When It Hits You All Over Again

The atmosphere in Wrigleyville seemed weird and off-kilter. Every sports network seemed to be talking about The Big Sell Off, and in that particular neighborhood there was no getting around it. I walked past a popular mural of Kris Bryant, simultaneously chastising myself for getting emotional. When I shared about it two days later, I was teased for acting like someone had died. And while no one had, the past two days had me thinking of someone close to me that did. Back in 2016, I came down to Wrigley Field (after the Cubs had won the World Series) to stick a note on one of the brick walls in his honor. And since that era has officially come to an end, I found myself wondering how he would have felt about it. What he would think. And I hated having to wonder instead of ask. 

A few months prior I couldn’t sleep, my surroundings unfamiliar. I thought of his little sister’s upcoming wedding and all the ways he could be honored during the occasion. “Together Again” by Janet Jackson played like a loop and I felt the tears before I could register the specific emotion. It wasn’t long before the sniffles became muffled sobs, and I had to bite my lip so I wouldn’t be heard. What’s up with you, woman?! You were euphoric a half hour ago. 

It wasn’t as much sadness as it was vulnerability.  One of the many waves I’ve experienced in the last five years. 

More recently, I was watching a documentary about the life and music of Eric Clapton. He had lost a young son with the same name. And there I was, bawling until my tear ducts had nothing left to give. 

And I suppose that’s just one of the facets of grief; the outpouring of love that you feel like cannot give because that person isn’t physically present. It happens when a memory pops into my head, one that I haven’t thought about in a while. Or I’ll start making correlations between songs, movies, little things that don’t immediately register but hit me later.

There is something about losing someone so young and so suddenly that can only be expressed from the deepest parts of me. I’m not afraid to weep, and I weep to this day because it still seems surreal. Wait, this actually happened? This wasn’t just a bad dream?

My saving grace has been the way so many that I’ve grown up with came together to celebrate his life, and still do to this day. I’ve experienced a similar loss before and didn’t mourn openly, and it led to near disastrous outcomes. It’s easy to say that everyone has different ways of coping, but to go on as if someone didn’t exist, to never mention their name again, that seems almost unfathomable to me. I give thanks that while Connor’s body is not here on earth, his memory and his spirit continuously live on. I see it in my hometown, which I have a different appreciation for compared to a decade ago. I see it in the things he loved, from hunting and fishing to the different bodies of water he spent his days on. I see it in the color green, and in country music. I remember his laugh, his smile, and his sense of humor. 

I knew that fun side of him, but one regret that keeps showing up was that I never got to truly know his heart (or at least we never sat down and had one of those deep conversations). 

I wish he could tell me somehow that he’s okay, and that he’s been reunited with those who went after he did. 

My anger has never been at God, but at the way the rest of the world seems to keep turning while trying to deal with the fact that this has impacted me without words to describe. Even as we’re still going through a pandemic and death is common, many of us hold grudges, live with hardened hearts, or don’t think before speaking, as if it could be the last time. Conflict should not be avoided at all costs, but discussion and resolution should always come from a place of love, regardless if those involved see eye to eye or not. 

I wrestle with that on a daily basis. That and wanting to tell certain people I love them without making it weird. 

I miss you Connor, now and always. 

I know you’re here in some ways, and until we meet again.

Life Lately

It’s midsummer, and I’m taking a respite in the vintage wood-paneled basement so that I’m not exposed to the frequent heat/air conditioner dynamic. My lady lair, as I call it, one of two places where I can recharge and focus without interruption. It’s hard to believe how fast this season has gone, but I suppose it’s natural to feel that way when you’ve been making up for lost time in terms of social outings and get-togethers. In a weird way, I miss the extended periods of rest without the guilt (or wondering what I could be doing that would be considered productive). I try to take at least one day a week to get creative or just let myself be, even if I don’t get fully dressed or only get out of bed to eat and drink coffee.

After being fully vaccinated, I was eager and ready to move forward. I started a new job, and was simultaneously starting to do physical therapy (because pap smears, using menstrual products, and physical intimacy should never be associated with searing pain, regardless of what anyone says). I was finally tackling and making progress in important areas of my life, which was empowering and boosted my confidence as an adult and a woman. One step forward…

…And maybe one or two steps back.

