I’m in love with Reykjavik…
In mid-November, the husband and I got to spend 5 days in Reykjavik, Iceland for our long overdue honeymoon/pre-baby bucket list! I’m not going to go on and on about it too much, but give you guys a quick rundown of what we did, plus some pictures!
Three Favorite Sights:
1) Thingvellir National Park: a historic park where you can also see the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Such an incredible place to walk around, take pictures, and hike around the volcanic rock!
2) Blue Lagoon: a beautiful mineral hot springs and spa where you can swim, drink, and get mud masks while floating in the mineral rich, hot springs! Incredible relaxing and luxurious and everyone needs to do this!
3) Geysir: some of the world’s largest natural geysers are here, and you can see them explode every few minutes! It’s so powerful, and I’ve never seen anything like it!
1) I ate a lot of strange things on this trip. When in Iceland, you know? Anytime I travel, I’m determined to try the local cuisine and put myself out of my comfort zone. Well…I did that. *squirms* We ate horse, reindeer, puffin, whale, etc. Honestly, it was all pretty tasty, but mentally, I died a little (haha!).
2) This was our very first time across the Atlantic, and the difference of styles and architecture–even the hotel rooms–was so interesting! I actually was obsessed with our little European style room!
3) We saw the Northern Lights! If you’re wondering why this isn’t listed on my favorites, it’s because we didn’t get the best views because of the cloud coverage while we were there. However, we still had the chance to see a good bit (even though it didn’t show up on my iPhone camera), and it truly was incredible!
1) Gullfoss Waterfall: literally the “golden waterfall”, this was an incredible natural beauty! It was multiple waterfalls, so loud and powerful! Despite the fact that I was freezing, this was one of the most beautiful memories I’ll have from the trip.
2) Pre-bursting geysers: there’s a moment right before the geysers erupt that this bright blue bubble appears over the surface of the hot spring and it’s incredible. My camera doesn’t even do it justice to what it looked like in real life. It was one of the most fascinating phenomenon’s I’ve ever seen!
3) The Countryside: We drove over twenty hours total through Iceland’s countryside to get to all the different attractions and cool sights, and because of that, we saw massively beautiful things on our way. Huge mountains of volcanic rock, wild Icelandic horses (very unique creatures!), random hot springs, geothermal hotspots where the ground steamed, beautiful small forests, miles and miles of snow and ice covered grounds…it was sprawling and incredible. Just driving through this country was one of the most beautiful parts of the whole trip.
1) If you go to Iceland, stay at the Reykjavik Lights hotel.
2) Use Gray Line Iceland tours to see the amazing sights and get around the island. Definitely do the Golden Circle tour, plus Northern Lights and Blue Lagoon.
3) Visit Islenski Barinn for some incredibly exotic local cuisine, like puffin and reindeer.
Trigger Warning: This post contains discussions on sexual assault.
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few days, you’ve seen friends and family members posting “Me, Too” on their social media profiles. Sometimes, that’s all they post. Sometimes, they share more. Sometimes, they share it all.
#MeToo is a grassroots movement where victims of sexual harassment and abuse are coming forward and telling the world…this happened to me, too. You’re not alone. We’re not alone. In fact, look how not alone we are. The movement took off quickly, and the response was tremendous. Because the number of victims out there is tremendous.
I’ve also shared my story more than a few times on social media, and on this blog, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse and as a rape victim during college. (You can read those blogs here). I don’t talk so often about sexual harassment because I just don’t have the time.
I don’t talk so often about sexual harassment because I just don’t have the time. I don’t even have the mental ability to hold all those instances in my brain. It’s so “regular,” so often, so…normal to pretend I didn’t hear the lewd discussions about my body when walking past a group of men, or didn’t feel the pinch on my ass, or didn’t notice that that man didn’t just “trip” on the metro, but rather purposefully groped my breast. So normal to pretend that removing my wedding ring for a job interview is normal, so the man interviewing me won’t think I’m leaving soon to go have kids. So normal to rush to my car at night quickly and lock the doors, my keys sticking out between my knuckles, because at any moment…I could be raped again. So normal to look the other way, to pretend that it’s not happening, to mentally paint a less frightening world for myself just to get through the day like every other woman out there.
