My Sister

For those of you that don’t know, I have a younger sister. She will be 21 this July. We aren’t distant, but I wouldn’t say that we are super close either. We are definitely closer now than when we were young children, though. The fact that we can eat together or be in the same room is huge progress.

I’m not sure when our relationship improved, but it was definitely post high school (2015ish). I wasn’t an angry teenager anymore and she had matured enough for me to feel like she wasn’t a baby anymore.

My sister and I are very different. but I have noticed more similarities as we’ve gotten older. I have always been a super introvert, and while she has become one more as she’s gotten older, she used to be quite extroverted. I suspect that a depressed and emotionally exhausted extrovert might present as an introvert, though.

She’s currently living in Florida with another person she was recently in a long relationship with. I don’t think they’re good for each other. When I was in a questionable relationship I wished that my mom or my sister would have said something about what they saw and felt. I see my sister now in what I see as an unhealthy relationship and I try to tell her what I wish she would have told me: this isn’t good for you and you need to leave. Fortunately, she is temporarily moving back to GA in July. We’ll see what happens.

My sister had difficulty with our parents. It wasn’t entirely her fault. Personalities were all over the place and everyone was always yelling and not actually listening to one another. I tried to stay out of it and only interfered when I was fed up.

She struggled with making trustworthy friends and I disliked most of them because they ended up treating her like trash. She made some unwise decisions over the years and her life in general seemed reckless. I didn’t know how to help, so I just always tried to be there when she felt like talking. I also made sure not to contribute to any internal issues I felt she had: comparing herself to me and putting me on what seemed like an unattainable pedestal.

School was easy for me. School was not easy for her. I had great luck with friends. She did not. I never had any body image issues and I rarely got shit from family (other than the “you need to eat a sandwich” comments). I would say that she was made fun of and ridiculed for the way she looked by people we cared about. Even when I was at my most frustrated and angry with her, I refused to stoop so low as to make fun of her for the things she was most insecure about.

Anyway, the point of this post was to share Noah Cyrus’ new song:

I think this song resonates with things my own sister may have been feeling when she was growing up. As soon as I heard this song I thought of her.

I know I didn’t encourage the comparisons between me and her, but I still feel guilty. I wish things had been easier for her and I wish we were closer and I could’ve been more of a friend, but it is what it is. I can’t change the past, but I will try my best to be there for her when she moves back home.

It seems that I am struggling.

I was telling my partner yesterday how I felt like I clean the dishes all the time- several times a day even, yet the dirty dishes continue to exist. While I was trying to voice this frustration, I felt my throat get a little tighter and my eyes get a little more wet.

I would say that ever since starting therapy exactly one year ago, I have been more uncontrollably emotional. That sounds far more dramatic than it actually is. Basically, instead of bottling things up, my body just naturally releases any anxiety, fear, or frustration, and, sometimes it is in the form of crying.

In therapy I discussed my constant need to be doing something. At the time that I began seeing my therapist, I had just gotten out of a program that had my attention 24/7 with no breaks- no joke. I went from that to having ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO. It was crazy. And I felt like I was going a little crazy too.

I immediately started looking for a new place to live, a new job, and I made sure that my class schedule for the upcoming semester was desirable. In between all that I made my best efforts to visit all the family and friends I hadn’t been able to regularly see before, during my service year.

Things got overwhelming, my body panicked, and I relied on therapy to get me through it. My therapist and I hit a lot of topics and they are all documented on this blog; you’ll just need to scroll back to maybe June of 2019. It was a lot.

This quarantine has been really stressful for me in regards to my mental health. While I enjoy being inside and away from people, I also love going out with my partner and I really like going to work and feeling like I did something productive that day. I find putting on jeans exhausting, but I like the way I look in them and it boosts my self-confidence.

I haven’t had the need to put on jeans to go anywhere. I haven’t been able to see the people I care about as much as I’d like. I also haven’t been working as many hours at work and my duties have slightly changed since the lockdown. Things are different in the world, but the way I measure my success and productivity is the same as it’s always been. I think this time has shown me that that’s a possible issue.

I know that I am more than my accomplishments. I know that simply doing a load of laundry is a productive activity. I know that not all progress is immediately visible.

But it’s hard.

I have decently high standards for myself and I’ve really been working on cutting myself some slack over the last year. Sometimes, though, I do get impatient and annoyed with the lack of tangible progress.

