Before I Go To Sleep

Ok, it’s been awhile I know this. I have been to London and Colorado and now I’m chilling on my bed in Chicago, I am pretty fortunate this summer.

I’ve been reading this book called Before I Go To Sleep and it’s the 13th book for me this year. It’s a big deal last year I wanted to read what like 25 books? I didn’t make it and this year I decided to start lower and do 12 that meant 1 a month. I’m already ahead of the game which is cool. So this book I’m reading Stephen recommended because I love thrillers.

The main character, Christine, forgets her memories every night and wakes up barely remembering much aside from childhood and snippets of university life. So she wakes up believing she is 21 or sometimes a little older and it turns out she is middle aged and has a husband. Things get shady because she starts to keep a journal and has a doctor friend who calls her each day to follow up. Turns out her husband is keeping details of her life from her, such as the fact she was a writer and they had a son together. Makes you wonder who she can trust.

It made me think of what I remember and what we forget, memories are an interesting thing. Especially because we remember things differently and sometimes our version can differ from someone else’s, so she feels she can’t rely on her memories fully.

It made me think of my memories with Stephen, the beautiful moments we share and the difficult times when we disagree. I feel relief, this huge relief that I have someone that I can trust and cares for me. Someone I can go to with my facts and feelings. And books of course. I’m about to embark on this stressful time of my life going to grad school and I’m glad he’s my home base because I’m gonna be going mad come autumn. I am going to remind myself that writing is one of my best ways to cope just like it is for Christine!

London

I am going to London next week for the first time. I am attending a dear friend’s wedding and I’m thrilled. It’s a solo trip and I’ll admit I have nothing in the books per se. Probably the only thing in mind is the Tate Modern because my boyfriend knows how much I love art. Everything else I am leaving up in the air so I likely won’t see all the famous tourist traps. I just want a time to be and get lost as well as meet up with some locals. Lots of my friends will be in town and it’s going to great to be in a place that I don’t know well. In contrast to my Arizona trip, I have saved up money and I have been working some side gigs to be able to gallivant. There is this tiny part of me that says “you don’t wanna miss out on ALL London has to offer”, but another part of me says “let’s take a long bath in the hotel and walk dogs all day”….

I was looking at experiences on Airbnb, it’s a new feature where they sell a little outing or excursion like ceramics, street art tours, scarf making, and flower workshops. It’s unique to their site whereas you usually book a place to stay now you can book an event. It intrigues me and Stephen assures me there is plenty enough to do in London, however it has me thinking. I would love to make a scarf or learn how to make a proper flower crown. One thing’s for sure, I am definitely going to be buying and drinking tea.

Scar Tissue

Wow can it really be?

I have made it this far. I’m still here. I’m alive. I’m in a healthy relationship. I am taking care of myself better. I have goals. I am going back to school. I still have so much I want to do. I’m not completely on my shit like I haven’t written fiction properly since NaNoWriMo last year and I think about how I used to write some stories nearly everyday or every other day because of a message board I was apart of. Honestly, it was good I wrote there but I felt it took me away from my real life too much.

Now I want to revisit that fantasy world, those stories left unwritten.

Today I was taking a shower and I shaved my legs (it’s summer soon…) once I dried off to put lotion on I look at an old scar. This scar has faded significantly. In its infancy it was this pulsing burn that accompanied the pained memories of that first violent act between my ex and I. I remember how it looked like it would never heal. I thought my legs are ruined with veins and hair and cellulite now this constant reminder of what he did. It felt it wouldn’t even turn into a scab. I asked my sister in law for help and she recommended using honey as an antibacterial. It would help dry it out. Which it did. Months later I had this white spot on my knee and I felt even more self-conscious of it. A year passed and I hadn’t left him yet.

Two years after, I was free yet heartbroken. On a whim, I flew to New Orleans and I wasn’t thinking about my scar as much as I wore shorts. I was happily distracted with my new paramour.

Three years now, I forgot about it.

The end of this month will mark four years since that fateful night and I look at my knee. It is barely noticeable. I thought it would mark me forever and now I feel like myself again. Still imperfect with veins, ingrown hairs, cellulite but different scars while thoughts of that night drift further away. I still think about him every now and then.

