diving

i’ve spent the last several years distracting myself. maybe eight years or so. with work. i love to work to avoid what’s underneath. it’s an easy way to admire yourself and have others admire my work ethic, when really i’m avoiding a mass weight of life under the surface.

it has also been the ultimate means for presenting my flawed decision making tactic: spontaneity. it’s not that i skydive frequently. it’s more like i overwork and worry on mindless, unimportant things as if they matter to the point that i avoid thinking about crucial issues so that i just make important decisions in the moment. then i overthink the aftermath when i have no choices. 

recently i took a new job. it’s the first job i’ve had since university where i leave work and actually leave work. it’s normal office hours (a shock to my psyche). i’ve had time to think. and write. and evaluate. and be introspective. it’s been therapeutic, and honestly, a little agonizing. but i’m feeling peaceful to acknowledge more within.

when i changed my major from art to business very spontaneously in college, it seemed right. a friend of mine had just died, and i was trying to cope. i could keep my scholarships. i wouldn’t have to spend six to eight more years in school. my artistic mentors even suggested the change, because they said i’d get farther in life professionally and artistically with a bachelor’s in business.

with the flick of a pen, my mentality changed for years and years. as an art major, the world was bright with hues and forms. everywhere i looked, a painting. a project. boundless energy. trading to business, i struggled. there was artistic opportunity. there were people to influence and communicate toward in marketing. but it wasn’t art. at it’s core, it’s science. feeding science to an artistic brain changes it. i became less creative. my ability to paint and my focus on what i loved in career and hobby died a little.

during this same time in my life i had the greatest romantic love i’ve ever known. will i ever know anything as great? i spent so many years denying that it was a love for the ages. but inevitably, it’s shaped all the chasing, running, and comparing i have done these subsequent years. thrilling myself with feelingless flings, jumping into relationships with major red flags, hoping on people who invest little in me. have i even healed properly? i know true love and i have experienced bliss. yet i have recklessly pursued so many situations that are unfulfilling and full of pain.  

business is a great degree. the men in my life are great people. but the choices to invest my life have all been snap. i can see moments like stops in a film reel when continuing the course instead of spontaneously diverging would have benefited my dreams, my health, my heart. hindsight is haunting. but who would i be without the pain of knowing? maybe someone more. maybe someone less.

i am my experiences, so how could i know?

i wouldn’t have my child.
i am a marketer now.
i am an artist still. i’m simply a different artist than i envisioned in my teens. a graphic artist. a practical, everyday artist. i do make a living designing, so my art teachers were right. that paid off. i may not be painting still life or drawing illustrations on a whim like i might have a decade ago, but i’ve learned my mind can be altered by its environment and its training. 

maybe i’ll never know love like i once had it, but i am grateful i had it for a moment in time. i don’t miss a person. it’s a difficult feeling to articulate. when a person is young, they don’t know what’s ahead. they think there is so much of what they’re holding. i was naive to how unique sharing intellectual depth, understanding, connection and chemistry is. spending unsuccessful years trying to grasp that concept in others is maddening and lonely, maybe even impossible. 

diving inward can be dark some days. ultimately, i feel very peaceful. i am in a friendly place with everything that could be negative. all of my triggers are at a distance. i’d rather experience some loneliness and be in an honest, authentic place than cover up with distraction and chaos. i think there’s a place for spontaneity in making decisions. some of my snap decisions have been beautiful. some have been challenging. methinks, for now, i will be more thoughtful.

 

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.

track 19

third eye blind is cool and all, but they aren’t my favorite band. in fact, i don’t really overly-like any of their other songs. however, this has been my favorite song for nine years straight. i adore it and it never gets old for me. heck, this song was basically the inspiration for my last and biggest tattoo. the song strikes me for many reasons: icarus (my favorite mythological creature and alter ego), the romance, the dedication, the forgiveness, the reality of it. i could discuss this song and what it means to me all day.

if they put a score to the movie that is my life, i’ve finally decided where this song would play. it would be the epic video montage from july-october 2010, january-present 2012, and anything i’ve done in the time between in response/reference to the relationships from those time periods. that’s right. i’ve thought it’s made sense in other situations, but when it came on while i was getting ready this morning, i had to hit repeat. nearly every line of this song relates:

 

just an old friend coming over now to visit you, and…that’s what I’ve become. 
i let myself in though i know i’m not supposed to, but i never know when i’m done.
and i see you fogging up the mirror, vapor ’round your body glistens in the shower.
and i want to stay right here and go down on you for an hour– or stay,
and let the day just fade away in wild dedication. take the moment of hope and let it run and never look back at all the damage we have done now to each other, to each other, to each other.

