My car was stolen a week ago today, while visiting my friend. The plan was to stay the night because the drive home after my part-time job was over an hour and it was late when I’d gotten off. I had to work the next afternoon, so I wanted to save gas. I’ve imagined my car being broken into, but never taken from me. To realize that you were being watched is frightening and I keep asking myself “what if I had stayed in the car a little longer to charge my phone”. But the what if’s don’t mean as much as the scenes that actually play out. I had a panic attack, I was devastated. Not only was my car gone, but so was my phone, and cash that I’d stashed in the center console. I was in transition to relocate, so I had all my shoes except two pairs, stored in the trunk. My mic stand and cords. A suitcase full of clothing , & other miscellaneous items.

I was in a distraught and in a stupor and fell asleep that morning around 4:30 AM. Everything that followed that early morning victimization, was the complete opposite of tragic. My father sprang into action to get my mobile again. I posted the link to my Paypal and Cashapp and I received notification after notification regarding their financial support. I was in tears. I received messages of comfort and encouragement. So many private messages asking “How can I help?” I was moved in a way that is bringing me to tears as I write this. I wrote previously about often feeling alone and disconnected. I haven’t had a depressive episode since I wrote that blog post and I could’ve easily slipped into despair had it not been for the way that I so beautifully supported. I am so grateful.

This ordeal strengthened my belief that adversity reinforces gratitude. I don’t feel entitled to anyone’s help, but I’ve come to accept that I deserve it. The Universe provides me with people who love and care for me because I deserve to be loved and cared for because I love and care. I’m thankful for such an amazing support system.

I’m writing this so that it’s easy to revisit the feeling. So that I remember to always practice gratitude. Less complaints and more solutions. I was a tiny little bug trapped in a spiders web and the strength of my friends gave me strength to fight my out of what could’ve been a spiral of darkness.

The ordeal isn’t completely over yet, I still have to retrieve the car, which was reported as totaled, and make my way to my relocation destination, but I am encouraged. The Universe always provides.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the idea of “living my best life” and I noted how much I’ve deprived myself of simple pleasures. I have a habit of adjusting to depravity rather than ailing it. I deprive myself of the things that I want to accommodate my circumstances.

I’ve come to realize that it isn’t noble. That living my best life means enriching it in all ways, even the ones that may seem overtly superficial. I like getting my nails done, but I haven’t in about two years. I like shopping. I enjoy enjoying the fruits of my labor and I have to remove the guilt that I’ve developed because I’ve convinced myself that those tiny treats don’t support my depth.

I’ve done it in relationships, adjusting what I know I need to fit what other people are able/willing to give. The more I grow, the more I’m beginning to understand and respect all aspects of the person that I am. I’m recognizing the importance of balance; I can be compromising but that should never exclude my needs.

Truly living one’s best life isn’t limited to partying on the weekends, traveling, and always being booked. It extends to being satiated spiritually and often the smallest tribute to ourselves can set our spirits aglow. That fire becomes cyclic and then we’re able to set other people’s spirit ablaze. So I have to put aside my own apprehension and learn to enjoy this human experience in all capacities.

I’ve always imagined love as an all-encompassing experience. That I’d be completely fulfilled. That whomever I chose would chose me & we would be enough for each other. It was always so romantic. I was a hopeless romantic

harp plays

I thought that the grandest gesture was sticking through all the unpleasant parts, even if it was at the expense of my dignity. I didn’t have the greatest examples of healthy love, so I begun to relive the stories I’d seen up close.

/harp

I fell in love for the first time and he impregnated his son’s mom again while we were together… Then in “love” with another: The Gravest Mistake. Then in LOVE with the HIM, whom many of my songs are inspired by, the sad parts, the sex parts, the passionate parts. So much went wrong and was wrong… and my heart was broken a million times. A billion, maybe.

Slowly, all the idealistic expectations started to peel away like skin, sunburnt. But instead of a healed epidermis, I grew a hardened, green coat of jade. I recognized it recently. I don’t believe in love the way that I used to. There’s a lot of cynicism in my language when my single-hood comes into question. I try to muffle the screams of the inherent, hard-wired desire for a partner out of fear. Fear of disappointment. Rejection. Fear of becoming too dependent and attached.

