This is painful to share, but my boyfriend Patrick suffered acute liver failure on January 24th. He was transported to the Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee to be treated. He has had ups and downs with other internal organs because of the liver failing, and his other organs need to be stable before he can receive a liver transplant.
I want to sincerely thank everyone who has donated and shared the link to the GoFundMe so far. As of right now, we have raised over $900 in the first day since launching this campaign. I’m just so blown away.
It’s amazing how even in the most difficult times, the good in people means so much. Thank you to everyone who has shown your support, included Patrick and his family in prayer chains, and thank you to the TICU medical team at Froedtert. You have been helpful and kind and supportive and caring beyond explanation, and we’re so grateful.
Please keep Patrick in your thoughts. He is so strong, and throughout everything, his compassion for others and his sense of humor have never waivered. I believe that humans coming together for good and spreading positive thoughts can make a huge impact.
Late in the night, with tired eyes, Florence Welch’s voice, powerful, sorrowful, yet still hopeful, sang and hit me unexpectedly:
“Hold me down, I’m so tired now/Aim your arrow at the sky/Take me down, I’m so tired now/Leave me where I lie.”
When Florence released “Sky Full of Song” last April, of course I adored it, but I didn’t resonate with the lyrics as much as I did this night.
It was then I realized I was avoiding.
At first, I was overcome by shock, panic, and stress. But over the course of several days, I’ve picked up the unbreakable habit of avoidance. Drowning myself in daily frustrations, frivolous distractions—not forgetting, because I could never forget. But accidentally avoiding. Pushing it down.
Florence is the steady reminder for me.
I remember the dark, rainy late October weekend in Chicago. United in music, love, and the city streets filled with stories. Mesmerized by Florence crooning with thousands in the United Center, “Hold onto each other” from her song entitled “June.”
In my avoidance I realize I’ve attempted to live in normalcy, as if not in crisis. Again, never forgetting, but pretending I’m coping in my avoidance.
“Be careful, oh my darling, oh be careful what it takes/From what I’ve seen so far, the good ones always seem to break.”
It hits me that I’m not okay. I want to be okay. But life can be too much. When you’re coping with life and an avalanche in winter buries you, sometimes fighting to escape is exhausting.
Even though I’m not okay, I’m aware of my privilege in stating this. I still have my health. And daily guilt in my selfishness, my woe-is-me’s, my wishes to focus on self-care. How can I focus on myself? How can I allow this avoidance? How can I bury myself like this? It’s so selfish of me to focus on daily annoyances and pretend I can have a normal life. Life is not normal. My world is not normal.
Maybe when my world is crashing, in order to cope, avoidance is my failed attempt at feigning normalcy in crisis. But Florence’s lyrics have always had a way of speaking my truth, when I need to hear it the most. Even when it hurts, in a dark room with failed attempts at distracting my brain from late-night thoughts reminding me.
In the first several days, I experienced a sense of pride for expressing openness in my real-life social circles, laying bare my reality. Now I’ve already retreated to my avoidant “I’m fine” exterior. Florence reminded me that I’m not fine.
Even though avoidance and isolation go hand-in-hand for me, I’m still aware I’m not alone. Isolation can also be a pesky habit to break. Dwelling in fear and avoiding reality is, at times, dangerously comforting.
At night thoughts buried during the day rise to the surface. Text messages I wish to send but save for a better time.
“And I heard your voice, as clear as day/And you told me I should concentrate,” Florence sings over the piano of “Only If for a Night.”
Sometimes it’s easier to live in dreams. Waking up to reality can feel like being hit by a truck. For me it’s created a fear of falling asleep. Once again, avoidance is a habit I’m fighting to break, currently failing. Maybe it’s just a stage. A phase through the journey of coping with a life-changing crisis. I have yet to learn.
I feel heavy. That kind of heavy where you wake up as if you’ve been in a coma, not sure if what you remember from the day previous is a nightmare or reality. Before I open my eyes, I hope it’s the former, but I know the truth. Life sometimes includes those situations more terrifying than our nightmares. With nightmares, you wake up to escape. In life, you sleep to escape (if you can shake yourself of the unbearable anxiety and panic and fear long enough in order to do so, that is).
