Where I Feel

Anger is felt in the pit of the stomach. Anger is felt often these days. Anger clenches the lower abdominal muscles and causes your insides to rumble and rage until your whole body starts to feel the effects. Your head may start to pound, fists clench, eventually your whole body shakes and if you do not control yourself you will either go off on someone or throw/hit something, but it always originates in the pit of your stomach.

Things that may trigger anger: having your life ripped out from under you and you not being able to do anything but sit back and watch, college, feeling trapped, watching someone else drive YOUR car when you can’t, being uncertain of how you are going to make it through the year, thinking at all about your current situation, etc.

Sadness is a weight in the chest and it’s a constant companion. Sometimes it is dandelion fluff floating through your lungs, brushing the walls of your chest, and planting itself in your chest… some of the seeds will never blossom, others will become a field of sadness. Other times sadness is a thousand bricks against your ribs, threatening to break each one. In those moments, there is no room for your heart or your lungs to function, so they stop working altogether. There is no science for how you survive these times.

Things that may trigger sadness: Being broken, grief, feeling trapped, thinking at all. Currently, though, the biggest trigger for sadness is nothing. Sadness just exists and no rhyme or reason can really explain why it is here.

Anxiety is felt in the hands. Anxiety is always there, but sometimes it demands attention. Symptoms of anxiety include clenching and shaking hands that cling to tightly or let go too soon. The bones inside creak and crack with every movement and the muscles cramp until you think your hand might fall off. Anxiety can also be felt inside the mind: causing you to think intrusive and irrational thoughts, which tend to be hard to distinguish from reality.

Things that may trigger anxiety: Anything, literally anything. And sometimes nothing. Sometimes nothing happens and still anxiety attacks.

Happiness is in the spine. It is a rare guest that only visits for short times, but when it does visit it trails down the spine like a shiver and the feeling echoes through the spinal chord until all the nerves vibrate with the sensation.

Things that may trigger happiness: perfect rainstorms, filterless conversations, road trips, sunsets, the stars/ the moon, and art.

 Numbness starts in the toes- always the toes– and it creeps up your legs, wrapping around the base of your spine and twisting into the pit of your stomach. The numb curls around your spine and into your skull, locking your jaw shut and weeding its way into your brain. The stem that twisted its way into your stomach wraps up and around your ribs, into your lungs, and cacoons your heart. Soon you are a shell of a person. A robot: run completely on auto-pilot.

Things that may trigger numbness: Being completely overwhelmed with other emotions that one does not know how to handle them or gives up trying to handle them.

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Everything in me wants to dismiss all of what I feel and say “hey, I’m struggling right now, but don’t worry I’m fine. I’ll be fine.” But I’ll be honest, I’m not really convinced of that. Can anyone really look me in the eye and say with a 100% guarantee that everything is going to be okay in six months?

Life is a tightwire and right now I am teetering. I might even fall.

I might fall and shatter into a million pieces… it won’t be the first time. The question is will I be able to be put back together this time? Or is this the time that finally does me in? How many times do I have to fall before I get to sit on a shelf?

You know God, I don’t know if you have noticed, but I have balance issues and I could use a nice shelf rather than this tightwire.

Does saying things like that make me a bad Christian? I’m supposed to be all happy and cheerful all the time, right? That’s why I feel like I’m not allowed to feel anything negative about what happens in my life for more than like a day or two. I’m supposed to just accept it and move on. That’s what being a good Christian is. A complacent ragdoll, who never gets angry or sad, in the hands of God.

  1. If that’s what being a Christian is, I think I’ll pass.
  2. If that’s what makes a good Christian then David was a bad Christian too. (Just read Psalms)

 

So. Here is a moment of blatant honesty:

I am angry. I’m angry that I can’t drive and that I have to watch someone else drive my car that I was so excited to have this semester. I’m angry that I’m having seizures and that my summer didn’t go as planned and that I feel so helpless and broken. And I’m angry that I have to get a minor that I don’t want and that it feels like my major is being treated like a joke. But most of all, I’m angry because I’m trying my best and something always seems to come and rip away my hard work and it all seems to be for nothing.

I am sad. Incredibly sad. Because people have died and people are dying. Because life is hard and I am tired.

I am a torrent of emotions and my toes are numb.

Anyone who says I am not allowed to feel this way… may be right. But right now, I don’t can’t help it. I don’t know how to not.

And whether I am “allowed” to or not, that has to be okay for right now.

