Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving / Six Months

The sunlight shocked open my eyelids and pushed me to face the morning. Seven AM wasn't my friend. Perhaps because Four AM and I had grown to know each other so intimately. Four AM was comforting to me in all of his dark and quiet anxiousness. In that time of night, the silent hum of unspoken fears wrapped around me, curious and complicated, moody, but mine. But Seven, she and I had become strangers. Her pesky perkiness was too draining to even acknowledge. "Leave me alone!" I begged, trying to reclaim the darkness of shut eyelids. "Find someone else to force your rise and shine upon. I'm not interested."

But this morning was different. The light had a mission and Seven was unrelenting. As my consciousness took over, snapped into alert, I remembered the significance of this particular dawn. Not only was it Thanksgiving, but also the six month mark of Blake's death. The weight of that realization tugged at my heart, causing me to collapse into the sunlight and embrace my old friend Seven. Today would be too lonely if I isolated myself. "Ok Seven, you win."

These two events coinciding didn't feel like a coincidence. The universe had transpired to lay out this juxtaposition so clearly that it would be impossible to ignore. The national day of thanks and the day that marks half a year without My Love. One with a theme of gratitude, the other: grief. I started asking myself, "How can I respect both feelings without falling too deeply into one or the other? How can mixing the two create a more meaningful day?"

The answer was actually simple: focus on love. The absence of it, the presence of it, the yearning for it, and the hope that it still exists. Love in all of its forms. Love that can be seen and love that can only be felt. Love was both my greatest gift and the deepest hole in my heart. Today, I would focus on love.

My annoying but inspiring friend Seven AM helped me realize that this Thanksgiving, I'm not actually balancing opposite emotions.  On the surface that's what grief and gratitude seem to be, but in actuality, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Because the foundations of both are the exact same thing: love. It's easy to trace gratitude back love, but I had to stretch my mind to come to the conclusion that grief couldn't exist without love either. Love makes gratitude and grief intrinsically linked. The separation of the two only came from my refusal to wake up.

Now, I'm wide awake with my friend Nine AM. He has all the analytical insight of Four, but with the blissful optimism of Seven. At this time of morning, the light is shining bright, but it no longer has to battle against the harsh contrast of nighttime. The sun is welcome to disrupt my sleep because now I want to be awake, enjoying every minute of this day. A day that reminds me of both the past and the present, but more importantly, the love that weaves the two together.

Today, I'm coming from a place of Nine.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Making a Place at the Table for Grief on Thanksgiving

When I was asked by one of Blake's friends to write about grief during the holidays for Buzzfeed, I felt really honored. First of all, I was so glad they were putting something together about such an important topic. I had been thinking about how this holiday season would be especially difficult, so writing gave me the opportunity to dig deeper into those feelings. I felt like this article could be a great platform to both read other people's insights and strategies as well as share my own.

It came out today, I read it, and unfortunately, I was disappointed. 

I really don't know how articles like these work, but I was surprised to see that my words were changed around and some were omitted. I figured that the author would use what I wrote as is, unless he checked with me first. But the most upsetting part wasn't a correction or deletion, it was an addition. After the sentence where I explained my boyfriend Blake died, he tacked on "from a heroin overdose" to the end.

When I wrote my piece, I purposely left out the cause of Blake's death. It's not because I'm embarrassed or ashamed (his family and I have never tried to keep it a secret) it just didn't seem to fit the premise of the article. I never mind if his overdose or addiction are mentioned as a way to teach people, but in this context it just seemed like a gratuitous insertion for shock value. I was under the impression that the article's focus was how to be thankful during Thanksgiving in spite of grief, not drudge up the circumstances of the deaths. 

After I allowed myself to vent to my mom and Blake's friend for a little while, I realized that focusing so completely on one tiny aspect of the article stopped me from seeing the bigger picture. Yes, some of the things I wrote were changed. Yes, something was added that I felt strayed from the point. But not only did I get across my gratitude for the friends and family Blake brought me, there were also 12 other beautiful stories shared. As I read them, I started crying. Although everyone went through a significant loss, each person found a way to make the holiday special by honoring their loved ones' memories.

I ended up sharing the article on my Facebook (which was something I originally decided against because I was mad). I realized that regardless of my individual contribution, I am so grateful to be a part of a really important piece with a comforting message. I wanted anyone who has lost a relative, parent, child, sibling, friend, or significant other, to read these stories as a way to inspire and help them get through the holiday season. 

