Posts Tagged ‘life’

St. Louis ComicCon is fast becoming a yearly tradition for me. My good friend,Ginny Kruta, gets a booth out there to sell her chain maille nerdery and I help her out and get to spend time with her and mingle with all things geek for a few days. This time David Tennant (10th Doctor), Matt Smith (11th Doctor), and James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) were top on my list to meet at ComicCon. And oh yes I did thanks to Ginny. This year my pilgrimage was darkened by some situations at home. I’d been doubting myself for months, trying to reshape the very core of who I am to fit into an image others insisted was better. I became terrified to speak up, laugh, get excited, or even share what was on my mind. I was so consumed with worrying about how I was being perceived, I quietly spiraled into the Dark Place (I’ve delved into that place in several posts here). Going to ComicCon was to be a break from holding my mental breath, but even there I fidgeted constantly and was on edge. My state of mind wasn’t helped by a giant stye (EWWW GROSS) that made an appearance just for the weekend, sat directly under my eyelid, hurt like fire, and was bad enough to almost fully close my eye at one point (I should have bought a black eye patch and run with it, but that’s hindsight for you).  That was until Saturday.

Saturday Ginny and I met The Doctors and I danced with Deadpool.

On our way to find protective sleeves for our pictures with The Doctors an upbeat song began playing; I don’t even remember the song, but I remember it made me want to drop everything and dance. And then there was a Deadpool cosplayer strolling up the aisle. I admit to not having seen the movie. My fellow nerds praised it, but knowing I’m not one to favor vulgarity, nudity, and sexually explicit material, they warned me to steer clear and take their word it was a well-done film. Anyway, there I was – with my hands chaotic with disorganized items – and I began to sway to the music. And there was a Deadpool, walking toward me, swaying as well. He began to dance, something ridiculously old-fashioned and goofy. In that moment I had a choice: walk on or dance.

I danced. Clumsy, goofy, awkward me danced with Deadpool in the middle of ComicCon. And my friend (who has the patience of a saint when dealing with me) didn’t balk or ridicule. The freedom in ignoring the crowd that built up around us to be in the moment was exhilarating. In those few minutes I soared. I soared above my thoughts, above my worries, above all the people who were telling me I was wrong for being me. And it was spectacular. When I came to my senses, I turned to Ginny and asked if I did, indeed, see cameras out in the circle that had gather around us. Yes, yes I had. Somewhere on the internet there’s video of me dancing a ridiculous dance with a cosplayer. And that’s fine. It’s probably the least flattering angle ever and I probably look like I’m having a seizure more than actually dancing, but for once, I don’t care. It was necessary. In that moment it was completely necessary.

Because in that brief span of time I thumbed my nose at the naysayers and those who’re far too critical in the short life we live. I defied my own hangups and self-doubt and did something “just because”. And in that goofy event I learned a simple, but profound lesson: it’s okay to be unabashedly you.

Sometimes you have to dance with Deadpool.

*This post is dedicated to my weekday Starbucks barista. She knows why.*

I love birthdays. LOVE them. In a few short days I’ll be turning the corner on another year alive and this positively thrills me. Growing up I would anxiously await my birthday, hoping no one forgot it (it’s happened more times than I care to admit) and maybe something good would happen to me and at least one part of life wouldn’t be disappointing. Alas, year after year I was disappointed and my hope broken. It wasn’t intentional, it was simply life at that time in our family. And each year I’d pick up my broken hope and tuck it away until the next birthday. Then things in and around me changed.

I grew up. Relationships changed. Where I lived changed. What I did changed. How I viewed the world changed. I stopped cutting and burning myself. I returned to my faith. I left an abusive relationship. I forgave those who’d done incredible wrongs to me. I started working to forgive myself. I began taking opportunities that scared me, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and all those other cliches we tend to roll our eyes at. And my perspective shifted. Life became fun and more scary and comforting and unnerving. Life opened up and I saw every dream I’d dared to dream move closer to reality. I used to dream and wish and hope to be a published writer, so one day I took a chance and submitted a piece to a website I was confident would turn me down. And they didn’t, they took me on and I wrote for them for two and a half years. And that time was exhilarating. I traveled around the country. I went to conferences as a credentialed member of the media. I broke a couple stories. I met some of the most compelling people in the country. I lived. And it felt good to live. It feels good to live.

