I Showered Today

Those with mental illness have always said that when you have depression or crippling anxiety, sometimes the smallest tasks seem unbearable. I am one of those and today this is how I feel. But, I’m still here. For now.

I Showered Today

I showered today

And, To you it may seem small.

But I got up, I got out of bed when I didn’t have to. I got out of bed.

I got out of bed.

I say I got out of bed because that’s the only place I’ve been. My sanctuary. My home.

I don’t want to leave my home.

But I got out of bed.

One foot in front of the other, I twisted the knob and opened the door. One step, two steps, three steps… there.

I made it.

Can I go back to bed. No.

I grab a towel and set it aside. Good intentions aren’t good enough.

I undress. I’m naked in front of the mirror. I pause, scrutinizing every bruise, every flaw.

The deepest ones you can’t see, they grow inside around my organs. My heart, my lungs, my stomach. Hard to breathe. Hard to eat. Hard to beat.

Hard to sleep.

I step inside. The warmth touches my skin. And as it cleanses my body it cleanses my soul, I sob.

Sobbing. I remember I am whole.

Whole without people, places or things. Whole on my own without a single ring. Possibilities vanish down the drain.

I’m still whole. Maybe sad. Maybe unwell. The thorns loosen.

I return to my bed.

I showered today.

Awake

The following is a recent spoken word I wrote about unresolved conflict in my life. Read it in the cadence you wish. Thank you for taking the time.

AWAKE

Four days since dreaming of worms

They poured out of my hand like they made it a home and now they had to go.

Foreboding. People of ill repute will now leave. That’s what the book says. I come to it with my dreams, hopefully learning what all of this means.

People will leave. This time in droves.

But, it’s good right? An emotional, a people cleanse.

I lie awake. I think about the worms.

My time is a waterfall.

Rushing , a loud, enormous presence. It demands attention.

My sanity is fading. Parts of me disappearing.

I look at the clock. The hours pass, one, then two, then three and so on.

No sounds exist, no people.

Just me. My thoughts.

And the worms.

They are there. Flowing out of me like secrets.

Secrets. I never tell them. They don’t exist.

You don’t exist. I don’t exist.

I am awake.

2 o’clock. Almost on the dot. I am awake.

Every moment there. I lay awake.

I am alone.

Trying anything, everything to catch sleep.

I swell with another bottle of wine, daydreams of another man’s bed, just to pass the time.

Fighting the urge to swipe left and right. Keeping my options open so I just might

Feel something else. Dream something, someone, somewhere else.

Brief peace seems to sneak sleep.

2 o’clock returns. And the worms.

I am awake.

On love and fear

Current status: body brought to you by cheese. Can I get an amen from all my comfort eaters out there? Most recently it was because I was on my cycle and I feel like I need to comfort my dilapidated uterus with food, but after that upheaval is over the cheese cravings still remain.

I wanted to finish my latest series on love with this post: on love and fear.

I’m an emotional eater. When I notice my eating patterns changing I have to step back and reassess some of the mindless emotional decisions I’ve been making. Needless to say, it’s happened recently. So what emotions am I leaning into a lot lately? Love and fear. Because, don’t the two always kinda go hand in hand? Let’s dig a little deeper.

I think love is one of those universal concepts everyone wants to experience. It is both a feeling and an action. It’s both tactical and abstract. It’s the anomaly of feelings. And, there happens to be several different types of love. From platonic to deep romantic in love love. It’s a scale.

The antithesis of love some might say is hate. That’s not incorrect. But, I believe it to also be fear. Fear keeps us from bravely leaning into love. Fear keeps us from action. Fear tells us we are both too much and never enough. Fear imbeds in us the deepest of all insecurities… we’re not worthy of love.

I’m not a very insecure person anymore when it comes to certain things. I don’t mind being naked. It doesn’t bother me to speak in front of crowds. I’m not afraid of talking to strangers or trying new things or dancing in public or looking silly in really any way. But, for as much as those insecurities don’t exist, some very real ones still do.