Here is the article:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Confessions of a Hypocrite

I have a confession: I am a hypocrite. But luckily for me, I believe that being a hypocrite is only a temporary condition that can be changed in an instant. This is my instant.

In all of the learning I've done though my grief, especially in the past month, the greatest lesson I've learned is about the interconnectedness of the universe. To me, this means that despite any apparent differences, we are all the same. When I see the world this way, it's impossible not to look at everyone with love and compassion. If you are a reflection of me, and I of you, any hurt or blame I cast only paints a dark picture of my own heart.

As I've said before, it's only human nature to make assumptions and judge. I believe our brains processes information this way in order to make sense of it. But it's what I do with those assumptions and judgements that defines me. I can act on them, creating negativity, or I can explore them honestly by turning inward. What about ME makes me think that about you? How have my PERSONAL experiences lead me to this thought? It's much easier to go through life focusing on what's wrong with other people instead of taking the time to see what can be changed within myself.

So as I've confessed, I am a hypocrite. Even after learning these lessons and believing that I've been living by these principles, I still have this ugly need to put certain people down. I've continually made villains out of you and a few people from Blake's life by judging your actions and making assumptions about your character. I find myself getting worked up, sharing this piece of "evidence" or that "fact," trying to somehow show that you are responsible for my pain. I confide in people that if Blake had never met you or if you acted differently, Blake would either still be alive or his death would be easier for me to cope with.  

I realize that to some extent, it's natural for me to do this. However, that doesn't make it right. After a particularly long conversation criticizing you last night, I feel guilt in my heart. It felt uncomfortably good to say some pretty horrible things about you. Although these things feel true to me, it really concerns me that sharing these thoughts made me feel better. How does putting you down make me feel good about myself? The answer: it doesn't.

The temporary satisfaction I felt last night from venting turned into a bad taste in my mouth this morning. Even though I shared this all privately, I wondered how I would feel if you heard everything I said. When I immediately shuttered at the thought of that, I knew what I did was wrong. What seemed like a harmless and cathartic way to release stress, actually hurt the image of who I want to be.

So this is my instant to refocus on the lesson of interconnectedness. If your pain is also my own, I can't inflict more onto you with a good conscience. There's already too much negativity in this world for me to add more on purpose. What does it say about me that I wasted hours spewing hate? Tearing you down? Laughing at your expense? If who I am is a reflection of how I treat you, I really wish that I would have shown you love and understanding instead.

This love and understanding can be expressed though actions, but starts with my thoughts. Although I've been nothing but nice in person, my thoughts show a much darker side of how I really feel about you. If I want to stop being a hypocrite, how I think needs to change. So I'm writing this post as both my apology for the judgements I've made and my commitment to ending the negative thoughts I've devoted to you.

The truth is the things you've said and done have really hurt me. I'm not pretending that I can forget what I believe to be acts of cruelty, but I will not let it color how I see you as a person. We are all struggling with grief, which causes us to act in ways that don't always make sense. I am going to make an effort from now on to start correcting my thoughts to reflect the pure heart I want to have. Although you may not always act in kindness, you are a good person. You are part of me and part of Blake, so I will love you just the same. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Purple Heart

Before meeting up with Blake's family to spend our anniversary with them, my mom went with me to visit the cemetery. I showed her Blake's grave and excitedly pointed out the blue heart I'd told her about. But right away I noticed that the heart wasn't blue anymore. The blue heart-shaped sea glass that I glued to his headstone had turned this weird, light purple color.

At first I was mad. The heart used to be a gorgeous shade of sapphire blue, just like Blake's birth stone and the little hearts I've been using on all of my posts. I even bought a ring and a necklace to wear that have blue heart stones in honor of that heart. Now that the heart is purple, I felt like all of this perfect symbolism was completely ruined!

My mom was actually smiling about it turning purple. When I asked her why she thought it was a good thing, she explained that she saw symbolism in the new color. My mom pointed out that purple is the color that you get when you mix red and blue together. What was once a deep, red, and passionate love was colored blue by the sorrow and sadness of loss. Maybe the heart turning purple reflected my own heart. Maybe I was finally learning how to combine those two colors to create a new kind of love. Not only romantic love or love in mourning, but a love that is perfectly both at the same time. She left me with those thoughts and retuned to the car to give me alone time with Blake. I kissed the purple heart with a new found respect for it, thanks to my mother's words.

