Two sides to every story… cliche right? Just the first title that came to mind, I guess.

I tend to see things in spectrum. I believe that black and white do exist, but most things fall in between.

I have made so much progress since the beginning of February. I can’t lose sight of that. Yet… the last couple weeks have been pretty rough.

I think a good part of it has to do with the added stress of having lost my job. Not only does that make the money situation ultra-stressful, but it was also just good for me to be working every day. Now it’s a mad rush to get another job.

Right after I lost my job, I went up to Michigan. I thought it would be really good for me, but I think that in a way it was the opposite. I used to sort of joke about having post traumatic stress disorder when I would try to explain how I feel sometimes (not that having PTSD is funny, but joke as in I didn’t think I actually had it.) My sister actually did have it and while I was talking to her about how I feel she said that it does sound a lot like it’s possible that I have it. My reason for saying that is that being up in Michigan was hard because everything there reminded me of those three horrible months when everything just slipped away from me. I kept having flashbacks and it really just offset me.

And since then I’ve just been feeling like I’ve been slightly regressing. It’s really hard because ever since I started being able to function (work, play music, leave the house at night,) it seems sort of like everyone thinks that I’m back to normal or that everything is better. Things will never be “back to normal” and everything is definitely not better yet. Things are a lot better than they were in February, but I have a long ways to go.

Yeah. Things have been harder the last couple of weeks. I’ve been crying a lot.

However… the other side of the story is that:

-I started writing music again.
-I have a lot of fun playing in the band.
-I played solo in a show tonight and it went really well. I had a lot of fun.
-Although I still don’t hang out with a lot of different people (which is really different for me,) I have met quite a few people and feel ready to start doing that a little more.
-I’m really looking forward to being back in school this fall.

It’s really hard to even compare now to when I first moved back here. At night I couldn’t even leave the house or be alone. I literally felt like a zombie. I still had no appetite or hunger and avoided everyone other than in my immediate family. I felt a lot of anxiety all day every day. Things were very, very bad.

So I have come a long way… a very long way. I really want to stay focused on that. I know that I simply won’t get better if I don’t believe that I will get better.

And.. I also realize that I’m very blessed with a lot of different things.

I went to open mic night again last night. There is this guy- who I’ll call Travis- who hangs out around the cafe a lot.

Most performers at open mic get up with an acoustic guitar and sing songs. It’s always sort of refreshing when someone does something different.

Travis got up with a notebook and began to read a poem. Before he even started, I grimaced a little because I could only imagine what it could contain. Travis isn’t especially well-liked around this cafe. He hits on all the girls, acts pretty obnoxiously, and offends many people up and down.

I have to admit that his poem was pretty good- but very inappropriate for the setting. This cafe is a family establishment and he’s been banned before.

His poem was basically a hate and anger letter to God and the Christian religion. Although  the words themselves were well written and the questions reflected thoughts of men and women throughout the ages, they also showed his misunderstanding of much of Christianity. The worst part about it was the arrogance in which he delivered his words with, as if he were smarter than those who believe in Christianity. I respected him for putting these questions out there, but he did it in the wrong place and with the completely wrong attitude. Although many of the things he said sounded good and convincing at first, if you really thought about it on a much deeper level what he was saying didn’t make sense. For example, he kept calling God a fool. By definition, God simply can’t be a fool. He said if God is loving and omnipotent (which he pronounced wrong,) why is there pain in the world? Yet he went on to criticize that God punished his supposed son who lived perfectly.

My response is not a defense of Christianity. It is just a criticism of what he was saying, as well as where and how he was saying it.

This young man was full of such anger and hate! I feel a lot of compassion for him… as well as frustration because of him.

What I’m also getting at is that there are two types of non-Christians. There are those that harbor a lot of anger and resentment towards the God they don’t believe in and the people who do, and then there are those who are at peace with what they believe (and don’t believe) in. I’ve been burned by churches. I’ve been burned by Christians. I’ve been angry at God. I do not call myself a Christian, but I do not harbor such huge amounts of anger and hate at God or Christians in general. I believe in the things I believe in because of logic, reason, experience, and simply what my heart says, NOT because I am angry at the “God I don’t believe in.”  I find such freedom in that.

When I was in the hospital, my dad kept telling me about this metaphor of a bridge somewhere out east. Apparently the tunnel is a few miles long and has a curve somewhere in the middle. Until you go around the curve you literally can’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel… but it’s there.

I lost my job. I’ll save the details of that for another post, but let me say that it was no fault of my own nor was it a layoff. I spoke up for myself and got fired for it. At first I wasn’t really upset about it because I felt good that I had said what I wanted to say (and what others are too afraid to say.) Then I left to go to the U.P. for a week and sort of forgot about it. Now that I’m back at home I’m realizing that not only is it the expected stress of financial burden and whatnot,  but it’s also really not good for me that I have now lost the sense of routine that was really helping me make progress.

