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Dear Introvert

writer. creative soul. black sheep.

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experience

full circle.

This started off as a Facebook post, but it is deserving of more. As a writer, I find some things shouldn’t be reduced to a Facebook status update, nor limited to 140 characters on Twitter, or become a caption typed beneath an Instagram photo. Some things are worth more than that. This is one of them.

full circle.

I knew of your family since we were kids. My sister’s best friend happened to be your next door neighbor. Your other next door neighbor, was my Uncle Mike. I ran through the woods behind your house, replicating scenes straight from Jurassic Park. I carried my plastic Velociraptor everywhere. His name was Tori.

Everyone was scared of the wolf that lived in your backyard. I only pretended to be. I would watch her from the woods sometimes wishing I had a wolf of my own. Though most of the woods has been cut down and developed since then, it’s still the same place from my memory, the place where we take Layla for walks now, together.

My entire childhood was spent riding my bike, creating chalk art, rollerblading, eating ice cream and ice pops, wreaking havoc as this wily tomboy with scabbed up knees and dirt under her fingernails on the street that still connects to yours. We took a different bus to school. I knew your sister had a big brother but I didn’t know you yet.

As teenagers, you became the best friend of my best friend’s brother. We were together but separate in the same house for countless summer days and weekend nights. One summer, you convinced me and Katie to get drunk with you and Rich from homemade Long Island Iced Tea. We stowed away in Rich’s room, a forbidden place I passed by hundreds of times on my way to Katie’s room. I never had the privilege of entering. Rich put up a fight, not wanting to hang out with his younger sister. But you didn’t seem to care. I felt so cool when you asked us but I pretended it was no big deal. I pretended a lot back then. I was just a kid sister’s friend. Older brothers and their friends never asked younger sisters and their friends to hang out, let alone hang out and get drunk. Funny, you said you always thought I was too cool for you. I wasn’t.

In our 20’s, we spent long nights in Throop dive bars getting shitfaced together. We’d laugh, we’d sing, we’d shout about this and that over music and shots and beers that flowed like water. We always somehow stayed past closing time, just to get kicked out gently by the bar staff, still laughing and singing our way out the door. We went back to your house one of those nights and sat on your parent’s porch, not wanting the party to end. I mentioned I was hungry so you drove to get me the fast food. You knew I wasn’t going to make it much longer on the verge of drunken sleep, but you went for me anyway.

When I started The NOMAD Project, you messaged me. You were one of the first people to show up with donations to support its mission. I met you in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot. Your trunk was packed with everything I put on the wish list. I thought it was so sweet of you. You asked me to hang out sometime just like you had a few times before this day. I said sure, but I never called, just like I never called the other times I said I would. We didn’t see each other again for awhile after that, but I never forgot that day. I never forgot your thoughtfulness, your kindness, you wanting to help me help other people.

2016 was supposed to be better for me, better than 2015 was. It didn’t start out that way. In fact, most things were pretty fucking awful. So I told myself, this was it. Choose something that you want to do, and don’t let you having to do it by yourself be the reason that stops you. You have to get out there and live your life. Determined to change everything, some way, somehow, I signed up for a trip. Volunteering for others is something that makes me feel whole, regardless of what’s happening in my life. It’s not just about the “wanting” to give back to others, I feel like I “need” to. I have to leave the world a better place than how I found it, I just have to.

I was a member of The Sierra Club for several years. I followed their volunteer service trips annually. The year before, in 2015, I looked into this trip called Working With Wolves. Unfortunately, it had filled up almost right away and there was no room left when I inquired. But this year, miraculously, they offered it again. This was it. This was the thing I needed to do for myself, by myself. I sent my deposit and secured my spot. I’d be spending a week in the wild working on a wolf conservation with complete strangers to help with their mission to protect this endangered species. I’d be surrounded by wolves. Wolves. My dream come true. And I didn’t need anyone but myself to make it happen.