It happened out of nowhere, and initially I thought it was just the typical muscle strain. But I knew something was off when it seemed as if my entire body could barely hold itself up. I was losing my balance and falling in random places, and could barely carry a cup of coffee at times. And then there were the aches, present throughout the day but would especially flare up at night. Not painful per say, but more annoying than anything. I have, and still continue to experience it in my arms, fingers, heels, elbows, as well as my legs. I wondered if it was just a symptom of trauma showing up in physical form from the pandemic, which is why it took time for me to make an appointment with my doctor. That, and I was afraid of being given a list of things that I couldn’t do anymore. 

After an extensive blood test, the results didn’t come up with any serious diseases (which I’m grateful for), and I have an appointment with a specialist next month. I suspect I know what it is based on some research I’ve done, though I’ve tried to avoid Googling anything in order to avoid unecessary anxiety. I’ve been told that I’m just looking for trouble, but I’m only trying to be proactive. There isn’t a whole lot out there about nutrition and health in adults with CP, and I’m in a unique situation where I’ve been physically active and healthy for most of my life. One of my biggest fears is losing my independence; there’s still a lot I want to do, and that includes living on my own, and having a partner (and possibly children). But ultimately I want to show up and be part of the full experience, whether that’s part of my personal life or my career. 

Come what may, I’ll figure it out and adjust accordingly. I always do. 

But I do want to feel good in my body again (which I haven’t felt since I was training for a 5K race in college). Coping with all of all of these things (pelvic pain, achy muscles/joints, etc) can be a very isolating experience. Pelvic pain in particular is something that not a lot of women talk about, and not a lot of professionals in the medical field know about. I continuously fight off the whole “am I enough over here?” and fight through when a lack of empathy tries to tell me that I’m not. I refuse to let any of this change who I am fundamentally, and I refuse to let anyone deter me from what I want to accomplish. In terms of support, I do appreciate people asking about updates and being checked in on. But if nothing else, it’s nice to be reminded that I’m not dealing with these things alone.

One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.

When The Strong Ones Need Support

I’ve been a pillar
The heart of things
Listening and holding space
Praying
Doing life
At first a role
That later became a gift and a blessing

Yet I’ve lived a certain way
Always under the assumption
Of needing help
Yet not wanting to come off
In a negative light
Or to be looked down on

I can be vulnerable
I can share
Initiative is another story
When I don’t always have the language
To articulate experiences or perspectives

Or I spend more energy providing disclaimers
For the sake of comfort

But I want to lean in
To allow myself to be seen and heard
Even when I don’t know what support
Or letting someone “be there” looks like
Depending on the situation
It could be an embrace
Affirmation
Perhaps even validation
Letting it out
Dancing it out
If nothing else, a reminder that I’m not walking alone

Yes I’m strong
Brave
A fighter
A warrior
But I’m also human and not invincible
I don’t want to be untouchable
Or isolated
Despite the above being a response to how I’ve lived
For so long

And I’m tired
And trying to unwire
To say “I need you”
To sit with me
And stand together
Carry me when I need rest
Not to complain
But to connect

On Celebrating My Body

Four years ago this month, I chose to take my body back, putting my energy toward healing rather than hurting and destroying. Recovering from an eating disorder is not black and white, and there is as much of a mental component as there is a physical component. The beginning of the pandemic rocked me mentally, and I found myself teetering on the edge of unhealthy habits in order to cope with the stress of the unknown. Anxiety left me with little to no desire to eat, and when I did I was concerned about my ability to keep it down.

There are times where this kind of journey, this process, this life, has felt like basic survival. Going through the motions. Taking steps and following plans in order to go forward instead of fall backward. And yes, there are seasons, like at the very beginning or after a relapse where that’s the best course of action. But at what point does one shift their focus from surviving and actually start living? Or living again? 

Celebration is vital, and it’s something that’s not talked about enough in support groups and communities. We can talk about body positivity, neutrality, love and acceptance all across the board, but it becomes an echo chamber if we can’t identify and therefore practice what it looks like. And we deserve to. 

Especially now. 

Take All The Pictures (And Pose)

The very invention of the photograph was to create and keep memories, and for a long time you had to appreciate it, regardless of how it developed. Even before social media, I loved picking up a camera and capturing the beauty around me, even at the risk of annoying everyone else. Photography has become a favorite hobby, and I’m not going to deny that I love doing photoshoots (and having mine taken). I haven’t spoken about it much due to the fear of frequent discouragement, but I have been curious about modeling, regardless if it involves money or not. I’m fascinated by the creativity, the set up, and the way everything comes together. 

