weak boundaries

Building boundaries only works if they’re maintained. I learned some great things before I stopped seeing my therapist in the middle of 2018. That’s when I wanted to start guiding my own course. Not purposefully, of course.

But I vividly remember feeling the awkward tension in my chest as I painted a rosier picture of my new relationship during our last session though I did have some concerns and felt the weight of red flags. I didn’t want to admit or face any mistake I was making to avoid dealing with immediate pain.

We all know what they say about hindsight.

I can see more clearly every day how I got to where I am right now. I take full responsibility for my poor choices. No one forced a day’s actions upon me. As a sensitive person and an only child, I become grossly codependent at low points. I have weak boundaries. I take medicine everyday to help me feel better. I need to talk to my therapist. I’m going tomorrow, as I have been avoiding for a year a half. It’s going to be good for me.

All in all, my worst fear is being alone. Yet I’ve alienated most every friend and family member I have besides my parents over the past two years and isolated myself, turned down invitations, quit responsibilities, almost sabotaged some of the best opportunities I’ve got. I have tremendous anxiety about my parents dying. I don’t have siblings, and with few who truly know my whole life – I am paralyzed by the idea of a world without them. This isn’t continuous, simply latent.

When I distract myself, it’s usually a relationship. Because I made horrible choices in my marriage, I thought I could use someone “highly attentive” in this new love interest. So I jumped right into that seven months later. It was nice until I felt suffocated. It was on and off continuously. The snooping and demands for information when I actually was being trustworthy became exhausting and demeaning. I didn’t leave because of my codependency, for one. Two, I think I believed deep down I deserved someone controlling because of my previous actions in life. And three, just generally not wanting to do the whole breakup thing. The worst angry version of myself was the norm as it got worse and worse and we broke it off over and over. I hate who I became. I wish I hadn’t allowed myself to continue forward, but forgiveness is important.

Finally last summer it was really over. And I started building boundaries again.

Started to.

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.

i’ll bite

or write, rather.

