Summers Where the Money Was Gone

… you’d sing all your little songs that meant everything to me. – Remy Zero

Since my last post in May, I’ve sat down about a dozen times to write a proper post.  Writing has always been my catharsis and preferred medium of relief – I have never been good with the spoken word, and it has been years since I have been able to translate my feelings into music (a topic for discussion for another day).  As of the last few years, however, emotionally earnest writing has been a challenge. The words do not come as easily and honestly as they once did. I’m not sure what to make of it. I’ll chalk it up to aging.

This was an emotionally charged summer. I went through every emotion over the course of three months –  anger, sadness, love, pain, disappointment, frustration, loneliness, emptiness, self-hate, relief, you name it. It all became so overwhelming that I downloaded a notebook app on my phone where every day I would jot down a few words about what I was feeling. The notebook literally cycles from emotion to emotion, like a rollercoaster. It’s frustrating even to read.

It was so frustrating, in fact, that I got tired of myself. I got tired of the sleepless nights, the bouts of crying alone, this level of disgust that I had for myself. People can do and say things to you, but you and only you are ultimately responsible for how you feel and how you digest what has been done. I was tired of myself.

So, over the past two weeks, I’ve assimilated a list of lessons I learned in this life changing summer.

  1. Loving isn’t a weakness. It is a strength. It is a brave thing to do, to open your heart to vulnerability. To open your arms to loving a broken and sad person. No one should ever be judged for “loving the wrong person.” The heart loves what it loves. There is no rhyme or reason.
  2. Live your life for yourself and commit your soul to it – and when people tell you that you didn’t, it doesn’t matter. It does not matter what they try to say about the way you think you feel or why they think you did what you did. You and God know the truth. Everything else is just hearsay.
  3. Anger is the worst thing in this world. The absolute worst thing. It moves as quickly as lightning and strikes just as sharply. Anger can take you from being a hero to villain in a split second. People can say and do things to make you angry, but control is only in your power. It is important to observe cues in you to stop yourself from reacting. You can destroy everything beautiful with anger.
  4. Spirituality is a yearning of the soul. We go through phases of emotional and spiritual growth, and these phases are often a result of challenging times.  I firmly believe that God gives us trials and tribulations to strengthen our faith, enforce our beliefs, and elevate our soul to understanding our purpose and God-realization.
  5. There is nothing more special in life than meaningful connections, and we should live our lives with quality relationships. True friendships last a lifetime and live forever in your heart, even after people are long gone.  Every relationship in your life should empower you, make you faster, stronger, a better version of yourself. Recognize these connections and hold on to them – they will be the lighthouses in your life on your darkest days, in times when you have lost yourself and are fumbling to stay upright.
  6. Positivity is the answer and solution to everything. It allows us to create a positive energy around us, something that we are responsible for dispersing into the world around us. We should be filled with so much positivity that people should feel energized around us – this is God’s love.
  7. And finally, life happens when it’s meant it. It doesn’t matter how much we push and force things. What is meant to be will be – trust in destiny and recognize that despite all our stressing, so much of life is out of our hands.

That’s it.  I learned a lot of lessons this summer. I’m slowly getting back up on feet, looking forward, forgiving people, letting go, but, man, it hasn’t been easy and am still struggling everyday.  But. I. Will. Continue. To. Evolve.

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Learning when to give a shit

There’s this is a hard lesson I’m learning. Like I’m actively learning it as we speak. Look, we have to take life seriously right? We have to treat the people in our lives with respect, care for them, give a shoulder and a listening ear? I mean, that’s the way I’ve always lived my life, and up until now it’s yielded a lot of amazing friendships, adventures, and stories.

Twelve years ago, my gross anatomy lab partner and I were waiting for the bus in Grenada after class. I’d known him for only three weeks, but we had already spent a ton of time together in the first few weeks of medical school.  And he said something that resonated with me… forever. He told me, “You are completely incapable of having any sort of friendship or relationship that isn’t intense.”

I didn’t know what to say because he was right. Fuck, he was right. (Ironically, him and I went on to have the most complicated friendship for the next ten years of life that ultimately culminated with a phase out, but that’s for another chapter).  I dissect people, take them apart, try to help them get to the bottom of it all, share in their failures and successes.  I really have no idea what a “casual friend” is like I have no idea what a “casual hook-up” or what “casual dating” is.   So, I lived that way for a long time. A long, long time. Because it was all I knew, and what’s more, it felt right.

But here’s the thing that I’ve recently realized – as you get older, priorities change. And people change. Life gets stressful and complicated.  You realize that not all friendships and battles are worth fighting.  Not every person you come across may be worthy of the energy and heart that comes into making a real friendship.  Self-preservation becomes a real thing, especially as a single female in your mid-30s.

And I’ve realized that something I’ve got to learn is when to give a shit. And what’s more – how to give less shits.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that it’s ok to treat people like crap. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get to know people.  It just means that judgment, like anything else in your life, is important when it comes to who you share your friendship with.   Not every connection is worth your time – not that they aren’t worth it as people, but they aren’t worth it as an added value in your life.

So, I went to bed last night and resoluted to give less shits in my life about certain relationships.  Because there are so many more things in this world and in life to invest our energy into.  People will come and go, and the ones that are worth your time and energy and love and dedication, well… well, they stick. Everything else is background music

It’s not that we’re scared – it’s just that it’s delicate.

