same days forever

Originally written November 2018.

Nothing about it is really novel. I’m grateful. Not in that everyday thanksgiving applause for the soothing appreciables around me. It’s a cryptic thanks that I can barely hold onto because I have to face ugly authenticity to keep it in my grasp.

I’ve justified actions in my life. I’ve leaned into my will, creating unexpected life curves. I felt strong navigating the wrong worlds where my weaknesses were magnified. Foreboding joy, my inevitable curse.

It happened so slowly I didn’t know I was broken. I knew my relationships were twisted. I’d been to therapy and forgiven others. Much harder to forgive me. And more—to know me,—and why? To claim authenticity as my deepest desire, but…

…the duplicity. The juxtaposition of my desires, values and the truth of my decisions, life products.

After I changed everything I got lost for a while. I didn’t trust anyone, especially me. I tried new community endeavors that fulfilled me for a time, and then I stopped. I pulled away.

I took full responsibility and self assessment. I still got mad at blameful stories. I trembled with powerlessness and paranoia. But I faced it. I discovered the roots of issues in me dug into thicker, deeper roots. Ideas bloom. Some need to die or be in someone else’s garden.

I have learned things, but I have mainly learned that I need to learn more. I live for myself now, and I desperately try to focus on my daughter. It’s rare I can remember specifics about those years because it pains me that I lost time slaving my mind away for what didn’t ever add back to my life’s value.

That’s what I mean by cryptic gratitude. I used to be very open and carefree. Now I don’t let many people in. I am careful. I ask questions instead of share my story first. I test the waters and evaluate a person’s motives and value system. I judge on my perceptions when I didn’t before. I used to have a very enthusiastic way of connecting information in ideas, places, and people. That’s become more latent since I don’t go out as much and has been replaced with more analytical skills from reading and watching content.

I guess I’m possibly more well-rounded. Maybe boring. I’m always evaluating. Whoever I am, I’m different now. That’s what I’ve noticed lately.

not only, but also

the existential crisis i was kind of vague about in previous posts was regarding my work. i’m so dramatic. it’s amazing what a few weeks of perspective can achieve. even in these several days, i can look back and see where perseverance and vulnerability to change has gotten me over a hurdle into the centered environment i have longed for myself. what i’ve tried to articulate in previous posts is that i was passionate about my last job. i felt important. those brands resonated with me, because i took ownership and responsibility of all i could. i value the people i worked beside every day. 

for five years i had the same bosses. for five years i had the same career responsibilities. for five years i had the same mental projections about the future based on those essentials. again, i’m framing this very dramatically. i sought the ends to all of these things. even though i still get to do some part-time work with my old company, i can’t be as immersed i once was. for me, when i transition into a new role, i’m all in. my mind begins to soak in and soak up. i start noticing the world from that perspective, and the old point of view fades. it’s still there somewhere. it’s just not in the forefront. 

to be real and raw, it all just happened fast. i knew my marriage was ending far before papers were filed. we both did. that’s how we’re able to be friends now and raise our daughter together. but right after i filed, i decided i was moving to a new, clear space. and to a school zone for V’s future. then, i felt a prompting to look for jobs. i applied for two. i got called for this one, and i prayed for a specific offer. i told my mom if i got that, i was accepting it. and here we are.

that kind of faith leaves room for doubt, and it got to me for weeks. i picked up and left a lot of comfortable knowledge and command behind. for weeks, i only saw my parents and vayda. i didn’t even really tell them about work because i was too tired to articulate what i was learning. we finally got to the week before i moved and packed up the whole house, my mom, dad, and grandma. that was the turning point for me. it felt so light to give away all that burdened me, organizing it beautifully into a place that is mine and Vayda’s only. without realizing it, i was performing all my tasks with my own flair at work and feeling like a team member. i had gotten through a big event and two grants while maintaining my marketing functions. 

