It is a strange thing; this life.

I am writing to you today from within a fleeting moment of ease.

I don’t know how long it will last or how long it will be before my perception begins to blur, but these moments are scarce at best these days and therefore something to cherish.

It is a strange thing; this life.

A collection of moments woven together through emotional experiences. Creating the unique tapestry we cloak ourselves in for the entirety of our lives.

Seemingly so simple at times, almost mundane.

A settled routine providing much needed comfort in an otherwise chaotic world.

And then other times…it knocks the wind out of you. Sending you into a tale spin so fast all you can do is hold on tight and pray it is over soon.

Up until this week, I had been feeling pretty easy about things. Sure, I was still working through some emotional scars, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

And then, before I knew what was happening, manageable took a nose dive into sheer and utter chaos!

Before I knew it, I was behind in every aspect of my life! I won’t bore you with too many of the details (after all we all have our stuff). Basically, I went out of town on business, got sick and per the usual over extended myself on all levels. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Due to a series of unfortunate events, I was behind on yard work, personal projects, social obligations, work obligations, you name it. And when I say behind I mean like a few days for most stuff. Which I’m sure sounds silly to most people, but for someone like me it is an emotional trigger.

I know that I have issues with needing acceptance from others to validate my own self worth and this last week was a perfect example of why that is such an unhealthy habit to have.

I woke up Monday feeling like death and my boss even gave me the okay to take it easy and rest up.

Nice right? Ya, she is amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

Unfortunately, the universe had a different plan. All at once emails, phone calls, and notifications began pouring in.

At first I remained calm as I usually do. I began answering each in the order it was received (my normal MO) and repeated the mantra:

“Inspiration will come and I will get it done!”

 

Again, may sound silly, but all a mantra really is, is a way for you to take your mind away from worry (producing negative feelings) and realign you to a more positive manageable place.

Like I said, it worked for a while.

Until, people started getting antsy!

One negative to punctuality is that you end up setting an expectation. People are not used to waiting more than a few hours to receive a response from me, so when it is approaching the day mark they begin to wonder if I received their email.

So now Jane Smith’s one email and one phone call just turned into more emails and more phone calls.

And the list grows….

Every new request felt like someone placing another barbell on my chest.

All the while a portion of my mind was still focused on the previous heartbreak I was already dealing with and making a list of all of the personal tasks I had still not tended to.

It was too much.

And I had been here before; a bitter sweet realization.

The complete shut down. Depression.

Seeing as I am a frequent traveler through the town of The Overwhelmed , I knew I would be able to climb back out of it, but the question was how long would that take and was there a way to speed up the process?

So yesterday, after work ended, I decided to turn offย  my phone. At this point, I knew social interaction was an absolute no go. Especially considering how emotionally vulnerable I was feeling. I even posted a message on FB letting everyone know that I was detaching so no one would worry when I didn’t respond to their calls/texts. Basically my way of saying, “I love you all, but please leave me alone!!”.

So I stayed up to 4 AM getting caught up on work. It wasn’t like I was going to sleep anyway! ๐Ÿ™‚

And besides, it was worth the peace of mind it gave me when I started back up today.

Now… I have finished work and for the first time in almost a month I finally felt like writing, well more so I felt like sharing.

In a world where the list of aliments is never ending, I don’t think many people understand how diverse & debilitating depression is. And more importantly, how to properly give those suffering from it the support or in many cases the distance they need.

Before I gained the mechanisms to deal with my depression, tale spins such as the one I just described could have lasted much longer or resulted in a more serious outcome.

As unhealthy as it can be sometimes to love others more than yourself, in the case of depression it can sometimes prevent you from taking it to the extreme. I know what something like taking my own life would do to the ones I care about, so for me that will never be an option on the table. I am blessed in that respect. My struggle is my savior.

I have also had the benefit of studying psychology and as with most psych majors, the first person I picked apart was myself ๐Ÿ™‚ Not everyone is as blessed to have this advantage.

I guess the point I am trying to get across is that you just never know where a person is at in life or what could send them over the edge. For that reason, is it not just better to be kind?

Depression is something I have dealt with and hid quite well through out most of my life, so believe me when I tell you that you may think you know what someone is dealing with at any given moment, but chances are you have no idea.

I can sit here now and clearly see the patterns in my behavior and I think while it was happening I had some awareness of it, but when my limits were tested as quickly as they were, there was little left to do than surrender.

My brain was all twisted up and the only way of releasing the pressure was to let go and ride out the storm.

There was nothing anyone could do for me in that moment, except leave me alone, but there was no way for anyone to know that because I would never tell them.

See how in essence I create my own misery? It’s sad really how clear it is to realize that after the fact!

The take away is that with each relapse comes the additional clarity to better deal with those that have yet to come. And there will be more.

As anyone with depression will tell you, it is not something that can be cured.