Feeling the way I did in the U.P… it really made me sort of second-guess how far I’ve come. I know that’s stupid… but it just made me feel really weak. One of the hardest things for me to face is the fact that during high school I had struggled a LOT, but I felt I had overcome and gotten through that “tunnel.” I feel like I just lost all of that.

Which isn’t true. I still draw on things that I learned through that ordeal when I’m trying to pull myself out of this “thing.” And honestly without the things I learned then I don’t know if I could have gotten through this.

So.. I guess my tunnel has more than one curve. Because right now it’s hard for me to see the light at the end of it again. I know it’s there.. but sometimes it’s hard to feel it.

OK, quick life update:

-Lost my job
-Been playing more and more music
-I still play music with those guys where we do a lot of folk.. we have a gig every Thursday before this music festival that happens every Thursday here in the summer. That’s been going really well.

I miss all of you from the WordPress world and really want to make an effort to post more. It’s helped me a lot throughout my time here and I really appreciate you all for your support and advice!!

It has been way too long, my friends.

This time my absence has mostly been a sign of positive growth. I’ve been busy with work, music, and my boyfriend.

For those of you who have been keeping up with my blog, there is a lot I could update you on, but for now I’d rather just write about where I’m at… right now.

I’m back in upper Michigan with my sister and brother.

The last time I was here was pretty much right before I hit rock bottom. It was when I first began trying to pull myself out of the hole I had fallen (and also jumped) into. And although last time I was here I felt joy for the first time in quite a while, I also realized that getting better was going to be a fight.

That was in the Porcupine Mountains. Right now the part of the UP I’m in is a couple hours east of that. I came here a lot during the winter months with my friend. In a way… it’s really painful to be here. And frustrating. It’s like no matter where I go these memories haunt me. They claw at me, tearing away pieces of the stability I have tried to rebuild.

I guess I have a lot of thoughts right now- too many to really focus on to write a good post. I hope you all are well… and I will most surely post again before leaving here.

As I try to rebuild my perspective, to “learn to live” again, I keep coming back to this image of building blocks, a foundation maybe, that will be at the core of who I want to be. If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that love is definitely one of those blocks, the biggest maybe. But.. I’ve written a lot of posts about love already.

The past few days I’ve been thinking about compassion… I guess you could say that’s a close relative of love.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to dehumanize people? To see them only in the context of who they are to you and nothing more?

It’s crazy when you think about it. Every person you see is, well, a real person- a person with hopes and dreams, countless memories and experiences. Every person was once a baby, a child, an adolescent and so on.

Sometimes I look at older people and think about how I can’t even begin to fathom all the experiences they’ve had- the joy they’ve felt, the hurt they’ve encountered.

At the risk of sounding extremely cliche and cheesy, every person really is a miracle… a walking miracle.

Your boss.

Your annoying coworker(s)

The clerk at the gas station

The crossing guard you pass every day

The police officer who gave you a speeding ticket

The man eating by himself at McDonalds

The stranger on the street

The hobo

There are over six billion people on the planet.

So on so forth… they’re all real people.

And, I guess it would be my goal to work more towards keeping that in mind. It’s one of those big picture things that required you to step outside of your own world and realize how very small you are… and how very big at the same time.

Last night I went to an open mic night downtown. I stepped outside for a smoke and an older man with a white beard approached.

It was one of those conversations that you hope you’ll always remember.

We talked about music- Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. “Bring it back to the basics,” he told me.

I’ve talked to lots and lots of people outside of this cafe. My guard is always up against what I like to call “creepers.”

Something about this guy didn’t strike me that way though…

He told me, “I don’t know what it is lately… I’ve just been waking up every morning and loving everybody.”

“Yeah?

“Yeah.” He takes a drag of his cigarette. “I’m not going to try to understand everyone, but… my heart is just full of such… such love for them. You know?”

“Yeah, I do. The world could use more people like you.”

Silence.

“Where do you think that love comes from?” I ask, curious if I’m going to hear the pitch for Christianity next, if he’s going to pull out the conveniently placed religious tract and invite me to his church.

“Honestly? Between you and me?” He trails off for a moment. “I think it’s from God.”

He gauges my reaction.

“I just… I look around at all these people,” he gazes across the street where dozens of high schoolers are hanging out, “and I see a generation that is so lost. I have my bad habits too,” he says, glancing at his cigarette, “but… ” he trails off again with his head down. As he looks up, I see tears in his eyes. He looks at me and apologizes. “I just pray for them. I care about them; I really do.”

We talk about a few other things. He advises me to get more into nature. I smile and say I will. Little does he know how passionate I am about nature.

He was legit. He was passionate. Maybe he was lonely. I really don’t know.

