More Than a Pet

Today would have been my first pet’s thirteenth birthday. Although it was rare for an English Bulldog to live that long, his passing before his seventh birthday meant I have missed him so much these past seven years. For as long as I could remember, every birthday up until my eleventh, I wished for a dog when I blew out the candles. Until I was eleven, I pet every dog I could, cried after I left pet stores and shelters, and wished for the companionship that a dog could bring.

Then, May 2006 brought Cooper into my life and changed the way I cared for dogs. All the fish I tried so hard to keep alive were pale in comparison to him. He was this wrinkly mess that plopped himself down everywhere his little legs would take him. He loved peanut butter and carrots, although not together. When I had my tonsils removed, together, we ate banana popsicles and lounged around. He didn’t like going for walks, but he loved sunbathing in the Florida heat.

He posed for all my embarrassing photoshoots, dressed up with me for Halloween, dealt with my constant pulls for attention and desire to carry his 60-pound mass around the house and on to my bed. He loved the toys that made honking sounds; his carrot was his favorite, of course. He taught me responsibility, and he taught me loyalty. When I came home from school, he was there. When I propped him up on my wicker chest for training lessons, we stayed still for the treats. As I grew older, he was the best dog. All my friends loved him and his funny nuances.

During my senior year of high school, he became sick. My parents had left the two of us alone, and I found him in his crate seizing. I was scared, eighteen, trying to balance high school and college classes, and watching one of my best friends in pain. For a week, the two of us lived at veterinary offices. I missed classes. I cried in parking lots. I was scared he wouldn’t be okay. For a little time, he was, until he wasn’t. I blamed myself for his passing. I felt responsible for the week we were alone together. We spent nights sleeping together on my parent’s bed. The medicine was helping until it didn’t. My friends left him alone one night, and a seizure left him in an unstable state.

We took him to the doctor I found for him, and they tried to help, but they drugged him to the point he couldn’t move. I blamed myself for what the doctor did because I was the one who took him to the doctor. For a while, I teared up when I saw a bulldog on the street. I couldn’t get past the grief of losing my first little buddy. It took years for me to stop blaming myself, and still some days I get sad that our time was so short.

During those days, I realize he was more than just a pet. He was the best first dog I could have ever had. Cooper loved giving kisses and sneaking treats. He loved ear scratches and to be with his people. I now have this undying love for English Bulldogs because of him. I can’t help but smile when I see them on the street. I can’t help but give them all the love I wish I could have given Cooper these past seven years. Here is to always loving dogs in the same way that they unwaveringly love us.

21 February 2017

Three years ago was a very different day compared to where I am today. Aside from waking up in a different bed in a different city, the 21st of February was quite possibly a new beginning for me, but I had no idea then what would come from it that morning. I woke up after not sleeping and slipped into my black dress and a pair of sneakers. I had nothing to eat or drink before getting into the car with my mother. We were heading to Naples Community Hospital, the hospital I was born in, but this time I waiting for my turn to get my name printed on a bracelet.

I remember how cold it felt to sit in the chair while my mom scrolled on her phone to the left of me. She had my best friends number and boyfriend’s “in case anything happens.” Obviously, the last thing you want to consider is your death, but complications aren’t that rare. I remember the man that called my name and shuffled us into another waiting room dedicated to the family members waiting while their loved ones were in surgery. There were low lit lamps on side tables and magazines that have been flipped through but barely read. There were young children, wives, and husbands scrolling on phones and finding ways to pass the time.

I was only there for a few minutes by my mom’s side before I was called back for surgery. There was a gown waiting for me on a bed and a bag for the rest of my belongings. Nurses and doctors poked my hand, wrist, and the inside of my elbow for a vein suitable for my IV. They searched in my knee, thigh, and calf for the nerves related to the nerve block. The nurse and mother looked on frightened as they watched this anesthesiologist dig with a needle for what he needed. At one point, the nurse grabbed my hand and apologized and confessed her admiration for patience and pain tolerance, but I knew this was only a taste of what was to come.

