Unconventional Letter

Dear Michelle,

Thank you.

Thank you for never giving up. And I know there were times you thought you had to, that there was no other choice. I remember all those nights spent alone, crying in the bathroom, hoping to end your pain with a razor blade. I remember the long days spent not eating, drinking only a cup of coffee in the morning because you felt like you might fall asleep in the middle of calculus if not, then rushing home to see if you’d lost more weight. I remember all of this, but most of all I remember how even though there were times you wanted to, you didn’t choose to die and instead, you chose to live.

Thank you for learning to open up again. After you graduated from high school, you tried to close yourself off, masking your feelings with words like “exhausted”, “the flu” and “allergies”. You kept everyone at arm’s length until you couldn’t take it anymore and you decided to make friends. I know that was hard for you, but I promise it’s paid off.  You’re about to find out that you actually love coffee dates with friends and trying new things.

Thank you for going off meds-even at the disapproval of your then boyfriend. He didn’t know you, you didn’t stay with him, and you really had to choose your own life for your own reasons. I know at that point, you didn’t even understand fully your diagnosis. I’m so proud of you for making your own way. I know in the future you’ll contemplate going back on medicine, and it’ll be hard, but if you don’t want to do something, don’t let the fear of consequences force you to make a decision.

Thank you card

Thank you for walking away from the poisonous relationships you tried so hard to save. You thought that if you just tried harder, loved more deeply, that you could fix them. But they weren’t the ones who needed fixing, and abusive relationships aren’t worth your time. Or effort. I’m so sorry you had to learn that the hard way. But you got past it with some ice cream and art. That was the first time you thought that you might be okay with being alone instead of being with someone who told you that you were always to blame, and that everything he did was to show you that you deserved no one better. You may have been brokenhearted, and it felt like your whole world was dying, but you left. You’re so brave.

Speaking of bravery, there will come a time in your life that you’ll wake up and be paralyzed with the fear of driving. We’ll work through it, and it will be hard for a long time, but please don’t give up. Living in the past, living with the memories of what “could have” happened is only going to hurt us in the long run. Yeah, this is one of those corny “hello, younger me” letters that we swore we’d never write, but I have so many things to thank you for.

Thanks for taking a chance and going out with that boy from high school that you thought was “too short”. You’ll drive each other crazy, but you have a strong marriage, and a lot of really hilarious dating stories that will get you through any disagreements you might have. You even got a dog (he acts more like a cat, and you’ll learn to love him). That boy will learn how to understand your moods, and even help you get through them.

Thank you for working so hard during your mood swings. No one requests to have bipolar disorder, but you’ve done remarkable things with it. You laid the foundation for such great things to happen for your future. But don’t think for a minute that it’s shameful to change your major when you get to college. It’s gonna drive you mad and you’ll feel so completely used up, but you’ll see that the greatest thing is going to happen once you walk through all the open doors. You’ll continue to struggle with food, but honestly, you’re going to love yourself more at the heaviest weight than you ever did when you struggled with your eating disorders. Just don’t go too far in the other direction, okay? Eating too much is bad too. Food isn’t a drug, it’s not meant to protect you from life.

I know that you know life is hard. But thanks for going back into counseling. In hindsight, you probably didn’t have to hide it, because you’re about to become exceptionally vocal about mental health and women’s rights. You aren’t stuck, you aren’t defective, and you most definitely aren’t finished. We have so much work ahead of us, and it’s all thanks to you.

You stuck it out when the world grew dark, when our mind waged wars against us and our heart got so heavy it might burst. You fought each and every day for life to be better, waiting for the day it all meant something. You kept going, even when everything screamed at you to just stop. I know my battles, our battles, don’t end with this little note. We have a whole life to live yet! And I know I didn’t say it then, but I’m saying it now. Thank you, baby girl. Thank you with my whole heart.

You got this, Shells. You don’t need anybody else’s approval, just go for it. You’re about to take your first step in an amazing adventure and you’ll be so surprised where it leads you. I know I am.

