I could navigate
if I had to.

Then there you were.
You jumped out from behind a curve
when I was least expecting it.

“Remember me?”

You said you felt it was time
to come out of hiding —
you didn’t like running from me anyways.
You said you missed me and you were sorry.

No excuses,
just an honest apology,
and I could see the remorse behind those blue eyes
that make my heart melt and my knees weak
everytime I see them.

Oh how easily you can suck me right in
and put me under your spell.

Then there we were
sitting in your car laughing and holding hands.
You wouldn’t let go
even when you struggled to shift gears.
You held me tightly,
the smile I love never fading from your face.

We bonded over the smallest things —
a love of road trips with the windows down and the music turned up,
mountain time and our matching cameras.

I fell into your bed,
plush with pillows,
as if I’d been there a thousand times before.

You laid there with me
kissing me,
holding me,
nestling your head between my shoulder and my neck,
arms draped over me as if we were always meant to be there.

I traced the outline of the tattoo over your heart
wondering if you knew I never wanted to hurt you,
only be there for you.
But the walls you built to guard it
are damn near indestructible
and I’ve been chiseling away at them for so long.
Everytime I get close,
you shut me out again,
building them higher and higher.

We are miles and miles apart now,
I the one who ran away this time,
but forgetting lane has gotten tougher to navigate,
and I can’t shake the way I feel about you.

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).

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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.

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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

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.