Guilt, Shame, Fear, Etc.

It’s the end of the day as I type this. Not necessarily a good one. I can’t put my finger on just why it’s so bad, but it’s bad. I think it’s more difficult to have a bad day when there’s nothing to attribute its awkward feeling to.

I laid on the sidewalk sprawled up the stairs while talking on the phone today, waiting for Savannah to get home. Luckily, I went back inside before she actually got home. It was about two hours later. A guy riding a bike slowed down to ask if I was okay, and I burst into hysterical laughter. I tried to tell him, “Yes,” but it came out as, “I live here.” Okay, I guess that means I’m all right. The neighborhood is looking out for me.

I went away to Chicago this weekend with Dean and Brett. Good times were had. It was my fifth time seeing No Doubt, and arguably one of the best shows. I did the usual city stroll – coffee shops, record stores, health food stores, etc. The batch of special brownies lead to a weird weekend adventure and a lot of laughter. The cool weather was mostly welcome. The pizza was especially welcome until today when my body realized the amount of it that I actually consumed. Chicago pizza is big pizza, y’all. For every slice consumed, you actually eat about four.

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So, I was in my therapy session last week, and it was one of those sessions where I delve into my optimistic master plan of the month. There’s always one good week out of the month, and I come up with some good stuff during that time. I’m pretty bored lately. I don’t have anywhere to be at any time, ever. It’s awful. (Someone please give me a real job). Anyways, that’s a project for another time. I thought I would embrace the spare time and get into some serious healing. Read books, meditate, discipline myself to work, cook food. Well, I can do that for about two days before it just doesn’t work. I really can’t put in a bunch of effort to feel normal everyday when getting out of bed before noon is seemingly impossible. I’m trying to come up with a compromise, here, like maybe it’s worth it to put in the effort (I know it is). I’m leaning towards the idea that one project at a time is better.

During the therapy session, I brought up the three feelings that have felt like a reoccurring theme in my life: guilt, shame, fear.

Long story short, old habits die hard. Point being, I’ve been bulimic for ten years and yeah… still right there where I started. Details aren’t necessary. It’s a compulsion I really don’t feel in control of. At this point, it has absolutely nothing to do with looking a certain way. It’s some strange addiction I can’t shake. Alas, it brings on those feelings I mentioned above. How can I possibly tell people about this when it’s so looked down upon, un-glamorous, shameful, disgusting? How can I admit this when I’m literally a HEALTH COACH for a living? It’s this deep, dark secret that I’m afraid would destroy everything in my life. At the same time, it’s so invasive that I look/feel physically ill and mentally exhausted so often that it’s hard to make excuses. Lastly, living a lie is dumb. This had become painfully obvious in a relationship for the first time in awhile. You know, when you’re trying to put off blatantly telling someone you’re nuts because they still think you’re perfect or something. So, jumping over hurdles here…

I decided to be honest. First with him, now with the Internet.

The last time I threw up, I was in the middle of my just-moved-into apartment. A clean slate? Sure, that’s what I envisioned. In reality, I was lying on the floor in the midst of boxes in tears. The heat felt like it was swallowing me. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t just lay there. It was all over now – the moving process – and I was all alone. So naturally, I did what I do. I ordered home furnishings on Amazon and then I ate a bunch of food with the intentions of making sure it didn’t stay inside of me. Immediately following the events, Savannah came upstairs unexpectedly. I looked like I had been crying presumably because I had just been vomiting. Divine intervention? I went downstairs with her for a little bit. She came up later on with a card she had written for me. Naturally, it brought me to tears.

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I feel guilty because I have people in my life who would do anything for me. A lot of them, too. My relationships are deep, unconditionally loving, and meaningful. They stand the test of time, distance, good, and bad. It comes down to me providing the same in return, but it still feels unfair. I know a lot of people who don’t have one person they can call on to be there while I have what seems like a small network of pseudo-therapists and best friends forever at my fingertips. They’re going to great lengths to catch me before I even fall, and I’m failing miserably at making it any easier on anyone – especially myself.

