Finding ‘Happy’

The further and further away I get from the person I used to be, the more I find myself questioning everything around me. I embarked on this journey of self-discovery and acceptance last year, one that has certainly stopped and started again, but it’s kind of never-ending in that I’m always changing. What made me happy a year ago wouldn’t necessarily tickle my jimmies now; what threw me in a downward spiral might only slow me down, or perhaps wouldn’t affect me at all.

For a person as attached to routine as I am, trying out new things has been a pleasantly surprising bonus in my life today. I cling to things harder the more unsure I am of them, turning me into a neurotic control freak sometimes even at the best of times. So letting go of all of that and letting myself just be who I am has been, well, fucking hard.

A year ago, I went through a pretty rough time. A lot of it was documented here, but a lot more of it was documented in long-winded Facebook messages and passive aggressive memes now popping up on my Timehop. I’m embarrassed for myself a year ago, but I also feel a lot of love for that me. That pain has had lasting damages – say hello to the woman completely incapable of finding a man “good enough”, the woman with regular re-occurrences of acid reflux every time she has to tell someone she loves them – but my god am I so much further away from that broken, sad person today. I can admit that I’m scared, lonely, angry, or sad to someone, even if that someone is myself.

It’s really funny how sometimes you don’t realize how little love you have for yourself until you are forced to find it on your own. I have a lot of anger, but also a lot of love for the person who (accidentally) caused this explosion inside of me. Without him, I don’t think I could’ve ended up being who I am today or feeling the way I do about myself.

Oh, there’s that acid reflux again. You’d think it’d get easier to tell people you love and appreciate them, especially when it’s encouraged, but holy shit is it not. Love is scary!

Funnily enough, I didn’t mean to write much about love, but I feel like it and happiness go hand in hand. When I fill my life with love, all kinds of love, I’m infinitely happier. Sometimes I think it’s easier to cut myself off and work on myself (without you or anyone else’s help, damnit!), but nothing can grow in such a stark, lonely environment. I’ve both started and stopped, then started again, then stopped again, then started again my journey to “try new things” for 2015. Ironically, when I started seeing someone again was when all those fun new things started to quickly fall off my radar. Sitting here now, I realize that it’s due (mostly) to a horrible inability to master finding balance in my life.
But so far this year I’ve tried countless new workouts, fallen in love with spin classes, tried my hand at meal planning (with some success), traveled to a city alone for pleasure and spent the day there (helloooo Arlington), lost like eight pounds, opened up to strangers, stood up for myself, and walked alone into a crowded room more times than I can count. And I hate hate hate doing that.

I never realized how far from happy you can put yourself trying to make others happy. I’ve also come to accept that I can’t force others to see their own unhappiness, whether real or perceived by me. All I can do is worry about my own. And I mean, jeez, I get one life, why would I want to be anything but?

– a.


Ready, set…

For a really long time, I’ve been a wanderer. I meander in and out of places with no real set destination or even an idea in mind as to what I’m doing there. I’ll say that I’m committing to something only to lose interest within a month or so. This goes into every aspect of my life. Think deciding to go to bed at a decent hour every night. That didn’t last very long. Doing my hair and/or makeup every day for work? I think I lasted four days before going back to bare face. Soldierfit? I lasted two months before finding excuses. Granted, what kept me from going was a stupid fear of judgment (I last minute was unable to volunteer for an event they were holding and felt super guilty about it), but that fear turned into complacency. I go to yoga, i love yoga, but I only go sporadically. I re-commit to my blog only to let other things get in the way a few days or weeks in. Individually, none of those things are all that big of a deal, but they add up to a lifestyle I don’t enjoy for myself. I try to be accountable in other areas of my life, so why not the ones that really mean something to me? Sleep, exercise, and writing are extremely important things. Sleep is very important. Sleep is something i covet.

sleeptimeI love sleeping.

So, after I was unceremoniously dumped by the guy I was seeing for almost five months (literally just fell off the face of the earth completely out of the blue, I still don’t really get it), instead of getting mopey or sad because a boy I liked didn’t like me, I started getting this idea. It was a quite good idea. And considering the fact that I’ve already finished both Criminal Minds and Gilmore Girls on Netflix, I should be able to find some spare time. I’ve also finished The 100, Once Upon a Time, and Cosmos (again). Netflix is the devil.

Anyway, I got this idea. I’ve spent most of my adult life pretty wrapped up in guys and dating, love and the recoil of a failed relationship (though I’m usually most productive during that time). I wanted to emotionallyspend the rest of my 25th year getting to know myself and trying new things. Thus far, I’m breaking them into separate categories: Physical, Edible, Beauty, and Mental. Physical includes things like trying a spinning class, Zumba, pole dancing, acroyoga, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and so forth. Edible is actually my shortest list still because I’m not sure where to look for new or out there experiences with food. I want to try an entirely raw meal (like at one of those granola restaurants), try that super poisonous if it’s not cut right blowfish, and different ethnic restaurants like That Cuban Place (that’s the real name, I swear) in downtown near my house. Beauty is an amalgamation of things like acupuncture, a full out mani/pedi (had separately but surprisingly never together), athletic massage, bikini wax (I’m not ready for this but I figure I should try it), and so on. Ziplining and skiing are also on the lists in there. I’m creating an Excel spreadsheet, I shit you not.

