I am a firm believer that everyone deserves healing.
We have the potential to see the good in others.
I was raised to be kind to all. Both of my parents did not care whether or not their kids would be "the best" at anything, because what mattered to them was that they raised their kids to be kind.
I care very deeply about people, and often put others before myself. I am an empath. Empaths are known to put others before themselves. It is in our nature. Empaths are also prone to depression, and this is because we don't always set the boundaries we need to live a healthy life.
Setting boundaries is like pulling teeth for me. I want to do what is morally right. I care what people think, and I never want to hurt another.
This is a hard thing for me to accept.
We are all different in our own beautifully made way. We also see things differently, feel things differently.
Sometimes I try to do what is best for me, and I end up upsetting another because of it. It hurts, and I end up in this stuck point as I try to determine which way to turn, and if what I am doing is morally right.
Gut instincts will tell you what is right and what is wrong. Being empathic is a strength, but I also notice how I can silence my gut instincts to listen to the outside voices that need pleasing.
In my family, I have a toxic relationship. This relationship happens to be with my father. I repeat, everyone deserves healing. Including my father, no matter what our relationship turns into. By writing this, I do not intend to hurt, but I'm sure there will be those who will disagree with my choices, especially to put this in writing, and that is something I will just have to accept.
Last weekend I planned to visit my father along with my brother, aunt, uncle, and cousins. With boundaries, comes listening to what your body is telling you. I can feel the morals I am searching for, if I tune in to the mind-body connection already within me. I knew I could tolerate a short trip, and I decided from the beginning that I would spend one night instead of the two nights the rest of my family were spending.
This decision to take a shorter trip, and coming home for my 19th birthday, left me displeasing 2 of my grandmothers on both my mother and father's side. Leaving a fews days early meant it would not be "convenient." Someone (me) would have to drive to get my brother home 2 days later. And my father would say he did not get enough time with me. But my gut still begged my heart to listen. I am not eight years old anymore. I thought when I got to college people would stop expecting things of me when it comes to my relationship with my father. The truth is, it won't change. In any scenario, people will always give their opinion. There will always be those who do not see from your point of view, who have not experienced your exact situation, and can not feel what you are feeling. Empath or not, we need to learn to be OK with this.
In my social work classes we learn about boundaries and why they are necessary for self-care and to prevent burnout. Mental health professional or not, this is true for anyone who wants to be happy, and healthy.
We all want to be happy. Those who say they don't, maybe just don't know how to get there.
At a young age, at a fragile time, I was the caretaker in my family. Because of this, I trained my brain to forget my own wants and needs.
You cannot pour from an empty cup. So, what happens to me if I continue to give all the energy I have to others?
Healers find that giving to others, also gives them the energy they desire. There just needs to be a balance.
Sometimes relationships are so toxic that they need to go.
If we aren't ready to let them go, we can at least create boundaries.
I set my own boundaries last weekend when I gave myself a time-limit for the energy I was capable of letting go.
I even had a nice time! Though I did travel back to the same location days later to get my brother, I didn't regret a thing.
Despite those who rolled their eyes and saw me as being selfish, I had some other adults in my life tell me they were proud of me.
"I don't take this stuff lightly."
"I'm proud of you. So, I hope you are- just as, if not more proud of yourself."
What I did for myself this past weekend is an example of self care.
It is something I should do more, and unapologetically.
When I want space, it can be hard for some of my family members to be supportive. "Support" over a relationship does not have to mean encouraging another to adjust to what is toxic.
What I've been told, is that when someone in a family or relationship changes (their routine/way of thinking) , those around them do not adjust; at least not right away. They don't like it.
An example I was given, is if 2 parents decide to strengthen their household by eating dinner at the kitchen table instead of their usual, in front of the television. At first the kids will hate it, complain, and the family will probably argue. But, eventually this will not be as big of a change.
Eventually- people will adjust. Right now I am learning that I have the power to choose the life I want, by what makes me happy and eliminate, or adjust what is creating negative energy. A relationship with my father, or any family member should be healthy, and if for right now it's best for me to take more space, and less time when visiting then that decision is in my power.
In a recent post, Therapy talk: the importance of using skills as prevention techniques, I had been yearning to find ways to stay grounded in the classroom when anxiety becomes present.
I completed my first week of my first college summer course, and so far so good! I am now on week 3.
