Saturday, February 18, 2017

I'm getting the message. It's totally clear. I really gotta get out of here.

Last night, my mother told me she still sees me as a kid, not an adult.

Like, she insisted I'm still a kid. Straight to my face. When I'm 24 years old.

I've often felt like she treats me and talks to me like I'm still a teenager, but this is the first time she's ever actually confirmed it. And then she had the nerve to get annoyed when she realized I was angry about it.

She either doesn't understand or doesn't care why what she said is disrespectful and hurtful, so she's yet to apologize to me, so I've stayed in my room the entire day and completely ignored her because I'm not going to pretend that she can say crap like that to me and then just expect me not to be hurt by it. I've taken care of her day in and day out for the past six months, and she thinks I'm not supposed to be hurt when she tells me she doesn't see me as an adult.

But you know, if there's one good thing about this, it's made me realize just how long I've spent seeking validation from her and just how utterly stupid that is. I was hiding rejection letters I'd gotten from her because I was so worried about her being disappointed in me, and now I'm like, so what? Her opinion doesn't change anything. I don't owe her success. I don't owe her an update on everything I do. I don't owe her explanations. I don't owe her the right to lecture me about how I could be "better," especially considering the state of my sisters' lives. My worth has zero reliance on what she thinks or feels (or anyone else, for that matter).

This whole thing the past 24 hours has just reiterated the fact that I have to get out of here. I have to get away from my selfish, dysfunctional family and be my own person, so they stop thinking they have control of me and I stop forgetting who I am outside of them. That's the largest part of why I'm so scared these last schools I'm waiting to hear back from are going to say no; because I can't stay here. I have to get out of here. I have to be on my own.

I've spent my entire life fighting through things no one should have to, proving friends, enemies, neighbors, teachers, schoolmates, doctors, family, and even myself wrong. I'm not going to sit back and let anyone, especially my mother, tell me that that doesn't make a difference, tell me who I am.

I've got God for that, thanks.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sometimes you just need to hear the words.

Dude. Real talk?

Most of yesterday sucked.

I got another PhD rejection letter which, so far, brings the total to 4 rejections and 0 acceptances, which, you know, is just fantastic for a girl's self-esteem.

I wasn't in a good mood because, well, Valentine's Day. And I was in pain.

Mom's been super, super sick lately.

So it just felt like everything was gonna go wrong.

And then I decided to do something that would make me feel good but also make other people feel good, too, so I sent video messages to three of my favorite guys. That alone made my mood perk up a good bit, but then I got a response from one of them that honestly turned my whole day around.

There's something about hearing the words, "You know I love you. I always do. I always will," that just brings such peace to my soul sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I'm always very much a words of affirmation person, but there are certain times more than others where hearing the words really calms me down, and yesterday was one of those times. It's really hard for me to be so far away from everyone that I love, and because Mom's so sick, my relationship with her has been tense and stressful and distant, so I've really felt like I have no one. But getting the message I did from my brother, it came at exactly the right time to remind me that even though there's no one physically near me, I am not alone. I am so crazy loved.

So for the rest of the day (and let's be honest, a good portion of today), I've replayed that video as many times as I need or want just to make myself smile and remind myself of the truth, of how lucky I am to have this love in my life.

Because there's nothing wrong with just needing to hear the words.

(And then Matt came over for a few minutes last night, so I really got a special treat on top of my day turning around.)

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

We can be heroes.

I just finished binge watching CSI: Miami yesterday, because now that my applications are basically done and my feet are in such bad shape that I don't walk much, that's what my life has resorted to. I loved the show (because I love pretty much all crime shows) (also, hello, Adam Rodriguez!), but there's one scene from one of the last episodes that has stuck in my head. In it, Calleigh, one of the CSIs, explains to the son of the episode's victim exactly why his dad was a hero. And it hit me hard because that's a conversation that I've sat through more than once.

