“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” –Bryant H. McGill
Topic: Forgiveness Part 1
Prompt: Write Something You Have To Forgive Yourself For
I don’t tend to think of my regrets in terms of “what ifs”, but rather “If I had just…then…” I assume for some reason that I am on the same level as God and magically know how the cards would have played out had a just chosen a different course. My life would be so much easier, I would be in a much better place had I chosen Road A instead of Road B, made this choice instead of that one.
For the past year or so I’ve been beating myself up over the decisions I have made in my academic life. In high school I was, how you say? Oh yes, a party girl. Not that I’m exactly reformed now, but I’ve got my shit together. I’m not going to sit here and say it was my parents divorce or my eating disorder or hanging out with the “wrong crowd” that made me slack (I don’t even know if slack is a harsh enough word) off in school, because that just wouldn’t be the truth. Factors, perhaps. The sole cause, no. It was, put simply, just me. I didn’t take school seriously and did the bare minimum in order to graduate. I loved my life- I ate, slept and breathed my friends, had my family, enough money to buy vodka (and at some low points in my formative years, Smirnoff Ice), Forever 21 tops and munchies and a boyfriend I probably should have been way nicer to. I had FUN, but not passions, direction or a plan.
It wasn’t until community college that I found my spirituality, my goals, causes that I would give my right arm for. And it didn’t happen over night either. I opted initially, for reasons I’m not even sure I remember and that aren’t important now, to go to school part time and stayed there for over 3 years. Then, a year and a half ago at a private Catholic college, I made the decision to go back to school full time on the weekends, for reasons I remember, cherish and agree with every day. I back up my decision, would make it again and most days am truly happy to find myself here. But some days, particularly when I don’t have the flexibility financially or in my schedule to be spontaneous or carefree, I let myself feel regret.
I am not proud of this, but there are times when I let my regret turn to anger. I get angry that I have to work a 54 hour work week on top of 16 credits. I get angry that I can’t go to UCONN homecoming game this weekend, angry that I’m broke, angry that I feel like a failure that I don’t have my Bachelors and I’m 23. Angry that all of this could have been avoided if I hadn’t of fucked up, if I had been more responsible. Then, because I am who I am, my anger naturally steers back towards sadness then regret. It’s a hideous cycle.
The concept of living a life with no regrets is great in theory, but in reality it’s one tall order. Instead of trying to live without them, maybe one should try incorporate them, to use them as tools to live better. Regrets aren’t always a bad thing; in fact, many times they teach you priceless lessons, give you ideas of who you no longer want to be, experiences you never want to face again. It’s when the doubts and questioning start to drown out the insight that regrets become a problem.
I have to forgive myself for not providing a traditional four year college experience for myself. I need to forgive myself for messing up when I was young and making mistakes I thought were OK at the time, a time when I thought a repercussion was some kind of drum. I need to forgive myself for being human and accept that my story is not a cookie cutter one, but that’s what makes it my own. I need to remind myself that I would not have learned the lessons, met the people, fallen in love, became financially independent, had every tiny experience that has put me where I am, helped make me WHO I am. That this road led me back to MC.* That this road will lead me to a career, volunteering, traveling, a family.
I need to understand and value that my insane work and school schedule has introduced me to a beautiful support system, has shown me that my mind and body can do what I will it to, is preparing me for graduate school. I need to express gratitude that I am able to go to college at all.
I need to stop “needing to” and start acting. Get busy forgiving.
Good riddance negativity, bring on the acceptance. Forgiveness is growth.
*That’s a story for a different post.
Prompt: Write Something You Love About Yourself.
Contrary to what Day 1 might have hinted at, I am not utterly full of hate; I do love many, many things. Hence, the first something I love about myself would be that I have the ability to love and appreciate countless things, material and otherwise. I love going out to breakfast and books, smiles from strangers (or someone I fancy), my green living room walls and 3 hour long conversations. I love autumn, UCONN tailgates, NAILS(!!)*, pumpkin everything and sweatshirt season. I love that I cherish all the little blessings in my life.