When I woke up this morning, I started thinking about the purple heart again. I loved the explanation my mom gave for it, but felt the urge to dig even deeper.

Suddenly, I knew. A month ago, after reading my post about the symbolism of the blue heart, a woman close to Blake explained to me the spiritual significance of blue. She suggested I look up the seven chakras and their color counterparts.

What I found was that blue means communication and self-expression. Perhaps the blue heart coming to me was a sign to focus of these things. I've tried to do this by connecting with others who are grieving and keeping up with this blog. In the progression of the chakras, the color purple comes after blue. This is a transition into intuition and wisdom, acknowledging perception beyond ordinary sight. Maybe the heart that first came to me as blue was now trying to mirror my progress by transforming to purple.

With the added focus on the spiritual symbolism of purple (along with my mom's explanation of the color), I now feel like my interpretation of the purple heart is whole. My heart doesn't need to be blue anymore because I've learned so much about death, loss, and sadness in general. I've come to understand that I'm connected to every person and every thing, near or far, past or present. I've grown so much through my grief that now I'm able to see the world in a completely different way. A way that acknowledges the limitations of ordinary sight.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

To Blake, On Our Anniversary

It's weird being in my parents house again. The first couple of times I came home after your death, I refused to step foot here. Without hesitation, I agreed to sleep in the bedroom in your parent's house where you passed away, but was too scared to even see this place, the house where we spent your last week together. But being here has finally started to feel ok. In fact, now that I think about it, this house is actually the perfect place for me to be on our anniversary...

Where I'm laying right now is where I stayed up all night texting with you for the first time. I remember thinking, why is Blake Norvell even texting me? Maybe it's because he feels bad for making me drive him home? Maybe he's just bored? As much as I played it off like I was only mildly interested in you at first, I was so excited that night. I was right here, in this bed, with butterflies in my stomach every time a new text came in.

And there's also the last week we spent here, your very last week on earth. I know it wasn't our most
adventure-filled trip, but it was actually nice playing house here with you while my parents were gone. We got groceries, watched movies, took care of my dog, floated in the pool, and most importantly, got to wake up and fall asleep with each other every day. That's still the hardest part, you know. I still haven't gotten used to reaching over and feeling nothing but empty space.

One year. We talked about our one year anniversary all the time for some reason. I don't know why it always seemed so significant, but we even had the presents picked out that we were going to buy each other for this day. Why did we do that? That's actually really weird haha. But milestones were important to you and that made them important to me too. Which is why I want to make sure that today is filled with as much love as I can cram into it.

I watched our videos for the past hour or so. Every single one. I know I gave you a hard time when you would insist on taking them, but now all I want to do is thank you. If I could go back in time and agree to them enthusiastically, I would. But then again, I have a feeling that at least part of the reason why you liked them so much was because of my playful resistance.

There is so much I want to write to you. My favorite things about birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations in general, are always the cards. There's nothing quite like stringing together the perfect words to communicate to someone exactly how you feel. Most of the time the gift becomes insignificant in comparison if the emotion in the card is just right. For this reason, I want to write you the perfect note and send it up to heaven for you.

Blake, you mean more to me than you'll ever know. Not only did you teach me about true love during your life, but in your death, you also taught me about forgiveness, acceptance, spirituality, and having patience with myself. I never thought in a million years that something as tragic as losing you would somehow turn into a blessing. But it really has. I wish with all of my heart that you didn't die, but if you had to go, I feel unbelievably lucky that you left me with such incredible parting gifts.

I'm sorry this letter has bounced around from topic to topic in a not so cohesive way, but that really matches how my brain is working right now. I'm thinking of everything all at once, trying to soak it all in. I hope today is a happy day, even though I know sadness will permeate every minute of it. But I think that's ok. I'm learning that happiness isn't the absence of sadness, it's using your sadness properly. Every day, and especially today, I'm using my sadness to feel closer to you, to myself, and the world.

I love you, William Blake. Happy anniversary.

Love Forever,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Goose Bumps

I get waves of goose bumps all throughout the day. Even when it isn't cold, a shock of shivers will travel down my body. When this happens, I try to pay attention to what preceded it. I look for signs to clue me into the potential message these goose bumps are trying to send. I close my eyes and let the tingles cover me. The more I focus on them, the stronger they get. 

At night these goose bumps are overwhelming in the most beautiful way. The minute I touch my bed my skin becomes a sea of gentle prickles. It feels so good for my body to feel something, that I usually start to tear up. Instantaneously I know that it's Blake, welcoming me back for a night's sleep together.