The point being, I want to spend the rest of my quarter life crisis exploring myself a la Eat, Pray, Love (sans trip across the woeatpraylovemindyrld because, um, I have student loans). The book, not the movie. This whole experiment started, I guess technically, yesterday. I started Insanity: Max 30. I’ve never done these sort of tapes before, at least not all the way through, so this is the beginning. And sixty days from now when I complete it my reward is that aforementioned fancy mani pedi. Or maybe a massage, eesh. It’s brutal, but I’ll get more into it at the end of my first week. This weekend, I’m going to my first spinning class. Next week holds a barre class.

Following the instruction of a blogger I love, Gretchen In-Between, I checked out Yelp’s Fit Club and will be (hopefully!) trying out a few things with that.

Have any ideas for fun, weird, or unique things I could try? Let me know! I’m pretty open-minded, and I plan on writing about all of this.

– a.

Staying committed

Ha, those two words can hold a heavy burden on some people, depending greatly on the subject at hand. In this particular case, it’s staying committed to myself. The past almost two months now (since the turmoil of break up/back together/break up/why won’t you mail me my shit for the love of god) have been, to be completely cliche, a roller coaster. For a little while, I struggled to find any lasting satisfaction or contentment throughout my day. Certain things would make me feel better, but I didn’t really feel good. Thankfully, blessedly, my commitment to self-joy has brought me sufficiently out of the dark place all people go during a break up and my days are mostly joyful now, with moments of sadness. I read a fabulous quote last night from (you guessed it) Tumblr: ” Before I met him, I would dance in the shower. When he was in my life, I would think about showering with him. After he left, I would sit on the ground in the shower and cry. When I got over him, I showered so quickly there was no time for dancing, fantasies or tears. Someone can invade the smallest parts of your life, you won’t even realize it until you dance in the shower again and wonder why you ever stopped.”

Sorry man whose name completely eludes me, I still struggle with the word "no" sometimes.

Sorry man whose name completely eludes me, I still struggle with the word “no” sometimes.

What a perfect way to describe a break up. And desperately true. I’m still in the part where there isn’t time for dancing in the shower – but at least I’ve stopped thinking of him washing the conditioner out of my hair for me. And other inevitable things that happen when showering with your significant other. Speaking of said other things, I have to say that I’ve noticed a stark increase in exboyfriends/lovers/casual sex partners/people I’ve literally never looked at that way/asshole misogynistic strangers reaching out to me. Now, while I am fully aware that rebounding is something that happens and inevitably there will be someone “after”, I have never been a big rebounder. Honestly. After a break up, especially one that wasn’t mutual, the last thing I want is someone else shoving his tongue in or around my mouth (in some cases, mostly around – ew). Don’t get me wrong, attention when I’m feeling down is fabulous. Yes, tell me I’m pretty. All day. Go ahead I encourage the fuck out of that. But, telling me that you messed up with me and/or wish you had done things differently? Drop it, man (x10). I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but when I move on from someone, I fully move on. When I make the decision to walk away, fully drop the rope, I am gone and I don’t look back. Not emotionally, anyway. And, on a mildly related note, I really need to apologize to the guy who I convinced to wait for me upstairs when I didn’t know how to say, “JK no, you’re really good looking and clearly intelligent but I’m an emotional mess,” and then ran out of the house. But I knew that trying to use sex or anything like it to try to make myself feel better wouldn’t fix anything and it certainly wouldn’t make me feel any more chipper.

Peeta is just as confused as me.

Peeta is just as confused as me.

It feels good though. To feel good again, I mean. To have days where I don’t run across something that reminds me of all the good in the relationship – because I don’t need reminded of that right now at all. Just like I don’t need to know how he’s doing, or if he’s happy, or any of the above. After bothering him for three, count it, three weeks for the rest of my things (trying all different tactics, mind you), I finally just told him to keep it last weekend. Said it was the last text I was sending. I’m appalled by the childish behavior, that he’s so scared to even see me when I offered to just pick them up because it’s like $20 to ship anything anymore. Mind you, of course he responded to that text (but not to the cut and dry “please mail me my things, let me know if you need my address” one, idontevenknowyouguys) and gave some excuse and then asked for my address but still the whole process? Ugh. And her mother trolling my Facebook page to “see if I said anything mean about her?” For Pete’s sake. I was willing to put up with the sitting outside and watching the house to see if I was over, mildly suicidal ideations, drunkenly showing up at his house, social media stalking, etc (btw, all of these are classic signs of an actual stalker, FYI) while I was in the relationship, now I’m not and I would very much like left alone. Was it actually her mother? I have no foggy notion; she used to use her mother’s Facebook to stalk us beforehand. Do I want to continue to think about it? No. Truly, I want left alone. I need to recommit to myself and myself alone. I don’t want any more relationship garbage, or long lost loves flying back into my life, or any of it. If this was a book, I’m finished reading it. I’d like to put it down now and not have it be like that book about creatures from Harry Potter.

