Mental Illness

It is not your obligation- as a friend, lover, sister, or mother- to fix them. No healthy relationship will ever require you to drain yourself completely of happiness. Don’t ever empty your cup into someone else’s, just because theirs has a crack in it.

A.

Envy

It has been months. There have been a lot of unexpected changes in my life and I feel bad for ghosting on my followers through it all. I’ve been debating about posting a personal update on my blog for a few weeks now- not a rant, I’m all out of anger this week. But today I stumbled across an annoying post on one of those mom groups on facebook and it really rubbed me the wrong way. Not enough to rant about it. Just enough to question the way people view the world and the entire fucking meaning of life. Ya know, normal Amber problems.

I obviously am not going to blast some poor mom for her passing judgements on facebook because I’m not that fucking triggered by it, but her post said something to the effect of:

“I don’t understand how so many people are able to go on vacations with their families, drive new cars all the time, and shower their children in new shit. Does anyone else get a little envious of this? I see it all the time, and I KNOW these people do NOT make more money than us.”

Wow. Way to hit the nail on its head. This kind of envy is exactly what social media was created to do to people. If I had been more observant I might have glanced off to the bottom of the screen to see what kind of products were being advertised. Probably a Princess Cruise and a Ford Explorer. I’m not the kind of person to get invested in what people say on facebook. These people aren’t polishing their words in Microsoft office before they share them. They don’t worry much about the repercussions of “offending” people because we live in an age where everyone is offended and nobody even knows why. I did concern myself with the comments though. I glanced through, just to review the response from her “mom peers.”

Most people were polite, explaining that every family has different priorities and different struggles. Some people blamed credit cards or blamed irresponsible parents. Others noted that families often invest and make a lot of money off it. But everyone who commented had one thing in common. They all empathized with having envy.

I’m not going to preach to you about how being envious is a sin. I don’t believe in heaven or hell- or much at all, to be quite honest. Envy is only a sin to someone who believes that god will punishment them for it. We punish ourselves enough with envy.

In February my husband and I decided to start looking for a house. To buy. In San Diego. My husband and I were both 24 years old and had never owned a home before. As many of you know, we moved here from Michigan in 2015 and left our family and our support systems behind in search of a different kind of lifestyle. Nothing will make you feel more isolated than having half the people you know tell you that you are making the wrong choice. But we’re so used to it by now that, when people told us not to buy a house, we used it as motivation to buy one faster.

On February 26th a seller accepted our offer and we began the escrow period for buying our house. I used to wonder how people afforded the things that they had. I used to wonder how they stretched their money out and were able to live happy, fulfilled lives. I wondered how people had the energy to budget their money down to the last penny. But the truth is that if you want to live the lifestyle that someone broadcasts on social media, it’s gonna smack you right in the fucking face.

Over the last two months my life was saturated. I had no time to stop and take a breath, let alone write about it. I started working nights from home and my husband started bringing work home with him. My time was owned by banks and my mind was constantly fleeting from one task to the next. Now that we are settling into our home, I’m taking more time to appreciate what I have. I don’t need to appreciate what someone else has.

Today it is raining. And I am breathing. Please take this as a gentle reminder to value the things that are most important in your life. Do not let those priorities include envy. Envy does not motivate you to be better. It motivates you to value someone else’s success over your own.

A.

No

you bought me a drink

that i did not ask for

like a four dollar beer

was enough

to make me fear

walking out of the bar alone

like you could fucking own

me with a tab

you were never going to pay

anyway

– i said ‘no’

The Game of Life

life will chew you up

and spit out the pieces

that it doesn’t like

but those pieces

are the best parts of you

the ones that survived

don’t leave them

lying around

for the world to pick through

Renewing Resolutions

Happy New Year! And welcome to the first week of (fill in year here) where everyone sets ridiculously high expectations for themselves. 2018 turns a fresh page in life, where people are able to reflect on their past year and feel remorse for some of the poor decisions made in 2017. Despite the review of poor outcomes, a trending Millennial view on New Year’s resolutions is to simply not make one. While I stand behind the premise, I think it’s pretty dense to live life entirely void of expectations for yourself. Just take it slow, lower the bar, and plan it out.

