“It’ll Never Be Easy”

I rolled up to the rental bike stand that I work at on the weekends and started setting things up. After I opened the register and pulled out all the rental bikes, I turned on some music, sat down on a bench, and started working on my homework.

After about an hour I got bored, so I took a lap around the stand on one of our bikes. I chatted with a friend and reviewed my calendar for the next month or so. Finally, a couple took a pit stop at the pavilion where the stand is located.

We went through the normal formalities of small talk and I asked them where they were coming from. They said they came from a few towns over and were trying to hit twenty-five miles. I continued to work on my homework and they chatted about where to ride next. I decided to interrupt their conversation with a question: “How long have you two been married and when did you know that you wanted to settle down [with each other]?”

The woman smiled and said she would have to take a minute to think back that far. The husband chuckled and started talking about marriage in general and said, “Well, it’ll never be easy, I’ll tell you that.” His wife followed with, “It’s more of the commitment to each other and the vows you make to each other. The things that annoy you about him, are those things you can live with?”

Of course, both of these individuals presumed me to be straight, so reference to a possible man in my life that I was thinking about marrying was definitely happening. I didn’t bother to correct them.

Her last bit of advice was that sharing the same religious values might be helpful; she said she and her husband are both Christians and that foundation has helped them a lot.

I thanked them for the conversation and wished them a good ride. As they were leaving, the woman paused, looked back at me, and said, “Good luck with your decision.” I said thank you and laughed because I hadn’t mentioned anything about me struggling to make a decision.

For Me, A Big [and difficult] Decision

Ever since I can remember I have been involved in extracurricular activities in school as well as additional hobbies outside of school.

Between 1st and 12th grade, I remember being enrolled or a member of gymnastics, dance, soccer, Concert Band, Marching Band, Environmental club, Science Olympiad, Gay-Straight Alliance, German club, and a sort of anti-genocide/genocide awareness club. Starting in 10th grade, I also started working after school and after marching band practice.

At age 15, I started juggling school from 7am-3:45pm, marching band practice from 4:30pm-6:30pm, and when I didn’t have marching band, I would instead go to work from 5pm to 10pm. In between those three activities, I tried to hang out with friends and family, but it was a lot.

It’s seven and a half years later, and I’ve never slowed down since then. Today, I am enrolled as a full-time student with 6 classes, I hold a 35hr/week job, and I commit to working weekends at my uncle’s bike shop, as well as dog-sit/house-sit for my grandma when needed. Among all of these activities, I am also trying to make time for family and friends, as well as a new person in my life who is very special and important to me.

Yesterday, for the first time, I was told that I didn’t have to deliberately put such a heavy load on my schedule. When it comes to family and friends, I think they see me somewhat as invincible- and I think I tricked myself into believing that as well. Sure, I can put all this on my plate and I can get through it- but at what cost?

So, after my meeting with my (1,000th??!!!?) advisor next Monday, I will formally withdraw from my Marketing class. It’s not a difficult class, but it has added a lot of extra “stuff”. I will also be telling my grandmother that I cannot dog-sit/house sit in October; the drive from her house to school and my work is too much to do for one week. When I am at her house, it also requires me to work more from home since I have a dog to take care of, and that isn’t always ideal. Lastly, I will probably tell my uncle that there are a few Saturdays that I cannot work due to school.

The main point here is that I don’t know how to slow down. I don’t know how to say no to family. I don’t know how to budget my time so that it involves leisure and fun. I don’t know how to make myself accept that I am, in fact, not invincible, and that I don’t need to put myself through this all the freaking time.

So, I’m figuring this out. I’m going to do my best to put what I learned in therapy to use. I’m going to learn how to not be so hard on myself. I’m going to learn how to budget “fun” into my schedule and make it mandatory. I need to accept that saying no does not translate into being weak.

It’s a tough habit to break, but here’s to slowing the fuck down.

An Update

Approximately 10 days ago I told Chelsea that the next time I introduce her to someone, I would like to use the word “girlfriend”. It went over well- not that I thought it wouldn’t.

