I don't care who you are or where you're from: some days are just going to be hard to the point that your brain shivers a little in your head and refuses to cope with any other incoming information. It's the mental version of overeating at Thanksgiving but because your mind is not able to put on your stretchy pants to accomodate the emotional and psychological equivalent of far too many mashed potatoes, you make room in other ways. Maybe you shut off. Maybe you start a fight with someone you're pretty sure will forgive you later when you're not so overwhelmed. Or maybe you just cry and go home where there are warm hugs and cuddles and tea.
I was there yesterday.
Because of course, despite the fact that I am the happiest in my life that I have ever been? I am balancing that out in my career with a difficult situation. I mean, why not? Of COURSE. Mostly I just go with the flow -- lalalalaaaaaa, I'm going to make this all woooooorrrkk -- but sometimes?
I need yoga pants and a blankie for my stressed out, anxious brain.
Sometimes we all do, actually. As much as I believe in hard work -- and I worship at the church of hard work, it's how I roll -- I also know that it's equally important to take the time to unwind and relax. My problem (perhaps the problem of many people I know) is that the relaxing bit doesn't come as naturally to me as the work myself into a sobbing mess part.
It's a problem.
It's a problem to the point that yesterday? I didn't think I could do it anymore. I wanted to walk away. I NEEDED to walk away. My manager (who is wonderful, I might add, and not the source of the difficulties I am encountering) encouraged me to take a break, stressing how much I've earned one.
I walked to my desk thinking, "I'll just go home early. It'll be great. I'll take a nap and regroup and be fresh tomorrow."
I sat down to set my out of office message. Stray tears escaped here and there. Not because of the stress and the crazy, necessarily, but because I'd begun to believe that I couldn't cope with them.
And I thought: you just have to try. Can you keep trying, Yellie? Can you try for five more minutes? If you can try for five more minutes, and then you still feel like you're done, you can go. But maybe -- maybe you could try.
I gave it five minutes. Five minutes spent breathing -- in. out. in. -- and thinking about how much I love my coworkers, how kind they are. I looked at the flowers that The Fella sent me earlier this week. I touched their petals. They were silky and cool.
Five minutes of trying.
I felt better.
So I gave it five more.
The crisis passed.
That, I think, is the beauty of difficult situations: they do pass. You just have to give them time. You have to give yourself the time. You have to understand that it's okay. You're okay. You will move through this.
You also need to understand that the other side could look like a variety of different things. Yesterday, it might have looked like going home. That would not have been a failure. Staying? Wasn't necessarily a success in and of itself. The important part -- the healing part -- was saying: try. Sit with how you feel. Think. And then give yourself permission to reassess how you feel and what you need.
No matter where you are.
It doesn't hurt to try.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
"Things happen," she said, "when you don't expect them."
She sipped her tea. "This is true of good things and bad things, I think. We say it about good things, but it has to be true of bad things too. I mean, you can't walk around expecting bad shit to happen all of the time. That would be terrible. But you also can't wander the earth expecting unicorns and rainbows every day. That would just be weird."
"What should you expect?"
"You shouldn't spend your time expecting," she said. "Spend your time doing. And living! And being. And if you're doing and living and being your best? Things will happen. Some of them will be magical. Some of them will not. But they'll be real and they'll be yours."
"Even if I don't expect them."
"Look. The only person who should always meet your expectations is YOU. Everyone else? Gets to do their thing. Sometimes that will hurt you. Other times it will surprise and amaze you. It will be so wonderful that it will make you cry with happiness and awe.
"The trick? Is knowing that it all will come. All of it. The good stuff and the bad stuff and the in-between stuff. It all comes.
"You just have to wait. Be patient. And while you're being patient?
"Be amazing. Because you are."
Monday, August 11, 2014
Warning: this post is very, very honest and deals with mental illness and self-harm.
The Fella and I were getting dinner ready when he said, "Huff Post says a Robin Williams is dead. He apparently committed suicide."
