I use my hands a lot when I talk, and I think even more – here are both of those things combined.

A is for Ambivalence

Utter transparency; I struggled with this title. On a typical day, I know what to write, but that is without the pressure of knowing that at some point, some unfortunate soul may read it. On the first go around, I had “A is for attachment.” Next came, “A is for apology.” Following this, nearly ensured “A is for acceptance,” and if it continued, we may have found our way all the way to acrobatics. Truthfully speaking, ambivalence was one of the last topics I wanted to write about, because at this moment in time it is weighing heavily on my heart and on my mind.

Ambivalence: the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone

Depending on how you look at it, one could say that one of my biggest character flaws is the heightened way in which I live in the “grey” area. Mixed emotions, and contradictions, run so heavily in who I am, I have it tattooed on my right forearm. Occasionally, I’m in a state of what feels like an existential crisis, and at other times, I feel catatonic at best because I am paralyzed by my inability to choose. I cannot quite put onto paper the extreme amount of frustration this causes me, because in many areas of life, I have had the outcome decided far before it came to be. Yet in other areas of life, especially in matters of the heart, or situations that could affect the heart or life of someone else, I see avoidance as my greatest ally.

Everyone, if they are truly living, will reach a crossroads at some point in their life. For quite some time now, however, and perhaps at times due to my own recklessness, it feels that life has graduated me from the crossroads, and I am permanently walking in a house of mirrors, bumping into my same tired self unsure of how to get out, and feeling hopeless about a change of scenery.

I typically live in this mundane state of melancholical unsurety because I don’t want to judge or write something off – I don’t want to make a mistake. I want to have options, and when my options run out and I make a decision, I want to know that I spent enough time with the options to know that I made the correct decision. Assuredly this does not guarantee that there are no absolutes, there are most certainly non-negotiables and strong feelings leading one way or another. What it does mean, is that I am terrible at closing doors. It means that I often feel claustrophic because of my own created state of limbo, and I typically allow people to walk all over me for far too long. I stay in relationships and jobs past their expiration date, and I struggle to take the crazy leaps of faith for myself because I don’t know if I am pursuing what is meant for me.

A strength to my “mixed emotions” state of existence, is that I can often see the silver lining – in people, in situations, and even in mere thought processes. Though I prefer to describe myself as a “realistic optimist,” my mind naturally moves to the positives of “what could be,” and the small amount of daydreamer within me takes over. I prefer to see things as a whole. I know that not everything “good,” is entirely good, and not everything “evil,” is entirely, or even inherently bad. There are pro’s and con’s to every situation, to every job, to every relationship, to every family, to every city, and to every peak and valley. Despite the knowledge and acceptance of the absurdities of the world, I can still become paralyzed by the responsibility of choices.

Perhaps Hamlet had it correct all the time – “to be, or not to be?” To be what exactly? Because even my ideas about myself are mixed. Yes, I’m strong, but I have had embarrassingly weak moments. Yes, I am funny, but sometimes my humor does nothing other than garner a few pity laughs. Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is settle and see less of myself, and at other times, the last person I want to be is myself. Quite possibly, I should have titled this, “A for Absolutes,” because in life, there are none. I will not always be the same, and even at my most stable, I will never be perfectly consistent. As I write, I am still in a constant state of tug-of-war, as I do my best to rest in the grey area of life. It is said that ambivalence is natural and common, yet nothing makes my skin crawl more, nothing makes my heart strain as much, and certainly nothing causes me more sleepless nights. Yet I refuse to accept life and all of it’s component as one dimensional, therefore ambivalence is the only answer. So please excuse me as I, ridden with anxiety, clamor into the twisted unknown.

Here’s to twenty-six and knowing less than I did when I was sixteen, and feeling more than I ever thought I could.

B is for Bacteria

No, not the bacteria that lies in waiting to attack your immune system, but the bacteria that infests your soul, your well-being, and your all-around state of being. The bacteria that comes on slowly, and then blindsides you, and leaves you in a disillusionment, and the all-encompassing feelings of bewilderment. Like a sleeper wave, the bacteria of life can send you straight to your ass, when you thought you were standing upright in the strongest form that you had ever stood.

I saw an article about bacteria and it stated, “Find out about the different groups of bacteria, how they reproduce and their survival skills.” This translated as one thing to me – different groups – those with a natural means to bacterium, because everyone has baggage, and those that carry bacteria that cause diseases, and seek out to destroy. How they reproduce? By our allowance, our naivety, our belief that “it won’t happen to me.” Our faulty belief that we are the outlier; that we are the exception. Their survival skills? Charm, wit, knowledge of our weaknesses and our strengths, and overall; the pursuance, and idea, and quite possibly, the lie of love.  Perhaps, I am bitter and cynical simply because of recent occurrences, and my revelations as of late toward the events in my life. I am aware that just like actual bacteria, not all bacterium type people cause diseases; some bacterium type people exist in your life to boost your “immune system,” but come with similar risks and drawbacks as we all do.

