Putting My Dreams On Hold?

I was talking with a friend yesterday about the feeling of being caught between travel dreams and a good job (or meeting someone and settling down).

Long story short, my friend Blaire had plans to go on a month long trip to Europe with her sister this summer. Afterwards, she planned on joining another lengthy volunteer program or homesteading or just jumping in her car and driving across the US.

But she met someone in the first program she was in in 2018 and they now live together in Indiana. They both work and they’re both highly considering attending college after having not been in school for almost 2 years.

However, Blaire still has major travel dreams and doesn’t want to tuck everything under the rug just because she fell in love.

Additionally, she also fears finding an amazing job that won’t let her hit pause to travel every now and again. She hates feeling tied down and is concerned that a “normal” job will do that. In a sense, the relationship has tied her down as well, but she confessed that she is 100% okay with that at this point- she and her partner fit really well together and she loves coming home to her.

I told Blaire that my current job might be more of a long-term situation than I initially thought; however, I wasn’t concerned about not being able to travel because there are opportunities to travel through my company. They’re also just super flexible about all of their employees’ schedules and encourage travel and “you-time”.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any concerns about not being able to travel as extensively as I’d planned prior to getting into my current relationship. There were moments of concern, yes, but after falling utterly and completely in love with Chelsea, I no longer wanted to travel with anyone but her.

One day, I hope we can take an extended trip (6 months-1 year), but, for now, I’m okay with mini trips scattered throughout the year. In fact, we’re taking our first trip together to North Georgia in about 3 weeks!

Are any of you experiencing worry about putting dreams on hold because of a really good job or because of a relationship? Share them with me!

Correcting Pronouns

So, my girlfriend gets mistaken as a guy sometimes, especially if she’s wearing a jacket or if she’s in a low-light restaurant. I hadn’t experienced her being misgendered until a few weeks ago at a German event in my hometown.

When the waitress asked, “What can I get for you, sir” I was quick to lean over and say, “SHE will have the Schweinebraten.”

Now, there will be different reactions from you all to me doing that, I’m sure. Some people might applaud me for “having her back”. Others might tell me I’m out of line and need to let her speak for herself. However, my reason for correcting her pronouns is actually for a very selfish reason.

I corrected her pronouns because I wanted the waitress to know that I was a lesbian. That sounds so silly, but let me explain.

I spent years becoming completely comfortable with myself and my sexuality. I pushed through internalized homophobia, as well as homophic behaviors and comments from “friends”, family, and people who I thought were on my side.

I came to realize that I was going to be the only person who’s opinion mattered when it came to who I was. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be gay because it is only because of my being gay that I am as confident as I am. I wouldn’t have been this strong without having gone through what I went through.

And, sometimes, it felt like I was going through Hell. And I’m not giving all that up just to be perceived as straight at a restaurant.

On a last note, I don’t always “look gay”. I can pass as straight, no problem. I think femme lesbian visibility is so important and I miss chances to be seen as such when I don’t correct my girlfriend’s pronouns when we’re in public.

I want other young lesbians to not be assumed as being straight and I want them to see that you can be gay and still wear dresses. I rely on my same sex relationship [and my “gay looking” girlfriend] to make my gayness known.

Some people are still not going to understand, and that’s fine. I should also note that I’ve spoken with my girlfriend about this and she will let me know if she ever doesn’t want her pronouns corrected or if she’d rather do it herself.

With that, I leave you all. Have a lovely night!

An Update on an Experiment I’ve Been Doing With Myself:

I stopped taking birth control about 2 months ago because I wanted to see if my body and mind would react differently to stressors and triggers of my anxiety.

I wish I could say that I’ve noticed a significant difference, but I haven’t. The only difference I’ve noticed are the mad cramps and back pain that accompany my period.

Funny enough, sometimes the cramps are so bad that my mind can think about nothing else- panic attacks included- so maybe that’s a plus, but overall, I don’t think it’s worth it to stop taking birth control.

I can only speak for myself; my cramps are quite bad and I often call out of work because of them, so I started taking birth control and my problems were solved. Of course, it took about 3 different types of birth control and a LOT of bleeding to find the one that works best with my body, but it was also well worth it.

So, here I am on my second period since stopping birth control and I think my time off of birth control is coming to an end. For me, I don’t think birth control has a significant hand in my anxiety.

Vocalizing an Unfamiliar Fear

My girlfriend vocalized a fear she had last night that I’ve been pondering myself for weeks now: The simple fear of losing your partner. I suppose it doesn’t really matter in what sense- loss is loss.