Regarding work, my hours have been cut in half and I was supposed to start working officially full-time by this point. My upcoming summer class is a math class and I purposely chose an on-campus day/time because I learn this subject best that way (I suck at math, big time!). My partner and I had travel plans and those were, of course, cancelled. I was also looking forward to exploring Atlanta more and trying new bars and restaurants; my girlfriend and I even agreed on a weekly date night where we try out only new restaurants on a list we created.

I also don’t do well with unexpected change. I suppose I do adapt rather quickly and I always get through it okay, but the immediate effects are always scatterbrained thoughts and mild panic.

So, yeah, things have been harder than I thought they’d be. It’s all good, though. I have an amazing partner and the weather is beautiful and I still have lots of things to look forward to. I wish us all the best for the remainder of 2020 and I’m optimistic that things will take a turn for the better.

In a bathroom in a 2 star hotel in Roanoke, Virginia.

I was just listening to Lady Antebellum’s new song, Ocean. It’s beautiful. It’s melody triggered a memory from earlier this year, maybe April. My team and I were driving from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Trenton, New Jersey and we were spending the first night in Roanoke, Virginia.

The hotel was by far the worst accommodations we had stayed at thus far. The first rooms we were given were smoking rooms and the bed sheets were wrinkled and had burn marks and holes in them. We got moved to non-smoking rooms, but the sheets didn’t look much better.

Anyway, I remember feeling so exhausted when we finally got to our rooms. We drove over 10 hours that day and I was behind the wheel for most of it. Being on campus the day and whole week prior was also a draining ordeal. My team wanted to go out for dinner soon, so we took turns showering beforehand.

When it was my turn, I entered the bathroom and took off my clothes. I stepped into the bathtub and turned the water on, it was already hot. I don’t remember much, but I remember just standing under the water and not having a thought in my head- I was too tired. And then I choked and had to slam my hand over my mouth to muffle my crying. It hit me out of nowhere and it hit me hard.

Like I said, I don’t remember much, but I do remember not being able to stop crying. My body had hit its limit. My chest and stomach hurt from all the heavy breathing and contracting. I know I was trying to be as quiet as possible and I worried about my eyes being bright red when stepping out.

Finally, once my body calmed down, I continued to stand under the hot water and think about what just happened.

I still don’t know. My best guess is that improper management of emotions leads to bottling up, and, of course, every bottle has a limit.

I worry sometimes that I still don’t know how to process grief and sadness, and sometimes anger. I don’t get angry often, the list of triggers is very short. But when I do, I don’t even know how to release those kinds of emotions. So I don’t. It doesn’t affect my daily life, but I worry that the type of breakdown I recalled above will be the result of me not handling my emotions as I should.

Therapy has helped and I know that I have to give myself permission to feel these things, and I am working on it, I promise. That’s a promise to myself.

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.

Overwhelming Thoughts

I don’t know if this post is going to come out making sense. I will do my best, but this could be a doozy.

Some people only fall in love with, date, and marry one person. Other people go through the same process with 20 different people. I haven’t met anyone who’s been married 20 times, but I’ve heard of 5-7 times, so that’s still a jump.

Many married people I know today (both old and young) got married in their mid to late 20s. I am approaching my mid 20s. This post is not about me feeling pressure to get married- that pressure isn’t there for me. What I am getting at is the thought that maybe I’ve met a person who I could be happy with for a long time.

I’ve been on a few dates that never went further than that first meeting. I’ve dated someone short term. I’ve dated several people long term (for me, this range is 8 months to 2 years). I’ve dated someone who was not very kind to me. I’ve dated people and imagined married life with them. There was one person who I considered to be someone I would have children with if we got there. My point is that I have experience. I have experienced enough variety of personality. I know what I want at this point. I also know what I don’t want.

The person I just started seeing 3 weeks ago is many of the things I want in a person. Obviously, there are no perfect people and she is not perfect, but there are so many seemingly great things about her, my body and mind are on edge because “what’s the catch?”

So, like I mentioned before, there are so many people who are married or at least dating the person they’re going to marry by the time they are my age or by the time they’ve experienced what I have. I’ve dated enough for my liking. I would like to just not anymore. The thought in my mind is “could this be it?”

Don’t panic, now, because marriage is something I don’t want for another 8ish years. I just wonder if she could be someone I want to travel with, someone to introduce to my family and friends, someone I want to come home to after work, etc.

Contemplate these things with me. Let’s overanalyze together. Let’s think about all the confusing things in life. I hope you all got through this one alright.

Something I Don’t Like To Admit

I fall fast and I fall hard.