I had my hair pulled into a hairnet, which of course, my mother snapped a photo of before they wheeled into the operating room where even more bodies stood around me and shuffled past. I remember the OR tech that summoned me on to the operating table. It was the first time I vividly remember moving from the bed to the narrow, uncomfortable surfboard of a table that had movable arms and straps, which felt like I was being secured to an executioner’s table into a death sentence prison.

I was staring up while he prepped my iv with the new tubes. In the distance, I heard a song. A Queen’s song, Another One Bites the Dust played out in the speakers. I remember singing along, well humming along, and having the OR tech call out to turn the radio off—realizing that among the last song you want to listen to before you head into surgery. Then just as the song goes quiet, so does the rest of the world until I wake up in the room with the blue pull curtains and on the bed I was initially on. This time it is just me and the nurse. All I taste is metal. I squint as the lights brighten, and the nurse greats me with a pen and paper. The first thing I tell her is that I feel like I am going to throw up. Its the combination of pain, medicine, and anesthesia, but I knew it was coming.

We talk about my surgery and how my mother is on her way back. She places a bedpan on my chest, and I feel the room spinning. I tell her I have had issues in the past with anesthesia, and shortly after explaining that she’s thanking me for knowing how sick I was going to get ahead of my vomiting all over myself and the bed. I constantly impress her. She’s impressed with the fact that I wore a dress that just slipped over my head, and required no movement on my part. That I knew to wear sneakers and not sandals, given that we were in Florida. She was impressed with how I dealt with everything, but at the same time, I knew this wasn’t my first time being here.

They lowered me into a wheelchair and I saw the monstrosity left on my right leg. Before all, I could do was imagine what it looked like tucked under the blanket. They wheeled me out to the car, and that’s when my life had the chance at the beginning again. I remember getting my phone back and letting my then-boyfriend and best friend know I had made it out of surgery, although it was only my best friend who was texting my mom throughout the procedure. 

At that time I had no idea what was going to come. I had no idea the pain that was ahead of me, the fears, the possible infection, and the months of therapy. I had no idea if the surgery would work. Now, three years later, I am wiser but only marginally in a better place. After being home last week, I saw the way my ankle swelled like it used to. I joked that my ankle must remember what happened in Florida because, for a long time, I was in pain with standing and growing impatient with walking around. But in New York, I walk close to 3-miles a day, if not more, and I am fine.

I wake up most mornings, forgetting all the surgeries and the pain, and other days I can’t help but remember. I can’t help but remember the way the sutures rub against the fiberglass cast. I can’t help but remember the mornings and days spent in my bed, wondering if I can push myself to walk sooner. I remember the day I decided to stop my pain medication and what it felt like to finally lift the fog, but then submerge myself in a new pain of withdrawal. I remember screaming out in the night because I wanted to rip the skin off my body. After all, there was nothing I could do to get comfortable. I see the photos of myself before, during, and after and see the way the light comes back to my eyes, but I remember the night I woke up yelling for help.

I am past all that, but sometimes it is still hard to move forward from it. 

Finding Your Light: The Action

A while back I started a series I never followed through with, until today, of course. I talked a little bit about the self-doubt I had been feeling at the time and how it had surpassed a similar doubt I had a few years prior to then. I described the way it flooded my bloodstream with toxic feelings at such force, and I wanted to talk about how I was combating the negative energy. Partially because I wanted to feel strong.

I mentioned that I was starting this multi-part series to invite others to gain insight towards mental health by providing personal experiences that I hoped, in turn, would promote more people to gain an understanding of the significance of mental health. I wanted to make sure individuals knew that you are not alone, there are so many resources out there to better yourself. 

Not too many knew that in 2017, I became crippled under the weight of fear and ached every time I tried to pull myself back up. So I wasn’t heading my own advice, I was isolating myself. I struggled, still struggle, daily with the events surrounding the changes in my life, but the struggle I initially wrote about is gone.

When I first wrote Finding Your Light: The Onset I had no idea what was to come within the next month –– the hole I found myself in July 2018 was a pothole compared to the fault line that eroded my sanity come August 2018. But, I wasn’t wrong in July to discuss my hard times, but what I should have done was listen to my own advice.

