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.

June 19, 2018

On this day, at about 4am, I began my 6.5 hour drive to Vicksburg, Mississippi to start my Field Team Leader training with AmeriCorps NCCC.

I stopped twice and I’m writing this article to talk about my final stop. I stopped in Cuba, Alabama with a population of 303.

The reason for my stopping was that my gas tank was on E and the next exit was 40 miles away, so it was this exit or the side of the road for me.

I pulled into a gas station- the only gas station at this exit. There was one other truck in the lot. It was about 10am, so it was light outside.

I tried to insert my credit card, but the machine kept saying see cashier, so I walked inside. I was wearing tennis shoes, basketball shorts, and a loose tank top with a sports bra underneath. My hair was in a ponytail.

I walked inside the gas station and noticed that it was quite dark and dirty. I looked for the cashier, but there was no one. Suddenly, a 30something year old man came out. He was short, skinny, and looked to be Asian- I couldn’t say exactly from where.

He said, “Hi! How are you?” I responded with, “Hi, I’m doing well, how are you? Can I get $20 on pump 1?” I held out a twenty dollar bill and waited.

Instead of walking past me and to the register, he walked directly towards me, stopped inches from my face, and said, “How about you give me a hug?” Shocked, I said, “No, I don’t think so.” He moved his hands to my waist and I jumped back. I threw the $20 and said, “Pump 1, now, thank you.”

I turned around, walked back to my car, and prayed to God that I would able to fill my fucking tank because I needed to leave. Finally, I did see that he inputted the amount and I started filling my tank. My eyes frantically darted around me, making sure that he or anyone else didn’t approach me. I let the meter hit about $15- I didn’t care about the money, I just needed to leave. So I left.

I will never forget that feeling. I’ll never forget the disbelief I felt. I’ll never forget the fear I felt when he came so close to my face. I’ll never forget the feeling of disgust I felt when his hands touched me. I’ll never forget thinking, “What if he had been taller, stronger, bigger?” I remember thinking, “Oh my god, what do I do? Do I run? But I need gas. Fuck.”

As I drove the remaining miles to the Southern Region AmeriCorps NCCC campus, I cried. I called my mom. I cried some more.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to say that that is the most physical a man has ever gotten with me. I can’t imagine what other women feel who have gone through worse. My day to day with men has always been limited to cat-calling and inappropriate comments (mostly when I used to work at an auto parts shop). I wrote about this experience in my journal. I will try to find that entry and share what I wrote that day.

The End of My Time at the Rental Bike Stand

For the past (3ish) months, I’ve been working almost every weekend at my uncle’s bike rental stand. It’s 30 minutes from my house, my shift is 9 hours, and the stand rarely makes more than $40 per day. It is not an ideal situation. The only positive that came from this is that it gave me PLENTY of time to do homework.

So. My weekends are now mine to do with what I please. This weekend is Atlanta Pride! Next weekend, I am moving! The weekend after that will be spent partially with my mother and girlfriend celebrating Oktoberfest one last time at the local German cafe. The first of November (a Friday), I will take my girlfriend to a football game in my hometown so she can see my old marching band and experience the craziness that is high school football.

If I can create any more free time, I would just love to visit a pumpkin patch, carve my own pumpkins, bake spooky cookies, visit a farm and take a hayride, and participate in spooky adventures around Atlanta with my friends.

I’ve never been to the Six Flags Fright Fest, but I hear it’s an enjoyable time. I have, however, been the Netherworld and that was about a 1-2 hour period where I thought I might shit myself. So, I probably won’t be pushing for that this year.

I am currently at work; I’ve been pretty busy doing our accounting for the past week or two, so I’ve been trying to focus on other tasks today. I’ve already spent a solid hour paying off invoices and organizing my inbox. My colleagues are preparing for an educational conference that’s coming up, so there will be some prep work to be done for that.

I will keep you all posted on Atlanta Pride (apparently, Kesha is performing??) and moving to a new apartment in the coming weeks.

A metaphorical death.

One of the first posts on this blog was about the issues with the mothers of my girlfriends that I’ve had. I also expanded just a tad on my relationship with a man. I went into great detail about the manipulative ex I dated for almost 2 years. One thing that I have not written much about was the first girlfriend I ever had.

I’ve decided to write about it now because it recently occurred to me that she does not actually exist anymore. The name I have used to reference her is Maya. I will do my very best to condense this story because it spans over 5 years.

Maya and I met in 2011 during high school marching band practice. We were both freshmen, but we came from different middle schools; we actually came from opposite ends of the town. Upon first meeting, I decided that she was too loud and too “in-your-face” for my liking. I hung out with my friends, mostly, and interacted very little with her. She caught on to the fact that I wasn’t exactly her biggest fan.