It is something that must be conquered.

To anyone feeling lost,

You are not alone.

Your feelings are valid and not meant to be understood by anyone but you.

Your heart will heal when it’s ready and only you can decide when it is time to move on.

You are not obligated to explain yourself for needing time alone with your thoughts or for anything for that matter.

It is okay to be selfish and even a little frivolous at times.

You are not perfect, but neither is anyone else.

You are going to make mistakes. Sometimes the same ones, over and over again. Go easy on yourself. Being alive can be challenging and unexpected. You are only doing the best you can with what you have and that is all you have within your power to do.

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. I know you have wounds deeper than most, but you will never find the one meant to heal them, if you don’t let them try.

And most importantly, find a way to love yourself.

Even if it takes a life time.

 

Image courtesy of Janpen04081986 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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One Way Road: a short story.

Today was like any other day for Samson, except for the fact that today was the day that he had decided to tell Rachel how he really felt about her.

It was around 7 pm, when he decided to drive his old rusty pick up truck over to her apartment. He had pumped himself up for it all day at work, but now that he was executing his plan,ย  he was starting to have second thoughts.

Talking out loud to himself on the way over, he practiced his lines, “Listen Rachel, there is something I have to tell you,”

Too serious, he thought.

Maybe I should just be blunt, “Rachel, I love you!”

“Yeah, right”, he laughed, “she would flip out.”

Rachel was the type of girl who disapproved of even the word love. There had been a time in her life when she wasn’t so jaded, but heartbreak wore her thin and now she shuttered at the thought.

She was actually engaged once. They were together four years, but after she caught him cheating, the marriage was cancelled. She was never the same.

She would always say, “The only person I will ever love is myself. I’m the only person worth my time.” Samson knew it was just her way of avoiding the potential ofย  another painful break-up.

Over time she became the mysterious type, never had much of anything positive to say and refused to cloth herself in anything but black. Her explanation was that she felt bright colors to be “camouflage for her dark soul.”

But she wasn’t always this way. There was a time when the light in her eyes shined so brightly it could light up the room. Even now, if one were to look hard enough they would see a tiny glimmer of a spark hiding behind the scars of the past and the fear of moving on.

That is when he first fell for her.

They met through mutual friends in high-school, but never really spent much time getting to know one another. After graduation, she moved out west on a quest to find herself and he stayed behind and hooked up with his first love. She left him broken and bruised. A state he thought he would never recover from.

Until he ran into Rachel some years later. She was back visiting from one of her many adventures and just happened to show up at a party hosted by Sam’s best friend. The moment she walked through the door, he felt something he never thought possible again. How had he not noticed it before…the way her eyes sparkled when she smiled, the warmth that ran through his body when she laughed. Her nearness to him felt like home.

They spent the rest of the night side by side. Sharing stories of the past and all their future plans. She left that Sunday, not to return for another three years, when she considered herself ‘found’ and moved back to the town where it all begin.

It had taken eight years for him to muster up enough courage to tell her how he felt and for how long. He wasn’t sure how she would react, but he had to get it off his chest.

Pulling into the parking lot, his hands began to shake as his loyal mutt, now hanging his head out of the passenger window began barking.

“Gunner hush!” He scorned at the little pup. Gunner gave him a whimper of disapproval and began barking again.

Sam opened his door and took his first step onto the scalding summer pavement. He looked the same as usual, wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt just tight enough to show off his nipple piercings, something he was very proud of! His sleeves were rolled up in order to compliment his muscular arms and to serve as a place to hold his smokes. Rachel always teased him about that, “What? Do you think your as cool as James Dean or something?” she would squawk.

His long black hair was swept up in a tousled bun and a rugged goatee fit itself strategically around the metal skull piercing in his chin. As he opened the door for Gunner, his legs began to shake. This was it, the moment of truth.

He and Gunner walked up the driveway slowly, Sam’s stomach at his feet.

There was a large evergreen tree blocking the view of Rachel’s door until just before you reached it, so he took this time to psyche himself up in case she happened to be outside.

He knocked on the door quietly as to almost avoid her actually answering it, as he heard her yell, “Just a sec Sam!”

When the door finally opened, he found himself speechless.

He wasn’t sure if it was the build up from the ride over or the fact that in just a few moments everything could change, but in that moment she was more beautiful than she had ever been before. She was breathtaking, her long brown hair was pulled back in sheer chaos and the makeup around her eyes looked darker than usual, although her porcelain complexion may have helped to exaggerate it. She was wearing a low cut black tank top and skirt that just barely covered her knee-high army boots.

“Hey Sammy” She said with a monotone grin. “I see you brought Gunner, I swear you never go anywhere without that mutt!”

Samson shrugged and said, “Rachel, we need to talk.”

“Well come in you idiot, I’m not stand’n out here all day!”

