What if the definition of a mediocre life is highly subjective?
What if I want both? What if I want that farm house and a thriving business? What if I want to spend years studying into the night, pursuing a degree? A degree that will give me the knowledge to help and heal others?
What if I want to spend one afternoon sitting in the sun, listening to music, and the next rushing from class to class?
I want the slow and peaceful. I want to wake up on a Saturday morning and sip tea in bed. I also want that feeling I get when I’ve fought long and hard to reach a goal. I want to push myself out of my comfort zone and strive for what I was always told I couldn’t have.
What if I’m aware of how capitalism works, and how I need to play the game to get that peaceful life? What if I eat ramen, stay up late hustling, and live in a studio apartment now, so I can have those rolling hills and gentle life later?
What if I want to work for those things myself? What if I don’t want to rely on anyone but myself?
What if I don’t want to be a mother? What if I was told my entire life that my worth was based on what is between my legs? What if I’ve decided my greatest responsibility is to myself? What if I spend my life doting on my partner and pets rather than children?
What if I’m not ok with where I am? What if where I am leaves me dissatisfied and joyless? What if I feel my best when I’m working hard? What if what makes me excited is when I dream of walking up those steps to get my degree? What if tears fill my eyes when I think of pulling up to the house I bought, with my own money, after working goddamn hard?
What if I press myself as hard as I can go while loving myself right where I am? What if I can do both, and still be happy?
What if I promised myself, when I was at my lowest, that I was going to get to my goals no matter how much I struggled. I told myself I’d crawl on bloody hands and knees to get those things that were stolen and hidden from me for 22 years, and I intend to do just that.
What if we all worked our best for the lives we want and didn’t take crap from anyone?
The world is too big, and people too complex to do anything but do our best and love ourselves and others.
No one is coming for you.
(Doesn’t that sound cruel?)
There is no knight in shining armor
urging his horse your way.
There is no rescue crew
eyes on you.
It’s just you.
Don’t be scared.
You have all you need:
No one is coming for you
tighten your bandages
grit your teeth
brush away the blood in your eyes
tense your muscles for the run
No one is coming for you
because you need no one.
The very first time i heard baby’s heartbeat, i cried. i was alone in my bedroom, a home Doppler in hand. i was still in the first trimester, and had yet to hear the heartbeat. i spent hours reading online before trying my hand at the Doppler. i knew i might not hear the heartbeat – baby was roughly the size of a fig, and it could be tricky to find the heartbeat.
i found the heartbeat within a few minutes. Baby was resting comfortably on the left side, heart pattering away. i was so surprised i found it so easily, and so, so happy to hear that sound, i just cried. i was in the middle of horrible morning sickness (more like all day and night sickness), and it was what i needed at the time. i had been so scared i’d hear nothing but more proof my uterus was broken.
i knew i was pregnant before the pregnancy test. Something inside of me just knew – my body told me and i listened. i postponed a surgery, much to the annoyance of friends and my boyfriend. They didn’t understand. They couldn’t feel what i was feeling, and that’s ok.
Pregnancy isn’t easy on my body. i’ve had scary moments. i was terrified of losing the pregnancy far into the second trimester.
When i passed 25 weeks, i started breathing a little easier. Odds were, baby was going to make it.
i first felt kicks at 14 weeks. It scared me at first. It was something i’d never felt before. i remember lying in bed, still as a stone, as i first felt those tiny flutters.
First proper ultrasound was at 14 weeks. Baby wasn’t fond of the ultrasound, and they squirmed and wriggled away from the wand, moving further into my womb.
i didn’t really start to show until the end of the second trimester. Up until then i looked like i just enjoyed sweets a little *too* much. Then my belly finally popped out, and i had to get bigger clothes. i live in yoga pants and long shirts these days.
My back hurts a lot. So do my ribs and hips. Baby is pretty quiet, except at night. If i rock back and forth while on my side, baby will calm down and fall asleep. It’s the sweetest thing. Same thing happens when i listen to music.
My cravings are varied and unpredictable. Oatmeal, cereal, sloppy joes, Taco Bell, potato salad, cinnamon rolls, mashed potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, salad..i’ve even taken to spicy foods, which is NOT like me. At all. i am the whitest girl to ever white, and i hate spicy foods. Now though? i’ll slather chocolate in hot sauce if i can.
It’s been interesting. Lots of good moments, some bad moments. i waddle a lot and have to roll out of bed. i can still bend over though, and i consider that a major victory. i cannot put my pants or sock on while standing up anymore..but i’ll take what i can get. 😉
In my kitchen, there’s a small cabinet above the oven. It’s too short and narrow for dishes, and just a little too high to comfortably use for food.