I feel heavy. That kind of heavy no amount of sleep could fix. My entire body aches; not from physical pain, but from something else. Sleep deprivation is real, but when your body is this heavy, sleep won’t provide much, aside from a temporary escape.
I feel heavy. Eating is necessary, but food has no taste and doesn’t cure the lethargy. It’s just a mandatory, at times burdensome survival step to take each day.
I feel heavy. The outside world continues as my world is crashing. I crave the option of staying in my bubble, bundling up and using the convenient timing of the Midwest polar vortex as an excuse for my hibernation. But the world expects us to continue to be participants, no matter how broken we are.
I feel heavy. I have so many words to spill, but I have to keep them wrapped up tight. It’s not my place to spill my words because it’s not only my journey.
I feel heavy. It’s only part-way through a blog post in which I realize the irony of my own selfishness, venting with “poor me” when in reality, I’m the one who’s fine, okay, privileged. How does one cope with the guilt of self-care in times of crisis?
I feel heavy. So many times each day I reach for my phone with a witty message or random story I feel so entitled to share, thinking, “I need to tell…” and immediately stare down at my phone, remembering. The world has changed. My world has changed. My selfishness must change. My random daily thoughts can wait. I must stop focusing on “I.”
I feel heavy. Every “Do you need anything?” or “Let me know if you need to talk” means more than any cliched but truly sincere sentiment of gratitude could express. But I still don’t feel any lighter.
I feel heavy. I move in slow motion while moment to moment everything in my world changes too quickly, too drastically for me to keep up. An avalanche leaves me buried and I don’t know how to dig myself out while the snow continues to pile on. I’ll probably freeze here.
I feel heavy. Daily tasks become impossibilities, obstacles to overcome, tedious burdens I don’t wish to deal with. I want to stay in my bubble, without distractions I deem less important. How can I eat, sleep, live my life, at a time like this?
I feel heavy. It’s 11:15 pm and takes an entire day to write 500 words. There’s so much to say yet shock prevents me from untangling conflicted and complicated emotions.
I feel heavy. “You can’t predict the future” is the most uplifting and terrifying phrase ever crafted.
My idea of nature is Central Park—that quintessential manmade hybrid of natural landscapes smack dab in the middle of the most heavily populated city in America. It has all the beautiful towering trees, animals, ponds, and flowers found in nature, but skyscrapers still peek beyond the trees, and cars still honk in the distance. It’s a hybrid that’s always brought me comfort and has allowed me to dip my toes into nature without jumping in headfirst. I’ve always enjoyed the balance of having one foot out—being surrounded by nature while simultaneously knowing that just in the distance my city awaits, whichever city that happens to be at the time.
Summer has always been my favorite. I’m probably biased because my birthday is in August, but growing up I’ve always adored the summer sun and heat and freedom from school. Autumn meant the end of all of those things, and so autumn always used to depress me.
In recent years, mainly since I’ve graduated college, I’ve learned to appreciate autumn like I never truly did in the past. Autumn has become a significant time for me, and it’s become a time of year I look back on with a sense of nostalgia.
Over the past few days, the temperatures have significantly dropped in my small town in Wisconsin. Amongst the numerous thunderstorms, the sun still shines, but there’s a crispness in the air that has replaced the summer humidity. My mornings are now spent with hot coffee and the coziest sweatshirt I can find. And since autumn is steadily approaching (whether I like it or not), I’ve felt even more nostalgic lately.
Today I took a walk through a nature path that I’ve walked probably hundreds of times over the past several years. It’s become one of my favorites because it’s right in my comfort level—that blend of nature within a small-town community, houses still visible through the trees. Throughout the years I was almost never without my headphones, but today I ventured on my walk without (mainly because my cat decided to destroy said headphones and I have not yet purchased a new pair; cats are the worst). Usually on my walks I was lost in Florence + The Machine songs, most often her first two albums, Lungs and Ceremonials. It always felt as if she’d written her songs for me, releasing a new album whenever I needed it, the songs ironically conveying exactly what I was experiencing in my life at the time.
As I walked the nature path sans music (and, therefore, sans distraction), I concentrated on my nostalgia and the memories of this path. Around this time throughout the past several years, I’ve walked with family members, dogs who have since passed away, and alone.