I see the coral I picked up from Hawaii, a trip I took when I loved him. I remember picking up these stones and coral, I was alone on that beach because we were already quarreling so much. I wondered if I should discard them but I remembered I picked those rocks for me, not to remember him. My curiosity got the better of me recently and I looked him up. Despite that, I am so relieved that he’s not apart of my life anymore. Like so fucking relieved.

Precipice

So I have returned from my trip to Ireland. I can say, without a doubt, that the country stirred something deep within me. I had a feeling it would. It’s like I could see my life there and it frightened me. It also thrilled me. I loved learning about the history, I loved the sights, I loved hearing the voices, the craic, all of it. I especially enjoyed spending time with my boyfriend’s family. The roots are deep in the county of Leitrim. Generations of this family and it caused me to harken to that unknown part of me. That part that yearns to learn more about my own heritage.

I also realized so much. How I want to be a mother one day even though the prospect terrifies me. The life I want for my family, a life of love and acceptance and a field to grow up in. I want to be near to loved ones. I keep thinking about what all this means because it means Ireland will be my home. Maybe not for forever but for some time–it makes nervous to think about being far from my friends and far from my brothers.

Yet, I have to forge my own life. I want my life to be my own. I don’t want to forget where I came from but I want all the goodness life has to offer. Even if that means being far away from where I was born. I am standing at the edge of a cliff and staring into the unknown. The precipice of my life and looking to dive into the next bit. The uncharted waters. I have some time to get ready for that moment. I feel I’ll be ready.

Serotonin

Ok I finally did it. I took my therapist’s advice after a long time thinking about it… I am ready to feel like I am ok instead of the brink of falling apart all the time. I am taking an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and yes that’s a mouthful. I had to ask my primary care doctor to fill me in on what it means because I couldn’t bear the thought of looking it up. My doc as kind as he is doesn’t have the best way with words, his query “so what psychological issues are you having?” had me ready to burst into tears and dash for the door. Luckily, I blinked the tears away and remembered he isn’t my therapist, I don’t have to tell him details just the bare minimum.

I’m anxious, I feel I don’t cope well when things go awry… I have a tendency to fixate and I have panic attacks. I was teetering on the edge for a long time, but making it work. I found a little balance until I entered an abusive relationship. (Doctor interrupts.)

“Are you out of this relationship?”

Yes, yes I am… but I still feel the pain. I’m trying so hard and then with school coming up. I feel I’m a mess daily because of all the changes in my life.

Cue my doc explaining to me the serotonin release in the medicine and how we’ll start off with this generic version. Check in 4 weeks to see if it’s working out, if not we’ll keep tweaking. I got my prescription today and I was already in doubt… Reading every single  possible side effect. Ummm weight gain and libido decrease?! I could have thrown those pills away if they didn’t cost me $18. But there was the line that said most people don’t have side effects and this is a lower dosage. I was already thinking of back up plans, if I end up overeating on this drug I will overeat celery and fucking carrot sticks. If my sex drive drops, I will find every single way I can increase it… so here’s hoping that in 4 weeks it’ll be nothing but good news and higher serotonin levels.

Ordinary

Sometimes I want to give it all up, I want to curl up and just say I can’t. I can’t do this anymore because the feelings are overwhelming and  I want to be alone again. It’s easier then. It’s easier to run away or in my case walk away. For some people the brave thing is to leave, but for me it’s the opposite. I’ve dealt with so much heartache and I have a hard time trusting myself in any situation now. It’s like if anything goes wrong, I want to call it quits and say it’s too difficult. Where’s the line between too much work and just the right amount?

When I read Brené Brown, she would talk about “ordinary courage”, it’s not any sort of fancy and amazing feat. It’s about basically showing up to those hard situations and trying to wade your way through the cesspool of fucked up feelings. She said it far more eloquently than me. I show up and I just want it to be enough but it requires lots of introspection. I have so much going on and I don’t feel ready. I feel like I have no clue what I am doing, I feel I am good at being like this will happen but how it will happen is anyone’s fucking guess. In those moments people see me as ballsy but really I am just coasting because at night when I’m alone–I’m scared shitless.