I was at lunch with a few friends today and while we were chatting someone asked me why I think so and so acted a specific way. I responded with my opinion that he’s insecure. And then, the quietest and eldest one of the group calmly chimed in, “aren’t we all insecure?” Boom. Yeah, yes we are. And while I can talk about insecurities for a whole separate post… I’ll just say they are the bastard child of fear and vanity.

As I drove home I began to think about the past couple of months and how both my relationships and my life have changed. Drastically. And where change is, fear closely follows.

I love aspects of my new job and concurrently my new life, but I also fear I won’t be able to keep up this hectic schedule much longer. I fear I won’t be able to teach certain classes well, or worse, injure someone because I’m bad at it. Or, with all this cheesy laziness I’ll start to look less like a Pilates instructor and more like an Oompah Loompa and they’ll know I’m a fraud. Not doing things well… that’s an underlying insecurity that keeps me up at night.

Rounding third and heading home… why you’re here. Love and fear. My relationships have been a disaster lately. The romantic ones come down to one main folly…fear. It motivates me to be an idiot. And, sadly, the more I love you the more of an idiot I’m going to be. I’ll be insecure. I’ll start to second guess everything about our relationship. And then, I’ll start to make things up in my head and believe them to be true. All of this is because of fear. Especially when it comes to dating.

This week I decided to lean into the fear instead of running from it. To figure out the main issue and what it is that I’m really afraid of. One of those things being that the deep feeling of loneliness that I’ve had looming over me the past few months will never go away. I’d been filling my time with dates or new friendships that I don’t really have any investment in. And, none of those things really affected the loneliness at all, instead I just ended up wasting time with nice guys that’ll be nothing more than just nice guys. Fear that I’m not able to like anyone else because I already love someone. Fear that I don’t know what that looks like, don’t know if he feels the same, perhaps he’s just wasting time with me to feel less lonely. Fear I’m his nice girl. Fear that no one really ever loves anyone. Fear of running out of things to say. Fear of saying too much. Fear of being too much, just the way I am. Fear of being alone. Alone.

So what’s a girl to do? I started by deleting all my dating apps. All three of them… no judgment. I politely declined the invitations of dudes both new and old this week to go out. (Especially after one particularly scary first date we’ll get to another time! ) And that’ll continue, I’m trying to be more greedy with my time. It’s valuable… because I’m valuable. I think I lost that part of myself. It’s back now. I have very high self worth but it doesn’t mean fear doesn’t compromise that every once in a while.

I’ll also continue to lean into fear. What’s the worst that could happen? You’re never completely alone I tell myself, you have great friends. So what if your vision for your life doesn’t come to fruition, maybe that just means a better story is being written. If someone doesn’t love you the way you love them, that’s okay. Perhaps they just can’t. Perhaps they needed you more than you need them. Unrequited love is not going to kill you. And, it always makes for a great story. Silver linings. You are enough. I am enough. Fill your life with things and people that bring you joy and make your life full. But, don’t neglect the fact that without things and people you are not incomplete. They don’t fulfill us. We are complete on our own. They compliment our lives, make them full and bring us joy.

I hope you have found some value in my ramblings. That you’ll lean into fear and be brave. That you’ll love harder and stronger and with fear but that that fear will be the idea of losing out on something great because you didn’t try. I hope you try. Take chances. And, if it doesn’t work, you’ll leave having loved hard and fearlessly.

That’s my hope for all of us. Love well, the best you can, while you can. None of us are getting out of here alive.

On soulmates

This month I wanted to write about love. Honestly it’s a topic that’s come up rather frequently in the past couple of months. I really decided on this series when I had a chat with my friend. She’s been married for like ten years and when I asked her how she knew she was in love, she said she didn’t know if she’s ever truly been in love.

So I continued to ask questions. How did you/do you know that you’re in love? Is it a feeling that you’ve met “the one”? Is the one out there? Do we all have a soulmate? I need answers. So I sought them.

There is an overwhelming majority that believes in the existence of soulmates. Some even went as far to say they knew for a fact God existed because they were brought together with their soulmate. Many argued that their relationship was easy from day one, so obviously they’re destined. That was just the commentary in favor on my Facebook. Online there’s a whole heap of literature arguing for the existence of soulmates.