Except, it’s not normal at all.
In a perfect world, this showing of hands will help people realize how prevalent it is and how much is needed to be done to change our current culture. So, that’s the question…what do we do next?
What Comes After #MeToo?
That’s the big question. Okay, great, we all spoke up. How do we change it? It’s so overwhelming to even think about. That’s fair because it is. Rape culture wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be solved overnight.
But, it can be solved in a generation.
We can resolve to teach our sons that consent is paramount above all else. We can teach our sons to step in and not look the other way when their friends are engaging in “locker room talk,” or worse. We can teach our daughters that their bodies our their own. They don’t have to hug their grandma if they don’t want to. Show respect, but make your own choices with your body. No one has to touch you. We can teach our daughters that they are more than their physical appearance, and they have more than that to offer future partners. And yes, men and boys can be victims, too.
We can elect role models who don’t grab women by the pussy. We can hire teachers and tutors and coaches who prioritize children’s safety. We can believe victims when they come forward. We can empathize and understand, instead of shame and silence. We can be the support for future victims that we never had for ourselves.
We can teach all of our children all of this, and then maybe, the rape culture we live in now won’t be around when our children come of age. Maybe our children will never have to say #MeToo…too.
Do you have ideas for how our world can change and grow moving forward? Let’s discuss in the comments!
I know, I know. With a title like that, this post could be going any direction, right? Well, stick with me ’til the end and you can decide for yourself.
Today, myself and half a million other women (and men!) marched in Washington, DC (and millions of others around the globe) for women’s rights.
The experience was unlike anything I’ve ever been through before, and I am forever changed by it. We were shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of thousands of people marching through the streets of Washington, DC a day after one of the most contentious elections in the history of our country.
I expected fierce. I expected loud. I expected drama.
And it was all of those things, but it was so much more. The march was soft and kind. It was generous and giving. It was open and warm. The air was alive–literally electrified–with spirit and excitement and unison. I’ve always spoken of wanting a unified country, but for the very first time I felt it.
Strangers held hands and sang together. People danced and twirled. Chants and mantras filled the air as women helped each other stand taller, stronger, wiser, firmer.
Women offered me free snacks, waters, hats, and other merchandise. We were just sisters, and generosity of spirit ran rampant in the crowd. There were for-profit stands on the sides of the march selling products, but they were all men. Draw whatever conclusions you’d like from that.
There was no question of what we were fighting for in that crowd. Our signs called for equal pay, affordable birth control, safe environments, an end to rape culture, and so much more. We weren’t anti-Trump. We were pro-women. We were afraid. We were brave. We are staring into the future, terrified, but facing it head on and not backing down.
However, here’s where the rub comes.
Upon arriving home, I saw two things online and on the television: support or confusion. There were countless posts praising the marchers, and from the marchers, all around the globe. Do you understand the magnitude of that? All 7 continents, and dozens of countries marched for America, for women, and for American women. When’s the last time you saw a march in downtown Washington, DC for another country? This is record breaking. It is historic. It is unprecedented. We, as Americans, and as humans, owe people around the entire globe a thank you for supporting us in a time where it feels like our own government isn’t. Thank you.
They got it. They were there, or they wanted to be. They saw the purpose. They knew what it meant and they knew why it mattered.
Then there were all the men and women who didn’t get it. Who said on social media that women were already free, so why are we complaining. Who talked on the news and boiled today down to a one topic issue (ie: abortion) and decided the whole thing was shit. Who said women in America have it better than women in some other countries, so we should be grateful. Who said…stop marching. There’s no point. It means nothing. You mean nothing.
And that, ladies, is why this post is called When Marching Isn’t Enough.