Samson gulped, his stomach located a bit more uncomfortably now in his chest. He knew that the next time he walked through this door his life would be changed and the scariest part of it all was that he didn’t know if it would be for the better or for the worse. But he couldn’t keep living in silence anymore, so he put fear aside and followed Rachel inside.

Her apartment was as dark and dreary as usual, the radio playing some Gothic medley in the background and he noticed that Rachel seemed a bit edgy.

“What’s your problem Sam? Your making me nervous. Hit this and chill out,” she said as she playfully glared at him and handed him a freshly packed bowl.

Smoking pot was Rachel’s answer to everything. She considered it the cure for any ailment big or small and she exercised her beliefs daily!

Samson took the pipe and began lighting it. Wondering if it was still a good idea, he filled the chamber and cleared it. As he exhaled, he reminded himself that he would have to say something soon, before the drug took hold of his courage.

“Rachel, we have known each other for a long time right?”

“Are you trying to get to something Sam, cause you’re sure taking forever!”

“Just hush and lemme say this, smoke another and chill out.”

Rachel glared at him with her big green eyes, fiddled with the black choker around her neck for a minute and cashed out the pipe. “Okay, I’m waiting!”

“Would you just stop? I’m tryin’ to tell you something important! Why do you always have to be such a bitch?!”

“Screw you Sammy, you have no right to say that. You’re the one being an idiot. I don’t really give shit what you have to say!”

“Yeah well, I don’t have anything to say now, I was mistaken!”

“No one could love a self-centered bitch like you anyway, forget it”, he muttered.

“What did you say? Please tell me you didn’t use the L word in my presence. You know I hate that shit.”

“Well forget I said anything! I didn’t mean it anyway! It’s the pot talking”.

“No, you said something alright. What the hell are you tryin’ to say?”

And before he could stop himself, he blurted, “I love you Rachel! I always have, but I can see now that it is not even worth it”.

Rachel put her head down and began fiddling with her necklace again. “Ugh, you are so dramatic. I need a cigarette!” she huffed.

“Well then I’m leaving, good-bye Rachel!” Samson yelled and stormed towards the door. Gunner followed, but the door slammed before he could make it through.

Rachel dropped her head and covered her face with her hands.

Then suddenly, something inside of her snapped, the levy broke. Emotions she had fought for years to keep buried deep within her soul began rushing to the surface! The bricks and mortar she had pieced together around her heart, crumbled at her knees.

Not sure what to do, she peeled her hands from her face and looked up to see Gunner staring up at her. She smiled.

“Come on Gunner, let’s go after him!”

The amount of enthusiasm in her voice startled the dog, but once the door was open, he was outside faster than Rachel could move out of the way! Spinning backwards to avoid him, she laughed and turned to close the door.

She walked down the driveway slowly, her stomach at her feet.

Thinking she was quite clever, as she passed the evergreen she yelled, “Sam! You forgot your damn dog!

But it was too late. He was already gone. It was just Gunner, sitting in the tire tracks he left behind.

She knew he’d be back eventually. It wasn’t like this was the first time they had argued.

Besides, she thought to herself, he loves me! She smiled, and…I love him.

“Come on Gunner! Let’s go call that goofball and tell him he forgot you!” She laughed.

She didn’t know it then, but this very moment would be the one that defined the rest of her life. It would be the moment that changed her. The one she would come to lean on for comfort in the days to come.

It would be the day she learned to love again, but it would also be the day she lost the love of her life.

When Sam stormed out of the apartment that day, all he could think about was getting as far away from Rachel as fast as possible. Far away from the rejection, the disappointment and the embarrassment of the last few minutes. Tears rolled down his face, his foot pressing harder and harder on the gas pedal with every sob. He drove and drove and drove until he was clear across town.

It was getting dark now and the familiarity of his surroundings was fading. He had no idea where he was going, but it was away from her so it was fine with him.

And then he realized, he forgot Gunner!

“Damn it!” he yelled as he hit the steering wheel with his fist. “I am going to have to go back and see her.

The tears started again…but…I want to see her again. There is nothing else I want more. What the hell? He thought as he laughed at himself.

Turning the car around now, he decided he would find the nearest interstate, drive back to her as fast as he could and demand she hear him out!

It was raining now and there was construction everywhere! Where was he? How long had he been driving? And then he spotted it!

Through the glaring lights of oncoming traffic, there it was, the sign for I75!

He cranked the wheel, slammed on the gas and in an instant, he was gone.

When the news came, it was from Rachel’s sister, Sarah. She and Sam’s best friend married a few years after the party where Sam first fell for Rachel. Sarah always knew how Sam felt and she also knew that Rachel felt the same way about him, though she would never admit it.

Sarah also knew that this was the kind of news you deliver in person and she worried that this may be something of which Rachel would never recover.