Sometimes I'll ask him questions, aloud or in my mind, and I'll get responses in the form of goose bumps. I lay there, eyes closed, with a huge smile and a heart so full it could burst. I tell Blake that I love him and he answers me back with a powerful pulse. Every hair on my arm is raised and every pore is filled with gratitude. I drift off to sleep knowing that I'm safe and cared for. 

I've been hesitant to describe these experiences to other people because even to me it seems a little crazy. I know it makes no practical sense, but the more the waves of goose bumps happen, the more I feel like the only possible explanation for them is that it really is Blake. 

Tonight, I deferred to Google to help me make more sense of what's happening to me. I started with "
What causes goose bumps?" and found very technical explanations of how goose bumps are a reflex associated with cold, fear, or an emotional reaction. I wasn't satisfied with that because t
he goose bumps I've been experiencing aren't just physical, they're spiritual. So I decided to go a different route and explore "Spiritual significance of goose bumps." I was hoping the internet would connect me with a meaningful way to interpret them in this regard.

The results of that search were less scientific, but so much more meaningful. It produced amazing articles and personal stories. Here are a couple of my favorites:
"You may feel the energy around you change, and sense there is another spirit there reaching out to you. Often our physical body responds with feelings of waves, goosebumps, or shivers. Once you feel that presence… Speak with them. Spirits can communicate through energy, which means your thoughts and feelings can be shared and theirs can be received. Space does not exist when working with the soul."
"I get up behind you, and I put my hand in your hair. Then I push my energy through the top few layer of your skin, but not to the bone. And just the muscles. Usually your body responds to an interference, a change in the environment, so your body responds with the goosebumps. That’s why it’s really location specific"

I could go on and on about the things that I found. I feel very validated in my conclusion that these goose bumps are actually Blake's way of communicating with me. Death doesn't seem so scary (and so removed from life) when I can think about things spiritually. Because energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it only makes sense that Blake's energy is still around. I feel so lucky that he has chosen to surround me with it and help comfort me with his presence.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Unfinished Scrapbook

For our half year anniversary, I decided to make Blake a scrapbook as one of his presents. Not to brag, but it was turning out pretty spectacularly. Even though the gift was supposed to be a surprise, I couldn't handle keeping it a secret from Blake. I would send him picture updates any time I finished a page that I was particularly proud of (which was all of them, haha).

The last weekend we were together was when we celebrated our six months. I was going to give Blake the scrapbook then, but we decided that I should wait until I added the pictures from that trip. I was disappointed that I wouldn't get to give him his present on our actual anniversary, but knew it would be worth the wait if it meant adding even more memories to it.
The morning immediately following that trip was when I found out Blake overdosed and passed away. I hadn't even adjusted to being back in California when I heard the news. I couldn't believe I had just slept with him the night before, kissed him only a few hours ago, and already started counting down the days until we could see each other again. How could the man, whom I just spent every minute of the last week and planned to spend every year in the future with, be gone? I'm never going to see him again? Touch him? Kiss him? Hold him? This couldn't be real...

I vividly remember that even in the haze of confusion, my mind went to that scrapbook. All of my supplies were still on my bed. The unfinished book stared at me. It seemed painfully symbolic of the unwritten pages of our love story that were now never going to be completed.

I brought the scrapbook with me to Blake's funeral. In it, I had written a heartfelt note that he never got the chance to read. As I read it aloud to his friends and family as part of my speech, I was hoping that someway, somehow, Blake was able to hear my message too. I knew he would have smiled so big and given me a million kisses after he read it when I finally gave him his present. I felt extremely deprived of that moment. I wanted it more than anything.

There have been countless times that I've endeavored to complete the scrapbook since that day. I even went as far as printing out the pictures from our last week together and putting them inside the pages. But every time I tried to get myself to actually make them, I couldn't. Something about it actually being finished upset me. Maybe on some level I thought that if the scrapbook was never complete, it meant that our story wasn't over either.

Now the unfinished scrapbook just sits on my bookshelf collecting dust. Lately I've been thinking that it might be a good project for me to work on during our one year anniversary coming up this Saturday, but I'm not completely sure I can commit to that. Something in my body is preventing me from giving finishing it a real thought. I know eventually I'll be able to work on it, but for now the wound still seems too fresh.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Collecting Gifts

I'm flying home to Arizona this weekend because November 23 marks one year since Blake and I started dating. This morning when I woke up with an aching heart and eyes full of tears, I decided that today was a good day to start collecting anniversary presents for him. 