They weren’t there. They didn’t see the crowd of extremists with a megaphone shouting “fags will burn in hell” and the crowd of women singing love songs, arms linked, in front of them. They didn’t feel the strength and unity of women smiling and holding their head high despite the men in “Make America Great Again” hats on the side laughed and called out ratings for the women’s attractiveness level as they walked past, and the women who invited those men to march with us anyway because this march is so much greater than a new president. They didn’t see the women who had made hundreds of hats by hand and were distributing them freely to the crowd. They didn’t see the mothers who’d made snack bags for marchers just to make sure we were all okay.
They didn’t see the look on a woman’s face when she realizes her male coworker with less experience and time at the same job makes more than her. They can’t understand the frustration of paying exorbitant fees for birth control and pap smears when a man’s erectile dysfunction pills and prostate exams only cost a small copay. They didn’t feel the flush of humiliation when a strange man gropes us with zero regard for our wishes, reminding us that this body isn’t ours, but rather a dispensable puppet for any man’s fantasy. They didn’t feel the rise in blood pressure, the panic in our lungs, when walking alone and hearing footsteps behind you and quickly wondering what you’re wearing right now–would it look like you wanted it? They didn’t feel that sinking in their gut when the judge tells you the man who raped will only receive 3 months on probation because his future is more important than your justice.
They weren’t there.
So, ladies, bring the march home.
Teach the people around you what “equal rights” really means. Hold your head up high and don’t be afraid to ask for what you know you deserve. Educate the next generations on how we can do this better. We can demand better. Feel the strength of the millions of women who were there today now standing behind you telling you that you can do this. We got you.
You deserve equal rights. You deserve affordable healthcare. You deserve to make your own choices about your body. You deserve to feel safe from sexual assault. You deserve laws that will punish abusers. You deserve the same pay as your male counterparts. You deserve to be defined by who you are, not what sex organs you were born with. You deserve freedom.
It wasn’t enough to just march today and then move on. This isn’t over. This problem doesn’t just go away. In fact, it may get worse. Take the march home, ladies. Take it with you wherever you go.
It’s always a sobering and awe-inspiring moment for me when I look back and see how all the puzzle pieces fell in just such a way to create our lives how they were always meant to be.
It’s no secret that New Year’s Day is a tough anniversary for me. I’ve been open about why on my blog (here and here and here). Today is seven years since the day I was raped, and the first year that I’ve actually dealt with it head on.
Healing only happens with time, but it also happens in a moment. It’s all the little guard rails that push us back onto our course and keep us centered. It’s the fated people and places that point us to where we needed to go.
This weekend, I’m in Vermont staying at an AirBnb that I randomly chose off their website. It was the cheapest option, looked safe, and so I booked it. Upon arriving, I realized that the woman who owns the home I’m renting a room in is everything I’ve ever needed, and everything I wasn’t ready for until right now.
She’s a therapist, and a writer. Just like me.
She’s an animal lover, and a spiritual soul. Just like me.
She’s quiet and introverted, but loving and inviting. Just like me.
She’s recovering and healing from her own New Year’s Day assault…just like me.
The coincidence is shocking, but also…not. Life is magical like that. It puts the perfect people in front of you that you needed in that moment. She healed a vital piece of me in the moment our confessions melted together and we recognized a shared brokenness.
In that single instant, I felt a mend.
Small, but substantial.
We spent the weekend together, facing our same demon together, burning effigies and writing confessions and sorrows on scraps of paper to toss into the ash at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We had dinner and talked for hours and it feels like I’ve always known her, because maybe in a way, I have.
I was always meant to meet her. She was always meant to meet me. We were always meant to mend a tiny piece of the other.
Tomorrow, I leave for Canada and I already feel more spiritually full and happy than I’ve felt in years. This trip has barely started, and yet, I never want it to end.
Follow Sarah on her trip by following her on Instagram (@booksbysarahrobinson) and/or Snapchat (@booksbysarahrob)!
On the last day of 2016, I stood in the center of the Burlington Earth Clock and thought about time. Seems obvious, I know, but stick with me. In (corny) truth, it really was the perfect setting for considering the time behind me and the time stretched out ahead.
