Te Cuidas..En Dos (o Mas) Idiomas

I read an article once about a man coping with his wife’s mental breakdowns and how she would switch languages whenever she became depressed. I remember thinking “Wow! I can relate!” and not really understanding that there were people who suffered in only one language. I mean, obviously it’s entirely acceptable and completely normal to use the language you are comfortable with and fluent in to express yourself.

For me, bilinguialism is a tip off that I’m about to become depressed.

Think of it like listening to the radio. When you’re happy, you listen to songs about fun and happy times. When you’re sad, like when you’re getting over a break up, you listen to sad songs, songs you can cry to and scream at. But my “playlists” turn to a whole different language.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to use multiple languages in a general setting. It helps me professionally, it gives me access to other cultures and some really excellent foods. But when my heart is breaking, when the deep clouds of depression are hovering, my own language fails to live up to my needs. English leaves something to be desired.

I notice the change very abruptly. Instead of involving myself casually in another language, I will switch entirely from English into the other one. My music will become entirely Latinx, for example. Or I will only read in Cyrillic. Sometimes it will be a little more gradual and I’ll switch my recipes to all Kenyan, then start writing myself notes in Swahili. And then I will refuse to speak in English, I’ll write my grocery list in something else and I will immerse myself in this entire other state of being. It is then that I realize I need to double-down for some self-care time and take care of myself. When I start pulling out of my depression, I can go back to enjoying those same activities, but without the despair that anti-mania brings. Those extra cultures give me a safe place to go so I can start to heal.

In the realm of mental health and self-care, it’s really common to hear about things to look out for: an increase in impulsive behavior for mania, apathy for depression, paranoia for psychotic episodes and more. Physical symptoms take a really forward presence in your overall health, the life threatening symptoms next and then the ongoing symptoms. Signs you’re about to enter into a “danger zone” come in lists, self-help articles and off-handed comments. But it’s much harder when no one talks about potential tip offs that aren’t as common-but still just as serious.

When I was learning other languages, I was told that they would be keys to a door. I didn’t ask what that door would look like because I thought it was “to other cultures”. It turns out, it was a door to self-expression and the way I know I need to prepare myself for the pending breakdown.

Whatever your tip offs, you shouldn’t doubt yourself. And you should always invest in your own self-care. You know yourself best.

This is How

Everyone always asks what you want to do with your life. No one really asks how you plan on accomplishing those goals.

I always wanted to save the world. I held on to the hope for the longest time (and truthfully, to some degree still do) that I would be given powers or gifted something that would help me on my mission. I’m talking like superhero/X-men/mystical gift type stuff. Because I thought that that was the only way I could ever save the world. I didn’t want to do it for glory and fame and money. I told people I wanted to “leave the world a little less shitty than I found it”. and for the most part, that’s true. As an adult that sentiment has morphed into: “I see what our species could be, could do and we’re just not there yet”. All of this is still true.

Reading books was a really big thing in my house growing up. From a young age, it was a treat to spend a summer afternoon reading (because I lived on a farm where chores were never ending). I never viewed it as uncool or as homework, because I loved it. Reading gave me meaning. And it was there that I first learned to hope that I might be able to indeed, save the world.

I adore big thick books with multiple stories in a series. Countless tales whizzed through my mind on hazy afternoons and silent nights. They all brought me the notion that a person did not have to be rich and strong and powerful in order to make changes in the world that would impact others greatly. And I waited.

A constant reminder as I made my way through compulsory school was that soon, I would be an adult and that meant that people would take me seriously, listen to what I had to say. A little naive, perhaps, but it is in part still true. People do not listen because I speak, they listen because I have something to say.

I’ve come across the following argument a few times in my life and I think that it’s a pretty defining feature by this point:

If you were wondering what you would do in (the Cuban missile Crisis, the Revolutionary War, World War II, the Civil Rights Era, etc) this is it.

You cannot travel to the past (yet??). You cannot insert yourself into a scenario and think about your life as it happens, sometime in the distance. You only have now and the possibility of tomorrow.

I think that the thing people get wrong about changing the world is thinking that they have to do it alone. That’s only for comic book heroes and Hollywood. The real secret to changing the world is that you have an incredible amount of people who are wanting to see that change too. The only thing is, they’re waiting for someone to step up and get things started.