To say that I really like this woman is an understatement and it still freaks me out that my emotional attachment has grown to this extremity this rapidly. It also comforts me, though.

When I am with her, I feel at home. I feel calm. I feel content. I feel happy.

While I sit in the whirlwind that is my life as of current, I can look at her and feel grounded. I know it’s early, but as I look at the chaos that will inevitably continue to ensue, I still see her in that future.

I have a difficult time believing in fate and destiny. I also have a difficult time in the whole “meant to be” concept. I am a strong believer in making your own luck. Well, it seems that all of those things combined themselves 2 months ago. A few weeks before meeting Chelsea, I was doing extensive research on the Law of Attraction. I have friends who swear by it and there are plenty of people online who vouch for it as well. It seemed silly to me. However, I felt that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I chose a mantra, if you will, and repeated it every morning for 60 seconds for just a few days. I don’t remember the exact words, but I know that it involved attracting good people and good energy. At this time, I was also in the middle of therapy, which was going well. I had a new mindset on life in general as well as on my own life and was ready to introduce something good into my life.

And then I met Chelsea.

And then I fell in love.

And now I’m sharing this story with you.

Some Days Are More Clear Than Others

I’m currently at my uncle’s rental bike stand in Middle-of-Nowhere, GA. It’s hot and I am beyond bored, but as I look out of the window of my stand, the scene in front of me looks so incredibly clear, like it’s been sharpened in photoshop.

Sometimes I wear glasses, but I prefer contacts because I feel that I don’t always see the world as it truly is with glasses. My glasses also have a slight yellow tint, so the color is off to me.

There is a church group at the start of the bike trail handing out free water. I wouldn’t mind their presence so much if they were quieter. There is one young girl in particular who is yelling very aggressively. I commend her enthusiasm, but I think people are starting to take the water out of fear rather than out of gratitude and thirst.

Post Malone has a new album out and I love it. That’s all.

Family: Grandpas

I have 6 grandparents. 5 are still alive. I am related by blood to 3 of them. I’ve never actually met my mother’s biological father. He left when she was a baby and her mother remarried a wonderful man. I know that my mom’s bio dad was a dick for leaving, but I still wonder what he looks like and what he’s like.

My dad’s dad’s dad (my great-grandfather), I’m told, was somewhat of an ass. He wasn’t always very nice. His name is Frank. I’ve seen pictures of him and I can’t help but wonder if I would’ve liked talking to him.

Great Grandpa Frank

I vaguely remember my mom’s mom’s parents. They died when I was in elementary school. My great-grandfather’s name was Adolf. When he died and we went through his stuff, we discovered that he had a VERY extensive menu collection. His eyes were blue. He had a mustache. I remember liking him.

The first (and only) grandparent that I have lost died on January 9, 2018. He was my Grandpa Wayne. He was well over 6 feet and his head was very large.

This is me and my Grandpa Wayne, March 1997.

He died because he contracted pneumonia after going through extensive chemo treatments. Unfortunately, I was in Germany when he died, so I was unable to say goodbye and attend the service or the burial. I’ve actually never been to his grave and that is because I’m not sure that I’m ready.

There are many things that I would’ve liked to ask him, so I try to make a point of seeing and talking with the grandparents that are still alive. My Grandpa Wayne was a no bullshit kind of man. He always told me to eat protein and to cut my hair (he hated long hair). He was a rock for my Grandma and I can see that things have been very difficult for her since his passing.

To wrap this post up, I miss family that I never met. I miss family I didn’t know very long or very well. I miss family that I’ve lost. Grief and sadness are difficult emotions for me, so I never quite know how to process these thoughts, but I acknowledge their existences.

Exercise/Exposure Therapy Day 1

Yesterday was my first time participating in exercise and exposure therapy. We worked on desensitization, mindfulness, and focusing on my breathing at a slow walk up a small incline.