A few months before, the trip leader sent out a list of everything we should bring and directions on how to make it there. I printed it out. For whatever reason, I inspected the list of names that was on the email copied with me. I couldn’t believe it. Your name was on it. I looked again. It can’t be. I looked several more times. It’s your name, right there, black and white. Well god damn, I thought.

I didn’t know you were a Sierra Club member or that you knew about Sierra Club Outings. I didn’t know you signed up for the same trip. We hadn’t seen each other in quite some time.. months, maybe a year.

I had to message to make sure it was really you.  It was. We talked up how strange it really was that we both signed up for the same random trip without knowing and then we decided to drive out together. We drove back together. And we’ve been together ever since. And this Friday, one year later, we’re leaving again for the same trip, only now we’ll be sharing a tent. Some days, I still have trouble wrapping my head around how all of this came together.

An hour after you dropped me off back at home when we returned from the trip, I messaged that I missed you already. I hit send and thought, “You fucking idiot, what is wrong with you? You’re going to look like a total weirdo.” I didn’t know what I was doing and I guess I didn’t care. It was the truth and I thought fuck it, you can’t go wrong with the truth. Just say it and whatever happens, happens.

You left to go on another trip the very next day. You were supposed to be gone for awhile, two or three weeks. You lasted a little over a week, messaging me to say you couldn’t stay any longer because you missed me. You came home on a Tuesday. It took all of my personal restraint not to tackle you in a bear hug when you walked through my front door. You didn’t know it yet, but I loved you then.

It felt as easy as breathing.

Life takes us here, there, and everywhere – all the while it teaches us what we are meant to learn about ourselves, about other people, about life, about love. Time and experience prepare us for what is yet to come and also for what we never saw coming.

I never saw this coming.

Funny, this life. It has a way of knowing exactly what you need before you do, and it knows when to save certain things for when you’re ready for them.

After 30 some years, we were finally ready.

I understand, now more than ever, why life plays out as it does, even when you feel like it has been working against you. Why some things you never thought would end, end. They must come to a close because something much greater is waiting for you, something you were meant for. It’s an alignment of stars. There’s nothing we can do about it but revel in the serendipitous nature of it all. And smile. And laugh. And love the shit out of each other and our life.

Because you are the best thing.

The something that was waiting for me.

And now, we both get to hold on to the one thing we kept on missing all these years…

each other.

 

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the space between

abluce16
taken from @abluce16

In the space between happiness and hardness,
I can find you hiding there.
The violence in your head stopping time,

but I too, am fucked beyond repair.

 

In the space between sorrow and sadness,

your darkness came to fuse with mine.
An introductory of our finest demons,
trapped by choice or grand design.


In the space between rage and romance,
we can dance together in the fiery ring.
Bruised hearts, ragged souls, bloody knuckles
it seems such a beautiful thing.

 

the silence.

enjoy_the_silence

Those deep ocean eyes tell me a story,
one that stalls behind gritted teeth.
I care not a fuck about spoken words,
let them crash amidst tangled feet.
I find comfort in the shared silence,
please tell me things without speaking.
We’ll become observant mother fuckers,
here’s to heart valves that start leaking.
Let’s prepare to get lost in the nothing,
we can find the light left in the dark.
It’s survival among the bitter and broken,
we’ll ignite to make this kindling spark.

let it settle.

www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz
Photo from: climateoutcome

If you ask me what my biggest fear is, I would tell you without hesitation, that it would be to live an unfulfilled life. But my second biggest fear is living a lie. Some of us build and shape our lives and our relationships from a foundation of fiction. Forged selves. Distorted histories. Fabrications we tell other people, but mostly, ourselves. Lies are often times born from fear. The majority of people lie from the fear that truth brings. Funny though, I am more afraid of deception than I am of your truth.

What most people don’t realize, is that there is a freedom in truth if we choose to acknowledge it, if we choose to embrace it. They say wear your truth like a badge of honor, let it build a coat of arms around you so that no one can hurt you. But I see a problem with that. The armor, so carefully crafted, so meticulously designed, so custom fitted, it becomes an extension of ourselves and creates a barrier. It means no one can hurt us. But it also means no one can see what’s underneath.

