Beach Waves & Love That Stays.

As I was walking back from the beach, along the path to our campsite one night, I saw an older couple with hiking boots on, walking side-by-side. Their skin was slightly weathered from the sun, their clothes was maybe not the most fashion forward, but for some reason this couple made a positive lasting impression on me.

I had seen countless other young couples on the beach earlier that night wrapped in their blankets, snuggling up next to the fires, watching the sunset over the ocean. So many people, young and full of love. (Or more likely lust if we’re being honest and maybe slightly cynical.)

You see, when I saw the younger couples I automatically equated them to the dates I have been on, the men I have known, or the relationships my friends have been in. And it seems as though in the majority of those situations, commitment is avoided. Monogamy is a thing of the past. And “long term relationships” have an expiration date, because nothing lasts anymore.

But this older unassuming couple walking down the dirt path were different in my mind. This older couple was a euphemism for everything I would want if I decided to put myself out there again. I don’t want Netflix and chill or even just a couple of good years. I don’t want to grow out of love, I want to grow into love. I want someone to grow old with me. Someone who wants to spend time with me and take me on adventures. I want someone who will weather the storms. But most of all I want to be someone’s equal. Not walking in front or behind, but along side them, just like that older couple was doing.

Unfortunately, I have all but given up on that. People tell me not to let one bad relationship spoil it for me. But the thing is, it’s not one bad relationship that has spoiled it for me. The bad relationships are all around me. From the friends that tell me they just need to find a chick to sleep with. To the men that act interested in me without knowing a damn thing about me. To the guys who drop off the planet if you “friend zone” them. Its the hookups I see at the bars. The volatile relationships 1/2 of the people I know are in. It’s all of those things and more.

Then there’s the simple fact that I often wonder if I was just not made to be in a relationship. I have realized it’s easier for me to forgive when I’m single and I hold less grudges when I’m not with someone. My anxiety and depression is always more under control too. And I think I am just better at loving people when I’m not “in love.”

So maybe not everyone will be lucky enough to have lasting love. Maybe some people won’t even give it a chance. Maybe I am one of those people. But on the off chance I ever do decide to put myself out their again, I sure hope I find that “older couple” kind of love I saw that night at the ocean. I know it’s pretty damn rare. But it’s also really damn special. And if you’re blessed enough to have found that, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

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Stay. Stay. Stay.

As a child I was taught about unconditional love and forgiveness. I was taught to try and live with these values. But the truth is, the more I strived to live like this, the more I felt like a miserable failure. A failure at loving everyone. A failure at forgiving even myself.

If I took a snapshot of my days, it would start out waking up with an immense sense of remorse and regret for past “mistakes.” Then remorse and regret for not being able to forgive myself for these past mistakes…a vicious cycle. A cycle of crippling perfection. The pain of my past does ease with time, but it is always there. On top of my often times debilitating struggle with shame and guilt, my day is filled with numerous hurtful words and thoughts directed at people, some of which I claim to love dearly. Being unkind and ungrateful permeates my day more than I would like to admit. I struggle with self love. I struggle with forgiveness. I struggle with loving others regardless of their actions.

I am however human, and these are struggles that if everyone was honest with themselves, struggle with too. However, not everyone chooses to respond to struggles and hardships in the same way. With anything in life you can blame, make excuses, and wallow in self pity, or you can learn and grow from each experience, whether it be a good or bad one. I make a conscious decision every day to do the latter.

The most important and valuable lesson I have learned so far in this crazy journey we call life is that the more I strive for perfection, the more it is clear to me that I will never attain it. Coming to this realization has taught me empathy. It has taught me compassion. It has taught me that I have no reason to judge others when I, myself, am marred with imperfections. But above all, it has taught me that I need to put my faith in something much larger and much greater than myself, and I need to have faith that there are better days ahead.

So when the world seems like it’s crumbling around you. When everything seems dark, I pray that you hold onto hope.

Although you may not be able to see it now, your impact is unmeasurable and unfathomable. You are loved. you are worthy. And you are needed. On a hundred different days, in a thousand different ways, by a million different people.

So please stay,

stay,

stay.

You are needed.

The Ride of a Lifetime

If I’ve learned one thing from life it’s that it is full of ups and downs. If there is one other thing I’ve learned, it’s that everybody wants the ups without the downs. That’s not how life works though, is it?