A little background: I do not have asthma. I am as healthy as I currently can be. When I’m having a panic attack, my heart rate, breathing, and adrenaline are of the same levels as if I was running from a burning building. It’s a false alarm in my head. So, when I try to actually run for fun or for exercise, my brain thinks it’s in panic mode because my heart rate, breathing, and adrenaline automatically shoot up the same way they do when my anxiety is at its peak. It’s not fun.

So, the past 10 years I have avoided long distance running and physical activities that might send me into an attack and then into an unconscious state (fainting). It’s frustrating because I love hiking, team sports, marching band, running with my dogs, and so much more; I haven’t felt like I can 100% participate in a long time and that’s what I’m trying to get over through this new type of therapy.

My therapist did say that while exercise therapy is not new to him, he has never treated someone like me with it. Normally, he uses it for people with anger management issues, couples that come to therapy to yell at each other, or people who have body image issues.

I came to therapy yesterday ready to run, but we didn’t get over 2 mph. He said the first session is only about the initial exposure. Next session we might kick it up, but the goal is not to go as fast as we can. The focus of this therapy is getting my heart rate up and then back down without jacking up my breathing. It’s about [not purposely] sending me into panic mode, handling it, and then returning to “normal”. It’s scary, but also exciting.

Time Management

Image result for this is fine gif

The gif that you see above is accurate to my current life situation. I just started school again and I am taking 6 classes. 2 are online, 2 are lectures, and 2 are hybrids (partially online and partially on campus).

Starting September 4th, I will be dog-sitting and house-sitting for my grandmother who lives 30 minutes north of me. Also, for the entire months of September and October, I will work every weekend at my uncle’s rental bike stand. Monday through Friday, I work my regular day job.

Between everything I just mentioned above, I am also trying to attend my last few therapy session and maintain family relationships, platonic relationships, and a new romantic relationship.

If all of this sounds like a lot it’s because it totally is. I will admit that I probably should not have committed to working every weekend for the next two months. However, it is what it is and we’re here now.

In order to keep my life organized, I have 3 main calendars that I view. One is on my phone and that keeps me up to date on appointments and social events. I use the one on my laptop mainly for work and side jobs. The physical calendar/planner that I have is for school and a combination of everything. That sounds confusing, but it makes sense for me, I swear.

So, that’s an update on where I’m at. I hope everyone’s day is going well.

Closing the Sit Down Therapy Chapter

Last Thursday was my final session in sit down therapy. This week, I will begin exercise therapy. This particular session was bittersweet, but I really enjoyed it and I look forward to the next adventure.

It mostly consisted up a quick update, figuring out the date of the next session, lots of reflection, and some wrap up questions.

  1. Overall, how was therapy for you?
  2. What did you think of your therapist’s emotional responses and encouragement?
  3. What would you tell the you on your first therapy session?

I unexpectedly got choked up while answering one of the final questions and I would like to write about it here.

“What is something that you have learned about yourself since starting therapy?”

Initially, I didn’t actually have a significant answer to this question. I thought about how I learned more about my mental processes and how my anxiety reflects things I haven’t emotionally or mentally dealt with. I recalled retraining my brain to not go to the worst case scenario when feeling anxious. I also thought about how I had accepted that I feel emotions very strongly and that I am naturally someone who loves very deeply.

Then I had a concluding thought: I learned that it is possible for me to live the life I used to only dream of.

After I was diagnosed with GAD and PD, my opportunities and potential for adventure and happiness in life seemed to narrow. It’s been 10 years and the latter statement became something in my life that I simply accepted. I accepted that I would just not be able to do everything that I dreamed of because of my diagnoses.

When people look at my life, they see a wide range of travels and adventure. When people meet me, they see confidence, spirit, and drive. If you were to look at my resume, you might also be fooled. I’m not saying that I haven’t lived a wonderful life, because, trust me, I have. It’s been freaking amazing and I’ve enjoyed everything. I don’t take anything for granted. What I’m saying is that there have been tiny obstacles and various plans that I have either altered or discarded due to my fears.