I love that I wear my heart on my sleeve. If I am delighted, down in the dumps, irritated or excited, I assure you, you will be able to tell. I can’t hold in how I feel, and even when I try, it comes out anyways. I’m sure it annoys the shit out of other people, but I love it. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I love that I am willing to try any food, regardless of how nasty and unappealing it may seem beforehand.
I love that I say “I love you”, freely, often, deliberately. I also love that I am a cuddler. **
I love that I have an open mind. I love that I chose to believe in the inherent good in people.
I love that I have passion and am pursuing it through the means of a career.
I love that this was easier than I thought.
What do you love about yourself?
* Or STUMP as some people call it
**I appreciate both spoons equally
“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.” -Elvis Presley
I came across a brilliant writing project on Hope’s blog today, and it was just too delicious not to copy. Thanks dahhling : ) The rules are to tell the truth for 30 days, each day about a different topic. The full list can be found here.
Feel free to contribute, enrich the project. I want to hear your thoughts, how you feel on the subject matter, either pertaining to my life or your own. I would feel blessed to hear your story.
I’ll go in the given order, I think that’s important. I feel that some days will be a lot harder to write than others, therefore I don’t want to pick and choose–that would be cheating. I might not write every day, and I might throw in a post or two in between days, but I’ll pick up right where I started, promise.
So…without further ado…
Hate: a special kind of love given to people who suck. *
Prompt: Write Something You Hate About Yourself
I hate the irony of “hate” being the topic for the first day. I hate that I have been focusing on all the things I hate about myself for months, years now. I hate that I’ll probably have to cut myself off from typing the full list of everything I hate about me, that tomorrow’s “What do you love about yourself?” will be a great deal more difficult to write. I hate that it’s so hard for me to recognize a talent, so easy to spot a flaw. I hate that I am terrible with money. I hate pretty much every single part of my body, from my ears to my thighs to my voice. I obviously hate my anxiety. I hate that I have a problem saying no. I hate that I don’t speak my mind at times for fear of hurting someone else, instead accepting the hurt myself. I hate that I am overly sensitive. I hate that I make the time to volunteer, to sleep in, to get drunk, but don’t make the time to visit my grandma because it makes me sad and uncomfortable. I hate that I get jealous. I hate that I never fold/put away all my laundry. I hate that I slouch. I hate that I talk with my mouth full. I hate how awkward I get first entering a new situation or meeting new people, how ill at ease I am in my own skin. I hate that this is continuing to hold me back.
Vent it if you got it. Anything you hate about yourself?
They say that life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Well, when the life happens to be one of a procrastinator, life is what happens when you should be making plans, but instead you’re busy making popcorn to eat during your 6 hour Grey’s Anatomy bender.
Some people couple procrastination with fear, not only just fear of failing, but fear of succeeding and causing that damn bar to keep creeping higher, fear that you might not be able to meet it next time. No doubt that often pertains to me, but I don’t believe it is the source of my issue. The source, I believe is that I am selfish. My need for instant gratification leaves me chasing things that nourish my soul and putting off necessary, but unattractive, tasks. Essentially, my priorities are skewed, I don’t have balance.
I’ve become accustomed, since God knows when, to crossing bridges when I come to them. I am not traditional, I do things on my own time. I go with my gut, listen to my heart and make (sometimes rash) decisions my own way, dive into things when I am ready for them and deal with the consequences should they ensue. My choices go against the advice of most women’s magazines and often leave my friends shaking their heads. I spend too much money I should be saving, put off things I should really deal with. I focus on my passions and the people I am passionate about when I should be concentrating on my responsibilities. The plans I make fall under categories of goals, ambitions, dreams, things I aspire to be, rather than budgets and research paper outlines and dentist appointments. The undesirables, the things I put off unquestionably sneak up on me, deadlines approach, shit happens, and I am forced to come up with my game plan on the spot most of the time.* My procrastination has made me adapt to living with a degree of uncertainty.
Since the Universe for some unexplainable reason is kind to me, I don’t typically get punished (minus extra added anxiety) for waiting until the last minute to do even the simplest tasks. I’m grateful for this, but I’ve decided that part of being a grown up is compromising, even with yourself, and I’ve been trying to work on this flaw of mine. I’m thinking that it will help lead to more of a feeling of peace and balance within myself, which will lead to less anxiety. Here’s to hoping anyways.