Some say soulmates exist in two different forms: romantic partners and platonic friends. The actual definition regards a soulmate as someone ideally suited for another as a close friend or partner. One of my friends believes our souls are little pieces scattered everywhere and those pieces live in other people and when we meet them we feel instantly connected because they hold a piece of us.

One of my friends thinks that soulmates exist because, science. But, this same friend also thinks we’re destined to never find our soulmates because it’s mathematically improbable. Bleak.

I’m not going to dismiss people’s hopeful ideals of love, but I will say that I don’t believe they exist. I believe love is a spectrum and the choice is ours how far we’ll place someone on that spectrum. Love is a feeling but also a choice and an action. The idea of soulmates often negates the idea that love is action.

I was watching a Netflix movie today. The whole premise of the movie was this guy going back in time to alter his relationship with his friend he has a crush on. Regardless of what he did he’d wake up three years later to find his life altered and her to be with the same guy she’s in love with from the beginning. By the end he realizes they were never meant to be but that the whole time it was actually her best friend he was in love with. Point of that movie might be that her soulmate was first guy and their destiny was to find each other. I think the point is that sometimes we’re so busy chasing a feeling that we ignore what is good for us and is almost always already present in our lives. We ignore the reality to chase the fantasy.

So, no I don’t believe soulmates exist. I think you have to put real work in. I think that we meet people of significance in our lives and we immediately know it. Time will tell whether that significance is good or bad and that feeling doesn’t negate the fact there will be work.

I’ve always been keen to significance in my life. I almost always know immediately whether someone will be important to me. This feeling has been the mark of several very important friendships and a couple of romantic relationships. And just because someone is significant doesn’t mean they’re going to around forever.

All of my significant romantic relationships have been the result of this “feeling” in the beginning. But, ultimately if that person doesn’t choose me back, if they hurt me, if they neglect me, if they treat me like I’m nothing… not a feeling in the world will make me stick around for that. And ,that’s the problem with soulmates too. People are afraid to leave. They’re willing to put up with mediocrity because of the sham that they’ve met their soulmate.

Relationships are hard. People are hard. But, people are worth loving and it sucks to be lonely!

I’m in favor of special people in our lives. I think we should love hard and fiercely and without fear. We shouldn’t be afraid to tell people how we feel about them. We should show them through action and not just words. Love people who love you, without fear, without hurt, without excuse. Those are your soulmates.

Solitude

Currently I’m sitting in one of my favorite fast casual dining spots in my city. I’ve been here numerous times on dates and with friends. I’m not normally a creature of habit when it comes to ordering, but here I am. I almost always get the salmon ceasar salad, because it’s delicious and because I hate catfish. I’ll keep it fresh by ordering a beer, black beans or sweet potato fries if I’m feeling particularly adventurous. 

Today I sit alone. Today I enjoy my solitude.

I don’t know why but people treat lone eaters as sad. While I’m a relatively sad person in general, I’m not sad because I eat alone and I’m not alone because I’m sad. When did solitude become such a burden. Why do we view this as less than?

My goal for February is to write a series of blogs on love and relationships. I’ve been scouring my Facebook for fodder. But, before we even get started, I wanted to write on solitude. I really think that before we can be with anyone, we’ve got to be okay with being alone with ourselves. If you can’t love yourself and take care of yourself, how can you expect anyone to know how to love or take care of you.

I’ve been alone most of my life so I’m very comfortable in my solitude. Being with people is very hard. Humans are hard ,so relationships are hard. It’s easy to be alone, but it’s not growing. And while the solitude offers many benefits, there are a lot of perks to being with people. 

So, before we dig deep into a series on love and relationships, I wanted to highlight all the things I know to be true about solitude and being alone. This is, after all, my area of expertise. 