I’ve confessed to this blog, as well as to my girlfriend, that I’ve never feared losing a partner. I don’t believe it’s because I didn’t have feelings for them, but I do think it’s because I didn’t let my feelings get as deep as they undeniably are now.

When previous partners talked about not knowing what they’d do if we broke up or if something tragic happened to me, I really didn’t relate. Sure, I’d be sad and mourn them/the relationship; however, I had absolutely no doubt that I’d be back doing my same old thing in no time.

I’ve always had a way of treating unfortunate events in a very logical manner and that allows me to move on very quickly. I’m not so sure that I could deal with the loss of Chelsea so logically.

Lukas Graham has a lovely song out: Love Someone. I heard it for the first time months ago- before meeting Chelsea. It’s a beautiful tune, but there were lyrics that I heard that I absolutely couldn’t relate to. I will even go as far as to say that I thought they were stupid.

“If you love someone

And you’re not afraid to lose ’em

You probably never loved someone like I do”

Fast forward many feelings later, I, for the first time in my life, am scared to lose someone in the way that this song refers.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this just feels different. It feels complete. It feels right. It feels like home. She feels like home.

A First Attempt

Today will mark the first day that I will exercise after having started exercise/exposure therapy. The plan is to stretch and use the treadmill for a total of 30 minutes all-together.

When I started exposure therapy a few months ago, my therapist began by having me only step on the treadmill. The purpose of this was to get used to just being on it and physically touching it. Previously, the mere thought of exercise sent me into a breathing panic because I anticipated the inevitable suffocation sensation before the real exercise even started. The brain is very powerful.

Sessions following only involved walking at a slight incline at a pretty slow pace- slower than my normal walking speed. Throughout my session, my therapist asked me to name 3 things I was thankful/grateful for. He asked me what my intention was. He asked me to verbally express mindfulness. When the session came to an end, he asked me to step in front of the mirror and talk to myself. He asked me how I felt, what I felt, and what did I have to say to the person starring back at me.

In the more recent sessions, we have picked up speed. My therapist still asks me to name the things that I am grateful for; however, he has also added in the following tasks:

  • ABCs
  • ABCs backwards
  • Count to 100
  • Count backwards from 100

The purpose of these tasks is distraction. The goal is to have my brain so focused on letters and numbers that it has no time to think or panic about the increased heart-rate. For the most part, this does work.

The last session I had, I went the fastest I had gone yet. There was also less distraction and more of me controlling what I was saying/doing/thinking. My therapist actually played marching band music in order to cause a disturbance, but hearing marching band music has never been a trigger, so I enjoyed it. We ended the session with 30 jumping jacks.

At the end of that last session, my therapist gave me permission to venture out on my own and give exercising on my own time a go. I’ve decided to make today my first day.

My intentions for today are to just do it and have no expectations. I forgive myself in advance if I have difficulty getting out of my head. I forgive myself in advance if I have a panic attack. I give myself a high-five for making it this far and not giving up.

Searching for Chaos

I’ll get right to the point: My romantic relationship that I am currently in is going very well. Chelsea and I just moved in together and I’ve even told conservative family members about us. She makes me feel like I’ve got nothing to lose by being 100% myself.

We’ve been seeing each other for about 3.5 months and this is right about the point where things start to look questionable (I’m speaking about my past dating experiences). Three months always seems like the perfect time for people to give up the “I’ve got my shit together” act and then things go south from there.

I have not had this suspicion in this relationship. Like I said before, things have been going great.

This scares me.

My body and brain are just used to chaos. I’m used to chaos at work (this has changed since my new job), at school (mainly concerning class-load (my fault)), with family (it’s complicated), with friends (I am not involved in it, I just am surrounded by it), and, unfortunately, my romantic relationships have not been absent from chaos either.

Over the years, I’ve developed mad planning strategies to help me navigate my own busy life. In the cracks of free time, I was doing household things, school things, or helping friends or current romantic partner through their issues- all the while, of course, I was ignoring my own need for peace, quiet, and some time to deal with anxiety and past events.

Right here, right now, I am in the best mental health I’ve ever been. I can say that without doubt. But old habits die hard and my body is in defense mode in this current relationship because it just can’t be real. Or can it?

My fear is that being in a healthy and “normal” relationship will start to seem so foreign to me that I will unconsciously search for reasons to doubt it and an out in order to avoid repeating past experiences.