I've been called a hero before, by multiple people. It never made sense to me when they said it, it sort of made sense after they explained why they said it, but in general, I don't really get it. I will be the first one to tell you that I am not any more special than anyone else. I just happen to have a really weird life story and be absurdly stubborn.  That stubbornness in the midst of my really weird life appears to others as courage, even though I'm terrified more often than not. But people think I'm courageous, and that's something to admire, I guess, so the fact that I haven't given up in the middle of...all of this...makes people take notice.

Calling me a hero, though? No, still don't understand it. I'm just trying to survive, same as everyone else. My sheer will to survive doesn't feel like it's me having "special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities" or a reason for me to be a role model. I just don't know how to be any different. And this blog post isn't me trying to pull out some false humility to get sympathy or compliments or whatever; that scene with Calleigh and that kid reminded me of the times that people have said that to me and it's been hard for me to hear and process just like it was for that kid. (All this about a TV show. Ha.)

I think, in the end, we're all looking for someone we can call our hero. Aside from, you know, complete narcissists, we know that we can be better and look for people we can view as an ideal version of a person. We're a mix of constantly questioning whether we're good enough and constantly seeking self-improvement, and we need to find these people to look up to in order to believe that being better is actually possible. For me, my hero and role models give me hope that when the world seems to all be going to hell, there are still good, admirable people out there.

And if I can be that hope for someone else, then I'm good with being called a hero. Even if it doesn't always make sense to me.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

For however long this lasts.

Whether it's for the next 1461 days or 2922 (God forbid), as long as Trump is in the White House, this right here is my life mantra.

I won't stop, because this man is now in the Oval Office and we're all in danger. I don't care who is in his Cabinet or in Congress, I will fight for justice and equality for ALL. There are more of us than there are of them, and it's more important now that we protect each other than it's been in a long time. We need each other. The only thing that will overpower the hate the Trump administration represents is loving people. Love people harder and stronger and louder than they hate, and we'll win. Let's get to work.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

No, I'm not watching the Inauguration tomorrow.

Anybody who knows me knows that I am an extremely passionate person, especially when it comes to politics. I have very strong opinions, and I will discuss and debate anything with anyone, no matter how much or how little we agree on. I've followed American national politics, and particularly presidential elections, since I was 8 years old and George W. Bush was elected; once I watched that election night, I never stopped. And I don't regret it for a second. I love this country, I love politics, and I love what I do. (If I didn't, I wouldn't have racked up so many student loans to get my Master's!)

But no. I'm not watching the Inauguration tomorrow, and I don't really care if you agree with that choice or not. I've long accepted the fact that in less than 19 hours, Trump will be our president, but after everything that has happened in the past year and a half, even more so in the two months since the election, I can't sit back and celebrate giving the nation's highest office to a man who has shown so little regard not just for so many different groups of American citizens, but for US democracy and government as a whole.

I can't honor a man who has shown greater respect for Russia's dictator than for the CIA.

I can't esteem a man who accused a Congressman known for being a civil rights activist who got his skull fractured by police in Selma of being "all talk and no action."

I can't rejoice over the new presidency of a man who has hidden so much from the people he is meant to serve.

I can't be excited about the start of the term of a man who lies even when proof is on tape and then lies about having lied, about everything from small, personal things to huge, nation-changing problems.

Some may say that we should give the new president the benefit of the doubt, that we should give him a chance, but Trump hasn't earned that. Trump blew his opportunity for a second chance from me when he sided with and praised Putin over the US, and then compared the CIA to Nazi Germany.

When his supporters immediately started harassing and assaulting people and vandalizing property after the election because he had glorified racism, hatred, and violence.

When he insisted he never mocked a disabled reporter even though every news outlet in existence his video proof.

When he picked a guy deemed by the Senate too racist to be a judge as Attorney General, the President of Goldman Sachs - a company he criticized for hurting the working class - to run the White House National Economic Council, a guy against raising the minimum wage to a livable standard to run the Department of Labor, and the CEO of ExxonMobil with a $500 billion deal in Russia to be Secretary of State.