Being alone and being lonely don’t always go hand in hand. I know numerous people who are surrounded by people almost always. They have significant others, an overflowing friend group and some even have kids. Yet, even still, they remain some of the most lonesome people I know. So, loneliness doesn’t always equate to being alone. I am sometimes my loneliest admidst a room full of people. The flip side of that is that being alone doesn’t always equal being lonely. Today I spent almost my entire afternoon alone. I took myself out for a meal, a movie, coffee & cupcakes and even shopped for a few things. I might have been alone but I didn’t feel lonely. I was doing things I enjoy, on my own time and it was nice not to have to factor in another human. I sometimes get “peopled out” and I need time and space to recharge.

Being alone is better than bad relationships. I really try in relationships. Sometimes way too much. A nurturer by nature, I often give more than I receive. And, I do this until I just have to tap out. I’m learning it’s better to be alone than spend your energy and time on people who don’t value it. This goes for both friendships and romantic relationships. A friend of mine recently said, “I do a lot. So I value time with myself over almost anything. If you’re getting my time it means that I’m giving up that greatly valued personal time. Don’t waste it and understand it’s fucking valuable. I have to like you more than I like my own time.” The greatest thing we can give people is our time. Don’t waste it on those who don’t value or deserve it. Sometimes that means reassessing our relationships and understanding that even though we care or love a person, they’re just bad for us. If you don’t add value, I’m going to have to let you go.

Being alone helps you be with someone else. I’be been alone the better part of my  adult life. I’m good at it. I find joy in solitude. Mostly. Being alone has taught me what I want, don’t want, what I need and what I don’t need. 

I went on a date a couple of weeks ago. This guy was a total dreamboat. He was 6’7 , successful, muscular, smart, a gentleman , charming, funny and really nice. He even called me on the phone after our date so he could hear my voice and ask me out again. Perfect on paper and yet I politely declined another date. The problem was, his ambitions didn’t really line up with my ambitions. What he valued didn’t exactly line up with what I valued. All he could talk about was arranging his life around having season basketball tickets and buying new things . He wanted to do all these things but yet worked a job he hated just to keep up a lavish lifestyle. I’m not judging that, I’m just saying stuff is not what I value. Living in a small town near the city I grew up in, raising a bunch of kids and getting comfortable in monotony so we can live surrounded by stuff, that’s not going to be my life. Good for him, not for me. And, while twenty year old me would’ve been tempted to marry Mr. Perfect on Paper, 28 year old me knows she’s better off alone. It’s better to be alone and happy than with someone and miserable. It’s so easy to let someone else steal your possibilities. 

People don’t need people. People want people. And when you’re able to come to terms with the fact that loving someone is a choice and you make that choice constantly, it gives you the freedom to choose wisely. And, there’s nothing wrong with choosing solitude. You don’t need a person to complete you. You are a complete person on your own. Instead choose a partner who compliments you. Someone who can live alongside you and cheer you on as you do the same. Someone who adds value to your life and who cherishes time with you. 

Six Years Later

toa-heftiba-274947A few months ago I was talking with a friend and a question came up… if you were given the opportunity to make something right or tell someone something and it was the last time you were able to do that, who would you choose and what would you say? I didn’t have the answer then. I think I chose something that would have been nice but I don’t think it was the real honest answer. So, because I’m not a verbal processor and I’m a writer, I’m going to share this answer with you & the universe.

To be honest, I think we all have that one thing we wish we would have said, that one apology, I love you and I’m really glad your in my life kind of thing. The following is a short and concise version of that for me. These are words that are actually too late to say but nevertheless they are true.

So here is my very real, honest and vulnerable apology love letter.

___________,

Sorry it’s taken so long. I’m not great with relationships. You know that all too well. It’s been a very long time. My fault of course. I cut you out of my life entirely. I do that and I am sorry. But the truth is I miss you. It use to be every couple of minutes, then every hour, then every few weeks, then every month and now every few months I think about you. The less and less I think about you the more it makes me kind of sad. Sad that would have, should have moments exist in our lives. Sad because it was of my own making. But,  it’s very easy to romanticize the past. It’s simple to reminisce about rose colored glass versions of people. I have a very real and rosy version of you in my mind. But… that’s all kind of changed.

