Sitting Next to My Father.

I saw my dad last night for the first time in a long time.

He was sitting, quiet and still, in a church pew. I was walking into the sanctuary in a single file line with my peers. As we squeezed into his row, I positioned myself so that I was the one who was able to sit next to him. I leaned against him in such a familiar way that I remember finally feeling safe. There really wasn’t much more to the moment than that. There was no dialogue or even eye contact that was exchanged between us. The whole time his eyes were fixed straight ahead, but I knew that he knew I was there. We didn’t hug or embrace in any way, but it didn’t matter. My whole being was content simply sitting next to his. Simply feeling the warmth of his shoulder against my own, simply hearing him breathe next to me. My heart hurts when I think of how happy I was just to see his chest rise with every breath that he took.  He was alive and he was here! He smelled like stale hazelnut coffee, aftershave and Old Spice. His hands were still rough, folded in his lap. His wedding ring still scuffed and well worn. The only thing that was different was his eyes. They no longer felt tired, exhausted from the weight of his life. His brown eyes were so deep that you could get lost just by staring into them. And now they looked young but they were wise. I wanted to reach up and touch his five o’clock shadow, feel the wrinkles on his bald head, but instead I turned and looked straight ahead as well. I sat, quiet and still, and breathed the same air as my father.

 

When I woke up in the morning, it took me a while to recover. The moment was fading and my heart was still so full of love that I wasn’t ready to acknowledge that it was a only a dream. I miss him every day, but I am thankful to have these moments. They remind me that I was insanely lucky to have a dad like him. He taught me how to be patient and kind, but still goofy and playful. He taught me how to put together a bookshelf and fix a dishwasher. He taught me that if there is something that needs to be done, I should do it, not to look good or win brownie points, but because that is the right thing to do. I am absolutely the way that I am today because of my father and I am thankful for that.


 

Picture 161

This is one of my favorite pictures of him. I believe it was day light savings time, and he was setting his alarm clock back an hour before bed. It’s blurry and imperfect, yet it captures him in a very ordinary moment of his life. There is nothing special surrounding the story behind this photograph, its just him living his life and that is why I love it.

Advertisements

When Everything is Grey.

True Life: My favorite color is grey.

When asked to pick a “real” color as my favorite, I’ll throw maroon in the mix to humor you. But it is grey that truly gives me more peace and sense of mind than any other shockingly bright or vibrant color. I find simplicity in the deepness of charcoal and calmness in the dusty lightness of grey granite. The hues of black mixed with white, light mixed with dark, are balanced and bare. They are honest. Yet, grey and I have not always gotten along this way.

If you know me well, then you know that A Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorite songs (and the inspiration for every internet handle I’ve ever had). Not only do I love the symbolism of it being track #11 on the album, but I have always been fascinated with the lyrics of the song. Over the course of this song’s existence in my life, I have continued to find new meanings behind the lyrics depending on their relevance to my life’s current events. However, the core message that these words have offered to me have always been the same:

If you feel discouraged
That there’s a lack of color here
Please don’t worry lover
It’s really bursting at the seams
For absorbing everything
The spectrum’s a to z

From the time I hit puberty and depression hit me, I have known what it feels like to live with this lack of color. I have known what it feels like to walk around under those never-ending, asshole clouds as I watch everyone around me bask in the sunshine. I have known what it feels like to make that awful, ugly wish for a catastrophe, an accident, anything that would lead to an end to what I was feeling. It’s harsh to admit, but the truth is that there were so many days where the last thing I wanted to be was alive. Every night before bed, I would pray the Lord my soul to take.

Depression is no fucking joke, my friends. It sucks all of the energy out of you and hits you at moments when logically, you know that you should be happy. For those who have had the lucky, rare opportunity to have never felt depressed, I like to show them the diagram below, which I found from this NPR Article.

13-21664-large-b12e81ec59ec77bd24c6abc7cf6a221346ed3bdd-s800-c85

Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari Hietanen.

 

As you can see, depression literally makes you feel cold and empty inside. (Just like that awful Kid Rock song.) But in all seriousness, it is a dangerous mental illness that far too many overlook or write off as being commonplace. In fact, its so fucking commonplace that the US Preventative Services Task Force just put out a recommendation for all adults to be screened for depression at least once after they turn 18!