In the same previous post, I asked you all for some crystal knowledge, and which stones are best for grounding. My lovely cousin, Lauren was the first to get back to me, finding hematite a popular choice for grounding purposes.
For now, I have been bringing one of my own stones.
I keep it in my pocket during class. Sometimes I will go an entire class forgetting it's there, but I believe it is comfort to have with me.
It is the fact that you have something of a positive energy in the palm of your hand when you need it most. It reminds me to breathe, it reminds me I am supported, it reminds me there is good in the universe.
I remind myself that I am safe. I remind myself that I am okay, and I remind myself to breathe.
My mom and I have been carrying our worry stones [pic below] in our pockets as well. Yesterday she expressed to me that if I see another one, tell her, because she is afraid she will lose hers. I told her about the crystal I carry with my when I go to class. My mom, like me at one point, knew very little of energy healing. I told her what reiki is, and how crystals work, and how different stones have different healing purposes.
We talked for a while about this in our kitchen, and it made me so happy she was just as interested as I am.
now to where the inspiration for this post came from-
our family reunion..
Every year my Papa's side of the family gets together for a reunion. Growing up, it has always been June. We would celebrate my Papa's birthday, the 7th, and my Great Grandma T's the 16th. Since they both have passed, we have continued the tradition of gathering at my Nana and Papa's house for a pool party/barbecue picnic. My mom's cousins come from CT, MA, VA, MD, and NH.
I never know what to expect since my Papa passed away. What memories will come up for me? Will it be weird seeing someone else at the grill? On the drive to Woodstock I asked my Papa to bring us some sun today. "I don't know how much control you have over the weather, but can you bring us some sun? Some sun so we know you are there." Within 20 minutes after I arrived to the party, I saw the clouds slip away and the sun showed itself- even if it was just for a little while. I smiled. Thank you Papa.
I thought a lot during that drive. Often at family events I walk in with enthusiasm, silliness and make my presence known. Eventually, though, I shut down. I slip away from that energetic side of me and I become overwhelmed without reason to be.
Today wasn't like that though. For once, it felt as though I stepped outside myself. I wasn't trapped in my head, I wasn't an intense observer. And I realize why now. I was a healer.
"Haley come on we have to go."
"Cousin ___ is in her car, she texted 'I'm having an anxiety attack.' "
I jumped. "OO, I'm experienced with that!!"
I ran across the lawn and crossed the street, up to the window of my mom's adorable cousin's car. She looked up at me and wiped tears from her eyes.
"Hello beautiful", I said.
I had been waiting to see my mom's cousin all day. I kept asking when she was coming, if she was still coming. I just adore her.
I ran around to the passenger side and climbed in her car. I've never been in her car before. I haven't seen her since- my Papa's funeral? Has it been that long?
We've bonded many times before. Our personalities just click. She's sweet, silly, warm-hearted, and oh, so huggable. She's also struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, and her overall mental health- like me. We haven't talked about our stuff before, but we both had known we could probably relate. And this was my time to go into action and let this precious little lady know how fricken special she is through my own eyes.
She didn't know why it was coming on. And that's the thing with anxiety attacks often you just don't expect them.
There was the internal pressure of "pull yourself together, and smile for the family" and that scared her. She just sat in her car for 20 minutes before entering, and cried.
I put my head on her shoulder and told her I loved her.
My mom exclaimed "OH you're twins with Haley!!"
I laughed and said "YEAH!" assuming she was referring to the anxiety episodes- but nope. Our nose rings. She laughed, and calmed down a bit. Before we walked with her back to the house I asked if she wanted to go for a quick walk before going inside. She agreed. This was our first 1:1 time together.
The 2 of us walked a lap around the neighborhood, just talking. She did a lot of talking, and I did a lot of listening. We talked about how not many people understand anxiety attacks. "You just want someone to understand, but they don't really understand unless they have been through it- but of course, I wouldn't wish this on anyone." She talked about her life growing up, struggles she dealt with, body image, anxiety attacks in college. We talked about therapy, coping techniques, ones that worked, ones that didn't. And we talked about our interests in psychology, sociology, and well, people.
She is in her.. early 40's? and then there I am- but it just didn't matter. I forgot it in that moment because I felt what she was going through, and I knew a walk might just help.
Before you knew it, she was in the house, wiping a few more tears and hugging those so excited to see her. "You're going to be my buddy for the day, ok?" I said. Age just doesn't matter. For me, I have always been an old soul anyway. I just wanted to make sure she was OK, and I wanted to be that person there for her that just "gets it."