So when I do actually go out, grab the bull by the horns, be as thorough as possible and set plans in motion just to have them backfire, it feels like a failure. A confusing, swift kick to the nuts failure.
Last year I, per usual, procrastinated and put off finding an internship until the semester started which in turn left me working with children** (shudder) and having to work through winter break to make all my hours. In short, it was stressful. And folks, when you have anxiety like moi, you don’t really need to pile on unnecessary strain. I was positively determined this year to eliminate that stress and start early, which is exactly what I did. And a few months ago I ended up landing my dream internship, a coveted internship, an internship that I recently lost due to the inflexibility of my work schedule. A loss that may seem minor, but it was a loss that crushed me.
And now, I am back where I started, literally, about to intern at a homeless shelter that next to no one in my family is very comfortable with. Nevertheless, this situation has unfolded, whether I wanted to or not, and things are falling into place almost naturally. The silver lining has been an abundant amount of support from my classmates and professors and a new experience that will be challenging for me, but I believe will make me a better social worker. I will be able to look back in the future and see the meaning behind this, the purpose of why I will be spending the next 9 months here instead of there, the way it shaped my life, my career.
However…if this is what I can base what being a responsible planner is like on, then so far I think I like procrastination better — just saying…
*Often this game plan involves a teary phone call to my mom, best friend or MC
**I actually ended up loving my placement and those kids taught me things about myself and forced my to grow up in countless ways.
So, from the outside I look better right? I wear makeup and do my hair, laugh wildly as I sashay across rooms in dresses reserved for the confident girls. Its been years since my period stopped, the depression began and my daily calorie intake was somewhere below 500. Years since I stopped wearing baggy clothes, repeatedly promising myself that if I’m “good” today then tomorrow I can wear a fitted top. Years since my biggest self accomplishment was passing on birthday cake. Years since two-a-day workouts leaving me too exhausted to even make it to the shower.
So when do I start to feel better?
The visits to the therapists are no more, the symptoms are merely haunting memories, but will the plaguing thoughts ever stop? I’ve long ago recovered physically from anorexia, so how long until I recover mentally?
My mind is far too often clouded with heavy layers of insecurity mixed with doubt and fear. I think about other girls. Not even girls, women. Strong, confident women who use their flaws as assets, who broadcast their opinions without abandon, who admit when they are wrong, but refuse to apologize for who they are. Bravery and honesty are found next to their names in the dictionary. I hate that I am not one of those women and I hate that I am not sure if I ever will be.
I have to believe that it will get better; I must convince myself that this is not how I will forever feel. I have to believe it because it’s weighing on my spirit, slowly but surely, little by little. And I can not, I will not, I refuse to be broken, not by this.
“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” –Peter Marshall
Last week, me and MC took a semi-spontaneous vacation. With my schedule I am always going, going, gone- always on the move, my calendar packed with deadlines and meetings, schedules and RSVPs yes. Sometimes reluctantly for commitments I’d rather not keep, and sometimes for outings I can’t wait to set my alarm for. Weekend getaways and baseball games, bars and beach days give me the false sense that I have plenty of free time and I spend it wisely. So, it was slightly alarming when I actually thought about it and realized that I hadn’t taken a genuine weeklong vacation in TWO FUCKING YEARS. Absolutely absurd.
We decided on Acadia because it’s the closest national park, neither of us had been and friends couldn’t rave enough about its beauty. Four days sounded like the perfect amount of time to camp, get a few solid hiking days in and still have a day or two upon returning to recover before a much dreaded return to the work force.
I opted to go mostly vegetarian for the trip. Not because I am considering that as a permanent lifestyle, and not because I wanted to seem all badass hippie with my organic goodies, but because I figured if I was going to be pushing myself physically, I should be putting only worthy ingredients into my body—you know, besides all the beer and Jameson. I just simply feel better when I eat healthy. I could have brought fat free Pringles and turkey dogs and still kept a low fat diet, but man made oil and mechanically separated poultry sloshing around in my stomach wasn’t a very desirable option this time. I ended up being very pleased with my decision.
MC thought we should leave at 2 am, I thought that was malarkey.