I don’t see red flags. Things are great. I am happy. I am so happy. I don’t want this to end. I don’t want my brain to get weird. In order to combat this particular fear, I’ve already discussed it with Chelsea, my therapist, and I will continue to check in with myself and make sure that I am not just creating chaos to have chaos.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy almost Halloween!

Therapy is coming to an end.

My first therapy session was 166 days ago. I have had about 20 sessions. I started in sit-down therapy, a variation of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and I shifted to exposure/exercise therapy about 7 weeks ago.

While I came to therapy on my own accord, I was still hesitant to fully expose myself to a stranger. I knew that I needed and wanted help, but because so much of the process was unknown, I was nervous and withholding.

I remember how uncomfortable I was when talking about difficult times and then feeling my eyes water. I remember how I started to sweat when my voice started to shake. I remember adverting my eyes to the floor and pinching my thigh with my fingers to distract myself from the emotions that were bubbling up.

4 weeks ago, I cried my eyes out in front of a mirror in the downstairs gym during a session with my therapist. I didn’t love it, but I was more accepting of my tears and the [good] reasons behind them.

By the end of 2019, I will be done with therapy. It feels good. The progress that I’ve made was not recognizable overnight; my progress pops up randomly throughout my days in between all the little tasks I do. It’s a slow crawl towards mental liberation, but the [long] journey has been well worth it.

Dating with Intent

I did not come up with the title of the post. My friend told me about her recent dating experience and the topic of “taking dating more seriously” came up. We didn’t like that “title”, so she suggested “dating with intent”.

So, in regards to my friend, she explained that during her early college years she was partying, dating around, and not very focused on long term relationships/dating. Fast forward 5 years and she is now taking dating more seriously; she’s putting more thought into who she goes out with and she’s looking for someone to spend years with, not one or two nights.

I feel like I experienced a similar shift recently. I haven’t done a lot of short term dating. In fact, I’ve only dated one person for short term: 3 months. All other relationships have been 6 months- 2 years in length. However, I feel like my mindset through all of these was very scattered.

I’ve addressed my commitment issues before. In addition to those, I also had feelings of just not wanting to be in something long term. I just didn’t want it, so why did I keep falling into these things? I don’t have an answer for that.

My point is that even though I was in [mostly happy] long term relationships, I didn’t initially go into them wanting that. And, as the relationship progressed, I often found myself wanting to exit the situation for a variety of reasons. My body and mind is always go, go, go, and on to the next.

I’m not sure when the change in mindset or desires happens for people, but I think my own brain experienced a shift in the last 6 months. What I’m referring to is the “I wanna run around” mindset versus the “I want to settle down” mindset.

All of sudden, following the whirlwind that was my AmeriCorps NCCC experience, starting therapy, moving into a new house, starting a new job, and resuming my studies, I had the sudden and strong craving for stability and security.

I had moved countless times during 2018. After moving back home, I experienced daily anxiety and panic attacks caused by the simplest things. I entered a new work environment and stepped onto a changed university campus. And I kept up with it all, but I was tired. As the weeks went on, I accepted even more tasks and activities into my schedule, but it was exhausting.

Unexpectedly, I longed to slow down. I didn’t know how (that’s something I’m still working on), but I knew I needed to for my own mental and physical well-being. With this new feeling also came a daydream of coming home after work to a cozy house and to an unknown, blurry-faced, long-term partner.

Don’t ask me when, why, or how, but somewhere between May, June, and starting therapy, I was no longer interested running solo or running away.

Of course, those who read my blog know that I have since found a beautiful and amazing partner who is making all of my daydreaming come true. I feel differently within myself when I am with her and I think a large part of my current mindset is thanks to therapy. I also think there’s the natural maturity and growing older that makes people crave security. Whatever it was, I’m happy it happened.

Finally calling my place of sleep “home”.

Since 2015, I have lived in the follow places:

  • Barnesville, Georgia (4-5 months)
  • Another Small Town, Georgia (6-8 months)
  • Germany (6 months)
  • Vicksburg, Mississippi (on and off for 1 week to 1 month)
  • Punta Gorda, Florida (1 month)
  • New Bern & Willard, North Carolina (1 month)
  • Ocracoke Island, North Carolina (2 weeks)
  • Brandenburg, Kentucky (2 months)
  • Memphis & Millington, Tennessee (1 month)
  • Trenton, New Jersey (1 month)
  • Atlanta, GA (5 months)

I just moved into my 11th place with my girlfriend. Our lease is for 13 months, so I will finally be somewhere for at least 1 year. Hopefully, everything goes well and I’ll want to renew my lease and this place can be a more permanent home for a while.