He, along with the help of his chief sycophants, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, are creating a plan to systematically dismantle the protections Obama's administration created for me and people that I love. I will lose my health insurance if the ACA repeal is immediate, which could actually kill me. Holly will lose her access to care when they attack Planned Parenthood. My LGBT+ friends are on the verge of being reduced to second-class citizens again. My friends who are teachers are risking having their whole lives upended because Trump's Education Secretary doesn't support public education.

This isn't about my party losing. This isn't me being a "snowflake" (as one obnoxious, racist commentator likes to say). This is real life that people who support and voted for Trump don't seem to get, that Trump and the GOP don't seem to care about, and the fact is that I'm not going to sit and waste my time watching as the country celebrates a man who proved long before his Inauguration that his loyalty does not lie with this country. It lies with himself.

My love for this country has nothing to do with the person in the Oval Office, anyway. Actually, it might even be stronger now that Obama is leaving and we are being faced with a man who gladly terrifies so many people. My love for this country is rooted in the people I know. In their lives, their stories, their families. In the goodness I've seen from strangers in the midst of danger or intense evil. In the glimmers of hope we can see when this country actually unites after a tragedy. It stands in the hope that though this feels like a setback, that after Trump is out of the White House, this country will be able to put itself back on a moral path that I can't possibly expect to see with Trump. My love for this country is what has kept me from giving up since November 8th, and it's what will keep me fighting for love and justice for all for however many years we have to deal with Trump as president.

Do I love my country? You bet I do.

Am I going to keep praying for my leaders? Now more than ever.

Am I going to celebrate and watch as an unqualified, vindictive, terrifyingly hateful man who has lied his way to the top of the government takes over? Not a chance.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

One Word: 2017

Coming up with my "One Word" choices has, surprisingly, never been difficult for me. I say "surprisingly" because you would think deciding on one word would be difficult for someone as indecisive as me. But year after year, the word just pops in my head before the end of the year and I instinctively know that's what it needs to be. Thanks, God.

This year was no different. When looking back on 2016, I realized that I hadn't been taking good care of myself. I'd been going through the motions, working day by day with a constant running to-do list in my head, thinking more about what had to be done instead of how to make sure I was strong enough to get everything done well. In hindsight, it's no wonder I was so exhausted. So when this year's word came to my mind, it made perfect sense.

Beyond that, though, one recurring theme of my therapy sessions, especially in the past couple of months, is how I am absolutely terrible at putting myself or any of my needs before those of the people around me. I'm not saying I want to become this selfish, inconsiderate person in 2017, but I'm realizing that part of taking care of myself is learning when my wellbeing needs to be more of a priority than my desire to take care of everyone else around me. Too often I catch myself feeling worn down because what I need and want has been overshadowed by what I've convinced myself I have to do for someone else. Being selfless is a good thing, but not when it comes at the expense of your own mental and emotional health. I need to find a balance between taking care of everyone else, like is my nature, and taking care of myself, too.

So then, I started thinking about the ways in which I wanted to take better care of myself, and the more I thought about it, the more it came down to two separate areas: emotional/spiritual health, and physical health.

I mentioned the former in my Year in Review post. One of my major goals of this year is to teach myself the discipline of daily Bible reading. I have been a fraud in that area, to be honest, and I realized that it's because the Bible just overwhelms me. But I have the Seamless study from Angie Smith that I'm going to start with, and try my very best to get into a pattern of truly seeking the Lord and growing in my relationship with Him. I know that that is the best healing that I can possibly find. I remember the first time that I had lunch with Reafe. We were talking about the bullying I had experienced in the past and he straight out said to me, "Are you close to God? Because if you're close to God, if you read the Bible, what everyone else says won't matter. You won't care." Well, it's taken me three years, so I'd say it's long past time I do something about it.