Even though autumn hits towards the end of the year, it still gives me a feeling of new beginnings. Not only does is harken back to my school and college days, but even after college graduation, many of my biggest life transitions have occurred right around this time. New jobs, moving halfway across the country to New Jersey, and new relationships (or breakups), have all happened as summer disappears and autumn is in the air.
For the first time in what feels like a long time, I’m walking this path at the end of the summer without a life transition ahead of me. While I have nothing in my immediate future to look to and wonder of its possibilities, as I walked along my favorite nature path, I nostalgically thought about my past and the transitions I’ve ventured through.
Over the years I have changed so much that I don’t recognize the girl I was in 2011. Sometimes I view that realization negatively, but today I don’t. I realize now that over the years I have experienced hardships, pain, and changes that I never could have imagined as a recent college graduate. And even though in my darkest times I thought these experiences had torn me down and weakened me, I realize today that they truly haven’t. I’m scarred, but I’m stronger now. I’ve proven to myself that no matter what I go through, I’m still here, and I’m capable of continuing to walk this path.
As the leaves are already changing (which for me feels far too early), I reminisce. I was a different girl walking this path years ago, but the path has not changed. I have a new perspective and am a new person, returning to a path that brings comfort because of its familiarity. A path that stays the same, no matter what I’ve done, who I’ve been, where I go, or how long I stay away. The path is always there, waiting for my return. It remains unchanging, and I’m grateful for that.
While summer is my favorite, I can’t knock the beauty of autumn leaves.
Makeup free is the way to be (or at least it’s me 90% of the time).
I have been blogging on and off for six years now. Wow, just saying that blows my mind. Over the years, my blog has evolved with where I am in life. My blog doesn’t follow a theme. I never had an audience in mind when I started my blog. In fact, according to my first blog post ever, my blog was meant to be a place to house my poetry. Obviously that hasn’t quite been the focus of this blog, but I’m thankful to my past self for starting this blog in the first place.
There have been many twists and turns in my life over the past six years, and so, therefore, this blog has seen many twists and turns as well. Ups and downs, ever-changing and evolving interests and opinions, and questions I have asked myself.
As I grew more comfortable with blogging, it became somewhat of a more creative journal. I knew people would be reading my posts, but, to put it bluntly, sometimes I spilled my guts. While going through a painful breakup, I blogged about it. A lot. In fact, at one point I coined my blog “the breakup blog.” Funny? Yes. True? Eh, maybe at that time, also yes. But do I regret divulging so many personal details about my relationship and its demise? No. I don’t.
Why? Because at the time, I believe that was what I needed. I was an emotional wreck. I needed an outlet (a healthy one). And my blog was there. People who resonated with my words were there. Blogging my breakup at the time felt like another form of therapy (which also benefitted me greatly). At times I heard criticism that maybe I was sharing “too much.” And as a perfectionist, criticism sucks. But I realized that I blog for myself, and no one else. I was sharing with whoever stumbled across my blog what I felt comfortable sharing. Anyone who thought I was sharing “too much” didn’t have to be reading my words in the first place.
As time passed, I blogged less and less. I gave myself excuses. “I’m too busy,” “I’m too tired,” “I don’t know what to blog about.” I do believe those excuses were just that: excuses. I know why I wasn’t blogging. But I haven’t explicitly shared why.
When I made my return to my blog, I felt that therapeutic sense of release, as if I’d finally gone back to therapy after months of procrastinating to make an appointment. Now that I’m back, I have the chance to spill my guts once more. To divulge years’ worth of stories of my life and its ups and downs. To use my blog as therapy again.
I believe I don’t get personal anymore because I feel ashamed of many of the things I desperately want to blog about. Getting personal would mean admitting things about myself I take blame for. It would mean owning up to things I’m still grappling with, things I still cannot accept, things I would feel judged for. Years ago, I didn’t feel this way when I blogged about my break up. Back then, I was able to separate myself from it. I understood that the breakup and the situation was not a reflection of myself as a person. I understood that it was simply something that happened to me, and wasn’t something for which I should be ashamed.
Now, I no longer have that mentality. I connect many of the situations I have found myself in to be a reflection of who I am. I judge myself for the downturns I’ve had throughout the last couple of years, and so I therefore assume I’ll be judged by others as well. I hold back. I’ve become guarded on my own blog, my own safe space to write whatever I want. I pay more attention to what others will think rather than how the blog has been here for me through so many other downturns in my life.