So I have a proposition for you, an alternative let’s say, to what we’ve been taught. My method is to stir it up. Stir up your truth like a sand storm and walk straight towards the eye. Choke on it. Let your lungs fill with its grit. Be blind to everything else, other than the truth that surrounds you.

Let it strip you of your armor as it buries all the excuses, all the justifications, all the every-which-ways you want to believe other than what your truth really is. Let it tear the mask from your face. Let it exfoliate your soul. Allow it to be so abrasive that it wears away all of the rust that has built upon your heart from every year of the life you have lived up until this very day. You will walk out of this truth storm with a raw essence of self you have never known before.

And after your truth has done all these things…

let it settle.

Let it settle deep within you like sand at the bottom of the sea.

And there it will stay.

There will still be times in your life where the truth stirs up. Where someone will dive in and start mucking around looking for your shipwrecks, for your buried treasure, for your skeletons. Some seek your history because they value it, others come looking to pillage through it and leave if they don’t like what they find. You don’t want people exploring the depths of you. But you can handle this, all of this. I promise. If only because you have already stirred up your truth for yourself. You know every last single thing that lives down there and you’ve made peace with it.

It doesn’t matter how much lies there.

At surface level, your waters are still.

In the shallows, you float.

In the depths, you still rise to the surface.

All the weight that once drown you has been spread evenly across your ocean bed.

You now swim with grace.

With courage.

With strength.

With conviction.

Most of all,

acceptance.

So I’m asking you to go to war with yourself. To ride into battle against what might be your worst enemy: your own reflection. Take out every single weapon in your arsenal and get ready for the fight of your life. And do it all, barebacked, without armor, stripped down to the bare bones of yourself. You will be bruised, bloodied, and beaten. But it’s better than the death you live while you’re still breathing. Because that’s what you’re doing. Slowly killing yourself every day running from the truth and tripping on the lies you leave scattered around to keep it away from other people and from yourself.

You have to accept what you are, who you are, and what you were in order to become who you want to be. You have to accept what you’ve already done and what you might not have done in order to move on to what you will do.

Acceptance is the key.

You must love yourself.

All of you.

The good and the bad,

the dark and the light,

the downright beautiful and the fucking hideous.

Honesty and truth mean more than you can ever imagine. Giving yourself the gift of truth is freedom. Giving the gift of truth to others is freedom. Allowing others to care about your true self, is freedom. Maybe you can’t accept everything. But the beauty of it is.. you don’t have to. There are other people who will. People who see things differently and love things you never will. Or they might just show you how.

One of my favorite quotes is this:

Tell me all the things you don’t love about yourself so I know where to start.

You need to know all of the things you don’t love about yourself. It’s okay to recognize them. It’s okay that they are out there in the great wide open and it’s okay to allow yourself to be present with them and for others to be present with them. They shouldn’t be ignored. They are still a part of you. Big or small. But remember, let them settle. Because when the dust clears, you’ll know those people there in your life, the ones that are treading in your waters… chose your ocean on purpose. And they would love nothing more than to dive in the deep end.

And you,

you’ll float on,

with your truth settled softly…

below the surface.

ghosts.

Call-of-duty-ghosts
Photo from http://www.vg247.com

a magnet for the emotionless
the ghosts, they floated
faded and fucked up
to a full heart, bloated

poltergeists take up space
never permanent, only drifting
paranormal self destroyers
carry the weight, heavy lifting

curse of the apparition
prepare for the exorcism
expel the heart haunter
emerge from the cataclysm

the poison tree.

A Poison Tree by merm-ish
“A Poison Tree” by merm-ish

It is sick and twisted,

a gnarled tree that feeds from poisonous soil.

It blooms sweet flowers,

a magnificent deception that lures in the innocent.

The antithesis of a giver,

it sucks the oxygen straight from the lungs.

