To the woman who may one day love me

 

“Somebody sees me, and I see myself through them. Then it’s all gone, the whole world falls apart.”  ― Anne Sexton

Dear future love,

There are things you should know about me. I’m a difficult woman to be with sometimes. For this reason, I want to tell you all of the worst things about me. I want you to know coming into this that you’re in for a battle. I need you to understand these things because I’d rather you flee early on to protect both of our hearts. To be with you, I have to know you can see this calamity and make it through to the other side. Please let me prepare you, my love. Let me outline the couch cushions so you never fall into the floor made of lava.

I’m flighty, but hold me and tell me the sky won’t fall.

I’m independent, but prove to me that trusting doesn’t have to be scary.

I’m petty, but remind me that there are two sides to every story.

I’m jealous, but show me off as yours.

I’m pretentious, but tell me that my brains are your favorite part.

I’m mercurial, but wait out the storms with me.

I’m self-conscious, but kiss all the parts that I think are ugly.

I’m childish, but embrace my need for stuffed animals and chocolate milk.

I’m neurotic, but teach me that everything doesn’t need to be perfect.

I’m prone to overthinking, but help me map out the ways that things are good already.

I’m needy, but reassure me that you’re staying only if you really are.

If you can do all of those things, you should also find that:

I’m romantic, so I’ll pull out all the stops for you.

I’m charming, so your parents will probably fall in love with me.

I’m smart, so I’ll always challenge you and teach you new things.

I’m chivalrous, so I’ll always put you first.

I’m sweet, so I’ll remember the little things you love.

I’m funny, so I’ll do my best to make you smile.

I’m loyal, so I’ll always have your back.

I’m perceptive, so I’ll be ready on the days you need me most.

I’m supportive, so I’ll never stop cheering you on.

I’m passionate, so you’ll never have to wonder if I care.

 

If you can love me at my worst, then you, my brave warrior, have tackled a beast that those before you simply crumpled beneath. If you can get through this quagmire, then please hurry along, gorgeous- I’ve been waiting for you my whole life.

XX

 

 

Advertisements

This is not a happy tale. And that’s okay.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. –Dalai Lama

My brain is my worst enemy. It tells me that I’m not worth it. It tells me that I’m a burden. When I’m anxious, it tells me that space is limited, that I’m going to be crushed by the weight of my failures, that no one cares. It tells me to lie to the people who care about me, to put on a mask like nothing is wrong. It wants to kill me, my brain. Most days I am strong enough to quiet it down, but some days are harder than others. It took me many years to recognize what my brain was doing. It took me far too long to realize that. I was nearly gone by the time I figured out what my brain was up to. Now, I medicate. I talk about my feelings. I stress that by doing so I’m pushing away people who care about me. I’ve become difficult and cumbersome. I’ve become openly flaky when making plans. I’ve become selfish about my own need for space and reflection. In seeking transparency, I fear I’ve become too much.

I write this not to get reassurances, but to further be transparent. I know that it’s easier for others if I feign happiness and alleviate their discomfort, but that just traps me in my own negativity. If you think it’s an awful feeling not being able to help me, imagine how it feels from the inside. I don’t need a problem solved; I just need someone to listen, to let me be sad, and to ground me when I’m anxious. At times I wish I could clone myself and make a not depressed clone to take care of me, because I’m fucking terrible at voicing my needs. I absolutely hate asking for help.

All of that to lead to a handy dandy list/guide. That being said, this list is a personal one and should not be considered entirely broadly applicable, though likely a good starting place:

  1. Assess the situation. Is there a contributing factor of distress? Meds? Sleep? Stress?
  2. Make suggestions for self care in question phrases. “Do you want to try taking a shower?” “Would you like to try to get some sleep?” “Maybe you should eat some food?”
  3. Attempt to make tasks easier to complete. Can you make food for this human? Can you spend some time just sitting quietly with them?
  4. Whenever possible offering help is very nice. Can you clean something for them? Can you bring them a thing?
  5. Try to mentally categorize the depression the way you would a physical sickness. This human might be nearly bedridden, unnourished, and in need of physical comfort. If you’d do it for a sick kid, try it for your depressed darling.
  6. For the love of God, if you can’t say something nice then REALLY don’t say anything at all. Depression replays anything awful you say. Magnifies it.
  7. Though it may be difficult, don’t take anything personally. This human is fighting a battle. That consumes so much more energy than you may realize.
  8. When in doubt, just ask. So often if someone would just ask a question, it would make a huge difference. Use a non-accusatory tone, and just ask. “Do you need help? Is there something I can do?”

Burn the boats

 

Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.- Heath L. Buckmaster

A therapist I work with recently recounted an old tale to a client about a powerful general whose army landed on the shore of a city they were determined to conquer. To empower the troops, the general ordered them to burn their own ships. That way, they would have to be victorious to get the resources to go back home. This was meant to be an inspiration about how sometimes you have to make yourself do a difficult thing by giving yourself no other choice. A sort of tough love, “failure is not an option” sort of rallying tale.