i was doubting myself in certain moments, but ultimately i knew in my core that my belief in myself and my values is what landed me in this position. in the past month since moving and having this realization, i am overcome with more peace than ever. i wasn’t suffering in unrest before. i was simply enjoying solitude while i meditated on the right direction for my life. but now that i have this peace, i find my productivity has increased tremendously, and i attract great opportunities in areas that i desire. i have several commissioned painting projects in my queue which brings my heart so much joy. i have graphic design clients i work on in my free time.

and i simply love my career. my job with the agency is something i am passionate about. it’s fast paced, i design all day, write grants, talk to the press–there is always something going on. it’s something that makes me proud. i can visualize a future now that makes me prouder than anything i previously imagined. 

wanting for nothing feels excellent. blessed is really all i can say about my life.

purge

packing up my house has been easier than i thought it’d be. i have donated and thrown away countless dozens of piles and bags. i’m amazed i cleared nine large garbage bags of clothes and still have three closets and a garment rack full of clothes. (they’re really small closets, OK?!) i’ve thrown away old, bent art. even things i might like but just don’t find joy in anymore. the massive purge of 2018. i feel so light.

i had a mini existential crisis a couple of weeks ago. all this introspection showed me how far i’ve come over the last six months. i have not quit moving forward. blogging lately is really the first time i’ve looked back and analyzed how much i have accomplished. i made up my mind and i got to today. a couple of weeks ago i regressed a little and thought about retreating. my mind is going through the process i discussed in my last blog. changing, learning new processes, adjusting to new. i believe there is a natural loneliness. a mourning process. a tiredness. maybe even a longing and a reaching for my old mentality. but i’ve ultimately found, it’s gone.

not lost, but altered. i cannot backtrack to that place. this is a beautiful thing. it took me talking to some of my mentors and meditating on my thoughts for a few days to gain a more well-rounded perspective. who wants to keep the same endless mentality? i’d be so bored without the challenge of learning and growing in each moment. in my case, i am so blessed. i look back, and there is a great deal of passion in my interests. following the signs, i look ahead and there is potential for beauty, meaning, and purpose overflowing. 

thinking back to what i wrote about changing from art to business major in college earlier this month, i gave it negative placement in my life. ultimately, it has shaped my ability to make wise art, business, and personal “adult” decisions (financial, etc.). i think it’s human nature to look back on the part of the choice one didn’t make, like not continuing the art courses, and wonder. i spend a lot of time wondering. i want to make the best choices. and i guess now that i have the peace to heal over more recent life events, i am looking even further back and forgiving regrets i didn’t even know i owned.

i owe so much to my college career. i think it was painful for me because the person closest to me was immersed in all the studio classes while i was sitting in business communications lectures, which made me very jealous. plus, university was one big competition for me against my high school mentor’s voice in my head, “anyone who stays in Albany will never graduate college in four years, or maybe ever.” i wanted to disprove that theory. and i did (no one noticing, but me). 

why is this so heavy on my mind now? i graduated from college eight years ago. it’s weird how the mind works……. maybe it’s because after all these years, i haven’t had a job i felt that my bachelor’s degree mattered until the career i have today. i sacrificed my passion, art, to complete a degree program. i got a great marketing internship, which let to all my career choices. i have had profitable and passionate careers, but this is the first time i feel like my education means something.

while i was packing and purging, i found my college diploma on the bookshelf at home just like any other book, and i brought it up to my office. i’m not looking back to regret what could have come from other roads, but looking forward to what opportunities i can cultivate through my hard work. there are so many days within years between college and today that are blurs of waste. i hope i can reach forward with purpose and focus. when i look back.

 

fortress ’round my heart

“[Your eyes so full of wonder]
I have crossed the horizon to find you
[Your heart, an innocent warrior]
I know your name
[There’s a task for you]
They have stolen the heart from inside you
[My dearest one]
But this does not define you
[And your deep thoughts]
This is not who you are.
You know who you are.”