But something about what he said… and how he said it… it gave me a lot of hope.

I’m a rambler. If you get me talking and I’m comfortable, I can go on and on. I do it all the time to my boyfriend. I joke with him that he must be so sick of my stories, but he always laughs and says he likes them. I just laugh.

But then he remembers a small detail of something I told him weeks ago and he’ll bring it up… as if he really is listening the whole time. It feels good to feel that he is really listening to what I’m saying, even when it isn’t on a really important subject. I love him for that.

Sometimes it’s those little things…

Work has been stressful, but overall good. The program I worked at in Milwaukee was much higher quality, so I can get easily frustrated at the daycare I work at now. The kids really do make it worth it though. Some days, though, I’m just itching to get out of there because it’s so crazy and I’m so bothered by some of the things that go on. The other day I felt like that.. and this little two-year-old said the word “bubble” and suddenly I was so refreshed. See, he’s been really delayed in speech. Lately I had been getting him to say some words like “hey” and “no” and such, but he said “bubble” and I just felt so proud of him. Those moments remind me why I love kids so much. Again, the little things…

I’ve been struggling lately. I sort of just stopped seeing the psychologist I was seeing a few weeks ago. I felt like he wasn’t the right fit for me, and he ended up canceling an appointment because he was sick, and I just never called back to make another appointment. I really need to be in therapy… intensive therapy. Things aren’t nearly as bad as they a few months ago, but even as I start feeling better it almost makes me feel worse to understand how long the road in front of me is.

There’s a lot to look forward to though as well.

What little things mean a lot to you?

Dear WordPress, it’s been too long! Last time I was absent for a while it was because I was cycling through a more difficult time, but this time it’s honestly because I’ve been a little more busy (a good thing) and now I’m in South Dakota again.

I believe I was here about six weeks ago. My grandma, aunt, uncle, and cousins live here, so we come out to visit a couple times a year. Unfortunately, a couple weeks after we got back last time my grandma had a bit of a fall and although she was relatively uninjured, her doctor finally told her that it was time for her to not live alone anymore. Sad, but in all honestly a good thing.

So I’m out here again helping my mom sort through my grandma’s apartment. It isn’t too bad because about ten years ago my grandparents moved here from their house in Iowa, so we had sorted and got rid of a lot of stuff back then.

It’s been interesting going through all of this stuff. Listening to my mom, grandma and aunt talk about old memories and relatives that I’ve never met- it reminds me how I’m a part of something bigger that I never really even think about… and that I come from people and places I’ve never really known or seen. Even within one generation there is so much unknown. I often wonder how much about my mom’s life I don’t really know. As much as she’s told me about her memories of growing up, those are all from her point of view… and I’m sure things would seem different even just hearing those stories from my aunt’s point of view.

My grandparents were never super close to us. They just weren’t the type to show a lot of  affection. Birthday cards would come on time every year, and I saw them several times a year even though we lived in separate states, but they weren’t all that interested in really getting to know me. I’m not complaining; that’s just sort of how it was.

So they’ve always seemed sort of… rigid to me. My grandpa was a pastor too. I have enormous respect for who he was- he went through a lot as a pastor and as a man, and his faith never seemed to falter. He was a great man.

While my aunt was going through my grandpa’s desk, she came across some letters that my grandma wrote to my grandpa. Some were from before they were married, and others after, while he would be away at church conferences or other things. I haven’t read them yet, but I am really looking forward to it.

People always talk about how the divorce rate has gone up so much. Although the institution of marriage has probably really suffered in the last few decades, I doubt that it has honestly gotten that much worse. I think that a lot of people just stayed in very unhappy marriages their whole lives.

It gives me such joy and hope when I see an older couple strolling down the street with their fingers entwined. To hear about these love letters does the same…

I don’t think it’s about finding your one true love; I think it’s about finding a true love and keeping it true.

Working thousands of hours in the daycare field has granted me a pretty inside view into a lot of different types of marriages- marriages of the wealthy, the older, the younger, the poorer, those on state aid…. I’ve even spent time in a lot of their houses, babysitting their children. Many of them have turned to me for help on raising their kids.

In viewing these relationships/marriages, I’ve noticed a lot.

1. Having a lot of money doesn’t make you a better parent.
2. Having a lot of money doesn’t make your marriage better. (duh!)
3. Being on federal or state aid doesn’t make you a bad parent.
4. Although maybe if you’re on government aid, have five kids who never get baths and are pregnant with another… you should learn how to use birth control.

Okay, sorry to get political. Back to the relationship thing.