So while I can’t say that having superpowers wouldn’t be cool (because if I had the option, I would DEFINITELY have them) but maybe my power isn’t telekinesis or shape-shifting. Maybe my power is standing up and speaking out-so that others can tap into that power as well.

Great Migration Analysis

Moving across the country is not for the faint of heart. Especially when that moves comes at a double eclipse month with several retrogrades and no money. But for posterity’s sake, I want to detail our time-even if it’s just to laugh about in the future.

My husband, dog and I left Ohio on August 3-just one week ago. What should have been about 12 hours full go turned into a 15 hour car trip. And it wasn’t without incident. We made it out of Ohio with ease (although it felt like it took forever) and into Indiana, actually a little early. We hit overnight construction and it ate up half an hour, but that wasn’t so bad. We made it to Terra Haute and stopped for gas. By then it was drizzly. We left the gas station and it began to deluge. And in the middle of a one lane construction zone highway, our driver side windshield wiper flew off. We waited for the rain to subside, but ended up spending over an hour just inching up between construction cones until the next exit when we searched for a Walmart. In the pouring rain, in a Walmart parking lot, at 2:30AM, my husband got out and changed the windshield wiper-something neither of us had done before. The rain slacked off soon after and we returned to our trip.

Missouri came much later, but we reached St. Louis and I had to make a stop. The first gas station’s bathroom keys were stolen and the second gas station had no restroom at all. So I waited until Columbia-quite a long drive later. We got out of Missouri as soon as possible-especially with that ACLU/NAACP travel advisory going on. The whole state just seems…troubled. And you’d really have to be there to understand.

Kansas came as a relief, honestly. It meant we only had about two hours left to drive and then we could get out and about. But they were long hours nonetheless. We get to our apartment (finally!) and it’s, well, it’s something. The people were very accommodating, but compared to Columbus, it just didn’t compete. There are huge stains in our carpet, we spent almost half an hour going over things in our apartment which were defects from the last tenant. Then we are charged for 2 months upfront (which I planned for, but hoped against.) Then we took an emergency nap (because we hadn’t slept in going on 36 hours) and it was off to do errands. We made it to the utility office to turn on our water-success!

My dad had thoughtfully booked us a hotel room for that night (because we had no bed). The hotel told us when we arrived that they would not be able to charge his card and needed mine. I didn’t budget in that kind of money, but desperately needed rest. We order pizza and then sleep until the morning.

We return to our apartment and begin putting things away. Our appliances look like they’re maybe 20 years old, are incredibly loud and our water squeaks. I almost jumped out of my skin when the washing machine turned on. And while we’re on the subject, our washing machine holds 5 pairs of jeans-total. So laundry is going to be fun this year. Sunday, we went to the store, picked up some essentials and began to make our life in our little apartment. The walls are thin, the people are polite-but too much so. I suppose that’s a weird thing to note, but it’s like being in the deep south without the drawl.

Internet didn’t get turned on until yesterday. Our bed got delayed until today. My financial aid is up in the air currently because I have to go through extra verification. And I need to stop on that for a moment.

My financial aid is due (at the LATEST) September 1. I logged in and saw a flag on my account. I was told I needed to do some extra verification steps-which could take 3 weeks from receipt of all forms. Which puts finality at August 31 if all papers were received today. But I have to deal with the IRS-so that clearly won’t happen. I called the school and asked what I could do, because I’m not trying to cause trouble, I just want to change the world. I was told that if my paperwork was late, and they didn’t finish it, I’d be charged a late fee-even if they had everything received. And so, last night, with money I couldn’t afford to spend, I went to the store and bought a printer and started filling out my paperwork. Here’s the kicker though-they didn’t put the flag on my account until August 3. Which means that I was already screwed before I had a chance.

And that’s about when the panic kicked in. Because I am just one person and the universe has not been kind.

I wish this was everything. It’s not-not even by a mile. But I want to stop there because I know it sounds like I’m just having a bitch session. And while it’s helpful to list complaints, that’s not everything.

Because when I decided to come here, I asked myself what my goal was. And yes-law school is important to me. But I wanted a personal goal. And I decided upon the following:

I want to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Those were my exact words. It’s felt like I’ve eaten them since I got here, but I had in mind going to new places so that I could get over my social anxieties. I imagined a life of friends and cordial interactions. I imagined a little nest in a red state in which I could plant myself and allow blue flowers to grow. I thought about all the diversity I could bring this little Christian corner of a country that flourishes in differences.