The sun will rise again, and so will you.

All my love,

M.

Accomplishment, Action, Attack

Today. Goodness gracious today. You have some days when you really feel like you’re doing your best and then life craps out on you. That was my day today. And because I am in a sharing mood, would you like to hear a story?

Today started by me waking up, asking my husband if he was going in today. He said no. That means: I drive myself to and from school. If you’ve followed me since the “Here be Dragons” post, you’ll know that driving is a big stressor for me. But I knew I could do it. So I took the dog out and went to work. I made it!

Half way through my shift, I get a text from my husband telling me that he actually had to go in today, and that he had to be on campus before 5 to turn in a form. So I email my professor and tell him that I will not be in class today. He calls down to the office where I work and we have the following conversation:

Professor: Hi Michelle, is there any possible way you could walk with me to class today? I’m having some problems with my kidney stones and I want to make sure someone is there to keep me from falling.

Me: Yea, of course! I’ll be down a few minutes before class starts.

And so I arrive with ten minutes to spare and hear him. The man is obviously in pain. He has his cane, and I’m on the other side of him. We make it about half way down the hall and he goes down. Now, I’m not proud to admit this, but I was really no help. I made sure he didn’t hit his head, but that was about the extent of my capabilities. I called for one of my bosses, who came out and with him came another professor. I was instructed to cancel class and keep things to a minimum. I did my best there. (I knew he would be in capable hands-I would not have been able to pick him up anyway, and my boss knew how to contact his wife.) So I ensure that that happens and I prepare myself to drive home.

timeforaction

I drive, and guess what? I make it! Without incident. And it was my first time ever driving home too:) I switch my husband seats when I get there though (because I hadn’t eaten and he brought me a snack) and we head back to campus. I recount my tale and we arrive. He bolts off to his building, having switched places again and I commence driving around in circles to wait for him. It takes about 6 go rounds, but he returns and we switch one final time, preparing to head home.

On our way to the line of cars, we chat about dinner, and how I don’t want to eat out because we have leftovers. Once we are in the line, it’s very much just stopped traffic. Then out of nowhere BAM! We’ve been rear ended. I really wish I was making this up, but I’m not. My husband gets out of the car and looks at the damage. As it would turn out, the guy who hit us (who is LAUGHING at us, btw) has more damage than we do, so we leave to come home. No, we’re not going to report it, because that would just raise our rates and that’s just no good. (i made sure he was okay, and I made sure I was okay, and that’s the important part!) I’m thinking we’re both gonna take it easy for the next few days regardless. So we get to the gas station that we frequent by our apartment and try to fill the tire with air only to find out (after the fact) that the pump is only letting air out of the tires, not putting air in. So we give up, grab some food and head home.

fender-bender

(This is NOT our accident, it’s just the best representation of what happened. They suffered a pretty obnoxious front end issue and we managed to not really have any damage, except a slight crack to the bumper.)

I literally don’t know how today could have been anymore adrenaline packed, but all I can say is that I am glad that today marks the first evening of spring break, because I really have had quite about enough. I will email my professor and see how he’s doing soon. Maybe we all need more chocolate today.

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I guess the deal with today is that sometimes you are the lucky one and sometimes you’re not. Sometimes the money comes, and sometimes the money goes. When you do everything right, something still might go wrong. And it’s okay. Life will throw curve balls at you when you least expect it-because you least expect it. But at the end of the day, you can either tame your dragons or be eaten by them. Because life isn’t going to just take it easy on you because you’re “disadvantaged”, it’s going to force you to rise above. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

Thankfulness, Day 29

Today is my last day of break. Tomorow, I start my new job. My husband and I are cranking out homework and well, it’s going to be a good day. I love the temperature today, I love the smell, I even managed to make coffee and breakfast without burning myself on the darn eggs (or frying pan!). So as I write, coffee in reach, I’m pondering what to write that hasn’t already been done.These last few days have been harder for me to find unique topics. I’m incredibly grateful for the things I have, the people I know and the…got it.