When I was at my darkest time, I wrote only one post, and you can feel the pain seeping through the words. I remember having a friend reach out to me the day I posted it. They had read it and wondered if I needed anyone to talk to, but I shook off my issues. I didn’t take my advice to not let the demon consume my happiness, but instead I allowed him thrive in for way too long.

Because of that, my light shattered more, but that seemed impossible. What happens when you drop an already broken piece of glass?  It explodes into more and more fine and fragmented pieces that I, in turn, amounted myself to because I felt like I was a fine mist of dust allowing something invisible to the eye, something such as wind, to take control.

I was sick, mentally and physically, but weakened to nothing past a sleeping vessel that struggled to ever feel rested. I abused myself and my health, and I let insignificant people define my worth. I let depression linger behind my sullen, hazel eyes that were tinged red from the evenings spent overthinking and manifesting fear. 

But I took action, finally, because I needed conversation. I needed a distant bystander who could talk to me and listen. It helped to see a therapist for a few weeks until she tried to take control of the therapy session. I wanted to talk about the flames because I needed help putting them out, but she was too busy trying to forge through the ashes that were lying where objects once were. The dust wasn’t me, but the wind oxygenating the flickering flame emitted an unbearable flame.

The conversations for awhile validated me. They told me the pain wasn’t insanity, and that I could find something better. It reminded me about who I was when I was younger. I knew I struggled with self-confidence. It was almost typical for me to feel down about myself. I had a great friend group, a supportive family, and a bright future, so why was I manifesting on this low time when I should be thankful for all the highs?

The second the therapy would no longer help, was when I gained the confidence back in myself to really believe in who I was and the journey I was on. I was a grad student, thriving in class, and making friendships that were going to matter. Hell Yeah, Hannah, keep kicking butt! I was writing again, for schoolwork, but I was creative again.

But being thankful wasn’t enough because I was still grateful for a handful of the wrong things. I was thankful for toxic relationships, honestly up until the end of 2018. I couldn’t hold on to those people, and I needed to learn to let go. I was thankful for my freedom, both financially and parentally, but I wasn’t following a life destined to be thankful for.

Sometimes I think back to what fun I used to have with some people in the East Village, but leaving it all behind showed me how to bring the happiness back. I wrote a bit about that journey in Relationships After Heartache when I referred to the saga as the “August downfall.” But I learned in isolation I could focus on myself. I wasn’t worried about saying the right thing to someone, striking up the best conversation, or ordering my favorite drink. I wasn’t concerned with making an impression, telling the funniest joke, and worrying about what my friends were saying behind my back. I just was me, alone in my apartment, crying when I needed to but mostly doing the things that strengthened me.

The reason this time was different was because of the way the negative thoughts strained me into a thick pulp without any sustenance. Sometimes I still struggle to let go of the toxic relationships, hoping they just lie in a grave, so I don’t have to deal with goodbyes, but I have learned how to walk away. Because walking away from the sadness was the one thing that brought happiness back?

My sadness in July? I buried it in 2017, looking my anxiety and depression, literally in the eye and forgiving the demon forever reintroducing it in my life. I told him that I am no longer mad, and that is why this time was different. The past showed me that I can stand up and turn away from something I don’t want to be apart of, and I think so many of us can struggle with that part.

I think we worry about the action when it comes to rekindling our light. We fear that it won’t fix anything, but this time was different because I reignited my light in the most mature way compared to the past. I learned I could find even more strength if I just gave myself a chance, so give yourself a chance.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, I urge more to feel comfortable asking for help. Bearing the weight of your friends in times of need is not meant for everyone. If you are in a space in your life where you can be there for others, I hope you utilize your gift as I have in the past. If you personally cannot handle that role, help yourself, and help others to seek personal help. There is nothing shameful for wanting help. Hug more and remind those in your life that you love them, it will make a significant impact on your well being.

 

 

22 June 2017

I’ve been speculating a lot when it came to this blog. I think for a while I forgot why I was writing in the first place –- or why I started this whole “rewind” and “unwind” mantra when all I wanted to do was let go of my past.