One of my favorite people in the world told me shortly after we met how much she hated her birthday. HATED it. She’s been known to cry and hide from the world when her day comes around. I was crushed for her. Life is worth celebrating. Making it through 365 days of challenges and victories, heartache and love, fears and conquered mountains, failure and success is deserving of some kind of positive acknowledgement. To be alive and have a chance to make life better is a gift. This year I pushed her to celebrate for an entire month. Everyday I texted her a reminder to celebrate and love herself and be proud of her accomplishments. Everyday was a chance to celebrate how much better the world is because she’s in it- my world is better because she’s in it. She hardworking, driven, compassionate, caring, giving, loving, loyal, and considerate and she needed reminded of that. And for an entire month she celebrated how amazing she is.

So now I actively celebrate my birthday every year. I buy a pretty dress to wear no matter what my plans are for the day. I proudly declare my actual age (32, almost 33). I thank God for another chance to change, grow, love, become, live. I’m not proud to admit it, but it took two drug overdoses and someone trying to kill me to wake up to how amazing life is. And life is AMAZING. Life is a grand adventure waiting to be taken. Life is a spectacularly grand adventure waiting in anticipation for each of us to grab its hand and run, headlong into the unknown.

Over the last year my social media presence has waned. Life and all its life-ness produced some bends in the road. And in maneuvering those bends, I’ve retreated inward. I’ve lost outward touch with people I hold fiercely in my heart. But, for the first time since leaping into the wide world of social media in 2011, I deactivated one of my accounts, ignored the others, and turned my phone off for almost two weeks- ignoring calls, texts, and messages. It wasn’t an experiment in unplugging; it was a last-ditch effort to control a situation that spun wildly out of control on December 24th. I’m near-positive writing this will not go over well with some of those involved. At this point I care, but will no longer feel shame for needing to purge my own thoughts and inner dealings in an attempt to regain what I inwardly lost.

I haven’t hid my battles with depression, cutting, and suicide. Overall, I’m the best I’ve ever been, but I still struggle sometimes- especially in high, negative stress situations. I thrive in positive stress, it’s exhausting, but those times are when life is at it’s most exhilarating. Anyway, December 24, 2014 was definitely negative stress situation and it sent me reeling and into seclusion.

Against my better judgement (short story, but not relevant) I agreed to go to my parents’ house after work to see the family. From the moment I walked in the door I was bombarded by people handing me things, asking questions, demanding something, telling me to eat, go, sit, shoes off, hug gramma. My 23 year old brother told me he wanted me to drink with him. Let me stop here, my family KNOWS I do not drink. I haven’t for over 7 years. I used to have a drug and alcohol problem and worked hard to maintain my sobriety over the years. Again, my family knows this. So when my brother insisted I drink with him, I declined and made my way to the kitchen to grab some food and finish assembling the dessert I brought.

While alternating between the stove and center island, my brother tried to hand me a glass of some kind of alcohol. I again told him no. He insisted. I stood my ground. He stepped closer. I stepped back. He tried to shove the glass into my hand. I kept saying no and he kept insisting I drink. Both our voices raised. He tried to put the glass to my mouth. I backed up as far as I could. We began yelling. He started cussing. My parents rushed in trying to break things up. My brother stormed outside, cussing up a storm and calling me several names- all of which I do not say. At some point I was told I shouldn’t have provoked my brother. I was told several times by him to “just let it go” after he came back inside. One of the gems- what we call “C U Next Tuesday” (I’ll let you suss out what that stands for)- my brother hurled at me several times, texted it, and used it in tagging me on a threatening photo on Facebook (I have screenshots of everything).