I am reflecting now- and I had this caregiver sense in me, and I just focused on her and making sure she was supported, making sure she knew it was okay if she needed a break. My energy remained positive, and hours went by and my light hadn't burned down. I was living. I was out of my own head, I wasn't viewing my life as a movie, and I was living it.
Being a support for another, is rewarding for me as well.
I thought of my Papa, and how he always was the light to our family, and a shoulder to lean on. I don't doubt I have those pieces of him within me.
Relatability is such a tool. And it isn't "oh your life sucks? Yeah one time my life sucked really bad too.." haha. No. I had told our cousin about the Thanksgiving I spent crying and shaking in the upstairs bathroom of my aunt's house, and how I had no idea what brought that on either. After the party, I reflected on that memory again. I remember my mom telling me "you did it." I got through the holiday. It wasn't easy, but I did it. I have since learned to celebrate every tiny victory. And I wanted her to celebrate her own too.
In an article on IHeartIntelligence.com, it is stated that social anxiety is linked to empathy and intelligence.
Anxious beings often feel like they have limited control in the world, but that might just not be true.
Without my anxiety, without my struggles, it would've been an even longer road to discovering my passion, and maybe even, my purpose.
If it is control you seek, know you can use all of your power to be a supportive voice, and listening ear to another.
Every Mother's Day..I want it to be special. I want it to be perfect. Every year on her birthday AND Mother's Day, she should be expecting a written letter, poem, or blog post from me. I love my mom A LOT but I am running out of new words to express it. And writing is "my thing" it is a "gift" in my mother's eyes, so how can I not write for her, even if my love is repetitive? :-)
Last year's Mother's Day Post was about me leaving for college in the Fall and how that was going to be a milestone for her as well.
This Mother's Day, my post is going to be a little different. I am not just dedicating this to one mother, I am dedicating it to many women that deserve to be celebrated today, and every day.
I was thinking about social media on Mother's Day, and how my news feed is usually blown up with dedications to mothers all over.
I personally don't know what it is like to want to avoid the media at all cost on Mother's Day. I personally do not know what it is like to not have a mother, or to not have her here with me. I do know that there are so many people in the world that deserve a day- that deserve a day to be celebrated. I have even "adopted" a 2nd Mom, Dad, and grandparents outside my family tree.
For that reason, I have many amazing mothers I know who I can wish a happy day to today.
Here are the gems today's post is dedicated to:
My mother, Auntie Sara, Aunt Kelly, Aunt Josie, Nanny, Nana, Grammy, and Mimi.
They are all different, and wonderful in their own way. I am going to write 2 things about each of them.
1) Something I love about them.
2) Something they have taught me.
and, my lovely grandmothers. :-)
and my Mama Pumpkin, of course
We teach each other to love ourselves as we are.
We get spacey, we get sensitive, we are easily excited, and easily pleased. Our minds often wander. We are "look at the moon!" kind of people. We appreciate the little things.
I would not want it any other way.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, and those who have made me into who I am.
My first experience with an anxiety attack- wasn't so much with myself. It didn't happen to me. I've mentioned this story before, but I want to really analyze it.
I believe I was 15 at the time. I was in the passenger seat of a 10 hour car ride to Virginia. My was uncle driving, and my brother and 2 cousins were in the back seats. My cousin Erica had just recently seen a girl on her soccer team throw up, and instantly believed it was going to happen to her. She has a severe fear of throwing up. Whenever she felt the least bit "not right" she subconsciously put herself in panic mode, triggering a stress reaction in her body. I didn't understand this at the time.
During the car ride that same week, she complained of feeling nauseous. Half way into the ride she was crying and begging for help. She said she couldn't breathe. She wanted her dad to pull over on the highway. When he was unable to, she started banging on the window "daddy please." I couldn't help but laugh. I could hear my youngest cousin laughing too. To me, it sounded like overreactive whining, and that she just needed to calm down. The "dramatic" scene she had created just made me laugh.
When I had my first anxiety attack years later, I thought I was dying. Anxiety was not a name in my mind. I truly believed I was dying.
I had taken time to reflect. Reflect on my own experiences, and reflect on the car ride with my cousin years before. I felt sick. I felt mean, and I hated myself for it.
I laughed at her.
She felt trapped and scared, none of us understood her, and I laughed at her.