’cause when i see you, it’s like I’m staring down the sun. and i’m blinded!
there’s nothing left to do. and still i see you. 

i never believed that things they happen for a reason, and they never go as planned. i wanted to thank you for a vision that was lost that you returned, but you’re passed where you understand.
now her appetite is blown.
little else is known, except she a little angry, grabs a towel and looks away.
and heat fades with the day
and i fall down on what to say–oh, something clean.
let me be clever: ‘hey, oh well, whatever,’ but that’s not what i mean.
where we’ve been has left us burned still i won’t turn now from a fight you know i’ll never win.

so when i see you, you know all the things i’ve done.
well, i’m blinded like i’m staring down the sun when I see you.
when i see you. 
when i see you it’s like I’m staring down the sun, yea!
hey, i’m blinded! hey, i’m blinded. hey, i’m blinded.

time, it passes and it tells us what we’re left with.
we become the things we do.
me, i’m a fool spent from defiance.
yea, you got me, but i didn’t give up on you.
icarus is not a tee shirt or a swan song, no, he is born again.
and it’s not easy being me, but i can’t promise i will mend
or bend when you believe that we are fixed now from our birth.
and i’ve just fallen back to earth–still you know i’ll try again,
’cause i believe that we are lucky, we are golden,
we have stolen manners in the days when we were one.

so when i see you, despite all that we’ve become–
i’m still blinded, but i’m still staring down the sun,
when i see you. when i see you. when i see you. 
when i see you.

oh yea, i’m still staring down the sun.
oh yea, i’m still staring down the sun!
oh yea. well, i’m still staring down the sun.
i’m blinded when i see you.
when i see you.
when i see you!”

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.”

today is the greatest

everyone should have a blog post with a smashing pumpkin title. today may not really be the greatest. i sat at work for eleven hours yesterday, forced myself to talk to my best friends instead of hiding like i normally do when i’m down, i wrote a lot, and i slept for twelve and a half hours. that’s right, i went to work and still slept over half the day. i consider it a record. this morning i woke up after that coma with knots in my stomach again. i gagged a few times as i was getting ready, and then i looked at myself in the mirror.

i’ve been alive for 23.5 years, and for most of those years i’ve worked hard to make a positive impact on the world around me. i want to encourage people when i see they’re down. i want to share my mistakes to help others not have the pains i have. i’d drop everything to help a person in need. i’ve been  loyal to my best friends, some who have stuck around for 12 years or more–anna, casey, lindsey, kristin. i haven’t been a perfect friend, but i’ve been loyal. i listen, i care,  i make them laugh. i take their pains on me when they’re hurting. i may say and do dumb stuff occassionally like every imperfect person, but i’m humble enough to apologize and take they’re forgiveness as an opportunity to be better to them in the future.

i needed to look at myself in the mirror this morning and feel positive.

i’ve been down, because i’ve done everything i can to gain forgiveness from someone i care about and it just hasn’t happened yet. then something wild happened to me yesterday.  i wrote a blog post last week attempting to be funny, and it really hurt a couple of friends of mine who thought they were my target. i got defensive about it, but it’s been bothering me really badly. i hated the idea that something i had said in jest had hurt the core of someone. i may be sarcastic, but i have a really sensitive heart. hurting someone really hurts me. after a week, i talked things out with the friend i unintentionally hurt yesterday. i asked for her forgiveness and she gave it to me–and we both felt better.

and then i realized that it isn’t just a trite old sunday school saying. forgiveness isn’t just for the person who gives it. it’s also for the person who asks for it. searching my heart for honest repentance and having the courage to put my pride aside to give a humble apology, i’ve grown as a person. i may not ever receive true forgiveness from people i’ve asked in my past. things would be easier if i could, but it’s not always possible.