The last time I visited Blake's grave I brought shells, sand, and sea glass as a gift for his birthday. I did this because he loved the beach, especially the beaches of San Diego. We always planned that I would move here for graduate school and he would join me soon after. This gift  was my way to bring the beach to him, showing we can share San Diego in a symbolic way. And as an ongoing reminder that I have the honor and privilege of living our dream for both of us, I decided to bring bits of the beach to give him every time I come to visit.

So in order to find Blake's anniversary presents, I walked to the beach at the end of my street. But what started out as a quick way to listen to my heart, turned into hours of connecting with the ocean. I was mesmerized by the tide and its enchanting pull. I watched as it rushed over my sea gems, clouded and concealed them, and then revealed all that I saw before and more. 

The tide followed the same pattern over and over again, but somehow it kept teaching me different lessons. At first I learned how to rethink my disappointment when a pretty shell that I wanted got swept away. I was excited to find something beautiful, so when the water took it I got upset. But as this kept happening I started to realize that the shell wasn't mine to begin with; it belonged to the ocean. Because of this, I didn't actually lose anything. I was lucky to see the pretty shell for as long as I did, so I learned to let it go with peace and gratitude.

Eventually I transitioned from that lesson to a lesson about the power of patience. Instead of searching for shells, I started to let them come to me. I just stood there, basking in the sun, floating in the wind, and feeling like part of the ocean. When I looked down, the tide would retreat back just long enough for me to pick up what it had left for me. I knew what was there was mine to take because I didn't reach for it, it reached for me.

There is so much more I could write about the ocean. After Blake and my trip to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium back in May, we talked for hours about how magical it is. Not only does the ocean have a pulse, as evidenced by the tide, it also has a soul. If you are quiet enough, you can hear it speak to you. And if you are open enough, it has gifts for you to collect. Not only in the form of shells and rocks, but in lessons about how to live your life connected to the beauty of the world. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Not Writing Means

On my drive back from Homecoming weekend at USC, I realized that I haven't written a post in four days. Although this may not seem like a big deal, it's the longest I've gone without writing since I started my blog at the end of June. As I drove, I began thinking about what this four day gap meant. I ping ponged between believing it was a good sign and a bad one:

Maybe I was finally embracing normal life?
Maybe I wasn't respecting my grief? 
Maybe I was just busy?
Maybe I was just bottling things up?
Back and forth,
back and forth. 

I was doing it again: over analyzing my way into a corner. Instead of trying to pick apart everything I did or didn't do, said or didn't say, I finally switched my focus onto how I felt. How did these last four days without writing feel for me?


During my drive home I was so focused on what not writing said about me and my grieving process that I blocked myself from a very simple answer. Maybe I didn't write because I didn't need to. Once I identified that I felt calm this whole weekend, it made perfect sense to me why I didn't feel the need to write any blog entries. 

In the future, I know there will be days when I'll need to write. On those difficult days I might detach, continuously creating poems and prose inside of my head. But today reminded me that there will also be days when I'm so caught up with life that I'll only have time to share private moments inside of my heart with Blake. Neither type of day is better. Neither means I'm any less respectful to Blake or less respectful to myself and moving forward.

At this point, I know I'm the best judge of what I need and what I don't. The more I trust in my ability to cope with Blake's death, the more confidence I'll have in the decisions I make for myself. If I can build that internal confidence and trust, I'm going to be ok. I don't know when or how, but I'm positive that I will be.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


There's a whole world outside of my apartment, things to do if I open the door to my room, books to read and clothes to organize just a foot from where I lie, but instead I'm trapped in my bed. My entire life becomes the dimensions of my queen sized mattress. Everything beyond it is just a reality out of focus. I know it's there, I can almost see it, but it's all just a little too blurred. Too confusing. Too much.

I like my bed. It's not fancy or unique, but it's mine. And when I'm in my bed, the only choice I have to make is whether I want to be asleep or awake. Sometimes I don't even have to make that choice. When I'm in my bed I can just lie there and let my body make that decision for me.

At times I feel like I'm missing out. It could be as simple as sitting up and putting my feet onto the carpet. With just a little effort I could stand, walk around, and explore the space within my bedroom walls. If I tried a bit harder, I could exit into the rest of my apartment. I could shower, visit the fridge, watch TV, or maybe even talk with my roommate. And if I really wanted to, I could unlock the front door and leave. Just open it and walk right through. Who knows what I could find out there if I did that!