While I had a more serious crush on a senior at our high school, I also developed a crush on Maya. I can’t tell you how it happened, but I just knew I liked it when she “bothered” me. I liked the attention and she liked my reactions. At the final band concert of our 9th grade year, I told her that I, in fact, did not hate her.

That moment began a friendship. 10th grade came around and we had 3 or 4 classes together. I was pretty happy about it. However, the more we talked in class, the more I started to see a very sad side of her. She had a lot going on in her mind and at home. The romance began slowly and we were both so confused by the feelings we were experiencing. I think she was the first to say something about it.

Marching band caused us to reserve every Friday night to go to football games. I remember always being happy about a long bus ride to an away game because Maya would sit next to me and lean against my chest while I leaned against the window. That was about as much physical contact as I had allowed her. I had my own issues at the time.

I remember us hanging out with mutual friends on Halloween of 2012. I remember her arm around my waist as we walked through the neighborhood, not really trick or treating, but just enjoying each other and our friends.

I remember Maya’s mother suggesting that our group of friends should have a sleepover at their house. So we did. It was me, Maya, a few of our other female friends. We watched The Ring while all sitting on a couch. I sat next to Maya, of course. That night would be the first night we held hands. I can recall both of our hands doing the very movie-like slow crawl towards each other like neither one was aware of what was happening. The next morning, her mother gathered that we were together and that’s when shit hit the fan.

Over the next 2 months, I was blocked from her Facebook, email, and cell phone. Her mother also transferred her to a different school.

Between 2013 and 2014 we had minimal regular contact, but we still were “together”. She would text me from friends’ phones, create a new email, a fake Facebook account, and various free texting apps.

While me and Maya dated, there were a few suicide attempts (from Maya’s end), issues with abuse at home, and a variety of other mental health problems. We eventually did break up in 2014 “for good” because “long distance” just wasn’t working.

While I was in in my first semester of college, in 2015, I received a voicemail from a voice I didn’t recognize, “Hey, it’s me. Your number was the only number I memorized, so that’s why I’m calling.” It was Maya calling from rehab after a very serious suicide attempt. That day was October 15, 2015. That’s the day that Maya [metaphorically] died.

I’ve had on and off contact with “Maya” since 2015, but in 2017 I met a new person. Her name was Maya, but she didn’t speak like Maya or act like Maya. The sense of humor was still there, but she wasn’t as sad. 2018 rolled around and she continued to grow. 2019 held an even bigger surprise (but not really).

Present day, I am good friends with the person who inhabits the body of my first girlfriend. Their name is Max.

In a recent conversation with them, I told them that while I was very happy for them, I also felt like I was mourning the loss of my first girlfriend and how did that statement make them feel? They informed me that Maya had, in fact, died 4 years ago. They didn’t know who they were between Maya and Max, but they’ve finally arrived at an identity that feels more like home than anything else.

For me, these are complicated feelings I’m feeling because I know that the girl I fell in love with at age 15 disappeared, but to know that that person no longer exists in her entirety is just a sad thought. Max insists that Maya was “ego-centric, impulsive, attention-seeking, unstable, self-serving, and unable to see anyone’s perspective but [their] own.” But a younger me looked at Maya with nothing but love. I didn’t see these things and Maya never treated me badly. I knew she had problems that were beyond me (and beyond herself), but our relationship was an innocent one.

We were never very physical, I’d say. Most of our time together was spent just existing together side by side because being in each other’s presence was a rare occurrence. I think I spent more time talking her off the edge than anything else. It was rough. I don’t want to downplay the severity of her mental health struggles, but that relationship heavily impacted the way I looked at people, family dynamics, mental health resources, and relationships.

I never blamed Maya for “putting me through” anything. I put up with a lot. I went through a lot. But I never blamed her. When I spoke to Max a few days ago, they apologized on her behalf. They said, “I did love you, I loved you very much and I hope I never made you question that or feel otherwise with my words, actions, or behaviors. Even though I can’t go back and change anything now, I still want to apologize for all of that, and how helpless and confused it must have made you feel.”

Those words were the closure I didn’t know I needed.

So, to sum all of this up: Things were rough, but everyone got through it. Well, I suppose Maya didn’t, but that seems like it was for the best. Max and I are friends. We’re not “BFFs”, but I appreciate their existence and I wish only love and joy for them. They have expressed their happiness for me with my current relationship as well.

