Thursday, December 26, 2013

Closing 2013

Wow...2013. What a year.

In this past year, in chronological order, I:

Got divorced
Moved out on my own to St. Petersburg
Found a new church home in Aletheia St. Pete
Almost lost Pierre to kidney failure
Received support and donations from friends and strangers alike to save his life
Adopted a dog
Dated again
Met David, an incredibly beautiful soul
Went to therapy
Began a long-distance relationship when David had to go back to school
Visited Chicago
Learned I have Hypothyroidism
Moved into a new lakeside apartment with Luz
Spent Thanksgiving in Baton Rouge and met many wonderful people
Was successful in my job
Had one of the best Christmases of my life

I learned that expectations are easily unmet, that anger and frustration needs to be and can be controlled, that there is freedom in singleness and beauty in togetherness, that no matter what my circumstances in life, I will flourish if I hold on, and that sometimes medication and therapy are necessary and there is nothing wrong with that.

I learned that family and friends are my anchor, and when I needed them most, they were there. That good friends will suffer a night of freezing temperatures and howling cats so I don't need to spend a night alone in a scary and unfamiliar place, that my father is wise enough to tell me that I deserve love more than pity and that his hugs can assuage true heartache for a few moments, and that my mother will sit on the phone and listen to me cry, and then remind me that I'm strong.

I learned that romance and love is not the most important thing in life, that singleness is an exciting life-path with just as many opportunities and experiences available as one with marriage, that when a real, wonderful man comes along, he'll make you want to intertwine your life path with his, that you'll want to compromise and say kind things always, and that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 becomes more than a cliche Bible verse about love when you find a man that you respect and admire.

I learned that human beings are all equally weak and beautiful, that we all take different twists and turns in life, that we all make mistakes and grudges are pointless and painful. I learned that we should stop judging everyone and learn to see people's souls and not their choices. I learned that if I put myself in someone else's shoes, I become better at empathy and compassion, and that we are all God's children, clothed in his love and grace. In the words of my David, "If it weren't for God's Grace, we'd all be screwed." We are all equal, we all make terrible choices, we are all beautiful and loved.

I also learned that I cannot change anyone, only myself. I then learned that I don't want to change myself. I want more acceptance for myself. I want to learn acceptance for others. I want to take care of people and nature, and I want less things. I want to live my life understanding that I will leave things behind that will impact this world, and I want to daily remember to make choices that will impact it for the better.

Happy New Year and lots of love.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Better

After several years of un-diagnosed and repeatedly-denied depression, and then the emotional turmoil that followed on the heels of my divorce, I was too exhausted to feel. I know what's like to only feel apathy. I didn't know how horrifying it was until the antidepressants kicked in and I began to feel again. I experience everything now: joy, misery, loneliness, excitement, anxiety, stress, bliss, love, and every other emotion on the spectrum. I feel emotional pain like every human being and it's better than feeling nothing at all.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Camera, New Start

I did something irresponsible today: I bought an $800 camera with accessories on credit. I feel mildly guilty, but mostly relieved that I finally have a camera again. This camera isn't only an artistic tool I've been pining for over the last eight represents my new start.

When I was 19, my dad bought me a Rebel XTi. It was beautiful. It was the most technologically advanced thing I'd ever owned aside from a computer, and it allowed me to tell beautiful visual tales of engagements and weddings and zombies and 1980s glamour shots. It came with me to Paris and Venice and to beaches and birthdays. It was my friend.

I sold it in 2010 to help pay for my wedding to Alberto. I had taught him photography, and he had bought a newer camera. We decided to sell mine so that we could have some extra money for the wedding and agreed we could share his. He traded up a few times and when we divorced, he had the Rebel T1i. It was a great camera, and of course, I had to leave it behind when we separated.

For the last eight months, I've been putting off buying a camera because money has been very tight. It's not any less tight fact, it's probably more tight with trips to Chicago on the horizon. I find myself not caring. I've been pinching pennies for a while now, and I did well at it. And what did life decide I needed the money for? Pet surgeries and tick infestations and flat tires and doctors bills. Well, life, I have credit, so screw you.

Irresponsible? You'd better believe it.

Is this camera wonderful and beautiful and just what I wanted? Yes.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Honesty #3

I am not feeling inspired to write, but I'm forcing myself on this one. I'm sorry if it's not as eloquent (pfft, ok) as my usual posts, but the words aren't flowing this evening.

I am a fraud.

For several years now, I have expressed my desire to be honest and transparent so that others could feel that their struggles were not theirs to bear alone. I've written about my drinking, wearing modest clothing, about the desire for love, and my issues with self-esteem. I even wrote about my divorce. Honesty has become so important to me because I feel that each person struggles day-to-day in their hearts and minds to figure out who they are, where they belong, whether or not the people around them care, and ultimately, the feeling that they are alone. All of these negative emotions and feeling of aloneness are perpetuated by a social system in which we repeatedly edit ourselves before sharing our lives with one another. We are no longer vulnerable. We strive to imitate the perfect personalities on television who never have a single hair out of place, or when they do have problems, they're glamorized and dramatized until we weep for them. It makes me angry, and yet, I fall for it again and again.

Here is a problem I'm having that countless people around me silently suffer with, and I have kept it a secret for the same reasons all of them have. Heaven forbid anyone sees me in any other state besides put-together, successful, and strong. It would be weak of me to openly talk to people about my mental health; it's not proper.

No. If I'm really going to live as I preach, I am going to tell you that I have been depressed for years. Not because I want pity (please, don't), but because this post is meant for those of you who also have depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorders and other mental illnesses that are stigmatized (hint: that's all mental illnesses).

