Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Hey, Asshole

I've sat down to blog numerous times and have struggled to find the words.

This year has been a lot. It's been exciting and horrible, brought both joy and tremendous sadness.

The year started off in Olympia, WA and then quickly moved into living in College Park, MD. Honestly, it's hard to believe I've been back on the East Coast longer than I lived in the Pacific Northwest... but regardless, I am here and am happy.

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I cannot believe how fast 2018 has gone. I sit here and often struggle to describe how I am feeling.

These last few months have been rough, to say the least. While great happiness was brought upon me through my marriage to my amazing wife, a bunch of not-so-great things have happened as well.

On September 29, while sitting at IHOP, I noticed I had a missed call from my mother. A text came through: "CALL ME IMMEDIATELY." I assumed she was angry with me about something I did (or did not) do. I called her back and heard her hysterical cries. I could barely make out what was said. "Jet... he's dead." We had lost our family dog. He was struck down (and dragged 25+ ft) by a car who did not even stop to see what had happened. The poor waitress at IHOP saw me fall apart at the table and Kirsten saw that I was inconsolable. I was in Maryland and wasn't there to say goodbye.

On October 9, I received a text from my mother stating I needed to call her immediately. I was walking out of my building, heading across campus for a meeting. I called her and did not get an answer. I began to freak out. What had happened? Was my dad okay? Please for the love of G-d don't be my dad.

After what felt like centuries, my brother called me. My cousin Ronnie was found dead earlier that day. I completely collapsed outside of my building. I fell into a heap. I couldn't believe it. My cousin, who had lived with my family on and off for the last few years and helped me move across the country, was gone.

Everything after that moved very quickly, yet in slow motion at the same time. I headed home on a Wednesday night to say goodbye and then headed back to Maryland on Thursday to pack for a weekend in Pennsylvania with my family. Unfortunately, I was met with car troubles and was unable to get home a second time.

The month of October brought some happiness, though. I married an amazing woman on October 31st (and we have now officially been married for 2 weeks!).

Through the ups and downs, I've been lucky to have Kirsten by my side.

The nights crying in the shower, collapsing into sadness on the couch or the bed, the mornings I have been unable to do anything: she's been there and for that I am quite lucky.

Though I haven't been outwardly showing it, I am struggling. This funk isn't going anywhere anytime soon... at least not that I can see. I've sucked at communicating with friends, responding to calls/texts, etc. so don't take it personally. Eventually, I'll pull myself out of this, but for now, please be gentle with me.

<3

This song loosely reflects how I've been feeling (and is the namesake of my post)






Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Wagon

I've been thinking a lot about where I am today in comparison to a year ago. A year ago, I was finishing my last semester of grad school, interviewing for jobs, working hard on my sobriety, and had six months sober under my belt. Things were going well. They weren't easy, but I was managing.

And then I moved across the country in July. I started a job that I thought I was going to love and I fell in love, hard and fast, with an incredible woman (that I miss dearly and cannot wait to see again I might add). And then things started to get really hard at work. Harder than I ever imagined, and I started to hate my job... the job I uprooted my life for. Things were getting hard for my family back on the East Coast so I paid them a visit to give myself piece of mind. And in December, one day shy of my 15 month milestone, I fell off the wagon. And I haven't gotten back on. 

I had come so far and was doing so well... why did I need to start again? I had every excuse in the book lined up, but it honestly just came down to this: I started again because I fucking wanted to. 

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It was hard to tell my family that I am drinking again. So hard, in fact, that I waited until I had a drink in my hand before saying anything.

Being a twenty-something person, or even a person in general, (or maybe just being me...) it is hard to not want to drink socially with friends/family. It's hard to not drink when you're at a wedding celebrating or out with friends for dinner. It's hard for me to tell myself "no more" when others don't have to worry about that. It's hard to feel like I'm constantly walking on eggshells in fear that I may slip up so badly that everyone will notice... that I'll be the fuck-up I've been trying so damn hard not to be my entire life.

Most days, I'm fine, but when I'm not, I remind myself of this:
You don't need alcohol to always be your crutch. You are fully capable of handling things without drinking your problems away. Yes, drinking is fun and a temporary escape, but that is all that it is: Temporary. 

And when that doesn't work, I remind myself: If you start to rely on this again, you won't be able to have it at all. 

So I've been working on it. Every day. Working on taking things one day at a time. Working on not drinking every day. Working on finding other ways to solve problems rather than forgetting about them while I drink myself into oblivion. Working on talking about my feelings rather than holding them in (which is a work in progress and probably always will be). And when I can't work on it anymore, when it gets too hard, I'll do what I need to do. But for now, I'm chugging along and doing the best I can.


