And Add a Sprinkle of Glitter…

Baggage… We all carry it. What’s in your baggage? Daddy issues, tragedy, grief, bitterness, shame, hatred? Maybe your baggage is full of rainbows, unicorns, butterflies, and glitter? Like most people, you probably have a combination of all of the above.

It is interesting because baggage is usually referred to in a negative context. If a divorced woman enters into a relationship with 5 kids and her ex cheated on her, people might say “she has a lot of baggage… you sure you want to be with her.” Frankly, this is a ridiculous statement. Yeah, this woman is carrying some stuff with her but we are all lugging shit around! Baggage can contain anything ranging from wreckage to joyful wonder.

Lately, I have been reflecting a lot on my own baggage. I just finished graduate school and haven’t started my job yet. I’ve got some time on my hands. Anyways, I realized something about myself that frankly shocked me. A lot of the shit that I have in my baggage is leading me to see myself as a victim. Ugh! Even writing that sentence disgusts me. You see, I’d like to see myself as a confident, thriving, and powerful woman. Instead, I have let past resentments, losses, pains, discriminations, etc. shape me into someone I’d rather not recognize.

I am incredibly grateful for my life. I am actually pretty happy and resilient most of the time. But when I really start to rummage around within myself, I find a lot of dust, grime, and cobwebs surrounding some stuff that I should have let go of years ago. In some ways, that stuff has driven me to succeed. It has driven me to prove people wrong. My baggage has shaped me. Who am I without it? In other ways, my baggage is weighing me down and holding me back. My arms are starting to shake under the pressure and the rest of me is starting to sweat. Maybe it is time to put it down, open it up, and reassess what belongs and add a sprinkle of glitter.

It must be impossible to rid yourself of baggage entirely. If we did, we’d be empty husks connecting with nothing and no one. But I’m learning that we can unpack and reorganize our baggage. It takes courage and hard work but it can be done. Today, I have decided that I am a victim no more. I am going to take hold of what control I do have and leave the rest to fate or the universe or God or whatever or whoever is grater than me. So here’s to unpacking, decluttering, reorganizing, reassessing, minimizing, and repacking baggage. Cheers!

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And Just When I Thought You Considered Me A Human…

Crack my head open

On your kitchen floor

To prove to you that I have brains

– Alkaline Trio

When you are disabled, much of your life is spent proving your humanity to others. Too often, disabled people are objects; objects of your pity, objects of your existential strife, objects that someone needs to care for, objects of your inspiration, I could go on. Objects are acted on and not interacted with. And when we get too comfortable with our illusion of humanity, someone will always be there to shatter it. Someone, so graciously, reminded me of my objectified existence today. They really deserve a medal for preventing this disabled chick from using her own brain.

The thing is, she meant well. Most people do. Long story short, plans were unnecessarily changed in order to accommodate my disability. No one asked me. They gave me a vague reason for the change. I was living in ignorant bliss until today. Then someone opened their big mouth and said “well, we changed the plan for you, because you know, your disability.” When I explained that the change was unnecessary, she replied “I guess we should have asked.” Nailed it! You definitely should have asked! You see, we could chalk this up to a learning experience and call it a day. That’s a part of what I will do. The other part is that I will do my best to explain to you, dear reader, why this is fucked up. I want you to be better than that.

These people forgot that I am a human! I am not a delicate flower. I will not whither if you offend me. I will not be crushed by your carelessness. And you are not an almighty force that makes or breaks me. We are 2 fellow humans so let’s treat one another as such.

Fear also factors into this. They were afraid of offending me. Maybe they were afraid of needing to help me. Maybe they were afraid of the discomfort of watching me do something in my own way. Who knows! The point is, YOU ARE BRAVER THAN THAT!

Through my time working in community mental health, I have learned a few things.

1. We are all just a few intensely shitty experiences away from the things we fear the most… Maybe that is living on the streets, or becoming terminally ill, dyeing, becoming disabled, etc.

2. People experience intense discomfort when faced with this concept.

I get it! It makes me pretty uncomfortable too. So what do we do? Truthfully, I do not know. But one thing we can do is BE BRAVE and remember one another’s humanity.

