Decades

I distinctly remember not that long ago listening to Prince’s “1999” and marveling that we were actually going into the year 2000. THE FUTURE.

Growing up teachers always made a big deal in my classes because we were the, “Class of 2000”, the first graduating class of the millenium. I distinctly remember telling my then best friend one day, “OMG we have a few more years here then it will be Jr. high, then high school then we are graduating!!” I was probably in 5th grade…yes ladies and gents I have been overthinking life ALWAYS.

So what lessons did I learn those first 10 years of the space age 2000’s?

There were harsh ones.. like being assaulted (grabbed) while waiting for a bus and subsequently not wanting to go to college anymore. Leaving an abusive relationship after 7 years. Watching my mom be diagnosed with a rare disease. And eventually starting a job I absolutely hated.

But there were beautiful ones too. Learning I was strong enough to leave a bad situation and eventually learning not everyone can do that. Immersing myself into music and meeting amazing people I’m still friends and some guy I live with now . 🙂 Having nights with my sister so wild and fun they could have easily been pulled right from “The Hills”. Taking my mental health seriously for the first time and visiting a therapist. Watching my mom reprioritze her life and leave so much anger behind.

I blinked and it was 2010. Literally blinked. This was supposed to be THE decade, the one where all the pieces came together and I lived my best damn life. Right?!

I lost my crazy nights, I traded them for 6 more years at the job I hated. Oh and my weekends too. But the most debilitating thing by far was loss. I lost my mom, I lost my sister I lost my entire way of being in this world and I spent the last half of this decade trying to recover. Trying to pick up the pieces and figure life out again. And in my heart of hearts I feel like I didn’t accomplish shit the past 5 years especially. I feel like I have been on pause and I’ve made very little forward motion. I feel like I failed. And it hurts…

I am hard on myself, it is my greatest curse. I am not where I want to be. But does that mean I’ve truly gone nowhere? My negative mind says, “YUP!”. That loud annoying voice that reminds me daily that I’m an introverted failure. “If you were just more like ____. “If you just acted a bit more outgoing/personable/friendly.” Oh and my favorite, “If you weren’t so anxiety filed maybe you’d actually HAVE a life.” That inner voice is great isn’t it?

So what have I done this decade?

I got a job at an amazing place and I wouldn’t have gotten it without having worked that job I hated. I learned how to drive. I fell in love with my longtime friend and I moved out of my house for the first time with him. I got medals for running races. I went to Maui, I went to Walt Disney World for the first time in my life, and then again! I became a Disneyland AP again because I realized my love of Disney far outlived and outweighed a relationship I didn’t care about anymore. I bought a guitar and learned how to play it. I stood on stage with my friends and backstage at some of the largest music festivals and the Hollywood Bowl. I got to experience things that many fans don’t get to see, ever. I was an honored guest at Disneyland and go to experience what it’s like to win a contest. I stood in the Disneyland hotel, free. I went to at least 12 concerts and countless live shows. There is probably more, probably a lot more, but that’s what comes to mind. Oh and Reggie, how can I forget Reggie.

I still look at that and my mind goes, “Well…you didn’t do anything important though.” *sigh* My mind will never let me be great. So I have to be great despite it.

My urge is to cap this off with a lot of positivity about the upcoming decade and how it’s going to be the best yet because I’m going to use all my knowledge from the previous ones. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I talk to much, I think to much, I need to just do it.

So instead, I’ll end this with an ask. I’ll ask that you be a little kinder with yourself and not look at yourself so harshly, because I assure you, you’re probably doing awesome. And I hope there is someone in your life that will tell you as such.

And if there isn’t, I’ll do it for you. It’s not as bad as you think, you’re going at your own pace in your own race. You’ll get where you need to go. You’ll find your way.

38

I have been thinking about my 38th birthday for the past 5 years. Ever since I lost my sister the day after my 32nd birthday. Here I am, on the cusp of my 37th birthday and it becomes more and more ingrained in my mind.

I have been thinking about my 38th birthday for the past 5 years. Ever since I lost my sister the day after my 32nd birthday. Here I am, on the cusp of my 37th birthday and it becomes more and more ingrained in my mind.

My sisters last year of life was her 37th year, pretty much. Her last birthday was on August 20th 2014, when she turned 38 and she passed away October 1st 2014. She didn’t even get 2 months of 38. My birthday is September 30th.

So hear I am, about to start my 37th year, the year that was her last. So, I look at my life and my mind goes to that place, the inevitable place of, “And if this was my last year, would I be satisfied with my life?”

That was one thing about my sister Mercy. She lived the fuck out of her life, because she NEVER took for granted the time she was here. She wasn’t supposed to make it past a few months old, so she lived accordingly. But the question I have for myself is…am I living accordingly?