It’s the mark of optimism being marred by reality. The point where hope meets disappointment.

I suppose the turnaround comes from the realization that even though our expectations were not met with someone of old, it doesn’t mean that the possibly of a new ideals should be stifled. As long we are alive, we are growing and our may standards adjust accordingly. Or someone new may be better suited to give you what you need.

So the crumpled pages of love letters have the potential to set the tone for a new story. People say that the end of a relationship teaches you what you don’t want. That the people we have loved teach us how to better love ourselves, sometimes through their neglect, which makes us realize your worth, and sometimes via their affection for you. It’s all a way to learn yourself.

I’m a hypocrite.

The paragraph above is so true, but I don’t feel it for myself. It feels really natural to hold on to the parts that hurt the most. The pain becomes familiar and comfortable, so recalling the parts that felt good feels disloyal to the grief. I really want to feel hopeful again, but I honestly don’t right now. It sounds good on paper to tell the world to have an open heart, though we should, but everything in it’s time.

I’m practicing on myself until the alarm goes off.

#DoForLove

When I was younger, I thought that the world had to revolve around how I felt. Which also meant that the world had to cater to all of my whims. I began to see that part of myself in other people and realized how toxic and exhausting it is to be on the receiving end of that type of behavior. All the constant complaining and temper tantrums were results of an unseasoned mental state and of an arrogance that is inherent to youth. So I’ve had to adjust the way that I interact with people. That also means that I’ve had to learn emotional independence. While it’s great to talk things out and to openly express my disdain about whatever it is at the moment, I’ve learned to search for results on my own in order to preserve my relationships and to allow myself to grow on my own terms.

I’m not sure if I’m a real empath. I feel strong compassion for people. I care a LOT about how I make people feel. Other people’s suffering make me incredibly sad and it is natural for me to want to help. But I’ve began to notice that the threshold for carrying the weight of the world is shortening. I’m not as willing to be emotionally accommodating because I don’t want to be a landfill. You know, a place where garbage is stored. Far away landfills looks like hills or mountains and they are well kept but inside is discarded waste. I’ve discovered that it is important for me to establish those boundaries or else I will end up depleted.

I don’t want to be made up of the parts of people that they don’t want themselves, while my defective parts are buried under theirs, buried where I can’t reach them to fix them. I don’t want relationships with people who won’t help me tend my garden, but will eat from it. I’ve felt emotionally neglected for sometime and I’ve tried to compensate for the parts that I thought were missing by being a conduit for other people’s misery.

Self care has been a buzz phrase for a while now. I’ve come to realize that I have to limit access to the parts of myself that sacrifices my feelings for someone else’s. I am not a landfill. Maybe a recycling center LOL. I’ll always care about the world, but not at the cost of my peace.

I reside in my head. It is both a safe and terrifying place. I get to hug myself and get lost in possibilities and imagination and but I also get trapped in doubt and loud isolation. Compound that with what has become the social norm called social media and the result, unmanaged, can be toxic.

At our fingertips, is the ability to experience a small percentage of our peers’ lives. We get to see what they’re working on, where they’re booked, the applause they get from other voyeurs, and all of the successes. Hardly any of the moments when they trip and fall. So we want to hurry up and share our great moments, too, even if our endeavors aren’t ripe for picking yet. We get to see the celebration of love, ceremoniously; White gowns and unlimited bubbly, in and out of a glass. All of the joy seems magnified and a passerby deduces that there must be an exorbitant amount of joy in the lives of internet people because that’s what they’re sharing.

Man, I want that, too.

I think that most of us know by now that a lot of what we see is, again, a small percentage of people’s lives. That most of social media is based on highlighting the part of the story that is most interesting, the part that the individual wants to revisit but also wants everyone else to clap for in order to validate their joy and feed their ego. (Nothing is wrong with wanting validation, as long as the need is moderate and isn’t the driving force of your [my] actions).

I’m talented, too.