When I think about it, this will be my first post in 2019, but I haven’t left my writing behind. I had a job writing eight hours a week for a company that didn’t fully appreciate the talents they had within their teams. I wrote a novel for my thesis, which you can find at my other website I started while neglecting this one. I did a lot, I graduated my Master’s program, started my career hunt, and traveled all while I put off my hopes and dreams for a blog that I love –- all while putting off making this something I am passionate about.

Then, in the heat of all the stress from all the above coming to a close, I found myself wallowing in my future. So as all New York self-pittiers do, on June 19, I sat down in Central Park to think about the fear that was rising in the pit of my stomach. What was to come now that I am no longer a student, but rather a human drowning in debt and without a job? So, I did what I did best, I opened Notes on my iPhone, and I began to write a post for this blog. On, June 21, I was going to sit down, edit, and post that blurp I wrote, starting the revitalization of this blog, but then I remembered what today, June 22, meant for me in the past.

Oddly enough, but not out of the ordinary for me, on June 22, 2017, I felt the same weight of human suffocating from the thought of my future. I remember not sleeping more than an hour between the night of the 22nd and the morning of the 23rd, to spend the dawn researching and calling any option of help. I remember lying on the shower floor for hours while my tears mixed with the lukewarm water spraying above me. I was a mess, a bigger mess than I am right now, but none the less a mess.

This day, I was forever changed about how I viewed myself and my future. It was the day that broke me before I moved away to New York. I was scared. I saw my dreams of grad school slipping through my fingers like warmed sand. I thought about my life of wanting to write and how that would shift with these changes if I didn’t find the solution fast. I thought about my options and how the last thing I ever wanted was to see the person that hurt me ever again. I saw my parents, friends, and families disappointment, but above all, I saw the disappointment I had in myself.

I started to believe I wasn’t capable of overcoming this obstacle. I found myself in a hole far darker and scarier than any hole I had been in before. I told little to no one about this situation. I often wonder if those who know ever think about it, or have told other people, but I know that I have done everything I could to move on from June 22, 2017.

I started this blog in July when I needed to reflect on what had happened in June and what I would be going through in the coming years. I knew the journey I was meant to be on was never easy, but it was my path, and I was going to make it through. Fortunately, I can write this uplifting passage today because I found a way to make money while I continue my career search, but part of me always believes everything will work out. I like to say it’s my realistic side because I should always stay positive when I view something that I want to be my reality.

That post will come shortly as I work out what more I have to say about the month of June, but for now I am thankful I took a moment to start this blog. I inherently allowed myself to see my growth during the times where I feel so lost and out of control. I don’t regret my older posts about past relationships and heartache –- they have become buckets of inspiration while I write more and more novels. I know I need to keep my buckets full, so in honor of the day I thought my future was changed in such a negative way, I will try my best to overcome my obstacles and change the future of this blog.

The Mountains are Calling

In 2012, my father suggested I looked into universities in Colorado when we were there for a family ski trip. I had spent my entire life on the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast, all my friends I had made were staying in-state (for the most part), however, I kinda always had an inkling I would move away from the beaches I had grown accustomed to visiting. 

Every year I looked forward to heading to the mountains. I loved the snow, outdoor activities, and chill in the air. When my father suggested looking into the University of Colorado and the University of Denver, I signed up for informational sessions and tours. When we landed in Denver we headed straight to University of Colorado-Denver campus. It was a gray cold day and the clouds hung low over the gray buildings. I had loved the time I spent previously in Denver, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t moved by the campus. 

The next morning we spent the afternoon at the University of Denver. It was all that I was looking for in a school, except for a football team. The campus was gorgeous, the faculty and students were kind, I found myself gearing up for the application process. We left early from the orientation to make it to the CU-Boulder session. I was ready to sign up to be a member of the 2013 freshman class, but then I saw the foothills off the highway on our drive on 36. 

We parked and sat through a lengthy informational setting, and then took a tour around campus. I think it was the first steps onto the quad where in my heart I knew, this is where I need to go to be my happiest. 

I spent three years at the University of Colorado-Boulder as a double major in psychology and sociology, where almost every day walking to class I snapped a photo of the foothills that were the backdrop of my campus. Seeing them peak out above the football stadium made losing not so bad, but winning even better. Every season painted the mountains with breathtaking colors, and I never got over how lucky I felt to be a part of the school.