I want to remember the days, the moments where I feel good; good, confident, and completely and unabashedly myself. As scary as it is to see my body change, it’s even scarier to think about where I’d be or what I’d have to go through if it didn’t. It’s a sense of maturation, a softening, even if it’s not conscious. Your body is allowed to evolve with your mind, and it’s part of why I wear less eyeliner, only use hot tools on my hair when truly needed, and am most comfortable when wearing less clothing. 

I try things, but I don’t share it all with the world, because not everyone deserves to see it. I have a right to pleasure and enjoyment, but I’m rather selective about who I allow into that part of my life. It already feels vulnerable enough, and if I’m going to make it public, there has to be a purpose. I reject shame, and making anyone else feel that way merely because we’ve had different experiences.

Cultivate a sense of Adventure

I adore exploration; There’s something romantic about getting on a train or a plane and wondering what the day holds, who I might meet, and how it would change my life for the better. The recovery time might take longer, and I have to priortize rest and relaxation in the same way I do having a social life. All I can say for sure at the moment is figuring out how to do both is ongoing.

My family and I had to delay a vacation due to the pandemic, and then ended up making it happen almost a year later. It took a lot of balance with making lists and doing research, while still trying to roll with whatever was out of my hands (especially in terms of weather). I’m still a work in progress in regards to asking for what I want, and claiming victory in speaking up and putting something out there. This is especially true for me in relationships, both personally and professionally. 

It’s the kind of curiosity, vision, and creativity that has carried me through a lot of hills and valleys in life, even more so in this last year. 

Move. Dance. And Don’t Worry So Much 

Movement is a gift, and one that I often take for granted. I love to dance, regardless of speed, and despite never having concentrated on one specific type. At times I’m hyper-aware of the way others might watch me, which is why I’ve never been keen on taking classes (due to the impulse of self-comparison and criticism, wondering why I feel like I could but can’t seem to do it like those around me). But when I’m with people, when the lights go down low and the music is loud, I give myself full permission to go all out.. Sometimes I’ll start in on it without fully realizing what’s happening. Sometimes I’m in church, and sometimes I’m on a sticky dance floor surrounded by old-school paneled walls holding memories that could span decades. 

I’m going to a wedding in a couple of weeks, and I haven’t been part of a crazy party since my birthday back in 2019. I’d like to think I’d kick my shoes off and completely let go, or maybe ease back into it, depending on what the vibe is. But I will be in my element, and I will try not to overthink anything. 

Sip and Savor

My relationship with food has been complex as far back as infancy, texture sensitivities and subconsciously absorbing elements of diet culture playing key roles. I know that I enjoy grazing/snacking more than taking in fuller portions, and the latter can be overwhelming to the point where it causes anxiety. I’d like to expand my palate more (I take pride in trying mushroom stuffed pasta recently), but it’s all in the baby steps. I don’t label any food as good or bad, and do my best to listen to what my body wants and when it wants it. Rather than restriction, I focus on variety, even though there are days where all I can do is get something in my stomach, even if it isn’t particularly nutritious. 

I want to be fully able to see food as an experience, rather than something to rush through or survive on. I love the meditative aspect of cooking, and the sentimentality of drinking coffee in the morning and wine or tea in the evening. It’s those parts of my day that force me to go slow, to look around me and pay attention. And if you’ve ever heard me make a raunchy reference to eating chocolate (mousse, gelato, etc) maybe after reading this you’ll understand why. It should be pleasurable, and damn it if it can’t be sensual every so often. 

And when I can’t rejoice in my skin, or the things that come with it, I simply try to show it compassion. Here we are, calloused fingers and toes. Thank you, slightly pudgy tummy that sticks out because of poor posture. It all moves and functions differently, but I adapt and I figure it out. 

Yes, I have thin privilege. Yet I also live in a handicapped/disabled body, which society at large does not celebrate (if that was the case, ableism wouldn’t exist). It feels like a paradox, looking one way but having multiple layers to contend and come to terms with. And that is a whole story for another time. 

Right now, I thank God for four years, and for the way he physically made me. Even where there are days where I struggle and question and want to just get it right already. 

Here’s to draping myself in grace, and grace for those around me.

Let it be so.