For the past five years, I have ill-advisedly focused on, and poured out an unreasonable amount of love, into what I believed was mine. I believed it was meant for me, it was good for me, and it would always be my point of comfort that I could function from. “This was love,” I believed. It’s not that love does not exist, it’s that sometimes, ignoring the red flags, and writing off mistakes, can create a world that is really just a heap of trouble. Love can actually be lust, and lust can in turn be a game of cat and mouse; always in search of the next game, or the next high.

All is not fair in love and war, because if we cared more about our well-being we would not allow for the grey areas, where the rules are blurred, to attack us, and hurt us as we do. All is not fair in love; we just merely lower our standards to make it so. During the common sickness seasons, we gear up for it – we ensure that we will not get sick, and if we do, we do what we can to get rid of it. Yet what about the sicknesses of life? Why do we allow it to fester, to worsen, to grow and spread? If not properly treated, there is the potential that bacteria will remain, or even worse, come back.

This is merely a tale of caution to Lysol your lives.

C is for Condolences, I guess

I want to be concise, but I have not been able to decide on a topic. I have run through the “c” words, and none of them hit me hard enough to actually convict me to make a decision.

I ran through:

C is for caring

C is for change

C is for choices

C is for contradictions

C is for condolences

C is for… cannot make a damn decision

The truth is, too much change has happened in the recent months, that all of the above could be something I could talk about in great length. I have cared too much, I have had to make too many choices. My feelings have contradicted themselves far too much, and I have offered my condolences to everyone around me, but I just realized and deeply recognized that I have not offered my condolences to myself for all of the events that have occurred as of late.

So to myself, last year, as well as the past couple of months: I am sorry.

I am sorry for the ways that your heart was broken and you could not find a cure. I am sorry for the ways that you could not find a way to rest within the chaos, and I am sorry for the ways that you could not find it within yourself to know that you deserved better. I am sorry for the way that you secluded yourself because it was the safest way to be; you deserved to speak and stand and be known. I am sorry for the way that the revelations of your life came to you all at once, and you were left to understand the wreckage, and sift through the emotional rubble that was compiling on top of you. I am sorry for the ways that you did not recoil and seclude yourself, but found yourself alone anyways. I am sorry for the ways that your past and your present collided, and you could not find solace in either. I am sorry that the unknown had to become your home, and every bit of love you had thought that you knew no longer existed. I am sorry for the ways you accepted so many things beneath yourself in an attempt to feel some type of love, some type of belonging, some type of help. I am sorry that this was your only sense of “okay.” I am sorry that everything you have fought to be, you settled for, just to feel some type of control over your life – even if it was a false control. I am sorry for how many times you were relentless with your “I’m sorry’s,” “I miss you’s,” and “I love you’s;” despite the abuse and the rejection you were receiving on the other end. I am sorry that you watched life plummet before your very eyes. I am sorry that you were dealing with life on your own, yet again. I am sorry that you allowed yourself to believe every lie you were ever told, and even worse you laid your head on that. You hung your hat on that. You banked your truth’s on that. I am sorry for the pillow you rested your head on, and whom you rested it on with, because neither one deserved you. I am sorry for the restless nights, and the pointless days, where you rambled about without much purpose, and your real purposes no longer mattered. I am sorry for the poor love that you accepted in an attempt to learn how to love yourself again. Dear girl, no one can love you as well as you can.

I want to offer you my condolences to what you allowed yourself to endure, and I want to offer you closure in the future. I know you don’t feel it now. I know you still feel the sting of the words that were spoken over you, and the actions taken against you, and the overall pain that you came to know. When you are ready, and life is ready, you will feel closure. I hope that for you.

In the meantime, my condolences for not protecting you better; I will do my best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

D is for Dog

Everyone says they have the best dog – they are not wrong. Many say that their dog saved them – again, they are not wrong. The way everyone claims their dog saved them is different, this is my story.

This is Holden. He is terrier, pug, and chihuahua. He will be eight-years-old on May 17th, and he has been my best friend from the very day he came to live with me. I first met Holden when he was three weeks old. He was in the big of wagon that was brought to a child’s birthday party I had attended. His parents were thrown over the fence at family friend’s house, and little did she know, the female dog was also pregnant. Holden was in the corner of the wagon, while the rest of his sibling’s were cuddle up with one another on the other side of the wagon. As everyone reached for his sibling’s, and “awe’s” filled the air, I reached for the smaller dog, shaking in the corner. Holden was visibly much smaller than his siblings, but he was something special to me. I lifted him in my hand, and at three weeks, he fit in my hand. He fell into my chest, as he was tremoring, and I just knew – this was it, this was my family.