A week or so before this whole bit, I was laying in my bed in the middle of the afternoon. It felt like I was waiting for something. I had just had a night quite similar to the one I described above. I went to Savannah’s that evening and ate figs on her couch while I spilled my guts (no pun intended). The next day, my ex-boyfriend sent me a psalm entirely out of the blue. I’m not quite “religious,” but spiritual text has a way of appearing at the right time. I told him that I appreciated it, but I asked him what compelled him to send that my way. He had sent it to his sponsees (recovering alcoholics) and me. It felt very fortuitous, like he knew that I needed to be reached out to. He called me without me having to explain what it all meant, and I cried. It was liberating to be telling the entire truth for the first time in a long time. I don’t believe I have much to hide from the man who physically carried me into my kitchen to watch me sob while taking bites of an apple. These are things I like to remember when I think of where I am now.

I took away one major focus from this interaction: I forgave someone who caused me more pain than anyone else, and he now possesses the power to help me immensely. What if I could extend that forgiveness and power to myself?

I’m working on it. The thing about being on my own? Well, my secrets are mine to keep. Not so much anymore. Deciding to be in a long-distance relationship less than two months into knowing someone is a leap of faith, but I rely on intuition. It simply doesn’t lead me astray. That is especially true in this instance. Despite attempts at prying, I couldn’t quite put everything on the table. I’m not sure if it was a fear of being left, being misunderstood, or just being vulnerable, but I was afraid. I didn’t want to unravel anything before it even began. At the same time, I understand that hiding things that can’t stay hidden forever is generally a terrible idea.

I beat around the bush for awhile, but I decided honesty is in my favor. I explained to Daniel exactly what it is I’m dealing with and the response was overwhelming in the most beautiful way I could possibly imagine. We’re keeping a streak, and he’s making me crafts. Not only crafts, but he’s writing me poems. Daily.

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I mean, who does that? At this point, I certainly didn’t expect this information to cause much of a strain on our relationship in and of itself i.e. ending it. I think my main concern was a lack of understanding. In my experience, most people really don’t get what goes through my head and why the disordered behavior ensues. It’s hard for anyone to say much besides, “But, you’ve come a long way” or “At least you want to change” or something along those lines. Those responses aren’t wrong, but I’ve heard them a million times.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is that my boyfriend is an angel and how did I get so lucky and all those things. Being miles apart is incredibly difficult, and it’s weighing on me much more than I’d like to admit. At the same time, I can look forward to this every single day which makes every second worth it. But what I’m really trying to say is that telling the truth is always the best decision. It’s a lesson I learn over and over. This time, I’m not going to forget. I don’t think he’s going to let me. Here’s to 12 days of freedom and many more to come.

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Releasing Brokenness

Here’s what happened following the last post regarding heartbreak: my heart had truly been mended. I find that I go back on my word quite often when I write because I write only on how I feel because I’m self-absorbed and really into my own feelings, I guess. Anyways, that means everything is subject to change because I don’t feel the same way for very long very often. Y’know?

All of the things I wrote about coming to terms with were permanent. The weight and the burden of heartbreak had been lifted, and lo and behold, good things happened because of it. I’m still jamming out to sadgirlmusic, don’t worry. I just painted a picture while blasting Bright Eyes. Yes, it’s Friday night. I live an exciting life.

I've also been making gummies.  A lot of gummies.
I’ve also been making gummies. A lot of gummies.

Healing is what I want to talk about. Healing happens when we realize that we can release brokenness. The thing about the release is that it’s not always something we can choose to do. I think it depends on the person and what exactly they want to remove from themselves – compulsion, fear, desire.

For some, closure is necessary. In the case of the everlasting heartbreak I thought I might die with, I guess that’s what I got. I saw this person who was still written on paper (in blood, scripted with a feather) as this undying piece of me, and I felt that space had been filled with something else. He wasn’t there anymore, but I didn’t know until I began to speak. I spoke to him in the way that I would anybody else. My words no longer formed in defense; it was rather alarming to me. I wanted to dance and scream about it and tell the world. That’s when I decided to write a silly blog post.

The past couple of months have brought on incredible joy. Momentous, epic, everyday, I’m-crying-at-the-sunset-in-a-baseball-field joy. I am fulfilled in my work. I have more freedom than I ever have in all regards. Most notably – and what contributes to my joy the most is – I have relationships with people that have surpassed all expectations. Bravo, guys.