When I was around twelve, my mom was diagnosed with Lupus. Still to this day, I remember sitting in the waiting room, waiting for the results of her tests. I knew my mothers life would forever be changed if this was the diagnosis she received. I knew Lupus was not “fixable”. And as I sat in the waiting room, I prayed repeatedly, and with everything in me, that she would find out she did not have Lupus. . . God doesn’t always give us what we want though.

When my mother was diagnosed with Lupus, I was devastated. We were all devastated. We wanted my mom to be healthy. But, my mother being the stubborn woman that she was, and still is, never once complained about the cards she was dealt, and throughout my childhood, I often forgot she even had it. Looking back I know she was often in pain, yet she forced herself to get out of bed to care for my sister and I. A sacrifice I know she would do again and again without a second thought.

A couple of years ago my mom ended up in the hospital. For several weeks the doctors had no answers. No idea why her head hurt so bad. Why it felt like a vice was squeezing against her head. And no clue why the migraine medicine, the morphine drip, and cocktail of other drugs didn’t help her at all. Every doctor that came in had a new diagnosis. She had liver failure according to one doctor. She had heart failure according to another. I of course, didn’t know what was wrong, but I did know that her body was yellow, she could barely breathe, and the more I saw her, the more I worried sick about her. I watched her go to the bathroom, no further than two feet away, then come back to her bed and struggle with everything in her to catch her breathe. In that moment, I was sure I only had days left with her. But, by the grace of God, she got better. They found that she needed her gallbladder removed. Her lupus made it harder for her body to handle everything, as well as to recover. The headaches, her only symptom, was referred pain, and went away with the surgery and a low fat diet. The fluid on her heart was due to an IV drip that a nurse had left on her too long. Her heart was unable to pump out the fluid at the rate it was going in. They removed the IV and her heart had no lasting effects from it.

Very similarly, five years ago, I found myself sitting in a waiting room, praying over and over for my dad to come out of brain surgery, alive and without cancer. A week prior to this, my mother had found him on the floor, passed out. She called 911 and when he awoke it was obvious something was wrong. His speech was a mess, and he was not making any sense. She drove him to the hospital where they did a scan. They found a mass in his brain, and at the time they called it a tumor. He was taken to Sacred Heart, where they did surgery to remove it. The outcome was better than we could’ve hoped. It was not a tumor. And it was not cancerous. It was a mass of blood vessels that had burst. . . A congenital defect. They removed the mass, and the location of the bleed affected only his speech. With therapy he has made almost a full recovery.

These things among many other tragedies and misfortunes in my life are not things I would ever have hoped to have dealt with. They are things I wish my family did not have to deal with. But I have to ask myself. . . Would I be the person I am today without them? Would my family be the same family I know and cherish today? Would any of us truly know what joy is without feeling pain?

The answer I found was a resounding “no”.

Seeing my mother fight her Lupus every day taught me to never give up. Seeing my dad go through brain surgery taught me what courage really is. Coming so close to losing both of them taught me to cherish every second I am given with them. And with every struggle, every, misfortune, and every close call I have experienced, I am continuously amazed at the love that pours out of such horrible experiences. . . Love that comes from my community, my friends, family, loved ones, and even people I barely know.

So, be thankful for all of it. Without the lows, there would be no highs. Without the bad, we would never appreciate the good.

 

 

Love Without Boundaries, Forgive Without Reason

 

 

June was marked by the start of my official “no Facebook month.” I actually deactivated my account a few days prior to June and honestly could not have been happier with the decision. I was more connected with those around me. I felt less jealousy and depression trying to keep up with what everyone else had achieved. I was reading more, started planning several vacations and art projects, and started spending more time with my loved ones.

Things were going fabulously. I was loving life, the people in it, and the amazing opportunities I was given. I realized somewhere along the way, that I have been blessed beyond measure, and I began living every day to its fullest.

But, as is often the case with life’s journey, when things are going great there’s always something that has the potential to disrail this happiness. And of course, my life was not immune to this phenomenon.

I was told this time would come. I was warned he would contact me again, even though he dropped contact with me many months ago. One of my very close friends, and someone who knew both him and I very well, told me several months ago “He’s not done with you Andrea. He can’t let you go. I’m not convinced you’re not going to get a text from him in the future.”