Anxiety plays tricks on you. It leads you to believe words like "crazy" "whining" "wimpy" "attention-seeking" when there is absolute fear involved. Nobody can see it, and only you can feel it.
There doesn't have to be a reason for it to be anxiety.
This is the thing that still makes me angry, because it just sucks right?
There is a term called "fight or flight"
Specific anxiety situation: You see a bear heading towards you. Your heart starts racing, your adrenaline increases, you start feeling warm, maybe even sweating, and your muscles tighten up, you start shaking. You have to make a decision: fight or flight?
That's a normal reaction of anxiety.
But here's the thing that is F'ed up in my opinion:
Your body can trigger those symptoms when there is ZERO danger. Your mind can be 100% wise and know that there is nothing wrong, but your body can lead you to believe something is wrong. With psychological stressors, our reaction can be suppressed and come up sometimes years later when the stressor has passed.
How annoying, right?
It is common to feel fear and threat by these anxiety attacks. It is common to feel that the world is closing in on you, and you have absolute no control over your own body. What you're feeling is a response, and knowing that something else has triggered it (maybe in your past) can you help you learn to cope with it. Knowing exactly what your trigger is can also help you work around the anxiety. Of course, easier said than done.
I have heard comments from many others about their struggle with anxiety:
"My friends don't believe me."
"They tell me to snap out of it."
"They said to just let it go."
"They said I'm making a big deal over nothing."
"They say I'm being dramatic."
"They said I'm milking it."
"Just be strong"
It can drive a person into a depressive state- to believe that they are misunderstood, and that nobody will ever believe what they're going through on the inside.
You can't just "snap out of it." It takes work. Sometimes years of work. Being told "just be strong" only convinces you that you are weak in those moments, and that this should come easy to you. Anxiety can make you feel week, but it does not make you weak. Fighting an anxiety attack- that is true strength. It has taken me a while to realize that.
It's hard not to get angry. That was me. I was the one laughing at my cousin for behaving "crazy" when she was experiencing one of the scariest days of her life. I've apologized. It's in the past. But it's not okay to me. I was completely oblivious and confused to how she could be feeling like that. It's not just me. Serious change needs to happen where we can no longer make these assumptions about others. The term "anxiety" is thrown around too carelessly. We all have experienced anxiety in our lives. The anxiety itself isn't so difficult to understand. Misconceptions and judgements arise when the panic attacks occur and anxieties consume one's day to day life. With understanding mental disorders, comes learning mindfulness. Being mindful with yourself, and others. Anxiety disorders are not the same as typical anxiety, and you can never be sure what someone else is really going through, when it is invisible.
I took the train home from school Wednesday night.
Can we pause? because that's a pretty big deal-
I walked to the station.
I followed signs.
Found where I was supposed to go. (after my heart skipped several beats)
Quadruple checked my ticket.
And got on the right train.
Okay, so besides my personal accomplishment, I wasn't just coming home in the smack dab middle of the week for anything. I was coming home for everything.
My Mother and John's wedding day!
The day of the wedding was full of excitement and nerves. The good kind. I drove home from getting my hair done with the biggest smile on my face, just knowing it was going to be such a beautiful day.
Before I had left campus, I started crying in my suite saying "I don't know why I'm crying!!" My suite-mates were hugging me and saying, "That's normal, your mom is getting married!" I just couldn't believe it. I have been a little ball of emotion this year. Everything just hits me so hard. I think of everything I have been through, and it makes the good that is around me so much more beautiful than basic. So I cry a lot. Just heart warming tears is all, but it has become my new "thing" and I think it is much needed.
My mother looked like an absolute princess.
I don't know what it is about weddings that are so exciting, but SO damn nerve-wracking. I thought I was going to puke, and I'm not even the bride. All I could think about was my future and how I'm "probably just going to elope."
My mom had butterflies in her stomach of course. I sent her positive quotes all day. (wait what? That's unusual for me)
I held her hand. My brother, Matt linked arms with her as she held her bouquet. When it was time, we walked her down the aisle.
I don't think I will ever forget the look on John's face, and the look on Maddy's (his daughter.) Matt and I stood beside our mom. Jack and Maddy stood beside their dad. The song that was playing as we walked in was "Marry Me" by Train, but the Martina McBride version. I could see Maddy's eyes welling up with tears as we looked at each other across the way. John could not take his eyes off my mom. It was that look a guy gives that just says "I'm so lucky" without any words. It felt like a movie.
