Saturday, December 29, 2012

“you can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” -Frederick Buechner

okay, you guys. I don't generally enjoy gossiping about people on the internet, and factually, most of the folks I'mma talk about in this thing probably read this blog. But I need to put some of my thoughts somewhere. I need a place to vent. So here you have it. I am making the second New Year's resolution of my life this coming year, and I need to talk about a few things in order to succeed. I am just going to drop this baggage off in 2k12 and start over in 2k13. I have a good feeling about the coming year.

First off, I need to say that I am really sincerely trying to deal with all of this lightly and with patience and faith. I really am. Most days this results in me feeling like a terrible, insecure monster who cannot learn to be forgiving/kind/patient/humble/nice (yes, there is a distinction between nice and kind; another blog post, perhaps).  I am not good at dealing with things, and I feel guilty for my mistakes and frustrations 93% of the time. I am running on fumes and don't know where to go for help because the places I usually have turned aren't really helping all that much anymore. I am trying to maintain sanity and grounded kindness. I am wearing thin. I am also very wary in writing this, and I have experienced a lot of anxiety in deciding to post it. Please be kind with your judgement and gentle in how you handle the knowing of these things.

And now for the story.

My parents were married in the LDS temple in 1983. Essentially, this means that, according to Mormon practice, they were sealed as a married couple for time and eternity under the authority of the Holy Priesthood. It's a really big deal, you guys. It essentially means that they committed (among other things), to be together forever. The Mormon view of "together forever" is bigger than most versions I have encountered, and more intertwined and imitate than one might suspect. I don't know where problems began, and I am not writing this to condemn or judge anyone, but sometime in the course of their 27 years together, things went awry. The tipping point  came in the fall of 2007. I was home from school at BYU with dreams and prayers of serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was so full of ambition and conviction. My application was submitted, and I was ready to go when I discovered that my dad had cheated on my mom. I am not going to give you graphic details, but essentially, I had irrefutable proof that this was the case. I saw things that have haunted me since then and things that I am trying to learn to let go of.

In a state of shock and panic, I decided that I wasn't in a healthy enough mental state to continue pursuing the dream of serving a mission for the Lord. I needed to go back to school, and I ended up keeping my knowledge a secret to myself. This has also haunted me. Looking back, on this phase in my life (up to the present), I am beginning to see that I may have been in a  state of Post Traumatic Stress, resulting from the psychological trauma of knowing the things that I have known. I carry them with me still. I also look at myself throughout the last 6 years with a lot of love and sorrow. I love that  21 year old girl and all of her pain and fear and struggle. I look at her loss of innocence and the abrupt end to her faith with empathy and compassion. I am continuing to try to love her more, to forgive her more, to nurture her more. I am trying to comfort her and tell her that what she saw was something that no person should ever have to see, that she didn't deserve that, and I am trying to convince her that she can find a healthy way to live after it. I am trying to tell her that she is worthy of being loved and that she belongs. She is a person who is very difficult to convince of certain things, and she deeply believes the precise opposite of most of those things deep down inside. She is a girl who is broken. But I want her to see how far she has come and how far she can still go.

By the summer of 2008, I was already back to Provo and trying to forget all of the ickiness I had known. I threw myself into social activities and school. I had the best semester of my academic career (which has generally been very good). I made many new friends. Of my some 1100 odd Facebook friends, probably half were made during this time. I couldn't bear to be alone or quiet or still. I hated everything during that year deep down inside, and I tried to douse the rage with a barrage of activity. I felt successful in taking control of my life and keeping myself occupied and my secret to myself until a gorgeous day in June when my mom called me in tears. She told me that she also knew the truth. I couldn't breathe. I remember sitting in my living room in that house on 500 north and trying to figure out how to tell her that I already knew, that I had kept my knowing a secret from her for the last 8 months. I just listened to her cry and mourn while I lay silently weeping on the floor. How could we go from here? How could he do this? How did we not know? What did it mean? Did we matter? What was next? Could we survive? Did we deserve to?

This was the beginning of a very very dark time in my life.It is interesting to me to read through my blog, because I began keeping this shortly after I returned to Provo, feeling abandoned and broken. It is interesting that I haven't ever written about it explicitly, but it shows up nevertheless.  I had a sincere wrestle with my faith and belief in God in this time. During patches of this time, I turned away almost completely from my faith practice, and there is still a thread that is woven through my religious practice which is informed by this period. I wear it as a battle scar.