 

Oh, one more emotion…

Love runs through the bloodstream. It is the warmth of the sun and mist from the ocean. Love is a hot drink on a chilly morning. Love is random texts and spending all day in bed with your best friend, watching TV. Love is the feeling of being alive.

And on these days when I am filled with sadness and anger and a whole torrent of emotion. On these days when my toes are numb, I have one silent plea in the back of my mind…

“Love, please don’t leave me.”

 

 

 

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A Letter to my Anxiety Pt. 2

Dear Anxiety,

I know you feel like home should be a safe place, like you shouldn’t exist in the walls of our house. I know you insist that being around the people we grew up with, bled with, laughed with, and adventured with should erase any reason for unease. I know that you think familiarity should mean no surprises or cause for panic.

However, the last three weeks have proved that to be false. You have been racing through my mind like a child given too much sugar. You blurt out nonsense and run into doors. You are bouncing off walls and screaming as you run through the hallway into my bedroom. You jump on my bed and refuse to let me sleep – because if you are awake then so am I.

You’re overwhelmed, I understand that. But Anxiety, we have got to settle down. We can’t lay on the floor, shaking, unable to climb into the bed that is right beside us, chest aching because you decided to read all the files on Dad’s health. Anxiety, I know that this is not easy. I’m not saying that you need to act like everything is okay. I’m saying that the only reason we got into bed should not have been that we didn’t want to keep someone, who had to work in the morning, awake.

Your motivation for trying to be better should not be to make sure everyone else is comfortable and okay.

At some point, everyone else will be okay and you will have to be better for yourself… or we are just going to stay stuck here forever. Anxiety, you can’t expect a place to be the thing that controls you. Yes, people and places can help, but they aren’t going to fix us. Stop asking them to.

Anxiety, we are fighting a war with ourself. We can accept help and support. We need that help and support. We need those allies who stand by us, no matter how weak we feel. They are crucial. BUT. But they cannot fight our battles. They cannot tell our mind “No” when it tries to self-destrict or tries to convince us that we are useless. Only we can do that.

I don’t have much else to say to you right now, but I think that I will write you again soon. Who knows, maybe I’ll write to you a lot? You are a pretty big part of my life. So I guess that’s it for now. Please, just think about what I said? We can come up with plans to work on it later.

Sincerely,

Me

 

Nameless Thoughts

“I wanted to write down exactly what I felt but somehow the paper stayed empty.

And I could not have described it any better.”

I survived my first year of college. This last semester was a lot. Life, in general, has been a lot. I could rant about college and all the obstacles that were faced (such as falling down stairs and getting a concussion), but I have other things to ramble about.

In fact, currently, five drafts for a new post lay unfinished on this site… some only miss a conclusion, others barely have the first sentence.

One draft is a conversation between myself and the mirror: I tell you how the mirror drags me in every morning to tell me violent words and then it stalks me in every reflection and how I see it most clearly in the reflection of the eyes of people I love. I tell you how I avoid the mirror with all my strength and how it shatters and plants itself inside my body so that every move and every breath I take is a fight. I tell you how I fight the mirror every day because I know that it must be wrong. I even let you know that most days, I lose.

Another draft reveals how I am having trouble finding home. This draft talks about how home is where the heart is, but my heart has been so shattered by life that it is scattered in a thousand different places; and if it is in a thousand places –  which place is home? And where is home when my heart shuts down?

The Pitfalls of a People Pleaser considers the ways I am afraid of failing people. This draft exposes my fear that if I fail people they will give up on me; it tells how what I’m really afraid of is failing myself and that one-day people will see me the way I see myself.

The draft about how I am dealing with life is completely blank.

The last draft, titled “A Love Story”, is a letter from my depression. It only has one sentence: “I can’t stand you.”

The topics of these drafts seem to vary and yet are exactly the same.

I have so much to talk about, I just don’t know how to say it.

I’m feeling so much, yet I am feeling nothing at all.

I feel like a blank piece of paper that used to be covered in writing… it’s all been erased, but I’m covered in eraser shavings and if you squint or look at the right angle, you can see what used to be written. I’m a blank piece of paper that people have told me will be made into a masterpiece… yet I look at myself with all my marks and indents and eraser shavings and all I see is the piece of paper I would rip out of my sketchbook and throw away because it’s no good anymore, it’s too messed up.

I guess it’s okay then, that I’m only a mediocre artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Letter to My Anxiety

 

Dear Anxiety,

We’ve been talking more than usual recently… well, you’ve been talking more than usual recently. I haven’t been able to get a word in edgewise, so I decided to write you this letter.

