The Good is Better Because of the Bad

I’ve been rewatching Skins. There’s a scene in the fourth season between Effy and Freddie where she looks at him and tells him that all of her bad memories are gone, and she only has love left. She had been dealing with manic episodes and psychosis, subsequently getting sent to a hospital and having constant care from a psychiatrist. This psychiatrist helps her to “delete” all these bad memories, but it eventually is shown that this is even worse for her mental health. She loses so much of who she has become because she no longer has bad memories to remind her of her growth and change.

There have been several times in the last few years where I’ve wished to just delete moments in my life, especially regarding past relationships. I would love to be able to remove moments like my marriage and really even just meeting my ex. I convince myself that being able to delete the hurt and pain, the insecurities and fears that I developed would make me a happier person. I go back and forth between this desire and trying to embrace the failed relationships because they’ve taught me how to be stronger, to stand up for myself, and to leave when it turns toxic. I know that facing these issues is the healthy choice. I just don’t want any of that to tarnish what I have now and who I am now. I’m struggling with balancing my past and my future, and I’m not quite sure how to merge the two.

I had never intended to get married again. I allowed myself to become completely absorbed in that relationship that I lost who I was. I’ve labeled myself as damaged, unlovable, undesirable. I had a couple people come through my life after my divorce that I thought would maybe be a long-term part of my life, but I was unaware of my self-sabotaging these connections for quite some time. When I finally noticed my pattern and the unhealthy consequences, I made a conscious effort to change. When I met Josiah (which is probably a story for another time) and as we grew in our relationship and made the decision to get married, I tried to stay aware of my sabotaging tendencies.

I still feel unworthy. I still feel like my ex and my past haunt me. I still have family and friends who ask me about him and if I’ve heard from him. I suppose the biggest reason I wish I could delete all of the bad memories is because I’m tired of my past demanding to be my present. I’m so excited for what my future is going to hold, and I’m thrilled that I have someone who makes a consistent effort to understand. I know those bad moments will eventually fade until they’re tiny specks in a very distant memory, but I’m trying to accept them as ways to fully appreciate what and who I have in my life now. I think that’s the key in all of this: trying to appreciate the lessons learned from all of the hurtful moments. It’s just a very difficult thing to remind myself day in and day out- the bad is worth remembering because it makes the good so much better.

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Navy Pier, Chicago – June 2016

Healing

Part of my plan for this first year of living in Fayetteville is to really learn to take time for myself, so I’ve been going through this meditation journal for just about two weeks. I found it through the world of instagram (the same way I’ve found many of my favorite current poets), and  the premise behind it is just so wonderful. There is one question per day that is different, but then there is a list of the same things to think about every day: daily intentions, what you’re thankful for, things to enjoy and accomplish for the day, and then a couple things to work on. I’ve been able to use it as a daily way to mentally check on myself- to see how my mood shifts from day to day, and to find common themes in my thinking.

One of the questions I really struggled with was how to know when you’ve really healed from something. I written about brain bruises before when tied into depression, which I think is still a great analogy for the reason why it’s so much easier to fall back into that place after thinking you’ve fully recovered.

Yesterday, I was watching one of my girly drama shows during some down time, and one of the characters compared the end of a relationship to a broken bone: it can take a long time to heal, and the pain does eventually go away, but there’s a certain ache that comes back when it rains. I love that because it’s so accurate. It’s so spot on, it’s almost scary.

I thought I was healed from my last heartbreak. I thought I had fully recovered. But that communication opened back up recently, and I allowed myself to become vulnerable again. However, that trust and vulnerability got shut down, and again, the pain was intense. It was a sharp stab that caused all the emotions from a year ago to come boiling to the surface again. Even writing about it now brings the hurt back again.

This is where I come back to the idea of healing. The pain was just as strong as last year. The tears fell just as hard. However, it didn’t last as long. I was able to gather my thoughts and emotions back together more quickly. I didn’t feel as obliterated. I think that’s where the evidence of healing can be found. It’s not the lack of feeling that pain or sadness anymore, it’s the ability to acknowledge the issue and still remain a fully-functioning being. It’s not placing blame anymore, just accepting that there was a major loss. It’s being able to realize that while you may or may not feel that strongly about someone again, the answer will never be found in turning off those emotions and refusing to care about the repercussions of your actions.

So yes, I’ve healed. But I’m still healing. Part of the beauty of the human experience is the constant healing from hurts that life hurls our way.

Bluebonnets at Black Rock Park, Texas - April 2015
Bluebonnets at Black Rock Park, Texas – April 2015

listening to: Animal Collective

Silly Little Girls

I’ve been wanting to use this blog for more than just a place to spill all of my thoughts out. I’ve been wanting to also use it as a way to share some of my writing in an attempt to become more comfortable with people other than myself reading it.

I will never claim to be a poet. In fact, I’m already dreading any future poetry classes I’ll need to take for my degree, and those are quite a ways off. I’m much more comfortable writing in essay form or even short stories. Poetry is probably my least favorite of all writing styles for me. I love reading works by others, but it’s not something I enjoy doing for myself.

But I’m trying. I’m making an effort and branching out. Experimenting with other mediums is what creating art is all about.

This is part of a collection I’ve been working on for over a year. Mostly inspired by my experiences, some just inspired by observation, I want it to eventually be a solid representation of the counterculture I had the privilege of being around the past thirteen months or so

Silly little girls.
You naive, pretty things.
One day, you’ll learn. One day, it won’t be all sugar and dancing anymore.