Second is my physical health. The past couple months, I've been getting better about portion control, so I've slowly been losing weight, which has been encouraging. (I think it may also be related to the fact that I've been taken off a couple of my medications.) But because my seizures were such a mess while I was still in New York and it was too physically difficult and dangerous there, and I've been so exhausted and slightly depressed since I got back to NC, I haven't been attempting any exercise. That's going to change, too. I'm just going to walk around my neighborhood, something simple but still exercise, free, that will get me in fresh air. And I also cut out soda as of yesterday. I'd been drinking a lot of ginger ale in New York and Coke since I got back to NC; no more. I'm not going to set up goals of "I want to lose x pounds by the end of the year" because I'm such a perfectionist that I'll feel really defeated if it doesn't happen at the rate necessary to reach that goal. I'm just going to start with these goals and see where that leads.

So I don't know if you could tell, but my One Word for 2017 is

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017. Another day, another year.

2017, nice to meet you.

I did absolutely nothing last night aside from seeing Matt. I did absolutely nothing today. So even though it's New Year's Day, it doesn't really feel much different than any other day.

No exciting words to share. Just ready for another year.

Let's get to it, shall we?

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: A Year In Review

I don't even know where to begin when trying to recap this year. So I'll start with what I said on Facebook and Instagram, and maybe that will inspire me.

"2016 was nothing like I thought it would be. It was harder than I expected, more exhausting than I expected, had more tears than I hoped it would, and broke my heart more times than I knew was possible. But you know what? It also brought the start of a new chapter, built new relationships, helped me restore and strengthen some of the ones that matter most, gave me memories I wouldn't ever give back, taught me more about who I am and the person I want to be to others, and showed me how to love harder each and every day. So no, 2016 hasn't been my favorite year, but it's brought lessons and experiences that are part of the greater picture of my life. I learned a while ago that I want God to write my story, so here's to seeing what He has in store for 2017."

And really, 2016 was not a very good year for me. But it wasn't all bad. Even though my seizures were a mess, I still got my freaking Master's degree, with Honors, and it was a semester by semester struggle to pay for it and get through it. Even though I lost two of my best friends, I restored one of those broken friendships, made new friends, and strengthen old relationships. Even though I had to leave NYC and wasn't happy about it, it turned out to be a good thing I could be here to take care of Mom, I got to see some of my soccer boys play, and I've gotten to spend more time with Matt. I guess age is providing me with some perspective. Go figure.

I know I've had much harder years than this (hello, brain surgeries), but for some reason, I've felt much more tired than I have in recent memory. That's why I've stopped blogging with any regularity. It's like I'm so tired I've not only run out of things to say, I just don't have the motivation or concern to even try to say anything. The stress from so many different things and so many new things on top of the things that already stressed me out in previous years just wore me down to the point of utter exhaustion.  Here's hoping I find some rejuvenation in this new year. If I get into a PhD program, I'm certainly going to need it.

That's why I pretty much failed at the mission I put my behind my "One Word": enough. In short, the mission was two-fold in that I wanted to boost my self-confidence and grow closer to God. The first part was more successful than the second. I went on my first real dates and finally had some new experiences with guys. I figured out that maybe my friends maybe do have a clue what they're talking about when they constantly say that a guy can actually find me beautiful. But I think those things, combined with the previously mentioned exhaustion, stood in the way of me growing close to God like I wanted to and placing my self-esteem in what God says about me rather than my relationship status or attention from guys. I want to be different. That's why one of the goals I am focusing on in 2017 is to teach myself the discipline of daily Bible reading. I don't do that like I should, despite the fact that in my gut I know that it's the only way to truly deepen my relationship with the Lord. I want that. I need that. I believe the self-confidence will naturally come with that. There are some other goals that I'll talk about in my 2017 One Word post, but this is the main one.

Ha, I just at my 2015 Year In Review post and realized that I started that by saying 2015 was nothing like I expected, either. That seems to be the overwhelming theme of my life, especially since I graduated high school. For all the ways I dream of my life going and expect it to go, God usually goes in an extremely different direction. And more often than not, I don't like it at the time, but looking back, I can see why it was a good thing and the right thing, and I'm reminded that everything really is so much better when I don't fight God being in control of my life. Let's see if I can remember that should I be rejected from all of these new PhD programs.