2016 was, by far, one of the hardest years of my life. I lost myself so entirely, and hadn’t even seen it coming. By the time I realized I was lost, there were nothing around to help me find my way back.
At first I looked for who was to blame. My job. My marriage. My husband. My town. My house. My “friends.” My family. My anything that wasn’t me. This wasn’t my fault. Someone else gave me bad directions and now here I am, lost and angry.
So goddamn angry. But the anger is good. Really good, actually, because it fueled me. First, in the wrong direction, but at least I was moving, at least I was changing. When I finally realized that lashing out at the world around me wasn’t making me feel any better, I started looking within. I realized that despite all the shitty breaks I’ve had and crappy circumstances (or people) I’ve been forced to deal with, none of those controlled my happiness. Nothing that was happening to me had anything to do with who I was or what would make me happy.
Only I could do that.
And then, I wasn’t so lost anymore. When you are the one drawing the map, it’s impossible to get lost. Everything is in your control…everything is in my control. I can choose to be happy, even in an unhappy place, unhappy time, or with unhappy people. Those things and people aren’t in charge of my soul, my spirit, my mood.
I am in charge.
2017 is going to be the year of “me first,” and I won’t apologize for that selfishness. I’m no good to anyone until I’m good to myself first. Years of putting my needs on the back-burner for other people has taught me that, and taught me that it’s time for a change.
In the coming year, I’m drawing my own map. I’m slowly going to find myself again, and revel in everything that I forgot I once loved about myself.
I’m going to fall in love again, but this time…with me.
Follow Sarah on her trip by following her on Instagram (@booksbysarahrobinson) and/or Snapchat (@booksbysarahrob)!
I want to start this post by saying…I’m sorry. You deserve better from me, as my readers and my friends and my family. I also want to say that this post is going to be long, maybe sad, and there isn’t an “I’ll try harder” or “I’ll do better” at the end.
There’s just me saying “this is all I’ve got” and “I have no answers, but I’ll find them.”
[warning for those with triggers, this post gets real]
Every December since 2010, I’ve spiraled. Hard. Anxiety hits me like a truck, and depression swoops in to feast on what’s left. I told you all this in my blog post on my website in November about my long struggle with depression. What I didn’t tell you was why or…why now.
I didn’t tell you that at a New Year’s Eve party, only 3 hours into 2010, I was raped and assaulted by a man I trusted. A man I’d considered a best friend. A man I’d considered safe.
For a long list of reasons I may or may not talk about one day, I dealt with this alone. I turned the police officers away in the emergency room when I was being stitched up, and I kept it to myself. I put that night away in a little box and never touched it again.
I spent every year since avoiding New Year Eve celebrations like the plague, always finding an excuse to stay busy. And as the years past, I thought I’d dealt with it. I thought I was okay.
For the first year since, I’m struggling to find the reasons why I’m okay. I’m struggling to remember the distractions I used or what I focused on instead, and for the first time, I’m realizing…I’m not okay. Not even a little bit. I’ve never dealt with this piece of me and never realized that it had already crept out of its box and infected so much of my life. I’m not okay because I’ve never healed, and that is okay. I wasn’t ready then, but I think…I think I’m ready now.
I had a book release ten days ago and I’ve struggled to keep up. I’ve struggled to promote this book the way I normally would, to be online as much as I should, to be as jovial as I should, and I know that’s reflected in how the book is doing. You, as my readers, deserve better than that from me and I’m so sorry.
I know this entire post is different than my usual comedic ramblings or upbeat optimism, but everyone is their own fighting battles and I want to show you both parts of me. I want to be real and open because I need to be, for me, and because I want to be, for you. Because maybe one person will read this post and think…”I’m not alone. I was hurt, too. I haven’t healed, too. I need to heal, too.”
If that’s you, walk this road with me. Feel with me. Heal with me.
