Blog post

You make me stronger; hand me my armor.

I wrote a post last month about an old set of armor. The subject line probably sounds familiar if you read that one. Thank you if it did. Thank you for taking your precious time to read my words.

That armor is being retired, though. Recycled is maybe a better word. I don’t want to forget where I came from or lose appreciation for how far I’ve come.

This time of year always makes me feel guilty. I’ve spent the last 11 years feeling like a terrible daughter, because society as a whole thinks that I should still let toxic family members be a part of my life. It makes me feel like a bad daughter, a bad older sister, a bad younger sister, a bad aunt. In some ways I am. In many ways I’m not, though, and I’ve been punishing myself for getting away from my abuse for 11 years. That guilt and fear are my old armor, and I’m ready to be done with it.

I’m not 100% over it. There are things I’m still afraid of. There are still people I’m afraid of. But damn, I am so tired of carrying around those fears like shackles. I am so done using them as a crutch and a shield to deny myself happiness.

Like. Wow. Wow, this is such a good feeling. I’m sitting here crying alone at the keyboard, but I’m crying because this feels so good. I have never felt this good about myself in my life. I caught a glimpse of it when I was 21 and realized that I didn’t need to keep my abusers in my life. But this is feeling? Of letting myself be happy?

I wish you all felt this. I know many of you do, but I know that some of you don’t, and only you can do that. I hope you get there some day. Because honestly, I wouldn’t feel this way without any of you.  If you’re reading this, you’ve shown me what an actual family feels like. You make me feel safe, like if those people tried to hurt me that I wouldn’t have to be afraid. Like I don’t have to be so damn stubbornly independent, like it’s okay to ask for help. Like I don’t have to rely on my own strength for everything, like I can be vulnerable. You make me feel valued, and like I’m not a waste of space, like I have a voice that matters.

It’s so freeing to know that I’m allowed to like myself, and love myself, and be happy despite mistakes I’ve made. I can’t change those things, but I can learn and do better. I’m allowed to admit I’m a good person, and I deserve to have amazing people in my life, and I deserve love, and I deserve to feel pretty. Maybe one day I’ll feel beautiful. I’m getting there.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep taking care of myself, and treat myself right, and expect other people to treat me well too. I’m going to take care of my nearest and dearest, because I can, and because other people took care of me when I felt like I was at my worst, and because my purpose on this earth is to love and support people even if I accomplish nothing else. I’m allowed to rely on other people when I need it, because I don’t get to choose what other people are willing to do, or what they feel, or what they want to give and share with me. I don’t get to choose how much they like me or love me, and I don’t get to tell them they shouldn’t spend their time on me.

I’m tired of being the person who used her sad story as a reason to settle for things. I’m tired of being a girl who almost settled for a guy once because he was handsome and paid attention to her, but was only nice when he was sober. Thankfully I was strong enough to cut that out early. Apparently he turned out to be the sort of guy who hit his baby’s mom, and I’ve already been someone’s punching bag, and my whole family were alcoholics. I’ve already decided never again. I deserve someone who is going to lift me up instead of push me down. I’m allowed to let my friends help me with things. I’m allowed to start growing some roots instead of being ready to run.

Maybe one day I won’t feel like I need to hide behind a pseudonym online, and I’ll stop being afraid of being found because I have amazing people around me who will be there even if I’m afraid. There are still things I’m working on, like student debt, and getting healthy, but those aren’t a reason to cling to the mistakes of a scared 21 year old girl. It feels so good to put my trust in my friends and the Universe.

I’m ready to treat my apartment like a home and not a pit stop. Everything I have is either easy to pack or easy to part with. Even when I lived with other people, I felt like I was just a second-rate person. I’d like a real home. My small community makes me feel more secure every day. Thank you for these happy tears.

Blog post

I just have a lot of feelings

Hello, friends. I want to talk about kindness.

On the surface, being kind may seem like the obvious thing to do. I am here to tell you this: being kind is an act of revolution.

From small things like holding the door open for someone, or paying for someone’s coffee who is behind you in line, to donating money for people in need, no act is too small. Random acts of kindness warm my heart and fill me with so much hope for humanity. For a little while I see that yes, we are capable of so much good. We have so much potential to be better than we are. Embracing our emotions and expressing our feelings when everything else is telling us to suppress them is incredibly brave. Letting yourself be vulnerable around others is courageous. Holding others up when they are on the verge of crumbling is in direct opposition to the vitriol that says we should let them fall apart.

I try to be that person. I want to be someone’s safe space and comfort, and make others feel valued. There is too much casual cruelty during day-to-day life to spend my time and energy tearing others down when I could offer a hand to hold or shoulder to lean on. Perhaps I am too aware of this to a fault, because it is nearly always on my mind. I constantly look for ways to put others at ease and take the phrase “Be the change you want to see in the world” very seriously. I am so mortified of the idea of making someone uncomfortable that I rarely initiate anything, which is a ridiculous notion, because these things work both ways, and that also undermines the autonomy of others.

My point is, I want to strive to be better and braver. I want to open up more, and live more vulnerably while also developing a thicker skin. I spend so much time trying to read others’ emotions while keeping mine carefully tucked away so they experience minimal bruising. That makes it difficult to fill my day with kindness, and even more difficult to make new friends when I am worried about seeming too forward or enthusiastic.

I cannot think of anything more admirable or badass than being kind when opportunities present themselves. Even better, create your own opportunities. Surprise someone. Be their moment of calm, even if just for a few seconds. Be a small revolution.

 

Blog post

Having a Community

Several weeks ago, many members of the North-Central Ohio Writers group attended a retreat, and I was fortunate enough to go.

Others have already made posts about their experience and what occurred (see the previous post I linked to on this blog), so I will spare the recap of the activities and ramble about my thoughts/feelings/emotions.

You may have noticed this blog is rather quiet, and that is because I am still going through that weird Ominous Feeling and questioning my abilities. You know, the whole “maybe I’m just good at coming up with concepts and ideas and not skilled enough to execute and make the words happen.” All my works-in-progress are stalled because that doubt  gets to me every time I open a writing file, or jot an idea in my notebook, or think about editing something.

Going to the NCOW retreat helped push some of that doubt away. I could not ask for a better community of writers, and am so glad that some of our newer members joined us, too. I felt safe to share my ideas and worries, and wish that we had more time because being around that group is incredibly comforting. At thirty, I am still looking for a place where I feel like I belong, and while I still have a desire to live in a bigger city, being around these people always feels like I belong, like an extension of Home.

I learned things about myself, my writing, and got to know this group even more. Being creative in general can be so exhausting. Sometimes that exhaustion is great and fulfilling, and sometimes it’s more tiring and feels like a weight holding me down. When I feel like burning all my writing, I think of them, and their kind words, and tell myself that there are people who actually want to read what I have written.

I would have given up by now if it weren’t for these people. Maybe not entirely, but the motivation from these people makes me think that I have a chance, and that someone cares about the stories I want to tell. On top of that, I am so excited to see all of the wonderful things this group is going to produce, because damn, do we have an amazingly talented community.

Thank you, Carma, for planning all of that for us, and thank you to everyone else who attended and helped organize and contribute. I am so lucky to be part of our growing community.