Yeah, just listen to that and picture us walking her down the aisle. Ugh- life is beautiful.
I was the one to give the toast later that night.
Apparently nobody could tell I was nervous until I admitted into the microphone that I was shaking. Oops.
I wanted it to be perfect. John and my mom are amazing people in my life. There was zero hesitation when deciding to give a toast to them. I would gladly do it for them. I spotted my mom's tears when looking into her eyes, but was completely oblivious to everyone else's tears.
I gave my mom and step-father huge hugs when I finished. For the rest of the night- everyone complimented my words, and as awkward as I am with receiving compliments, it felt so good.
One of the workers at the restaurant said it was one of the best toasts she's heard there in a while, and asked my age.
Another worker called me over. She shook my hand. She said that she loved my toast, that she knew my grandfather from when he worked at my old high school, and that he would be very proud of me.
That hit deep.
My family has this thing with rainbows. When my Papa was sick, and thinking about the "ifs" and his funeral planning, he decided that he wanted "Rainbow Connection" by Kermit the Frog to be played at his service. And it was. Right there in the church my family all smiled and cracked up through tears as we heard Kermit sing and knew he had wanted it that way.
Since his passing, we tend to see a rainbow at just the perfect moments.
There was a little rain after the ceremony. We went outside with the photographer to take pictures (I don't have those ones yet)
When in the picture was just my mom, Matt and I, we noticed a rainbow in the background.
I looked at my mom..knowing it was coming..
She gasped, "That's my Dad!!"
She smiled and I tried so hard to hold back my tears for her.
I believe he was there.
I danced SO HARD. Right after their first dance together, the DJ called up for others to join on the dance floor. I don't think I thought about it- I just kinda ran up.
It was such a great wedding. So many great people. I smiled all day long. I didn't want the day to end.
Family is family.
Mine just keeps getting bigger :-)
My new step-cousins invited us in for a picture as well.
I love how my mom's family and John's family are both so welcoming to new family additions. I feel as though I have another grandmother, aunt and uncle, and cousins.
I left that same night to head back to college for my field placement the next morning.
I hugged Mom and John goodbye and walked back to my car in the dark. I let myself just let out all of those feelings. I was laughing a little as I was crying. My "thank you," I suppose, all out in the open for life, family, happiness, everything.
Family is family,
Whether it’s the one you start out with, the one you end up with, or the family you gain along the way.
*Cutting out the first paragraph*
Here is an excerpt of my toast:
If my Papa were here today I know he would be standing up here in this place. He would say something that would make you all have a giant belly laugh, possibly make you cry, and have you feel your heart grow bigger as you listen to his words. I know that he is cheering, and I mean cheering, exceptionally loud today for his little girl who has found her prince. Is that manly enough, John? Oh I mean- knight.
I am honored to be in this place now. When I was a little girl I remember wishing that I could go back in time so I could see my beautiful mother on her wedding day. Well, I must have wished pretty damn hard because my wish came true in a way I hadn’t expected. I had another wish as well. I have memories of Christmastime, and writing “a sister” on my wish list for Santa. I guess Matthew wasn’t good enough. Today, not only am I gaining a sister, I am gaining another brother as well.
Those little details are here today, all because the BIGGEST wish of all came true: My mom’s pure happiness, safety, and finding someone who treats her as she deserves the world.
John, today our relationship is legal, but I have considered you family for quite some time now. I am blessed to have you as a role model, a shoulder to lean on, and a buddy o’ pal.
When I think of you both, I think of 1 person who is tougher than they look, and 1 person who is softer than they show themself to be.
Family is family,
Whether it’s the one you start out with, the one you end up with, or the family you gain along the way.
John, Jack, and Madeline, I love you guys.
Congratulations Mom and John.
May you ride off into the sunset on a John Deere tractor together. To Pam and John
My therapist had told me (suggested) to try and motivate myself to do yoga again.
Well, I'm on a yoga mat.
I'm blogging and eating popcorn on it- but I think that's close enough.
I spent last night at my cousin Kristy's apartment. I usually see her once a year at either Thanksgiving or Easter. When we do hangout, it is surrounded by all of the cousins, so I have never have had 1:1 time with her.