Silly little girls.
You who know almost nothing of true hardship and suffering.
You love things you’ve yet to understand.

You stand, you cheer, you shout praises for the man on the stage.
When he screams from the front of the room, it’s partially for the recognition, but most of all, it’s to expose his soul.
He shouts pain, for darkness and struggle are his prided muses.
He pleads for someone, anyone, to bring him the drugs, and your praise is deafening.
Your adoration is blind.

This is what he claims to want- this blind celebration.
Without it, his intentional anguish means nothing.
Without it, his self-inflicted torment is for naught.

Take heed. Be careful. Count yourself lucky for not knowing that pain.
For one day, the world could come crashing in.
Those easy days could turn into a long-forgotten fantasy.
Treasure the good, the calm, the innocent.
Take hold of your own soul.
You can’t know that you’re giving parts of your own self away until you’re running on empty.
At least then, when the word master weaves his web of tormented phrases on stage, you can feel at one with his words.
Just wait.
You’ll see.

Tyler, TX - Summer 2015
Tyler, TX – Summer 2015

listening to: Damien Rice

Beware Fear

I remember the attacks on 9/11. I don’t remember the morning very vividly, but I remember the backlash. I remember the attacks on Muslims because the attacks were connected to Islamic extremists. Particularly, I remember a middle-eastern man getting brutally beaten and his shop utterly destroyed simply because of his heritage.

Fear has a way of bringing out the worst in people. It catches and spreads like wildfire, unable to be contained by rational thought. After the attacks in Paris just a few days ago, the fear that America is next has caused a tidal wave of hatred toward groups of people that aren’t all to blame. Instead of focusing on the actual issue, anger and refusal to help the refugees trying to escape the same kind of pain that Paris was exposed to is running rampant. Denying help to the people who arguably need it most is a painful reminder that fear causes ripples of paralyzing pain. Pain that in turn only hurts others.

I think in times like these, generalizations mistakenly help people to cope with emotions they’ve yet to process. So many are quick to blame all of Islam for the tragedy in Paris. What we need to remember is that every religion has groups of extremists who claim to be working for their god. Just as ISIS claims Islam, the KKK claims Christianity and the JDL claims Judaism. Even Buddhism has their violent radical groups, including the Buddhist Power Force. Small groups can inspire hatred even when the larger entity does not agree or condone their actions. The actions and beliefs of the few can effect the world’s view of the larger group.

I don’t have the answers on how to solve the problems at hand. I don’t have proposals to help generate peace throughout the world. This is why I’d never be a good public official. What I do know is this: blaming the actions of a few on the masses because they share the same religion helps the problem become worse. Sharing ideas of killing off Muslims does not help. Stopping the aid for one of the largest groups of people who desperately need to be saved from the genocide surrounding them at every turn does not help. By refusing love and human decency for others, we allow fear to rule. Fear only breeds contempt and hatred. Shouldn’t those be the things we want eradicated from our lives most?

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France - July 2014
The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France – July 2014

Love and Writing

One of my favorite quotes lately is one that I discovered reading Donald Miller’s newest book, Scary Close: “Being afraid to love and being paralyzed at the keyboard both involve a fear of being known, a fear of making mistakes, a fear of being found lacking.”

I’ve been working through this idea of writing a collection of short stories based on some character descriptions I did a couple months ago. However, as I delve deeper and deeper into these different story threads, the harder I find it to continue. The paragraphs I originally did were all based on people I know and have come to love, but I’ve been wanting to take those characters and fictionalize them a bit more to create more interesting narratives. However, their stories are already interesting. The struggles and the triumphs that I’ve seen them go through are incredible, so I’ve found myself writing much more truth than fiction.

I’m an observer. Even if I can’t claim to be talented at much else, I know that I’m good at reading the emotions in a room and understanding the back stories that shape people. That’s partially why I’ve come to love writing so much…because I can use that skill. However, in stories, not everybody can have a favorable role. There has to be conflict, there has to be struggle, there have to be antagonists. And this is where I’ve hit a wall. I want to write as exposed and vulnerable as possible, but the people that will read these stories first are the ones who inspired the characters, and it worries me to think about the fact that some of them might not appreciate the path I want to take those characters down.

Most of all, sometimes I fear that writing a character that is inspired by some of my life experiences might paint a too-real picture of myself, and the people who really understand how to read between the lines might decide I’m too much, too complicated, and filled with too many issues to really invest time in anymore.

It seems like I’ve been struggling with this thought process more this week than I have in some time. Wednesday night, it hit a boiling point. It was one of those moments that I actually verbalized the reasons behind why I don’t think I’ll ever find someone who can actually stick with me through all the bad, why I absolutely do not want to have children, and basically just word-vomited all of my insecurities out to two people (one being a complete stranger, and the other being a person who I used to exhaust myself wanting to impress). The more that I’ve reflected over those hours of excruciating emotional pain, the more I’ve realized that it’s not as much of an issue of trusting somebody else to love me, but it’s the worry that I’ve lost the ability to wholeheartedly care for someone the way that I want to. The worry that there will always be fears to hold me back, and the idea that I could cause someone even a fraction of the pain that shoots through my heart and soul.

The more I read the quote at the beginning of this post, the more it resonates with me. It is a fear of being known. It is a fear of making mistakes. It is a fear of not measuring up. It’s a debilitating fear.

Bluebonnets at Black Rock Park, Texas - April 2015
Bluebonnets at Black Rock Park, Texas – April 2015

listening to: eastmountainsouth