Today I am thankful for the people I have known, who in their own way have helped me get to where I am today. My sister was reading The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom, which honestly is one of my favorite books and I really loved the screen adaptation. I’ve been centering around that book all week it seems, just by pure coincidence. It sits in the back of my head, like a little reminder that we are all connected. So today, I want to give a little shoutout, without naming names, to the multiple people in my life who have shaped it. Perhaps some of them will even read this. Who knows.

  First, I will name a name, but only because I’m not entirely sure if I’m correct in attributing this lesson to this person. I THINK it was Woody Hayes who said something about treating all levels of people with respect and how you should always get to know the name of everyone, including those people who are behind the scenes, like janitors. I learned that lesson as a young adolescent and it has opened many doors to insightful relationships.

  One such relationship was actually with a wonderful, witty janitorial staff member of my high school. She’s a fabulous person, a caring individual and she goes out of her way to make others smile. She treated me to a soda once, and even without that incident, she impacted my life. Even now, when I return to my old haunt, I know she will be there with a hug and a smile.

There are several teachers throughout my compulsory education who also deserve recognition. Mrs. U. for her encouragement to enjoy reading. Mrs. B. for instilling a great respect for responsibility. Mrs. M. for understanding the need to have a creative outlet and expressive behaviorisms. Mr. W. for being an upright citizen and always keeping calm. Mrs. R. for being a blessed angel. Mr. G. for brightening my day with the wonders of the world around us. Ms. M. for proving to me that hardwork makes masterpieces. Mrs. B. for showing me that just because you are different doesn’t mean you can’t be brilliant. Ms. R. for letting me love music for many years. Mrs. H. for giving me the first taste of passion. Mr. B. For introducing me to theatre. Mr. W. for introducing me to my husband and making sure it was really funny that he did so. There are others, but I think this gives you a taste of my early education.

In college, people were thinner spread, because most of the lessons they had to teach had been given to me before. But a few of them really did make a difference. My history of art professor who made history real and art far more than just pictures of artifacts. It is because of him that I have fluorished in my academic career. My first anthropology professor, who said “not all of you will become anthropologists” and made me the exception. She is a continued supply of valuless knowledge. My theory professor, who has made sure that I will never leave college without knowing the truthful answersto my questions. She has been a godsend. I’m not done with college, so this list remains open ended.

My first boss, who made the most hilarious things happen, like answering the phone with her nickname instead of her real name. She was honestly the best first boss I could have ever hoped for. It made working food really wonderful and that is an extremely major thing. My newest boss, who took the time to give me (a total newcomer) a chance to belong. I will forever be grateful to her for that. 

My mother and father, obviously, for teaching me not to be a spoiled brat with entitlement issues. My husband, who teaches me how to be strong every day. My brother for introducing me to great music, my sister for allowing me to take over conversations and tell her all about college, even though she probably wasn’t looking for a rant. My friends who are always there for me, even when I can’t come to the phone or go out.

My readers, who always look at my stuff with open hearts, because I never really see things the way everyone else does. The students I have met, who make me sit wide eyed and wonder what their line of thinking is.

I have had a large grouping of people who have given me lessons, and the ones I have listed are only the ones who have given me positive lessons. There are plenty more who have given me a taste of my own medicine, who shall just be referred to as “others”. I am thankful for them too, though, so never you fear. If there is such a place as heaven*, I think I shall have quite a lot more than just five people meeting me there.

  
*In a later post, I shall reveal my thoughts on the topic, as well as many others. This in no way means to say that I do not believe in an afterlife, or that I view those who do in a negative manner. I in fact, have a great reverence for what comes next and hold no belief systems as lunacy (apart from those which willing inflict pain on others). That post is coming soon, really. Read: I’m not being an ass, I promise.

Thankfulness, Day 28

I did an entire post about coffee, and I even did one on food. Did I mention though, that I am actually a huge sucker for sweet tea and beignets? I’m not goin to devote a ton of time or energy to that thought today, I just wanted you all to know that I have a mild obsession with both of those items.