Although I traded the mountains for over industrialized skylines, I still find myself craving the mountains. Even a trip upstate means me gawking out the train window to grab a glace at the Catskills. Any chance I can get to heighten my vantage point, I do it. This past summer I traveled to Eibsee, Germany. After sitting it the shadows of the Zugspitze for a minute, I knew I had to see the view from the top. 

We all loaded in the gondola and I glued my face to the window to see the sights. Stepping off I breathed in the cool air and a calm feeling came over me. I looked over Germany, Austria, and Italy, and knew I was where I was happiest. 

Happy International Mountian Day! Check out what the UN has to say on why #MountainsMatter. 

Loved You First

In the midst of a proper heartache, I steadied my voice and told the man I once loved that I was glad I loved him first. He was my first love before any heartache. However, there was trepidation in the way he loved me back; I wasn’t his first. He allowed for the past heartaches of ex-girlfriends to dictate how our relationship would play out. Slowly, and in every action, I became them. He was able to predict the future, and therefore “we” would never survive because “they” didn’t.

While I treaded through the heartache, I was always told: “you will fall in love again; the second time will just be different.” That meant nothing to me a few months out from free-falling into a world of depressive attitudes and anxiety-riddled days. I found myself wondering if I imagined it all; if he even loved me like he said. I made myself believe we were great together until I saw him with someone else so quickly.

The thing was, he never truly heard the depth to my words. There was a surface he remained on. He had spurts of being cautionary, however, his impulsivity got the best of him. He moved on immediately, and I took the time to heal. When I said I loved him, I meant it. When he said it, he felt it at the moment and moved on from it. His words held no value.

Now that he is single for more than a month, I am currently loving my new relationship. Recently I was suddenly reminded of my past words. What he never understood was, our relationship would not have lasted had I not loved him first. There was a naiveté in my love. I took him and all his faults and loved him as deeply as I could. I was just being me, and he wondered how it was possible for someone to love in the way I did.

I used to be able to hear echoes of him in the man I currently in a relationship with. I was timid to be with someone again. Part of me worried I was still longing for my ex. I used to think they were so similar, and one day before we were together, I communicated that to my boyfriend. His response was the only thing I needed in order to see how vastly different they were.

Since the breakup, I had several men disrespect me. I was a bit of a mess for the most part until I just took time for myself to fully heal. I had matured, but with that maturity came some faults. Our breakup force fed me anxiety and I am still trying to defend my way through it. My boyfriend is careful. He headed my fears and talked me through them during that moment. My ex would have never been able to do that. He wouldn’t have responded.

I used to sit in silence, craving communication, and all he gave me was self-doubt and insecurities when something felt wrong in the relationship. If my ex ever spoke it was argumentative and accusatory. Had I loved him second, he would have pushed me further down and I would have known to leave. His life and interests came first. If he wanted a new toy, tattoo, or had any time in his day, it went to something other than me. He struggled to strengthen our relationship because there was always an excuse that came first.

It’s the little things that trip me up in my new relationship. He cares, he communicates, and he makes me happy in ways I can’t quite describe. The happiness I remember once feeling towards my ex still lingers in my memory, but the kindness and compassion this new relationship exudes are the reminders that there is someone there that will remind you that you deserve to be heard, cared for, and loved. He shows me he’s thinking of me when we are apart — he picks me up when I am upset — when we are together, he shows me we matter.

Love, and love deeply, but remind yourself you deserve the love you are giving everyone else. 

 

Weekend in Bavaria

I boarded a plane from Newark to Munich to attend a Summer wedding in Bavaria. It was my first time in Germany, and a few days wasn’t nearly enough time to see it all. Most of my time was spent at the Eibsee Hotel where we slept at the foot of the tallest mountain in Germany. We spent hours on the lake on row boats, paddle boats, and motor boat. The cool lake water brought relief to my sunburned legs after forgetting sunscreen at home. The views from the top of Zugspitze reopened my excitement for exploration—this city girl missed the mountains. Bis zum nächsten Mal Deutschland!