I don’t have the answers, but I’m looking for them. I want to feel the same *stars in my eyes* excitement over this book release (because this book is so great and it so deserves that!) that I’ve felt before, but the reality is I’ve closed everything off–both the good and the bad. I can’t feel…anything. And I need to find it again–both for myself, and for my writing.
I need to find me, and I’m going to. I’m going on a trip alone for New Years Eve. I’m spending it by myself in total silence, and not letting a single distraction get between me and healing the parts of me I’ve left broken for so long.
So, this whole post is just me saying I might be stepping back from social media a bit, or seeming a bit off. I might even be a little quieter than before, and I hope you’ll understand. I’m on empty, and I can’t really find where it all went, but it’s gone and I feel, in a way, so am I.
The only thing I do know is I won’t be lost forever. I will find me. I will come back with a roar, beating my chest like a warrior who fought her way out and triumphed. All I really hope for this post and this message is that you’ll be here waiting when I do.
Don’t give up on me. Please.
I haven’t given up on myself.
Above content originally posted on Sarah’s Facebook page here.
Everyone who knows me knows that books are my favorite thing of all the things, because…books. However, in the spirit of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all the shopping happening this week, I’m going to tell you some of my favorite things that won’t cost you a gosh darn penny and really have nothing to do with writing or reading, because why not?
Here’s a list of my top 5 favorite apps or programs that I use literally every day and kind of make my life. Everything on here, I’ve tried so you can be assured I mean it. However, keep in mind that for some of these I’m also using affiliate links which means I get a little credit, or some times a couple dollars.
Anywho, check it out and tell me in the comments which apps you use and love on a daily basis!
When I Can’t Save $ For Sh*t
A friend introduced me to Digit last Spring and it’s seriously been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself (aka, I’ve saved $2,000 without even trying). This is a real bank account (yes, real bank account with FDIC insured and the whole nine yards) that saves for you without you having to do a thing. It basically automatically pulls a few dollars here and there from your checking account and puts them in a Digit Savings Account.
How It Works: Set up the Digit app (also done via text) with your checking account and start saving! That simple! You’ll get weekly alerts (or more/less frequent if you want) and you can set how aggressively it saves for you. You can also transfer $ back to your checking account in 1 business day, and you get $5 if someone signs up with your link (Hint!). It won’t overdraft you either, but if on the off chance it does, it will reimburse you everything including the bank overdraft fee (you can also set it so it doesn’t save if your account is below a certain $ amount just in case this makes you nervous!). Now you’ll have a nice cushion of money for emergencies, or a fun goal like a vacation fund or car fund or whatever else you’re saving for! We’re saving up for a car (or maybe that mythical honeymoon we never had *sigh*).
Learn more about Digit at https://digit.co.
When I Don’t Know What’s Up In The World
Thankfully, a team of snarky, smart, sweet millennials is at the ready to give me the latest news in a less-than-2-minute read in my daily Skimm that goes out to millions of readers, including big-time celebrities like Oprah. Yes, this is Oprah approved! Also, this is bipartisan, so whoever you voted for, you can feel safe reading this!
How It Works: Every Monday through Friday, you get an email about the latest current events happening all around the world. You’ll sound a lot smarter at dinner parties and family gatherings because of it, plus Amazon Echo’s Alexa can read it out loud to you (set that up here) so you’ll feel knowledgable as hell during your morning pee! Side Note: They do have an app that’s $2.99/month and totally awesome and more in depth than the free email, but hey, free is free!
Subscribe to theSkimm today at theskimm.com.
When I Need A Happy Start To My Day
The Shine text has been my lifeline through this election season, and hell, every season. Every Monday through Friday at around 8:30am, I receive an uplifting text message about life, motivations, and positivity.
Here’s an example of the last text I got:
“It is not happy people who are grateful, but grateful people who are happy.” Love. Connectedness. Stretchy pants. Take it all in today, Sarah. #ShineOn 🙂
Now who wouldn’t want to start their day off with a sprinkle of encouragement?
Sign up to receive your free Shine text at shinetext.com.