I’m thankful for being able to afford groceries. It’s such a privilege that I count on. My husband and I work hard to get our lives in order, but the truth of the matter is that we don’t have ot worry about if our crops survived this year, or if we stored enough food for the winter, because we can go to any number of grocery stores and get whatever we’ve run out of. I like that. 

  (Not sure who the lady is, stole the picture from the internet, as usual.)

My mother and father own a small farm, with chickens and ducks and rabbits, but also with a pretty nifty expanse of consumable plants. All of us kids usually help out with the garden and then if we’re around, we help mom can the food. We have raspberry and strawberry patches, as well as enough vegetables to make dozens of mason jars of food. Even so, my parents taught me the importance of planning meals and not wasting money at the grocery store.

  I buy only the things my husband and I will eat. We try to go to the store every other week and it seems to work out pretty well for us. We have the ability to go to the store and just buy things. We don’t get the name brand stuff all the time, but how great is it that we can go to a big place with thousands of types of food and buy stuff? It’s phenomenal, and such a wonderful privilege to have.

Thankfulness, Day 27

As I return from my day of family visiting and chaotic shenanigans, I’m still not entirely out of my turkey coma. I got loads of leftovers (which made their way into my fridge, and will be my lunch/dinner for the next few days). I have today and 3 more days until November is over. Which means 4 more topics to cover. So what’s left? Do I go for the obvious lies? Do I head towards the “holier-than-thou posts? Or do I spice things up? Obviously, I chose the latter.

Today I am thankful for my health, even the unhealthy bits. 

 But before I get to that, I have to give some honorable mentions: Google, sweatpants, cheese, proper grammar, crock-pots and Christmas lights.

I usually manage to escape flu season relatively unscathed. Mid-January I get a 24 hour stomach bug, but that’s really about it. I’ve never really had allergies, I’m not deathly allergic to anything. Sometimes my body convinces itself that it’s lactose-intolerant for a week or so, and I just have to prepare myself for it with some Lactaid. 

I had bronchitis before my second birthday. Followed by a slew of earaches. It’s only been since college that I’ve gotten the big sickness packages. Strep which turns into bronchitis which becomes a pneumonia type bonanza, but that’s only happened twice. And as it would turn out, I’m an incredible clutz sometimes (pre-coffee) and my poor hands have suffered some pretty narrow escapes por eso.

  A couple months ago, I had this nasty ear infection. I thought it was just an ear ache, so I warmed sweet oil and filled my ear with it, having done so many times in the past. After a week or so of agonizing pain, sleepless nights and a 105* fever, my husband took me to the urgent care where I was prescribed the medicine you give to Anthrax patients. Within a week, the infection was gone and so was my eardrum. If you’ve ever seen Pet Semetary, the way the wife’s eye looked at the end is how my ear (post eardrum burst) looked. It was DISGUSTING. But since then, my eardrum has grown back and I’m very appreciative of that. The human body is a miraculous thing.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar as a kid. But what I should have been diagnosed with is an entirely different matter. I went to therapy for 2 years and then left. I had been on medicine and did counseling, the whole gambit. I returned to counseling over the summer and had to leave when I moved. I have good days, bad days and everything in between. But I struggle with them on my own, without any chemicals (apart from caffeine) altering my cognition. 

Overall, I would say my health is great. My body regulates itself, I am simply the puppeteer. I don’t have a perfect body, but it’s perfect for me.

Thankfulness, Day 26

Today, for my fellow Americans, was Thanksgiving Day. On this day, we fill our tables full of food, we talk about being thankful and we eat. A lot. In my family, it’s a gathering of nearly grown children and parents, along with significant others. A lot of faces are made, food may or may not be thrown at various occasions and book series are discussed. My husband and I spent 5 hours in a car to getto our families today. It was a long trek, and took all day, thus the late post. But it’s nice to feel like people are genuinely waiting to see you. And of course, when we came home, we were greeted by our furbaby. It’s nice to feel wanted.