17 August 2016

I would like to insist that life is accompanied by a user manual. That way our birth certificates can be bound with all of the experiences we could encounter in life. So as we transition we can recognize them while they happen. Love is a verb I struggled to define before I really experienced it romantically.

I came home to my roommate a year ago today and asked when she knew she was in love with her partner. It was deep into their relationship for her, and here I was just two weeks into getting to know a man who had already confessed his love for me and I was thinking I really loved him.

He hit me with a foul ball plummeting from a universe I was so unaware of. I was ready for him to open up about something difficult when he asked me if he could tell me something without me freaking out, but I couldn’t prepare for the feelings he unleashed. I read the words everyone who has had a crush wants to see, hear, and feel. A man loves me!!! He loves me, yet I froze. So much had happened two days prior and our future felt futile, yet there I was thinking about moving away and falling in love. simultaneously.

I stared down those three words—8 letters—a simple construction of subjects and verb to which I was instantly filled with a pulse of electricity. It radiated from my heart down to my fingers and toes as I read them over and over. When it fell into my stomach the upheaval of emotions I suppressed for most of my life twisted at my innards. They were emotions I had never felt at this intensity and I was nervous.

He overwhelmed me.

My thoughts thrashed violently around my head. I had no idea what I was doing.

ABORT! ABORT! ABORT! 

He left me speechless, so that was what I responded with:

“You and making me speechless.”

“Is that bad?”

“No”

Then he started backtracking & attempting to explain himself. I felt like he was filling with anxiety because at that exact moment those words were too heavy for me to throw back in his direction. I began to get anxious. I was so unsure what it was that I felt because I didn’t have my user manual handy. 

Is that what love is? Feeling lighter than air as you float to the heavens while you simultaneously feel a magnet’s pull, that surpasses a human’s tolerance of g-forces, towards another soul? That you want to black out and throw up from the effects love has on the body? Is love a drug that forced its way into my bloodstream? I was scared to simplify it a year ago, but today I know that was how I first felt our love.

It grew to become something I needed. Soon it just became happiness. It filled me and my days with incredible thoughts. I walked around knowing someone loved me. I barely understood affection before him; hugs and kisses, romance, and the meaning I put to love were all different before him. I stepped into this world and had no intention of leaving. I spent my days telling him what I could not put into words a year ago.

Now I feel empty.

I freely share a love with all. The want to radiate it outwards comes naturally to me. However, this love came at a different rate for him. This love knew no depth—it knew only of infinite goals. This love poured out of me for him. I am yet to find the shut-off valve; I bust at the seems and let it flow from my eyes as I forcibly hide it each day. I feel constrained to only suppress it now. That I have no choice but to bury it alone in the darkness when all I want is to let it free. I am compromising for him.

I spoke to him on the phone a while ago and I said it again. I told him I loved him a month after he broke up me. He said nothing except that he doesn’t know what to say to “that”. Life came full circle. I blurted it out like he did a year ago and like me, he didn’t say it back. I never said it to hear it back when we were together, and I didn’t say it that day to change his mind. I just know I can’t spend my life pretending that I am okay with what we are now.

I feel like a liar if I did. 

Leaving Wedgewood Way

I was enrolled in a writing course during undergrad where our first assignment was to look abstractly at our definition of the word home. Broadly it was feelings I received alongside a coordinate on a map. I found a home to symbolize the togetherness of the humans I surrounded myself with. I never felt it was as if the word only amounted to the physical embodiment of a structure, but in this case, this residence has remained my home for so long.

After the age of one, I reached all my milestones at this address. I developed and grew while the structure remained the same. It was here that I ran under the countertops until I was too tall and slammed my head into the granite. It was here that my parents collected photos of me falling asleep in strange places. I would wake up on Christmas and excitedly run to the family room shake all the presents under the tree that Santa gave me.

My flowered wallpapered was plastered up before moving in and then stripped and painted electric blue when I challenged the femininity of my personality while being a sports fanatic in middle school. My eyes strained at the color and eventually more coats of purple paint covered the brightness because my mom wouldn’t let me paint the room black in high school. I left for college and it was redecorated and updated to keep up with my changing personality and maturity. It remains now like it is in the photo above in my memory.