So, all of that fun nonsense aside, I’m really pushing myself to be even better than I was before November. I signed up for a 5K, have been trying to help and reach out to as many friends as possible (this is symbiotic – I also don’t love being alone), have been really trying to keep improving at work, and joined a gym. And I’m really excited about this gym. Like, typing about it keeps making my eyebrows do this jumpy “are you excited cause I am” thing that kind of freaks me out because I can’t help it. Anyway, it’s called Soldierfit and it’s abso-fucking-lutely bloody-fucking-tastically amazeballs. I can’t believe I just wrote those last three words. It’s a program that’s based around military boot camp drills – but they offer so much more. MMA classes, yoga, kids classes, a regular gym, etc. My friend got into it a few months back and is already working there as a trainer because she’s a. awesome, b. a beast, and c. toootally gets the whole “reinvesting in yourself after a breakup” thing. So I left my old gym and joined Soldierfit and already love it. It’s not just a gym, it’s a family. Everyone is so nice, there’s so much camaraderie, and you can bet your ass that all of the trainers are good looking. Like, do another box jump for me unnng, good looking. That’s some serious motivation right there.

After the break up, I stopped eating and lost almost 15 pounds. I was happy to lose it but not in the way that I did. Once I started eating, I gained about five back. That’s about normal and didn’t really bother me, but I really miss how I felt when I was actually in shape. And I’ve been waxing on about that for years now, which is, at this point, stupid. I know what I have to do to get actual abs back. I know what I have to do to run an 8 minute mile (I’m clearly not a sprinter or anything along those lines, definitely a plodder). This was my very enthusiastic way of finally doing it. And oh dear god, everything is sore. My life is sore. I am so sore. Soreness 4 lyfe. It’ll improve and I’ll get stronger, and for now this pain is a good reminder of why I shouldn’t quit. And man, these functional fitness workouts are awesome. Slamming a mallet into a tire, heaving sandbags (really heavy ones), whipping a 10 pound ball at the wall like a shot put – I love it. I love all of it. Indian runs will likely be the death of me, but I love it. I’m so exhausted afterward, and nauseous, but it feels so good to know that I did it. I’m doing something. And it makes me feel good. Good for me, not good for anyone else. If I look great in a bikini and can be eye candy for others, that’s fine too, but I want to be able to climb ropes and army crawl through mud, flip tires, and do back flips. God, it really feels good to be active again. It feels really really good to start feeling like me again. I’m just starting, but it feels so good.

It’s funny, last year around this time, I’d written a post wherein I’d used a .gif to describe my love life. It was, still apt and perfectly chosen from Bridesmaids, when she raises her champagne glass, looking begrudging. I feel a little differently this time.

No really guys, I got this.

No really guys, I got this.

Fitness assessment tonight before class. I’ll try and post the results.

– a.

In all its glory

Sometimes I stand bowlegged when I hoop. It's normal.

Sometimes I stand bowlegged when I hoop. It’s normal.

This has quite possibly been one of the longest work weeks in the history of work weeks. And I used to work 12 days in a row, so that’s actually pretty impressive. Today is (finally!) my evaluation at the financial firm. After 90 days, they’re supposed to give you an evaluation to bring you on as a permanent member and a raise, I believe, usually comes with that. We were all so busy during tax season and the aftermath that it was put off an extra month but it is today! My boss told me it is going to be the evaluation of the century. I’m so pumped. Fingers crossed for a big raise! And last night, I finally mastered leg hooping. This sounds silly but hooping is just one of those hobbies I have that makes me feel good, no matter what’s going on. And it’s a lot easier on the joints than running.

So, after continuing to fight with feelings of anger and resentment, I gave up the fight last night. When I picked up my things last week from my ex, he forgot a few things. Not super important things but things I wanted, plus money (not much) from the beach trip we planned that he’s currently on with his ex. Well, whatever she is. I feel weird saying “wife” because a wife isn’t someone you break up with and get back together with time and time again. Either way, I reached out and tried to confirm a day for me to get those things – he had said after he got back from the trip – and I received nothing. No response. I texted in the evening to basically say “I am literally asking for an ‘okay/not okay’ response here,” and nothing. So, at the end of the night, I told him to just keep it. This isn’t worth the fight anymore. If he wants to diminish me, he can. It shouldn’t, and doesn’t, mean that I am actually diminished. Part of me wants to still fight, because for all my acceptance and working through the steps of grief blathering, I do still love him. Of course I do, love isn’t fickle as all that. I asked a friend when I would stop hoping that things would eventually work out and she said, “When you fully accept what he did to you, that you never deserved any of it, and him using anything you did to excuse his feelings wasn’t right.” I’m not sure if that’s how it will work, because I can completely embrace that what has happened was none of my doing and that the only thing I need to change is my tendency to see men with baggage as attractive. The only thing I wish I had done differently, not that it would have made a difference, is voicing my unhappiness with her boundary issues a long time ago. I was afraid to step on toes because I recognized that I was ‘the girlfriend’ and exes have a possessiveness about them that even when they don’t want the other anymore, they don’t want anyone else to have them either. And it wasn’t brought up all that often, she was rarely mentioned, because she wasn’t important. But, anyway, I need to stop psychoanalyzing all of it because it won’t help me. Bad habits.

Eventually the anger will fade away completely, I will forgive him, and these will be entries about someone, rather than the one. At least I hope the last part will be true. It’s not easy for me to love, having someone hang himself the day after telling you for the first time will do that to you, and feeling that strongly about anyone scares the living shit out of me. It’s probably why I sought out sex-based relationships that put next to zero emphasis on actual love for years. It’s why I messed up the relationship I did have being unfaithful back when I first started college, and why it took celibacy and A LOT of self-focus to find myself again. I read old DeviantART (OMG I KNOW RIGHT) entries from when I was 17-19 and they were terrifying! I quite literally said this: “if i could drink forever, i probably would, because there’s something about that buzz after the disgusting carbonated pisswater that makes me so calm, so together, so “what i want to be” that i want to keep doing it until i’m dizzy, flying all over the deck and laughing.”