She was correct.

Only a few days into the month of June I woke up to a text. A text from someone I have had absolutely zero contact with in almost 6 months. There was no name attached to the message, just a string of ten numbers. Ten numbers I have memorized all to well. I deleted his contact information a long time ago, but the numbers, just like the memories I cannot force my brain to forget, no matter how hard I try.

It took me two whole days to work up the courage to open the message. When I received it my heart was racing. My hands were physically shaking. He was obviously someone I was no longer excited to hear from.

When I finally worked up the courage to open the message it read, “I’m sorry I never responded to your email. I guess I was bitter from everything I suppose. I just want you to know that I am sorry for all the shitty ways I treated you. I apologize. You did nothing but care and I was an asshole. I hope you are doing well Andrea. :)”

The email he was referring to, I had sent him shortly before he left town six months ago. I honestly don’t remember what it even said, because I deleted it, along with almost every other bit of evidence that reminded me that he was ever a part of my life (for my own sanity). But I think the condensed version was along the lines of, “I’m sorry. We both have our faults. I wish you the best.” Something that today, I realize I shouldn’t have sent him, because continuing contact with him was a disservice to both him and I, regardless of what I had to say.

Without any context, or knowing the relationship I was in, the text may seem heartfelt and sincere to the people reading this. After all it was an apology. And while it is entirely possible that it was sincere, I will tell you, I had received countless apologies identical to this one in the past, and they were nothing but a way to manipulate me. Something that worked every time, because I allowed it every time, and I only have myself to blame for that.

For instance, one of these apologies in the past, came shortly after he had been in the bar drinking several states away. He had tried to hook up with the bartender who shut him down after he had drank too much and apparently made a fool of himself. Something I only found out because he told my friend the whole story a week or two later. If I remember correctly we weren’t technically together at that time, although honestly it was hard to keep track of (we were constantly on again, off again.) However, he knew that no matter what our status was, I would be waiting to accept whatever apology he gave me, and in a bizarre turn of events, beg him to come back to me. Something that helped him feel better about himself, and drug me further into my own self hatred.

Thankfully, I have changed immensely from the person he once knew. I am no longer an option. I am no longer a doormat. I no longer base my own self acceptance on someone else’s ability (or lack of ability) to love me. It’s been several months and he very well may have changed as well. Sadly, after the relationship I had with him all I will ever see from him is manipulation, no matter how sincere the apology may actually be, and no matter how much he may have actually changed. That’s the saddest part of it all for me. . . The fact that it is possible, although in my mind, almost completely unlikely, that he is apologizing for sincere reasons.

The thing is though, I don’t need a sincere apology to forgive him. In fact I don’t need an apology at all. I realized I had, and still do have, just as many faults as he does, and for that reason, among many others, my heart let go of the hate along time ago. Something, that if we’re being honest, probably helped me a lot more than it did him.

With that being said, today forgiveness for me does not look like pushing my needs aside and being a doormat. I realized that I had a very poor understanding of what forgiveness was, and today I wish him nothing but the best, however I do not desire any form of contact with him. It is an experience I could not, and will not, put myself through again. It is an experience that I do not deserve. And so, after reading the text, I deleted it, with no plans of communicating with him now, or in the future.

In the past, not responding to his apologies was difficult for me. Partially because, as a child I was told to never leave someone on bad terms or without them knowing that you love and care for them. After all, you never know when that person might be taken from you. I also struggled with the fact that when someone who was a major part of your life decides not to respond, that usually sends a pretty harsh message in regards to your feelings towards that person. A message I hope he does not assume I feel towards him when he receives no contact from me in the future.

But by now I hope he knows my heart and the person I am deep inside. And although there was a time when I truly hated him, something that to this day is hard for me to admit, it was something out of character for me, and something my heart could not hold onto. I hope he knows that I still truly care about him. . . I hope he knows that there is no room for hate in my heart, and that he is no exception. However, in order for me to heal the wounds I caused, I cannot go back to the one thing that I kept burning myself with. . . And that was him.