I don't have a clue what this next year is going to hold, just like most of the events of this year took me by surprise. And year after year, I find myself becoming more and more okay with that.

I got to see Matt tonight (and on Christmas Eve, which is when this picture is from), so considering the only other things happening today were errands, a basketball game, and a football game, that was a pretty awesome ending to 2016 for. Check out my Instagram if you want to see a collage I posted, complete with a cheesy caption, about the two of us.

Happy New Year, friends. May peace, love, and joy cover you and yours no matter what this new chapter brings. I love you.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit!

It was far too long to go without getting to hug this fella.

It really, really sucks only getting to see your best friend once a year, but when you do get to see them, it's Christmas morning levels of excitement.

Wednesday afternoon, Mom drove me to meet Clayton at the same Smithfield's that Mommom and I met him at last Christmas. It's a pretty accurate halfway point, and we both love their barbecue, so win-win.

We got there at about 1:15, and he and I sat there and talked straight until 3:00 when he knew that he had to leave to get home for a family dinner. We spent half the time discussing theology, because that's what happens with us, but honestly, it was just so perfect. Yes, we talk quite often on text and FaceTime, but it's just not the same as getting to actually see them in person and hug him.

After everything that's been going on with Mom, and me, and the family, and school applications, and everything else, this was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. When I talked to my therapist that night, I even told him such, that for the first time in a long, long time, I felt truly peaceful. What sweet relief from everything else that has been happening.

(The title is this hilarious Southern saying he taught me.)

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Reality of Chronic Pain

I woke up in severe pain today, much more pain than I was in yesterday, and with no explanation. Most people would probably be confused as to why this happened, but at this point in my life, it's something I'm quite used to. When you live with chronic pain, days sometimes throw really awful surprises at you.

When your pain flares up, the simplest things require giving yourself pep talks, from sitting up in bed to standing up to go to the bathroom.

When your pain flares up, you want to sleep to get away from it, but your body won't let you sleep because you can't get comfortable in one position for very long.

When your pain flares up, your joints get stiff and beg to be moved, but moving them hurts so badly that you're scared to do it.

When your pain flares up, you lay still trying to rest while stressing about everything you should be doing that day.

When your pain flares up, every single step is a calculated move.

When your pain flares up, you have to decide what is worth getting up and moving for.

When your pain flares up, you sometimes forget what it feels like not to be in that much pain.

When your pain flares up, you practice putting on a face around others so everyone you see believes that you're okay and won't worry.

You learn not to talk about it because you don't want to sound like you're complaining. And that's not what I'm intending to do here. I just want people to understand that there are a lot of illnesses and health conditions that you can't see that still do exist. There are plenty of people suffering on a daily basis who push their pain to the side and out of other people's view because they don't want it to become other people's problems.

Here's the truth: I do that on a pretty much daily basis. People think I deal with this stuff so well, and that I seem to have my stuff together more than most, but I don't. Trust me. I really, really don't. I just learned how to hide it years ago when I came to the realization that this pain wasn't going away. I used to hide it because I didn't want it to define me, because I don't want it to hold me back. Then, it became more that I hid it because I finally had real friends and I didn't want to annoy them or make them feel sorry for me. I wanted to be normal, even though I knew that I really never would be.

I hurt. All day every single day. Some days more than others. That is just the reality. I've spent so long hiding it and plastering a smile on my face on the bad days, and I'm at the point where I just don't want to do that anymore. Not because I want pity; please, whatever you do, don't start pitying me. I don't want to pretend anymore. I don't want people to think I have my life under control. Sometimes it feels like life is controlling me.

Do I recognize that I still have plenty of blessings in my life? Yep. You bet I do. It's those blessings that keep me going. But those blessings don't make this part of my life suck any less. And I know I'm not the only one like this, but I can only share my story, and if my story can help spread some empathy in the world, then at least it will do some good.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." - Wendy Mass

I wanted to make this post more eloquent, but well, reality isn't always pretty, so here you go.

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