If only that were the worst of it. In the fray some family left (I don’t blame them, I wanted to leave, too). My parents’ were leaving to go to church when my dad noticed my car covered in mud. It was dark and that was the only “damage” anyone could see. I left a short time later. As I drove home, I noticed something wrong with my windshield- it was scratched all over. My brother had excessively keyed half my windshield. Anger and hurt consumed me. I was shaking and past the point of crying. I wanted to cut. I wanted to drink. I wanted to take pills. I wanted to do all of it just to not feel or think. To not remember my brother thought so little of me. To not think about how violated I felt. I prayed and screamed the entire drive home. At home I crawled into bed and turned everything off. The next day I had to run an errand. That’s when I saw my car in the light. The passenger side door was keyed up with a deep scratch running down to the tail light. As I looked over the damage I saw what was carved into my door: Satan. I felt violated all over again. My faith and relationship with God is the most important thing in life. My brother knows this. We’ve had some great spiritual conversations in the past. That he would use this to deface my car… I have no sufficient words. Later, at church, a friend pointed out (and please forgive me for writing this) “FUCK” was also scratched into my door. I park at the far end of the church parking lot to keep people from seeing the damage.

My brother has not apologized. Other than messaging me one day on Facebook to tell me not to press charges, he’ll talk to me when he’s ready, and he’ll pay for the damages (a placation to keep me from pressing charges) he hasn’t spoken to me. It was an uphill battle to get my family to see this situation through my eyes. I was told he was drunk and I should have known he was even though the entire house had been with him for hours and no one else knew he had been drinking that much. I was told I should have taken the glass, then maybe he wouldn’t have vandalized my car and said all those things. I was told to remember I was once that age and did things I shouldn’t have. I was told to remember I was the Christian and he wasn’t. I was told I was older and should forgive him. I was told maybe I should just take this as a lesson learned.

I spent two weeks grasping at every shred of control within myself in order to keep going. I spent that time praying and begging God for the strength not to go back to old comforts. I questioned what I did and said. I tried to not feel guilty for smiling when something made me happy. I tried to reach out to friends, but my hands wouldn’t comply to text or call. Every inch of me was focused on appearing normal when I had to leave the house. I’m still exhausted. I don’t want to leave my bed; I have to because I have to work and pay bills. I don’t want to go out and see people and pretend, but I have to keep living. It’s hard to describe why this ordeal affects me this way. I know every day I walk out my front door to see my car in all its vulgar un-glory and cringe. I drive and see through a scratched up windshield. And I am reminded every day my brother deemed me not drinking as a crime punishable by profanity and vandalism and he’s unremorseful.

Crossroads

Posted: October 15, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Alliances come and go. Jobs come and go. Friends come and go. Life comes and goes. It’s all a cycle. Picking and choosing which alliance, job, friend, bit of life is most important- or advantageous- is the tricky part of it all. One more time I stand at a crossroad, unsure. For the sake of those involved I’ll be intentionally vague about the details. But each crossroad is more or less the same, the circumstance is the only part that really changes. So here I stand, sooner than I’d like and sooner than I though and with more complications than I’d like. That’s kinda how it goes, though, right?

I come here- to my page and you, my readers- to clear my head and organize my thoughts when I can’t get to my kitchen. It’s been a crazy ride, one I wouldn’t trade for the world, but I can’t tell if I want to turn right because the current path is the wrong one, turn left because I’m too exhausted to keep going, or hunker down and continue on the road ahead. Each direction is a valid choice, but WHICH choice is the right one? To keep with the theme, I’ll try to ambiguously break each road down.

Turning right: Finagling my way through a situation I’ve never been through before to situate myself into a place more comfortable and closer to what I’m used to. Pros: Less stress (in theory). More support (not that I’ve reached out much on the current road). I’d know where each person’s alliances lay. Cons: It’s not a definite. It requires maneuvers I know nothing about. It’d be one more change and adjustment that I’m not sure I’m ready for or can handle at this point. It could burn bridges I very much don’t want burned.

