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.

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Connection, bravery and storytelling

A theme in a lot of the things I’ve been reading lately is the importance of story across time and cultures. No matter how different cultures are, there has not been one that has existed without story. Most recently I read Gloria Steinem’s book My Life on the Road (5 stars, I highly recommend it), about the feminist movement and all of the amazing people she’s met throughout her life traveling and organizing.

When I first picked up the book, I was expecting it to feel more like a travel book. I was expecting to hear about places, but what I heard about was people. I realized that’s because that’s the important part of traveling and seeing new places: getting know the people who call the place home.

I also read Brene Brown’s Rising Strong recently (another winner) where she discusses the importance of owning our own stories in order to rise strong out of a painful or difficult experience. She also talks about how being vulnerable and sharing those stories with others can be a powerful form of expression and even helpful in getting through whatever it is you are trying to get through.

Somehow I find it okay to post my story on the internet for anyone to read, but I have a terrible time answering simple questions from people making a genuine effort to get to know me. It’s baffling, but the answer is is also staring me straight in the face: fear.

I don’t have to see the look on a reader’s face if he or she disagrees with what I’ve written. I don’t have to feel small or ashamed or vulnerable when someone dismisses my work by clicking the little x in the top of their web browser because I don’t have to see it.

Somehow I’ve convinced myself I’m not strong enough to handle that in real life, but lately I’ve been proving myself wrong about things I thought I wasn’t strong enough to do.

What’s the worst that happens if someone doesn’t agree with me or doesn’t like what I have to contribute? I’m not forced to continue conversation with them. At best, I learn a new perspective and what I know about the world gets challenged.

In her book, Steinem writes: “If there is one thing that these campus visits affirmed for me, it’s that the miraculous but impersonal internet is not enough…nothing can replace being in the same space.”

Steinem has a movement she’s passionate about to keep her traveling around and writing and speaking to others and making connections. I don’t have a movement or a message. Half the time I don’t know what I think or feel or believe. When I do figure anything out, it seems so painfully obvious that it’s almost embarrassing to admit I ever struggled with it. But I keep writing about things and sharing them here in the hopes that my words resonate with someone the way others’ words have resonated with me. This is the only way I know how to share my story.

I had a golden opportunity to make a connection with a stranger, to share with them a few weeks ago, but once again I opted not to.

We were on the train coming home from Munich a few weeks ago, and I had my nose in a book secretly hoping no one else would come sit in our little compartment. While I’m thinking this, I’m sitting across from my husband who is eager to talk to anyone who crosses his path. I don’t think he knows how much I admire that about him.

connection, bravery and storytelling
Munich was beautiful, by the way. We’ll definitely be back.

Anyways, eventually this woman walks in and sits down. She was wearing hiking boots and carrying a pack almost as big as she was and a brown bag full of flowers. Chris helped her with her bag and proceeded, in a very Christopher fashion, to make small talk with her. I reluctantly put down my book I was hoping to finish on the ride as to not be rude.

Chris learned that she’d been on holiday in the south of France, spent Easter weekend with her family and was now heading home. My mind started racing with all sorts of questions to ask about her trip to France, best places to go, how was the weather this time of year, things of that sort. I told Chris I wish he would’ve asked her, and he asked me why I didn’t just interject.

Good question, Christopher, good question.

Anyways, Chris told her about how we had just moved to Germany and a little bit about our adventures in Munich. Then she turned to look at me and said, “What do you do?”

Freezing up is a normal occurrence for me in almost any social situation, but I stared at the woman who was just asking an innocent question to be polite like she was a three headed alien. I gestured toward Sophie, looked frantically around the compartment like something would just pop out at me and made some sort of “muh, bluh, guh” nonsense noise.

I panicked, I was embarrassed. What do I do? I read books and day drink on trains, I guess. Chris swooped in and said “she’s a writer.”

I’d never heard him say that out loud before nor had I really defined myself as such without first qualifying it as “aspiring.” It was really nice for my efforts toward this seemingly impossible career to be validated. My husband rocks.

Anyways, what I really learned in that moment is that I hate talking to people because I’m afraid I’ll have nothing of substance to add to the conversation. I’ve settled into this role of wife and mother and this lifestyle where I’ve come to define myself by the other people in my life. I hate it. I’m not entirely comfortable being a wife and a stay at home mom. I have too much creative energy pumping through my body –it’s like an electric current this need to create and produce and write and connect. I’m working toward those things, but I still never know what to say when people ask me what I do. I’m afraid of sounding inferior to those who work or judgmental to those ho are happy to be stay at home wives and/or mothers. I am neither, but it is an interesting place to navigate.

I’ve been writing a lot and uncovering a lot of things about myself. One being that I am far too controlled by my fear of everything (I’ve got a great story about that one for another time). Another being that I have a fierce dedication to my work and an overwhelming passion for telling stories and getting words out there. A third is that I want to hear others’ stories as much as I want to tell my own.

I’ve got this insanely amazing opportunity of living abroad to meet all kinds of different people, but that’s impossible to do if I continue to allow myself to be content as a silent observer in my own life.