"That's not true," I said. "That's not funny."
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. As I type this, I feel like I need to throw up.
I didn't know Robin Williams, obviously. He was a famous comedian. A celebrity. While I frequently feel as though I should be a celebrity (such a pity that the world fails to recognize my fabulousness!), I am not, in fact, an A-lister. I am a Z-lister.
However. I am also someone with issues. I struggle with anxiety and depression and the stuff that comes with both of those.
So maybe I didn't know Robin Williams?
But I know something about how he might have felt.
Some of the people I love most in this world have tried to end their lives.
Some have succeeded.
It never doesn't hurt. It never doesn't make me wish I could do more for them. Be more. Show them more love. Be more present. Offer more help and hope.
It never fails to make me feel as though I've failed them.
And it never fails to make me think of the times I've been that low, that sad and desperate and afraid, but somehow managed not to hurt myself.
The truth -- the naked, ugly truth -- Is that I've been there. When I say there was a time when I wanted to drive off a bridge, I'm not kidding. I was so close.
There were -- there are -- people who grounded me and kept me here, and so here I am, and here I am determined to stay; I want to convince other people who are struggling to keep fighting, to tell them: you are loved. You are NEEDED. Your presence here is required!
Because people did it for me, and because some of these folks? I really can't imagine living without.
A long time ago, my cousin Jay and I talked about the things that made us really happy. "Dolphins," he said. "They're like nature's Prozac."
"Robin Williams," I said. "Robin Williams always makes me laugh."
"What about a documentary on dolphins, hosted by Robin Williams? That would be, like, the best thing ever."
Two weeks later, Jay sent me a video and a note: "seriously, I couldn't believe it when I saw it."
It was a documentary on dolphins. Hosted by Robin Williams.
At one point, he was swimming with them and clearly overcome with joy -- it was so gloriously, amazingly happy that it made me cry.
To be honest, it still does.
And I'm not sure what to do with any of this.
I didn't know Robin Williams, but I grieve for his family. I am so sorry for them, and I am so sorry for how he must have struggled.
I do know people who struggle regularly. I identify myself as one of them. And I think ... I know ... That if we're all more honest and open about that struggle? It becomes easier.
If you are one of those struggling: you are not alone. You are loved. You are needed. You deserve to be here. There is so much here and your part in it? Is so essential.
Please, please stay.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Today marked the one year anniversary of moving into my apartment.
I suppose that, technically? I was never homeless in that, due to the grace of an amazing friend, I had a place to stay when my housing situation fell apart through misadventure and mistaken belief in some friends.
If you've ever had a situation in your life where you don't have a mailing address because you sort of don't exactly live anywhere, though? You know what I mean when I say that I was homeless. My friend V took me into her home, but it wasn't MY place. I didn't have a place.
And then I got this apartment, and I was home.
I was -- I am -- a different person when I moved in here than I was when I first moved back to New Hampshire. Some of that was losing Bean. Some of it was trusting people who I should not have. But some of it? Was a restored belief in the overwhelming kindness and love that people possess. What got me here was difficult, but what I found when I arrived was beautiful.
As I said, I am a different person now than I was then. Because of that, my life had changed in a zillion positive ways. I said I'd never have room in my heart for another cat, but now I have Lizzie B. I said I'd never make room for another person or subject anyone else to my blend of crazy (trust issues!) but now I have The Fella.
I needed a place to live.
I found a place to LIVE.
Here's to another amazing year, and to everyone who's played a part in getting me here. Y'all are simply awesome, and I love you.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I lost Beansie a year ago last weekend.
The last time I took her to the vet, I knew it was the end. I'd known it for about two weeks. I just couldn't face it. She was my GIRL. How could I let go of her?
I had to be stern with myself. I had to have the "you're making this about you" lecture with myself. I had to pry my fingers off of my control issues and finally -- painfully, horribly -- say goodbye.