He had to drag me out of bed We settled on 4. Per usual, I found myself filled with anxiety. I worried about not being able to check my work and school email, I worried about bills and missing my Wednesday night class. I worried about my knee bothering me. I worried about things I had no business worrying about on vacation. I worried…until I saw this.
Acadia turned out to be exactly what I needed. It turned out to be four entire days of sweatpants* and campfires, stars so brilliant it felt surreal, ten mile hikes, being completely void of anxiety (well sans the paranoia that stemmed from the signs warning me that rabies was lurking just around the corner), not one moment of feeling pissed off, zero cell phone service, knee pain that was worth every step that created it and ten o’clock bedtimes.
I’ve never hiked so close to the ocean–it was, in a word, breathtaking.
Our days went a little something like this…
And our nights a little like this…
Yes, I made MC play card games with me, and yes Kings is still hilarious with 2 people.
We hiked Cadillac Mountain the first day which is the tallest mountain in the park and the most touristy. The second day we hiked two mountains and out to a lake, The Bowl. The terrain was more challenging on the second day, and I just overall enjoyed the hike more. Cadillac is a big attraction, so you run into a lot more people on the trail and the summit is essentially a glorified parking lot and gift shop. Don’t get me wrong, the views were gorgeous, but it’s just a very different experience when you hike a mountain you can also drive up. There was this one broad, in a dress who just kept saying to her boyfriend “Honey, I’m cold. Honey, I’m cold.” Dude, run while you still can.
We did not see bears (yay!) or moose (boo!), but we did see deer!
And rainbows : )
And of course, naturally, we found a brewery.
Acadia gets an A+ in my book. I strongly, strongly recommend visiting, especially if you are within driving distance. If you could care less about hiking, Bar Harbor is absolutely adorable and has a ton of B&B’s and shops.
* Don’t judge all the bandanas. My greasy mane did not need to be on full display all week.
Lisa is moving.
Lisa was the very first friend I met when I started middle school, the girl I stayed up late sharing secrets on the phone with, the house I slept at every weekend. She saw my first tears over a boy, held my hair back when I threw up from eating too much junk food and was my partner in crime for crank calls. She introduced me to my best friend Amanda. She was, and still is, words of love, encouragement, kindness. She is the type of friend you call when you are in midst full on bawling, the type of sob you would never want anyone else to witness. She shaped me in ways my eleven year old self didn’t know someone could. I would not be who I am today without her.
And now she is leaving, jetting 3000 miles away to pursue a dream…
Go get ‘em girl.
In far less depressing news, I’m going to one of my absolute favorite places tomorrow- Burlington, VT. This weekend will be the final chapter in my summer of weddings. Maybe its just our age, the times when people start settling down, or maybe its what naturally happens when you are in a relationship and have two groups of friends, but I have been at a wedding every few weeks this summer. Thankfully, I fancy weddings very much. Many people don’t like weddings, and perhaps as I get older, the appeal will fade, but I doubt it. It’s not the church service or tuxedos or the open bar (well maybe a little bit the open bar) or the fancy appetizers…because frankly I don’t give a shit about any of that. What gets me every single time is the look in the groom’s eyes, the vows, the speeches. The words. To me, the words show hope.
It’s all about the hope. As a- what do they call it?- oh yes, “child of divorce”, I understand that marriage is hard, happy endings are harder. More and more each day I see betrayals, cheating, people who cannot, who will not, bend to meet the needs of their partner. I see resentment instead of forgiveness, irritation where there is supposed to be acceptance. Taking people for granted instead of holding on tighter. Less kisses goodbye, I love yous said. I see this, we all see this. Its enough to make you cynical, disenchanted with the idea of til death do you part.
I have learned from my parents that sometimes love is not enough, that sometimes two people can’t work things out, just shouldn’t be together, and that’s ok. Moving on can be a good thing– people change, things fall apart.
But to me, weddings are the exception, the source of hope. Two people are choosing each other, choosing to try day in and day out to make one of life’s hardest jobs become a success. They are choosing to commit to each other in front of people who support them in the best way possible, in front of their God.
At the end of the day, the hope people have in spite of there being no guarantee is what I find beautiful.
So, cheers. Cheers to Lisa and to hope and new beginnings and a FUCKING 3 DAY WEEKEND!