Turning left: Basically this looks like me walking away from everything, whether permanently or temporarily. Pros: Freedom; sweet, sweet freedom. Less stress (again, in theory), more free time to do life stuff. More money to do life stuff. Cons: It’d probably drive me crazy.

Keeping on the current path: Suck it up, buttercup, and keep going in the current direction. Pros: The least amount of resistance. A chance to grow outside my comfort zone. Other doors could open because of and in spite of staying put. Cons: I could continue questioning every step I take. Watching alliances rise and fall and having to choose sides. The possibility of compromising my own principles and standards.

 

I just don’t know right now. For now I guess it’s back to work and rumbling down this dusty road hoping a U-Turn is possible if I decide this isn’t right for me.

Recently I was invited to answer a query by my high school journalism teacher: How many of us who took her journalism class and/or were on yearbook or newspaper staff had gone on to do something in the field of journalism after high school. I proudly posted what I do in new media. I love writing and working for Misfit Politics. I love the people I work with, and many times feel closer to them than anyone else in my life- even if we only see each other in the flesh a couple times a year. I love what I do. But there’s a part of me that doesn’t.

I’m still learning and there are seemingly no mentors to seek guidance from, so the learning process is taking some time. Sometimes I still feel new at the whole game. And that’s what it is- a game. For me, journalism was a way to tell the stories of life. I was taught to be a journalist was to tell the truth. Everyone has a story. Everyone. And it was my job to go out and find the story, write it, and share it. So when I started writing for Misfit Politics last year that was my goal- find and tell the stories of life, people, politics, America. And people were helpful at first. They offered advice and contact information and tech tips. It was great!

Then something changed. Or rather my perception changed. The seedy underside to political writing and new media surfaced. I’ve watched two people smile and hug then turn around and tear each other down to others. I’ve watched people who’ve not walked lock-step with a person who has more notoriety be verbally eviscerated in a public forum where they haven’t a chance of rebuttal. Personal vendettas are dragged onto public blogs. Misunderstandings blown out of proportion and dragged through podcasts. Jealousies traded. Scores never settled. Dirty laundry aired. And yet none of the parties involved will go to the other and settle whatever issues they have privately or maturely. Why? Who knows.

I won’t lie and say I haven’t changed. I have. That’s how life is. But I’m not fake. I have a big heart. I love people. I want to help. But I’ve become more cynical, less trusting, maybe a bit paranoid, and less likely to extend my hand if someone needs something. But I still hold to my original lessons on journalism. I’m here to tell the stories of life.

Today officially ended the Thankful Challenge my mom, sister, and I set out to complete 365 days ago. When we began I couldn’t fathom the impact it would have on me or that it would even do more than force me to be on Facebook everyday no matter where I was or what I was doing. This year has seen some incredible highs and devastating lows but through it all the challenge pushed me to focus on the important and best parts of life.

Here is my final thankful post of a challenge that turned out to be a journey to self-discovery:

Day 365: I admit for the past couple of months I’ve been wishing this day to come. Not because I haven’t enjoyed the journey but because it’s been the one thing holding a chapter of my life still open. Now that the final day is here I’m a little sad. You see, I’ve invested 12 months of my life into pushing through, no matter the challenges, and seeking the gems that are hidden in the mountain that is everyday life. Today and this post marks not just the close of a life chapter but the full completion of it. Many times when a project or task became “too tough” I’d come up with an excuse to quit and then quit leaving a feeling of failure in the empty place that was left. So today, on my last day of this journey and this chapter I am thankful for finishing a task. I’m thankful for fighting through to the end. I’m thankful for going beyond present circumstances and overcoming myself. I’m thankful that in this challenge I found a better me.

God bless you all for traveling this road with me.