In the end, the experience that I had with him taught me how to love and forgive someone I didn’t even like, and somewhere between the turmoil I created in my life, and the settling of the dust and wreckage, I realized that I too, deserve the forgiveness, love, compassion, and healing I so freely believed he and everyone else deserved. I realized that although I fail miserably every day at being the person I strive to be, liking every aspect of who I am and what I do, should not be a requirement for loving and forgiving myself. I can truly say now that I want what’s best for everyone. However, today I can happily say that, “everyone” also includes myself. And if there is one thing that I learned above all others, it is that nobody has the ability to affect my happiness unless I allow them to, and that is a privilege he no longer has.

Some Dance to Remember, Some Dance to Forget

I grew up listening to all the great classics, thanks to my Dad’s love for Rock ‘n’ Roll. Hotel California was one of those songs I had the pleasure of listening to as I was growing up. It was also one of my favorites. It wasn’t just the long guitar solos that I loved, it was the depth of the lyrics that really had me hooked.

I’ve heard in the past that this song has a lot to do with drug and alcohol addiction, and while I haven’t done any type of extensive research on what exactly it was that they intended to convey, I definitely can see the similarities, whether that was their intent or not.

I’m sure most people can see the similarities as well, because if we are being honest with ourselves, almost everyone has experienced the painful effects of alcoholism or drug abuse in some way or another. Whether it has affected you first hand, you have seen it in your family or friends, or you were in a relationship with an alcoholic. Nobody is immune to it.

I personally have had the “pleasure” of experiencing all three scenarios. I’ve seen the devastating effects it has had on relationships in numerous family members. I’ve seen people become entirely different people when the alcohol starts running through their blood. Angry. Bitter. Cutting. I’ve seen the failed relationships and divorces, and the impacts it’s had on my loved ones.

Ive also seen friends in toxic relationships. Witnessed them being treated like shit, because the person they love has suddenly become a monster. I’ve seen guns pointed at people I cherish dearly. I’ve had those guns pointed at me. All because alcohol is coursing through their veins. And yes, I’ve been in that type of relationship as well.

There was also a time when I used it to numb my own pain. Something I very rarely speak about. Partly because I grew up in a family that did not drink. My mother and father saw the affects of alcohol on the people they loved, and chose not to go down that path, and those lessons they tried to instill in us as well.

However, I would be lying if I said I’ve never used alcohol in an unhealthy manner. Binge drinking when I was depressed was my style. Especially when I was in a toxic relationship with an alcoholic. When he’d break up with me (which happened often) I’d buy a six pack and drink alone crying in the tub. Or I would drink in the kitchen, until I was slumped over on the floor, sobbing, with a blade in my hand and blood all over myself. Or when he would invite me over, and I knew the girl he had spent all of Christmas week alone with at his house, was going to be there, while he couldn’t even text me a simple “Merry Christmas” I would chug a bottle of vodka before he picked me up, so I didn’t have to be fully present.

*cue the following lyrics:*

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

Truer words have not been spoken when it comes to alcohol and substance abuse. Alcohol and drugs can definitely provide a temporary escape, or a way for us to “checkout,” but when morning comes, whether you were “dancing to remember” or “dancing to forget” life is still waiting. . . The good and the bad. Whatever false sense of security, or illusion alcohol gives us, this fact remains . . .You can’t leave.

The sad thing is, when we are “checked out” whether it’s with alcohol, drugs, or some other poor coping mechanism, we’re missing the good things as well. We’re missing the laughter. We’re missing the joy. The beauty that life has to offer.

If you are one of those people who struggles with being fully present, when you decide you’re done “checking out” there is going to be a lot of bad things you’re going to have to face, a lot of broken relationships, missed opportunities, and things you took for granted that you can’t get back. But there will also be beautiful opportunities to mend relationships. Chances to create new ones. And the greatest gift of all…You will have a greater appreciation for every day going forward, because you know how much you’ve already missed.

So please, stop “checking out.” Be present. Allow yourself to feel the good and the bad.

It’s worth it. I promise.