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* Thanks to everyone in my life for always being so patient and supportive of everything I do. Thanks for letting me make my own mistakes and for always being there when I inevitably need to be picked up off the floor. I appreciate you all more than you know. *


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Within and Without

Do you ever feel like you're experiencing life while living it? Like that you're simultaneously watching your life happen before your eyes while you're actually living it?

I can't really explain it. Sometimes I feel like I am on autopilot... as if I am just going through the motions of life, but at the same time I am watching myself do it all. I guess it's kind of like an out-of-body experience.

Have you ever read The Great Gatsby? Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, is out with his friend from college and his mistress and they are drinking the day and night away. Nick had drank a decent amount and was drunk at this point (which he talks about in the book). He talks about how the life and the moment he is living in was not his own... He was an outsider to that world (of booze and women and wealth) and he describes it like so:

I wanted to get out and walk eastward toward the park through the soft twilight, but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild, strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair. Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.

Nick's description of this is probably the best way for me to describe how I've been experiencing life lately. It's incredibly surreal to feel this way; and not in a good way.

These moments of depersonalization... the ones where you look in the mirror and cannot comprehend that you are the person standing before you... that you are that person and not someone else... these are apparently symptoms of anxiety, which makes sense.

I feel this way a lot, but more so when I am going through a big change in my life. (Such as moving across the country for the second time in seven months to start life over, but who is counting, right?) The times when I can't comprehend that I actually did something like that. It's honestly still so surreal to me that I packed up my life to move to the PNW seven months ago, just to turn back around and move back to the East Coast. The fact that I drove across the country twice feels like a weird dream. It doesn't feel like the life I'm living is my own and I'm trying to grapple with that and put it into words for people to understand, but honestly, I. Can't.

Maybe one day, I'll find the perfect words that resonate with others, but for now, I'll stick with what I've got.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tough Choices

Seven. That's how many months it has been since I packed up and moved across the country to the gorgeous Evergreen state.

Six. That's how many months ago I met the beautiful woman whom I love.

Five. That's how many months it has been since my student staff arrived on campus and I began to feel like I loved my job.

Four. That's how many months ago everything started to change.

Three. That's how many months have gone by since I started crying every day after work.

Two. That's how many months ago I started seriously looking for a new job.

One. That's how many months have gone by since I visited the University of Maryland for an on campus interview and when I fell in love with it.

Packing up my entire life to move across the country seven months ago was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made. Deciding that my mental health was not worth sacrificing any more was even tougher.

When you're driving across the country, you have a lot of time to reflect. Over these last few days, I've been trying to pinpoint exactly when everything changed... and I honestly can't. I wonder "was it always this bad and I just ignored the signs?" or "did the shift happen over night?" As a woman, I have often struggled to find my place in the workplace. Am I speaking up enough in meetings or am I speaking up too much? Does it appear that I am working as hard as my male-identifying peers or does it appear that I am working less? Am I finding a good work/life balance or does it seem like I am uncaring? Am I working too much? Am I too intimidating to my peers? All of these things and more run through my head on a daily basis. For a while, I thought my concerns and how I was being treated was normal for a new professional. And then I took a step back and looked at my situation from the outside:

No, it is not normal to cry every night after work. 

No, it is not normal to work every day until 7, 8, 9, 10pm just to feel "caught up."

No, you should not be treated like garbage just because you're new.

No, being treated nicely once or twice DOES NOT make up for all of the shit you've trudged through.

I appreciate the experiences I had in Washington, the people I've met and bonded with, and the important life lessons I've learned.

My biggest takeaways are these:

1) Find incredible people who will laugh with you, even in your darkest hours.

2) No matter how terrible a situation may be, there is always something to laugh about.

3) When you find great people, hold on tight to them, even if you are separated by an entire country.

4) Know your worth. And know when it is time to leave.

and lastly,

5) Moving across the country is all fun and games until you do it twice in seven months...

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Nightmares

Do you ever have a reoccurring nightmare? Something you obviously know is a dream, but you are trapped there because you can't wake up?

Growing up, I used to have this nightmare where I was trapped at a gas station. It was always the same dimly lit, Sunoco station and I was alone outside. I was always a young girl, no more than 10 years old. A car would always show up and a tall man, whose face I never saw, would get out of the driver's seat. He would always chase me and try to capture me. I would try to scream, but words never came out. I would run as fast as I could, the pavement disappearing behind me, only to find myself back at the Sunoco station. And right when I would be picked up, I would wake up in a panic.

