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it’s been too long. i feel like there is too much to write and nothing to write at the same time.

it’s recently been coming to my attention how a lot of people in my life think i’ve gotten through this… thing. who cares what they think? but it does matter, because right now it feels like my identity. i know i need to shake that. hazy.. everything seems hazy.

my mom went on her first date since my dad last monday. last week she let it slip that there was someone interested.. i encouraged her. she was surprised and very emotional about it. “we just want you to be happy.”

life certainly is weird.

2010 is coming to an end… and i’m not going to be sad to see it go. 2010 has been the hardest year of my life. hands down. i remember last year when people were telling me happy new year i was just wondering if i’d live to see the end of it. sounds melodramatic, i know.. but i really didn’t know.

been struggling with my boyfriend. god i love him. i’ve been too dependent.

i’ve recently realized that there are two very separate things i need to work through. there’s the anxiety and flashbacks and depression and fear and all of that.. the memory of those 3 months last year… and then there’s also just the fact that i lost almost everything. school. friends. job. everything and everyone that inspired me… there was a lot. i lost myself. i threw it away. and i don’t say those things to beat myself down. it’s just the truth. i do believe i can come to be inspired again, i do have hope, but i also know it’s a long road. and there aren’t any guarantees…

if i don’t post again before, happy new year’s everyone. remember love.

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In keeping the words of my last post, the song today is Plastic Trees by Radiohead.

I’m learning more and more about love…

and how even when you’re worn out by your love’s actions… angry, or even hurt, you are no less in love with him.

Not so long ago I think one of the words that best described me was passionate.

One of the things I was most passionate about was… being alive, as awake as possible. I had some idealistic dream for us all to wake up and realize what a gift life is, how beautiful it is.

And now…

I feel like in a way…

The days are just passing me by.

But so many days I have to fight so hard to just get through that

I just don’t have the heart to fight for even more.

But I guess at heart I’m fighting for just that, to wake up again… to remember that beautiful things are felt even when hurting, when things just don’t make sense.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this… It’s just weird, I still remember things from those three months that I had forgotten… Not even just memories, but feelings, almost flashbacks.

Summer hasn’t quite lived up to what I had set high hopes for… yet in its own way it has brought gifts I hadn’t even thought of before. There have been hots days of swimming, warm nights of sitting under the stars, more and more music… and yet…..

Well, I’m certainly drifting… which I had wanted to do in a way.

There’s so much more to my story than I had ever expected.

“All I have for the moment is a song to pass the time,
A melody to keep me from worrying
Yeah, some simple progression to keep my
Fingers busy
And words that are sure to come back to me…”

I’ve always been a really good sleeper. I’d read for a while and fall asleep… and I’d do my best to get seven or eight hours a night.

These days I don’t sleep well at all. Sometimes I wake up and feel like I didn’t sleep at all. A lot of times I just plain can’t sleep.

“So there still is hope,
Yes I can be healed
There is someone looking for what I’ve concealed
In my secret drawers, in my pockets deep,
You will find the reasons that I can’t sleep
And you will still want me…
Will you still want me?”

I’ve been doing a lot better since I wrote my last post. I still need to get my life in order and work to make more and more progress… but I’m going in the right direction.

It’s so important to look at your life, figure out what you can and can’t control, and try to make good decisions.

Good decisions…

I’ve been doing okay with that the last few months. I did make a lot of horrible decisions before I came back here though… with effects that I still feel every day.

I’m adjusting to this new way of life… learning to live again. Learning a lot about love.

It’s hard…

but still so worth it. Love.

The way you think… the way you feel… it controls so many things. I know that if I don’t BELIEVE I can get better, I won’t. I know that if I don’t fight the anxiety, the thoughts… they’ll beat me every time. Sometimes they’ll beat me even when I do fight… but I’ll keep fighting anyway.

“So hold up your fist
To the flame in the sky
To block out the light
That’s reaching for our eyes
Cause it would blind us…”

-Bright Eyes

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 write a lot about love.

It’s just that… I think it really is the most important thing. It’s what makes us human… it’s what kept me going at my lowest point. It’s because of love that I am… learning to live again. There’s not a lot that I’m sure about anymore, and I think you could say that I’m somewhat jaded because of these last few months. Every day memories flash into my mind that fill my heart with such intense sadness and pain… and I feel I’ve lost a lot. But… Love is real. And it’s what makes this life so beautiful.

And yet…

Love isn’t perfect. Well, maybe in theory it is. Maybe by definition it is. Somehow though, no matter how much we love each other, we still mess up and treat those that we love in the wrong way.

The other morning I woke up to my sister’s yelling to my mom. I know that she was yelling so that I would hear her. My mom kept asking her to quiet down, that I was just in the other room, that I would wake up and hear her. And I did. And I know her frustrations were related to me, and the things she was saying were… well, they were mean. Her words were hurtful. I know that me being here isn’t ideal for any of them… yet all day I kept thinking to myself that I wanted to say so much to her.. to tell her how for so many years I acted like the older sister (although I’m younger.) I was there for her when I was really too young to deal with the things that faced her.. and us, our whole family. Yet I bore the things she was dealing with and never complained. I let the focus be on the rest of the family and bottled up my own hurt for years and somehow managed to get past it. And now that she’s in a better place, and I’m in the worst place I’ve ever been in, she wants to complain because of some inconveniences of me living here? I wanted to tell her that she has absolutely no idea what I’ve been going through.