So when she invited me to stay over at her apartment I was stoked. I managed to push my intense anxieties aside and do something for myself that would make me feel accomplished. I drove almost 2 hours to see her. When I parked at her apartment's lot I felt relief and allowed myself to breathe. Highways have been a difficulty for me since my accident- but I did it!! Each time I prove to myself that I can do it, the easier it becomes.
I feel like we both learned a lot about each other and truly got to know each other from my stay.
She talked about some of her anxiety struggles at times by saying, "I'm worried about something that HASN'T EVEN HAPPENED YET; like shut the fuck up, Kristy!" I laughed in agreement. It was almost reassuring to see that my 27 year old cousin has the same troubles as me when getting wrapped up in irrational thoughts.
From time spent with her, and lots of catching up I had more than just one realization. I thought about how poor my confidence is (I already knew that) but I also realized that when I think so highly about someone, I forget they are human too. I am a guilty typical girl who wants what she doesn't have. I truly try to break that habit but it is something that will take work to overcome. My cousin that I admire so much, and is so beautiful inside and out, made me feel so safe with being with her. I was safe in my own skin. Things just went perfectly where we both knew no matter our distance, we'll always turn to each other for support.
She says she looks up to me? Whaat? I sure know that I look up to her.
There is something beautiful, sad, and powerful all in one. That is, being able to see the beauty and worth in another person when they are unable to see it for themselves.
And I think we all have had that feeling.
I decided to break up my trip home by traveling halfway and spending the night at my other cousins' house who I always rarely see. I am so excited to see them.
Kristy had said something else today that really had me thinking. The gist of it was that friends will come and go, but family will always be there for you and truly love you for you. You need to learn how to love yourself and pick yourself up, because the truth is- you are all you have.
I can pinpoint names of the people who just make me feel so giddy inside. I count a small amount of people. The people who just tend to excite me and make me happy where I could cry, a little more than the rest. My cousins are in that group. I love them all. If I named them all on here it would be very long because I have a huge family, but I love that.
With cousins that are close, you are built in best friends. You have a sibling connection, but it's a friendship. No matter the distance, cousins will always be there for support.
I am just grateful for my family today. Grateful for Kristy, and grateful and hella proud that I have had safe travels these past few days. Man, I don't get out much..but when I do, It sure feels amazing to say
"I did it."
Lydia, Lyds, Lyddie, Lyddie Loo,
When we were little we were completely oblivious to how lucky we were. We probably just assumed it was common to have cousins growing up around the same age. As we got older we realized that not everyone has that. There are gifts that come along with having a cousin who is also your best friend.
I was looking at a journal my mom had when I was little. Inside, she wrote many facts or quotes of the funny things I would say or do. This one brought a smile to my face:
“Haley & cousin Lydia play very well together, but occasionally “fight” over toys. We observed their differences in situations like that: Lydia when frustrated uses her ACTIONS while Haley uses her MOUTH ! Lydia quickly pushes Haley or grabs the object. Haley talks/yells “Hey, I had that toy! Stop!…”
It is also funny to look back and reminisce about our little rare arguments and that they began very young. We grew up as best friends, cousins, and mainly treated each other like sisters. We have an unbreakable bond, no matter how long it has been since we've seen each other.
We have been through everything together, and some things I don't think I could have done without you.
To start, I can't imagine not having you with me at our family parties, and dealing with some of the craziness alone.
It is bittersweet to realize that someday we will be looking back at the pictures of us as flower girls, and compare them to our own wedding/bridesmaid photos.
Pool parties, mall trips, sleepovers at the grandparents houses, New year's eve, 4th of July at the lake, laughing while horribly singing the 12 days of Christmas, singing A LOT (but usually 2 different songs at the same time.) All, that I get to experience with you.
More sappy, but true, I could not have spoken at Papa's funeral without you right there with me holding my hand the entire time.
Our relationship is perfect. We can be each other's sunshine, rock, and shoulder to lean on. As goofy as we are, if hell breaks loose in our lives we are right there to help each other pick up the pieces.
Here are some more memories growing up with you:
But we are very different in many ways as well.
You definitely can not watch as many musicals as I can, or listen to show tunes without wanting to poke your eyes out :-) But I most definitely can not enjoy snowboarding or skate boarding like you do :-)
I have always admired, and sometimes envied your confidence on a stage (or in front of people in general.) However, you always inspire me to want to leave my comfort zone.
I can not even begin to imagine the amount of dedication, passion, patience, and pure talent is put into your artwork. I can draw some lovely cats and flowers..but that is about it.