Yet, learning how to cope with all of that depression bullshit on top of being an angsty teenager wasn’t exactly easy. I ran away often – to jasmine tea and dim lights, to the solitude of my room and my music, to that song by Death Cab. The song gave me peace in knowing that there was someone, somewhere who understood how sometimes it is impossible to see anything but grey. (And they were writing a song about it!)

Regardless of how blank, muted, and numb my world felt, Ben Gibbard and this song were trying to tell me that the color isn’t lost, the color isn’t gone; I just can’t see it right now. I fell in love with those words from the start. They gave me hope that even though this moment of my life might suck complete ass, it isn’t forever. I know now that the color was all around me and it is truly breathtaking. I know now that I am blessed to have people in my life who were trying to see the color for me. They were trying to show me that it really is bursting at the seams.

I am proud to be able to say that I am okay.

That the moments have passed and I have survived. There days that are still grey, but there are many more that are filled with color. I know it feels impossible to listen to those who tell you that the pain and sadness will go away with time, but its true. And even though I’ve been depressed throughout my life for a fuck ton of different reasons – the hormone changes of puberty, the death of my father, being heart broken and alone, L’s suicide, etc. – with time each of these moments have grown smaller and more conquerable. It has taken years of introspection to get to the point where I am today. The point of admitting that there are going to be days that are just awful, but I can stay ahead of them as long as I am cognizant of the cause of my emotions. That is the point of being able to see all of the colors, but still call your favorite color grey.

I am proud to be able to say that I am happy.

I am proud to say that –

This is fact not fiction
For the first time in years

album-transatlanticism


 

If you are feeling depressed, or cold and empty, or everything is grey, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Whether its to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, or a friend or family member, or your doctor, just talking about what you are feeling can be a huge relief and a giant step towards being able to see the colors.

 

You Are What You Dream.

I have had a lot of crazy, weird, fucked up dreams over the course of my life. They say you are what you dream, but I pray to God that’s not true. If it is, I’ve got some shit to sort out.

As a child, I had two reoccurring dreams that followed me for many years. The first dream only happened when I was much younger, but the second dream still finds it way to me, even at 23.

In the first dream I am always walking into the local Meijer grocery store. As I am passing the penny horse named Sandy, there is a woman standing in the corner. This woman is tall, unconventionally beautiful, yet intimidating. She has snakes for hair and now that I’m older, I’m starting to think that she was Medusa. I look around, but no one can see her except for me. No one seems to notice the snakes continuously moving about her head. She has her finger to her lips, warning me to be silent. She knows and I am scared. When I look into her eyes, I do not turn to stone. Instead, the eyes I see are my own and they are begging to be saved. I always wake up before I can close my eyes or look away.

To see Medusa in your dream signifies cunningness and terror. Alternatively, the dream may imply that you are draining all of the energy out of others. You are burdening others with your problems and putting a strain on the relationship. -DreamMoods

Being the youngest of four children in a household where money was already tight, there is no doubt that I was draining the energy out of my parents. As most children are, I was selfish. Quite honestly, I was a brat up until the age of 12, just ask my brothers. But then I grew up and got over myself. I realized how my actions were affecting those around me, especially my parents. I’m not quite sure what happened, but there was a day when it just clicked. I understood how the world worked and saw that my parents were doing the best that they could. I understood that being selfish and throwing fits were only causing more problems for everyone. The funny thing is, I don’t remember having this dream after that moment of realization.


 

The second dream is really a nightmare and in it I am stuck running in slow motion. The context of the dream is ever changing. Some nights I am running along a familiar track, other nights I am in a forest or on a grassy hill or in the middle of a wild flower field. Often times I am alone or separated from other people, but some nights I am on a crowded street, surrounded by unrecognizable faces rushing past me in every direction. My body is asking, begging to make any sort of movement and my heart is pounding as I try to break past the hold that is keeping me in place. My legs have abandoned me. I feel as though a magnet is pulling me to the ground and every step I try to take is a struggle. All I want to do is run. But no matter how hard I try, I can never keep up. I can never get to the edge of the forest or the top of the hill. I can never reach the finish line. I always wake up in a sweat.

After doing some research, I found out that this is a fairly common reoccurring dream to encounter. Because so many people have had this dream, there are a million interpretations out there. Out of the dozens of the dream interpretation books and articles I have read about this dream, only one really resonated with me:

“Your legs represent your fundamental drive as you push yourself forward through life. If you feel that your legs are moving slowly, then you feel that there is something resisting your progress in waking life.” -Ian Wallace, a psychologist and dream expert

Like Damn! Okay! I see you, Wallace! Getting right to the point! I feel metaphorically stuck in real life so I’m literally stuck in my dream. I feel like I’m going no where in life. I feel as though everyone around me is flying through life, while I’m still learning how to walk. Well done Wallace, you got me.