I feel overwhelmed, under prepared and honestly, I just feel like I’ve made a really big mistake. But at rock bottom, I have no where else to go but up. And I find peace in that. I’m not saying that I am just oblivious to this struggle. I feel like I’m in survival mode 100% of the time. But each day brings me a little closer to being completely okay. And I think that’s important. I kept pushing this frustration and rage and anxiety into the closet I’d labeled “Adjustment”. But it’s more important to admit to myself that I’m in over my head and that’s okay. Because if this is the worst that comes at me, I’m dealing. And that means my goal is gonna be accomplished and law school can’t be harder than that.

 

Hiatus

This blog post has been written three separate times, with three separate ideas and tones-none of which were posted. I thought this post would speak to fear, to doubt, to the way things just feel out of place when you’re on the verge of change. But I don’t think that’s been the entire picture. Instead, I find that much the way depression clears from the sky, so too have my struggles come to perspective.

When the clock hit “30 days”, I felt a surge of panic. I was getting ready to move away (almost a thousand miles) from the only life I’d ever known, make a new life from ground up. That’s a lot to commit to, especially when I had ever manner of nervous breakdown when I moved just an hour away to the university I just graduated from. But in the past two years, I’ve become someone new, and I think that’s been something I needed very much.

When the clock hit “20 days”, I felt the waves of doubt. I was entering a new lifestyle, one which I didn’t fully understand, one that I was sure wasn’t something I was prepared for. I was leaving behind all sense of security and stability because I wanted change. I was throwing my caution to the wind and letting my life float down white water rapids.

When the clock hit “10 days”, I felt depleted. I was unable to come to terms with the reality of the situation. I had just a fraction of time left before I was ready to go on my journey. I met with everyone I needed to, spent time debating with myself, talking myself out of the fears and doubts that had come before. I touched weakness and reaffirmed that I was doing what I absolutely was destined to.

When the clock hit “7 days” I finally caught a glimpse of excitement. It was small, a flicker of a fire I thought was completely out. I felt things coming together and I realized that I’d been waiting for permission to be excited.

Truth be told, I know I have a long way to go. Big change is scary, and I’ve done my share of going back and forth about being afraid. But if the fear doesn’t go away, you just have to do it afraid. And it was when I came to terms with that idea that I felt like it would be okay. I put down my constant hovering, let go of my trust issues and I told myself that I would make it work-even if I didn’t know how to yet.

I have a little less than a week left in my apartment. There are boxes where memories stood, bags filled with parsed down essentials and just a couple things splayed about, waiting for use. Each day I look at my calendar-a dry erase one which has been erased numerous times-and I remember that life isn’t meant to be static. Change is inevitable. After all, when I started this blog, I was determined to become a doctor. If that had been my life, I’d be writing you from a much different perspective. Instead, I am right where I need to be. It’s been tough-sometimes too dark to see where I’m headed, but I kept going. I’ve got more boxes to check, but for the most part this is goodbye.

I’m not sure I’ll have much more to say (or time to say it) before I leave for my last tour around the state. I won’t have much internet, apart from my phone, and even then we’ll have to see. That means the next time I will be here will be the first full week of August. I know I’ve got plenty to say, plenty to do, but I think that for now, the world is finding itself again.

Please keep fighting.

Fight for your life, your right to it.

Fight for your love, your ability to give it away.

Fight for your rights, your unalienable rights.

Fight for each other, the ones who don’t know they need you.

Fight for peace and love and happiness and hope, because the world is made a better place every time someone believes that they make a difference.

But fight for yourself, because you matter-especially when others tell you that you don’t.

You do.

Here’s to a glorious road trip. See you on the flipside!

But it’s who we are.

Kesha put out her newest song this week, entitled “Praying” and I will be the first to admit that I ran the whole gambit of emotions listening to it, including the compulsion to listen to it on repeat for hours on end. Although the song itself deserves more words than I could give, it actually made me think about a different post I’ve been chewing on. (But don’t worry-there will be a Kesha post before I leave this state.)

I met up with a friend this week for coffee before I make the journey. She and I have been friends since second grade-making that just about 18 years. We’ve been strong friends since freshman year of high school and I consider her one of the people I hold most dear and close to my heart. It was during this coffee meeting that we talked about our lives, the directions they were heading and without breaking the level of commitment to each other, we spoke of doubt and concern and fear.