Into The Valley (A Reflection)

It was initially described as a mysterious illness, originating outside of the country. Before everything seemed to tilt, I went to church and then traveled to North Carolina with my family. It was just like the flu, some said. It would be gone by July, a local doctor reiterated. When I got off the plane on March 11th of 2020, concern was growing exponentially. I had decided to quarantine out of caution, and then the following day a stay at home order was issued by the local government. Aside from essential businesses, we were on lockdown. 

Covid-19. Caronavirus. It was real, people were dying, and still are. I gathered I was high-risk, but learned that it was more so because my lungs had never fully developed (I had been on a ventilator as an infant). My mom frequently expressed that she was scared for me, and I was scared for my grandparents and my sister. I vaguely remember hearing about H1N1, Ebola, Zika, but there was more reassurance in how it was being handled. This time around, it seemed like all bets were off. 

By day, I was an anxious mess, mostly because everything was so unknown at the time. I hated the constant speculation about the virus in itself, along with what may or may not happen as a result. The news is never not on in my house, so that in itself was a challenge. I blasted music a lot and tried to journal. I didn’t want to eat, and found myself exercising more than usual. I started shutting off notifications and muting websites, which helped but didn’t stop me from doomscrolling (a feel-better attempt that always backfired).

At night, I would fall into a depression. I had just started genuinely getting involved at my church (my first time volunteering with any church, really), and to have the put on hold felt like a loss of possibilities when it came to connection and spiritual growth. A man that I could see myself dating went off the grid, and I had to literally sit with my feelings about it. My brother was on the tail end of his deployment, unsure of how he’d get home or when (after already going through the wringer back in January). And being the extrovert that I am, it was tough to suddenly be so limited in terms of what I could do or who I could see. 

I eventually recognized it as what is commonly known as a trauma response, and what followed is rather blurry. Walks were a saving grace. There were times where I read or watched movies for the entire day because I didn’t have the emotional capacity to do anything else. I Facetimed, Zoomed, and played silly games on Houseparty. I prayed, even when it got tiring and repetitive. And then I cried, waiting until late at night to truly let it out.

But what I remembered most was the little, now-significant moments: the feeling of sunshine on my face. A care package from one of my best friends (because I told her I missed Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee). Listening to Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney on the back patio as the weather warmed. Summertime was different, yet I was fortunate to get outside and be on the water, and did so whenever I had the chance.

In retrospect, I was incredibly fortunate both physically and financially. I’m grateful that I could support friends of mine who struggled with being alone, or were dealing with emotionally taxing situations in addition to the pandemic. Being a rock was part of what kept me going, even if all I could do was listen and validate and not let those people give up on themselves.

The anger didn’t set in until I started trying to get a vaccine appointment last month. I had long held-in anger at an incompetent administration who cared more about pandering to their base than being honest and working alongside health experts. When people cried, “My rights, my freedoms!” I wanted to scream that getting a haircut and going to a restaurant isn’t exactly a right, but a privilege. You don’t get to complain about supposedly being controlled or policed while simultaneously being against marriage equality, denying the existence of racial injustice, and refusing to see the disparities in healthcare. And you don’t have to like wearing a mask or agree with every decision being made, but don’t make things more difficult for those who try to protect the people around them, or can’t “just stay home” (as it’s often oversimplified). Everyone has the right to an opinion, but no one has the right to use that opinion to harm someone else.

I didn’t have the energy to argue in those moments, and I don’t always do well at thinking on my feet. When it comes to choosing physical versus mental health, I don’t have a solid answer. It’s not about following every rule to the letter, but rather, taking care of each other. How differently would this have played out (at least initially) had we collectively focused more on helping one another? How many lives would have been saved? 

How can some Christians say they love Jesus, while refusing to see and meet people in their humanity?

Contemplating the road ahead is an overwhelming thought, and the best way I’m coping is one day at a time. I hope we remember that what was accessible and doable during the pandemic is still entirely possible (especially for the Disability Community). I pray enough people will get the vaccine, or at least be open to getting it in the future. I pray that the generations shaped by this last year will live and love better than the ones before it. May we learn to show compassion to the collective suffering we’ve faced, and sit with one another rather than compare or compete. My we choose humility over superiority, even if our health seems to indicate that we’re invincible. And as life moves forward, may we build a culture of presence instead of constant productivity, and cultivation rather than instant gratification.

Yes, God will do His part, but we also have to do ours

Keep going. Just. Keep. Going.

