To the Could-Have-Been..

As mentioned a few days ago, I’ve started the second round of a writing course that’s already proven to be transformative in my life. Many posts I wrote several months ago were inspired by the last round I participated in (here, here, and here), and I’m so excited to see how much this round changes and grows my writing.

There’s been one prompt that has really struck a chord with me so far. In life, there are many moments that you can look back on and realize that the decision made at the time had the power to completely change the course of your life. I was encouraged to write a letter to a person that I could have been by now, or that I think I should have been. The idea is to dig deep and really grow to appreciate the person that you are now and celebrate the decisions that you’ve made to lead you to your current state.

This seems to be a pretty regular theme with my writing, but I’ve been pondering what my life would have been if I had stayed in Arkansas, if I had stayed married, if I had never decided to do a 180° turn in my life. I don’t have to think about it much at all to know that I made the right decision, but sometimes I wonder if it would have been easier on the surface if I had stayed in that life. When I saw this prompt, it was the opportunity I needed to reaffirm my decisions on the major life changes I’ve made in the past two years.

To the could-have-been,

Thank goodness you aren’t the should-have-been. Every day, I’m glad more and more that your existence ended on a dreary October day in 2013. 

You gave up easily. Outside forces fought to keep you living, but if you would have stayed, it would have been the type of life only sustained by life support, constantly pumped full of drugs to keep the heart beating. Thank you for fighting to get free from that half-life.

On the outside, you had it all: a husband, a new house, a puppy…by now, you’d probably have a child too. Under the surface, the person who was fighting to be free- the person who has transformed and turned into the person penning this letter- that person knew it was wrong, that you were heading to a destiny all wrong.

Looking at the surface of my life now, it might seem like more struggles. I’m constantly fighting debt, I am stuck living with my parents, and I have to rely on the generosity of others for transportation. That all may sound a little overwhelming, which it can be at times, but it’s well worth it to be free. Free from the constant drowning feeling I only now understand as the deepest levels of depression. Free from a shallow life focused on trying to achieve happiness through material junk. And most importantly, free from a relationship that should have been a supportive partnership, but instead was an oppressive that stripped me (you, us?) from the excitement that a life full of growth can provide.

So, you tragic could-have-been, I’m more that just happy that you dissolved from reality that day. If you had continued to exist for much longer, I’m not sure you or I would be here today.

Winged Victory of Samothrace- The Louvre, Paris, France (July 2014)

listening to: Florence + The Machine

Ten Years of Advice

I have this strange fascination with what I can only call “instagram poets*”. There are probably literally thousands of them out there now, but two of my favorites have been around for a while and will both be published authors soon. Imagine my excitement, then, when I found out that one of them decided to create a 30-day writing course.

I signed up right away. I’ve been whining and moping about this epic case of writer’s block I’ve been battling, so I figured this would be the push I needed to start getting over it. The two authors who created this course came up with writing prompts for each day and included other questions and quotes to mull over each day. It’s only been going on for three days as of today, but I think it’s already been really helpful if for no other reason than just delving deeper into my own thoughts and feelings.

The first day’s prompt has been my favorite so far: we were supposed to write a letter to a 10-years-younger version of ourselves. I’ve done a similar exercise before, but you always get something different out of something like this. In an attempt to get my words out of myself, I’ve decided to publish the responses to the prompts I really enjoyed through this blog, starting with a letter to the fifteen-year-old me:

“I know you’re stubborn and aren’t really fond of anybody giving you advice, so I won’t. I won’t warn you about the decisions and choices you’re bound to make because you’ll refuse to listen and you need to learn for yourself.

You’ve got so much ahead of you. You’ve yet to really get to know the friends that will become your tribe of people- the family you’ve dreamed of for years. You’ve got adventures headed your way. In fact, this summer, you’ll fly to Germany and experience your first real love. No, not some boy, but a place and culture that you fit into so well, it’s almost as if you should have been born there.

You’re also going to experience more pain than I can express. I know it would be more practical to tell you to try and avoid making the decisions and mistakes I’ve made, but they’ll be what makes you great. Being an overcomer will be your greatest quality- trust me when I tell you you’ll make it through, even in the darkest of moments still yet to come.

I know you are incredibly boy-crazy right now, but don’t worry about it so much. I’m not going to lie and tell you that the perfect guy will come along any time soon, because I’m not even sure I’ve encountered that magical person yet. Just don’t get so desperate to finally get that boyfriend and first kiss that you settle. You’ll eventually find somebody in a few years, but don’t take the friendship side of it for granted. Be a better communicator. If you don’t, you’ll lose years and years with someone who could be one of your best friends.

Speaking of communication, work on that with your family as well. Spend as much time as humanly possible getting stories from your grandmothers. They’ve lived such interesting lives and are incredibly strong in their own rights. However, age will inevitably catch up to them and their memories are stories will be lost forever if you aren’t careful. Eventually this will also happen to your parents, so soak up time and memories with them instead of avoiding them every second of every day.

College is going to be a weird experience for you. You won’t finish or be very traditional about it, but don’t worry about what that says about your character or intelligence. You’re much smarter than you give yourself credit, you just haven’t found the correct outlet for your creativity yet.

Writing is going to really help you find clarity when your life takes a nosedive. Trust your friends because they will turn out to be completely loving and loyal. Don’t lose your faith in humanity even when some guys down the road treat you without a speck of respect. Hold on to your love for the world and helping others.

When your gut screams that something isn’t quite right, follow the gut feeling. You might still have that pride that’s unwilling to let anyone see you’ve made a bad decision, but you have to let go of that. That pride will be your downfall. That pride will drive you straight to the pits of hell. Don’t let your pride define your decisions”

Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland (July 2014)
Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland (July 2014)

listening to: Portugal. The Man.

*poets mentioned in the beginning: Tyler Knott Gregson and Christopher Poindexter