Outwardly, I do a stellar job of acting “normal” and keeping my obsessive brain under control, but internally I have eloped, moved to Europe, and birthed 20 children. And the person I have done this with I have known for 10 days.

In all seriousness, I do develop feelings for people I date very quickly once I’ve determined that they are a desirable candidate for courting. I fall for their quirks and their flaws and the way they move. I memorize what their voice sounds like, what they smell like, and what their touch feels like. And then I want it all the time. Again, I have only known them for an extremely short time.

I feel myself already attaching myself to the person I just started seeing. I have also had an increase in nightmares and anxiety, so I think I’m doing my panic dance concerning commitment (even though my brain clearly wants it?!?!?!).

I’ll be fine. I can take a chill pill and just take it slow. At the same time, I will try to enjoy this person and learn as much about them as I can so that I know I’m not leading my heart into a pit of fire and death. Well, that was dramatic, wasn’t it.

What is something that YOU don’t like to admit about yourself concerning dating?

Being Kind To My Guilt

Today in therapy we discussed being kind to negative thought processes and also giving thanks to negative past experiences and people who were involved in them. Lastly, we touched on guilt and how it can be a positive thing.

I think it was most difficult to give any sort of thanks to the people and the situations that were not kind to me in the past. My therapist says I don’t need to thank them for what they did, but rather for giving me the opportunity to get through that and know what to look out for the next time around. I understand what he was saying, but I still struggle with being grateful for any of those experiences.

I have always had such an issue with guilt. I struggle with accepting gifts and letting people do favors for me. I struggle the most with feeling guilty about not always being able to be there for people. I know that I don’t HAVE to see X amount of people each week, but I feel that they rely on me. They depend on me. They count on me. I forget to be there for myself, and I know that, and I’m working on it.

My therapist says that I don’t always have to claim the emotions I experience when I talk about them in our session. For example, he asked me how I could practice being kind to guilt. I immediately asked, “MY guilt?”. He said I can own it, but I don’t have to. I decided to own it.

I guess what I learned today was to see the silver lining. I don’t think it’s always a good idea to have that mindset, but I’d much rather look at my past experiences as moments of learning and growth rather than as moments of devastation and shame.

A Little Dark Cloud

As I was driving home from a very nice evening with Chelsea last night, a slightly terrifying thought crept into my mind. With it also came a familiar feeling from 2014. The things that were attracting me to her were very similar to the things that attracted me to my emotional abusive and manipulative ex.

My ex was very “guilt trippy” and manipulative. Chelsea is nothing like that, but neither was my ex in the first 4-6 months. I see in Chelsea many of the good parts of my ex. They are fundamentally very different people and their personalities are also quite different. Their approach to life, emotions, and conflict is very similar though. It’s also very similar to mine.

To be honest, though, the way I deal with my emotions and anxiety has changed profoundly since I started therapy. I’m much more prone to crying and just letting those sad feelings take over me for however long my body needs it. So, I see parts of my old self in Chelsea, too. I suppose every person is different and maybe what she’s doing works for her. She doesn’t seem to have any huge issues and she seems pretty self aware, so I guess I shouldn’t be concerned.

All in all, I’m not worried. If I see red flags, I leave. If I don’t, I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Feelings Scare Me

Our emotions and feelings are something we are rarely in control of. You can occasionally control how you react outwardly to experiencing feelings and emotions, but those true feelings and true reactions still live inside of your body and your mind.

In terms of romance, my feelings have always been strong. I fall for people quickly and hard. I don’t tell them, of course, but I am very aware of how my mind, body, and heart feel. Usually, my mind is in some sort of disagreement with itself about how I should be navigating the relationship, my body is very willing to comply with everything and anything, and my heart has already partially attached itself to whoever I’m talking to.

I felt like writing about how my feelings scare me because they are currently scaring me. I have only known this woman for 10 days and I have met her once; however, it feels like I’ve known her for years. I don’t know if she feels the same, so I speak only for myself.

She answers my questions without hesitation. She is interested in what I do and where I come from. She’s open to adventure and travel. She’s very blunt and straightforward, not unlike myself. I appreciate talking to someone who “speaks my language”. Oftentimes, I have to preface things I say with, “I don’t mean to be rude” or “I don’t want to offend you”, but I don’t have to do that with her and she is just as forward towards me. I love it.

There is also one thing she did when we met for the first time that I can’t stop thinking about: When I was telling an elaborate story, she leaned forward, elbows on knees, and looked me in my eyes while I talked. She was so attentive.