This year was really difficult in ways I could have never imagined. It made me question  a lot of different things I thought to be true. One of those things was love. Once upon a time I thought I loved you. You were my best friend. But, the timing was never right. The gumption was never there. And, even though I was young and not a fully formed adult, I knew that I was way too much for someone like you. You treated me with so much kindness and grace all the time. You cared about what I cared about. You wanted to get to know my crazy family. You supported me in ways a lot of people didn’t. And… at the end of the day, you were there. You were there when I needed someone. Until… you weren’t.

The reason I could never tell you I loved you was because I wasn’t sure it was true. There were things I loved about you, but other things I really really didn’t. You were passive. You weren’t ambitious. Your number one priority was to get married and mine wasn’t.  And, most of all, you never fought for me. That’s the hard part. No one does. I leave. It’s what I do when things get hard. But, it’s not always what I want. I expected more.

I’ve learned a lot about love since then. There’s many different types. The fact that you can love people in different seasons of your life. And, when you want a person, you don’t get to choose which part, you take the whole thing and hope that all the good outweighs the bad. You also don’t get to choose when a person enters or leaves your life. I’m learning to embrace my seasons with people.

I use to think our timing was just a bit off. If I had met you later in life I would’ve been ready. Truth is, I’m not the same person. You’re not the same person. And, at the end of the day I cared about you in the right season of my life. I’m sorry it wasn’t enough. I’m sorry that I left and that I wasn’t a better friend. I’m sorry I broke your heart a little. I didn’t love you well. Love is a choice and it’s manifested through action. I didn’t choose you and I left. I chose me. My goals, ambitions and selfishness were my priorities.

Ours was the healthiest unhealthy relationship I’ve ever had. Complicated. Messy. I don’t do any of those things for very long you know. And I’m really good at cold cut endings. I’m sorry you were part of that. You were my best friend. Now you’re not.

Truth is, you don’t need my apology. You are happy. I know because you’ve found your person. You’ve made a life. A life you wanted, a life that you deserve. I’m happy that you are happy. This apology was really for me. Parts of me are still pretty selfish. I blamed you for all of it. I sowed a seed of bitterness towards you that made it super simple to walk away. But in all honest, I very much bare a lot of the blame.

So, one last I’m sorry and I’ll be done. I wish you well. Thank you for being the one who made me happy for a little while, for showing me what a good and decent man looks like and for treating me with kindness when I didn’t even know how to give that to myself. I’m glad we met. I’m glad you’re a forever piece of my story. Go, be happy.

with love,

Kate

The Darkest, Twistiest Thing

ian-robinson-181741I am about to share something I am wholeheartedly tired of people (myself included) tiptoeing around. It is a very difficult post for me to write. But it’s something I don’t take lightly because I know I’m not alone and I share in hopes that you will know you’re not alone too.

Mental illness. Today just so happens to be World Mental Health Day. Here are a few stats around that:

  • 1 in 5 (or 43.8 million) adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (or 10 million) adults experience a serious mental illness.
  • 1 in 100 (or 2.4 million) live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% (or 6.1 million) of Americans have bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% (or 16 million) suffer from severe depression.
  • 18.1% (or 42 million) live with an anxiety disorder.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

And yet, we don’t talk about it. Words are taken lightly, like depression or anxiety just to name a few. As someone who has suffered from clinical depression and anxiety for almost all of my life… there’s a few things I would like to clear up. These are a few of my truths.

I’m going to warn you, this list isn’t pretty. It’s not cute. And above all, it doesn’t mean I’m combustible, fragile or need to be tiptoed around. If anything my broken bits let the light in and I’m a stronger human because of them.

From a very early age all that people remarked about me was my smile. Partially because it was too big for my face, but mainly because I did a lot of it. Be mindful that sometimes, behind someone smiling there can be hurt and a whole lot of lonliness. Happiness doesn’t always constitute joy, and sometimes people plaster on fake smiles for you to stop asking if they’re alright. Maybe just be there, be present, listen.

I want you to know these things because I am one in five. I am one in 18. I am one of 10 million. I’m just one. And there are so so many of us out there. But, the truth is… I’m lucky. In many regards I shouldn’t be alive typing out this post right now. But, I’m strong. And, I know that this is not all of me.