Love > Fear

Does clinginess automatically equate to low self esteem? Some people would say yes, but I tend to think clinginess has more to do with fear, than low self esteem.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been entirely way to clingy in the past. Not just in romantic relationships either. I can remember at a very young age never wanting to leave my mom’s side. On the first day of kindergarten my mom got out of the car, went around to my side, and as she was walking around, I locked the doors from the inside so she couldn’t get me out. . . Okay, first of all, can we just take a moment to applaud the fact that I was such a brilliant little shit head of a child. Like, “Haha, jokes on you. You’re not getting to me, and you’re not driving home either, because you left the keys in the ignition” I think I deserve an award for that one. 😉 But in all honesty I did it because I was terrified of her leaving me. I would get stomach aches every day from worrying. One time my mom forgot to pick me up (she says she didn’t forget me, but I know the true story), and I clung to the door of my class sobbing because I was terrified she wasn’t ever coming back.

Just to clarify, my family life was good. Actually it was great. Nobody ever “left me,” and I had no reason to think my mom wouldn’t come back to get me. But, I’ve also always been considered an old soul, with a deeper understanding of things than most people my age. As my coworker said the other day, “Your body might be 27, but you’re like a thousand years old inside.” And I think, even at a very young age, I always knew that even though my loved ones would never purposely leave me, that the fear I had that I might not ever see them again was a very valid fear.

Years later, when it came to dating, I was that girl you hear about. The “clingy girl” all guys hate. I think it’s because any guy I’ve dated, I have dated with the intention of being in their life for the long haul, hoping the same in return, but knowing full well I may not get that same type of love back. I was probably the clingiest with the guy I trusted the least. Which makes sense, because the reasons I didn’t trust him were valid, and while I knew I would give it my all and never leave, I knew deep down, that wasn’t something that was going to be reciprocated.

I love fast. Always have, and always will. It’s surprising to even myself, that I’m so fast to love people, because love of any kind is probably the one thing that can and will bring you the most heartache, and is probably one of the scariest things I can think of doing. Speaking in regards to romance, my love is different than a lot of people my age though. I don’t believe in a love that is a feeling, I believe in a love that says, “I’m going to be faithful to you even if this feeling changes.” One that says, “I’m gonna stick this out through thick and thin, but I will do my best never to intentionally hurt you”.

I’m not stupid though. I am very aware that the divorce rate today is almost half of all marriages. I know that guys will say all the right things only to get into a girls pants. That the couples that seem happiest on the outside, are one argument away from calling it quits. And that every day, a shiny new “object” comes along that tempts someone into jeopardizing a relationship that they won’t find just anywhere else.

So, loving anyone, romantic or otherwise, is quite a terrifying thing, and I think that some people tend to become clingy because of that. Clinginess is a form of control, and when people feel they have control, they feel safer. However, it is a very false sense of security because as anyone with any sense knows, you can’t control anyone but yourself. The people that are going to leave you, are going to leave regardless.

Even if you could control people though, sometimes people leave us by no choice of their own. Sometimes people are taken from us in seemingly unfair ways. We never know when the last time we will talk to our loved ones will be. Honestly, it’s terrifying, but this world is, and always will be, a vortex of constant change.

Personally speaking, I think I will always deep down be a clingy person. I will always be attached to people deeply, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I love people. I worry about them. I want them in my life, and they should feel flattered that they mean that much to me.

That being said, I don’t think people would consider me clingy that know me today, because it won’t show in constant texts, or having to be around the ones I love all the time, because I know that’s not healthy, and I work daily on controlling that.

Clinginess left unchecked will eat away at the people you love the most. Extreme clinginess conjures up images for me of a child hugging their puppy so tight they suffocate it. It’s like loving something so much you won’t let it breathe, grow, flourish, and live life on its own. And to be honest, that really isn’t love.

Love is terrifying. There is no getting around it. It opens your heart up to the possibility of immense pain. But if you fight through the fear, and love how you want to be loved, it is then you will realize love is far greater than fear.

 

 

Victim vs. Survivor

I’ve written about it countless times… The bad “relationship” for lack of better words, I was in. Although the tone of my writings have changed from “What he did to me,” to “How the experience changed and shaped me.”

Before I met him, I was the most trusting person you would ever meet. You could tell me the sky was green and I would’ve believed you. Naive? Yes. Stupid? Maybe. But it was who I was. Today I tend to be very skeptical of people and their intentions, to say the least. No I don’t have “trust issues,” I’m just more cautious now, and I believe that people have to earn your trust and respect. Sometimes it makes me sad that I’m not the naive, innocent girl, I was before. It’s an innocence you usually only see in a child, but it’s also a dangerous innocence.