But the majority of the time, I prefer my bed. This is mostly because when I'm in my bed I know exactly what to expect. I know it'll be just me, my thoughts, and my laptop. There won't be any pressure to care about what's going on around me, to do anything I don't want to do, or to feel any certain way. In my bed I can hide.

I know I'm just isolating, separating, disconnecting, and avoiding. All of the -ings that only serve to postpone the inevitable. The unavoidable reality that there is a world just a foot from where I lie, beyond the door to my room, and outside of my apartment. A world that I belong to and love, but am not ready to fully embrace yet.

I toy with the idea of joining the world again and sometimes convince myself that I'm already there. But every so often I fall so deeply back into my bed that I get stuck. And while I'm here my point of view is that for me, reality is just a bit out of focus. I know it's there, I can almost see it, but it's all just a little too blurred. Too confusing. Too much. So for today, I choose my bed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Knowing You're Not Alone

the number of girls I talk to about losing our boyfriends.
Although that number takes up less than a hand's worth of fingers, three somehow feels like thirty. Three hundred. Three THOUSAND. Counting doesn't seem to do them justice because numbers fail to quantify how much those three women mean to me.

Our four stories are not the same. One death was a tragic accident, another medical, and the other involved the same drug that took Blake's life. For a couple of us it's still fresh, the other two it's been a few years. There are also differences between how long we dated, the role we were allowed to play in the funeral, our continued relationship with their families, how we react to new men, and our general methods of coping with this unfathomably difficult situation.

But connecting with these women isn't about comparing who has it the worst or who is the strongest now. It's not about our disparities at all. What sets us apart melts away because we have this immediate and innate foundation of understanding. I feel like I can tell any one of these girls my scariest fears, most shameful thoughts, or wildest hopes. They may not feel the same things, but I know they would accept these confessions with a love that can only come from having "been there."

This is the power of knowing 
you are not alone.

It makes me sad that we've been conditioned to mask ourselves in front of each other. We are taught that the truths about our lives that may not look as pretty splashed all over Facebook are worth hiding. Ignoring. Denying their existence. When in fact, these are the building blocks that shape who we are and create meaningful bridges between us and other people.

I may never have met these three courageous and inspiring women if it wasn't for us reaching out to each other. If in that moment we chose pride over vulnerability, we would've never known the power of each other's company. We might have spent months, years, our whole lives thinking we were alone, believing that no one could possibly understand what life is like for us.

I was contacted tonight by a girl in South Carolina who's boyfriend also died in May of a drug overdose. Although we have no mutual friends, she stumbled upon my blog and bravely shared her story with me.

As we messaged back and fourth, I was reminded that the world is such a confusing, but beautiful place. Somehow the ugliest experiences are the ones that provide the pathway to the most life changing connections. If we open ourselves up and risk judgement, we will be rewarded with the unparalleled gift of knowing that we're not alone.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Protectors and Assailants

When I go out, I start sorting guys into two groups: protectors and assailants. I quickly label everyone in my head in order to navigate my way through the night. Although this strategy keeps me present for a while, it always ends the same way. Slowly and then all at once, I shut off completely. And when I get to this point nothing anyone says can bring me back.

The assailants in a bar are easy to spot. They look at me, my skin crawls, and I know. When they talk to me I feel nothing and everything all at the same time. I've tried to describe this panicked feeling before, but the exact words to explain it are still elusive. I fight to hold conversations with assailants as long as I possibly can, but eventually their every word, every movement pushes my heart to a cliff. As I near the edge, the alarms sound in my head and I have to excuse myself to find my nearest protector.

Protectors are guys I know well and have a level of trust in. Their close proximity to me is never a threat, but not always a comfort either. As they see me start to unravel, they hold me like a fragile piece of porcelain. Cradling me too cautiously, encasing me so I don't shatter. They create a barrier between us and the rest of the world so that no one can touch me. Although I'm grateful for this at first, inevitably I panic again. Not in the heart stopping way that the assailants incite, but instead this panic squeezes my lungs. I lose my ability to breathe, suffocating under the weight of their fierce protection.

And then I'm alone.

Not physically, as my protector won't leave my side, but mentally I've rowed myself to an island of my own making. I sit there as the ocean laps at my oars, trying to coax me back in. But I can't. I won't. I refuse. I've made my choice to disconnect and now I'm lost to the world.