Today I don’t have a theme. It’s not mebeing lazy, or taking a day off of the 30 day goal I set out with. Today I am thankful not for anything in particular, but everything. I am thankful that I have a chance to be thankful. I have a family (three, in fact), a home, friends, readers, and those are just people. I am beyond blessed with marvelous things and events and occurrences. I have many personality and character gifts which give me purpose.

And at the end of the day, there doesn’t have to be a reason to be thankful. It’s something that I am because I have been blessed with much and am appreciative. 

Thankfulness, Day 25

It’s exactly a month until Christmas. Mind you, the only reason I really celebrate is because it’s my mom’s birthday and she’s very into all that. But it’s a good reminder that there aren’t too many days left in the year. I have a grand total of 2 weeks left of classes and work before winter break and everything is wrapping up (well, sort of). In the next 36 days, there are 3 birthdays, 3 holidays, 2 weeks of classes and finals, and preparations for the standardized new year. 

All of that really puts into perspective how time passes. Just a couple days ago, I was talking with my husband about how time is just blazing by, without paying us any mind. This year, we’ve been together five years. We got married last year, and are approaching our 2 year wedding anniversary. But it all feels like we’re just wandering around like our high school selves.

Today, I wanted to do a segment on my husband, and I think that with all of the end of the year thoughts, it’s a good idea to do so.

We met in marching band. At the time, I was playing flute and he was a trumpet. (He’s always been a trumpet, but I like to switch it up.) I made jokes about him being too short for me to go out with. Eventually, though, his persistance paid off and we started dating my junior year in high school. We did all sorts of things together: band, prom, graduations, you name it. We split up twice and by the third time, we’d managed to figure out the rhythm in our lives. We got an apartment, left it, got married and then got a new apartment in the big city. But I want to share my favorite memory.

The Day of No Pictures.

We called the judge and set up the appointment. Yay! We were going to be married. Two college kids broke and in love, trying to get that one last piece of paper that signified we’d done everything right to claim each other forever. May 2, a Friday, at 4:55PM, the secretary called and told us that we would be unable to get married the next week because an error had been made in the books, that he was busy. Oh no! With all businesses closed and no one to perform a marriage, we began to email every single person we knew, many we didn’t, trying to find an officiant for the next week.

By Monday, we had such a person. He’s a political science professor at the college we attend. The week went by, time passing as it always seems to do, and Friday arrived. I put on my dress (which came from Victoria’s Secret) and did some makeup, putting my hair in a band. My family and I went to the university where I met up with Ben and we ate some pizza from Little Caesar’s. We got married in a classroom where I took History of Art. The professor brought a guitar and played Good Riddance by Green Day, said the words and it was done. We were married.

We had a weekend stay in Hocking Hills right after our ceremony. We were finished at 330, but we stopped at the store, picked up food and three seasons of Game of Thrones and arrived sometime around 9. We spent the entire weekend holed up, watching Game of Thrones. When we came back, our pictures did too. And much to my dismay, not one of them turned out. There were blurry images, images of our families, but none of them seemed to have been clear shots. (There was ONE, but it was of my behind and so it doesn’t count).

I spent a lot of time moping about not having pictures. What happened when I got alzheimer’s or dementia and couldn’t remember we’d gotten married, and all I had was a blurry picture of two people? My husband was great about letting me believe we could have a vow renewal and take pictures then. But then one day, I remembered all the memories in band, all the ones that had led us to where we are and how many of those I don’t have pictures for. It’s time I stop living through a camera and make memories for the sake of making memories.

My husband is my paladin, the one who stands strong when I can’t. He pushes me to be better, he reminds me that I have a purpose. He knows my order when I want coffee or Chipotle or Subway. And he’s the only person I want to be with. We don’t have everything in life that we wanted, we don’t have every luxury known to man. But what we have is each other, and I think that puts us a step ahead.