I would sit outside on my driveway and stare up at the stars in the evening and understand how infinite life felt. I would walk my neighborhood and adventure with friends. I would leave and return feeling incredibly grateful for this home and where I grew up. This city has made an impact on my life that I always felt I would want to return and show the one I love the city that developed me, but I would never return here to live. It would be to walk down memory lane and highlight all the highs and lows throughout my time here.

Those feelings felt real this time more than ever. I stared down another move, and I have a feeling this could be the last time I ever reside at this residence. I am hitting the age where moving back in would seem counterproductive. I am pursuing the dreams to get myself established and that won’t happen in this home.

I have never known what it will be like to not be able to return to my childhood home and walk inside. I know my parents have desires to find themselves elsewhere as well. There is a chance that soon my room, which has only ever been my room, will become someone else’s. I took it all in before I left.

I started out my window at the view and saw the branches I used to climb sway slightly with the breeze. I looked around at the emptiness that remained. I pulled my bedroom door behind me and felt it latch shut. I gazed around the shared living areas and stepped outside. I watched out the car window as the garage door descended and closed. I looked back to see the flowers planted in the lawn I ran around and played in with our family dogs.

The trees in the neighborhood whipped past me and blurred into a green haze as I closed my eyes to remember that I was ready—I was ready to soon establish my own home.

11 August 2016

I have been known to go the extra mile throughout my journey. Whether it be in my education, relationships, or daily tasks, I have gone further and would continue to seek an above and beyond mentality to better my days where I could. However, I tended to exhibit perfectionist ideals while I strongly believed there was something more I could do, or do differently, because of the extra mile I was and am willing to walk.

I have learned to not let that ideal weigh heavy on me. I am aware that I do not have to be, nor will I ever truly achieve perfection. I have settled with unperfected pieces in school and life even if I shouldn’t have. I allowed first drafts to be seen and I did so to protect myself and my mental state from wavering under the pressure. By doing that, I allowed for mishaps in order to lessen the outcome of stress and have grown in a new direction.

I internalized the bad grades and worked at time management and performance in academics to excel. I noticed where my efforts were needed more and where they could falter a bit for balance and cohesion in life. I became selective with the company I kept. From the imperfections, I saw my strengths and weaknesses under a spotlight and I became a better person because of the lessons I learned.

A year ago today, I was given a lesson on my heart. It was different from the lessons that I became accustomed to. I had not hoped to learn a lesson from it, rather learn and grow with it. I laid the foundation that provided me a way to strengthen my needs, desires, and feelings. I was making sure they were met first by myself and then through others, I had relationships with. I was not aiming to perfect this, but not half-ass it in a way that I had been previously.

I openly discovered parts of myself that had been left overlooked. I used to neglect my needs and did not put enough effort into what made me the happiest. I had a voice, and I used it occasionally, but I also had an internal sense that spoke to my hopes and desires, and I finally had no choice but to listen to it a year ago.

There were often times in the past where I subconsciously did not settle for “unperfected pieces” when it came to partners because internally something felt off. I did not know it at the time, but I was able to keep myself at a distance from them and protected my heart doing so. Together, I and another played Operation and we found the points that made me buzz. Finally, there was someone who encompassed more than what I could have ever expected to find because I found what I deserved with him. 

I literally drove the extra miles to have a chance at this evening, but never could I have dreamt its outcome when we planned the trip. In turn, I left no distance between our souls and by doing that, I found myself. I began to understand why I overlooked everyone else before this moment. I learned why I walked away so often, and I did not question why I felt my feet beginning to firmly cement down. He was not perfect, but he was doing a damn good job at making me feel incredible about who I was.

I still am learning from this evening a year later. I am more in tune with my needs in all variants of relationships I encounter. I have been told to remain single until someone who completely cherishes my compassion comes along. To find someone who regards my intuitive side as a strength and where my care-taker abilities are not exploited. This night I felt thoroughly cared for. I felt an unsurpassable passion then and he was emotional enough to validate me in ways I needed. I stayed single until I met him, and it made all the difference in understanding my heart.