I don’t feel any sort of obligation to share everything about myself on my blog. However, my blog used to have an authenticity that only came from being unapologetically myself. Now, I feel like I’m putting up a wall. I’m sharing veiled details hidden behind clichés and analogies, pretending to use them for only creative purposes while in reality using them to write about my life without really writing anything at all.
Want me to get real? Real talk: I’m missing the Jersey shore right about now.
Over time I hope to be able to get real on my blog again. I want to take down that wall and be unapologetically myself, however that may be. Who knows what I’ll be sharing. I’ll still be blogging for myself. And I want to be myself, for myself.
On a snowy day in Wisconsin, coffee is always a good decision I don’t have to think too much about.
In my last blog post, I wrote about my epiphany that I’m holding myself back. I get in my own way. I self sabotage situations because I’m afraid of failure and the unknown. Now that I know this about myself, the next question I ask myself is: “How do I stop?”
So far, I don’t have a concrete answer. But what I do know is that sometimes I think too much. When I think too much, when I analyze situations too deeply, when I question myself and situations too much, I am more likely to self sabotage. When I think too much, self doubt creeps in.
I need to stop thinking too much. When I don’t question and just do, the possibilities are endless. Obviously sometimes we have to weigh the pros and make sure we’re not making dangerous decisions. But when I pause for too long, when I analyze the possible outcomes of a decision too much, I choose to stay frozen. I sabotage my own future.
I’ve noticed this with hobbies of mine. Blogging is a positive outlet. When I just blog and put my words out into the world, I see the benefits. It’s therapeutic. People read my words and can relate. I connect with other writers, read other people’s words and their words resonate with me as well. Yet when I think too much, I don’t blog. I abandon it, I question it, I feel self doubt about what I’m doing or why.
I started a YouTube channel. When I just film, edit, and upload, I feel a sense of satisfaction. The process of filming, editing, and uploading is fun (unless I have technological issues). However, when my analytical thoughts sneak up on me, I hold back. I procrastinate on filming or uploading videos, questioning why I’m even making videos in the first place. “It’s fun” should suffice. Yet when I think too much, I hold back.
While we do have to think things through to an extent to make sure we’re making healthy and safe decisions, sometimes thinking too much is more dangerous than just jumping into situations. When we think too much, we may miss out on opportunities. Connections with new people, cool jobs, new cities, hobbies that grow into careers.
Change is scary. Unknowns are scary because, duh, what if we fail? But failing doesn’t have to be negative. Sometimes failures can lead us to more self awareness. For me it has, even when I don’t realize it right away. In hindsight though, I can see my progress over time. I can see that through my failures, I’ve evolved as a person. But failures come from taking risks. We have to take those risks in the first place in order to fail (or succeed).
I think I have to stop thinking so much. Thinking too much is exhausting, and sometimes we have to just jump into the unknown, no matter how scary, not knowing the end result, because the end result could wind up being better than we expect it to be.
I’ve been self sabotaging for years. I realized this fact only recently.
I used to wonder why situations didn’t seem to “work out” or “fall into place.” Why was I constantly dissatisfied?
The answer: Me.
For years, I have been in my own way. I’ve found ways to sabotage those “what ifs” so that they never came to fruition. I’ve stood, unmoving, at the start of pathways, refusing to walk forward.
I’ve made choices knowing full well they were the wrong ones, going against the advice of therapists, family members, friends, and the healthy voice in my head.
Why? Why have I subconsciously chosen to remain stagnant in life? Why have I self sabotaged for so many years?
Because I’m a perfectionist. Because I’m terrified of change. Terrified of the unknown. Terrified of failing at unknown endeavors. If I don’t know if I can perfectly achieve something (even though the idea of “perfect” is relative, and, arguably, nonexistent), I choose not to attempt it. Sounds like a bad idea, right? It is.
But it’s safe. Sabotaging opportunities keeps me in a familiar place. Not taking risks saves me from those unknowns, from those potential failures. For years, I’ve subconsciously decided that it’s better to remain stagnant and not fail rather than take a risk and fail.
For the first time, I’m wondering if I still believe this.
I find myself daydreaming of other possibilities. Of those terrifying “what ifs.” Of not failing, but actually achieving opportunities and potential life paths.
