Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Will You Embark On A Journey With Me?

Life. Life is just a weird, messed up place that can take an innocent person and turn them into someone that is far from their beginning. Life is also something that can be beautiful, and turn someone strong, no matter the circumstances.

I'm going to apologize right now, this post is going to be long and it may be really hard for you to follow, but it is the culmination of about 2 days of thought and reflection (both consciously and subconsciously) and a conversation with a good friend earlier this morning. This post will be convoluted but, I am okay with this. This is my life.

Anyway, life. We all have journeys that we undertake, if we don't realize it or not. Sometimes it takes til the end of the journey for you to realize what you are doing with your life, what you have done with your life and what you have been doing recently. We all have journeys, set goals, some are shorter, small and easier than others. Others can take years even your whole life, but each journey, big and small, has an impact on your way of life.

This may seem weird to you, but it is something that I have come to realize. One of the most important journeys you will ever embark on is the one for happiness. I learned over my short life that happiness is a journey, not a destination. Many people think the opposite. They think that if they achieve this, they will finally be happy. If this happens in their life, they will be happy. But when they get there, they are crestfallen. It's not the destination that makes you happy, it's the work in between the destination that gives you the happiness that you feel. You may not realize it at the time. It's those who realize that happiness is this journey that also become some of the happiest people you know. 

I have found a new happiness in my life that I haven't had in a long time. Yes, I am a normally easy-going person with a lot of joy in her life. I have learned through all the tough stuff that I am happy with the things I have in my life, the people I associate with and just being alive. But I haven't experienced the kind of happiness in my life like I have right now in a long time. The happiness of being in love. It's true, it is its own level of happiness, and my life has been just as wonderful to go along with it. As a good friend said today, "You're in a happy moment of your life. You deserve it." And I thought about it, and well I am and I do deserve it. Life has given me some shitty cards, I'm not going to lie about that one. Unlike most people my age, I lost my mother and father at a young age, I've seen and dealt with many things that children should not have to deal with, and I have been out on my own since 3 months after my 18th birthday. I have had low points, times where I have had to ask for money, times where I said things I should not have, times where I hid things away because I was afraid of being judged by them, and we all have them. Life, life is not easy on most people. Life has not been easy on me.

But I can't say that I haven't been dealt some royalty in my life. This includes my friends, old and new, that have shaped my life, kept me from killing people, helped keep me sane when I wanted to lose my mind and gave me a hand on these journeys I have been on over the past few years of my life.

And maybe this new found sense of reflection lately has something to do with the fact that a journey is coming to an end. Or maybe it's just beginning. 

But I'm going to tell you about a journey that probably has had a biggest impact on my life, and it is one that I embarked on by myself, with many people not knowing at the time what I was doing. It was the journey to find myself.

When Sam passed away, though he was sick, I blamed myself. He had a good prognosis, I thought I would see the signs since I saw my mother's decline when I was 14. But he was different. I didn't realize the moment that we went off to Paris for a week, that he was giving in. He never said anything to me. I thought throughout the whole summer he was getting his treatments and all. Sam had ALL, a form of Leukemia that affected the leukocytes his blood. Something he had the strength to beat, at least I believed that anyway. So when he got that sick and within 24 hours passed of multiple system organ failure, I thought it was my fault. I blamed myself for the death of the person I loved. And I was hurting. But no one knew. The pain and depression I went through in those months following were some of my darkest since the moment I told my friend Courtney I wanted to kill myself 4 days before my mother passed away. (Yes, that did happen, he talked to me on the phone for almost 4 hours that afternoon.) I think I once told Aunt Jane that my months at Charter Oaks were "some of the worst times of my life. I was unhappy, depressed and I hated it." That was my life.

And this time I was by myself. I kept an important part of my life away from everyone I loved in fear of judgement. I was sick of those judgments I had received in the past, and I became my own person in 2009 and stopped associating myself with pretty much all of my family and friends at the time. So I ended 2009 on this journey by myself. I didn't know at the time, but I was trying to find myself. I was trying to become the person that everyone saw me as.