I applied it to my  life and some choices that I always seem to make. I liked the idea of burning the boats rather than burning bridges. The principle being that you can go back, but not without doing the necessary work. That the work is hard and it changes you, because the boat you take back is new and different. And boats don’t have just one destination. You could decide after the battle that you want to build a boat to take you somewhere completely different. The point is that you have to do the work if you don’t want to stay where you are. Progress is a battle, and the opposing army is usually just yourself and the desire to stay the same because it’s comfortable.

Comfort is appealing, but if you’re never challenged, you’ll never know if you’re making decisions for safety or desire. You’ll never know if you love a person or just hate being alone. You’ll never know if your job makes you passionate or just provides an income. You’ll never know if your situation is the best that it could be. And I know I’m always looking for better. Maybe I’ll never find best, but why would I stop at mediocre? So I guess it’s time to go buy some matches.

 

 

And this post makes the last 5 of the 50 things I love about myself! Have one extra because I’m sure I repeated at least one because struggles

  1. I love my “savory tooth” in lieu of a sweet tooth.
  2. I love the dumb baby voices I make for my cat.
  3. I love my need to crumble cookies in a bowl to make them into quasi cereal.
  4. I love my sweet, goofy attempts at art.
  5. I love my propensity for saving inspirational quotes and mantras.
  6. I love my patience. I get mad road rage, but in every other situation I have ridiculously calm patience.

Dalmatians

“I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.”
― Virginia Woolf

When I was once a wee tot, I fell in love with Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. I loved the movie so much that I wanted a dalmatian dog of my own. When my family realized how much I liked this franchise, they all began to buy me loads and loads of dalmatian paraphernalia. I got bed sheets, clothing, books, stuffed animals, figurines- you name it, I probably got it. I’m sure that I had over 101 dalmatians.  For a while, I loved it. Relished being surrounded by cute puppies that needed no extra care or responsibility. But after a couple of years, I realized that my family kept buying these things because they had no idea what else I liked.

I think this is probably a thing most people do. We want so badly to know others that it can be easy to cling to one bit of information about a person. To typecast them as the person you understand. Just as much as we do this, we let other people do this to us. Because it’s easier than being difficult. Let’s be honest about how much it sucks to be the friend who’s “impossible to shop for.” So at some point, you just start throwing people a bone. Let them know something about you and assume that it’s a magical insight into you. Let them project who they want you to be. But in doing this, you’re doing a disservice to yourself. Yeah, everyone doesn’t have to know everything about you, and you shouldn’t have to fight for people to understand you, but you also shouldn’t let people sell you short.

I challenge you, and myself- don’t let people label you to make you simpler. You were never meant to be a simple human. You have many features and interests. Like a dalmatian’s spots. And all of them are valuable. After all, a dalmatian with just one spot is nowhere near as beautiful.

  1. I love my proclivity for pants-less-ness.
  2. I love my twangy country music singing voice in the car or in the kitchen.
  3. I love my Tetris like packing skills.
  4. I love my taste in books.
  5. I love my taste in women. Even if it gets me in trouble more often than not.
  6. I love my strength. Need me to rock a vending machine for you?
  7. I love my goofy semi cursive handwriting.
  8. I love the way I sit like a little kid in chairs.
  9. I love the way I have to scoot my car seat way up cause my legs are short.
  10. I love my fondness for broken down sneakers over dress shoes.

Flight Patterns

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” –Steve Jobs

My life’s career map looks like a treasure map drawn by a toddler with no sense of cartography, scale, direction, or continuity. This is a thing I become sorely aware of any time I’m nearing the end of something- high school, a job contract that can’t be renewed, college, and now grad school. It seems a little like my heart gets commitment-phobic any time I feel locked into a career. In my life I have wanted to be: a superhero, a cop, an Air Force MP officer, a victim’s advocate, a counselor, a student affairs professional, a librarian, and a professor. At every juncture in my education I’ve sworn that I was done. “No, I don’t need to go to college… Well, I don’t want a master’s…Well, I’d never even think about a doctorate…” It seems like everything I do, I love. I’m infatuated with nearly every new job I get to take on, every field I get to explore. I know how too good to be true that sounds, trust me. I commit like a zealot and become super driven. I generally fairly successful. But I always stumble onto things I love more. Usually after I’m balls deep, if you’ll pardon my expression. One could argue that I just love learning new things, but I really don’t think that’s it. It’s a fear of being stuck on a defined path without an exit strategy.

So what is it that makes a person so terrified of being stuck? And what is the difference between changing your mind and running away?

I’ve been discussing with wise friends about the old adage that if “you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’m not sure I agree. I think at some point anything feels like work. The question is whether your love for it outweighs the “Mondays.” My personal question is what could I possibly love enough to say I love it most? Am I just sort of destined to bop around when something else looks more interesting? And if so, is there really anything wrong with that? People frequently say that you don’t have to have one set path, but if you don’t, aren’t you kind of setting yourself up for instability?