Until next time 🙂

Subject Line: Hey

“Hey, it’s Mary

I’m not sure you will even get this but you crossed my mind today and I just wanted to say hello and that I hope things are going well.

Sent from my iPhone”

For those who have read the earliest posts on this blog, you might be familiar with the name at the top. And you will also know that that person is not someone I currently have contact with or desire to have contact with ever again.

The sentence above that is in quotation marks is an email I received at 4:23AM yesterday morning. I didn’t see it until last night and that’s only because I was told to check that particular email by my boss.

When I read her name in my email, I didn’t register what I was seeing at first. I thought maybe it was old. Maybe I was reading it incorrectly.

Well, I wasn’t. There it was, this email. I just stared at the screen for a minute. I was actually just at a loss for words and emotions. I decided that I would not be responding and that I should go about the rest of my evening.

I was overcome with this built up anger and frustration, though. It was a delayed reaction, but the more my brain thought about the email in my inbox the more I felt like I needed to run, to scream, to punch a wall. Anger is not something I feel often. I shook my hands and arms like I would during a panic attack, when I have too much adrenaline in my body.

I ate some toast, I turned on a movie, and I waited for my girlfriend to join me. I’m at such a beautiful time in my life. My life is so good right now. There is no way I’m letting a shadow from my past dull this light right now.

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 do you do when there’s nothing left to do?

I am a busy human, mostly by choice. There isn’t much I absolutely have to do. We could probably categorize my M-F job as a “have to” seeing as that’s how I afford my shelter, food, and water. Most everything else is a “I should do this” or “I just feel like I should”. A tiny percentage of the things I do are “I want to do this”.

I think I care less about physically doing x, y, and z and more about just having it done. I want the end result, whether that’s cleanliness, a meal-prepped fridge for the coming week, or happy family members who don’t complain about not having seen me for weeks. I like feeling productive and I like knowing that other people are happy. I like going to bed at night knowing I didn’t waste the hours I had that day.

After having several conversations with several friends and family members, it seems that I need to rethink what “wasting my time” means. Is it wasteful to decline a social invitation to watch a movie by myself? Is it wasteful to spend the day in bed with my partner instead of doing laundry, cleaning, or any other household chore? Is it wasteful to take an entire day out of my week from working or school and NOT use it for errands?

I’m learning that down-time is healthy. It’s necessary. I’m comfortable with silence, but am I comfortable with stillness? Maybe not as comfortable as I thought I was. Things to work on, I suppose.

I was riding shotgun yesterday and I swear I didn’t know completely what to do with myself. In my mind, even driving my car is “something to do”. When my hands aren’t on the wheel and my mind isn’t focused on the road in front of me, my brain is confused; “So, what do we do now? What do we do when there is nothing to do?”

I don’t have an answer. I need to learn to not just slow down, but to stop and pay attention to where I am. I need to take it in, this life- slowly and deeply.

When I am 90 years old, I won’t remember doing laundry or meal prepping, but I will remember that beautiful mural on the side of the building I stopped by to admire on the way to work. I won’t remember the drive to the grocery store, but I will remember the intimate conversation I had with the person I took time to share dinner with.

I also don’t want to run myself down all through the day only to collapse in utter fatigue when I come home to my partner each night. I want to give her 100%. I also should give myself 100%.

I’m a work in progress, what can I say?

Having a Life Outside of Your Romantic Relationship

The moment you go from single to taken, you tend to spend ALL of your free time with the new human in your life. This is normal. I think the first 2-3 months are very “honeymoonish” and you forget that you have hobbies, friends, and family. You might also forget that laundry, grocery shopping, and meal prepping were ever a thing you had time for.

Once you get settled in a relationship, both partners might resume their independent interests as well as start to combine them. I think this is SO important.

The topic of pursuing activities and events independently from your romantic partner is an interesting and tricky one for me. I am in full support of having your own friends. I also fully support merging friend groups. I support whatever works for whoever.

The issue that I have run across has been partners who are shocked to learn that I want to do things alone or only with my friends. In the past, its been taken VERY personally and it made me significantly decrease the amount of time I spent with anyone else who was not my partner. I learned later that that was very manipulative of them and that I should feel free to hang out with my friends whenever I please.

Currently, I am dating a lovely human. She and I both have our own friends. We have met most of each other’s friends and have spent time together with them, but we also regularly plan things independently of each other. It’s such a simple thing, but for me to spend time with my friends and not feel guilty about it is a new feeling for me.

So, my message to everyone is to keep living your own life even if you begin sharing it with someone else. If your partner doesn’t support your individual endeavors, then they are not the partner for you.

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.