I’ll start with an apology. I’m sorry that I wear combat boots, I know they scare you. I’m sorry that I trip over my words as much as I do my feet. I’m sorry that I waited until last minute to turn in that assignment. Anxiety, I am so sorry that I allow change to happen without warning you. Most of all, I am sorry that I forget to breathe when you speak, I know this only makes you panic.

Anxiety, I know you are only trying to help me, but please, don’t forget that you are the poison in my veins. You explode against my bones and leak through my skin. You build dams between my head and lungs, forcing pent up emotions over the edges of my eyes. You puncture my heart and fill it with the ink until it can no longer beat… All in the name of keeping me safe.

I understand that this is how you function: filling each step with fear and doubt so that I will always look before I try to move forward. You see the unknown and understand the dangers that may appear, understand the risk it will take to step into this change, and you fight to keep me away from it. You do not want to see me hurt. You are trying to protect me: protect me from the heartwrenching pain that could so easily be inflicted if I take the wrong step.

This protectiveness is what causes our current dilemma. You fear the change that is happening, I understand. I understand that the unknown is full of danger and the possibility of hurt. You remind me often of endless possibilities, all ending in tragedy, yet for someone so obsessed with “what if”, you seem to have missed the most crucial question: What if it’s worth it?

Anxiety, I am not asking you to leave, you are apart of me and I don’t know what I would do without you, but I think its time to compromise. I will only wear my combat boots when you are sleeping and cannot hear my echoing footsteps. I’ll work hard to turn in assignments earlier so that you can rest easy. I will breathe when you speak.

I will do all this if you promise to do something for me: consider more than just tragedy when you venture towards futures unknown. More than that, consider the struggle, pain, and danger that these futures hold, and realize that every future, every possibility will be full of turmoil and unease, there will be heartbreak and danger, but this does not mean that we refuse to go on. Anxiety, we are going to die, but we can’t let this stop us from living.

I understand that this compromise will prove difficult for both of us. The challenges we face as we move forward will be great, we will be tempted to fall into old patterns, but I am willing to try if you are.

Sincerely,

Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightmares and Change

Since about the age of fourteen, I’ve had this reoccurring nightmare where I’m standing alone on an abandoned road, and I turn and suddenly I’m face to face with someone I care about and I find myself asking the question, “Am I enough?” They whisper, they always whisper, “no.” The no seems to go on forever until it is ringing in my ears and I can feel it in every fiber of my being, “NO.” I haven’t had that dream for a few months, but, for some reason, I had it last night. Except for this time, it was someone new whispering that dreaded word. Usually, I can predict which of the three or four people that are typically standing there with me, but not last night. Last night I turned and found myself facing this new person and I could feel my whole body clench with terror. My brain started panicking, not you, not you, not you. 

I’m not entirely sure what triggered that nightmare, but I’m sure it has something to do with the stress of school and the fact that things are changing. If there is one thing in this world that I don’t know how to deal with, its change. Especially abrupt change. Ever since I was little, I didn’t handle sudden change well. Even if I was the one making things change. I don’t know how to handle that sudden shift in dynamics that happens when things change.

Now, some might say that the reason I don’t like abrupt change is that I take my time in everything. I’ve never been one to rush into anything. I will always be the one to ponder everything that goes into change. I’ll look at it from every angle, analyze every possible outcome, and consider every possible obstacle that might show up. I do this with everything, even if I know that the change is going to happen, no matter what I do or, if it’s my choice whether or not that change will happen and I know what my decision will be. If it’s of any significance to me, I won’t rush into anything or make a defining decision at one precise moment.

The only change I can handle anywhere near well is a slow change. The kind of change where it might be missed in the day to day if one doesn’t pay close attention. Like how people will go from an acquaintance to your best friend. In most cases, you can’t really give a specific moment that they shifted from someone you barely knew to the person you tell everything to. The shift in dynamics is slow and subtle, yet you can’t deny the stark contrast from when you first met too now.

In either form of change, my anxiety likes to run rampant. Anxiety causes me to question everything I do. Sometimes, this can be a good thing, like when I go to say a sarcastic comment in a completely inappropriate setting. Thanks to anxiety I don’t say the comment. But more often than not, anxiety has me questioning every interaction with the people in my life- especially the newer people. Maybe I’m too much or maybe I’m not enough. Maybe I said the wrong thing, maybe I didn’t say enough. My brain screams that I’m going to mess everything up, even though it has no proof or logical reason. The worst part is that I know it’s unreasonable. I know it doesn’t make any sense. But that doesn’t stop my chest from threatening to collapse in on itself or my brain from screaming to every atom in my being, run.