I’m laying in Savannah’s heavenly bed in her air-conditioned apartment that feels more like home to me than my own. I’m going to have to start a calendar regarding which day whose kombucha was brewed, as I’m tending to both of our batches as well as the cat while she’s away.

My first batch of cherry kombucha!
My first batch of cherry kombucha!

I remember visiting Olympia, Washington, and I stayed with a girl named Rachel who I immediately wanted to be upon stepping into her apartment. Looking back on 19, I was the opposite of who I am now: genuinely timid, slightly introverted, not at all ambitious, and very unaware of who I was. I don’t think it’s unusual to be this way at 19. She was just so cool; she played Magnetic Fields songs on the ukelele and she went to a university without grades and she had giant vats of sauerkraut on the floor of the living room. When I walk into my (or Savannah’s) apartment, I realize that I got what I wanted. Not the hipster dream of the Pacific Northwest that I just outlined, but something much more meaningful than the surface of it. Though I no longer wish to be anybody but me, I’m living out the dream I only thought possible for someone more confident and self-assured than I was. Turns out, those things come as you grow up. Well, duh. If only I had listened to what every adult had ever told me. It took a lot of healing. Sorry for being redundant in my use of a chosen buzzword – it’s the only way I can stay focused. Just remember, it is relevant.

In a series of fortunate events, Savannah’s upstairs neighbors moved out, and I’m moving on in. After spending a year alone in my first-ever apartment, I realized two things: a) I still definitely want to live alone and b) I need someone close by. When I left my parents’ house last year, I was so engrossed in the utter tragedy of being alive and being me that I had put most of my relationships on the backburner. This was necessary because I was focused on recovery, and that process can be a little vain initially. It’s nice to level up to a place in which a social life can be seamlessly incorporated into my personal mission of being a better, healthier human being. Turns out, people are a huge factor.

I was lonely. I cried a lot when I first left for a multitude of reasons. I had good relationships then that I still have now, but I was lacking any sense of significance in my life, especially regarding anyone but myself. I didn’t know who to be, I didn’t know who to be with, and I was drowning in existential sorrow every time I saw my stupid Christmas tree whispering, “Forever alone” into my ears when I stepped in from the cold. It’s okay to float by for a little, unnoticed and untouched, but it’s best to embrace fulfillment when it’s presented. “When it’s presented,” is the emphasis, because you don’t choose when the void spits you back out into a perfect sunbeam in a field of daisies.

There's that field. It's a real place.
There’s that field. It’s a real place.

I’ve spent the summer in a whimsical candyswirl of sweet, sweet life I didn’t think was attainable for an adult. The bitterness and resentment have faded into parts of me that are hidden and locked, throw away the key. My enthusiasm cannot be matched. Really, I think I appear to be insane to normal people these days. Sometimes, releasing brokenness happens when someone else comes to fix things up.

People end up in your life when you need it the most. In the midst of my constant breakdowns, Savannah and I quickly developed something wonderful. She is present, she is gracious, she is understanding, and when it comes down to it, we have fun. Timing is not coincidence; she’s taught me a lot about being a friend, which in turn has helped me to make progress as an individual. She offers me so much, and I want to do the same in return. I needed to know that I could find meaning in my overwhelmingly monotonous world again. I needed to know that I could reach out to anyone. I needed to know that someone out there would let me sleep on their couch all weekend and drive my car when I couldn’t do it and wander around every art gallery in the city with me. (Hi if you’re reading this you know you’re the best thank you for being you ❤ <3)

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Seriously, what a GEM.

Shortly after the event of my last post – or maybe even just before – I had another chance meeting. I ran through Tranquil Trail and emerged at the cemetery where the dog decided it was time for a break. I wasn’t in any hurry to run back home, so I laid down next to him. I was unexpectedly approached by a long-haired boy on a bike who asked if he could pet my dog. Of course. This is just how people approach me. I later found out he was more intrigued by the purple flame that was once my head. By the time I looked down at my phone next, nearly three hours had passed.

Fast-forward to however long it’s been since then, and my heart is full. For the sake of not sounding like a teenage girl who is falling in love (who isn’t a teenage girl when they’re falling in love?), I’ll leave it at that. In the nature of healing, good things come when you finally let go. No more living in the past, no more forcing things that aren’t going to happen, and no more seeking companionship for the sake of not being alone. I wasn’t defeated by dating as I’ve met plenty of nice people who I got along with fine and who treated me well, but rather I was defeated by my intense lack of feeling. My feeling was all directed inward, clouding any possibility of a meaningful relationship. I felt broken, and I was. Not defective, just a little beat up.