I was SEVENTEEN when I wrote that. And I am truly blessed that I am no longer there. My mind is no longer there. It took a really long time to get there, but it was and always will be so worth it. I also saw all of the toxic awfulness that was my on-again-off-again pseudo-relationship with a man who I now, finally, can consider a friend. Six years of back and forth, sex and screaming, drugs and threats. And I wrote about it, and used NAMES. Even then I wrote “I used to think the sun rose and set on him,” until he and I got into a screaming

My co-worker wrote "Super cool to the max!" along the side.

My co-worker wrote “Super cool to the max!” along the side.

battle wherein he threatened to kill me and I threatened to go to the cops. My life used to BE that! And the other night, he and I had an incredibly long conversation about addiction and loving yourself. And it was healthy, good, and productive. I am thankful that we could achieve that. It made me sad when I had made my amends with him back in January, apologizing for all I contributed to negatively, and telling him I couldn’t be a part of his life anymore. I had also written on the site about how hurt I was that he kept dating other

people but sleeping with me and wondering what was wrong with me, why I wasn’t good enough (back in 2009). Picture reading this while sitting at your desk at work. My eyes were doing this dart-y, “what the fuuuuck” thing where I had so much incredulity and so little ability to express it aloud. Again, I am so lucky and thankful that through all of this, past all of it, I learned to love myself and that I was valuable, and he and I finally came to this happy place of friendship. Also, I need to delete my DeviantART. That shit is embarrassing. It’s like Xanga with more emotions…which is possible.

Dexter the Grievance Eater.

Dexter the Grievance Eater.

I ran across this picture of what we would do in the “Positive Affirmation” group that I ran back at the rehab. I only did it a few times because there was always some asshole who had to write inappropriate things on other people’s papers because…misery loves company I guess but I found it and it made me smile. It’s easily over two years old but still, having a group of people who I barely know and act as an authority to (well, attempted to anyway) say such kind things still makes me warm in the tummy area. I enjoyed participating because it felt just as good to give that many compliments as it did to receive them! You know, I’m still struggling with the whole concept of a higher power because I was raised in an agnostic/atheist home and for most of my life, haven’t really invested much into something specific out there. The spectrum has ranged from praying every day to willfully proclaiming that there is no god. At the end of the day, I just don’t know if there is something or someone out there, but it feels like there is. And whatever it is doesn’t need a name or anything like that from me, all I know is that when I talk to it/him/her/whatever, I feel more at peace than I did before. But tangent aside, I am starting to really believe that this higher power, call it god, does put things into your life when you need them sometimes. I went to bed last night a weird mix of emotions and woke up still feeling weird – seeing it, reading the compliments of people I barely knew and never saw again, made me feel really good. Especially the “demi-goddess” affirmation. Like, yes, exactly. I am. Thank you.

While I don’t miss my old job because it was emotionally exhausting, not the career path I wanted to continue down, and horrible pay for a lot of work, I do miss some of the aspects of it. Getting to know people, helping them, seeing human nature at its most raw always kept me…well entertained at least. But in helping others, I learned a lot about myself and gained a lot of confidence I hadn’t had before. I do miss my co-workers though, we always had a blast. And were always mature. I never had a coworker put on a bra and pretend it was a gun holster and I don’t have a video of it on my phone or anything.

I keep feeling tempted to apologize for waxing poetic so frequently about the goings on of my emotional state in regards to my (past) relationship, but I keep remembering what a sweet friend (and former co-worker!) told me last year when I was down in the dumps: “Have you been writing? You always seem like you’re happier when you’re writing. I think it’s really good for you. Don’t worry what anyone thinks. Don’t regret it. You’re entitled to your feelings and the only reason someone would be angry with you is because they caused them and feel guilty.”

I still wear the necklace he bought me for Valentine’s day. Not because I’m sitting over here pining, but because it’s become familiar and comfortable; I have a tendency to grab for it when I’m thinking. It’s better than biting my nails. My friend told me to take it off and I ended quoting the movie, ironically, “The Other Woman” (which he and I went to see after we got back together the first time). Leslie Mann’s character asks Cameron Diaz when she’ll be ready to take off her wedding ring (okay, obviously BIG difference there – it’s just a necklace) and she says that one day, over time, it will just become a piece of metal and the memories attached will fade. And then she’ll be ready to take it off and won’t think about it. And then, annoyingly, like two minutes later she throws it into the ocean in a fit of faux-feminist glory but still. The quote was meaningful. Then I read this article about being the other woman, which I was not in the beginning but somehow ended up in the end, and one thing stuck out so much: “A man who strings you along for days, months, even years? A man who makes you doubt yourself and makes you feel like it’s reasonable to ask you to “wait” for your love to begin? Girl, that ain’t love. Yes, love is patient, but it’s also kind. It’s NOT kind — in fact, it’s downright cruel — to let you put your life on hold until it’s convenient for him to start reciprocating (and don’t hold your breath for that, either).”

He honored my request to not be strung along, and for that I really am grateful. He didn’t expect me to wait for him, and again, for that I’m really grateful. In his clumsy, messed up way, he does care and doesn’t want to hurt me intentionally. Like I said, maybe one day, but not today. And not anytime soon. And until that day does (or doesn’t) come, I have to be the most important person in my life. And that’s what I’m going to keep trying to do.

