Happy

A lot has happened since last May. I bought a house, went on vacation, moved, did lots of home improvement projects, got a new roof, got the dogs new haircuts, etc. It’s been super busy, but I’ve also spent a lot of time disconnecting from some of my electronics, hence the long gap in posting. Taking courses at the nearby college and reading new research papers at work to get my brain parts moving again and to stave off feeling stagnant.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of good times with friends, too, which is never a waste or regret. Two friends got married a few weeks ago. Most recently (as of this evening), one of my best friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. And next weekend I am having a cookout with my other best friends here, likely ending with cigars and whiskey around a fire pit. Despite all the changes going on this year so far, my primary emotions have been overwhelming gratitude and joy for the simple things.

Spending a lot of time with my dogs and hanging around the house has allowed me to decompress from some work stress. Genuinely down-sizing and taking many things to donation centers has helped me clear my head and my conscience of the self-doubt that always seems to linger when I’m letting go. I am optimistic about many parts of my life, though I’m sure the next six months will also elicit some major changes for me. I look forward to them, as I always do, forever living in the future while trying to stay present.

My family was safe through Hurricane Matthew. My dogs are doing well. My plants are beautiful. My friends are super supportive lately, and I am finding new facets to them that are both surprising and comforting. I have been able to reconnect with old friends and have it be as if no time has passed, which is the rarest treasure you can find. I could stand to lose a few pounds and I am trying to eat better for myself, but all in all, my life this year has been very much blessed and bittersweet.

“In one year from today, what word do you hope best describes your life?”

Happy.

Here are some tidbits from my most recent lab tunes playlist.

“To love the right,
Yet do so wrong.
To be the weak,
Yet burn to be so strong.”

 

“There’s some things that I should never
Laugh about in front of family
In a week we’ll be together
Try to call you when I’m landed”

 

“And oh my love remind me, what was it that I said?
I can’t help but pull the earth around me, to make my bed
And oh my love remind me, what was it that I did?
Did I drink too much?
Am I losing touch?
Did I build this ship to wreck?”

 

“I see the sunrise creeping in
Everything changes like the desert wind
Here she comes and then she’s gone again

I’m just a traveller on this earth
Sure as my heart’s behind the pocket of my shirt
I’ll just keep rolling till I’m in the dirt
‘Cause I’m a traveller, oh, I’m a traveller
I couldn’t tell you honey, I don’t know
Where I’m going but I’ve got to go
‘Cause every turn reveals some other road
And I’m a traveller, oh, I’m a traveller”

 

“I will make my way across the fields of cotton
And wade through muddy waters one last time
And in my dreams I come out clean
When I reach the other side
Waste away the sunsets
Where rainbows never die”

High Hopes

It was a little over two years ago that I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a chance at a relationship with a friend. I realized it tonight as I was cleaning out my inbox and my Facebook messages. I reread messages full of humor, excitement and hope. It was honestly the first relationship in which I was open and trusting. One that I chose for myself rather than succumbing to other societal pressures or conveniences. I met someone who shared my sense of humor and appreciated my brains and, likewise, my moments of whimsy and ridiculousness. It was quite moving to feel that I could be so real with someone. To be with your best friend all the time.

Some people say that being the first one to say “I love you” makes you weak or inferior. I don’t believe in that nonsense. As far as I’m concerned, you never know when you might go, so you shouldn’t be afraid to tell people how you feel, especially when it’s a genuine feeling. I did say it first in this case, though I also didn’t expect it to be returned right away. Everyone has to take their own time for such proclamations. I was overjoyed when the sentiment was returned several months later, randomly, while watching a movie and eating takeout. I felt that I’d accomplished something great–I gave someone time while still being true to myself. And it felt amazing. I’d reached a new emotional “level,” so to speak.