I've had many people see me as one of the strongest people they have ever met. Many hold me at a higher esteem because I just keep keeping on with a smile on my face. Sometimes I think they need to realize, the smile was a mask, but one that helped me get to this time in my life.

I can look back now and realize that I am a strong person. Between several conversations with a good friend, I have gained a perspective on my life that I never had...or maybe never believed. People have told me I was strong. They have told me that I give them hope. They have told me that I have much wisdom on life that most people our age don't have. Maybe I do, but it wasn't until my early morning conversations with Zac that I realized that maybe this was all true, that through my experiences, I can give advice that is worthwhile and life changing. This morning, as I had happy tears in my eyes, I realized that everything these people have been telling me for years is really true, and I believe it. I truly believe it now.

But back to my journey. So I was trying to find myself. Some of the best relationship advice I can ever give is when you get out of a serious relationship, you must become happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else. I wasn't happy with myself. Heck, after Sam died, I doubted everything he ever told me about being beautiful, amazing and worthwhile. I thought I had killed him. I was hurting and in a very dark place. I went back to school out of necessity, not because I wanted to. I needed something to take up time, and my heart wasn't in it like it was before. I realized that I was going into a profession I didn't want to truly. When I was with Sam, I thought that healing those through Nursing was what I wanted to do.

So the first step on the journey was to find what I wanted to do. It was one professor, a Mr. Jerry Hosterman, that made me realize that I wanted to be a psychologist. He brought a life into the field and made me realize that I was interested in it. Nursing really wasn't my thing. Yes, I'm empathetic, and caring, but it was then I realized it just wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. So off to the registrar I went to change my major. I know it was surprising to many, but my heart was no longer there. I wanted to listen to people and help them out of the things racking their minds. This is what I needed to do myself. But I was still alone and dealing with a grief that I hadn't before. See, the loss of a mother is one thing. Yes, her loss still effects me today, I still miss her, she was my mother. But when grief is intermingled with a broken heart, the pain becomes more searing and at times, harder to find a way through.

So I threw myself into school, into making new friends and into finding myself. I didn't know I needed to find some purpose in my life and I was depressed for awhile after that, until I got a job at The Fowler Center. I know that this past summer I quit, but see, I had learned everything I needed to out of that job. It gave me the purpose and thrill in my life. Through my work at The Fowler Center, I learned about a whole population of people I was aware of, but didn't know enough about. I learned that the little things can bring real happiness, and I learned the find those little things in my life. At the end of the summer, when I moved out of Charter Oaks, I realized that I was beating the depression the was trying to eat me from inside out. I was beating the darkness and finding the light in my life. I was winning. 

It was that one thing, that one job, that made me find the happiness in my life, it brought the light back into a life that was so lifeless to me (but didn't seem so to others). It's funny, when you learn to find the best in each day, people can mistake the happiness you find in the little things as overall happiness. Yes, I loved all the little blessings in my life each day, in an ecstatic wonder, but I wasn't happy. Through my work at The Fowler Center, no matter how hard and frustrating it was at times, I learned happiness again in my life, through helping others achieve things. It may seem selfish, but their happiness snapped me out of my depression, I fed off of it, and realized how truly blessed I was to not have to deal with a serious handicap 
everyday in my life.

It was this past summer that I realized that this journey was over. Though I still loved everything I did at The Fowler Center, everything I could get out of it was gone. I had learned what I needed to learn and realized it was time for me to move on. So I did. This past summer, I finally realized that I was happy with myself. I was studying what I wanted to study, I had finally found a place I felt okay living in, I was leading a life I was proud of. I was happy with myself. Finally.

And that journey ended victoriously. It was late last summer that I realized it was really time to start looking. My internal clock was like, "Yo, it's time to find someone to love again." And so I looked. And I looked. And well, I thought that everything was hopeless at one point. I was about to give up and just be happy with myself for awhile. 