2017 was a trying year for me but it was also very rewarding. It’s easy to overlook the successes when they are overshadowed by hardships. Sometimes the best days were a result of the worst months. Deployment was by far one of the largest hurdles I have jumped in my entire life.

Six months of separation from my husband were all resting on one day when we were reunited. I look back at moments from my husbands deployment and think about how difficult life really was for me. Despite all of my trials and tribulations, I always looked to the women who had it harder. It is far too easy to set expectations for life without really knowing what it is going to look like.

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In June of 2017, my husband carried my 11 month old son down the pier and kissed us both goodbye before sailing across the Pacific Ocean. Now, I’m accustomed to be being alone, but it is difficult to swallow the idea of being separated for six months. I’ve watched women crumble at the thought of such a long separation, but at this point in our lives, I find it laughable.

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One of the best pieces of advice I followed was given to me by a woman working full time, while pregnant, taking care of two daughters, and running her own house during her husbands deployment. She told me to never wait to be happy. Deployment is a hurdle- and I had to jump it. Ready or not, happy or sad- there was no “out” for me. There is no easy way out in life, no simple solutions- and no fucking easy street.

There are always going to be hardships with each passing year. If your expectation is to never have difficulty in your life, then your resolutions will shatter by the end of this week. Strength is how we overcome obstacles in life, not how we avoid them.

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Resolve to reorganize. It is easy to allow the modern day conveniences to run your bank account and your life. If you want to get healthy, don’t sign up for a gym membership. Cancel your Netflix subscription and walk around the produce department at the grocery store. Money aside, your resolution should benefit you more than the retail companies marketing the ideas to you.

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Change comes from within us. This year, I resolve to let the house get messy. I want the dishes to pile up and the clean clothes to get wrinkled before I fold them. I want to wear the same sleep shorts for three nights in a row because I don’t give a fuck with the neighbors think of me when I take the dog out in the morning. I resolve to invite people over to my messy house for dinner. I resolve to cultivate relationships in unlikely places, wash my hair a little less, and smile before I’ve brushed my teeth in the morning. I resolve to give myself just as much of me as I give to everyone else. I resolve to kiss my husband with food in my mouth and take myself less seriously when I do it. In fact, I resolve to take everyone less seriously. I resolve to spend more time with my son than I do cleaning up after him.

Let life be messy, enjoy it.

A.

How to Take “Constructive Criticism”

Being a parent is hard. It’s a job that requires no qualifications- but demands 100% effort. Nobody goes to school for this. The most guidance we receive comes from the 90 minute classes on child birthing during the second trimester of pregnancy. The “oh shit” moments don’t start happening until the first night home from the hospital. That’s when we realize that these tiny humans are going to dictate the rest of our lives. Forever. No really. Forever.

The pressure starts before the contractions. Three months into the first trimester, I broke the news to our family. It was a Christmas party. I remember hugging each family member and whispering the news into their ear. The sweetest surprises are the ones that are the most anticipated. Everyone was ecstatic. The putrid droplets of wisdom, long since expired, dropped from their lips like they had been saved, all this time, just for this very moment. But everyone is going to have their own advice. Their own stories. Suggestions.

Parents are good at feeling attacked. It’s not because we are too sensitive or emotional. Becoming a parent is like being signed up to a class, dedicated to telling you that you don’t fucking matter anymore. And every lesson plan is a new piece of advice, conflicting with every other piece of advice you have ever heard. And at the end of each day, you’re told that everything you have done is wrong and that you failed. No matter who you listen to. No matter what tools you use. You are wrong.

Older generations have told me that I am easily offended. I see it every day in the comments section of every controversial facebook meme. I can’t figure out if they honestly believe that their advice is so important that it should be valued above research studies and personal experiences. Social media has allowed opinions to be valued over relationships. It’s easier to delete Aunt Karen on Facebook than to tell her that taking castor oil in labor can literally kill an unborn baby. People want to believe that the advice they followed was the right advice. So much so that they will steer other people to follow it. There is a fight to be right in parenting.

Social media holds my generation accountable for every word we say, every step we take, and every second of our parenting. The more we share, the more we are criticized. There are like, 40 states between my family and everyone I grew up with- but social media makes it feel like they live right next door. I’m faced with the challenge of wanting everyone to be as involved in my son’s life as possible, while not wanting to share the most intimate details and decisions in my life.