– a.

Hanging out of windows and other normal goings-on

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been scared of heights. When I was probably 7 or 8, my family hiked somewhere in Ohio to the top of an overlook and my little brother jokingly pretended to push me. Nothing like a dizzying scare of a couple hundred foot drop to make you feel alive, right? When my family went to Spain in 2009, I had one of the more epic panic attacks I’ve ever had heading from Barcelona to Málaga when the plane hit a rough spot and we had severe turbulence. I remember trying to breathe and also control my bowels at the same time for a solid 10 minutes. It was weird, the 12-16 hour flight over the Atlantic ocean hadn’t freaked me out, but the one hour flight over land ruined my life momentarily. Even now, crawling to the top of that first hill on roller coasters makes my stomach twist – I love roller coasters though.


American Heights overlooking Harper’s Ferry

Sometime in mid-high school, probably junior year, I started hanging out of one of the windows in my bedroom whenever I wanted to clear my head at night. I also used it to illicitly smoke cigarettes because I was a cool 16-year-old, you know, and all that. But for some reason, leaning out the window, breathing in the night air, and watching the world from a different angle calmed me and gave me a different perspective. I’m sure there are plenty of Myspace pictures of it somewhere. You know, those artsy photos you took of yourself before they were called “selfies” and I hated people? I hadn’t thought about that until last night, when at 1 a.m., I found myself leaning out the same window, emptying my head. I had been laying in bed, unable to slow down my thoughts (anyone who ever suffers from occasional insomnia or racing thoughts/anxiety probably gets this), and I didn’t know how to solve it. It was too late to call someone, plus it wasn’t specific to any particular conversational subject, I was already laying down with lights off so I really didn’t want to get up and try to run it out, and I need to actually work on my occasional sleeplessness. Usually I’m out within a few minutes of laying down, and if I’m not, meditation helps. But last night it felt like the meditation speaker was just droning on and on and, not for the first time, I out loud told the recording to “go shut the fuck up”, which is probably not very nice. Or meditative. So, I opened my window, played a song that was stuck in my head, and just breathed.

My bedroom is on the second floor, you see, so draping my arms over the side of the window and looking out doesn’t shove my nose into the bushes (that’s what she said) or anything. As scared of heights as I am, being able to look down when I’m up high makes me feel different. I wanted to write about this afterward last night, knowing it probably makes no sense. What I’ve read about meditation and finding your serenity tells me that things work differently for everyone. Sometimes finding your peace isn’t as simple as just closing your eyes – sometimes it is.

Annapolis Rock in MD

Annapolis Rock in MD

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how often I like to be high. Not in the “pass me that blunt man” sort of way, certainly not anymore anyway, but in the very literal, visceral way of being able to look out and down on everything. That sounds super pretentious but it’s not how it’s meant. I feel very small, very insignificant, when I’m looking out on mountains and valleys with trees that are no bigger than my pinkie nail. And somehow, feeling small makes everything make more sense. Most of my friends know how hyperactive I am – like an energizer bunny who just fell into a bag of cocaine and then went to a rave hyperactive – at times and over the last two years I’ve really found that hiking slows me down. I’ve written about it before, but the first time I hiked in years (I hated it as a kid, bugs are the enemy), I was an out of breath, sweat-stained, “dear god hand me a bag of chips and also a couch” mess. Well, I’ve lost 25 pounds since graduating from college (I KNOW RIGHT WHAT THE HELL), greatly improved my diet and sleeping patterns, and really fallen in love with running and hiking. Trail running is one of my favorite things to do, even though it kills my knees and I can’t very often. Something about being completely alone in nature, pushing myself while also enjoying myself, makes me feel most like myself. After getting lost (AGAIN) at Sugarloaf Mtn in Maryland and accidentally hiking 4 miles before hitting the summit again, I plopped down on a rock and just looked out. There was one other man there, an older guy with a moustache that could rock the world, doing the exact same thing. After a few minutes, he caught my eye and gave me this “yeah, you too?” head nod, which I reciprocated, and we went back to just looking, feeling, and not thinking. Or at least I did, maybe he was plotting his wife’s death I’m not really sure, but I’d like to think he was doing the same as me.

American Heights by Harpers Ferry

Appalachian Trail

Running is hard for me due to lower back and hip problems, hopefully which will be resolved sooner rather than later thanks to my parents practically forcing me to go get tests done. After about two miles, my hip hurts so bad that I have to stop and stretch it. Even hiking will flair it up, though stopping to stretch on a trail gives me a view. Last year, when I was dealing with rejection and sadness, I tried to quite literally run away from it. It helped, but 45 minutes is only 45 minutes and sometimes I need to spend an entire afternoon losing myself. Hiking gives me that. I started writing this with the intention of talking about the weird paradox of my hatred of heights and the necessity of feeling high (again, not via substance) to find inner peace. I’m not kidding about my fear, sitting in the top row of movie theaters has made me uncomfortable. I was taken to a Phillies game last month and was near hyperventilation for the first half hour, and then anytime I actually focused on the game.