Then that gut feeling happened. The night of December 16th, I knew that Kevin was supposed to be the person I was to fall in love with. It's weird how that happens. You go through life with this person in front of you all the time and then all of the sudden, you just know. Just like that. See, the funny thing about Kevin is that he was there for my whole journey of finding myself. I met Kevin about a month after Sam passed away. He was put in my group for a Nursing class project, and we got to know each other. Then it ended up he knew Abijah really well, and through hanging out with her, I hung out with him. Then came the talking all the time and last winter I would go sit in the White Building with him as he worked before my class and we just talked about life, and what was going on. Through those talks...I just let go of what was on my mind. Kevin knew it all. He was one of the few people I ranted to about the whole dad thing, how I found out, how angry I was, how I was going to fix it in whatever way I could, all of it. And at the end he would give me a hug before I rushed off to class and everything felt better.

That was when he knew he had fallen in love with me.

But we lost contact over the summer, barely saw each other last semester, but we talked all the time. And then that night I knew. It's weird how I knew. I can't even explain it. In that moment I saw a future. The next morning, he ran. Literally ran. But I didn't let that happen, I wasn't going to let this gut feeling go to waste. I went after him. (Who says the boy has to do the chasing!) I have found a happiness, a light, a joy, that hasn't truly been in my life in a long time. Heck, I'm happier with Kevin than I ever was with anyone else. And that's saying something. You know that feeling where in your whole body you know it's right, yeah, that feeling is there.

Another journey ended. But another one began. This is a journey of new love, and one that I am happy to embark on. I am ready to be happy with someone else now that I have become happy without someone in my life. Sometimes the darkest of journeys bring out the brightest results. To say that I am blessed is an understatement, but I don't currently know a better word to describe it.

Life has had an upward turn for sure lately, and as Zac said, I deserve it. It's because I took some other wisdom in my life at the beginning of the year and ran with it. Some people still judge me for who I was in high school. I am not, and will never be again, the person I was in high school. I was a tortured soul. I was just making it through. I am a different person now than I was then and I am continually changing for the better. To stagnate is to rot. I will not let myself sit here and not be changed by the ever changing world around me. So I have taken people who still judge me for my past transgressions and put them in my past. Yes, I have weeded out my friends list. I have taken people out of my life that I no longer want to be there. And I haven't been happier. I now have people in my life that I trust, that I know care for me and that I know understand my life and won't judge me on it. If you are reading this, congratulations, there's a good chance I want you in my life. Over the past couple months, I have lost people I no longer want in my life, but I have gained some as well. That just makes the happiness worthwhile. I have been spending my free time with friends I am so happy to have, doing things I want to do, talking about things I want to and spreading some happiness along the way. No, my life isn't perfect right now, but it's wonderful all the same. Those moments in conversation with people I love are ones I cherish and find worthwhile.

I know I am blessed. I also know I am on a journey to become more blessed. And all of you are right there with me, shaping it, giving it life, and making this journey I am now on a wonderful experience. Are you willing to join me? I am thankful for your existence!

As for your own journeys, as I said to a good friend, I am here always. I will always be here. If you need to talk, cry, a hug, anything I will be there to help. Why? Because you have had an impact on my life, no matter if you know it or not. And I am thankful for that.

Welcome to the journey. Welcome.

1. Broken- Lifehouse
2. Northern Downpour- Panic at the Disco
3. I'd Hate To Be You When People Find Out What Thins Song is About- Mayday Parade
4. What I've Done- Linkin Park
5. Trade Mistakes- Panic! at the Disco
6. I'm Like a Lawyer with the Way I'm Always trying To Get Your Clothes Off- Fall Out Boy
7. Nothing- The Script
8. Hurricane- 30 Seconds to Mars
9. Jersey- Mayday Parade
10. Who's They- Daughtry
11. When They Come For Me- Linkin Park
12. Never Too Late- Three Days Grace

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