It’s my food stash cabinet. I keep a variety of food in there – all non perishable items of course. Crackers, granola bars, random bags of candy, dried fruits, nuts, shelf stable juice, etc.
No one is allowed to get in my cabinet. It was actually my boyfriend’s idea. He kept finding random food items on top the fridge, in the bathroom linen closet, and behind the pots. He cleaned out the cabinet one morning, put all my food inside, and promised to never get in it without permission.
Growing up, food was not always guaranteed. It came and went like the seasons. Sometimes we had an abundance, sometimes we had very little. There is nothing quite like the panic you feel knowing that you have no food in the house and no way to get more.
Feeding one or two people isn’t that big of a deal, but feeding over a dozen is a different matter all together. It was a first come, first served kind of deal.
When I left and got my own place (with roommates), I thought things would change. At my parent’s home, I would hide any food I didn’t want to share. It was food I had bought with my own money, and was not interested in divvying out. But in my own house, I assumed my food would be safe. I assumed I lived with decent people who wouldn’t abuse my trust and eat my food.
I am eternally too trusting, because of course they ate my food. I would buy an entire jar of peanut butter, only to have it half gone by the next day. I hadn’t eaten it. My boyfriend hadn’t eaten it. I asked my roommate if he ate it. He feigned innocence, of course. It got to the point where I was writing my name across all my food, reminding everyone (passive aggressively) that this was NOT THEIR FOOD. I mean, if they had asked, I would be more than ok with sharing. But they didn’t ask, and that was the real issue.
Moving away from that environment and into my own place with my now boyfriend was a change. I no longer had to angrily bite my tongue when my food was stolen ( or be laughed at or mocked behind my back as dramatic). I didn’t have to hide my food. I could leave it in the open, and no one would touch it. My boyfriend always, always asks first.
I think to a lot of people, it’s not that big of a deal. Food can be replaced, right? OK, but what if you’re poor, and it cannot be replaced. Or, maybe it can, but you don’t know when?
My anxiety is strong around food. I’ll save it until it’s within an inch of its expiration date, because what if I can’t replace it? I more than likely will be able to replace it. Why wouldn’t I? There’s money available, and the store is a ten minute drive. Logically, I should polish off that container of yogurt and happily toss it in the trash. But I can’t, because anxiety tells me I might never see another container in my life.
Last night I wanted to make oatmeal for dinner (it’s a thing now, yeah. I’m not sorry, I love oatmeal). I spent ten minutes debating on whether to use almond milk or water. Seriously.
If I used almond milk, then the amount we have goes down, and that means less for the future. But water comes straight from the tap, and there’s a lot more of it.
I ended up using water.
Even though we’re going grocery shopping in two days and I have half a gallon of almond milk. More than enough. Using 2/3 a cup of milk wouldn’t have killed me, but tell my anxiety that.
Anxiety is not rational, and anyone who suffers from it realizes that.
Half of me is groaning at my anxiety, rolling its eyes and shaking its head at the stupidity. The other half of me is running around shrieking, convinced we used the last drop of milk on the planet, and all hope is lost.
Dealing with food insecurity has led to some unhealthy behaviors around food. I’ve dealt with over eating ( “I don’t know if I’ll ever get this again, so I need to it all now”) and under eating (“I’ve eaten so much, I shouldn’t eat again for a few days”).
I even keep food in my purse. Usually granola bars, because they’re easy to transport. I keep packets of mayo and ketchup you get with your lunch at a restaurant or cafeteria. My fridge is full of them.
I hoard food until it goes bad, which is ironic, since you can’t eat it when it’s bad. Anxiety is not logical. It does not make sense. It becomes a habit, until you actively try and break it. Sometimes it’s like pushing on a door that says pull. You push and push until you’re exhausted and close to tears. You realize you could just pull the door open. Give into the anxiety and feel that rush of relief, rather than struggling against the fear in your brain.
But that’s not going to result in freedom, is it?
I’m turning into an adult who eats weight control oatmeal.
It’s made by Quaker and it’s instant. I just pop it into the microwave for a minute and twenty seconds and bam. Breakfast that fills me up and also tastes good.
It has artificial sweeteners in it, so there is only 1 gram of sugar?? I am usually pretty against artificial sweeteners, but I don’t even care right now. It’s yummy and I love it.