At this time, I was eighteen. I had spent my entire life being fearful of dogs, after being bit by several of them as a kid. To me in this moment, however, he wasn’t a dog. He wasn’t a vicious, wild animal. He wasn’t unknown or frightening to me, he was something that needed me. Something in me knew that I needed him, and I have been ecstatic ever since that I listened to whatever it was inside of me that told me so.

This was a pivotal moment for me, because deciding to take this tiny little ball of fur home with me, gave me the courage to also leave the abusive relationship I was in. It sounds a little farfetched – that a pint-sized animal would give me fulfillment enough to garner enough strength to leave a long-term relationship, but that’s exactly what happened for me. I had felt trapped in this relationship for quite some time because I had been isolated and criticized to the point of worthlessness, but Holden made me feel less alone, less worthless, and ultimately, worthy of love because he was already to love me. Upon leaving this relationship, Holden has showed me every day just how to live – happily, with curiosity, freely giving love, and when in doubt, take a nap.

Over the two weeks that I waited for him to come to live with me (I got him at five weeks), I joked about naming him Robert DeNiro. On the first day that he was truly mine, however, the name Holden made immediate sense to me and I knew that was the name for him. The name Holden was inspired by the book Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. There is a piece in the book where Holden Caulfield, the main character, is describing a golden wheat and rye field, and the happiness it would bring to be able to stand in this field and fulfill his destiny. As I gazed upon Holden, I recognized that the color of his fur was exactly how I imagined the color of the field that Holden Caulfield described. Similar to the feeling of fulfillment that field brought Holden Caulfield, so has my Holden brought to me.

It has been a rough past eight years, with a lot of heartbreak, anxiety, depression, unknowns, and unfortunately abuse – but Holden was a constant. Holden has been love. Holden has been joy. Holden has been the perfect partner through it all. He has saved me from myself for times than I can count, and he has helped me escape my burdens more times than I would like to admit. He has made the rough times, less rough, and the good times, just that much better. When someone says their dog saved their life, I always believe them, because I know mine did.  

E is for Elliott

This is how I know that love is a choice

The beginning of relationships are beautiful. The newness is exciting. The excitement is breathtaking. It is breathtaking how much you can love someone new, so quickly.

Deciding to love someone, the same someone, for an extended period of time is the hardest commitment. Long term love is like the ocean. It comes and goes. It floods and recedes. It ebbs and flows. You fear the dry seasons, and you feel overwhelmed as the tide comes in.

This is Elliott, my husband of the past five years, and my someone for the past almost seven years. We were kids when we began this journey. I was nineteen, he was twenty. We originally met when we were kids, somewhere around the eight of 8. We coincidentally met again in high school, on the first day of my freshman year, his sophomore, as his locker was below mine. We were kind acquaintances, and nothing more until I was seventeen and he was eighteen. Come seventeen, I looked at him with stars in my eyes, and he was merely a flirt who playfully took advantage of my affection. At twenty, for him, he came around, and he now looked at me with stars in his eyes – the rest is history. Rough, painful, and inspiring history. Nearly seven years later, with mistakes, fights, and pain, in our history, and of course, in our future as well. This face is how I know that love is choice. These past seven years, we have ebbed and flowed. We have turned our backs on each other, we have clawed at each other, we have fought each other, and fought for each other. We have experienced life and love at it’s fullest, it has broken us, and we have mended each other. He has chosen other things, relationships, hobbies, and himself. In return, I have chosen other relationships, work, and school. I have put other interests before our relationship, as I began to lose myself in the midst of his other choosing’s. As we have decided to solely and only choose each other, we have never thrived as well.

This is what I choose. A personal flaw of mine is that I can be fickle and flighty. I was not always like this, but as life and loss continued, staying in one place, and feel contentment began to feel like a chore instead of an opportunity. Loving me comes with a lot of commitment, especially, when I begin to stop cherishing commitment. Every day we love, it is a choice. The longer you know someone, most often, the more you know, and the harder it becomes to see someone. With each day, you have to choose to love, and each time you choose the one that chooses you, love grows. It blooms. It manifests. It strengthens.

I am not blind to the mistakes that I have made, and the ways that I have attributed to the rough times in our relationship, and as human nature would have it be, I am even more attune and unrelenting to the mistakes he has made. Love is seeing these mistakes, and still saying each day, “I see you; I believe in you, I will not abandon you because you are not perfect. I will not abandon you because you are human.”

So, to him I say, thank you for bringing out the human in me. The mess in me. The parts of me I won’t show anyone else. Thank you for knowing my darkest moments, and choosing to not exploit them. Love is showing someone the depths of their soul, and trusting them to hold it close, to hold it dear, and to love it deeper than they love your perfect parts – because that is intimacy, that is sacred, that is love.

Choose something today. Commit to something today. Adopt a dog. Get a tattoo. Chase a career, a person, a dream. Commit to a life long something. Choose you.

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