Tips for happiness: spend lots of time rolling around in the grass.

So, I’m happy. I’m not happy because I’m not alone, but I’m happy because I’ve developed enough as an individual to share love, joy, companionship, experience, friendship, and romance with other people again to the full extent of each facet. I’ve worked hard enough to remove what ails me to take steps forward with others by my side. I’ve never walked this path alone, but I’ve certainly spent a lot of time unable to access the passion for life that forms when you let others in.

I’m broken open in a new way.

Sad Girl Music, Heartbreak, and Why I Like It

Last night, I saw the person who broke my heart for the last time. As the Internet has a way of doing, I was reminded that this week marks one whole year single for me. A few feelings bubble up, but I was surprised to see that they had changed since I last visited them.

The person in question wasn’t absent during the entirety of the past year. While he made attempts to be my friend, we all know that it isn’t that easy. We had been romantically involved for four years, and that’s a difficult adjustment when they’re just not there anymore. I didn’t want to be friends. I wanted to be together, or I wanted to be left alone. Every time I spoke to him or saw him prior to last night, I would break down. I had no idea how I would react to our interaction last night, but I was relieved. I wasn’t angry or jealous.

For the first time since we broke up, I realized I would be okay without him. I know it seems dramatic; it’s been a year. When other people break up, I assume they’re okay when they say they are. I told a lot of people I was over it, but I wasn’t trying to lie to myself. I was only trying to seem normal. The truth is that I am incredibly alone. Don’t get me wrong, this whole “embracing my inner independent lady” business has been fruitful. Immediately, I saved up the money to move out. I quit a job for some new ones. I established what is now a career. I recovered from my eating disorder for me and nobody else. All of those excursions which would once be taken alongside another were now taken on my own two feet. And it’s really not so bad. If you don’t do a lot of things solo, I’d highly recommend trying it out.

I didn’t cry when we split. It took me a long time to feel it. One day, about six months later, it felt as though it had just happened. I couldn’t tell anyone about it. I had too much pride to try to explain that my stupid heart hurt because of a stupid boy when it was totally irrelevant now. Nope. I drove for Lyft at the time. I stayed up all night in my car shuttling strangers around. But when I would drop them off, I would cry. Something about being dead center in your city in the midst of happy people in your car in the middle of the night hurt a lot. All of a sudden, it was the moment it ended all over again, but this time for real. Maybe it was just the shift that my entire life had taken or maybe it was the hope that maybe we could make things better dying off for good. I don’t know, but I felt unimaginably sad.

Since then, I’ve embraced heartbreak. I’ve always been fascinated by it. There is something about that gut feeling that is so unique and powerful. It makes you realize just how alive you are, and it doesn’t cut you a break. It’s like, “HEY, deal with this” once an hour. And that feeling almost feels like it does when you get the wind knocked out of you. After a few days, you begin to feel like you can outsmart it. I’ve never mastered the art. Instead, I just got used to it. Hi, I’m Alex, and I’m addicted to being heartbroken.

While that feeling can be quite intrusive when it’s literally making you vomit, the feeling with a little less intensity can be quite nice. It’s a little like nostalgia. It’s somewhat empowering. It allows you to be entirely you. It makes you vulnerable. Nothing else is there. It’s become that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re caught in the rain. It’s not the first reaction to being cold, wet, and inconvenienced; rather, the feeling that comes when you accept that you can’t change that and you go swing on the swings at the playground.

The most important absence of feeling from last night was this: I didn’t feel like anything was wrong with me. While contemplating just why I’ve been single for this long (it’s not that long, I know), the first thing that comes to mind is, “What the fuck is wrong with me?” I didn’t feel like I had done anything wrong anymore. I didn’t feel like I wasn’t good enough. I’m fine. It’s okay that I’m not in a relationship. It’s OKAY. I followed up my evening listening to the ‘Love Hurts’ series on the podcast called ‘Strangers’ which I’d highly recommend if you’re reading my story and thinking, “Hey, I feel that way too.” It was the cherry on top of my newfound sense of clarity and enlightenment.