Thorns embellish its branches,

curved like snake fangs slicing into the flesh.

Colossal leaves conceal the eyes,

blinding the chosen ones to its cunningness.

A labyrinth of mangled roots,

trip the unsuspecting into perilous bliss.

The sinful sap it harvests,

entraps the soul and encases the heart.

Its bark impervious to sunlight,

life generates from darkness harbored within.

She sought refuge underneath its welcoming foliage,

heedless of danger, nestled amongst the blossomed façade.

She watered its thirsty soul, nourished its ravenous mind,

pulled the weeds that burrowed deep into the heart of it.

Truth gave way when the mendacious leaves withered in wintertime,

revealing the repugnant nature of the tree and its cruel intentions.

The tree stood defiant, ignorant to the power of the cloaked woman in red.

Fire blazed within the palm of her hands, bloody from harvesting the lies.

She set fire to the poisonwood and it burned mercilessly from within.

Its ashes scattering with the warm summer breeze and it was no more.

“Threefold the weight of deeds done shall it be returned unto thee,”

and carry with her she will, the ashes of the forgotten tree.

heartless.

heartless2.jpg
taken from Pinterest – origin not known

what courses through the veins now is dark and cold
love is meant to keep you warm or so I’ve been told

valves clog with heartbreak that impedes the flow
love wilts in poisoned blood with no room to grow

offer a piece of it and they make sure to bleed you dry
love is meant to be the answer so it doesn’t understand why

a kamikaze organ that burns in the rubble of the lies
love has had its fill of rabid beasts in sheep’s disguise

inside this ribbed cage lies the vessel of a savage
love turned impenetrable – a fortress impossible to ravage

she is still breathing but this heart is no longer beating
love should live here now but it’s time spent was fleeting

alpha and omega.

wolves
Image from http://www.theapricity.com 

 

I followed your trail – to hunt you down – for as long as I could.
I no longer remember the scent of your fur or the taste of you.

I felt happiness when my head nuzzled in the crook of your neck.
I felt safe when your paws swallowed mine as they intertwined.
These were stolen moments spent peacefully in the warmest den.
Fearless moments – where we uncovered the true animals within.
But the morning sun would shine and shed light on your darkness.
It burned away the truth – words reduced to ashes in your mouth.
Howls sung in the night couldn’t pierce the silence of our days.

Instinct commanded you to protect yourself – the man-made image.
There is only ever fight or flight and you chose to flee – far and fast.
Deafening was the sound of your paws crunching through the snow.
Frozen was the blood inside my savage heart from the ice in yours.
Angry eyes burning – I turned to match stride – in opposite direction.
Two lone wolves: a story of the alpha and omega – beginning and end.

old fashioned.

loveeee
Photograph courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

I’m going to get all Carrie Bradshaw with this one and talk about relationships and love in 2016. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trapped in a perpetual state of horror and confusion on most days. I am supposed to be lumped into the group of people called ‘millennials’. The ominous ‘they’ define a millennial as someone 18 to 33 years old, born between 1981 and 1996. I don’t think I belong there. My age says I do, but my mind, my soul and my heart tell me otherwise. I don’t agree with this millennial world of life and love. It’s borderline madness.

I don’t understand the way both men and women treat relationships today, whether it’s familial, friendship, or intimate. It astounds me. I see people force relationships for the sake of being in one. I see people stay in relationships for a number of reasons other than love. I see people hang on to toxic relationships that no longer serve them. I see people pretend to be who they are not. I see people who are afraid: afraid of who they are, afraid of love, afraid to let people in, and afraid of what people think.

I see relationships of all kinds splattered over social media because there exists this need for constant connection and validation. It has invaded our lives in such a perverse way that we are compelled to highlight each and every moment we live. We also feel this pull to check in with everyone else’s lives, not just every once in awhile, but constantly from dusk to dawn. I will admit, I am guilty of this on both ends of the spectrum. It annoys the fuck out of me and it makes me want to punch myself in the face.