I was born relatively healthy, especially in comparison to her.  But I have always waged a deep internal battle of dissatisfaction with who I am. That, however, is not to say that I haven’t worked on this actively and consciously.  I’ve been trying to turn this self-esteem boat around since I was 25.

My 25th year was one of my hardest, until I hit 2014 that is…but at 25 my world was flipped and I had to make a very hard choice. The choice was that being alone was better then being with someone that was destroying me. To love myself, more then the person I thought I loved. It seems really easy now, but I remember how devastating it felt at the time. But literally, walking away from that mess was the BEST decision I have made in my life. It was the first time I was my own hero, or in the words of Pretty Woman, I rescued myself.

And since then it has been a slow and steady learning and reckoning. I have learned SO MUCH about myself and my life. But to be honest, I was still never 100% happy with myself, I was still traversing rocky territory…and then I lost my mom and sister.

It threw me and it threw me hard. I didn’t revert to any of my past mistakes but I had a whole new mess to contend with and reconcile. I have walked slowly through it watching it go from unbearable to just heartbreaking to lonely. I wasn’t in a great place before I lost them, now I feel like I’m in another not so great place with even more baggage.

But what about the work? The learning and the self introspection? I can’t discount it, I know so much now about loss and pain but on the flip side I know the value of celebrating the fact that you get to live another day. Do I always remember that? No, I’m still imperfect, flawed and very human. You don’t walk away triumphant from loss one magical day, you walk away and realize you have to learn how to traverse LOTS of new, scary terrain.

When I first lost them I thought I’d reach a moment of clarity. I’d wake up one day and it would all make sense. It doesn’t work like that. The gaps in my heart will never fill, the pain I feel when I see their pictures will never go away. And I will never stop wishing that I could just talk to them one more time.

But that takes me back to 37. To this upcoming year of life I am about to live. Though I have done the studying and have been seeking knowledge and endless guidance. I must admit, there is something I haven’t been doing much of.  The work. The hard labor it would take to really begin to confront my own terrible, harsh, self opinion.

The work looks like me being disciplined with myself about eating better or going to the gym. It looks like me playing my guitar and taking voice lessons again. It looks like me doing a lot of things I currently don’t do. I have a lot of reasons and excuses why i don’t do these things. Some days life just feels to hard or draining or sad to do anything more then sit and spend another evening on my phone.

But, the question is do I want to turn 28 next year and feel exactly as I do now? Exactly as I have felt for many, many years. Maybe before I was thinner or had less bills but I have never been fully happy or accepting of who I am as a person. I love so many other people in my life unconditionally, but I cannot offer myself this same kindness. I don’t do things that make my heart happy often enough. I’m not doing the work. I even know what the goals are now, but I am still not pursuing them.

This is my New Years Eve, this is actually way more important to me then Jan 1st ever could be. Did my sister squander 37? No, my sisters crazy ass up and moved to West Virginia at 37 because that’s what my sister did! She did whatever her heart called her to do no matter how ‘effing crazy all of us thought she was. That is how she LIVED her life. She L-I-V-E-D it.  

Don’t read this as me being a fatalist and thinking my life won’t extend past 38. Though, it is not my choice when I leave this earth, I fully know that. But I just feel this is my personal call to action. This is my brain saying, “You have done so much already but now it’s time to take it all the way”.

I wanted to write this as a private journal entry to myself at first. Why? Because I feel like I have said I wanted to change so many times, and I never have. So if you don’t call your shot…no one can see you fail. But I’m calling my shot right now. This is going to be so hard, I know it is and that’s why I have been avoiding it.

But I’m not going to squander 37 or 38 or however long I am given. I’m tired of it. I want to push to be the person I truly feel I am on the inside and the person I was meant to be. I’m not even 100% sure who that is, but I know I sure as hell won’t find out unless I actually do the work.

I feel like I am dragging myself through life right now. Life is living me. And though many amazing things that have happened to me, I still feel like I’m not enough. This comes out in a lot of ways. My appearance, my actions and even more importantly my non-actions. All the things I don’t do because I fear judgement or failure.

I vow to change, and I promise you 37 will look and feel unlike any other year that came before it.

Grief doesn’t define me, but it does

August is hard.

September is hard.

December is hard

March is hard.

Lets just say 12/12 months of the year are hard.

I hardly ever share my feelings about losing my sister or mother. Maybe about the situations that have arisen because of losing them, but hardly ever directly about not having them in my life anymore. I will say X is frustrating me long before I will tell you I’m feeling sad and missing one or both of them.

Because I don’t want to seem dramatic, or stuck in the past… what can you say anyway to make me feel better? Let me just not say anything, let me just sit in my sadness and cry by myself, or maybe to Adam, maybe.

There is a hole in my heart the size of my sister and a hole in my safety the size of my mother.  The loss of each was painful in different ways. And if I spoke enough about it, you might think I miss my sister MORE then my mother, but that’s not the case. The losses were just different. So, so different.