If there’s any reason why my life has been interesting or fruitful in any way, good or bad, it’s simply because of this one fact: I have remarkable parents.  They haven’t always made my life easy – like the time they drove four hours to crash my best friend’s wedding to convince – nay, force- me to go out with a boy – but they equipped me to take the world on with constitution and faith. My parents live their lives with an emphasis on quality and less on the quantity, and this was progressive in a brown world that places great value on success, social status, and power.

I decided to write down my life journey thus far not just because I think I’ve had interesting experiences, but because I was given by my parents unique metaphorical and philosophical glasses to see it all through.  So, when I lived in a third-world country drowning in medical textbooks, down to 86 pounds, clinically depressed beyond belief, I somehow found the strength to pull myself up by my bootstraps to evolve.

This idea of self-evolution was something that happened before I even realized what it was. Along with metaphorical glasses, God also gifted me with a memory power of emotions that was deep. So I am able to recall personal memories in vivid detail remarkably well. I look back at the last 12 years of my life, and I hardly recognize that wide-eyed girl who boarded that plane to Grenada. How I’ve evolved. And how I plan to continue self evolution…

Words were the first thing to go.

Letting go has never been easy for me, not since I was a child. I hold on to people, memories, thoughts, feelings so tightly that they become imprinted on my soul… long after people have forgotten about me.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to let go. Unfinished business? Words that were never said? I learned many years ago that sometimes we have to find a different type of closure than the one that we crave.

I met someone a few months ago and things just didn’t work out. We wanted different things, and we didn’t connect with the world in a way that we could relate. We had a nasty dispute but kept in weak contact for months after.

Truth be told, he was kind of a jerk to me. He would be hours late for our dates with terrible excuses.  We spent an amazing Sunday afternoon together in bed… and then he completely forgot my birthday the next day. The last time I saw him he told me that he was trying to sleep with other women in addition to me.

What kept me going? The fact that the guy was depressed as fuck and completely empty. I felt a moral obligation to help him.  He told me once that he rides a relationship “like a wave” until it hits that high. Because that emotional and adrenaline highs were the only thing in his life that mades him happy. The simple things didn’t.

What. The. Fuck.

I walked out romantically but stayed around as a friend keeping an eye on him to make sure he was ok. It’s not like he needed me. Or cared much for me more than another human being in this world. But I cared. I cared a lot.

Not that caring is bad, but I asked myself why I cared so much about the well-being of someone who could have easily replaced me with anything. It dawned on me recently that this difficulty I have in letting go stemmed from some insecurity of mine. The fear of disappointment? The fear of hurting someone? The loss of a connection?

Whatever it is, negativity can sometimes come from holding on too hard… it doesn’t allow for your hands to be free. Letting go is a freeing thing… freeing you heart and your mind. Why hold on to connections that were what they were and will never be what you think they could have been? Why keep people in your life that couldn’t appreciate whatever it is you have to offer someone? Why keep trying? Why?

The fact is that everyone has their own journeys, their own paths. You intersect sometimes but then continue to run perpendicular without ever intertwining again. You are like strangers in a busy subway, bumping shoulders, making eye contact briefly, and then hustling to get your trains.

So here’s to letting go. Letting go of connections, disappointments, whispered words, feelings of vulnerability. Here’s to moving on and learning our lessons of self-worth. Here’s to living.

this life.

My brother’s best friend killed himself over Thanksgiving break last fall.  I hadn’t seen him for years even though we’d known him forever, but his death resonated in the hollows of my soul like enormous brass bells were inside of me. He was good person, and he loved my brother like a blood brother.  It fucked with my core. It made me uncomfortable with the very thought of existing in this world.

The new year rolled around like a sigh of relief. 2016 was a bloody ugly mess for nearly everyone I knew. People in my life were holding on to each other like we were on an overcrowded lifeboat in a shark-infested ocean. And somehow, for some fucking reason, I felt like it was my job to make sure we stayed afloat in this world of negativity I was living in.

***

My brother came home for the holidays the week following the funeral. We spent the entire break doing everything together – working out, eating, talking about life, reminiscing about Matt.  One day, we went to the gym and I ran my hardest and my fastest. I just ran, like I was running towards a goal, a dream.  And then it dawned on me. What the fuck was I doing with my life? When did I become so complacent? This life. This life. This life could end at any second.

Matt was here a month ago. He made plans to travel to Tibet with my brother in the Spring. He lived his entire life with the sole purpose of doing good. Helping people. Being kind to others. Trying to understand the deeper meaning of it all. And now he was gone, but man did he leave fingerprints. This life. THIS LIFE. Is all we have to prove to ourselves that our existence should ever mean anything.

But here’s the thing. We don’t need to be great peacemakers or artists to make a difference in this crazy world.  That our very existence makes this world a better place. That the negativity that makes us escape on lifeboats should be outdone by the positivity that we spin into the waters. By loving ourselves and each other, we are daily heroes. Because we make the world that much better. And this life is what we choose to make of it.

***

Two weeks later, I gave my 60 day resignation letter at work, the biggest source of negative energy in my life.

I had committed to making my life a positive experience and sharing that energy and love the best that I could. But I know I have a journey to travel.

***

Six weeks later, here I am. Writing this. So begins this journey.