So how do I become unstuck?

Whenever I have felt in limbo about an issue in my life, I have been known to talk it to death. I call and text me friends redundantly over the same issues that have me feeling in a loop. Lately, I have been trying to switch things up by planning events that are out of the ordinary routine. For example, I decided today to run a half-marathon! I have always been a runner and with the right motivation, I have hope that with an end goal set on the calendar, I will feel like progress is being made towards that goal. There may be other areas in my life that are not moving forward, but at least something is!

Alternatively, if you are feeling stuck, I have found the app Unstuck to be very useful. The app walks you through a questionnaire to help you figure out in what way you are feeling stuck. It then provides advice and ideas on possible ways to become unstuck. It’s worth giving a shot when you get to the point where you really don’t know what else to do.


 

So whether you believe that dreams are simply a random collection of pictures you see during the day all jumbled together in your sleep cycle or you believe they represent your subconscious fears and desires, there is one important takeaway. You dream what you dream for a reason. Maybe it is just a dream about Meijer and Medusa because I went to the store on the same day I read a Greek Mythology book. Maybe it is because I needed a wake up call to my selfish behavior. Regardless, I think there are valuable lessons to be learned if you pay attention to your dreams.

 

Let Me Worry About It.

We were living two very separate lives from the start. We came from opposite backgrounds and went to school cities away from each other. We were both in the process of growing up, but the adults we were becoming could no longer coincide in the same way we were able to as kids. Because, honestly, that’s what we were. We were just kids who fell in love without thinking about what distance can do to a person. You see, absence made the heart grow fonder. Absence made the heart forgive much quicker than it deserved to. When the distance is that great, you tend to focus on the good rather than spend the precious time you have together on the bad. So when he was here, it was great. But in the meantime, I spent too much of my goddamn time waiting for him. Waiting for him to come home. Waiting for him to make up his mind. Waiting for him to grow up as fast as I had. The problem was, he never asked me to wait for him.

Yet it was implied. The day he got an out-of-state job offer, he told me he would only move away if I moved too. He said he didn’t want to spend another day apart from me and I agreed. That was the plan. So we spent the next year of our still separate lives 709 miles away from each other as I finished school. In that year he created a new life for himself while I struggled to stay in my own. The problem was, the only thing I was looking forward to was him. But when the day finally came for me to pick up my entire life and join his, he decided that he couldn’t handle the commitment. He couldn’t handle the possibility of getting married then divorced. He decided that I was not worth the risk of failure. He gave up before we even had a chance.

The truth is, I am relieved. Having time to reflect, I have learned that what I wanted was a dream. What I wanted was not him, but a husband. I did not want to live in that city. I did not want to leave my friends and family behind. Even though I wanted to leave this place more than ever, I know now that if I had moved, I would have been miserable. He was not the kind of man I wanted to marry but I was killing myself trying to turn him into one. Why? Because he was the boy I fell in love with. But that charming boy was just a child in a big boy’s job who wanted to be free from all responsibility. And that is the last thing that I want. Looking back, neither of us were happy, but we still cared about each other so we held on to what we had. We did our best to make it work for longer than we should have. I should have realized that he was looking for an out.

The last time I saw him before our world fell apart, we played this song in the car. Transportation had always been our thing and every car had felt like home with him. I remember it feeling odd because I was the one who was driving even though I hated to drive. As we listened to the music in silence, there was a foretelling feeling of resolution. We hadn’t spoke about an end but it was there in that car with us and Jack Garratt was giving him permission to go:

Pick apart the pieces you left,
Don’t you worry about it, don’t you worry about it.
Try and give yourself some rest
And let me worry about it, let me worry about it.

So he left And it broke my heart. I didn’t eat for a week because I had spent the last 4 years of my life creating a future in my mind and now that future would never exist. It sucked, but I survived.

Though I am far from thanking him for doing what he did or how he went about doing it, I have found it unexpectedly easy to forgive him. It was not a future that either of us wanted and I truly believe that we will both become better people because it never happened.

And yes, I am still healing. There are days that still hurt, but there are so many more that do not. You see, time is a beautiful thing.

And thanks to time, I have finally found peace.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