So, in a complete set of contrasts, heights make my stomach flip and make me feel all too mortal and that’s bad…but also good. Because sometimes I need to humanize myself, center myself, and let myself just be for a while. I’ve always been very in my own head, wanting to over-analyze everything to better understand it (that Psych degree makes sense now, doesn’t it?), not feeling satisfied without answers. I saw a comic wherein a psychologist is interviewing someone and says, “Ever fantasize about about locking 100 babies in a plain white room at birth and then returning after 10 years to see what they’re like?” The interviewee responds, “No! Dear God no!” and below it reads, “I could tell immediately that he wasn’t cut out for developmental psych research.” I couldn’t help but laugh when I read it because I’ve wondered countless times what would happen if humans were taken completely out of society from that age – would it be all Lord of the Flies or Brave New World? Little known fact, I was Sam in a local acting class’s production of the former mentioned story. Yes, it was supposed to be an all male cast. No, you will never find an all male cast of teenagers willing to take acting classes and no, it made no sense.

In PA...honestly I forget where. By one of the lakes.

In PA…honestly I forget where. By one of the lakes.

But, anyway, it helps. No matter what mood I’m in, standing on an overlook, staring down at the world will always make me feel alive. It’s not totally out there I suppose; for about 10 years I had every intention of becoming an astronaut. I mean, for real. I was going to space. I still wonder if I should’ve kept that goal, but then I sit in the last row of a movie theater and think, “Mmm…probably for the best.”

I love that something that scares me also inspires me.

– a.


Breathing through it

The unexpected response from my last post has left my overwhelmed with gratitude – I have amazing, truly amazing, friends. One of the comments left on my blog page (Meg Mac) had me near tears. I don’t know what I did to deserve such kindness and caring from others, but I’m blessed to receive it. I wrote that for me to finally get my feelings down. To accept the pain, instead of running from it. It’s not easy, I have ups and downs and I’m embarrassed by it because I pride myself on being a strong, independent person. So to feel so much because of one person makes me feel very powerless. It’s hard. Especially when I don’t know, at the end of the day, if the other person is able to just forget everything. That makes me feel even more powerless, you know?

On Saturday, I impulsively went with a friend to get a tattoo at this place I’d never been before in my college town. Ever since I was probably 19, I wanted a tattoo on my ribs. I knew it was one of the more painful places to get one, I knew it could be more expensive (the one on my neck, $60 I believe, would have been $200 on my ribs!), I knew that I would see it all of the time. The choice changed over the years from a quote, to a dove, to a phoenix, to a phoenix and a dove, to a phoenix, a dove, and a quote (okay, now I’m kidding), to a list of other various things that never stuck. But the last few months I’ve been very sure I wanted one there and knew I wanted something that related to spirituality and balance. I ended up laying, shirt off in all of my semi-sheer running pants glory, with a young guy gouging into my skin for 45 minutes. And holy hell, did it hurt. I have multiple tattoos and piercings, I’m no newcomer to the pain, but when that needle hit the underside of “the goods”, it took all of the breathing exercises I knew to not tense up or move. Darlanna, my friend who’d gone with and already received her inked gifts, resorted to one-finger petting my shoulder. Apparently my face is not as stoic as I assume when facing acute pain.

But anyway, I had been laying there, wondering where on the 1-10 How Peeved Am I Scale my parents were going to land for this tattoo, and trying to follow what another friend had suggested during rib tattoos – breathing with the artist. It involves deep inhalations while the needle isn’t in your skin (that line made me cringe, not going to lie), and as he was tattooing, exhaling very slowly and steadily so as to not move too much too quickly. The last thing I wanted from my surprise excursion was a shaky kindergarten scribble decorating my side for the rest of my life. It wasn’t easy, there was a good looking guy stabbing me with an ink-filled needle and loud, raucous music eliminating my ability to focus. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the raucous music. I downloaded it when I got home, but when you’re trying to reach a state of zen, any state or sub-state of zen, it’s rather impossible with sliding guitars in the background. I digress.

Doing that, trying to breathe with and through the pain rather than clenching my body and curling further into the fetal position (or falling to the floor, which I felt like doing for a few minutes there), helped immensely. I read an article about how people are only taught to breathe when facing great pain – like women in labor – but the benefits of breathing exercises are innumerable. Yoga and meditation first helped me understand that, though I can openly admit I still struggle with it and find myself holding my breath when expecting pain. I breathed and then it was over and I was filled with lightness (also known as endorphins) and was ecstatic. Thinking about it last night, I realized that the experience had other real world applications.

I woke up this morning in a bad place. It’s Tuesday, I stayed up entirely too late watching Gilmore Girls (Team Jess forever and all that), I still have to peel my ribs off of the sheets because I have a tattoo healing and apparently I like sleeping on it, and I’m sad. Not devastatingly sad, not world-ending sad, not oh-god-hide-the-butter-knives sad…just sad. And hopefully, as today goes on, that’ll pass and I’ll distract myself with more important things and feelings, but right now I feel heavy. Not literally heavy, mind you, I’ve lost almost 20 pounds since the break up. Not healthy, no, but do I look awesome? Yes. I’ll accept it as positive collateral damage. Does that exist? I need more sleep.

If you ever want to make yourself very aware of the passing of time, troll your own Facebook. Look at what you’ve said. It’s like the world’s most public diary, for some more than others. I try not to post too many emotional things to Facebook (Twitter, etc etc) because…well, it’s not everyone’s business. Some people like posting shit about how miserable they are, how badly they were hurt, and so on but I really try not to. I usually end up regretting things I’ve shared in moments of strong emotion. But, anyway, I looked back and saw way too much that made me sadder. I have that tendency, to fully accept an emotion I drag myself more deeply into it so that I can really feel it. There’s a slight possibility I’m a masochist. But there was this status I had posted about being taken care of when I was sick and a comment from him saying that he loved me and would always take care of me. Fuck, that hurt. And then I promptly wanted to kick myself because all I was doing was twisting the knife. Of course he said that, and probably meant it, but he doesn’t now and it is not fucking healthy to wish anything otherwise.