Here are some things you should know:

  1. Mental illness looks different on everyone. The signs are different, the reasons are different. The coping is different. I cope with “shut the door” phases and smelling the candle isle in Target. I mean, I never said I was a sane person.
  2. Being sad is NOT the same thing as being depressed. Sadness is an emotion, depression is more of a state of being. And there are many levels of depression. Sometimes people suffer from seasonal depression because of winter and whatnot, yes that is a real thing you should take seriously.
  3. Depression and anxiety can come out of nowhere, at least for me. Sometimes there are days that I know I’m not particularly feeling happy, but other times I can be the happiest ever and then all of a sudden have a panic attack or just want to crawl into a hole. It’s not a pretty thing to witness, but it’s an awful thing to experience.
  4. Suicide is not about you, usually. I don’t know everyone who has ever committed suicide nor attempted, but I speak from what I know. There are sometimes earth shattering things that occur that make people want to do that. But in that moment, no matter the reason, that person just doesn’t want to exist. It’s not a level of selfishness they are aware of, life is just all too much, all at once. A friend of mine explained it by saying, “People with chronic depression, it’s not that they want to die, it’s that they have to talk themselves into existing. Sometimes every minute of everyday, and sometimes they lose that battle.”
  5. Anxiety and worry are not the same thing. Anxiety is often irrational. I have a really hard time trusting people. I overanalyze everything, everyone and every situation because of anxiety. Sometimes, it’s exhausting.
  6. Sometimes you can help people, sometimes you can’t. People need to help themselves first. There is no amount of words that can be reasoned out if a person at the end of the day doesn’t believe that life is worth living. What you can do is meet them where they need to be met and love them the best that you can. Show them that you are glad they exist. Show them that they are loved and wanted. That’s what you can do for them, and if that doesn’t work…if that isn’t enough, there really isn’t anything else you could have done.
  7. Asking for help isn’t shameful. Talking about your shit isn’t shameful. It’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to take medication if there is a need and it will help. Sometimes it is hormones. Sometimes it is an imbalance. Talk to someone. Anyone. You are worth that conversation.
  8. It doesn’t need to be glorified. It took me a long time to stop using this as an excuse not to live my best life. There were days, weeks, months that I would lock myself away in my room refusing to come out other than to go to school or to any place I had to. A lot of that time I didn’t even eat. I used it as an excuse to cripple myself and waste time in my life. Experiences, opportunities wasted because I was wallowing. I’m not saying that you don’t deserve to feel the way you feel. You deserve to feel the full spectrum of human emotion… but it’s not all of you. Acknowledge that feeling and then move on. The deepest problems arise when we dwell on it, when we focus our whole being on it.
  9. You don’t have to understand. If you have a friend or someone you care about has depression or anxiety or any mental illness at all and you don’t… they don’t want you to understand. They want you to acknowledge that this is how they feel, that’s it. You don’t have to try to make it better, you don’t have to say that everything will be alright… just listen. Just acknowledge that this is how they feel, ask if they need anything, and listen.
  10. You don’t have to justify. Yeah… I’m a twenty something, moderately pretty, smart, funny, well-liked, moderately affluent, white woman… what do I have to be depressed about. Stop it. I feel the way I feel. My own family, some of my closest friends don’t even acknowledge this aspect of my life. Just because those you love don’t acknowledge or know what to do about it doesn’t mean you have to justify or explain it. It’s just your truth. This is your struggle. This is their struggle. You are not broken, this is just part of your story. Instead of allowing it to cripple you, use it to be better.

 

Don’t treat your people differently. Just acknowledge that this is a part of them. For some of us, happiness takes effort. For some of us, we have to reason out our existence. For me,  this aspect of my life has made me kinder, more empathetic and more understanding of humanity as a whole. Just listen and acknowledge your people’s truth.

So yeah… I am a lot of dark and twisty. I feel a LOT of things. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s just true.

I don’t need you to take care of me. I don’t need you to fight for me. I need to fight for me.