for me, accepting that idea is almost as hard as finding the means to apologize when i’m wrong. i hate hurting people. i hate being unable to resolve it. it tears up my life knowing i’ve affected someone negatively, especially when i didn’t mean to. but i must give up my impatience and give things time. after a week of not knowing how to approach the whole blog ordeal, it approached me, and i now feel free of something that was burdening me inside.

that freedom is inspiring. i know the Lord wants what’s best for me. i know what he wants me to do with my life, and i know i’ve been complacent this year and blamed it on my job and other circumstances mentioned in previous blog posts. i’m glad i’m not wallowing in self-pity today. i’ve been doing it for a year now over different people and different situations, and it’s a tired act.

there’s nothing to be sad about. yesterday cannot be relived, and taking anxiety medicine to avoid feeling what today has to offer is just stealing time. the Lord forgives me, i’ve asked for the forgiveness of people i’ve affected, and i am forgiving myself. there’s nothing else needed but to keep going in that direction.

if i make it to being old, i know i’ll look back on a full life. i just want it to be a life full of good, not bad. i’d like to see the world, but if i rarely make it out of albany, i’d be ok. i want to have watched my family grow and my parents smile. i want to make them proud by the life i live, the job i have, the wife i become, the mother i long to be. i want to know the Lord more each day and share Him with others by how i act, not confuse them like i have with my behavior lately. and i hope as old lady erin looks back at the choices i made this year, i might not remember how dark some spots were because so much good will have occurred to overshadow them. or maybe i’ll remember today and the last few days and feel satisfied that something so seemingly trivial changed my direction in the best of ways.

something bad may happen tomorrow to shake up my world. something good may happen tomorrow to resolve a hurt. i can’t predict how the Lord will shape my life, but i can rest knowing that if i listen and follow that He has a plan for me that is beyond the dreams i described in the paragraph above. so today might not be the greatest in some respects, but today can be great because for the first time in over twenty months i don’t feel so aimless as an individual anymore. and for that i can be joyful today.

“it’s only over when you quit, and you ain’t no quitter, honey.” (thanks, brian.)

catch a tiger by the toe

relationships. when i was a teenager, i was so eager to collect and devour all sorts of them. people are fascinating. their motives and how they change based on who/what they focus on. their decisions and the justifications that follow. the values under which a person creates the ideas that drive their life. fascinating.

years later, i still believe this of people, but the motives have become disappointingly predictable. i want to meet people who change my mind.

i wish i could meet more surprising people. people who aren’t afraid of intellect. who are honest and who are eager to make the most of time. i need people like that around me. i’ve made plenty of acquaintances this year and years prior who are content with a shallow life wasted blowing wherever the wind takes them.

i met a friend recently through casey. his name is scott, and he embodies the description i gave of people who truly surprise me. sincere, authentic, intellectual and unafraid. i enjoy his presence, but it also makes me sad.

i wish people like scott weren’t such a surprise. i’ve met so few people like that in my world, and when they enter they ignite something in everyone they know. the rest of the world is capable of ignition, but usually all they ignite is frustration for me.

until this year, i thought that everyone was truly surprising introspectively–so i wasted my time digging around in completely shallow people looking for surprises. and in time, that left me feeling more jaded and shallow and sad i spent time searching for some treasure that never existed.

people aren’t all intellectual. or analytical. most people just make choices because they seem right. or exciting. i always assumed all people were like me. not that i think of myself as the ultimate prototype, but i enjoy the way i muse over life and it’s minutes–however daunting it may sound to people who don’t understand me.

and i’ve wasted a lot of time this year on people who don’t understand me. that’s my fault, and it’s a mistake that won’t be revisited.

the older i get, the more ok i am with having several acquaintances and few friends that really know me. those few friends aren’t perfect, but they are worth everything to me and my processes. i don’t know if it’s normal to come to such a conclusion, but today those people who would like to truly know me have to prove themselves in time and value to me. and those people who aren’t willing or capable of proving it, i still enjoy–but i don’t hold stock in like i used to when i was younger.

this idea has gotten me through my frustration with people who don’t think like i do. because ultimately, i equally frustrate these people, because they don’t view the world as i do either. and i’m finally understanding that, however basic it is.