When I Can’t Wait 30 Seconds For The News
The Breaking News app is perfect for news junkies like me because I can get all the latest breaking news in one sentence or less immediately.
How It Works: Download the app to your phone and make sure notifications are set. Now pick up to 10 categories to be alerted on (like the election, US news, local news in your town, etc). If you want more than that, I think you have to pay for it. Now each time something happens, you’ll get a notification on your phone about it! You can get the gist from the notification itself or click on it to read more in depth.
Download Breaking News at breakingnews.com/apps.
It’s You. It’s Always Been You, Coffee.
I don’t get anything but a pat on the back from myself for telling you this, but if you’re a Starbucks lover, or even occasional buyer like myself, you need this app. I get free drinks all the time just by paying attention to their daily doubles or freebies or other cool promotional days. I also can order drinks from my phone and pay for it with my phone. In fact, if I don’t want to wait in line, I just order it from my phone ahead of time and swoop in at the last minute to pick it up while everyone in line stares at me with murder eyes. It’s fun to be hated by strangers.
How It Works: Download the app and link it to a Starbucks giftcard that you can reload again and again (or once you hit gold level, they send you a personalized gold card!). Order through the app and you’ll collect 2 stars per $1 spent. After 125 stars, you get a free drink of any size or type (you know my free drinks are the fanciest, biggest they have with 8 extra shots and would normally cost $20). It’s really easy to get to 125 stars without spending the $60-something you’d think you need to spend because Starbucks does tons of promotions for 50 free stars, 150 free stars, free daily double star points, free stars for ordering XYQ, etc. You just have to pay attention to the deals! 🙂 If you buy cheap drinks (think tea, coffee, iced coffee) instead of fancy drinks, then you really end up spending a lot less and getting the free drink sooner.
Break It Down For Me: For example, they recently had a deal where 9 purchases (over $1) within a week got you an extra 150 stars on top of the stars that each of the purchases normally gets you. By ordering 9 simple drinks like a grande brewed coffee between me and my husband, we spent $22.50 in a week and earned 150 stars, plus the 45 stars that our purchases got us (aka 195 total). In case that seems like a lot of coffee to you, I’m there every day all day writing so it’s kind of like rent to me (I seriously am talking like 50+hrs a week). That’s almost 2 free drinks right there (250 would be 2 free), and since I get a trenta-sized speciality holiday coffee drink with extra shots for my free drink (a $16.86 value according to my receipt), I pretty much paid $5.64 for 10 drinks, including a fancy as hell drink, and I’m only a few stars away from another free drink in a few days. Side note: I’m horrible at math.
Side Note for Writers: If you get regular coffee or iced coffee, and I think even tea, you can get a $0.50 refill if you’re still in the store when you finish it! You can hang out all day and drink 6 grande coffees for under $5 and only a minor heart attack. Talk about a cheap office! (Note: the 50 cent refills don’t earn you star rewards).
Join Starbucks Rewards at members.starbucks.com.
For more about Sarah Robinson and her books, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at eepurl.com/RUobv.
Trigger Warning: If you’re familiar with my blog, you know things are about to get real AF. You also know you’ll probably feel better at the end of this post than you do now when you realize you’re not alone…or maybe I’m just hoping I’m not alone. Either way, take care of yourself.
PS: I also curse a bit…because who doesn’t?
I didn’t get out of bed today, and I might not tomorrow. I might not the day after tomorrow either, and I’m trying to be okay with that.
I’m being slightly dramatic, since obviously I went to the bathroom and the fridge, then wound up on the couch wrapped in blankets with my laptop…but the feelings are the same.
When I first considered writing this post a few weeks ago, I was going to wait until I was “all better”. Until I was out on the other side, after I’d already reached the bottom and climbed my way up to the top. Because I will be up on my feet again…eventually. That’s how living the last two decades with Major Depressive Disorder works.