As for my relationship, people again see it through this lens of judgment because they know my boyfriend and I are comfortable in having disagreements and often or they see it in rosy tinted glasses of “wow, he travels with you, gifts you trips and talks about the future with you! you see him 2-3x a week and talk daily… that is serious” and it’s like no this isn’t some magic carpet ride where I end up in foreign cities and my boyfriend and I horseback ride into the sunset.

I have doubts and I freak out. We’re so imperfect, we argue, we are emotionally healthy thank fuck, we still try to figure out how this shit works, he is far better at it than me because my knee jerk reaction is to go outside for some air because I have to unlearn all the unhealthy shit from the past: years and years of unhealthy interactions in my memory and also managing to stand my ground while being empathetic. It can be draining. Sometimes all I can say is “I love you.”

But we have to come round and talk about the icky, hard bits and when he tells me how much he loves me I feel reassured but I told him: “love isn’t always enough” because it wasn’t. I thought it was but you need more than love to make a relationship work. Love is just a fraction of that, you need to have similar core values and empathy. There needs to be all these other components depending on how you’re wired. Like me, my independence is so crucial. My ex was threatened by my autonomy.

I have been listening to a lot of music lately to help me process and John Legend’s Ordinary People is a go to for me because seriously I can relate my life to a movie, song, or book… but it’s so true for us, we’re ordinary people, we don’t know which way to go.

 

Net Worth

I have returned from my vacation. It was awesome. I had a few doubts about how to be alone again, about spending and asking myself “do I really deserve this?” I hate how that comes up when I am supposed to be enjoying myself. My mind can’t even give me a rest on a holiday break. I kept thinking I am spending too much or I shouldn’t be throwing caution to the wind. But when do I honestly get a chance to fly solo and toss everything aside. So I went for it full force. I wandered around Papago Park, I showed up to a tourist place when it was closed, I hiked cautiously over snake holes (it’s too cold for snakes I was told thank fuck), I sat and journaled, I chatted to new people and met up with an old friend. One of my favorite things I did was see the Grand Canyon.

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Ok random story, I volunteered at this camp last summer called One Step for kids with cancer/in remission and one of the campers was in my same tour van with his family! They are from Skokie. What are the odds? The van can only fit like 10-11 people max excluding the driver. Also, I am nerdy and I learned a lot about cacti and other plants local to the desert. That was my other favorite thing about Arizona, all the mountains, desert and plants. Loads of the plants are medicinal so you bet your booty I was looking that stuff up!

So I flew back home this morning at about 1am. I basically vegged out in my bed watching Tales from the Crypt reruns. I didn’t want to face reality that I am back. I have things to do. I cancelled my free dance class  (I just didn’t feel like leaving my apartment) and braided my hair since I never learned french braids… I’m practicing now. I finally got the courage to look at my finances and rang my phone carrier to demand a better plan. I get less high speed data now but no charges for going over. That allows me to save money until I switch onto my boyfriend’s plan. I cancelled my Birchbox subscription to save a few dollars. Now I check my budgets and it’s like damn. My net worth is in the negative taking into account my loans, my credit cards, etc. Well… that sucks. That part of being an adult I can do without, thank youuuuuu. This is why I’m going back to school so I can get a job that I like and finally get compensated for it then travel all over the fucking place as I please without any guilt. #goals

Material Girl

I used to live in an apartment with these huge closets once upon a time. I had a walk in closet and an extra two closets full of shelves. I managed to fill it out all with shoes, clothes, purses, craft supplies, notebooks, bedding, towels. I moved in with a third of that and before that luxurious apartment, I had even less. I kept buying shoes and clothes. I look back and my closet was amazing. God, I had so many cute clothes, outfit choices, just loads. I’d get so many compliments and my shoes. Oh the shoes, I had a kick ass collection of heels and boots.

Then I moved in with my toxic ex and downsized because there just wasn’t space. He was pissed I had all these beautiful clothes that in his mind allured the opposite sex. I was just tired of feeling I had to rummage through boxes and boxes of clothes to find what I needed. Even my shoes, my beloved shoes… I decided to cut in half so I could live in this meager space with someone I was in love with. I donated so much and would continue to give away. Sometimes, I gave away things I didn’t mean to because they just feel into those donation boxes. Others, I donated to assure my ex that I wasn’t trying to get anyone’s attention except his.