But I refuse to let it stop me from changing. My anxiety will not stop me from going to new places, whether it be geographically, mentally, or emotionally. I will get there, you just have to bear with me. There are days where I will stumble over the words in my mouth and the feelings in my chest, but bear with me, I’ll get there eventually. Somedays I will be open-minded and free and somedays I will be trapped in the cage of my brain, but bear with me, I’ll make it there eventually. One day, you will get tired of waiting for me to say that I’m ready to go to this new destination and ask me if I will ever be ready to go and I will look at you in confusion because I’m already there, I just walked slowly. Bear with me, I will get there eventually.

Change is inevitable. Change is unstoppable. Change is terrifying. Change is beautiful. Embrace it… even if you fear it. Change is how we grow. Its how we fail and how we succeed. Change brings new people and gets rid of old ones. It hurts and it is rarely easy. But one day, we will look back on the changes that have come and gone through our lives and the pain and the loss, the risks that proved wrong, and the mistakes will still be there, but maybe, just maybe, we will also see the things that made it worth it.

Rambling About Perspective

I should be doing homework right now, but I finally figured out how to say what was on my mind. So here I am writing this rather than an interview paper.

I like to make jokes about how college has taught me things like “time is irrelevant, sleep schedules are a myth, healthy eating habits are a joke, and it is perfectly reasonable to write papers twenty minutes before class.” All of which is true. But as the semester is coming to an end, I’ve realized that one thing college has taught me the most about is perspective.

Now, I am, at best, a mediocre artist (I could be better, but I don’t put enough effort into it). But I took enough lessons and attempt it enough that I have a decent amount of knowledge about how art looks from a sketching perspective. You see, it’s all about shading. You have to decide where the light is coming from so that you know where to put the shadows. If you know where it’s supposed to be brightest then you can figure out where it is darkest. You bring dimension by highlighting certain parts and shading in around those parts, so that that the highlights are more noticeable. It’s all about knowing how light works and how to use shadows to make the light more noticeable.

This perspective on perspective has become more and more relevant to my life over the last three months. The focus is on the light, the light is the most relevant and vital thing. But you can’t ignore the shadows. In order for the picture to be complete, there have to be shadows. Some shadows are barely noticeable… others are black as the darkest night. Both bring out the light in different ways. Both are vital to a masterpiece.

We are full of shadows. Some are the shadows created by a tree on a bright day, you still see everything about the tree, the shadow hides nothing. In fact, the shadow creates the perfect outline of the tree. Other shadows are the ones in your closet on a starless night. There is no telling what it hides. It terrifies you. The people that try to help give you a flashlight and say, “There is nothing to be afraid of. Just shine the light in and you’ll see that it looks exactly like it’s supposed to and you have no reason to be scared.” They don’t realize that that’s exactly what scares you. That you’ll open your eyes, shine a light inside, and see exactly what you’re supposed to see. That this is what a closet is supposed to be like. That there is no monster to kill and you’re just scared of the dark.

This terrifies us because we can fight monsters, even kill them. But if it’s just a closet, there is nothing to fight, nothing to kill. It all belongs to you and you have to decide if you keep what’s in the closet or you get rid of it. It’s not easy to go through your closet. Somethings are easy to get rid of or keep, sure. But somethings are of great sentimental value and yet you know you can’t keep them, whether it’s because they don’t fit you anymore or because you simply don’t wear them and keeping them would be useless. Other things look old and worn, but you keep them because they keep you warm. Sure they don’t always look the best, messy from years of use, but there is no way you are parting from them. As hard as it is, you make progress and that’s what matters. Sure, you may keep a thing or two that you should get rid of, but it’s okay, this won’t be the last time you have to go through the closet. You’ll get there eventually.

It’s at this point, when you’re going through your closet, that people start giving you things, and they are usually really nice things that you want. But you don’t have room in your closet right now. Right now, putting new things in your closet is going to stop you from going through the rest of your closet. So, you say, “thank you, but no. I don’t have room in my closet.” But rather than just take the nice thing away, they tell you that they’ll make sure it stays available until you have room in your closet unless you say that you just don’t want it. The thing is, you want the nice thing, you want it a lot. You just can’t have it right now and you don’t really know when you’ll have the capacity for it. Now you’re at a crossroads: yes, you want the nice thing and yes, they are willing to wait to give it to you. But you aren’t sure when you’ll have the room, so maybe you should just tell them you don’t want it, then they can give it to someone else. So, you just sit in the closet and watch the person with the nice thing. You know, you have to decide what to do soon, but for a minute you just take a few deep breathes and think about anything else. That’s okay for the minute, just don’t stay there.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what all this means, where it was all leading to. Well, me too. I’m still not sure what all is going to come of this, but somebody recently reminded me that someday this will all be worth it. That one day all this nonsensical stuff will become sensical stuff. I think we forget that sometimes. That things will work out, but more than that, they will be worth it.