As I shut myself off from this confusing crowd of protectors and assailants, I search inside myself for you. You reassure me that things won't always be like this; I need to be patient. That someday, I'll be ready to stop labeling guys as either protectors or assailants. Little by little, I'll start viewing them as they actually are. Not just there to attack or defend me, but as real people who are searching for connections in the same way I am.

So even though it feels like there's you and then there's everyone else, I'll wait. I'll keep attempting to find my way through the safety and the set backs, the challenges and the comfort, the help and the hurt. Because I know on the other side of it is a world full of love. A world that I'll belong to again if I take my time.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Don't Wipe My Tears (A Poem)

Don't wipe my tears
just let them fall
streak my cheeks
drip and crawl
From my eyes
pooling at my nose
caught on my lips
dampening my clothes

Don't wipe my tears
I like how they feel
they wash my skin
and help me heal
Wouldn't shut them off
even if I could
because with the bad
there's always good

Don't wipe my tears
they serve me well
teach me patience
help me to quell
the piece of me
with doubt and fear
and put in its place
a pride sincere

Don't wipe my tears
they're mine to own
understanding this
shows how I've grown
No longer afraid 
of what tears may say
because I make the rules
and tears are ok

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I bought a membership to a hot yoga studio when I finally felt ready to start exercising and taking care of myself again. After signing up a couple weeks ago, I made a goal. I saw the beautiful women with perfect yoga bodies coming to class in just a bra and shorts and I decided that I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to have the perfect abs and the confidence to show them off.

Today in class as I was dripping sweat (its hot yoga so the studio is over 90 degrees) I started thinking about the goals that I made. How will I know when my stomach looks good enough? How will I determine when I am ready to let other people see it? Maybe it was the heat that got to me or the fact that my shirt was drenched, but I decided that my stomach looked fine and now was as good a time as any.

Although taking off my shirt and standing in the middle of the classroom in only a bra felt like this monumental moment for me, surprisingly the world didn't stop. In fact, not a single person in my class even looked at me. They were all in deep concentration, working on their own poses and centering their own thoughts. It seemed that the only person who cared about what I was wearing or how I looked was me.

Leaving class, I started thinking about the goals I made for my body. I've made hundreds of similar goals before, but every time I reach a point where I give up on myself. Because there is never a way to determine when you're thin enough or pretty enough or confident enough, creating these kinds of goals always leads you down a path of inevitable failure. Even after learning this lesson over and over again, why did I continue to subject myself to such unfair pressure? Why did I think that goals like the ones I made were even goals worth making?

I decided that the purpose of working out should be to find balance. Whether that means relieving stress, improving the way my body functions, or connecting in a spiritual way, exercising should be an avenue for growth, not punishment. Going into a yoga class with the mindset that I'm not good enough and that I'm doing it to "fix" myself completely contradicts that. I should be doing it to take care of myself, not to push myself to look a certain way.

Even though I met my goal this afternoon of being one of the women in class in just a bra, it felt very empty and anticlimactic. It actually made me feel silly to know that I put the confidence I'd need to do this up on such a high pedestal. It seems that I actually had the confidence to do it anytime I wanted to. Somewhere along the way I must have forgotten that and started looking externally for a sign of this strength. When in reality, I didn't have to go any further than looking within myself.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I realized that when it comes to Blake's overdose, in some ways I feel like a failure.

This morning in my counseling class, we learned about Motivational Interviewing. This is a type of therapy used with addicts to change their drug use. As my classmates started asking questions about what to say and how to get the client to make positive changes, my heart sank. Although I know I never got the chance to have these conversations about addiction with Blake because he didn't let me, I still began to feel like I failed him.

I quietly cried in class, looking down while covering my face with my hand. I could have gotten away with hiding my tears if it wasn't for the betrayal of my nose. It sniffled and leaked and uncontrollably drew attention to me. I tried to silence it, but every time I wiped it, it surged back with vengeance. I felt the hot stares of my classmates, but didn't dare to look up. I didn't need to see their faces to validate the pity being sent in my direction. Instead, I got trapped in my head and sat inside myself as the lesson droned on. With every word from the professor's mouth I slipped further into my cave of inadequacy.