Well, I talked to my mom about it that day, and before I even saw my sister she must have talked to her. I got a text from her saying that she doesn’t want me to think that she doesn’t like having me here. And later that night she talked to me and said the same thing.. told me how bad of a morning she was having. I wanted to still say all those things to her.. but once she said she was sorry  and saw that I wasn’t visibly angry (which I wasn’t angry by that point,) she changed the subject so we could move on. That’s sort of how things have always worked in my family… say the minimum of what you have to and stop talking about it.

I’ve based a lot of my “recovery” on the support of my family. The words she said that morning stung… yet they didn’t make me question how much she loves me.

The night I hit bottom… well, I couldn’t even drive back here. My sister made the two hour drive to pick me up, and then she listened to me cry the whole two hours back. And she let me sleep next to her that night.

I certainly know that the way I love isn’t perfect.

I caught my mom in a lie to me as well. That almost bothers me even more, because when I was in the hospital I told her how important it was to me that we would be honest with each other. I think I’m still going to talk to her about that.

But even her lie doesn’t make me question the fact that she loves me. Not at all.

Part of growing up is realizing that love isn’t perfect. We make mistakes… and those mistakes always hurt the most when they are from the people we love most.

But… that’s part of what makes love such a beautiful thing. On the right hand of love is joy, and the left hand is hurt. Love means being vulnerable… it’s this choice to empower someone else to have the possibility to hurt you, but also to give you so much joy.

And I believe that in order to have healthy relationships with those that you love, you must understand that love isn’t perfect. In a loving relationship.. forgiveness is always going to be there.

It’s amazing really… love is worth the hurt that can come with it. I really believe that. Love makes it all worth it.

There’s an empty lot where my house once stood.
I ran.. like I always knew I would.

Ran til my body was all worn down…
Bruised and broken
In a hospital gown

There’s an empty lot where my house once stood.
You still loved me… like I always knew you would

It took the breaking of my spirit
And everything I knew
It took thousands of miles,
A razor and…
Oh.. the things we do

And.. I know..
We carry the sins of our fathers
And… I know..
We carry the burdens of our mothers
The weight of all hurt on our shoulders

But the heavier the heart,
The stronger the will
A song of love
Will make our weary bodies still

Just some words that pushed themselves out last night.. fell asleep while writing it so just posting now…

I love working with kids.

I’m sensing sort of a dejavu feeling, so hopefully I haven’t already written a post like this!

I think that children have this different sense of joy that we almost lose as we grow older. My proof? The way that kids just run, jump, and skip around.. giggling furiously for no reason, big grins on their faces. The only adults you see doing that aren’t usually considered sane. Maybe the biggest difference is that kids can have that joy for really no reason… whereas when you see an estatic adult, there’s almost always a reason behind it.

Why is it that we lose that sense of joy? Does society just teach us how to show it in a different way? Or is it lost in the trials of growing up?

Another reason I love working with kids is that I’ve noticed that their love is much more pure. Everyone always talks about a parent’s unconditional love for his or her children… but a child will also love his or her parent unconditionally. It’s amazing. When I worked with kindergarteners, I was really hard on them and I held them to a pretty high standard. Yet I also knew how to be totally weird and goofy with them (one of the reasons that age is so fun is that they still think you’re cool when you act like that!) There were days, however, that I was really stressed out- whether they were stressing me out or things non-work related- and I would sometimes mess up and take it out on them. Yet they never, ever stopped loving me because of that. A child who is horribly abused still loves his/her abusive parent even.

So why is it so hard to love unconditionally as we grow older? Again, is it simply that we grow wise to the ways of the world and see how unconditional love isn’t always very self-preserving?

It’s interesting…

Love is real.

So.. my blog is called learning to live… I started it with the idea of writing about my experiences while going through this.. “thing.” I wanted to write about building my new “foundation.”

I’ve definitely alluded to it before, but I think the first block I want to lay as my foundation is love.

I know.. I know, it’s cliche. But it’s so true.

To love.. and be loved.

There’s this picture of my family- all seven of us. We are in the front of the church my dad was a pastor at in the UP. I’m only maybe a year old. I’m sitting on this folding chair, a serious look on my face. The best part is the story behind it. Apparently when they took the picture my dad was supposed to be holding my twin and my mom was supposed to be holding me, but I saw one of my older siblings sitting in a chair and I insisted that I needed to be in a chair too.

See, by nature, I’m so independent.. I always have been.

No one else can go through this thing for me. No one else can magically make things better.

But honestly, if I had to do it on my own, I don’t know if I could.

I’ve been missing my old roommates. Two of the best friends I’ve ever had. I’ve been crying because I miss how much fun we had together, and I know that things will never be exactly like they were before. But you know what? I think it’s part of the healing process. For months I pushed them away and didn’t let myself think about it. I’m just now starting to let myself feel the pain of that. And as much as it hurts, it’s real… it’s a sadness that I really should feel. It’s human… and it’s okay.

Last night I played at open mic night. It was.. amazing. Sometimes when I’m playing, I can just sense that there are others in the room who get it. They just get it. I don’t know how else to explain it.. and for a few brief moments you are connected. That’s love.

And the guy I wrote about a while back. That’s still good- it’s really good. I feel like he’s my best friend. The best part of my day is when we hang out. Tonight we just watched comedy and played chess. I can see myself in the future with him, spending lazy days watching shows on National Geographic or going on walks, playing board games.. simple things. Got to keep it simple. He’s one of the best parts about being back in this town. He’s one of the best people I know.

Love is real. It doesn’t always make sense, but that’s what makes it so amazing. Love makes us do things we otherwise wouldn’t. Unconditional love is a miracle- I really believe that. There is no logic behind it, no evolutionary reason. Love makes us better than what we are. Love is.. more real than anything else I know.