And after the countless, “I’m sorry, I can’t make it’s” or the “I promise I’ll get help for my drinking” lies. After the temper tantrums, yelling, and throwing things when I tried to to speak to him about how I felt I needed to be treated. The lies about what he was doing. The rage and anger that put my life in dangerous situations. After all that, you realize you have to protect your own heart and well being sometimes, and not everyone should be trusted.

Part of me would love to say that what I put myself through no longer bothers me. But when I remember what I accepted, I would be lying if I said it didn’t. The other day, I happened upon an article about an alcoholic with narcissistic tendencies and the author mentioned something about their significant other hovering over them when they were cleaning, and telling them how to do it correctly. When I read that, it touched a part of me I do not allow myself to feel very often anymore, because it still is very painful for me, and I suddenly found myself with tears running down my face. It honestly seems like such a small thing, when I think of all the other things I put myself through. However, it still upsets me deeply that I put up with, and accepted, that someone thought I couldn’t even dust or do the dishes correctly. And when I did try to talk to him, or just walked away from the situation, he would tell me he was done with me, then would come back with apologies days later, and I would take him back yet again.

I’m a smart woman. I was in the top of my class in high school, I graduated college summa cum laude with a bachelors degree in management, yet for some reason I put up with someone telling me I couldn’t even clean correctly. I still to this day have to wonder why I ever thought that was normal… Or at the very least, believed that I deserved that. And the more I allowed it, the more he knew he could get away with it.

A year or so ago, one of my male friends, whom I’m not even that close with, saw a string of texts between him and I, and said “Andrea you do realize this is emotional abuse don’t you? Cut him out.”

Note to self: Listen to your guy friends, if even they are telling you he’s not good for you.

But of course I didn’t listen. And I can honestly say now, that I have nobody to blame but myself for staying wrapped up in that mess, especially for as long as I did.

People who knew both of us, and both sides to the story, don’t necessarily agree with me or like it when I say that. They feel like I’m letting him off the hook yet again. I want to be clear though, that is not at all what I’m doing when I say that, and I do realize he had faults. I’m not condoning them or acting as if those faults weren’t there.

It’s not okay with me, and it never will be okay with me, that his alcohol and weed was more important to him than I was. Yes, he was manipulative. Sure, he was a liar. Did he use me for my money, compassion, forgiveness, and to stoke his fragile self esteem? Absolutely. I’m not eliminating the fact that those things were true.

But the truth is, I have horrible faults as well. Many. We all do. And I truly believe we are all doing the best we can, with the cards we were dealt. To blame him does nothing for me. To dwell on his faults, or anyone else’s, is a disservice only to myself.

It finally came down to this for me; Are his faults reasons to blame him, for me staying? They could be for some people. They would be if I played the victim card.

For a long time I did. And then I realized the card I was playing was the card he played the entire time I knew him. . . The “victim card,” the “blame game”. The thing I probably disliked him most for. The reason I lost all respect for him. I was, and am, very aware that blaming others makes you unable to take responsibility for your own actions. And without responsibility for your actions you won’t grow as an individual, and that is not who I want to be.

When I left town it was because I needed to get away from him, but the distance didn’t help, and I continued to let him control me and my happiness. But, there was a point, when I had finally had enough, and I knew I deserved what everyone else was telling me I deserved. Fortunately, moving back gave me an opportunity that many are either not given, or are unable to handle. The chance to face him. To look him in the eyes. The chance to say no, this is not how you are going to treat me. This is not okay. Something that could have happened sooner, had I stuck up for myself sooner.

That was, and still is, one of the most cathartic feelings I have ever felt. It was painful at the time, and I would’ve welcomed the opportunity for it to be a one time thing and to never have to see him again. That’s not how things happen though, and for reasons I’m not going to go into, I had to face him almost daily. That simple fact, the fact that I knew I was doing something not a lot of women could, or even would attempt to do, made me feel so strong, after feeling weak for so long.

When I finally accepted responsibility for how I was being treated, and realized that I had the power to not allow him to treat me like that, is when the happiness started to slowly flood back into my life. A little at first, then suddenly it was everywhere I looked. That was about the time he was removed from my life, and I believe it was because the lessons God was showing me were complete.