The difficult thing about guilt is that it can defy logic. I can logically know that Blake's death is not my fault and that there wasn't anything I did wrong, but the weight of failure still crushes me sometimes. Not all the time, but when it does I get completely flattened by it. I spiral deeper into my head posing what ifs. What if I asked better questions? What if I showed I cared more? What if I made it clearer that I'd always love him? Never judge him? Never leave? What if? What if?

What if I make the decision to forgive myself? What if I recognize that even if there were things I could've done differently, so what? Am I going to I punish myself for the rest of my life for that? Call myself a failure for all of the hypothetical things I didn't do?

We're talking about Motivational Interviewing in class. This means that I have the opportunity to learn how to work with people and help them make changes in their lives. Instead of using this as a means to criticize myself for not doing this in the past, I could be focusing on how I can utilize this strategy in the future.

I acknowledge that even though I fail sometimes, I am not a failure. The things I didn't do or could've done are insignificant in comparison to what I can do now. And what I can do now is infinite.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More Than Enough

When Blake first met my mom and dad I was SO nervous. I honestly didn't know what they would think about him. I wasn't sure if they'd like him and was afraid they wouldn't believe he was good enough for me. After introducing my parents to too many of the wrong guys, I felt extra pressure to make sure they knew he wasn't just another one of them. 

Before we went to meet them, I was extremely anxious. I started telling Blake what to say and what not to say. Talk to my dad about computers, you'll have so much in common. Tell my mom about starting your own business, she did too. Don't talk about religion. Or politics. Or anything about rehab. Blake handled my obnoxious nagging well for the first several minutes, but eventually called me out for it. He said he was excited to meet my parents because if they were like me, they would get along great. To him, it was that simple. Then he told me it was sad that I wasn't more confident in him.

Reflecting back upon our relationship, I know I had my doubts about Blake. He had all of these incredible business ideas, but lacked the discipline to really build on them. Money seemed to always slip through his fingers. And he was constantly taking risks, making mistakes, and assuming that somehow his messes would get cleaned up by someone else. But although I had my uncertainties about Blake, I also knew that I was completely in love with him. 

And this love for him has only gotten stronger. Through stories from his friends, bonding with his family, and really taking in the lessons he taught me, I have a more complete view of Blake. I see what a light he was to so many people, the widespread impact he had, and how he truly balanced me out as a partner. The more I discover about Blake through connecting with people and looking inside myself, the more my confidence in him grows. 

Lately, and especially tonight, I feel guilty because I wish Blake experienced me feeling this unshakably secure about him while he was still alive. I've been beating myself up questioning if he ever believed he was good enough for me or truly believed that I thought he was. In spite of all of my nagging, critiques, and judging, did he actually know? I wonder how many times he looked into my eyes and saw what an incredible man I viewed his as. That although I had my doubts, I never forgot how lucky I was to have found him and how much better my life was because of his love. 

I just want him to know he is enough. More than enough.

I should have told him that every day. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The New Normal

Feeling like I'm almost a normal person again is so strange.

I've spent the past five months floundering between disconnecting from the world and struggling desperately to reintegrate, bouts of apathy towards fitting back in and concern for my lack of interest, and anything and everything in between. In the beginning, how I felt about my relationship with the world changed from minute to minute. But as time passed, these waves of emotions started to even out. First to an hourly basis and finally to a more optimistic day/difficult day pattern.

Feeling like I'm almost a normal person again comes from the smoothing out of these extreme fluctuations. Getting to this point is strange because I'm not sure if I like it.

Part of me knows that although I may almost be a "normal" person now, I will never be the same person. This is the part of me that's fighting back. This part doesn't like that things are starting to go back to how they were, because it's scared this means that I'll forget what I've been through.

It would be too easy to embrace this budding sense of normalcy with open arms. For so long, functioning normally seemed like a far off goal only seen from a distance. Now that it's actually within my reach, I want to grab it and wrap myself in it. I want to drench myself in normalcy so that I won't have to remember what it felt like to deny it's possibility.

But I've seen too much that I can't un-see. I've felt too much that I can't un-feel. I know too much that I can't unlearn. If being a normal person again means suppressing all of these things, then I want nothing to do with normal.

Words can't explain how grateful I am to finally feel like I can become a functioning part of the world again. But in my heart I know that reaching that point won't feel genuine if I achieve it by leaving what I've been through behind me. I need to somehow find a way to take all of what I've seen, felt, and learned with me back to the real world. Figure out how to be who I've always been, but a more understanding, compassionate, and spiritual version of myself. And maybe by doing this I can start to create a new normal, for myself and for those around me.