For the first time, I’m wondering what could happen if I get out of my own way. What would happen if I let go of my perfectionism? What if I stopped self sabotaging? What if I let go of what’s keeping me protected from potential failures?
Letting go is scary. Stepping forward into unknown waters is a step I have hesitated to take. But to evolve as a person, isn’t it necessary?
Maybe it’s time I let go. Maybe it’s time I let go from the self sabotage that’s keeping me paralyzed, frozen in place. Maybe I should accept failing. Accept that unknowns aren’t always something to be feared. Unknowns can lead to positive experiences and possibilities. But I have to walk forward to find out.
Realizing that I self sabotage as a means of avoiding failure is a step forward in itself. Awareness is progress. But not only should I be aware of it: The trick now is to stop doing it.
For me, self sabotage has been a means of keeping me safe. While it’s a destructive technique of doing so, psychologically is does the job. It keeps me comfortable. Comfortable from those unknowns and potential failures. But as they say, sometimes you have to be uncomfortable with being uncomfortable until you’re comfortable.
I wonder if it’s time I start getting uncomfortable.
Nearly three years ago I wrote a blog post about how I was losing the dating game. Update: Not much has changed.
I’m here, a few years older, and not much wiser. With another breakup under my belt, another existential “Who am I?” crisis at hand, sometimes I wonder when history will stop repeating itself.
I’m older, just as cynical (or, as I’d like to describe it, “realistic”), and still as lost as I was the last time I was losing this game. Back then I proudly took myself out of the game, ready to sit on the bench as long as I felt necessary.
This time around, I’m on the fence. I know I’m injured, I’m not a valuable team player, and the coach should really pull me from the starting lineup. But there’s still a part of me that wants to play.
So what does one do when she’s on the fence about sitting on the bench during the dating game?
She goes on Tinder, of course.
My main goal in entering the world of Tinder was to troll people. Mature, I know. Believe me, in the beginning it was hysterical.
Am I the only one who thinks “Please be fun” is a slightly obnoxious opening line?
Clearly GIFs are the name of the game for me on Tinder. The more annoying, the better for trolling.
I’m basically the definition of “mature.”
Guess that pickup line was a fail based solely on my GIF reaction.
But after a while, they started legitimately asking me on dates.
To which my reaction was:
I never intended to date anyone who had the misfortune of stumbling across me and my barrage of unnecessary GIFs on Tinder. I honestly didn’t even realize that I’d encounter that situation. I thought none of them would take my immaturity seriously and that my tactic of trolling would be too obvious.
When I started receiving invitations for drinks (that always seems to be the popular go-to Tinder date), I realized the joke was over. I’d have to decide if I really wanted to date (not just people I met on Tinder but in real life as well) or run for the hills.
I chose to run for the hills.
I realized that I wasn’t throwing myself into the dating game for the right reasons. I was hoping to compete against my last relationship, my former teammate and current opponent. I wanted to win, but I learned that I’m losing. My opponent, from what social media has shown me, is winning the game. His new girlfriend is treated to trips to D.C., NBA games, theatre shows, brewery tours, while I am finding the least awkward way to reject strangers on Tinder.
Oh how the mighty have fallen.
While losing the dating game sucks, I’ve learned that I also shouldn’t throw myself into the game for the wrong reasons. If I have to sit on the bench while watching my opponent win, so be it. I have to heal from my injuries so that I can be a valuable player once again. Who knows how long that will take. Maybe my opponent will be 50 points ahead. But I should be playing for the right reasons, and winning for myself.
Me when I hopefully someday make a comeback to the dating game. Via: giphy.com
So for now, three years after I was losing the dating game, I’m still losing. Even though I want to play, I’m going to take myself out of the game and sit on the bench. Maybe that’s what I need. I’ll be back.
I got back into yoga for the first time in months just a few days ago. It was pretty amazing, I felt proud of myself, but I had a recurring thought throughout the whole thing:
“Dear God, why did I stop doing yoga in the first place if it makes me feel better?”
There have been some other good habits I’ve picked back up as well, and I keep asking myself that same question: “Why did I stop [healthy activity that makes me feel mentally better]?”
Over the last few days, I didn’t have a clear-cut answer to my question. I did have some vague hypotheses:
I lost interest in these activities?
I didn’t have the mental energy for these activities?
I forgot how much these activities helped me?