Things that I love about myself:

  1. My ability to muster enthusiasm even when I don’t much feel like it.
  2. The way I go on cleaning binges when I’m happy or mad.
  3. My coffee stain birthmarks.
  4. My inability to gracefully drink or eat things that are hot.
  5. My Southern accent that comes out when I’m tired or drunk, or passionate.
  6. My cute albeit tiny butt.
  7. The color of my hair.
  8. My attraction to older women. (Yeah, it usually doesn’t work out, but it’s fun.)
  9. My inability to drink beer. Makes it hard to buy cheap drinks, but I didn’t force my tastebuds into Stockholm Syndrome to like it, either.
  10. My adoration of poetry that enables my hopeless romantic side.

 

The ‘You’ That You Keep For Yourself

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”― Rumi

I fell a little off the blogging wagon the last week or so. I got busy, as one does, with the living part of life. Part of this busy time was spent with people I care very deeply about and some of it was with people I associate with out of necessity. It sounds harsh, but we all have these categories of people. Anyone who says that they don’t is trying to sell you something. The point I’m making here is not that any people are less valuable than others, but that energy and depth are things to be spared. As an introvert, a part of my identity that I’m just beginning to acknowledge and respect, I long for conversations that mean something. For people who want nothing more from me than my company, as a friend recently aptly put it. I crave these connections, but I also have to know what they cost me. It was my counselor who convinced me of this fact- one that was hard for me to master as a person who perpetually wants to please everyone. He reminded me that no matter how kind you strive to be and how much you care for people, no one deserves all of you. In order to not feel completely drained and vacant, I have to parse out the bits of myself that I keep for me. I don’t owe anyone all of my thoughts, opinions, or feelings. This is a surprisingly difficult concept for me. (I wonder how difficult this is for others, but by the same token don’t want to measure myself against someone else’s ruler.) I’ve been given the homework to dig deep down and figure out who I want to be, for myself, without any regard of outside influence. I’ve been asked what it is I really want, from myself and from others. So that’s gonna be my question to ponder for the next week.

Here’s 10 things I love about myself since I missed a week:

  1. I love my scars. Every single one tells a story of the person I am and where I’ve been.
  2. I love my flirtatious nature. It gets me in so much trouble sometimes, but it keeps me bold and daring.
  3. I love the way I drive. I like that I can’t help leaning forward and that I get super lead-footed when the right song comes on.
  4. I love my obsessive eyes. Sometimes it’s a pain, but when organizing or cataloging, I feel so powerful.
  5. I love how I come alive when the weather is warm. Forever a summer baby.
  6. I love my ante-up-when-the-need-arises abilities. Public speaking makes me incredibly shy, but given the need I can charm and present my way through.
  7. I love my discomfort in dress clothing. Sounds weird, right? But I like the authenticity of my personality. Never comfortable pretending.
  8. I love my inability to think straight when I’m frustrated. It’s charming how tongue tied I get in the heat of the moment, and it always breaks my anger.
  9. I love my patience.
  10. I love my sexuality. I’m comfortable talking about almost anything related, for the sake of education and discussion.

 

 

Isolation is not safety

“Love how you hate yourself sometimes because goddamn at least there is still something to hate.”- Neil Hilborn (also this poem is delightful)

I’m at a loss for positive or wanna-be insightful things to say this week. Quite frankly nearly all of my thinking this week has been about food. Carefully monitoring how many times I’ve eaten and if I think I need to eat again, staving off self-imposed hunger headaches because I haven’t felt hungry. My brain tells me that I’ve eaten more than enough, makes any food I do eat seem terrible and impossible to stomach. I’ve been through this before. I know it’s not true. I know I need to eat, but sometimes it’s an uphill battle to make myself. It’s not that I want to be thin, it’s never been that. It’s always that I don’t need to eat, maybe that I don’t think I deserve to eat. I write this not as a cry for help but an explanation. It’s not been a good week for loving myself. Or thinking about things that really matter. Because I’m busy calculating how much I ate the last time I ate and reasoning with myself to eat again. I’m working on keeping myself alive, as dramatic as that sounds. Hopefully this time next week will find my mind in a better space to process important stuff. Sorry if anyone is actively following this expecting any sort of wisdom.

 

This week’s five things I love about myself was pretty hard for me. I really didn’t love myself this week. But that means I need my own love the most right now.

  1. I love my sense of humor. It’s completely inappropriate and frequently cobbled together from references, but I’m pretty good at making people laugh. And that’s a great feeling.
  2. I love my ability to build things and work on computers, both skills that I practiced with my dad growing up. Given the most basic of instructions I can make or repair almost anything.
  3. I love my relationship with animals. It’s very rare that I meet a dog or cat that doesn’t like me.
  4. I love my concern about being quiet. All the years of chatting on a computer in the middle of the night and sharing space with someone have made me nearly incapable of listening to music without headphones or playing my tv loud.
  5.  I actually love that I’m not great with kids. I can babysit for a few hours, but around hour 6-7, I’ve run out of energy/patience for little ones. I think it’s valuable that I know and accept this about myself.