I won't bore you with the details, but over the course of the next few years, my parents were divorced. Things were rough. I constantly doubted almost everything I had known to be true. I constantly questioned myself and doubted my ability to do anything. I was overly critical and convinced myself repeatedly that I didn't belong to anyone anywhere, and that somehow I was unworthy of love. In any form. I built a barricade around my heart that was very very strong. I couldn't feel love. In the end, I am convinced that I am unloveable and that I deserved to be excluded. This is a dark thing to write out and post on the internet. It is hard for me to admit that this is the narrative that I have written for myself. It is in such opposition to the beliefs I claim to espouse and that are taught to me (that I teach others!) in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I had a conversation with a very dear friend once, where we both recognized that we weren't fun like other people in our age and social group were fun. I wasn't carefree- everything had so much weight to it. I wasn't lighthearted- my heart was heavy and dark. I wasn't sarcastic or ironic- I was sardonic and bitter. I am hoping that in realizing and looking at this, that I will find a path to move forward. I believe that we don't talk enough about mental health and there are too many stigmas associated with depression and other mental disorders. I am writing this so that I can acknowledge for myself that this was and still is my reality. I deserve to be loved and healthy and free. I deserve to feel important and needed and loved by the people who are important and needed and beloved to me. I am starting to learn that this reciprocation is maybe what love IS.

2012 was a year that was earmarked from the start. In my first New Year's resolution of my life, I promised myself to be present in this year. I wouldn't say that it was a landslide success and, if you looked through the pages of a family album, you wouldn't know that I existed almost at all. I became a ghost for some of them. I wasn't present at or invited to my dad's wedding. I wasn't in many of the pictures from this Christmas. I wasn't really there in spirit or mind  when I visited my mom. I tried to be present when I went to the San Diego County Fair with my sister. I was, however being present and honest when my dad told me he was marrying a 27 year old. This had crushing results that have brought me to a place of estrangement. I was honest and present when I was her temple escort. I was fully there when I came to knowledge that she and my dad were dating, but not telling anyone at the time. I was there for the full weight of that. The year wasn't a total bust... I was deeply there when my brother returned from his full-time mission to Germany. I was fully there when I talked to my mom on the phone and listened to her tell me about how she was becoming a bigger person. She is becoming a person who stands on her own feet.

And this coming Sunday, the second to last day of the year, I will be present at my sister/best friend's wedding. It is insane and completely hilarious. She and her boyfriend of 5ish years will marry in the Graceland Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada. I will bring my whole heart to the table and I will begin, on that day, a new chapter in my life. I am ready to stop determining my life by the pain of the past, and in 2k13, I am going to fight to keep my heart open.

The coming year carries a lot of uncertainty with it. I will be graduating from my Masters program and be expected to find a job or something of equal or greater value. Ideally, I would marry. I am declaring right now, though, that I don't care. My circumstances are no longer my master. My heart is freed and deserves to feel love wholly and deeply. I talked about it once before, and I mean it. This heart is strong and is now allowed to feel and know and return love. I pray only that it will be met with kindness and other hearts who are also seeking love and openness. I regret to think that I had shut out these in the past, but I will not be shaken in my resolve.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

all time low

Bullet points are the only way to deal with this information:
-I am not certain that I brushed my teeth today or yesterday.
-I weighed myself before and after a bowel movement. I lost 1.5 lbs.
-I can't remember the last time I brushed my hair. Generally, it's clean, but rarely brushed.
-I have worn a pair of pants (GUYS! PANTS!!!) for nine days. In a row. That's correct. Pants. 9 days. NINE. They have not been washed, don't worry.
-I never wash my face at night unless I am sharing a bed with someone.
-I ate ice cream for breakfast this morning.
-That breakfast was eaten at 11:35 am.
-For the past two days, I haven't left my house until , at the earliest, 2pm.
-There was a span of time within the last two weeks wherein I couldn't see my floor in my bedroom.
-I haven't gone to bed earlier than 3 am any of the nights that have been December.

But damnit all! I have got to get an outline, annotated bibliography and draft of my thesis proposal to my adviser tomorrow. I find an insane need to have her validation and approval, and so I am working my ass off tonight to make it happen (don't be fooled, this blog post took three minutes to write and I will be back on my game after this tiny break).

This is my writing song

(and some secret information: The janitor who empties the trash in my office, which is where I currently am, smells amazing. He must wear the most delicious cologne... He came and left over a half hour ago, but I can still smell him and, DAMN. I know that is weird but really. REALLY.)

Friday, December 7, 2012


I have come to a realization.
I have been living my life life it was broken.
Some days, I really feel pretty broken...
I think I have pretty legitimate reasons for some of that business.
But in equal measure, I have legitimate reasons to feel whole.
I am starting to see that I have closed my heart and it has blocked me from a lot of good things.
So I am calling my own bluff.
My life isn't actually broken- it's human

And so, I am done with the broken schtick. 

It's pretty boring and like, SUPER draining.
I am done putting conditions on the way that I love and give. I am done demanding the most specific and probably impossible requirements from situations and people. Especially from people.
I'm not making any huge promises, but I am committing to be aware and to at least try. I am going to try to live with an open and full damn heart. I am going to show up and belong and be present and make mistakes and allow myself to feel loved. I block that last one the very most. It's really tiring.
I think this is probably the beginning of a very good season.

Can you help me?