The truth is, heartbreak doesn’t discriminate. I don’t believe that it gets easier as you get older. I don’t believe that a 15 year old ending a relationship and a grown woman going through a divorce experience any more or less despair than the other. The protocol and external damage is much different, but the gut feeling – the physical feeling – and overwhelming despair is likely just the same. What I just described in my own experience is not a whiny account of “why me?” bullshit, it’s a legitimate thing that exists in the back of my head every single day. I don’t feel the way that I did, but I still feel like a part of me will always love that person. I still long for the company I had. I still long to be loved. Maybe it’s attached to someone else’s identity sometimes, and other times it’s just a shout into the void. I don’t know. I just know that a lot of other people understand what I just said.

This all leads me to my next point which is what I like to call sad girl music. I like to think of myself as the pioneer of the phrase, as I am the main contributor to the hashtag on Instagram. But really, that doesn’t qualify you for anything. I’ll call myself an avid enthusiast instead.

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I don’t turn the television on when I have company. I am always playing music. Over and over, I get the same request: “Can you turn on something other than SADGIRLMUSIC?” And I’m lost. I seldom listen to upbeat, happy music. I don’t even listen to neutral music most times. The music I choose to listen to is heart-wrenching. It’s probably just to accommodate my state of eternal heartbreak – the permanent feeling I’ve chosen to honor. I’m honoring it with very good music that pulled me through the beginning when there was nothing charming about it. I’m not sad when I listen to that music. I don’t want to wallow. I just want to give credit where credit is due.

I just finished All Songs Considered: Songs That Make Us Cry. Everyone likes sad music sometimes. Maybe not as much or as often as I do, but it’s a universal desire: we want to hear some sappy shit sometimes. Some of these albums have stuck with me for a decade plus. Some just came out this year. All of them have gotten me through some of those, “I will never know joy again” moments. All of them feature ridiculously depressing lyrics that would later make me laugh at my own misery. Here’s a short list of my favorite albums that I consider to fall into the genre.

1. Grace by Jeff Buckley.

2. Are We There by Sharon Van Etten

3. Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens

4. Summerteeth by Wilco

5. The Con by Tegan and Sara

6. The Idler Wheel… by Fiona Apple

7. Either/Or by Elliott Smith

8. Fevers and Mirrors by Bright Eyes

9. Hospice by The Antlers

10. High Violet by The National

Honorable single track mentions:

1. Metal Heart by Cat Power

2. Videotape by Radiohead
‘In Rainbows’ almost made the primary list, but I don’t think that registers across the board. That album has about a million and a half ~feels~ attached to it for me. Reckoner and House of Cards are also contenders, but it’s difficult to choose.

3. Blood Bank by Bon Iver

4. Columbia by Local Natives

5. Hey by The Pixies

Nothing Happy to Report Here

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Okay, not true. All I do is write. It’s been awhile since I’ve written for myself. I have four jobs at the moment. Two of them involve a lot of writing. I’m living the life I thought I wanted, working in the fields I thought I was qualified for. I took on projects I never thought anyone would give me the opportunity to work on. I’m helping people live their lives better and healthier than before. And here I am, not practicing what I preach. Not by any means. I feel inadequate. I feel like a hypocrite. I feel unworthy of the work I do.

Let’s rewind to a month ago; I picked up a new administrative position with my gym, which I feel lucky to be doing. I’m working on social media and the healthy eating program, generally just being an assistant to my amazing trainer who runs and operates something fantastic. She needs a bit of assistance. myPaleoPal launched a challenge program spur-of-the-moment and my work increased tenfold. I started filming video, cooking a meal plan that I worked up, and coaching a group. I’m writing daily. I’m filming weekly. I’m doing a damn good job considering the pressure, the lack of experience, the deadlines, the never-ending list of things today. As a result, I’m consumed by food. Now, this would be great, if the consumption wasn’t what was also eating me alive.