To illustrate my complicity, here is a story. I was on the bus the other day when a young guy in a wheel chair gets on. He started talking about how he was pretty newly disabled from a traumatic event. When he was sharing his story, I felt really emotional. I was faced with those really common/pesky existential concerns. I felt really bad for the dude. But I think what I did wrong here is that I made his stuff about me. I was not brave. I made him an object.I think it would be pretty accurate to assume that he has no interest in my pity. He is probably interested in being treated like a resilient human who went through some rough shit. He probably has lots of opinions, and favorite movies/bands/books, and hobbies. He is more than that disability. He is complex. We are all complex.

TLDR: Objectification is easy and weak. Be brave and recognize humans for humans.

Worlds Known and Unknown

“Life is an awful, ugly place to not have a best friend.” – Sarah Dessen

 

Today, my heart aches and my eyes burn for the empty place in my soul reserved for the intimacy of female friendships. I do not write this in search of pity. I do not write this with a lack of gratitude for my current life. I write this from the shores of isolation from my best lady friends, where you get your mani/pedis alone, girl talk is only occasional, and pantsless dance parties to throwback tunes are in limited supply. Sometimes that emptiness is a million miles away and sometimes it is front and center, begging to be filled but uncertain about how to find fulfillment.

Different happenings trigger the knowledge of this void. It’s that co-worker who is constantly posting her best friend adventures on Facebook or casually mentioning them at work. Or it’s those women in your class that always sit together and hang out after class. Maybe it’s the sting of rejection when you ask that cool girl to hang out sometime and she says yes but never brings it up again. Christina and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy dancing it out never fails to get the bestie feels a’feeling. DON’T EVEN get me started on Grace and Frankie! The final scene of the most recent season had me in tears and thinking of my best friend who lives way too far away from me.

I’m not the kind of person who enters relationships in a half-hearted manner. I love my people. I would bury bodies for my people if the connection is right. That connection is incredibly difficult to find and maintain for life. I offer fierce loyalty, honesty, unconditional love, and support, as long as that is offered in return. I don’t do half hearted friendships well and I am a jealous bitch, even in friendships. That being said, I am far from perfect and have made big mistakes. The human condition is incredibly complex and tends to muddy the waters of perfection.

 

“In college and right after college, there’s this sense that your friends are your family. It’s really painful in your late twenties when you realize that they’re not your family, and they are going to make their own families.” – Greta Gerwig

 

I’ve had strong woman friendships for much of my life. Sure, some of that has been stricken with female strife, but much of it has been full of joy and connection. One of my most intimate and soulful friendships ended in heartbreak, loss of trust, and regret. It felt like losing a lover. A fitting description because some people saw us as such. I still long for that friendship. What could I have done differently? What could she have done differently? Could we be friends now? Are we too different now? Could we pick up where we left off? Answers that may never become known.

This woman felt like a soul mate as far as friends go. She made me a better person. We would fall asleep next to one another, wipe away tears, make music, and share secrets. We had an abundance of inside jokes and it often seemed as though we knew what the other was thinking. We constantly bonded while indulging in cookies, candy, and coffee. It took one night for that relationship to be destroyed. One word… One lie… Maybe she was protecting me. Maybe I was just scared. Nevertheless, the waters seem so turbulent. I am so uncertain of the right direction. I just want her to know that she was a fabulous best friend even if our relationship ended in pieces.

Another one of my amazing female friendships can be described as intimately loyal. She is still my best friend but the physical distance between us has caused our connection to grow slack. But still, we can always pick up right where we left off. Adulting has really gotten in the way of our friendship and I long for the days where we were roommates. I long for the nights of drinking too much and falling asleep next to the pizza rolls. I miss our awkward dance parties and swapping of embarrassing stories. I miss your closet and annoying compulsion to always make your bed. Most of all, I miss being your person. Marriage has brought us to a new phase of life. It has given us new people, new homes, and new priorities. I wish we were still one another’s priority. I used to view our connection as family, as everlasting. Blood and legal contracts are over riding that view but that is ok. I am still your ride or die best friend even if we need to tighten the slack sometimes.

 

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin

 

Truthfully, the women friendships in my life have opened up new worlds for me. I learned about different family dynamics, and the effects of trauma and resiliency. This is where I discovered the power of connection. Friendship is where I first learned that you can hand pick the people with which you would like to spend your time. Friendship is where I learned how to connect emotionally with another human. It’s where I learned to be myself, and yet try on different personas. These are the people with which I fumbled socially, emotionally, and physically. These are the people who I could be Hella embarrassing around and they would still accept me.