it’s clear my heart is completely vulnerable when i cry tears of solidarity with the monster/hero *spoiler* at the pivotal moment in Moana (lyrics to song quoted above).  i spent a couple of weeks on my parents’ couch in November. i’d been on my own for eight years, and it was the most depressed i’d felt in a while. i had the option to sleep in my old bedroom, but i couldn’t bring myself to accept the accommodations. my mom got V to sleep even though it was my joy to rock her every night of her life. my world was upside down, and i had turned it that way. i made the decision. there were no surprises. i planned it all to go this way. but i felt like i could barely carry on except to watch tv on the couch. it took me a moment to accept the reality i was creating, because i was creating new for someone else who i want to protect more than even me.

but i made a decision in those weeks that i’ve opted to keep living by. keep moving. sometimes life’s favorable. sometimes life’s miserable. but even if i’m treading water, i’m not drowning. i’ve been barely above water some days. but most always, i have moved forward with optimal outcomes. processing things as they come and allowing myself to move through them in a wise and timely manner has mattered the most.

“are you OK, erin?” i haven’t known what to say, so i give really awkward answers. when people ask me that, i really appreciate it. they really inflect certain parts of the question to let me know they’re inquiring about my personal life. how do i say in three to four sentences that i have been processing this situation with professional help for over a year now so i feel kind of peaceful and clear now? people think i’m in denial or callous. but, if you saw an inevitable future a long while ago, would you face it and protect yourself, or would you lie down and die in it?

when i wrote my last blog post, i decided to be open about my journey through counseling. it was kind of like i was opening the door to everyone, “hey, something is coming. i am grasping for connection. i am living in the now until now is no longer.” i knew when i started the therapy journey over a year ago i had some big personal choices to make and i couldn’t make them based on my own wisdom and understanding. i had to develop tools and strengths. i had to sort through a lot of emotional and relational chaos. i read endlessly, listened to wise counsel of the experienced, discussed with professionals, talked to Biblical counselors. after the final decision was made in fall, i finally opened up to my best friends, who were totally clueless about my personal life. you know, it’s odd that way. i’m one of those people who claims to be open, light and free, but i have hidden so much darkness and pain over these last five years. depression showed me so much truth and humor about the world, but it isolated me into becoming a pitiful sliver of myself.

through my therapists, i have been able to look at my life over and over through many lenses.

looking things in the face and not making excuses for my actions was troubling, but i have experience with people who blame others for their problems. i refuse to become a bitter person who can’t identify my responsibility in a situation and move past things, making the best of a bad decision.

i learned to accept choices made from the perversion of duty in my mind. i embrace my anger and my darkness. i’m fueled and impassioned by feelings, but i have to abide by reason and balance. pushing those energies toward good makes all the difference for me. i can look inside myself and accept me, even if i don’t like aspects. i aspire to be better. i forced myself to find beauty and healing in the choices i made, even though i acquired a tremendous amount of pain. over time, the emotional pain got to be so much that i became numb without noticing, and that was the worst. i would fearfully wonder if i would feel again, being such a sensitive soul yet so disconnected from the realm of emotions. there were months where the only things that brought sparks of emotional energy to me were my child and hip-hop music (weirdly true).

then, i came through it. over time, the numbness dissolved. i feel it all now. i’m grateful for pain. pain means i’m living. and sometimes my feelings are so raw, i’m like a child expressing them. i don’t inhibit myself much. it’s a double-edged sword. not in a tantrum kind of way, but in the way that i almost wrecked my car last friday as my eyes filled with joyful tears as i stared at the blooming whites of the trees against a perfect pink sunset. sometimes i am so scared i will move back into the old mindset that i throw walls up really hard at people to protect myself. so basically, i’m a very free-feeling hermit. i hid behind a facade and a concept of what i was shamed into being for so many years, i lost myself for a while. that was my choice. i forgive myself for giving into those ideas, and now my life is back in the correct direction. i’m rebuilding.

i am not afraid of love. i believe in love more than ever. my ultimate goal has always been peace and authenticity. before this season. throughout my entire life. getting out of unrest was the goal, and moving toward peace is the vision. positive thinking and clear boundaries are helping me achieve this. i have found forgiveness in myself and everyone and every hurt. i am so thankful to look back and take a calm breath at the end of a difficult season. spring is here with the beginning of a lot of “new.”

i have no regrets, and my mind rests.