i’ve been seeing this thing i like where people are posting very stream of consciousness style and it took me back to a time i was reading a lot of faulkner and i am trying it. although i am already struggling in my mind to quit thinking about what audience i’m writing to and what my eventual message is going to be but the purpose of this is just a writing exercise and maybe also an exercise in vulnerability. if we are really being honest, i can never spell excersize correctly on the first try. i may even get crazy and forget some commas and add some s.pontaneo’us punct!uation, or maybe even write in one big run-on sentence to free myself of the ongoing grammar critique inside of me but anyway, i digress. i have not written in a while on my blog. i will visit my website and think about all the topics i might be able to conjure up a few paragraphs about. but then i wander away in thought thinking that wouldn’t even seem authentic in an age where everyone has a blog and is trying to be as raw, as fashionable, as healthy, as mommerific, as artsy, as creative, as barf me barf me barf me this is exactly why i cannot write about anything quite much at all because all the ideas are taken and how am i even unique? even this little exercize seems overly done “hey look at me i’m different…?”but really the reason i did pop in because i do think noting one’s thoughts is important. sometimes it seems a little weird posting a selfie but gosh i have been loving it lately. i remember when there was some intrigue, spontaneity…what is that word i am looking for? resist google. stretch your mind. think hard. keep resisting google. look out the window and don’t think about it for a second. synonyms…fine, i will google it: ANTICIPATION in even seeing your selfies because you were taking them with a disposable camera and even 24-hour pickup was a novelty. so be cynical all i want to about the age of oversharing and noses stuck in phones but it really is a ‘thing” to be experiencing to a certain degree. after all, we are here in this culture and simply by reacting whether participating, criticizing or observing we are creating a very distinct and necessary point of view for posterity. and as for me. me me me me me. i will partake. why not? i regret way more that i didn’t say in the grand scheme of things and john mayer said to say what you need to say and i will listen to pretty much anything that he says in the key of G. so today i am writing as vayda lays here next to me in the bed. lays lies is laying is lying? i never honestly know but at this point i am not tabbing over to google. i know, you don’t care about me thinking about my grammatical errors, but that’s about 25% of my waking thoughts so they must be included for sheer intellectual honesty. so we are lyyyyyyying here and i feel bad that my baby doesn’t sleep in her own bed. that she has only slept in the beautiful babys dream crib my mom bought her for an hour and fifteen minutes of her whole life. thank goodness its crib to college because i could have bigger things to worry about i mean really you can figuratively spit on me that i am actually worrying about where my child sleeps because she is sleeping and there i go judging myself for caring about the pettiness of my life because it really is an easy, good one and no one cares except you. but anyway i care and i pay for this website and when i started it ten years ago it was just a place to pour my thoughts into an anonymous black hole of eyes that hear with different ears that may never even tell me they see me but i find comfort in knowing they’re around. it’s like writing a letter that drowns in a bottle or a thousand notes and poems and words in a box about you that you or no one will ever completely decipher correctly. see, i enjoy laying here next to vayda every time she naps. i do need a night a week that i don’t go to bed at nine o’clock p.m. but on nights like last night when i sleep ’til 7a.m. and accidentally fall back asleep until noon, i’m able to think in complete quiet besides the soft hum of the fan and the choir of summer birds chirping just behind the bricks that surround us. i’m able to think and reflect and connect instances from today with memories from earlier today or last year or two decades ago if it’s a really lucky day and if i can’t connect them and they seem slightly notable i can record them to be redeemed at a time when i need them. and that is beautiful – that incredibly existential moment when something you’ve kept inside for days, weeks, years all the sudden comes to fruition and makes all the sense it never seemed to could before. all these stories and moments that are individually mine, those are my treasures comma splice. not this blog or your blog that’s popular for a minute or has a lot of followers because of your theme that’s cool and all but it’s mostly about you about me about us our connections our moments our memories and how other people share and relate. so i lie here with vayda gazing out the window thinking about how bright this life really is. how the most ear-piercing noise in this room is your breath moving in and out of your nose in the most peaceful utterly heartmelting way and how i know this moment is fleeting by as i waste time to type some my-mother-is-a-fishy brain vomit as mr. davis coined it, i suppose. but how could i not take just a couple of minutes to be silly and remember the nuances of such a seemingly insignificant moment in the neverending hours inside our familiar four walls? see everything is a circle to me and i look at this circular A monogram that hangs from our window and creates this beautiful monochromatic thing that i stare at as i wonder and doze and begin to dream, probably because it’s all black and white as they say dreams are but i swear i dream in colortechnicolor and everything is a circle. one big circle we all rotate on and our cycles of moods our cycles of habits social circles (need i go on with illustrations) and an astute observer can pick up on them all just by listening to stories and possessing the proper amount of empathy. and i hula hoop in my circle and i can move and work to make my circle bigger and hold maybe your circle inside my circle. i would do that for you, or at least move my circle to rotate at just the right axis that our circles often overlap or maybe we miraculously mirror each other in size and shape and maybe we warp the same way for a time or forever or orbit apart accidentally or excruciatingly but that is just life. if design govern in a thing so small, or could robert frost be right in proposing all those white things sitting there so perfectly kept for the ultimate plot? i didnt even have to google that because it’s one of my favorites other than the discerning eye by emily and everything by ee cummings of course i love writing like this because segueways aren’t necessary how freeing how nonsequitor i see why the teenagers aren’t using punctuation now.  see, i’d write more letters like i used to but mama always told me never to write something down unless you’re prepared for someone to keep it forever. so i end up doing this dance where sometimes i only keep it all in my mind and don’t even write in my journal but what’s the point of being so restrained? why not say something stupid on facebook or share a little meaningless selfie or create something i’m not totally sure i’d even qualify as art? why not? i guess in the end there is a great balance found in doing that dance. to find the great charm, the great interesting mystery in waltzing between vulnerability and restraint but then i guess when i listen to the hamilton soundtrack when v is playing i get really excited to share even this without reading it three times in a row and correcting typos or expounding upon sentences that may have incomplete thought. i will post it just the way it is and pretend i am the girl from awkward. on mtv i wish that show wasnt over because i watched every episode and vayda didnt wake up this whole time

OK, and i know for sure it is OK not being rude all caps but grammatically correct it is OK not o.k. or O.K. or okay or Okay, but OK i did read it over once and i didn’t take anything out but i really wanted to backspace the word comma slice since it isn’t a comma splice but i kept it there to enjoy the irony later on when i read this again when i’m bored or old or never

losing friends

i was looking back in my e-mail for an old logo, and i found pictures of cole. i had searched for them for months on my phone and computer files when he passed away in 2008, and i couldn’t find them. i beat myself up for so long thinking i had deleted them. i nearly passed out upon seeing them today. i will treasure them as long as i can keep them.