And although it did not break her fully, there was a certainly a piece of Rachel that died along side him that day.

However, what he left her with was so much more. It was not just the courage to love again, but the knowledge that tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Had it not been for fear, the two of them may have had a love story like none other or maybe not.

Her greatest loss was that now, she will never know.

 

 

“If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

Maybe Today

Every morning before I open my eyes, I wonder if this will be the day.

The day when I no longer have to fight to be strong, save face and pretend that everything is okay.

The day when I say everything is great and I actually mean it.

A day when my heart is no longer broken and the idea of love no longer makes me sick to my stomach.

A day when the memories of almost lovers no longer circle my mind

Leaving me wondering if I will ever get it right.

And for that matter if any of this is really even worth it.

Every day is a struggle

This internal battle between what I want and what is right.

So I take a deep breath and hold on to the prospect of a new beginning.

As my feet touch the floor, I can feel the heaviness begin to abound.

Creeping slowly through my veins like the venom of a snake

Tears of loneliness bubble to the surface

As I gaze in the mirror at the broken girl on the other side.

You are strong I tell her, you are powerful, intelligent, and beautiful.

And with a smile, I grasp ever so tightly to the peaceful hope that if I can just make it through one more day…

That maybe tomorrow everything really will be okay.

 

Until That One Day Comes

Last night for the first time in a very long time I experienced an extreme amount of anger. It sounds like a bad thing and maybe it was at the start, but amidst the rage came a great clarity.

And today, I woke up changed.

You see, I am not one to get mad easily. Sure, I get frustrated quite often and emotional from time to time. After all, I am only human.

Otherwise, for the most part, I am generally pretty laid back. I like to think that I do my very best to be as forgiving and understanding as possible. I realize that no one is perfect, certainly not me. We are all just doing our best to get through life given the challenges we are faced with.

So for that reason, I try to do anything within my power for those that I care about. I will even endure a massive amount of mistreatment from them and still allow them back in my life over and over and over again.

Until that one day comes…

There is no telling when or what will cause it, but for one reason or another the moment will come when everything changes and there is no going back.

For, by the time I reach this point, I no longer care about the consequences of speaking my mind. The words I utter still come from the heart, but they are no longer sugar coated for fear of burning a bridge.

They are instead, blunt, straight to the point and comprised only of my final thoughts; my way of saying farewell.

No matter how much love I have for this person, in this moment, the love I have for myself over rules and anger becomes the fuel for a positive change.

The few people who have managed to push me this far, should consider themselves very special. For the depth of love needed to cause me to feel this level of anger is a rarity. A rarity that if treasured will lead to great loyalty and if abused…well there is no going back.

However, this does not mean that I will ever be nasty towards that person in the future, should our paths cross again. To be nasty would mean that I was still harboring the anger that pushed me to the breaking point in the first place and that is simply not possible anymore. Besides, it would be counter productive not to forgive and taste the freedom of moving forward without ill feelings lingering from the past.

I have said it numerous times before and I’ll say it again…we are all flawed. There is no telling what someone else is going through at any moment in time and we can only help them as much as they are willing to let us. Part of the growing process is knowing when you are no longer wanted/needed and to learn to bow out gracefully. It is not our responsibility, or within our power for that matter, to change people. Any time spent trying to could surely be better utilized.

Doesn’t it seem like it would be in our best interest (and theirs) to find a way to forgive them, accept them for where they are and come to a place where we are able to genuinely wish them well with no ulterior motives?

 

 

Clarity

Sometimes the thing you don’t want to hear is exactly the thing you need to hear in order to find clarity in an otherwise confusing situation. I think we all keep things to ourselves that we think may hurt someone else, but is that really the best course of action?

I am not talking about little things like keeping the fact that your friend’s new haircut is less than flattering to yourself. I am talking about the big stuff…life changing stuff.

Our time on this earth is so precious and any time spent worrying about something that could have otherwise been prevented is a waste. The truth is that honesty is what really sets you free. Seeing someones true colors can change your opinion of them in an instant. An instant that may never have come if they had always stayed hidden.

People in our lives come and go, that is just the cold hard truth about life. Not everyone is going to stay your friend and not every relationship is going to work out.

We see things the way we want to see them. We hear things the way we want to hear them. And when our expectations are less than what we hoped, we are left wondering why. We pick apart the situation and ourselves. When the truth is right there in front of us.

It is humbling to find that you have been a pawn in someone’s deceitful game of cat and mouse. However, the knowledge of this can be just what you needed to move on. Sadness and confusion becomes anger and from this comes strength. You no longer spend your time wasted on someone that doesn’t deserve it. And when faced with the same situation again, the memories of the pain is what keeps you from making the same mistake.

So the next time you think you are doing someone a favor by keeping the cold hard truth to yourself, think about that. Are you really helping them or just delaying the inevitable pain that could set them free.