Speaking of sugar: my boyfriend is a very careful eater. He has a ridiculous amount of self control, and I envy him. He (unfortunately, because ignorance is bliss) opened my eyes to how much sugar there is in every day foods, and now I just see sugar everywhere. He won’t even really eat fruit. Which is fine, because I fucking love fruit, so more for me. I spent five dollars on a bag of pears, and it was one of the best choices I’ve made this week, lol.
But now I can’t enjoy anything sweet without a little gremlin in my head screaming “THAT’S GOT LIKE 100 GRAMS OF SUGAR IN IT.” I found out my favorite soda has something like 75 grams of sugar in one bottle and I just can’t find a good reason to drink it anymore.
It’s finally warm outside (every day, not just a few days out of the week), and the trees just grew green leaves overnight. This was more like two weeks ago, but now the leaves are all unfurled. The neighborhood is lined with trees with white or pink blossoms. They’re so graceful. I love the way the petals float in the breeze. The street is covered with pink and white petals. I’ve been taking a lot of walks to soak it all in. I am much, much happier in the spring and summer. I hate winter, and it dampens my mood.
I spoke to an adviser at the college I’m eager to attend. I’m nervous but excited. I like getting all my plans lined up. I get excited about my future and my hopes and dreams. Eep.
My hair is down to the middle of my back! Three years ago I was as bald as a baby bird, so this is a pretty big deal for me. My goals is to get it down to the top of my bum, then just maintain. Unless it gives me headaches, of course. Then I’ll just cut it shorter and be satisfied that I at least reached my original goal. 😛
I saw a dentist for the first time in nearly a decade – insurance, man. It’s pretty great. My dentist has a great bedside manner, and he made the procedure relatively quick and painless. I had a filling fall out about a month ago (which isn’t all that bad, since that filling has been in there since I was a teenager), and he put in a temporary filling for now. I go in tomorrow to have the real one put in.
A few photos before I go:
O most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honoureth and invoketh thee universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things almost despaired of.
Early 2015, I was given a Saint Jude necklace. I had heard a song by Florence + The Machine titled St. Jude. I loved the song, so I did some research on Saint Jude. I was mostly curious.
I knew immediately that he was the saint I needed at that time. Now, I’m not Catholic. I know very little about saints or anything having to do with the Catholic church. I just knew that Saint Jude was my saint. The rest didn’t matter.
Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes and impossible dreams.
I felt like a lost cause. My dreams were impossible. I was a hopeless case. I wore my St. Jude necklace and felt peace like I never had before. When times are dark, even the smallest things can help.
Today I spotted the necklace in my cabinet, and I put it on. It still means so much to me. I don’t typically wear a lot of jewelry, but this one is special. It reminds me of how far I’ve come, and the inner strength I have. Because really, I am St. Jude. I was searching for strength. I was looking for a hero, and I found it in myself. I discovered I can save myself.
I studied long and hard for the GED. I was frustrated and angry when I discovered things I didn’t know. I harnessed my anger like a wild horse and I made something good of it. The day I got the email that I had passed all four sections, I cried. My Uber driver was quite obviously a little perturbed at the crying woman in the back seat, poor guy. I wanted to get out of the car and scream to the world what I’d done. Beat the ground and cry tears of relief and finally released frustration and anger.
I had done something no one could take away from me.
It is forever recorded that I took the GED and passed it. No one can steal that from me. I sat down and took that test with witnesses around me. It cannot be denied. It was mine. It is mine. What normally is such a simple process was a long time coming for me. I took what was mine. I stole it back what I had earned years and years ago.
It felt good. It felt right.
Growth comes in tiny steps sometimes. I’m fiercely proud of every step I’ve taken. When I was asked if my story could be published, I said yes. I felt so proud. The same with the second time, and the third.
When I got my driver’s permit, the clerk gave me a fist bump. He doesn’t know my story, or how long of a road (pun intended, haha) this has been. But it still meant something to me. I grinned all day. I felt light as a feather.
St. Jude, I thank you for your intercession in response to my prayers. I will always be grateful to you and will spread to devotion to you. Be with us always so we may face our problems with courage and serenity.
It’s such a comfortable place to live. I know from personal experience. I spent a good part of my life living in denial. I think that to some point, we all live in denial. We conveniently ignore the not so great bits of life – the state of our climate, how our meat is slaughtered, and who made our clothes.
We don’t really like people who push us out of our comfort zone. Our comfortable little space of denial. We start to feel a little indignant when someone tries. We squirm a little. Change isn’t something we humans enjoy very much, especially when it means changing our behaviors or confronting a tough issue.