A little more than seven months later I found myself wondering what those words had really meant. After a long, silent drive home from a long, cold weekend up North (both outside and emotionally), I was told that there weren’t any serious feelings for me. That they weren’t really into me “that way.” I was blown away by the revelation since I’d taken the words spoken months ago to heart. I was left wondering, how does someone say one thing and then stop feeling it only months later? Or did they mean it at all when they said it? I felt a mixture of frustration, confusion and great sadness, enhanced by the fact that it seemed to be told to me so nonchalantly.

I won’t say that I haven’t struggled with it since then–that’d be a lie. I have gotten to a place where I am good on most days, but I still have moments where I am left wondering about the scenario. About myself. About my own perceptions. How could I not see the reality? How could I just throw myself out there? No safety net. Then starts the self-blame and over analysis. It is hell in my head some days, though I’m sure most people can relate.

Honestly, though, I’m not ashamed for letting myself be vulnerable. While parts of the end were unpleasant, it wasn’t all bad. There were a lot of good times. And I know that, after some time, I will be able to look back on it and pick out all the lessons I’ve learned. All the things I’ve learned about myself and others. All is not lost. There is a vast set of painful feelings and lovely experiences I’ve collected from it, ranging from laughing till I can’t breathe to crying till I can’t see straight. But it’s all there, and, like Casper the Friendly Ghost, through loving someone I’m more human than ever.

At the end of the day, my loving someone was not a sign of weakness nor did it make me inferior. It was most spectacular, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat with the right person. Call it brave or stupid, but I don’t think my hope cactus will ever stop blooming.

After clearing out my inbox and sorting through the good and the bad, I realize now that the only thing I need is a bit of time. Time to heal and time to enjoy the present. Time to spend with good friends, family and a mischievous, most amazing little dog.

“But I’ve got high hopes, it takes me back to when we started
High hopes, when you let it go, go out and start again
High hopes, when it all comes to an end
But the world keeps spinning around”

Layering

“Love is giving someone the ability to destroy you, but trusting them not to.”    – Suzanne Wright

We all layer every day. You may not think much of washing up then putting on clothes and  jackets before getting into your car. It’s all layers, really. We also layer ourselves mentally and emotionally in accordance to our surroundings and the people present. We adapt our language, mannerisms and posture to those around us without really thinking about it. We might give a quiet chuckle with work colleagues and a hearty guffaw with our closest chums. Layers.

“No one will ever love you as much as I do, ” was one of the last things one of my exes said to me. The same person was also physically and emotionally abusive. So, for a long time, I equated love with pain and sadness. I also judged myself as not having value as a person because the only love I garnered came with a price tag of sorts. I built my whole layering system around pushing everyone away and building up walls. Even close friends didn’t make it to my inner circles for fear of the pain they had potential to cause. I assumed that I was unlovable and, therefore, should keep quiet and do my time. That happiness was something for other people. I didn’t get that channel with my sub-par rabbit ears.

I was able to keep this up for several years before I realized that I was so lonely when I didn’t really have to be. It took a few really great friends to help me see my value. That I was worthy of friendship and love and other good things in life. I came to understand that I had been in my own way all along. It wasn’t that the world was out to get me or that I was worthless, but that I needed to be more open. I needed to invest and be willing to take chances.  To do the hard things. To make meaningful changes over time, no matter how small. If I was able to be my own source of calm and “serenity now,” others would see it and want to be part of it. I found peace and I could sleep at night. I was able to get off of antidepressants and start to FEEL things again, both good and bad. But, oh the joy of feeling life again!

I decided that when I finished the Atlanta chapter of my life that I would use those lessons when I moved here to Maine. I could shed my old skin and start new. This would be a good change–a chance to flex my layers. A chance to let new people in and take some risks. Make friends. Teach. Volunteer. Even fall in love. I have had some successes and some failures. It has not been painless. I feel like I am still growing. Far from perfect, but growing all the same.

My choices are to either return to my fortress of solitude or to shed some layers, taking the bad along with the good. Give myself to the mud in the hopes that I can someday grow into a lotus flower.