I spoke with a friend last night on the phone at length, first about the over-medication of our generation (um, because for real you guys, it should be talked about), but then about part of what I had written. I went on and on because I have a tendency to do that when highly caffeinated but I also said things important for me to let sink in: I am right in how I feel. It is okay for me to be conflicted, angry, hurt, lonely, and sad. It’s okay to not be sure what the right choice is. It’s okay to miss him. It’s okay to wonder. And there’s nothing wrong with playing out the millions of conversations (most of them involving yelling) I would have liked to have had. But, though those feelings are perfectly okay and I should let myself feel them, I need to play the reel all the way through and acknowledge that for all he’s said, even last week, it is not right, okay, fair, or acceptable to let someone put me in a one-sided relationship. I deserve far more respect than to be told all of these things I want to hear and not have the actions reciprocate. You want to keep me in your life? Okay. Answer the goddamn phone when I text you, not when I get angry about it. I am not, nor will I let myself be, someone who stays hidden in the background of someone else’s life. It would be doing a disservice not only to myself, but to him, to let him believe that it is okay to hold onto someone without actually being willing to be an active part of their life. Relationships, no matter what kind, are a two-way street. I know his past is littered with people, especially the woman he’s with right now, who have let him believe that it’s okay to treat someone like that and they’ll just come back and push down and try to forget everything. I can’t do that to him, or myself.

I keep trying to tense up, like I normally do, to this pain. I keep trying to block it out, or ignore it, when it does come and pretend like I can shed that kind of love like a winter coat. But to forget that the same winter coat kept me warm when it was cold outside it to damn myself to repeat the same mistakes. I’m like the kid who curls over and tries to let the dodge ball hit my shoulder instead of my head when I should be reaching out and attempting to catch it. I am no less accepting than I was the other night of anything, but I am also trying to be more aware of myself. Accepting pain doesn’t mean not feeling it. It means taking that deep breath and exhaling slowly and feeling it, all of it. I can compare it to anyone’s break up I want to try to make myself feel guilty, but that won’t make the pain less. Trying to shame myself for hurting won’t solve the hurt. Then I’ve just added shame to the hurt and oh wow, can you say downward spiral?

Every day I miss him. Every day, at least once, something happens and it reminds me of him or makes me want to reach out. I have never ever felt this way, and it’s weird, because I compared my post to the last post I wrote regaling that last time someone dumped me, so to speak, which was exactly a year before. Like same week and everything, how’s that for shit luck? But, I compared it and found almost stunning similarities in my mindset. I reassured myself last year that I shouldn’t want to be with someone that doesn’t respect me. And that’s difficult, because he did respect me…until he didn’t. So it’s okay to miss him, it’s okay to want to talk to him and wonder if he has thought about me or if he is as conflicted about it all as he’s said, but it’s not okay to pretend like I’m in any state of being to forgive and accept what he’s done. That would be impulsive, codependent, toxic, and cruel (to me). To act like all of this isn’t effecting me would be a lie. To continue to put myself in a position wherein I feel like someone’s second choice, whether I am or not (let’s face it, he made me that), is cruel. If he really can’t live without me, if he is as messed up over all of this as he’s said, he’s just as capable of picking up the phone and telling me the things he sees that made him think of me.

Today, my tattoo is still tender, scabbed, and healing. My mom poked it, because sometimes she thinks things are a good idea that are just not, and it still hurt intensely. The rest of me feels very similarly, but I think the most important word is the last one: Healing. It is healing, I am healing. I am still tender, hurt, confused, and sad. I am very, very sad. But, I am healing.


Cue Rocky Theme

So, it’s been over six months since my last post. I have no excuses, I just had preoccupations. I thought so regularly about wanting to post, even planned posts, but when it came down to actually sitting down and typing…I found myself not finding the time. Not making the time, really. A lot of things have happened for me since August 2013. I quit smoking (again) in September and have not had a cigarette for almost six months. I really committed to it this time and found a voice I had stuffed away in regards to friends smoking around me. And I quit cold turkey.

Holy crap, you guys. That wasn’t fun. Four days of bargaining, irritation, mood swings, cravings, headaches…awful. But afterward I was pleasantly surprised by how little I ever found myself craving one. And how rarely I even think about it now. It’s great.

I messed up some part of my hip/lower back (still not sure) pretty badly in August. I went to the doctor and he diagnosed it as the ever-feared “tweak of the back” that you’re always terrified of hearing. If you can’t hear my sarcasm, let me show you:

hangovergif Shortly after ‘diagnosing’ me, he made a grotesquely creepy comment about how flexible I am. Needless to say, I am never going back there ever again. Unfortunately, I still deal with almost daily pain and what could possibly be reoccurring hip dislocation…or something. I guess I’ll never know. Then, overcompensating, I pulled a muscle behind my left knee.

Basically, I haven’t been running. Or hiking. But on the plus side, I picked up hooping (yes, hula hooping) and have slowly been making progress with that. I’m still doing yoga, though admittedly, I’ve really fallen off with it recently. I used to hoop outside when the weather was nice or do yoga inside in an empty group room on my breaks at work.