I told her that we didn’t have to tackle the heavy stuff, and she told me that that was who we are. I don’t know about you, but having a friend who you can make jokes with and take on the messy bits with-without fear of judgment or losing conversation flow is one of the nicest things I think a person can have. She makes me so sad that I’m actually leaving this state, because I won’t get to see her face.

But I had a point.

Sometimes you have all these external battles you have to face. Work, school, bills, moving, other people. And these battles can take the form of physical, mental and spiritual ones. But sometimes you have internal battles. Depression, anxiety, doubt, fear, a lack of self-care. And those battles are no less important. They just also happen to be really hard to fight, because sometimes they coincide with external stressors.

Life is hard. I’m not going to sugar coat it. And so many times I have a heart to heart with myself about what it is I’m doing. Because it feels like I’m just a drop in the ocean of chaos. There doesn’t seem like there’s a meaning, a purpose to everything. And that’s such a hard place to be-because you’re the only one who can pull yourself out of it, but you’re the one in there fighting.

Love doesn’t mean coddling and over-protectiveness. Love isn’t shielding you from every bad thing that can happen. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be in pain, be scared, be sad. Love isn’t something that covers everything in bandaids and rainbows. Especially when your heart is in the right place.

Love is the thing that keeps you from giving up because it’s hard. Love means letting yourself get hurt because that’s how you grow and that’s how you learn to be a light for others. Love is the reason that you wake up every day, facing those battles that feel like they’re too much to handle.

I saw a post the other day on Facebook that said something like: “You were born to bring love to someone else. They need your laughter, your kindness, your hope. That’s why you make it through the tough times-so you can be a light for them.”

And I made a comment on that post that said just five words.
“And that person is yourself.”

So many times we forget that if we don’t pay attention the our own needs and our own brokenness, we can’t possibly do all the good we aspire to do. You are worth every ounce of love and laughter and empathy that you give out to others. And it’s not being selfish-it’s your duty.

I’ve spent a long time angry at the idea of God. I felt abandoned, I felt forgotten. I ran so far in the other direction that I passed deity and went straight to bitterness. And I spent a long time there. But bitterness can only take you to the rock bottom you were so desperately trying to avoid. I spent a long while looking for answers to those big questions, those “Why?”s. And I can’t say I have the answers. But I have the ones that keep me going, hoping for a better tomorrow. Religion and self-care have a lot in common. And whatever the “truth” looks like to you-if it isn’t wrapped in unconditional love, it’s just not the truth.

I think that each person has their own idea of truth, the truth that is true to them. And if that’s Christianity, that’s okay. If it is Islam or Judaism or Buddhism or Paganism, that’s okay. Because at the end of the day, you can only do your very best. And that very best is love. The love that doesn’t prevent pain, but endures it. The love that doesn’t disguise fear and doubt, but prepares you to battle it. The love that reminds you that you are just as worthy of happiness and empathy and care and hope as everyone else. No matter where you find that kind of love, it has to start within.

“I’m proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come.
I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying.”
-Praying, Kesha.

Independence Day

Two hundred forty one years ago, “we the people” were in the process of committing the greatest act of treason in our almost-country life. We were rebelling against the British for unfair taxation, oppression and “intolerable acts”. The United States of America was founded in relative secret, under pain of certain death if the war was lost. A few men in a room took a chance and hoped that tolerance might be the foundation for this new life.

We all know the founding fathers had issues-slaves, mistresses and more. But we choose to look beyond that because of the legacy they left. That legacy is contained in just a couple parchments from almost two and a half centuries ago.

We live in a country today, still founded on those ideas of liberty and justice for all. But we just aren’t getting it. Immigrants are subject to being pulled from their homes or forbidden altogether. People with illnesses are denied the right to live. People who do not assume the cisgendered, heterosexual standard are harassed. Women are not given equal measure in power. People of color are not given equal opportunities. Members of the First Nations are subjected to poverty and oppression, the illegal use of their land.

In 241 years, we have gone from a whisper of a nation to a powerhouse. And this year, we find ourselves facing yet another tyrant, a megalomaniac with power the rest of us can only look at in wonder. And I feel (in my humble opinion) that we are rapidly approaching 1776 the sequel. Not because we are fighting for our rights from distant power, but from a power who has distanced himself from reality.