In the past, I had an emotionally abusive partner who told me more than once, “I don’t hear you when you talk.” With this in mind, her leaning forward and being so obviously interested in the words coming out of my mouth meant the world to me and it made her that much more attractive. She’s super cute, by the way. But she just got cuter.

So, anyway, I like this woman. I like her a lot for only having known her for 10 days. part of me is like, “get a fucking grip”, but the other part of me is saying to just fall into it, don’t resist, don’t overthink, just be. I’m going to try very hard to “just be”.

Internalized Homophobia

I had my first “Aha!” moment when I was in 6th grade. At that time, I didn’t even know what “gay” was.

The story goes like this: I was playing soccer with my team and an older girl named Caitlin was playing with us. She was from a more experienced team called Lightening and she had played with us many times before. This time, however, I found her in my vicinity more than usual and as she ran past me, I stopped in my tracks. I stopped running, I forgot the ball, I was just standing there like an idiot.

It was her smell. She smelled like flowers and it was intoxicating. I had NO IDEA what the fuck was happening, but I got it together and continued to play the game.

I told my mom about it immediately and she said to worry about those feelings when I was a little older and not to stress about it now.

I didn’t seriously evaluate what I felt that day until about 4 years later when I fell in love for the first time. It was incredible.

This post is about my internalized homophobia, though. So, let’s jump in. Between 6th and 10th grade, I learned more about what some of my family and community and a great deal of society thought about those who experienced same sex attraction. I learned more about God and his apparent disapproval of the same behavior. I learned more about sexism and double standards.

I learned that gay was not good.

Fast forward 2 serious relationships with other females plus a 3 month adventure with another girl. I was now 19. I found myself in a position to explore a relationship with a man. I took it.

I dated him for 8 months. I put everything into the relationship, but to no use. I was gay.

I have wished for my “gayness” to disappear before. I remember feelings of disappointment and irritation for not being a good person. Because gay people aren’t right. There’s something wrong.

I remember feeling angry and confused when people said that I was choosing this “lifestyle”. I still get so angry when I’m told it’s a choice. Who in their right fucking mind would choose to be looked at so disgustingly?

I feel like to my more conservative family members, they see me and think, “if only she would date men, she would be the perfect person, granddaughter, daughter, etc.” I’ve always done well in school. I don’t enjoy drugs and I don’t drink often either. I visit my relatives, I volunteer, I’m always employed, I have friends. I even went to church on my own accord for a few years and even now, even though I am not religious anymore, I have no problem going to church with family if they want me to join them.

But I’m gay.

I’m almost the perfect package. I’m almost the perfect granddaughter. Almost. There’s just that one little flaw. “If only she’d just come to her senses, accept the Lord, and realize that it’s unnatural to date the same sex. It’s disgusting. It’s not right. It’s not Christian. It’s not decent.”

“You turned my daughter gay”

“She wasn’t like this before you”

“You took advantage of her good nature”

“You’re disgusting”

“You’re too young to know this is who you are”

“You can be gay, you just shouldn’t act on your desires”

“I understand that you’re gay, but I don’t want to see it”

“It’s okay to be gay, just don’t wave it in my face”

“It’s only okay for women to be gay, but two dudes is fucking nasty”

After being told these things, it should come as no surprise that I found myself absolutely hating my sexuality. Everyone around me, it seemed, was telling me how wrong it was and how I shouldn’t act on it, especially not in public.

The worst types of homophobia are the indirect moments of it. For example, 99% of my family NEVER asks me about who I’m seeing or if I’m interested in anyone. When I was presumed to be straight, there would always be questions about the current boy I was interested in.

I also recently went through a breakup. It sucked. The woman I was dating is an amazing person and our reasons for breaking up were primarily distance and conflicts in our future desires (children, mainly). There is no bad blood between us, so I had nothing to be angry at. I was just sad. My family knew that I had been seeing her. They even met her. When I returned back home without her or mention of her, there were no questions. There were no “how are you dealing with this” or “are you okay” questions. I was disappointed because I thought some of my family was more okay with my “lifestyle”, but apparently not interested enough in it to ask how I was handling something very emotional.

In the past 2 years, I have learned to truly love my sexuality and the community it allows me to have. Being around other people who are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum makes me feel most loved and safe. I don’t have to act straight or omit information when telling a story or talking about my hopes and dreams. I don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions and I’m not gawked at when out with a partner. I am so thankful for that community.

It’s a daily obstacle to assure myself that I’m enough exactly how I am. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not and I don’t have to change myself to make others more comfortable in their ignorance.

I’m learning to live my life with pride in myself and I hope you do, too.