For a while, everything is okay. It’s tolerable, and some days, it’s even amazing. You’re happy and chill and things seem like they finally have all worked out. And you’ve earned it because you’ve been there, you’ve been at the bottom, you’ve gone through the worst, and you’ve paid your dues. This is your moment. This is what you were striving for during all those tears. It’s delicious and intoxicating…but it’s also fleeting.
Next come the days that aren’t so great, but not horrible, and that’s okay because it’s still not a depressive episode. It’s still tolerable, and you’re still managing your life.
But even that melts down over a few weeks, or months, or years that are hard. Really fucking hard. Your defenses are knocked down and one day, you just can’t put them back up again.
A little over a year ago, my walls started crumbling. My life suddenly didn’t look anything like I’d anticipated, or wanted. But I’m a strong woman–really damn strong, actually.
So, I powered through and tried to keep a smile on my face, and humor in my words.
I powered through a car accident. Through a miscarriage, then another, then another. I powered through losing people I loved, supports I’d come to depend on, and even the very basics of life–my home, my car, my income, my finances. I powered through losing my freedom, my weekends, or even remembering what a full fridge looks like.
Because I’m a strong woman, I powered through.
And then one day, I didn’t. My walls fell for the last time, and I scrambled like hell to find a way to build them back up, but found myself empty-handed.
I had nothing left.
I know the exact second it happened a little over a month ago now. I remember the feeling…one second I was there, then the next second I wasn’t. There was no specific trigger or reason or traumatic event that deserved this.
I’d given the very last of what I had, and now I was empty.
It was that simple. It was that fast.
I knew my next depressive episode had started…but no one else did. How could they? I still went through the motions, and met the bare minimums, and smiled when people asked how I was doing. Only my agent saw the pages I wasn’t turning in or the phone calls I wasn’t answering. Only my husband saw the daily tears, or found me crying curled on the shower floor unable to stand. Only my closest friends saw the emptiness in my eyes and probed further. Only I felt the physical pain of seemingly unbearable heartache throbbing in my chest.
People continued to love and laugh with my online posts or pictures, because they didn’t see that things had changed. I didn’t let them see. They cheered me on, and a few women have even told me they wish they were just like me. I’d smile and laugh it off, because they didn’t really know what they were asking for.
Sometimes I wish I was like the me they saw, too. But it felt like a lie….how could anyone want to be me?
I don’t want to be me.
They just love the online me. They think I’m great because they see the me who’s smiling and tells funny stories and writes sexy books and is always there to help other authors when they need it and so much more.
But that me…is me. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that I am both. I am all of those parts put together, and how could I want anything else?
I can be the woman laughing about a silly encounter with a stranger at the local coffee shop and the woman who feels everything is falling apart and she doesn’t know how to put it back together. I can be the author who helps her friends with their books and the author who didn’t write any words today because depression stole her motivation. I can be the happy fur-mom who posts a thousand pictures of her dogs and the almost-mom who’s lost three babies before she ever could hold them and tell them just how much I’ll always love them.
I can be both, and all of the above, because humans are so many puzzle pieces mashed together and it doesn’t always fit. The picture is sometimes blurry, but it’s all still me. I’m still me.
Someone told me once that I should always be striving to be my best self. Fuck that noise.
My best self is a full life, and that has to mean I won’t always be at “my best.” There will be tears. There will be grief and sadness and anger and hatred and an ache that feels it may never go away. And that’s okay, because my best self is also joy and love and kindness and celebration and everything else combined.
I’m choosing to live my full life, not my best life. To accept the down days and celebrate the happy ones. To appreciate the laughter because I’ve been best friends with the tears. To mope in self-pity where everything is horrible because the world is vicious and at the same time, be overwhelmed at the genuine kindness of strangers who only wanted to remind me this world can be so wholly beautiful.
My full life is wonderful and painful and joyful and devastating.
I am a strong woman…even when I’m not. I am kind, and loving, and difficult, but worth the trouble. I am all the things people tell me I am even when I don’t believe them. And in the same breath, I’m in so much pain that every breath feels like a question.