I do not let fear of failure or judgement control my decisions. The two faces of facebook became apparent to me when I climbed a mountain with my son when he was 9 months old. My photos exploded with likes and reactions. But my inbox was beaming with questions of criticism and worry.

“Don’t you think that is a little dangerous…”

“What’s the matter with you!? You could have gotten hurt!”

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Why the fuck would I listen to that? Is that my responsibility as a parent? To fucking drown in someone else’s worries and concerns? Because my lifestyle as a parent is to go hiking and mountain climbing with my family, do you honestly believe that it gives you the right to have an unchallenged opinion? News flash: Opinions do not have to be spoken and shared every time they run through your head. You can actually just not say anything at all. There’s this really cool thing that I’m allowed to do as a parent. I’ve been doing it for a while now actually and it’s working out great. I don’t really have a name for it but I highly recommend that you try it. Don’t fucking respond to people’s criticisms or questions. Ignore them. It’s fucking amazing, I’m telling you. I literally get to decide how much negativity people dump into my life. And I do it all by not giving a fuck.

It’s ironic because the generations that are the quickest to accuse millennials of being “too sensitive” are the quickest to get hurt when you don’t accept their opinions blindly. Don’t let social media tell you how happy you are allowed to be.

A.

History Lessons

the funny thing about history is that it doesn’t matter. it doesn’t matter whether it is true or not. history is always written in the perspective of the victors. history is rarely written correctly. but no matter what happens, one thing will always be true. history repeats itself. we built mediums so that we could write history and decide, for the first time in history, how the future plays out. and instead of building a fantasy, we write the same words that have been written on tombstones for centuries. not everyone can be a good storyteller. but everyone tells stories.

A.

On Being Thankful

The holidays are always bittersweet for my family. While everyone seems to be shopping feverishly for deals, filled with excitement for the Christmas season, I notice that I actively try to disappear into the chaos. My inbox fills with questions about where I will be spending Thanksgiving, how my family is going to spend Christmas, and my favorite; “Will you be flying back home so that you aren’t alone?”

As much as I love my family and understand that they are just trying to include me in their love for togetherness, being “thankful” for generosity and kind words is a lot harder for me during this season. As much as it appeals to everyone else for me to book a last minute flight and empty my bank account to make the family happy, THAT is not the life I chose.

In November of 2014, my favorite person in the world took me to the most secluded spot he could think of- Dauner Trails. It was a cold winter in Michigan- but that was irrelevant to us. We were in love. When we got to the end of the trail, pitch black and freezing, he shined his flashlight on a bouquet of Dahlias he had placed out there earlier in the day, and knelt down into the snow. There, in the frigid trails and completely secluded from the rest of our loved ones, he proposed to me.

And I said “yes.”

I said “yes” to more than marriage that night. I said “yes” to leaving my entire family behind so that I could start my own. I said “yes” to the cold reality that is being alone. I said “yes” to the dark days during the holiday season when I will not be sitting around a table with my family. I said “yes” to being alone in a life that we created together.

I’m not a martyr. This is the life I agreed to. My husband will not be sitting with me at my dinner table this year, complimenting my green bean casserole and joking around about how I can’t cook a turkey so I always have to cook ham. My husband will not be helping me put up our Christmas tree after dinner in lieu of tradition. And guess what! I’m still here. I’m still living this life that we created together.

Yes, I am sad. I am disappointed. I am frustrated. But I chose this life and these holidays without the person I sacrificed so much for. Because to me, it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was a trade off. I traded my goodnight kisses for late night emails. I traded my home style holidays for amazon prime packages. And I traded my husband’s presence for someone else’s security.

I am thankful for the love that I feel unconditionally from family and friends. I am thankful for all of my loved ones in San Diego who reached out to me this season. I am thankful that I have a place that I feel welcomed for dinner. I am thankful that my dinner will not be Chinese takeout with my toddler.

My only request is that, instead of guilting me with your pity and your disappointment, be thankful for the memories you get to make with your own families. Because of the sacrifices of mine. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially those who serve.

A.