One of the lessons I learned through it all, I was actually taught at a very young age, and that was this; When you point a finger there are three pointing back at you. I must’ve forgot that lesson for a while. I relearned it though, and today I choose to focus on my shortcomings, and choose not to blame someone else for my misfortunes. My goal in life is to be the best version of myself as possible. Focusing on someone else’s behavior, and not my own, isn’t going to help my journey. And my journey, although it’s been difficult, has made me stronger.

God obviously had a plan, and knew I needed to hit rock bottom to feel a sense of worth. I’m so glad I didn’t call it quits when I wanted to. That night at the lake when I was in my car wanting to end it all but didn’t, I always chalked it up to “you were to weak even to do that”.  Now I realize it was the opposite, and I was strong for not taking that option, and facing my trials head on.

Today i can say with 100% honesty, that I am so glad I am still here today, because everyday I find something new to live for. The best part is, on my bad days I remember where I was, and realize my bad days aren’t even that bad. And that makes every day a good day.

So yes, I have changed. Sometimes I don’t even recognize the person I was a year ago. I am not as trusting. Not as naive. Not as innocent. But I learned those things are important for self-preservation. Will I always be more cautious? Absolutely. But the fear of the past will not stop me from opening up to the right people. It will not stop me from loving. From forgiving. From living every day to it’s fullest.

Why?

Because I am not a victim. Not now. Not then. Not even when I thought I was.

Anyone can play a victim. Not everyone chooses to be a survivor. And today, and from here on forward, I choose to be a survivor.

The End

I guess the title of my first blog is a little out of the ordinary. I mean, most people don’t start a book or a blog with the end being the first thing they read, but almost everyone wants to come up with their own ideas of what the end is going to reveal. I know there may be a few people that like to cheat and read the end of a book before they start it, but I’ll tell you…It really spoils the whole journey.

Sometimes I think life’s a bit like a book.

I know from personal experience I have always thought I knew the purpose of things when I was going though them. I thought my job I took right out of college was to help bolster my career and to provide a stepping stone to an even better position. I found out after I quit that job, a year later, that the real purpose of that job was to help me get over my social anxiety. I will tell you, the quickest way to get over social anxiety is to get a job in sales. Practice makes perfect they say, and while i am far from perfect, the amount of communicating I had to do in that job helped me grow so much as far as my social and work life was concerned.

I thought the purpose of the relationship I was in was to find love. Which I’m sure is probably what most girls think in a relationship. We all want to find that happily ever after story. I also really thought my purpose was to help this certain someone find God again. I was so absolutely certain that’s what the purpose of the relationship was. Now that I’m not in that relationship I certainly see things quite differently. I can see several reasons for that relationship none of which are what I thought they were. The first purpose was to humble myself. I thought I could change somebody. I’ve always been a fixer, but I couldn’t fix this. I also think I never really knew God until I was in this relationship. I knew a book full of rules, but I didn’t understand much of anything else. That all changed though and I think it’s because God has a way of breaking people down to rock bottom so they can be lifted up. The ascent wouldn’t be as great if you were already at the top. I also knew a lot of self righteousness. I’ll tell you a huge lesson I learned… It’s something I read from somebody else but it is so true…”seeds of hatred will eventually take hold and bear bitter fruit.” Most of the things I judged people so harshly of I ended up doing or becoming. It made me realize how much of a mess I make when I live by my own terms. But it also did something else pretty amazing. It helped me realize that i am destined for great things, and I deserve great things. Not because of anything I do, but because that’s what God wants for me.

Right now I’m moving and I’m changing jobs. And I’m so certain I am being lead there to find people with similar interests as me. And to help assist with the homeless and the broken. But if I learned anything from my past, it’s that usually whatever plans I have for myself, they are never as great as what is truly in store for me.

So yes, life is definitely like a book. And I urge each and every one of you to stop reading ahead. Most likely you’ll read things out of context and you won’t get the story right at all. And even if you do get it right you’ll miss the journey that’s in front of you, because you keep longing for tomorrow, and not living for today. Stop trying to be the author. You probably aren’t a very good one. I guarantee you even if we can’t understand it now, the author that’s in charge of your life has a way better ending than you could even imagine.