Instead of a phone call, we get a Facebook message or a Snapchat. We are now forced to get to know people not face to face, but through a phone or computer screen, through typed words and 10 second images or videos. We have to play guessing games about how things really are. Feelings are mostly expressed through Wi-Fi, if they are even expressed at all. We no longer use all of our senses to experience getting to know someone. There exists this disturbing element of avoidance and detachment. There are things called ghosting, situationships, and now even ‘passive’ ghosting. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? Does anyone else find this ridiculous?

There’s no need to “catch-up” because we could just tap a social media app and see what you’ve been up to just by scrolling. True lines of communication are down. We’re forced to read into texts, snapchats, and messages. It’s as if face-to-face interactions are unwanted. Face-to-face means potentially dealing with confrontation, emotions, feelings, truth, eye contact, body language, our physical reactions to people, and oh my god… WORDS SPOKEN ALOUD to someone’s -FACE- (the horror!) Let’s just avoid all of that instead.

We’ve become too dependent on using social media to interact with one another. This keeps people at arm’s length. We only let people see what we want them see, let them in as far as we want them to go. God forbid someone sees the real you, in your raw and purest form, minus the filter. They might just run for the hills and never look back. Because aside from the highlight reels of your life that you choose to post or send, someone might think you’re boring, or stupid, or weird, or fucked up, or lazy, or crazy, or whatever. Even worse, they might end up liking you or loving you for the real, actual you. Those fools.

Is there something wrong with me? Because everything that most people seem to be running from is what I crave. I look for the in-between – – all the things and thoughts you don’t show to everyone else. I want your flaws, I want your scars, I want your quirky and your weird. I want your stories, your dreams, your secrets and your nightmares. I want what you look like when no one is looking. I want to be with you when you do the things and say the things that you might not dare to do or say on social media. Give me the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give me the boring, the lackluster. I want it all, true to self.

Tell me how it really is. Tell me how you really feel. Let me like you or love you for who you are, the whole of you. Because this is how you truly know someone. This is how you understand and come to fit with another person. If it works, it has to work based on the truth, otherwise you’re selling yourself to people in a bullshit smeared box of false advertisement. People like you not for who you really are, but for everything you want them to like. Which not only hurts them, but it hurts you too. It’s such a waste of their time and yours. If your honesty, your weird, your truth, is something someone can’t handle as a friend or a lover, then why do they exist in your life at all?

As we get older, we have to learn something. Sometimes, we learn it the hard way. We have to learn that not everyone is meant to stay in our lives, no matter how long they’ve been there. It’s about quality, not quantity. Sometimes, people don’t fit. And that’s okay. It’s better to be yourself. Be happy as the real you. And let others be happy as the real them. Stop molding yourself to fit where you don’t belong and stop forcing people to change to try and fit into your life. We should only be and stay in each other’s lives as ourselves. Having to force something never really works does it? It’s choosing when to let go and when to hold on. It’s facing and walking that fine line between committing to put the work in or walking away knowing it’s not meant to be. But if you choose commitment, you have to go all in or you might as well let them go.

Love comes from within. You have to love yourself first. You can’t use relationships with other people as a security blanket. You can’t use the love of other people to fill your self-love deficit. It’s okay to be alone.

I repeat: IT’S OKAY TO BE ALONE.

It’s okay to leave relationships if you’re not happy, no matter how long you’ve been in them. It’s okay to continue to be alone even if you desperately want to find love because you’ve been alone for so long. Love doesn’t come by force or out of desperation. It’s okay to not be married by a certain age, or not to have kids by this age, or to live life differently than your friends or family. If you are happy, if the person and people you choose to spend this life with are happy, then that is all that matters. Fuck everyone else. Honestly. Stop half-assing life. Stop half-assing love. If it’s worth it, it’s worth it. If not, go find your happiness and don’t apologize for anything or anyone that might stand in the way of it.