You are an abolsute perfectionist, but it goes along with your creative eye. You have a gift, and you were born with it. I would love to see the world through your eyes, but since that is impossible, I am grateful I have your paintings, sketches, and photographs to turn to. I hope your work becomes famous someday, and I can not wait to see what else you create in your lifetime.
When we were looking at colleges I remember saying I wanted a rural or suburban setting, preferably down south. I remember you saying you wanted to go "anywhere in Boston."
I felt like the odd one of the pack. The one cousin who did not wish to go to college in the city. I remember telling my mom "No way am I going to apply in Boston. I hate the city." I wanted to be different; I wanted to take my own routes and not copy what the majority of our family wanted.
So now it is ironic :-)
That the "fit" I needed for excelling in a Social Work career would have me beside you in Boston after all. We will be exactly 15 min away, just as we are now. I can not wait to start this adventure this Fall knowing you'll be right by my side.
I feel like each year, we become closer and express more gratitude for each other.
This year, I feel like our relationship took a huge leap. We treasure our time together, and our honesty and openness with each other is refreshing. This year, it really stood out to me just how much we care for each other. This is a permanent relationship that will last forever. Cradle to grave.
I love you so much Lyddie Loo, and I hope you have the happiest birthday.
Congrats on adulthood! xo
The morning of June 16, 2015 I had just gotten to the top of my stairs to head down to go to school when I heard the worst sound in the world. My mom was breaking inside. I could hear her on the telephone and within that moment everything stopped, I just knew my Papa was gone.
It is weird to see where life takes you. I remember the day he passed I had my hair in a ponytail and I was wearing a scarf, and a long-sleeve blue dress. Today is June 16, 2016. It has been a year without him in our little world. Today was my last real day of school. I am wearing a "Wheelock College" t-shirt, and I feel pride that he is looking down on me. After our numerous college talks we had for years, I trust that he is happy with my decision and every next step that comes in my life.
An important thing I have learned to take in after losing someone you love is perspective.
It doesn't happen overnight. It is perfectly okay to let yourself fall apart at times and question life itself. I have; but I also have learned more than one way to look at it.
For example: This Sunday is my high school graduation. I have been imagining this to be very hard for me (it will be) , but I used to think the only way to view this was sadness. He won't be here to see me graduate, he is the one person I wanted to be there. However, this week I came to a realization that had made me smile. I had felt pity for my mother that Sunday is also Father's Day, but watching her first born graduate will be a healthy distraction. Also, how cool is that? On Father's Day, my Papa will see me graduate. He loves my school, and I know he is proud of me, so he wouldn't want it any other way. It will be a beautiful day.
This year has been rocky for many reasons, but I have gained the most lessons.
Before my Papa, I hadn't had much experience with loss. For him to be my grandfather, buddy, and father-figure all in one made it feel as though the world was ending. Everything just seemed darker without him, and I didn't view life the same way.
My first loss has taught me many things:
People will tell you "He is watching over you" "He is with you" and it is helpful, but awfully frustrating knowing that they are not physically here, and you don't really know.
I am just trusting his spirit, how he has always been the glue to our family, and how he has never missed an important event in our lives. This weekend I will be thinking of my grandpa very much, but I will be smiling reflecting on all he has taught me, and where he has brought me.
I woke up this morning with butterflies in my stomach and had hardly slept the night before. We hardly ever host parties, and now we will be! Not only that, but this will be the first time our family will all be gathered together at our new home.
For once this year I actually was beginning to feel like this is my place. This is my home. Soon people will be coming to my home.
My cousin Kristy had said something today that stood out to me. "After you have gone through so much shit in life, when anything good happens you just want to jump at it."
I related very much to that. My struggles have given be a broad perspective. I appreciate the little things often- (though I could more..)
So today, I was jumping at it. I hugged my mom often and told her and John how happy I was. Just walking through my house and seeing people out the windows and in all directions just made me so happy. Not once today did my mind wander, not once did I dissociate, and looking back I was completely focused and appreciative of the present moment.
Months ago, family parties would be absolutely draining for me. I would leave early, cry on the bathroom floor with an anxious stomach, or feel overly exhausted and zombie-like.
I'm jumping at this. This to me, is perfection. If there is such thing as perfection. I am enjoying and daydreaming about today like a dork.