Even with that realization, the “bright lights” and white smiles can be hypnotizing. And when your own life feels like it’s not going well, the plastered joy in other people can either inspire you or cause misdirected resentment. I have to catch myself constantly. I’ve coveted the lives of people whom I do not know simply because the contrast on their Instagram photo is warm and inviting and the dress fits perfectly over her butt and the caption is eloquent and “Sheesh, she’s got a 1,000 likes” and “Damn, she seems like she’s in love.”

Since the advent of social media, there’s this low buzz of an I-have-a-good-life competition and a strong stench of narcissism, whether we acknowledge it or not. The picture that we see isn’t even on a large canvas or in high resolution but “objects appear larger in mirror”. When people say “it’s JUST social media”, I think that’s what they’re referring to. That it isn’t the “real world”, so the megabytes shouldn’t transfer to our cells. But it’s become such a huge part of our daily lives, especially for those whose livelihood is more or less, dependent upon whether people think that they’re interesting and talented.

Pay attention to me, what I have to say is meaningful… too

Then the result of a small amount of “likes”, which translates superficially to interest, damages your ego and image of yourself. It’s a dangerous game if we let these ideas of reality too deep into our lives. I’ve found myself trying to find solace in the company of memes and comment notifications and really the result of that has been an even deeper loneliness.

I’ve had to remind myself about myself. I’ve had to remind myself about the realities of life outside of this tiny screen of skin blurring and happiness curating. I’ve had to remind myself that the bigger picture isn’t in a picture or status. That my self improvement and success is not measured in “likes” and analytics, but in the healing of past traumas and the deliberate ambition to attain true happiness.

Gravesite

I haven’t been here in some time

It is too painful to visit this gravesite

But flowers in hand, I plead with glossy eyes

For forgiveness of my neglect

It’s been years

Of sweeping dirt under mat

It’s been years

Of rumors going around my mind that I am okay

I think I needed to see you, this way

Maybe to tell you that I’ve grown

How I can recall weights drooping my shoulders

& furrows in my brows

That I’ve bookmarked our chapter & revisited

Time & time again

But it’s been years

How is it now that I can find glory at your headstone?

Maybe I needed to tell you that I can breathe again

That the air became thinner during my ascent

That my lungs nearly collapsed

But I survived

It’s been years

You have hurt me for a lifetime

But I can now think your name and not wince

I’ve watered many-a-garden with my collected tears

And these flowers… I picked just for you

Last year was my first time seeing a therapist, a long overdue decision. I started to feel myself slipping away from myself. That was the deciding factor. I was living alone at the time, which has become my preference over the years and perhaps had/has a hand in my mental state. I slipped into a deep depression that felt unfamiliar and I felt unwell.

Talk sessions began. A psychiatrist recommended antidepressants and anxiety medication, which I was reluctant to agree to taking, along with talk therapy from my brand spanking new psychologist. But I didn’t give it a chance to “work”. I stopped taking the antidepressants and stopped going to my talk sessions. I got busy, I guess. When I’m busy, I don’t have time to slip into episodes.

Or so it always seems.

I couldn’t recognize that what I was feeling as child was anxiety. I recall laying awake at night, thinking about death. I was constantly worried and I always thought that someone was watching me. Fast forward to adulthood and it has manifested into more of the same, but with additional quirks. I’m easily startled, I go through bouts of irritability and anger. And lately, my breathing is affected… etcetera, etcetera. My anxiety feeds my depression until it finds it’s way to the surface. I’ve learned that it’s always lurking in the background. It’s cyclic. It isn’t a momentary sadness that can be alleviated with anecdotal Tumblr quotes.

I don’t talk to anyone about my sadness anymore, not in depth. I let it run its course for however long and tough it out. Subsequently wailing about loneliness and distancing myself from everyone. Thing is, I feel like I’ve reached the cap on complaints, so I don’t feel safe enough to really share with anyone anymore. It isn’t a reflection of my friends and family, but of me. I won’t allow myself to believe that anyone can understand my depths, so I share the surface. Even now I’m holding back…

I intend on going back to my psychologist. I want to be this amazing success story, despite and in spite of. Trying to get there feels like hiking up the steepest mountain while carrying a mountain. I’m writing this because I need to put it somewhere. While driving to Virginia last week, I did the same thing but as a voice recording, in hopes that one day soon I’ll revisit a place that feels foreign.