You don't have to suffer alone. For the last few years, I was doing just that. I refused to believe what a doctor once told me when in college: that I was depressed. She offered me medication and I refused it. I was embarrassed. I refused to believe that I was so "weak." I would come home from work every day feeling defeated and angry for no reason, and I would take it out on my husband and my social life. I stopped wanting to go out. I stopped making art. I stopped writing. I criticized Alberto about everything he did that drove me crazy. I was unloving. When the divorce happened and I moved to St. Pete, I was suicidal for months. I came home from work, laid down on the couch, and didn't get off of it again until the next morning when I woke up for work. I met guys online and had a rebound fling. I was a mess.

And I told no one how horribly destroyed I felt. I didn't tell anyone that when I walked my dog in the park, I was replaying a scenario over and over again in my head in which a car ran the stop sign and put me out of my misery. I was embarrassed. I was afraid that whoever I told would think I just wanted attention. I was afraid that my hurts didn't matter because everyone struggled with the same problems. Everyone felt how I did, so why would anyone else want to hear about my problems?

If you are feeling depressed, deficient, apathetic, lonely, suicidal, angry, anxious, inadequate, unloved, or empty, I beg you to tell someone. Yes, many, many people feel the same way. Don't be afraid that your pain doesn't matter because you are one of many. The suffering of others has equipped them to comfort you in your time of suffering. Likewise, your suffering has equipped you to comfort others. Don't be fooled by the perfect personas on Facebook and Twitter, and don't be quick to judge when someone shows themselves as vulnerable. You could save someone's life, or at the very least, be a friend to someone in need.

Your pain is not a sign that you don't pray enough or love Jesus enough, or that you don't work hard enough, or that you did something wrong. Sometimes something chemical happens in your brain and you find yourself laying on your couch at 3am staring blankly at infomercials eating Breyers out of the carton with the big spoon. Sometimes you get tired of feeling so terrible all the time and want so badly to be like you used to be, that you give in and start taking prescription antidepressants. Sometimes you get so low, you only write an entry in your blog because your brand new therapist told you to.

Monday, January 28, 2013

For those who are wondering...

I’m staring at some papers that begin with “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage,” and I’m feeling a bit sick to my stomach. How did I (I’m teaching myself to say “I” again, and not “we”) get here? Of all the things I imagined happening in the course of my life, a divorce was the least conceivable. In fact, it’s still an idea that makes me think I’m in the middle of a nightmare.

I know some of you will think it’s rather crass of me to write about something so private in a public forum, but people will talk whether I write this or not, and I’d rather have a statement out there. In addition, my good friends know I’m an open book; it’s just the way I am. While I don’t enjoy talking about it, writing about it somehow makes me feel better. So if you’re going to judge me for writing this, you can stop reading it right now and go about your day. If you continue reading and continue judging me, I've got news for you: you’re just as indelicate as I.

So what happened? A lot of things. Perhaps we weren't right to begin with. Maybe two people who were crazy about each other rushed into something that should have been examined more closely and more at length. We certainly lost sight of some important things along the way. Maybe it was the journey that killed us, or rather, the fact that we considered ourselves at our “destination” once we said our “I do’s.”

Who stopped working at things first? I don’t know…it was probably me for a while, there. But once I realized it, I wanted to fix it. I tried. I was trying until the day he said he was giving up, and I still tried after that, though in a more desperate sort of way.

We both hurt each other a great deal over the last two years. “You’re not enough” rang out on both sides in different ways. I’m confrontational, I can be a bully, and I can say some mean things. His faults are his own, and I won’t tout them all to you here. But they hurt a great deal and I never felt that he wished them back.

Our wrongs to each other weren't the kind of things that make you stop in your tracks and gossip with your friends. There were no physical affairs or abuse. They were the kinds of wrongs that sneak up quietly, that come out of your mouth and through your actions in such a way that you didn't plan or give much of a second thought. An “I’m sorry” or “I didn't mean it that way” follow, but the hurt feelings are never actually forgotten. They were the kinds of wrongs bred from unfair expectations…expectations about marriage, the future, and needs that need fulfilling. I've learned a lot about expectations…mostly that no one should have them.

We both failed. If I could fix it, I would, but one person cannot fix a marriage by themselves. I can’t fully express the intensity of my longing for him to say, “I take it back, come home.” Though, even that is waning now. I’m beginning to see a life for myself without him. Some good things have happened in the last month, though just the day-to-day sort of things.

I’m feeling better… I've had a couple of bad days, though for the most part I've been armed with this great optimism. I have no idea where it came from…perhaps it’s what’s left of the prior feelings of unmet expectations. There’s a whole world for me out there, and who knows what’s in it. Maybe I can travel some now. I've already met some new people and spent time with some old friends I’d been neglecting. Logically, I know I’ll be okay, or thrive, even. But these papers make me incredibly nervous.


(I really hate that I have to add this here, but I just received a rather hurtful message.) If you are going to send me a message or leave a comment full of Bible verses referring to God's views on divorce (and/or remarriage after divorce), please spare me. I've read them all and agonized over them. If I could prevent this from happening, I would. Ultimately, God's grace is big enough to cover me and this situation, and he gives it freely. I'm at his mercy, and he is a merciful and loving God. I don't know what my future holds, whether it be the reparation of my marriage, a life of being single, or remarrying another in the future...all I know is that I am loved by God, and am covered by his grace and forgiveness.

And a note for those of you who like to quote Bible verses to make other's feel guilty and/or "prevent them from sinning": you look mean-spirited (whether you are or aren't) and you are the reason so many people stray away from Christianity. You are no less a sinner than a divorced person, and while you may have good intentions, you are causing more hurt than anything else. I'm sorry if that comes across as harsh, but I've known a lot of people who cite that sort of behavior as the reason for leaving or never entering the church.