Unpacking (Another Kind of) Weight

When an anchor feels like a sinker
And you can’t seem to ride the wave
Insecurities, overthinking
Creating a ball and chain
Do this
Be that
What the world doesn’t take it account
That it takes two to make a mess or a miracle
And it’s not on you to have it all figured out

Let go of the blame
Reframe the shame
What’s meant for you is yours
Consider it a victory that you showed up
Being nothing but yourself
It’s heavy, that’s clear
Embrace the tears
But remember one thing for sure
You’re not meant to carry the weight of the world
And sure as hell not all of yours

Another rejection, another hurt
What the blank happened and why
Reasons are complex and layered
Don’t run in circles trying to justify
Take and step back and keep your feet flat
The sun will rise again

Remember that you are loved, valued, and wanted
Even when people try to tell you otherwise
You do not need everyone to see you or understand you
Though acceptance is enough when understanding isn’t always possible

Get out of your head and into your heart
Blank spaces will be filled when they’re meant to
Focus on the truth of who you are
What you were made for
Use your energy wisely
And don’t let ever changing culture dictate your heart or your eyes

Twenty-Nine

It was not quite a typical “quarantine birthday” as I was determined to avoid that, despite knowing that it would be different this year due to Covid. I experienced eating in an outdoor igloo for the first time, and my best friend and I made our own fun out of playing We’re Not Really Strangers and doing a photoshoot (with a bit of bubbly involved). The day itself initially felt weird, waking up to the last year of my twenties and doing my best to fight off the anxiety that  comes with trying to have reasonable expectations. 

My birthday has always meant a lot to me, and up until recently have been uncomfortable with sharing why. Living with a chronic condition, I’ve often gone along to get along for the sake of not being an inconvenience (at best) and not wanting to to bear the frustration of those around me (at worst). That’s only the tip of the iceberg, but it boils down to a birthday being the one day out of the year where I could vocalize what I wanted and how I wanted it. It’s a common attitude there’s some extra emphasis when you have this self-imposed standard to be the easy child. The selfless person. The compassionate one. Whether or not I have been, or if others would see it that way, is another story. 

It might have been the pandemic itself, or it might have been the gradual unfolding of 2020. Regardless, the desire to advocate for myself has been steadily growing and getting louder. I’ve alluded to it in previous writings, but learning and putting it into practice truly is a process. Carrying weight that isn’t mine, and taking responsibility when I don’t have to is a trauma response. Deconstructing and choosing differently involves a lot of grace, perseverance, and trying and trying again.

Self-advocacy is a huge step, especially when you’ve spent most of your life asking for assistance of some kind. The need to be helped and the need to be heard can coexist, and should never be transactional. I’ve known this in theory, but overthinking has often gotten the best of me.  One of the biggest challenges of this pandemic is having to sit with my feelings, wading through what requires deeper reflection, and what requires letting go of. It’s hard when I’m hurting or frustrated and can’t just go be with people, or seek out adventure on a whim due to the virus.

It’s exhausting to constantly ruminate on what to say, when to say it, and how. And the more I hold back, the more agitated I get. Of course there are times when my opinion isn’t required, and I’m aware of navigating circumstances when I’m overcome with insecurity versus confidence. There should always be a balance of considering viewpoints and feelings with pursuing self-care and things that give you joy. 

It’s not about getting what I want every time, but putting something out in the open so that I’m not saturated by anxiety and resentment down the road. Even if a situation pans out differently than I’d like, at least I did my part to the best of my ability. Growing in relationships, whether with people or with God, require getting out of your head and into your heart. A wise friend once told me that rejection is better than inaction, and I haven’t forgotten that since. 

There have been various small victories thus far: admitting what works and hasn’t worked when it comes to redecorating my room. Not hesitating to follow up on tentative plans if we’re still trying to figure out details. Being adamant about taking a ride-share to a dinner date because I wanted to feel more independent. Saying “because I want to” without a detailed explanation. As I publish this, I’m about to make the kind of phone call that typically has me crawling in my skin, but I’m not going to get anywhere if I don’t take initiative.

And it’s the small victories that I hope and pray will add up to breakthroughs, both personally and professionally. I’m cautiously optimistic, after having seen how everything can change and priorities can shift so quickly. But the work is still important, and necessary,

Here’s to speaking up, speaking truth, and progressing forward!