Luckily those days are gone and I can wear what I want when I want. But I also lived in a small apartment, my closet sadly is not even half the size of one the fancy ones I used to have once upon a time. I pride myself that I don’t go shopping as much because I did have a shopping addiction. Now I spend money on experiences (and notebooks I can’t quite them apparently!) and gifts for others. I lament still all the stuff I had. I liked having it, all the options for shoes and all the clothes. All the edgy outfits, the sea of color, I miss it so much.

I want to be like Marie Kondo and be on top of my shit. To get rid of stuff I don’t need, to stick what I love and the essentials. I attempted to do some re-organizing and cleaning but it still feels like I own so much. However I look in my closet and see how few clothes I have. I utilize the same pieces in a dozen outfits but I miss going to my favorite stores like Akira and Gap, ringing up new purchases of fabulous new clothes and accessories. I feel so predictable now. I went to a clothing swap last year which was useful but it’s still a roll of the dice. My boyfriend goes to thrift stores often and finds some gems. I just like that feeling of something brand new, never worn, just for me.

Anxiety Levels Rising

I filed my FAFSA. I have a trip to Phoenix with no car where everyone says I need one… I am going by myself which is both exhilarating but terrifying because I haven’t done this in awhile. I keep myself awake with thoughts of failure. Wave after wave of tension and uncertainty. I just want to breathe. I let out some tears and got a hug from Stephen this morning. I spoke to my advisor for psych school this morning felt some relief. Then I was cut from working some extra hours next week at this school camp. Makes me even more eager to leave that silly place, makes me bonkers.

I want to be safe in Phoenix and have fun. I know myself, I will end up soaking up sun and being antisocial for most of it which is what I need. I’ll probably spend too much money on transport but oh well. I need some desert heat and peace. I can’t wait to see the terrain for now though stressing has me paralyzed!

Can’t Sleep

It seems life just gets busier and crazier. In a good way this time. It still gives me anxiety though! I am spending the night at my bestie’s house in Indiana and I can’t sleep at all. I keep thinking about my trip to Phoenix in a week and after that Ireland in spring then London in summer.

The original plan was to go to Ireland in the summer and then I would pop over to London for a wedding but after lots of discussion and arguing with my boyfriend, we finally settled on going to Ireland for Easter and he offered to cover my expenses for London. It was one week of wondering what is the right thing to do. Trip planning has never been so stressful, we would get somewhere and then we would both be stubborn. Luckily we found a resolution and I am relieved. As hard as that decision was it was a relief to argue about something real. In the past with exes it would be petty shit.

This was real trio we have been planning and we wanted us to have the most time in Ireland with his family as well as giving me a tour of the country. I could be living there one day after all!

In addition to stressing about travels, I finally submitted my application for school and within a week I found out I was accepted! It is fantastic and I am so happy but also nervous. This is a huge step for me and I am committed now. It is daunting.

Yesterday I was given news that I was offered a scholarship as well due to my high GPA in undergrad. I don’t know how much it is yet but I am going to work hard to get more scholarships and grants to finance my education. That was something I didn’t do enough of in undergrad because I didn’t research or go after it. I am definitely going to do some work study. It is kind of exhilarating to be like making amends in a way for my naive approach to financials at age 18. Now a decade later I am wise to go after every avenue to know that at least I tried!

So my mind is full of thoughts of school, my aspirations for this year, all the traveling I am doing before school starts and working extra hours to save up for that first term/semester. Perhaps not sleeping in my bed is keeping me up or a combination of that and feeling like my personal life is finally better than any dream could be.

I can’t ignore the national reality all the time but I just needed this. I have been so drained from the news, the incompotence of the current administration, the racism that is far more overt in the USA now. But my therapist said I am incredibly sensitive to emotions and it makes sense to feel the cuts deeply of our current president’s shitty choices and orders. She told me if I need to close off from it that is what I should do. And I have. I left my phone in my bag when I went for lunch and read an old magazine. I found some free books to read on my phone. I think turning off social media and getting away from the news even in that small time is exactly what I needed. And I am going to keep doing that.

If they don’t let me back into the United States after my trip to Ireland I know myself and I would make shit work. Haha.