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.

Soft

I notice myself getting softer with age. I care more, I hurt longer, I’m empathetic towards people I never cared for when I was younger. But that’s what happens when you focus less on how the world has wronged you, and instead focus your energy on how you have wronged the world.

When you seek out my help, I will lend you my hands. If life fills you with sadness, I will catch your tears. When your mind brims with worry, I will open my heart.

If you close your eyes, you will never see the kindness that others are ready to give. Love will seem ingenuous where the greatest intentions lie. Your perspective will sour the words of people who once showed you the greatest kindness.

Growing softer does not make me weaker. It makes it easier for me absorb the pain. To catch the tears. And dance in the rain.

A.

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 be Successful

Ever since I was old enough to listen, I’ve allowed people to define the way I view my own success. I was born into a generation that was told that we could have anything as long as we wanted it bad enough. But I have spent my whole life wanting and asking and working and every time I find myself within inches of the finish line, I fail.

For awhile I blamed myself. I wondered why I was standing in my own way of success. When I got angry enough, I would blame the world. I started writing when I was 12 years old. My first work: a suicide note. After being bed ridden with an illness that rendered me unable to take care of my own basic needs for 6 months, I could think of nothing else that I wanted more than to go back to school. But when I got back to my 5th grade classroom, I found that my classmates had stolen my possessions. They filled my desk with trash and ripped up my artwork.

My classmates thought I was dying. Maybe they wanted something to remember me by, maybe they wanted to destroy my painful memory. But nothing hurt me like the day that kids started telling me that they wished I was dead. I had just beaten an infectious disease that nobody had ever heard of and that was my reward for such a great success.

I didn’t fucking ask for a participation trophy.

There are defining moments in our lives that shape who we become as individuals. My illness did shape the person that I was going to become. My definition of success shaped my character and my future and fuck, it probably shaped my morals and parenting and just about every other aspect of my life. At 12 years old, I thought it would be better to end it all than to continue living with that fucked up vision of myself. But I didn’t.

I remember my first day of college. I got lost in the science building. I felt like an idiot. My science professor was an asshole. He made every person in that lecture hall feel like a piece of garbage. I wanted to raise my hand and ask him why he had to make us feel inferior in order for him to feel like a successful teacher. I never thought that the teachers were supposed to belittle their students. I left campus feeling pretty shitty about myself that day. I found my car, navigated the one-way roads, went north instead of south on the freeway, and cried “wee wee wee” all the way home.

I approached my parents driveway slowly, wondering how I was going to tell them that I wasn’t cut out for college like I thought I was. I’ll never forget how I pulled in the driveway with tears in my eyes, feeling like the tiniest fleck of shit that had ever graced a public restroom. As I parked my car and wiped my eyes, I looked up to see my father standing at the top of the driveway. I could see his eyes glisten with pride as he smiled. His only child had just finished her first day of college. I had surpassed him in graduating high school and setting out to do things that he never could have imagined for himself.

Defining Moments.

I’ve spent my whole life telling people to fuck off and I’m not going to stop now. If you don’t like the way that someone paints your success, you have every right to tell them to fuck off. Not everyone is going to have the perfect paintbrush to highlight your best features. I’ve been struggling through adult life for awhile now and I’ve learned that age defines the things we hate, not the people we are.

As a teenager, I hated children. I hated that I was forced to transition into a different part of life before I was ready. I hated that I was sexualized before I was fucking ready to be. I hated that children didn’t have to care about what they looked like and I did. I hated that I was forced to be picked last for sports. I hated that I was still treated like a child, even though boys were allowed to touch me in ways that I didn’t even want to touch myself.

My twenties made me hate teenagers. I despise how they make mistakes and don’t learn from them. I don’t understand how they sleep all day and stay up all night and don’t pay attention to the world. I hate how they feel the need to be the center of attention. And then I stop. Because I do not want to be a part of the generation that hates the younger generation.

Every age comes with it’s own challenges and defining moments. When I’m 60, I will not be criticizing the only people who can save me. If I die at 70, a plate of success will be my last supper. I will decide what is on that plate. You can dine at my table or you can fuck off.

A.

Waiting

i am the wife of a man, who lives in a tin can. from the moment i said that ‘i do’, this is the life that i choose. i choose to love the breeze that brings his love to me from what ever fucking fleet that he sails through this week.

but my son didn’t choose this life. he was forced to accept this- like we accepted it, 6 months in, with a bulge between my hips, we cried together when we realized he would miss our unborn sons first birthday.

people tell me to be optimistic but follow it up with, ‘i don’t know how you do it’, and seal my casket off with ‘you chose this, so get over it’.

but i have to be careful with optimism. saying things like, ‘i have a surprise for you’ is a slap on the wrist to a boy with one wish so fatefully diminished. you can seal it with a kiss. but how insulting is it to fill a child’s head with hope, knowing that he is going to feel punished?

A.