Bring It Forward

When it comes to relationships and vulnerability, there’s a lot of discussion on how to open up and share our experiences, but rarely how to navigate the sacredness and emotion of being on the receiving end. In my nearly three decades of life, I can’t recall a time when showing empathy in and of itself was the norm. Much of my childhood involved problem solving and attempted fixes, and if there wasn’t a solution, you weren’t supposed to dwell on it. Adulthood has shown me that life is a little more complex than that, and the saving grace is having at least a few people who are willing to sit with and or walk with me in various situations. 

I’ve learned a lot about being that type of person, and I think it’s one of the most important things we can do as friends, partners, and just human beings in general. How we do can be tricky to navigate, but there’s always room to grow.

Hold Space

I always try to look at it as an honor and gift when someone confides in me, or even if they’re just sharing more about their life that scratches below the surface. If they broach the subject, I let them have the floor first and don’t speak until they’ve said what they needed to say. Depending on the circumstances (i.e. talking face to face versus texting), I allow a few moments of quiet so that I can process what was said, allowing the opportunity for a response instead of just a mere reaction. If physical touch is welcome, a hand to their knee or shoulder is a subtle but meaningful way to create connection. I’m an emotional person, and I’d say it’s completely normal to tear up at times during the conversation (without changing direction or becoming hysterical). It’s also understandable to not know what to say (in the moment or at all), but you can never go wrong with “I’m grateful that you’re sharing all of this with me. I may not always understand what you’re going through, but I want to affirm that your experiences and feelings are valid And I’m here for you.”

Ask Questions And Check In

Whether before or after a conversation, questions like “How can I support you?” or “What do you need?” are paramount in showing empathy. In the early days of my recovery journey, I didn’t know what support looked like for me right away, but hearing those words allowed me to feel safe and communicate with that person openly once I figured it out (and had the language to express it). It’s not  just limited to a single conversation, and whether or not they say it, people always need something in the midst of all the heaviness. It might be meals, a hot beverage, or invitations to go for walks. It might be rides to or checking in after important appointments/meetings. Basic encouragement texts like “I’m here” and “I love you” mean the world, even if there’s no response. Empathy is not just about the moment, but the ride.

I go back and forth whether it comes to giving and receiving advice. Most of the time if I’m able to process pain or struggle out loud, I can eventually figure out how to move forward. As I’ve written this, I’ve realized my resistance often comes from the fear that the advice itself will be condescending or oversimplified. Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend about an unhealthy situation I had recently taken myself out of. At the end of our conversation, she asked, “Can I give you something to pump you up?” It was much needed wisdom, but with loving and affirming word choice.

Let It Be (Uncomfortable)

The reality is this: you will not be able to take away a person’s pain. You will not be able to change their situation, their heart, or even their outlook. You cannot force people to treat them well. And a difficult fact of life is that most things are not meant to be fixed; they are meant to be experienced, felt, and learned from. So as heartbreaking and frustrating it might be to hear about what a loved one is going through, keep in mind the importance of not making it about you. Be aware of using the word “negative” (a word I loathe because of how dismissive and projectile it sounds), as well as cliche platitudes. If someone specifically asks you to just be quiet and listen, respect that. And when you’re able to process your own feelings, take the time to ask yourself why you might feel the way you do.

As one who is almost compassionate to a fault, viewing myself as a project for a good portion of life, I struggle with the notion that “some people just can’t.” As set in their ways as some may be, I think it’s a matter of whether or not we want to. 

Yet even if the desire to learn (or unlearn) is there, that doesn’t take away the importance of having boundaries.

That can look like pausing difficult conversations, and then come back when one or both parties is in a better head space. 

Establishing that a child should not have to be a therapist for a parent (or any elder, for that matter). Even when the child becomes an adult themselves.

Refusing to be put in the middle of a conflict between people you care about.

Saying, “I care for you and I want to support you, but this is beyond my expertise. Can I help you find professional help?” 

“I’ve already listened, and you know what you need to do. Unless you make a choice, I’m not willing to talk about this anymore.” 

Most importantly, it’s always possible to do these things while still affirming and communicating love. 

And there is Grace. For when we react and project, or assign shame and blame. Grace for when that person overshares, especially at inappropriate times. For when we lash out, or end up completely isolating ourselves from the world. It’s never too late to try, and then try again. 

We can’t go back to pre-internet times, or life without social media. We can’t pretend that the world isn’t saturated with news and opinions, or pretend that it doesn’t influence how we see it. But we can bring it forward, a new way of relating and connecting with those around us. And while it might be different, who says it can’t be better than the decades before?