Some part of me thought that by turning food and health into my career, I could combat the eating disorder I’ve been burdened with for ten years. It works, and then it doesn’t. All of a sudden, I’m up in the middle of the night every single night. I’m eating and I’m standing over a toilet. I’m waking up with a face I can’t bear to look at, swollen, freckled with broken capillaries. And the desire to live, to breathe, to do anything besides sleep is replaced by the feeling of something pressing down hard on my chest. I can hardly breathe. And I cry like I’ve never cried before. I am cracking under pressure daily. I am medicating with food daily. I try to take time off to go do something, but I’m consumed by guilt and anxiety when I’m not working. To anyone who was watching me go about my day, this would all go by unnoticed. You can’t work for four people as the girl who is writing this sad description of life about herself; before I am that girl, I am an employee, a friend, a daughter, a coach, a companion to a big, fuzzy dog a lot of days. But during those fleeting moments in between, I catch a disturbing glimpse of what’s become of me. I am not a bad person. I don’t do a bad job. I just have some issues.

I’ve put forth the mightiest effort into recovery. Into a relationship with food that doesn’t rule my world. Into never throwing up again. Into loving my body, and treating it with some fucking respect. And I’m failing. Not just here and there, every single day – I fall.

I don’t know how to manage the stress of my everyday life right now. And I know that’s okay. I’m doing a good job. I know I am – at least there’s that. I am an example, but not in the way that I’d like to be. I want to live the way I know I can, the way that I tell these other people to live – those who are looking to me for guidance. I understand what comprises a happy, healthy life and I don’t believe that I have many components of that right now.

As much as I try desperately to create balance, I end up sideways. When I am having fun, the sudden, sinking feeling washes over me without warning – you could be doing something else.

I’m sick of tomorrow being a new day. It’s the same day with the same problems. I’m the only one who can change this. The more I delve into the career I feel so lucky to have one day and resentful to have fallen into the next, the more alone I feel. Each day when I’m so desperate, I reach for the phone, and I have no idea who to call. When I’m driving around trying to fight the feeling, telling myself over and over, “You can only do one thing at a time,” I just want someone to be there so I can nestle my throbbing head into their shoulder. I want someone to be there for all the wrong reasons, because I know that I don’t have the time to offer anyone anything besides what I’m already putting out. I want someone to be there for the exact reasons someone’s not there anymore; because nobody can tolerate the unpredictability of my emotions. I have little to no means of comfort. I have a lot of friends, and they are all so supportive and helpful. I can’t even explain my love for those people. They are pulling me through, and they don’t even know it. Still, I am enamored by the word and the feeling of “loneliness,” though I’m not sure that’s what the feeling is. I just want to be soothed. I want something to indulge in that isn’t my work or food. At the same time, I fear there is no love in me to give, that there are no feelings to be had. I fear that those things will never return to me. I fear that my life will never be made worth living.

I don’t want to say this because it makes it so final; I am deeply unhappy. And I don’t know where to begin in moving ahead, moving upwards. The stress of my days causes me to wake up each night. It causes the binges and the purging. The nasty cycle of food fuels the self-hatred, the feelings of worthlessness that bleed into every task of my day. The cycle of stress has become vicious and unrelenting. I am so desperate for a solution. I am willing to put in the work to emerge from this pit unscathed, better than ever. And I will. I just don’t know when.

2015 Blog Swap Event

Today’s post comes from Chelsea over at LUCY QUIN, a talented poet and photographer in this glorious city of Pittsburgh. Her Instagram feed is also really wonderful, so you should go check that out as well. Anyhoo, I was invited to the 2015 blog swap, so in the fashion of swappage (apparently not a word), we mixed things up a little bit. You can see my guest post on Erin’s blog here where I shared a little insight on the city and my favorite places to hang out by myself and catch a break. In the meantime, here’s a little something that might have brought just the tiniest tear to my eye. Seriously, this is so cool to me. I feel incredibly honored – these photos breathe life into the words that wrote, which seemed otherwise unremarkable until on display. Chelsea did an amazing job, and I’m very grateful to be a part of this. 

I’m going to be completely honest, when I saw who I was matched with for this Pittsburgh Guest Blogger event I was nervous. I knew very little of Alex other than her being a very fun-haired, free spirited cutie-patootie I followed on instagram months prior to even being asked to be a part of this event. As I initially scrolled through her blog, I was surprised by the content because I would have honestly had no idea she was struggling with the things that she is. With every entry I read, the more and more panicked I became. The whole thing is driven on such raw and intense emotions, I felt I had absolutely no right even looking at it, let alone taking over a blog post for a day to try and write about something that, to me, seemed entirely way too personal.