I have really been noticing how hard it is for me to be happy now. How impossible it is to sustain happiness for long periods of time. Happiness is always slipping through my fingers like sand. The more I reflect on this, the more I realize that there is just a massive part of me that is empty, that’s where my sister is in my heart.

But I never speak the words and if I do, I downplay the pain. I act like a trooper. “Look at me, getting through my life!” but on the inside, I’m just crying. I want to roll up in a little ball and wish my sister back here with me, and that actually happens more then anyone knows.

I lost my best friend on earth. The person that knew me best. The person that understood me best. The person that knew everything. Words cannot express that loss. Nothing I type or say could truly feel like it was equal to what I am feeling.

I try so hard to live despite this pain. To try to make my life as full and rich as magical as I can. I do my best to try because SHE can’t live her life anymore. And I have made so many moves I should be so proud of, I try to be proud I really do, but my heart is still incomplete.

And there is a part in me, that just wants my sister back. My heart want’s something I literally can never have, but the feeling is relentless.

Though I have embraced some of the things I lost in growing up (i.e. Disney) there are things that I still avoid because they are drenched in her memory. I pulled myself out of a scene I still love, I can’t listen to music I love so much because every time I go back to it, it feels like i am opening a wound and torturing my soul. Because the person that understood this stuff MOST is not here anymore.

You cannot sit in sadness because it will drown you. It will suck any color from your life and leave you with black and white memories and wishes that can never come true. But maybe I need to sit in it more. Maybe I need to say it more and stop acting like I am ok, stop worrying about making others uncomfortable with my grief.

The innocuous question, “How many siblings do you have?” is literally the question I hate most in life. HOW do I answer that?!

“I have 3 but one passed away”

“I have 2 alive but my sister closest to me passed away”

“One sister lives in O.C. the other lives up north…”

You can see the discomfort on someones face that second you mention death. The, “Oh shit I didn’t mean to bring that up” look. All in good spirit and not in a rude way. But I hate making people feel that way. I hate even dealing with any of this. But then if I just answer, “I have 3 sisters” that feels like a lie too. Like I’m PRETENDING everything is ok.

If people knew how often something made me sad because it reminded me of her, they’d probably think I was a depressed emo girl. They’d probably think I need to get over it. So I say nothing and shove it all down.

I am TRYING to rebuild that lost part of me. I don’t know how though But please believe I am trying SO hard. I’m not doing a good job tbh. Because I just want my sister back, even in this moment.

I don’t know if I will ever be whole again.

Unlocking the lost parts of myself

I was not fully looking forward to our family trip to Sequoia and I almost didn’t go. There were personal reasons and then more topical reasons.

It had been about 15 years since the last time I had went. Prior to that we went almost every year when I was growing up. But a lot has changed in 15 or so years and I just didn’t think I had it in me to “rough it” in nature.

I use the term “rough it” loosely because we stay in cabins that have electricity and beds, we only camped once or twice, that I can remember. You do have to walk to a central shower and bathroom but it’s far from sleeping on the ground in a tent. My niece’s friend Sam likened it to, “glamping”, it’s not quiet that plush…but somewhere in-between.

Over the few days I was there though, it was like this dormant part of me woke up. “OH, I used to love nature. I used to love running around and exploring!” I had completely forgot that that part of me even existed. It was like I forgot about that girl completely, but the big beautiful trees and endless vistas brought her back to me.

I felt SO insignificant out there in the vast world of nature. I was SO small, tiny, miniscule! I can’t even verbalize how unimportant I felt. And it was amazing…because it was a reminder of how big the world is. And, though my problems and issues sometimes feel insurmountable they are even tinier then I am against the backdrop of nature. That’s such a comforting feeling.

Sometimes it feels like life is crashing around me. One crazy happening after another but the forest kind of just side steps the chaos. You see broken or burned trees scattered about the floor but it doesn’t stop everything around it from being beautiful.

Sequoia trees cannot begin to grow without fire. If the ground becomes overcrowded they can’t thrive. So they require something so destructive to live, enter fire. In our lives we say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” but maybe the hard things in life are pushing us to thrive too.

We walked through Crystal Cave which was formed, in simple terms, by running dripping water. Water finding weaknesses in marble and working at it for millions of years formed an amazing cave. Sometimes we feel like the small steps we take don’t mean anything yet these tiny drops of water formed a massive, beautiful cavern.

The place I didn’t really much want to go back to, became a place I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to go on more trails, more hikes, soak in more of the forest. After the first day I stopped caring that my phone had absolutely no service. I was happy about it. It really forced me to disconnect and connect with mother nature and my old self again.

I leave you with a Shakespeare quote our tour guide at Crystal Cavern told us:

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”