 

And to end this rambling post, here are a few random pictures from this semester

My Existential Crisis Thus Far

My brain is a really weird place… I tried to think of a poetic way to describe it and I thought It’s a very colorful shadow… Then I realized that my brain just called itself a colorful shadow. And also, what does that even mean??? Isn’t a shadow the absence of light? And isn’t color caused by light?

… And that’s been my day so far…

Actually, that’s been my last few weeks. I just randomly realize very basic things about myself that shock me more than they should. I would say I am borderline having an existential crisis.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go back to the beginning of this… experience. It was July 16th. My mom’s 40th birthday. We were having a surprise-ish party for her and then that evening I would go to a friend’s house to dog sit for a few days. And all of those things happened, except that they were dulled by the fact that my older brother was counting the hours he had to live. Kind of puts a damper on things, wouldn’t you say? Then very, very late that night or very, very early the next morning we got the news that he was gone. Matthew had died, leaving behind a young widow and an eight-year-old son. My parents were already on the way down to Tennessee, while I was housesitting. My next few days were spent in ignorant bliss where it didn’t feel real. And while I would have been perfectly content to have stayed in that feeling, life doesn’t work that way. So, come Thursday, my entire family and I spent six long hours enduring the visitation. And I do mean LONG hours. Then Friday was the funeral. That was long and rough. Everyone cried. A lot. But you know, seeing an eight-year-old boy salute his daddy one last time will do that to you. It was an amazing funeral. Matt would have loved it. It was big and full of all his military buddies. By the end of it, we were all exhausted. Emotionally and physically.

Losing a sibling sucks. So, do me a favor and go hug your sibling, tell them you love ’em. Cause no matter how annoying they are. How much you disagree. They’re still your brother/sister and losing them will kill you.

OH! Did I mention that my graduation party was Saturday… the day after the funeral? Because, yeah, that was a thing. I would like to say that I did alright. You know, managed my way through it. But I had a mental breakdown because the coffee ran out before I could get a full cup. Now, I value my coffee. More than I should. But I don’t typically crumple down to the floor and start crying because I had to wait ten minutes for the next pot to brew. So, yeah, maybe didn’t handle that day as well as I would like to say I did. Honestly, it wasn’t until the party actually started that I felt any excitement over anything really. And the party was fantastic. I was blessed beyond belief. So many people showed up, it was amazing. I also became the proud co-parent of Dora. Dora the Toaster. Which may be the only grandchild my parents get from me.

Thankfully, the rest of July was pretty mellow. I spent a week at my aunt and uncle’s. Had a bonfire with the peeps. Got called out for being negative. Discovered that I really want a longboard. And upped my hipster game a bit. I also said goodbye to all of my church people. Babysat for life group for the last time. I’ve actually had a few “last times”.

To say the least, the last few weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster. And it doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. In exactly ten days, I leave for college. My Dad started chemo today. It just keeps going. And going. And going. Am I overwhelmed? Probably. Stressed? Definitely. Do I have any idea what I’m doing? That would be a big fat no. This borderline existential crisis seems to bring out the fact that I have really strong opinions and big plans, but ultimately I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know what the point of my existence is. I don’t know why I am right here. Right now. I don’t why my life has been the adventure is has been. I don’t know why I am the way that I am. I just don’t know.

What I do know is this. God looked at his plan for this world and decided it needed a sarcastic, weird, slightly confused, girl. Someone who would get lost in thought at all the wrong times. To have the memory of a goldfish and yet be able to retain odd and supposedly useless information. Someone who struggles to retain math and loves to write. Who looks at the world upside down and thinks about black holes a lot. Someone who wants to travel the world, but doesn’t have enough money to buy a longboard. Someone who doubts her own worth and fights to keep the darkness out of her head. Who loves dogs and the outdoors. A girl who is all about that #vanlife and adventure. A girl who asks too many questions. Who loves Him and really just wants to see His plans for her. God looked at this world and decided it needed little, old me. And you know what, He decided it needed you too.