5. I’ve seen the couples who put their child before their own marriage. I am a product of this type of upbringing. Trust me, this will not benefit you, your spouse, or your child(ren.)
6. I’ve seen couples who “stay together for the kids.” Again, this benefits no one in the long run…
7. I’ve seen couples who are very good at functioning. They make a pretty good team in terms of who’s picking the kids up, who’s taking them to soccer/gymnastics etc., who’s picking up/making dinner, so on and so forth… but I sense that it’s more of a business arrangement than anything else. This type of couple is the most mysterious to me.
8. Finally, I’ve seen the couples that really do seem close. Not that they don’t fight.. or disagree… or do things as parents that I wouldn’t do as a parent, but… I can’t really put my finger on it.
9. Finally, I’ve seen couples who I’ve made observations about only to realize that I was way off. A sort of disclaimer I guess.

I don’t ever just want to have a functioning/business type of relationship/marriage. I know it’s easy for me to say that now. I’m working part time and I’m not even in school. I have so much time to spend with Cody. Whoever I end up marrying (if I do marry,) I’m not saying that I know how we’ll manage to get the time in, how to find the right ways to communicate and all of that, but I’m just saying I realize how important it is.

See, I want to be writing love letters like my grandmother, long after we’ve gotten married and had kids. Not necessarily “How do I love thee?” type love letters, but letters that may just say, “I got my haircut today and I really hope you like it. I miss you. I love you.”

I’ve been focused on love… which is a good thing. It’s what I’ve learned the most with all of this so far.. how important it is.

But.. I also need to find some peace concerning everything that’s happened. It’s been about three months since I moved back here. I know I’ve made amazing progress, but I’m still not there.. where I want to be.

One of my best friends from Milwaukee just had her baby. I was there when she was trying for months to get pregnant.. I was there when she was pregnant, looking at her belly and thinking how amazing it was that there was a real person in there… a person that will grow and learn and experience so much. I honestly think it’s a miracle.. two people creating a life. It’s just amazing.

So it sort of hurts that now that she actually had her baby I’m here… and uninvolved. Yet I was able to think about those things and get sad.. but there was an element of acceptance at how things are.. I didn’t feel angry. I will always be sad about the things I gave up when I fell… I was honestly tempted to just drive there tonight and visit some of the kids from work tomorrow morning. I miss them more than anything. I can’t even begin to describe it.

Sometimes peace is just realizing that although we have free will and I believe that power is very great, there are things that are just out of our control. This is how it is… and I have so many things to be thankful for. I know that.

What does peace mean to you? I am just trying to accept things.. and how they are… I have started seeing the beauty again, and that is a big step. I have a ways to go but .. it’s okay. Everything’s going to be alright. I believe that.

I have a twin brother named Nathan. He’s… pretty much the coolest guy I know.

Nathan was born over two hours after me. No one is sure exactly why, but he has several disabilities. His vision and coordination are limited, and his brain just doesn’t work the way ours do. He can’t tie his own shoes but he has experienced things that a lot of people never will. In ways he’s more mature and smarter than a lot of other people his age.

Normally, Nathan is a really happy, light-hearted guy. He’s had some really great teachers and they have all really loved him. In fact, I don’t think anyone that’s ever met him has not liked him. He’s fun… and considerate, and enjoys doing nice things for people. He gets spoiled rotten by the people who work with him, but he takes it all really well.

When Nathan and I hit the puberty age, he started having psychological problems. Delusions filled his mind… depression, anxiety. There was just this look on his face. He’s been in the hospital a few times, and the doctors seem to have found the right mix of meds to really keep him stable. And he is… almost all of the time. When these episodes start coming on, we increase the meds for a while and then put them back to normal. It’s manageable.

Yet… it’s hard to watch him suffer. I remember thinking I’d do anything just to take away his pain, his hurt.

And now I think that in a sense I really know what it’s like. To feel that intense pain and sadness… with no reason. Feeling trapped, a prisoner.. thinking irrational thoughts.

Nathan seemed to be heading for one of his episodes a few weeks ago so they increased the meds. It seemed to help, but last night was a rough one for him. He was just sobbing.

And then today again… He yelled at my mom and sister a lot, treated them pretty poorly… not normal behavior for him. When I got home from work he was sobbing.

We had a really good talk. On some levels.. it’s almost as if  Nathan is just a little kid. He’s used to really being taken care of for his daily needs, and those always will be taken care of by somebody else. His understanding of a lot of events is probably comparable to a child’s perspective. So as we talked about what and how he was feeling, he expressed his frustration that “this will never go away. I’ll have it until I die.” I told him I understood… and I reminded him that most of the time he doesn’t feel that way. He said he knew I understood.. and then, through his tears, said that he thought I was going to be the lucky one and not have to suffer from mental illness. He was so upset about it.

He may not always be able to express himself very well so it’s easy to overlook what he really does understand. It’s like when a kid says something to you that’s so insightful that it blows you away.

It breaks my heart to see him hurting… but at the same time it felt really good to be able to talk to him and calm him down. I love him so much.