But, one day I won’t be. One day, I’ll smile and feel it in my chest, in the beat of my heart, and the lightness in my soul.
But not today. And maybe not tomorrow.
And that’s okay. That’s a full life.
Author’s Note: If you’re someone struggling with depression or feelings of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line if you need someone to talk to in a non-life threatening crisis by texting START to 741-741. Please seek help if you need it. You are strong. You are brave. You deserve to be here.
The ridiculously tiny woman in the photo above is my mother.
You won’t find her on my birth certificate, or in the delivery room. She can’t complain about how big my head was or how long labor was. She didn’t hold my hands when I took my first steps, or teach me how to tie my shoes. She missed every cute baby smile and giggling little girl moments when everything was easy and happy.
No, I met my mother when I was a pre-teen and she began dating my father. The happy little girl was a distant memory, and in her place was an angry, bitter young woman who had no idea what anything meant or why her biological mother hadn’t loved her enough to…stay.
For years, I fought her being a part of our family. Imagine the worst behavior a pre-teen, then soon, a teenager, can possibly display, then double it. Maybe even triple it. I threw everything I had at her, but for some damn reason, this new woman stayed.
She didn’t push me to be her friend, or call her mom, or even like her. Yet, she also didn’t let me walk all over her, or ignore her, or disrespect her–though I gave it a real college try! When I pulled back, she reached out and reminded me that she was there and that she loved me and that she also wasn’t going to take my shit.
This woman loved me, and she wanted to be my mother.
She may not have been there for my first steps, but she was there for every school function. She was there for every birthday party and comforted me when only one friend showed up (bitter child doesn’t equal tons of friends, y’all). She was there when police dragged me back home, and principals called home complaining, and for every other time I messed it all up and everything came tumbling down around me.
She encouraged me to write, turning my moods and penchant for beating up my siblings, into journaling my feelings with angsty poems written while wearing all black with thick eyeliner inspired by raccoons. She put up with Avril Lavigne at full blast as my 13 yr-old self sat and contemplated how unfair everyone was, how no one understood me, and how lonely and unloved I was (reminder: I was 13, guys.)
But, she was there the whole time, and she loved me. My father loved me. My siblings loved me (okay, there’s still some debate on this one). Everyone loved me, except me.
Maybe that’s why I fought her so much to begin with. And by “begin with”, I mean like 10+ years. She dealt with this for a DECADE, you guys.
She gave me something from day one that I couldn’t give to myself–unconditional love. And it was terrifying. I didn’t recognize it and I couldn’t understand it, which meant I couldn’t accept it. From her, or myself.
I’d like to say I grew out of it in a few years, learned my worth, learned her worth, and everything righted itself…but no. My teens came and went, and I was an adult before I could truly look back and see everything for what it was, rather than what I’d wished it had been.
Learning radical acceptance, and to take life and people at face value was a process, but when I finally embraced it a few years ago, my perspective shifted. I realized that my expectations of others were so much higher than my expectations for myself, and that I needed to love myself before I’d know how to accept it from others.
And now that I do, everything is different, even though everything is the same. But the difference now is me. I learned that loving myself meant loving all of me–even the parts that make me cringe.
I also learned she wasn’t perfect, and that I didn’t need her to be to love her. Just like I wasn’t perfect, and she’d never held that against me the way I had against her. I learned that the shame I harbored for my younger behavior was irrelevant, because it was long forgotten in her eyes. She’d loved me…always, and she always would.
I learned that my biological mother wasn’t trying to hurt me when she left, but that it was okay to feel hurt anyways. I learned to stop judging myself based on people who didn’t love themselves, and therefore couldn’t love me.
But most of all, I learned that I was a motherless daughter only because I’d spent so much time refusing to accept the mother who’d been standing by me for the majority of my life without fail. Because the truth is, I had a mother all along, and her name is Lucy and she didn’t give birth to me, but she loves me just the same as if she had.
I did everything I could to get her to leave, because I’d been taught that that’s what mothers do. But Lucy stayed, because that is what mothers do.
Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.