Inside

Off like a rocket it went

A brother dodging danger

A brief relief with a birthday and the beach

But when spring began it’s usual bloom

The warning signs began to blare

A virus, novel and like no other

From one corner of the world to the next

//

“Stay inside” reverberated some

While a so-called president twiddled his thumbs

Playing it off like a failed casino bet

Omission of truth, for who’s sake?

Declared a pandemic, despite the questioning and ignoring of common sense

Daily news briefs were almost too much to bear

Anxiety, chest pains, and lack of appetite by day

Depression descended as evening fell

//

“Routine, Productivity, Positivity!”

My body responding differently

I didn’t want comfort as much as I wanted personal connection

To physically feel common threads

My extroverted self a little lost in the hubbub

Afraid of losing the confidence I’d gained in the last year

//

So I stayed inside

Detesting “new normal”

Preferring currently reality

Though the unknowns loomed larger 

Than dormancy

A reprieve through walks and sunshine

Access to the water

Mom started a new chapter

The city came alive again

//

Behind closed doors

The desire to walk through fire

To support those who were struggling

To keep living, keep going

They needed me, and I needed them

Late nights

Deep conversations

Protective, patient, and learning how to hold space

Finding different ways

To carry them however I could

Capped by a reunion

A long time coming

//

And then the second wave

Predictable at one point

But could have been avoided

By collective responsibility and respect

The plea to stay inside again

Saved by the grace of changing colors and important milestones

I relished the tv specials

The snuggling up to read, watch, and just be

Real rest, without fear of missing out

My work in progress for as long as I can remember

//

But the fatigue is real

Body aches with unknown origins

Colder weather?

Lack of usual activity?

A response to stress?

//

Yet the most challenging aspect

Was not the confinement of four walls

But the confinement of thoughts inside my mind

Swirling around like storms

To reach out or give space?

To tell the truth, or pretend I’m ok?

Are you ok? Are we ok?

To ask for what I want/need

Or hold it in for as long as possible

//

Distraction could only do so much

When the healthy distractions weren’t always available

Overthinking, deeply feeling

Jealousy, more questions than answers

My prayers feeling dry and without heart

Sitting in the tension

I’m still learning

//

And as the calendar turns again

Cautiously Optimistic comes to mind

With new leadership

New possibilities

Changing seasons

A new year

//

I dream of music and dancing again

Lots of people

Opportunities for living

Being in nature

Assertive

Growing Confidence

Expression

Thriving

Roaring

When You Need A Little Extra Help

I wrote this as I was holding space for someone whom I’m care about very much. This kind of decision should not be made lightly, and should always involve professional evaluation and input. I wrote this based on my own personal experience, and ask that it do not be taken as gospel.

I take a little pill each day
And I was scared at first.
Would it change my personality?
Would it make things even worse?
I had a lot of questions, which were answered with patience and care.
Follow the instructions
Pay attention to your mood and feelings
And then take it from there.

So I took that little pill each day
And it took a couple of weeks.
Over time I noticed that there was a change
But a change involving good things.
I wasn’t crying as much anymore
And the chest pains went away.
I had the headspace that felt lighter and brighter
And the motivation to go about my day.
Some people say I mellowed out
“You’re not as bubbly as you used to be!”
My friend, it’s called the typical stresses of adulthood
Hormones and PMSing.

Haven’t you heard of puberty?

It’s not always magic and instantaneous
I still have to do the work.
Reframing anxious thoughts and coping with uncertainty
But I stay off the edge, for what it’s worth.

It can take some trial and error
Many options, and not all have the same purpose or results.
But it’s better to try and try again
Then to strive for mental wellness
And yet do nothing at all.

What works for me, may not work for you
That’s entirely okay.
But if you’re not a doctor or professional
Please be careful with what you say.
Some people need that little pill, but avoid it due to fear.
Fear of stigma
Fear of criticism
Wanting to be superhuman in the eyes of strangers
But especially to those they most hold dear.

It’s not a lack of faith
Or a desire to numb out.
I’d rather not get stuck inside the prison that is my head at times.
To be able to connect and build relationships.
To seek and experience joy
Is what life is all about!

So if you need that little pill
There’s nothing wrong with you!
Human beings have complexities
Who need a little help, that much is true.

I think it’s brave
I think it’s wise
And who is anyone to judge?
If you take a little pill
You have my support and love!