I was settling on living a life [for the rest of my life] that my anxiety had control over. Sure, I make the initial plans, but my anxiety has always determined whether or not those are carried out. If they are carried out, trust that they have been amended.

Since starting therapy, it has come to my attention that I don’t have to plan my life around my anxiety. I don’t have to modify my plans. I don’t have to cancel my social obligations. I don’t have to kill my dreams.

When I started therapy, I made a decision to tackle my anxiety without medication. My therapist has mentioned that he is proud of me for accomplishing what I have without medication, but I don’t see the significance. I think those who choose to take medication are not weak and I don’t think that those who choose not to take medication are stronger. I think both choices are difficult in their own ways.

With all of this being said, starting therapy back in May was the best decision I’ve made for myself in a long time. Because of the past 4 months, I am now able to see my future in a new light. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared anymore, but I do think I’m better equipped to tackle what’s to come. Of course, I think I will be even more confident once I go through exercise therapy. Getting my body in line with the changes my mind has gone through will be the next to step to mental liberation. More to come!

Easy to Get, Hard to Keep

The title of this post is one of the ways of how I would describe myself in romantic relationships/interactions. I have a long history of being the heartbreaker in relationships even if I was the one who initially sought out the other person.

I don’t know if there is one specific reason as to why I always am the person who ends things. Without insulting the people that I have been with, I think that maybe I got bored. I also know that I oftentimes got annoyed.

I have always felt like I was the more “mentally stable” person in the relationship. The first few people I dated has issues they did not want to address. The last person I dated took an initiative to better themselves for themselves. In both instances, I did feel like I was emotionally supporting both myself and the person I was dating. It was very draining.

This post isn’t meant to diss the people I’ve dated. I think it’s my fault for 1. getting involved and 2. letting things go as far as they did before I ended it. I also don’t wish to erase all the wonderful moments that happened in those previous relationships. While they were very complex, they all had simple moments of joy and love scattered throughout.

The main difference I have noticed within myself now and the me from back then is a willingness to be more vulnerable because it feels safe to do so. Because the woman that I am currently dating is in a mentally secure place, I feel okay to voice even the most minuscule of complaints or concerns. Before, I felt like I couldn’t mention any sort of “hardship” to my partner because it was always so incomparable to what they were experiencing.

I normally feel the urge to end things rather quickly in relationships, but I suppress the action and stay for the sake of being loyal and giving the whole thing a true try. So far, I have not felt this with Chelsea. I don’t want our time to end. I don’t want to run from this.

So, in conclusion, I feel that I have entered a very healthy relationship and I look forward to seeing how it continues on.

What’s the “right amount of time” anyway?

Many articles, people, and even licensed therapists recommend to wait at least 3 months after meeting/dating someone to put a label on the relationship. I, too, have followed this rule in my previous relationships, but this one feels quite different.

After having only known her for 3 weeks, I was ready to call her mine. I’m not normally so bold, but this just felt SO different and so right.

Well, it’s been 6 weeks now, and I have restrained myself from bringing up the conversation. I’ve decided to wait another 2 weeks. Maybe 3. My heart is sure, but my mind is still cautious. I also want to be respectful and cautious of her emotions and feelings towards that.

I had a long conversation with a friend about what I’m currently feeling towards Chelsea and she told me to “jump in”. She knows how cautious and how guarded I normally am, so my enthusiasm and quick attraction/attachment to this person was quite out of the ordinary for me.

As you all know, I have also been in therapy and that has also given me the courage to live my life more vulnerably- especially when it comes to love. I haven’t had the best examples of romantic love (my parents and my own relationships were not ideal exemplifications). When I met Chelsea, everything about her felt so foreign (in only the best of ways), it was like a lightbulb went off, “Oh, THIS is what it’s supposed to feel like!”

So, currently, things are still going really great. I’m so incredibly happy when Chelsea and I spend time together. I feel like I’m being 100% my authentic self and I don’t have to “act” or fake anything. It’s truly fantastic.