But as I continued reading, I saw all these fantastic little lines or phrases jump out at me. It amazed me because even though I had no experience in any of the things she was dealing with, her words still hit home like hurricanes. I found it all to be very inspirational. I then remembered something someone once told me about my writing and I knew it was the perfect concept to duplicate for this blog post. I once had a man write me an email about my poetry and told me if I ever felt like I didn’t belong and I was alone in anything I struggled with, know that he writes little phrases or poems of mine all over the city he was from. That really helped me get through a hard time in my life, so I was hoping to pay it forward. Although we may not be struggling with the same exact things, we all struggle — and sometimes it’s a little easier to not feel so alone when your words are larger than life for everyone to see and relate to in some way.

I took a few of my favorite lines or quotes from some of Alex’s posts and I wrote them all over the city. I hope others can find beauty, strength and inspiration in her words just as I did.

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Finding My Center

This is blog post two out of three today. My fingers are sick of typing, but I have a moment I’d like to share before it disappears into my cluttered, tired, void of a brain. Seriously, I’m waiting for it to at least get dark so I can go to bed. I am thrilled with the return of spring, but the extended sunlight makes me feel a lot more guilty about tucking in at oh, you know, 7 p.m.

I went to work today, a Tuesday, which I always look forward to. I know that my favorite ladies will be there bright and early with a celebration in tow. They might be the only force that can negate the fact that I woke up at 4:30 a.m. Stephanie came in first today, and I made her a latte as per usual. She offered me a glimpse into her classroom; a boy she teaches has a syndrome where he sometimes has bursts of being unable to control his limbs. She’s afraid of how this will effect his education, especially of the possibility that he is taken out of school. She finished up her story by mentioning how utterly compassionate his classmates were. They don’t draw attention to him, they don’t mock him. And to think, just moments before, I thought all children were the spawn of Satan.

I finally finished up opening shop and leaned over the counter near the fire where she sat. She was still waiting on her crew to show up, so we got to chatting a little. She told me about the book of gospels she was reading. She bought me a book for my birthday which is of a religious tone – I haven’t read it yet, but I’d like to. My point is that I don’t believe we need to share a belief system to discuss things on a spiritual level. She has made this obvious to me. I know for a fact that her gift will serve a purpose in my life one day. Anyhoo, she mentioned that the right books always seem to find her. She explained how precious this time is for her in the early morning because it sets the tone for her day. I agreed, without mentioning that she’s the one who sets the tone for my day half the week.

It’s not always easy to carve out that space in your day – especially in the morning – but it is worth it. We all have a little time to spare.

There is no way to avoid frustration, stress, having to do things we don’t want to do, running out of time, complete and utter disaster. There is a way to deal with those things. Finding a moment of the day, by the minute or by the hour, can truly make a difference. My day has been nothing but work and commute. I opened up the coffee shop and stayed until noon. I drove home to make lunch, check e-mails, and pack for the next couple of days. I drove straight to John’s where I dog-sit. We went on a walk. I wrote a blog post about apple crisps and the phrase is now foreign to me. I made the dog and I dinner. I am writing this before I head out for another walk. I might muster up the energy to download some new music, but I will be in bed by 9 p.m. at the latest. Tomorrow will be a repeat of today with a workout in the mix. Starting my day with that interaction set the foundation. Despite my crazy schedule and all the deadlines, I’ve sought out moments of clarity that delivered when I needed a boost to keep me going.

Stephanie told me that she could tell I was centered. I didn’t quite accept her compliment until I realized that it might be true. I think that a lot of people with my workload would have an entirely different experience. I tell someone I have three jobs and they’re shocked. I only have three jobs because it’s manageable. All of them offer me something that the other doesn’t, and I’m having fun while doing them. I have a social life, time to work out, time to do absolutely nothing, and I get eight hours of sleep a night. The bills are paid, my heart is happy. I have found an identity in my work, that’s true. But the time in which I am able to meditate on what is really important to me is what defines who I am. I think that most people could say that if they knew who that person was – and I’d highly recommend seeking that out. My center lets me take on real life without being angry or panicked. My center is the person I am at the end of the day. I will never let the inevitable stress and uncertainty of real life become me. That is the most comforting thing I can imagine.