Sometimes, when we are forced to confront a problem, we diminish that problem. We hear about child labor being used to make the shirts we wear, and we quickly find a way to make that problem seem like a less of a problem. We tell ourselves that well, there really isn’t much we can do, is there? We can shop at the right places and hope those companies are honest and good. And really, is it our fault if a company uses child labor? You’re the innocent in this, of course.
There. Problem solved. Remove yourself from the equation, carefully putting aside all blame. Wash your hands of the issue.
I saw my therapist last week, and we talked a bit about denial, and why people choose to stay in denial, even when it’s hurting others.
For example. You meet a man. He’s sweet, and kind, and steadfast. You are one hundred percent sure he’s the man for you. You marry, settle down, and have a child together.
You love this man. He’s nothing but amazing to you. You feel like soulmates, and you seem to know each other so well. You’re aware he’s human, and sometimes humans fail, but your husband is just too good of a person to do anything really bad. Too upright. Not that kind of guy.
One day the police show up at your door. You’ve been married for a while now, and you have a great house. Your child is excelling in school, and your financial needs are being met. In fact, your family might even take a vacation in the Caribbean that year! The police standing at your doorstep are an unwelcome surprise.
The police sit you down, and tell you that your husband has been collecting and distributing child pornography.
Right then and there, you feel your world fall apart. It can’t be true. Your husband? The sweet guy who cried while you were in labor? The man who woke up early and worked hard every day to provide for his family? The same man that bought you a beautiful ring for your anniversary is also a..pedophile?
It can’t be true. Is it? You think about it in the weeks that come. You spend hours going from blindingly angry to sure that he must have been framed. You wonder – did he touch your child? You’re a wreck. A mess, wondering how could this person that you thought you knew, do something so terrible?
You visit your husband in jail. He tells you it was an accident – he just came across it on a porn site. He looks so innocent, so sad. He cries. He tells you he misses you, and how this is all a misunderstanding, and that he’ll be home soon.
You’re now sure it was a mistake. You sleep next to this man every night. You smiled to yourself when you heard him singing in the shower. He’s just so sweet, so right, so normal. He can’t be a monster. You refuse to believe it. Everyone else just misunderstood. They’re liars, out to get you and your family. They want nothing more than to destroy the life you’ve built.
So, rather than admit the fact that your husband can be completely human, completely normal, and a predator, you decide to build your own reality.
Denial. Because if you didn’t even know the man you married, who are you? What does this say about your judgment? Your values? What about the family you two had spent decades building? What will people think?
Denial is simple. It’s easy. It provides a way out of your mess. Rather than admit that there is something wrong, you diminish. You dismiss. You ignore. The denial is so concrete in your brain, that you become almost angry when anyone dare to tell you you’re wrong.
By choosing denial, life can go back to normal for you. You have your house, your kid, and your money. All is right. All is in its place. You do what the rest of us do. We go about our daily lives. We smile, because we’re happy. Nothing is wrong.
You can go to the super market and buy bacon without a second thought. The curtain has closed – all you see is a clean package containing layered meat. You don’t need to shield your eyes about what was going on behind the scenes, and you very easily ignore the quickly pooling blood. Just step over it. Smile.
For a good portion of my life, I was pro life. I was pro life because everyone I knew was pro life. It was a blind belief. There was no other option. I saw the pictures of aborted fetuses and thought that only a monster could do something like that. All women who sought abortions were painted as god hating sluts who had their baby sucked out of them while they laughed – or something like that.
There was never a thought as to why someone would choose abortion. There was this pervasive thought that everyone experienced the same life we (fellow pro life people) did, therefore they had the same opportunities. There was no thought given to different life experiences or thought patterns.
Growing up, I knew of a few women who had chosen abortion. They were spoken about in hushed tones, with disdain – even hate. They were painted as selfish, ignorant women who slept around. Thinking back, I feel a large amount of shame for not stepping outside of my box for a second. For not trying to see things from someone else’s perspective. The ignorance and hate that surrounded the topic was all consuming. These women, who had told their stories in confidence, were mocked, derided, and ostracized.
I grew up a little bit when I left home.
I discovered that I had been living in a tiny, ignorance filled box. I saw other’s lives, and their choices, and the reason behind their choices. I learned that the world is a big, big place, and not everything was as black and white as I had been told.
I had access to a wealth of knowledge now. I could look up anything, read anything, and talk to anyone who was willing to speak to me. I listened and learned their reasons for why they believed what they did.