I do believe all of these possibilities could have played a role in why I stopped doing yoga and so many other good-for-mental-health activities. However, in my case, I believe it’s deeper than that: I stopped doing things that make me feel good mentally/emotionally because I am a bully. Against myself.
I realized recently that I’ve been a bully. And I’m finally owning up to it. I’m taking responsibility for my bullying ways.
I’ve gone through many times where I chose unhealthy coping skills instead of tried-and-true healthy ones. I’ve been involved in toxic, unhealthy relationships (and gotten myself back into those toxic, unhealthy relationships). I’ve engaged in negative self-talk that steadily increased in viciousness in recent years.
I’ve attempted to fight back against the bully. But at times, the bully was stronger.
It’s easier to cut ties with another entity who’s bullying you. You can put things in place to make sure the bully has a more difficult time reaching you.
But what do you do if you’re the one punching yourself in the face? The one hurling the threats? Ripping you apart? How do you fight against yourself?
I’ve learned that I have to think of the bully within me as a separate entity entirely. I have to separate the “healthy” me from the “bully” me. They’re not one in the same. One wants good things for my life; the other wants to kill me. Those are two oppositional forces. I have to choose which one to listen to.
You would think this decision would be simple, right? Why would I choose to listen to the bully? Why wouldn’t I just do things that make me feel better rather than continue doing things that make me feel worse?
That’s an excellent question. And it’s a question I don’t yet have the answer to. But it’s finally dawned on me that even though I’ve gone through times in my life when I’ve listened to the bully, my healthy voice is always there waiting for me to come back. My healthy coping skills are still there waiting for me, no matter how much time goes by.
No matter how much time I spend away from hobbies and activities that make me feel better because I’m too busy listening to the bully, I can always come back. I can always listen to my healthy voice again and learn to ignore the bully. It’s all a process. It takes years of practice. Slipups will happen. But that’s just a part of life.
Yoga with kittens is more fun than yoga not with kittens.
In one of my recent blog posts, I wrote about my demons. A couple comments acknowledged that I, like now, am preferring the word “demon” rather than speaking what is currently unnamed. And continuing to do so.
Why anthropomorphize my problems?
I have my reasons.
These blog posts are my selfish way of venting creatively while also keeping details, for the most part, a mystery.
Labeling my problems “demons” keeps my problems vague enough that I believe readers with various experiences could (hopefully/potentially) relate, since I’m not specifying what my problems are.
While a comment mentioned that the word “demons” was not always used to connote negative entities, in my blog post and according to our most current usages of the word, “demons” are negative entities usually out to destroy anything good in the world, and are the mystical, Biblical depiction of evil. For me and the problems I have, this depiction couldn’t be more fitting. Thus, I ran with it (and from the demons). See, there I go again.
So those are my main reasons for why I chose to anthropomorphize my problems as “demons,” because it was a conscious decision I thought through before even writing the post. However, one comment addressed a point that I can’t argue with:
“Hmmm… I have to say that I don’t think anthropomorphising your problems is going to help. They’re not demons (demons are just mythical creatures) they’re bad things that happened.”
And to that I say, you’re exactly right.
Does calling my problems “demons” help? No.
Could it potentially make the problem worse? Oh, most definitely.
And that’s the whole point.
In my blog post, I describe that I’m running from my problems (“demons”). Since I’m calling them “demons” and not by their name, and I’m running from them, at this point I haven’t faced them yet. Am I helping myself by continuing to not face my demons and continue to refer to them as “demons”? Not at all. Which is part of my problem.
If anyone can relate to having a problem needing to be addressed and worked through, many of us may encounter a feeling of denial or refusal in wanting to address the problem. Addressing there is a problem is sometimes just as difficult as living with the problem. Addressing the problem means you have to fight to fix the problem. Change is never easy, especially if your problem involves habits or negative thought patterns you’ve been engaged with for months, years, or decades. As they say, “Old habits die hard,” and if that phrase wasn’t written for me, then…no, it was written for me, actually. Google it.
I don’t think referring to my problems as “demons” does me any good in the end, that is, essentially, the point. I haven’t yet conquered my problems (“demons”), so I’m not at the stage to speak their names.
I’m running, and hopefully I’ll stop dead in my tracks soon, turn around, and face these demons. And for now, I’m still calling them “demons.”