I am grateful to have this focus today. I have 9 days without disordered eating which is a small feat, but it’s a streak I don’t want to end. There is so much to feel happy about today, namely the much-needed massage appointment scheduled for Thursday morning. Heavy swings and loaded front squats have this funny way of sneaking up on every single move you make the next day. Ouch. I encourage you togo find some overwhelmingly positive and kind soul to have these kind of talks with before the sun rises. It will totally change your life.

Hindsight and Good Things

Hindsight is strange, because it hits me like a train nearly every week as I recover from what I am certain is the end. I mean, not always. I don’t want to be dramatic, but last weekend was the worst I have felt in so long. I don’t want to raise concern, but something came over me. The rational part of me was in utter disbelief. I was trying desperately to justify giving up. I don’t know what that means – in that moment or those days of despair, it essentially meant finding a way to remove myself from everything that means anything to me. I just wanted to go back to a time when this wasn’t my life. What that meant to me was not to revert to a happier time, but an even worse time. What kind of escape plan is that?

I was stuck in this feeling that everything I’ve worked hard for would be worth giving up. To avoid further beating around the bush, I’m pretty sure I was thinking that being dead would totally beat being alive this weekend. I reached a point where I realized that I had completely lost a sense of what my life was comprised of, and I couldn’t convince myself that anything was worth living for.

I don’t even know how to write that out because I am currently beaming behind my computer, filled with all the fuzzy feelings of straight up happiness. I am embracing this moment, the last few days of utter joy. I am also afraid that this weekend will be the same as last, because that tends to be the way it goes. I’m riding an emotional roller coaster. The phrase is kind of overused, but it’s the most accurate analogy. I’m constantly being jerked between two extreme levels of emotion, and it’s very scary.

Out with the bad, in with the good.

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Sunsets, for one. The sky is the ultimate cure. Bonus: being up for sun rise the next day.

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Dom called me on Monday, and he promptly showed up at my apartment. I was still in a slump, and I’m beyond grateful for our spontaneous hangout sesh. We hopped in the car and drove to the cemetery with the best view. It’s underrated. Dom and I go months without seeing one another, and every time we are reunited, it’s as though no time has passed at all. We’ve known each other for a long time now. He’s so insightful, and he always makes me look at things, especially myself, in a new light. He also complied with my random desire to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Fortunately, the trip lasted only three minutes before we went to Burgatory and he treated me to dinner.

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This photo was taken a mere 30 minutes outside of my downward spiral of a weekend. I’m highly adaptable if there are trees to hang from…

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Then I saw this in a bathroom at the book store because signs from the universe to keep fucking moving are always present. If this is any indication, I am most certainly fully alive and fully human.

IMG_2640And who would throw away all the gems?

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The next day, Kate and I accidentally celebrated mine and Wesley’s friendiversary (she was there, to be fair) which was a wonderful mistake. She got me this precious card with birds that look just like us on the front. She also got us ALL THAT MEAT. Prior to our feast, we saw Cold War Kids at WYEP for their live and direct session. It was a magical afternoon. Once again, I was reminded that my life is very much worthwhile, especially when I have the greatest friends in the whole entire universe. I do not use that phrase lightly.

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Bonus: I got this cool windbreaker. Is that an oxymoron? I don’t think so. The thing is, I don’t try that hard to wear ironic clothing. I am just a recovering shopping addict, and all of my clothes once belonged to somebody else. That hat was 79 cents, and it is not contributing to my debt.

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And then there is Withnail’s mouth, which is a spectacle that brings everyone joy…

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And tonight was spent in fits of laughter with the crew from Primal Fitness. We mostly talked about burpees, leotards, and vaginas. And by talking, I mean screaming. This group of people is something to be very thankful for. I go to the weirdest gym in Pittsburgh. 10/10 would recommend.

My “real” work week is over, and I am exhausted. Tomorrow will be spent writing everything before the weekend hits. I’m feeling so silly. I looked at my planner on Monday morning and wondered how I would ever manage to do everything that I pictured above – all of those fun, carefree things with people I LOVE – and it made me want to cry because it felt so impossible. So very silly.