I haven't had this dream in years. I honestly haven't been able to really ever remember my dreams, aside from this nightmare and a few others.

Most recently, I've been having a different reoccurring nightmare. I am back in junior high school. I am standing in the gym hallway, walking towards the locker room. When I enter it, I cannot find my locker. Eventually, after running down every aisle, I find my locker, but I cannot unlock it. I sit there for what feels like hours, trying to unlock it, but to no avail.

And then I wake up.

I've been trying to figure out why this, a piece of my life that felt so unimportant, would haunt my dreams. Why would Abington Junior High School gym class nightmares follow me through to adulthood? Was my junior high school experience so traumatizing that the locker room will forever scar me?

Maybe the nightmare is symbolism for feeling like I've lost control over things I once thought I had control over. Maybe the nightmare is because I am stressed. Who knows?

I just hope that maybe one day the nightmares will end and I'll be able to sleep through the night peacefully.

Or maybe they won't. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Alone in a Crowded Room

Fuck. It's already the end of October. 

That's been the thought that's been swirling through my head all day. It's October 24 (almost 25) and all I've done all month is watch spooky movies. I haven't carved a pumpkin, I haven't gone to a haunted house, I haven't made plans to go out and dress up... and this is my favorite time of year. So what the hell is going on?

My bipolar disorder has taken over. I've basically lost all motivation to do anything other than sit on the couch and watch movies. It means I go to work, I come home, and that's it. I have no desire or feeling the want to do anything else. I haven't photographed, I haven't blogged... things I love have just lost their luster.

Sometimes I don't think people know just how hard it is for me to even get out of bed in the morning because I haven't slept all night. I'm physically and mentally exhausted constantly, but I put on a brave face every morning and get out of bed (usually much later than I need to) to be there for my students.

Moving to a new place is hard. It's scary, you often don't know anyone, and you have to adjust. Add being a bipolar mess who has mood spikes on the daily and also dealing with staying sober... well fuck. It's fucking HARD. And I don't think I've been able to adequately vocalize to anyone just how fucking hard it is.

I constantly feel like I'm on an island. Alone with my thoughts, my feelings, my addiction. I feel alone in a crowded room, always.

But I'm trying. I've joined a rugby team with some incredible women and I love it. (I at least find joy in that...) I'm trying to get connected to other sober people. I'm trying to get back into shooting. I'm trying to blog (as you see here). I. am. trying.

And that's all I can do: take it one day at a time and try to make the day better than the last.

Eventually, this will all get easier. But when will eventually actually come? 



Sunday, August 13, 2017

White Privilege

This is a topic I've blogged about before, but with the recent horrific events that happened in Charlottesville, I felt like I needed to speak on this again.

White people... we need to get our shit together. Our friends, colleagues, family, any POC we know (and don't know) cannot hold this burden any longer. We cannot expect them to fight this fight alone. It's no fair. We need to use our privilege for good. 

You might be thinking: "What can I do to help? I'm just one person!" Well, here are a few things you can get started on:

1. LISTEN
   We need to listen to the POC in our lives when they tell us racism is alive and well. Listen to them when they tell you about the everyday racism they endure. Do not downplay how they are feeling or what they have experienced.  It's easy to tune out everything that is going on when you aren't dealing with it firsthand. If you're tired of hearing about it, imagine how tired people are of experiencing it. 

2. SPEAK UP
    If you see/hear something shitty happening, especially coming from friends or family, let them know it isn't okay. For example, if someone tells you a racist joke, tell them you don't get it. Force them to explain why it is funny. Make them feel shitty about their racism. 

3. Go to a protest
    Even though Charlottesville did not happen very long ago, people have already been coming together and organizing protests and marches around the country. Find one happening locally and attend. 

4. Educate yourself
    It is not anyone's job to educate you on what is going on. Read articles, find books, but do not rely on the POC in your life to educate you. It is not their job. 

5. Amplify the voices of POC
   Sometimes you won't have the words to speak up, but a POC does. Share their Facebook status, retweet them, and tell others you know to drink up their perspective. At the minimum, you can do that. It is a statement in itself.
These are just a few of the things you can use your white privilege for and can start doing today.

If any person in my life is okay with what happened in Charlottesville and/or is okay with remaining silent, please see yourself out.

To my friends, family, and colleagues of color: I love you, I hear you, and I am working to relieve you of this burden. <3