It’s easy to feel like there’s nothing to celebrate this year. We’re facing a threat on our very lives-not from terrorists but tyrants. Not from combat but from congress. And I don’t mean that to sound insensitive to the people in the Middle East whose very lives are under siege each and every day. I mean it in a “we’re seeing the revolution come up again and we need to take part”.

I know you’re tired. We’ve been fighting this regime for 6 months. And it’s not finished yet. But when King George III was brutalizing the colonists, it took them SEVEN YEARS to win. They fought, and I’m sure there were times many of them wanted to give in. There were families who were torn apart by picking sides. There were doubts and frustrations and I’m sure, moments when even those leading the effort grew tired.

But we have something that they didn’t.

We have women. We have millennials. We have people of color. We have LGBTQ+ communities. We have celebrities. We have ALL the First Nations. We have people with disabilities. We have poor people. We have a world waiting to help us. We have social media. We have immigrants.

All the things that the right believes to be a hindrance is actually where our strength lies as a country. Each and every human being who has been slighted by this tyrant is just another person who is there to help further the cause. The US Census Bureau estimates that 2.5 million people lived in America in 1776. Well over half of those people weren’t even counted as full citizens (women and slaves and First Nations). Today, we have 325.3 million people.

If 3 million people could hold off-and WIN- for 7 years, think of the power that can be harnessed from 100 times that many people.

We must resist.

We must persist.

That is the American way.

That is the true meaning of Independence Day.

Reads by Abby Black (review)

I like to record my experiences, both through pictures on my instagram, but also here-where words take precedent. Today, I’d like to document an experience of a spiritual nature. The day I got a a spiritual read from Abby Black.

Tl;dr- I asked a tarot reader to enlighten me. I was pleasantly surprised. Here’s my recommendation for her.

Now I know, not everyone agrees with the idea of tarot, and that’s you’re right. I, however, know the energy that the cards have and respect people who can actually use them to help people. The most basic concept behind it is using a deck of cards and then interpreting the pictures in order to give meaning to experience. It’s a LOT more complicated than that, but that’s the simplest I can put it. If you’d like to know more about my read with Abby, or about tarot itself, I would be more than happy to chat.

I’d had a pretty chaotic day, a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings and I happened to jump on Facebook for a minute. I saw Abby post about having a couple minutes to spare and I commented. I’ve mentioned wanting a read a few times, but our schedules always clash. As luck would have it, we both had time. Now, I should note that while I post a fair amount on Facebook, I typically keep my posts to these blogs, political activism and some mental health stuff. I haven’t posted anything about what I’m going through in a very long time. And I didn’t post about my day, used lots of smiley faces (as per usual) and I gave no background information. I’ve never even met her in real life, we haven’t heard each other’s voices and that’s about all I want to say on that. My point is: we don’t know each other at all.

Abby told me initially she’d do a 5 card spread-to get to know me and my situation. I waited, wondering what we’d discover together. And although what the cards said was personal, I can promise that it was spot on. She knew my big fears, what was plaguing me and why I kept feeling weighed down. Things I tell no one except Ben, my husband. And that’s saying something because I’ve shared just about all my secrets with ya’ll.

Then she did a karmic read, to find out why my soul is here, what I have to learn in this life. And that’s when the tears came. I expected the cards to be pretty accurate, as I’ve worked with tarot before-but not so humblingly so. She was honest, but not in a brutally harsh way and I respect the hell out of that.

Then she did a financial read. Now, it’s important to point out that I had not asked any questions or really commented on anything at this point. She would pause every now and then and ask if I understood, which I did, and then carry on. This read happened over Facebook Messenger-and she saw no facial expressions. Anyway, she was able to parse out information that I’d been circling for weeks. And I actually felt a lot more resolved.

When things were starting to wrap up, I told her I had one question. An identity question. I told her I “felt adrift” and left it at that. She took a moment and came back with suggestions for reading material, spiritual items I’d been eyeballing (but hadn’t decided myself if I wanted), practices for focusing on self and self-care and more. When we were both finished discussing, she offered to chat about some of the things again at a later time-when I was in a different energy-and I greatly appreciated that, as sometimes the questions come much later for me.

Overall thoughts and reflections: While I am not new to tarot and scrying and looking for the truth, this read was different. It wasn’t vague, it wasn’t short-sighted and it wasn’t hard to understand. I “walked away” from it with a sense of peace and clarity that I’d been missing for a long time. I’m so happy I took the chance and reached out.

Link to page: Reads by Abby Black