I've had lessons in grace and saying goodbye. The day before my grandfather died, he thoughtfully and carefully passed on to me the things he would want people to know: how he felt about them, how proud he was of them, how amazing he believed they were. He told me he loved me, and then -- beautifully -- let go.
I pride myself on my schoolwork.
But I never mastered this particular lesson.
When it's time to let go ... Sometimes long after it's time ... I want to hold on. I understand on some level that part of life is saying goodbye. I get it.
But I suck at it.
At this moment, right now, I think I am losing a friend I adore. She's woven into my life like my own nervous system. I don't know how to stop this and I don't know how to let it happen.
I don't know how to say goodbye.
I just know that I don't want to.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
I used to tell people that I think life is like a roller coaster: big highs and lows with stretches of normal, so that you can appreciate the twisty, turny bits.
I still think that.
But I also think it's important to look at the people sitting in the car with you.
Some of the best memories in my life involve amusement parks, as it turns out. Going to Funtown, USA with my girls in high school. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia with my mom. Canobie Lake Park with my friend Neha, zooming along a wooden coaster track in a rainstorm, laughing like a lunatic. The company you keep is important. Especially when things are all upsy and then -- suddenly -- downy.
There are people who want to be beside you for the entirety of the ride. Who can sit there with you in the rain and giggle madly with you.
There are people who want to be with you during the good bits, the upswings.
And there are people who will watch your face for the moments that make you feel like you're going to hurl, and who can't wait to tell you "I told you so."
It has taken me some time (maybe more than it should have) to find my happy. There are people -- lots of people -- who are happy for me.
There are also people who are not; they are watching for the other shoe to drop so they can swoop in, dispense advice, and tell me where I went wrong.
I don't know how to feel about this.
My previous statement is a lie. I know exactly how to feel about this.
If you are my friend? If you love me? Then you will get in this car with me. Oh sure, it's raining. This whole thing seems crazy. The track is wooden and worn, but we can all be brave. Laugh with me as we go hurtling towards what's next.
Laugh, and know that this moment -- these moments -- are so happy and amazing and that, whatever comes next? This was so worth it.
And if you can't do that?
I will miss you.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
There are two sides to every coin. There is no joy without sorrow, no love without hate.
Sometimes the only way to find where you're supposed to be is to discover where you don't belong. You can try to belong there, and maybe you sort of do, you belong-ish, but you don't really fit there. No matter how you try, you know that this is not the place -- but when you find it, you know. You know right away.
It is difficult and ... Well, craptastic ... when your joy causes someone else pain. To put it (very, very) bluntly, it sucks.
It sucks out loud.
I realize, in the logical part of my brain, that I am mostly not responsible for anyone else's life. (Overachiever alert: it is not possible for me to write that I am not responsible in any way. This seems problematic. But I digress.)
In the emotional part of my brain, though, the notion that I have hurt someone who cares about me is terrible. And let's be honest: I've done just that. I didn't mean to, but I did. I have the blocked social media status to prove it.
So. If there's a lesson, and I believe there must be, what is it?
There are three. (Which as any Schoolhouse Rock geek knows, is a magic number.)
1) be fearless. Say how you feel and what you think so that no one can call you a liar. This doesn't mean that they won't accuse you of lying, by the way, it just means that you'll know you didn't.
2) live so that you have no regrets about your actions. This probably sounds selfish? But I believe this: you can be sad that someone is hurt by the way you live your life? But if you're doing your best? You cannot regret anything. I'm sorry if the path that has brought me ridiculous, incredible amounts of joy has hurt anyone -- but I refuse to spend an instant being sorry that I'm happy.
3) forgive the ridiculous ways in which hurt people act out. I'm sorry if someone is angry with me or needs to punish me by blocking me -- that makes me sad -- but I'm hopeful that it helps her or him to get to a better place. I want that. I want it a lot, actually.
And ... That's all there is, I think.