Home.

When I say “home” I think of “hometown”- my mother’s house- because that was the last place that I stayed at for years at a time. My second “home” would be in Germany. However, currently, I feel like “home”, for me, is quite scattered. I have my [few] belongings in 5 different places right now. My mattress and bed frame is still at my old place (I hope to move this on Friday, woohoo!). Most of my belongings are at the new apartment. There are select items in my girlfriend’s apartment. I have boxes both in my dad’s basement and in my mama’s garage.

Home.

When I envision my home, all I can picture is a tidy kitchen to bake in and a big bed filled with blankets and pillows to sleep in. Living rooms, offices, and entertainment rooms are nice, but I think food and coziness really make a home.

Home.

I think the most disappointing thing about my last dwelling was that I couldn’t decorate the way I wanted. It also didn’t help that it felt like I was the only person doing any chores. I think I would’ve felt more “at home” had I been able to store all of my things somewhere other than my 10’x10′ room and had my roommates contributed more to keeping the house clean and tidy.

Home.

So, here I am. I have a place [almost] all to myself (but don’t worry, I don’t mind). The woman I live with is someone I share similar values with. We’re both on the cleaner and more organized side of the spectrum. We both enjoy cooking and baking. She’s also the person I love to wake up next to every morning. I am very excited and hopeful for this new chapter of my life.

Home.

At 18, when I moved out for the first time, I had a vision of what I thought moving out would be like. I saw independence, freedom, and endless opportunity. I won’t lie: what I got was loneliness, confusion, and anxiety. I did find more secure places both within myself and in my physical surroundings, but my time at my various “homes” was always temporary and short-lived.

Home.

This apartment feels like I’ve hit a new high in my life. It feels like a step forward and up rather than a step back or even a step forward, but on flat ground. It’s a good feeling.

It took me 4.5 years longer than I thought it would, but I finally feel like I’m settling into my life and into myself. I look forward to taking you all along on this new ride.

Do you really know, though?

EDIT: I actually wrote this in a month ago and hit pause. I figured I should upload it.

I’ve been reading articles for weeks now about other people’s experiences with “finding their person” and the whole “when you know, you know” thing. I started researching this topic because I felt crazy and doubtful that this phenomena could ever happen to me, yet what I felt was what these people described: a silent knowing that this person just is the person you want to wake up next to every single day for the rest of your life.

My friends and family would not be quick to describe me as spontaneous or “quick-to-trust-others”. I pride myself at being the most logical, analytical, and critical person I know. I plan EVERYTHING. I have four planners and calendars, as well as the calendars on my phone and laptop. I structure my days and weeks very carefully and strategically. I rely on my gut feeling a lot, but I back it up with good ole fashioned logic.

I started therapy in May of this year, 2019. Since then, my therapist has opened me up to relying on my logic less and trusting my heart more. Together, we broke down a lot of walls I had built up for myself for my own comfort and . I think I’m very open with friends, but I am not as open or as accepting to myself. That has changed.

I believe it is only because of therapy and my cooperation with the process that I was able to experience the feelings I felt towards Chelsea in late July and be okay with them.

When I met Chelsea, I had been in therapy for about 3 months. I accomplished a lot in those three months. When I interacted with her for the first time, I was nervous, but also excited and sure of my[new]self. I found that I didn’t have to filter myself. I didn’t feel pressured to act a certain way. I only hoped she enjoyed talking to me as much as I enjoyed talking and listening to her.

I walked away from the first date wishing I had kissed her; however, I also didn’t want to scare her, so maybe that was a good call on my part. By the second date, however, I was as good as hooked. And I felt something I hadn’t before.

The feeling was a mix of relief, security, excitement, and a little bit of disbelief and suspicion.

So, I don’t know what this is. I don’t understand it. I don’t know why now, why me, why this. I know nothing and I will be of no help to any of you trying to figure this out. I do apologize for that inconvenience.

The only thing I can say is that maybe you have to be in the appropriate and healthy headspace in order to allow yourself to experience things you thought you were previously undeserving of.

I had accepted that the kind of love I wanted just wasn’t going to be in the cards for me; however, three months of therapy later and I found myself in what currently seems like the healthiest and most promising partnership I’ve ever experienced.