I felt like (to borrow a popular Christianese phrase) the scales had fallen from my eyes. I felt cheated, yes. Angry, even, at the wealth of knowledge that had been kept from me. I delved into science and research. I read everything about philosophy I could get my hands on. Some things I discarded as unnecessary, or just plain silly. Other things I kept. Some others I’m still mulling over. I learned how to apply logic and reasoning to situations. I was raised to ignore logic because it was “worldly”. I was told to deny facts and evidence because they were “from Satan” and only there to lead me astray.
I think the biggest thing I discovered was that the world is not out to get me. The world is not out to dictate my thoughts and feelings. There are no tricks. There are no devils hiding behind every door. I was raised to live in fear. Fear of losing my religious rights -even though the doomsday predictions never came true, and Christianity remains the most catered to religion in the US.
I learned that I cannot force my religious beliefs on others, no matter what my beliefs are.
Growing up, I was surrounded by people who bemoaned the state of our nation. People who claimed that their religious rights were being trampled on – while they thought it was perfectly find to tell others how to live their lives.
The judgment and the self righteousness was such an ugly thing I carried. We were special. We were different. We were “chosen.” We weren’t like those sinners, aborting their babies and choosing to leave god behind.
This otherness, this “we’re special” attitude was toxic. We separated ourselves and declared our reality the true and only reality. That reality was and still is full of hate and ignorance.
I think we all want to be special. We want something more. We need something more – why else are we here? We need some big purpose. You can see it in our movies and books. There is a special one, the chosen one, the one better and more important than the rest. Destined for something better than everyone else.
I had to step down from my imaginary pedestal as Special, and Best, and Chosen, and admit that on the cosmic scale, I am just a tiny speck.
“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” -Carl Sagan
I also learned that I still have value. I didn’t need an imaginary god to tell me I had value, or that I needed him to find value. Me, that tiny speck was, as far as we knew, one of just 7 billion specks in a vast, immeasurable universe.
I developed a deep love for space – the universe as a whole. I would watch space documentaries and weep. Everything in me -down to my bones, was created in the belly of some ancient star. A star that exploded and spread across empty space, to one day make up me.
“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.” -Carl Sagan
One morning, not long after I left home, I stood in front of the mirror and looked into my eyes and said,
“You are not sinful.
There is nothing wrong with you.
You were not born corrupt.
You are not in need of saving.
You are not dirty.
You were lied to, and these are the truth:
You are whole.
You are pure, from the moment of birth until now.
You have intrinsic value, and no one can ever, ever take that from you.”
This is my mantra. I’ve said it to myself many times since then, and every time I believe it more and more. I am able to discard the brainwashing and conditioning from my youth and revel in my beauty and importance that exists without a god.
Sometimes I get so excited at the opportunities I have. I feel like a child, with a wide open world in front of me. I don’t have to live in fear, I can choose to live in love, and life, and truth. I can be accepting of others even if we’re not the same. I don’t have to cut myself off from The Others. The Sinners. I can listen to a Christian friend, or a Muslim friend, and stay firm in my beliefs, because they are not threatened. I no longer have to shut myself off in fear of being “led astray”, because we are all one. We are all doing our best.
I feel much more connected to the world. I love the planet I live on. I want to preserve it and give something for future generations to enjoy. The depth of a blue sky, the sharp, earthy smell of a forest after a rain. The white capped waves as they throw themselves onto the shore.
It makes me emotional, honestly.
‘Long as I can remember, never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know, where I can not go
Though I long to be
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know, if I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go
there’s something brave in me
something strong built in the center of my soul
i was always the rebellious one
“the angry one” they’d say
to relieve their guilt and call themselves guiltless
i did try
i tried to be quiet and complaisant
i nodded and said “yes sir” like the best of them
but there was still that fire
the iron in my heart
the fierce desire for independence
i just needed that opening
the nod from the universe
to break through my coffin
and stand up through the dirt.
a second life so much deeper than religion can explain
i raised my fist
“you don’t tell me who I am
i tell you who i am”
the ground shook
the storm rolled in
my rebellion wouldn’t be tolerated
“this re birth is evil
the girl child doesn’t know her place”
i cried in return
send the rain!
send your best. watch them fall.
i’m built of something so much stronger.”
i took the punches
i endured the lashes.
i ignored their words, filed sharp to kill
i smiled the entire time
the fire in my heart burning stronger
bloody and bruised
i climbed the mountain
i was never much afraid
i was never broken
i was whole
the guards trembled as i walked by
muddy feet and bloody face
the king cowered as i snatched his crown
“i am the daughter of
the witches you could not burn.”
i told him
“this fire burns stronger in the rain.
i’m already molded to perfection.
who told you that you could change me?”