Speaking of work, I no longer work at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center (!). While I wish I could have left on different terms with a few people, I have never received so much love and well wishes after leaving a job. I’ll miss my co-workers all deeply. The job itself? Not so much. Working so closely for so long in an often times thankless job is extremely draining physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s funny, I’d searched for a new job for six months while working there, but after I left (without a job set up), it only took me 15 days to have not one, but two job offers. I ended up taking an administrative job at a financial advising firm. Perhaps some things are just supposed to happen.


My reaction the first time sushi was presented to me for free.

I’m working much closer to home, 8:30-5 M-F, don’t have to worry about my dress clothes getting torn in a restraint, and have yet to have someone yell at me or call me a bitch…so all around positive transition. I’ve been there for almost two months now and I really like it. My co-workers are wonderful, friendly, and competent and hey…they buy me sushi. Big fan. I’m excited to see how this job progresses from here.

I’ve gotten really into meditation, some weeks more than others. But I have to tell you, it really does work wonders. I have one of those minds that runs on overdrive all of the time. As in constantly. I worry and nit pick and over-analyze. I’m super sensitive sometimes. Okay, all the time. But I’m aware of it and taking time to quiet my mind and just focus on being on a regular basis really helps to ground me. If that sounds like you, definitely try it.

Lastly, my love life. For a long time after Manthing, I didn’t see anyone. I didn’t want to, I knew it wouldn’t be healthy for me to try and get involved emotionally…or even physically. Which, if you know me, is a pretty big deal. So I worked on myself, built myself back up, swallowed the bitter pill of rejection (and then pettiness) and moved on with life. I haven’t gone back and read my last few posts yet because I don’t really need to delve back into the mind state I was in/getting through. In November, I (technically) re-met a guy from years before, who I’d known in slightly unconventional way. A while later, we started talking and it became romantic. I don’t think either of us expected it, I know I didn’t, but one day we both just dropped our walls and there the other person stood. He isn’t a Manthing, or Manfriend, or Friend-Who-I-Sleep-With-But-Don’t-Have-Set-Guidelines-With-Regarding-Our-Relationship or any other term from today’s hook up culture. He’s my, as childish as it sounds, boyfriend. Bfriend. My man. Like, whoa boy there’s a commitment there, boyfriend.

It’s not always super easy. He’s going through a lot of transitions in his life (divorce being one…never fun, always sad) and while he has a wonderful support network of friends and (most) of his family, he’s had a lot of bumps in the road. But I see this spark in his eye, this constant unwillingness to give up, and this strength of character that I have rarely seen in someone young. By young, I mean 27. He makes me laugh so hard, tests my patience (necessary), cleans up after me and let’s me clean up after him…like actual cleaning with vacuums, tells me the sweetest things all of the time (not just after we argue), and kisses me like it’s the first time every time. I’m constantly amazed by how steadfast he is, how imperfect (in a good way), how honest. I know that I am a very lucky recipient of him, all of him. And I’m very thankful. And the best part?

I didn’t lose myself. Have you ever fallen for someone (like I have before) and it’s not…really right? But you want it to be so you do everything in your power to make it right? You agree with things you disagree with, you never compromise only give in, you don’t say what’s really on your mind. You just hope that eventually, it’ll be right and you won’t have that nagging feeling that it’s not. I have felt that many times. And I stop doing everything that I love so as to make room for what ‘he’ would want me to love (aka how I feel I should change to be more worthy of someone’s love…not healthy btw!). I never once have felt that way with him.

Somehow this is an accurate depiction of my relationship.

Somehow this is an accurate depiction of my relationship.

When I feel like I need to say something, I say it. Sometimes we disagree. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes he apologizes, sometimes I do, mostly we both do. I still have the solitude I need, time with my friends, hobbies I can do all on my own. And ditto right back to him. The best part? While the future, of course, looks very bright, I don’t feel like I have to focus on it. I can focus on now, today. It’s a wonderful thing.

But one of the main reasons that I found myself writing today, other than purely missing writing, sharing with others, and being a part of the blogging community, is because I fell off of the wagon. So hard. And by wagon, I mean that I’ve gained some weight. I don’t know how much, probably just enough for it to be considered new relationship weight, but I’m not okay with it. It’s not even the weight number itself that bothers me, it’s the fact that I feel out of shape. I miss the way I felt when I was running and using my muscles regularly. I don’t want to be teeny tiny…at all. I want my quads back. So, back on the wagon of healthy food intake, regular exercise output, lots of picking things up and putting them down, and super dee duper accountability I go. This blog’s format won’t change much; I still like talking about things and stuff more so than online calorie counting, but a big part is going to be this transition. Which involves me admitting that I have slacked so very hard. Ice cream all the time. Chips chips chips. Everything must go…into my tummy. Immediately. While I don’t drink alcohol much anymore (byproduct of dating someone who doesn’t drink), which I’m actually a pretty big fan of, I have been consuming astonishing amounts of dairy products. Mostly cheese. And my stomach has been yelling at me so hard.

So tomorrow, I’m weighing myself. And posting it here. And going to the gym that I have been unknowingly paying $30 a month for these last three months when I thought my membership had ended and they just snuck themselves right on into my wallet. So, hello again! I’m excited to be back. Woohoo!


Boyfriend and me at the bowling alley.

Boyfriend and me at the bowling alley.