I am having somewhat of a dry spell when it comes to intimate lady friendships that live a reasonable distance away from me. I love my friends, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that this long-distance thing is not doing it for me. I am too high maintenance for this shit. I am too demanding for shallow friendships. My couples friends are fun and wonderful but they do not fill the void that a woman best friend would fill. Sometimes it feels like the universe is telling me, “you can’t have everything.” Maybe I can’t have a wonderful husband and an amazing woman best friend. But that is what I want. I want it all! But I am willing to be patient for this new world to open up for me. I appreciate the old worlds. I value all the things that all friendships bring, whether that be past, present, or future. For now, I will feel this void and try my best to learn from it.

 

“I think that is one reason why women live longer than men. Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. We go under, even if we haven’t seen each other for years. There are hormones that are released from women to other women that are healthy and do away with the stress hormones. It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be. We have to just hang together and help each other.” – Jane Fonda

 

Long story short – I am so lucky to have experienced what Jane Fonda is talking about here and I hope to experience it, in all its glory, again one day.

Ramblings Of Someone Who Is Figuring It Out

At the risk of being deemed a stereotypical millennial…

Who actually feels prepared for all of life’s offerings? According to my 24-year-old self, society does not do a great job at preparing you for various life experiences. To be perfectly honest, entering adulthood felt like a giant slap in the face. I remember starting my first adult job after graduating college. I was so pumped to be making $34,000 a year only to realize that I would still need to share an apartment with a couple of other people if I did not want to get shot while taking my dog out at night. I worked in an office where people could care less about my training or career. In the beginning, I felt so clueless and alone. Adulthood has a way of doing that to a person. I know I am not alone so why do we not talk about this stuff more?

Why do we not openly discuss smart financial planning? Why do we not talk about how hard it is to cook every night of the week? Why do people not tell you how frustrating it can be to raise a high-energy puppy? Why are we not real about marriage, in-laws and sex? I realize that some of this stuff requires real time experience in order to truly understand. But I do think we could be more raw, honest and real with one another. Maybe then more people would have better luck figuring their shit out. Interestingly enough, I recently attended a training for therapists about couples counseling. The trainer said something that really struck me. He said, “the idealistic expectations of young people in relationships are crushing them.” Is idealism just part of the human condition?

Here is an example. I met, dated and married a kind, smart and “mostly wonderful” man. Funny story… I frequently read an amazing blog, Blind Motherhood, where the author refers to her husband as “mostly wonderful.” As an unmarried person, I just did not understand why she called her partner that. I remember thinking, “shouldn’t you always think your partner is amazing and wonderful?” Bahahahaha…. Wow, I was so naïve. Needless to say, I now understand why the author calls her husband “mostly wonderful.” Ten months of marriage has taught me that marriage is hard. You are going to fight. You are going to disagree. You are going to dislike one another and say terrible things. Also, really difficult and challenging things just happen. Not everything can be completely wonderful and amazing all the time. Yeah, sometimes there are many joyful, blissful and seemingly perfect moments. But in the end, you are just 2 mostly wonderful people that come together to make a mostly wonderful life. Sorry guys… I’m kind of a pessimist. When it comes down to it though, I love my husband to the moon and back times infinity.

College was a place that made perfect sense to me. I took the classes and learned the things. My professors seemed to care about my success and helped me excel. Friends were fairly easy to come by and accommodations were within mostly easily accessible reach. I am not saying I did not have trials in college but I am saying that it was nothing like the real world. I remember seeing glimpses of the real world but I could just go have a girl’s night at the dollar theatre with my roomies and those ugly images would all just go away.

Maybe I am glamourizing my college life… Nostalgia often clouds the memory. But truthfully, I know for a fact that I did not feel prepared for the outside. I am not sure what really could prepare you for all the things that life brings. Maybe a go with the flow and figure it out kind of attitude? That is what is getting me through so far, despite not always being the best at it.

I look back on my younger days and remember being so idealistic. I know I am still young but my 24 years on this earth have taught me a few things. Life is hard and gray and messy and joyful and hilarious and sad. Some people care about you but most people do not; however, most people are doing their best to not be complete ass holes. So you know what? Give people the benefit of the doubt. Try not to be an ass hole. And above all… Go with the flow and figure it out! If you have any advice for this 20 something, please feel free to leave it in the comments.