I am incredibly grateful for my family. My cousins are my best friends, my grandparents gave me cards that made me cry, and I have an enormous amount of support.
With my mental health struggles, all that mattered to me is that people could see I was trying. In my lowest moments my mom would become frustrated with me being in bed 24/7 and say "you aren't even trying." That killed me. I felt like I was trying so hard.
Overall, if there is anything I have been taking for granted, it is that my family has seen my progress, and they know how hard I tried.
My Grammy wrote in my graduation card that she was proud of my strength this year when I was stuck in the "doldrums." My aunts, uncles, mom, grandparents, etc continuously tell me how proud they are of me. They understand all I have fought through, and all I have overcome. I take that for granted because I know if anything, it is easy to feel alone with a mental illness. As alone as I may feel at times, and though it may be hard to see at times, I know I always have people behind me.
I feel happy, strong, and emotional all at the same time. Tomorrow will be my last Monday of the school year. Just 1 more week of school, and then I'm free. It will be an exciting, but emotional week. I think it's perfectly okay if I get sappy and overwhelmed at the good things happening around me, because now I can reflect upon where I used to be.
I didn't know Tyler. Mom said he was in his mid-twenties. I just remember laying on my bed texting Lydia about our plans for the night and meeting at our lake cottage with a bunch of kids. Mom came in my room with the phone pressed against her ear. She gave me a concerned look as she listened to my Nana on the other end of the phone. I knew something had happened. When she told me one of my cousins committed suicide my mind first jumped to the wrong cousin, before Mom corrected me and I realized I didn't know Tyler too well. My mind raced in many places. I have always been close with his sister. I see her at family reunions, but I never would see him. He was always disconnected from the family. She just lost her brother. Mom didn't say attempted, she said committed. He's gone.
I don't remember the last time I saw him. I don't know almost anything about him. Mom said growing up he was always getting into trouble. He was a risk taker, but he was in a long-term relationship and when she broke up with him he pulled a trigger. I do not understand. I do not understand how a break up could lead you to end your life. He had been drinking. He wasn't in the right state of mind. What if he didn't know what he was doing?
But what if he did? What if he always knew someday he would pull the trigger, and he just needed a breaking point, and now he had one.
I just listened to my Mom and I sat with her on my bedroom floor. I realized what time it was and I put my sweatshirt on, and grabbed my keys to head to the lake. I was okay, but somehow..halfway down my road, I realized I couldn't do it. I couldn't drive there. I was driving painfully slow. I didn't have the energy. I found myself taking a completely different road, and I realized where I needed to be. I sat at a park, far away from the other cars. I had my head against the window and I just cried. Lydia asked if I heard about Tyler. I texted Lydia that I would have to come another time. I wasn't even positive why I was crying. I had too many thoughts so I could not focus on just one.
I had an amazing weekend. I drove long distance on senior skip day, the farthest I've driven since my accident. I was happy. I was appreciative of the little things. I saw friends and family. I was feeling good, and now- this. He was family, but also a stranger to me. He was a person. Whatever thoughts were going through his head...
I just cried. What kind of world do we live in? I watched a group of boys from a distance play basketball on the court. What kind of world do we live in where somewhere out there..is someone taking their life. Where so many out there are fighting too hard to be here, and they can't just simply be here. They can't just enjoy this. Life can be so beautiful, but life can be a very dark place.
I drove home. I know my mom was worried about me when she heard I was sitting at a park at night in my car all by myself instead of seeing my friends. I went right to bed. I told her I was okay, I didn't tell her I had been crying.
I have been doing so well. However, many things have been a trigger for me lately. Certain words I hear manage to suck the life out of me. They are just reminders. Reminders of my lowest places.
But where do I go from here? How do I go about this? What are my options? I can fall apart and view the world as this dark and terrible place and accept the fact that when life becomes mentally unbearable it is okay to choose to leave it. OR, am I going to give myself permission to pause for a moment, and question all of these things, and allow myself to feel whatever I feel. Once I give myself that time, I will pick myself up again. Find ways to talk about suicide, and better ways to let the topic of suicide sit in my brain. It is a difficult topic, but what happens if we don't talk about it?
As great as I have felt this weekend, I am left feeling very drained. I am back to school tomorrow. This "living contradiction" has her mind consumed with
This blog has been jumbled just to symbolize those emotions.
RIP Tyler. I'm sorry you felt the world would be better off without you, but I know you won't have to hurt anymore.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.