it’s funny how things become like little idols once someone is no longer present. how words become vow. how we squint to keep fuzzy memories. a note, a photo, a present, a movie ticket becomes a treasure. when cole died, when wesley died, when my grandparents died–when i broke up with K & J years ago, i realized the fragility of relationships. the linear nature of time made me grow to expect you and maybe even resent you each day, but the separation of time from your presence made me appreciate and possibly even idolize you.

right before hospice came into their house, meme told me to watch cartoons, because it would keep my heart feeling light when things were dark. i’ll catch myself whistling like my papa or getting a little excited when i see a gray headed man riding a wal-mart cart. it makes me smile to see mcdonald’s stickers for all the times dada wanted to but never got to take me on saturday mornings when i was a kid. when i see boys riding on lawn mowers like the last time i saw cole riding one against the sun a few days before the accident. when i see a scary movie or a brown haired boy picking on a girl as they walk down the neighborhood street, i think of wesley and me.

and when i look out at the water, a little to the right, i see that dock. i’ve only sat on it once. as ridiculous as it truly is, it’s one of the reasons i moved here. it wasn’t that it was you, though you are still the most significant relationship i’ve ever had. it was the hope in that moment that we looked at the stars subsequent to that eloquently-prosed, misspelled letter you gave me. one of the most romantic moments of my life. i was so young at heart, and you were not–and that is why we said goodbye. we were friends for years prior to being a we and an us, and i remember our hesitation to make a romance out of such a great thing. you made me feel beautiful and worthy and secure and understood. it took time that you were willing to take. but i often wonder if i would give back everything that you gave me, all of the hopes and expectations for someone similar to you but one who led in Christ and supported my need to be a dreamer. if i would give it all up and reverse it all just to have the friendship back. just because the chemistry is there, should you pursue it? i can count on one hand the number of romantic relationships i’ve had. one of them was a bad idea. one of them was a not-so-serious rebound, two of them changed me for good though they were hard to lose, and one i’m not certain of the effect/outcome yet.

i don’t want fleeting relationships and friendships. i don’t want bitterness and loss. i don’t make friends or start relationships because i need someone. i’m used to being alone. losing my family, cole and wesley through death were hard things to conquer in my soul. losing friends through arguments and “endings” is so tiringly pointless having experienced such close irreversible loss in life. having lost a few significant relationships and friendships both irreversible and not so irreversible, i’ve found solace in discovering that they’re never really lost. the material things like photos and the sweet little words are precious reminders, but as long as i’m alive–“there is no was,” as i have said before.

the people i have carefully chosen to pursue good relationships/friendships with, i will carry them with me throughout my life with confidence. how they treated me in bright times and how they treated me in dark times will affect me as i walk through my life. it’s never over until i’m over. i allowed you into my life and my heart, and pieces of you will stay–it’s inevitable.

broken hopes and reels of memories are impossible to pack into a suitcase and carry around as baggage, so i learned early in friendship to accept and appreciate the impact of people on my life no matter their coming or going. it made it easier to forgive. it makes it easier to love someone now not making an enemy of my past. it makes it easier to appreciate the past relationships of people in my life, because i know even if they try to hide and avoid it–they have ultimately been affected by their past.

the hardest part about all of it is that i hate that your presence is not present. if i thought enough of you to choose you, then your friendship was ultra-valuable. i want it in my life. though my non-linear concept of time is unconventional, i wish others were spontaneous enough to see the value of it. can we not forget the ending and remember what we appreciated about each other? can a friend forgive a friend for an offense and remember why they bonded to begin with? what good comes of the timebetween after clarity and healing? awkwardness and loss? the unnecessary duo that preceeds pride and stubborness in the issues of people ’round the globe.

when i leave the world, i hope everyone i’ve known well enough will well-enough know that i had the humility to right a wrong with them and the honesty to let them know how i truly cared about them. i can’t force anyone to be my friend, but if i think you’re worth it i will at least try to convince you.

“what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”