I’m not afraid to be alone. I enjoy my own company, more so maybe than most. People think that’s weird. I’m also not afraid to tell people I care about them. People think that’s weird too. Admitting feelings for people is a foreign concept. It’s better to pretend feelings don’t exist at all because then you never have to be embarrassed that you got shot down or that someone doesn’t care about you in equal measure. It’s cool to care less. I think that’s a load of bullshit.

Never be afraid to tell the truth about your feelings for people, especially if they are good. The world has enough hate and enough people hiding inside their self-made turtle shells shutting out truth, love, and whatever else. Seeing people happy and smiling and laughing, in part, because you love them and you care about them in the purest way possible without expecting anything in return is the best feeling in the world.

I am only afraid of one thing: settling. Settling in life and settling in love. For a while now, I’ve been pretty torn up, thinking that what I am looking for in this life doesn’t exist anymore. That’s not true. We need to learn to wait. Be patient.

Bouncing from relationship to relationship doesn’t give you time to discover yourself. Staying in an unfulfilling relationship out of fear of never finding someone that will truly make you happy is stupid. I’m sorry. It just is. It is also really fucking stupid to deny yourself true love because of fear.

If you find yourself alone, just keep working on you. Keep at that self-love. Keep growing. Love is everywhere. It doesn’t have to be defined by one singular person. If you don’t feel whole all by yourself, then that means you’ve still got work to do. Stop searching for your “other half” or for people to fill a void. You need to be whole as you stand alone. You need to fill the void by yourself.

And for fuck’s sake, if you find love, or feel love, and you think you might be ready, let it in god damnit. It might scare the shit out of you, you might not fully understand what’s happening, but just go with it. Stop rejecting it, stop denying it. Don’t be afraid. You never know what might happen if you put your walls down, especially if you’ve found the right one. Believe me, you’ll just know.

I see some incredible relationships between people out there. Some of my very good friends are in these bad ass relationships right now. Some are old, some are new. But these are the relationships that keep my hope alive. They keep me patient. They keep me believing. Most importantly, they stop me from second guessing that the kind of love I’m looking for doesn’t exist anymore. Because it does.

There is a key to love in the 21st century.

I believe this key is keeping love old fashioned. In every sense other than getting married and having kids by age 23. These couples stay old fashioned.

They have true communication: a relationship where anything and everything can be discussed without fear. There is trust: trust that you can be your true self and trust that love is enough. And also, trust that if love ever falls away, that you will not stay. You will be brave enough to say it out loud and leave before infidelity, chronic unhappiness, resentment, or the feeling of settling comes creeping in. Trust that if you are there and you are in love, there is no room for anyone or anything else.

They have love based on friendship. Who they are with happens to be their best friend. They can walk through hell and back and they will still be there. There’s a loyalty and camaraderie and a kinship forged between the two of them. They have an understanding. These couples have found their “person”.

They maintain the ability to be separate from one another. They are two individuals who have forged a life together, yet remain separate entities. Negative co-dependency doesn’t exist between them. They have a love built from self-love. They spend time together but they spend time apart. They have things they love without the other person. They remain an “I” instead of melting into this “we” insanity.

Most importantly, these couples are removed from social media. They still value time spent with one another in private. They are not compelled to snapchat, status update, or upload photos galore. Sometimes, most times, they disappear together without any of us knowing what the fuck they are doing. They could be doing absolutely nothing or boarding a plane to France. We wouldn’t know until after the fact, if at all. Value is placed on the moments no one knows about.

So what if it’s talking in bed for hours about nothing at all, or taking a spontaneous adventure? They understand these are moments not always meant to be shared. Because honestly, who should give a shit other than you two? These are the couples that don’t find themselves reaching for their phone when they’re together – whether it’s to update the world about what they’re doing or to stay updated on other people’s worlds. When they’re together, no one else’s status update really matters. Notifications can wait for another time.

Some of the best moments of my life have no trace. I was too busy having fun and being truly happy and satisfied in the moment I was in to reach for my phone to record it. And I way too busy to check in on other people and see what they were up to. If I’m doing something I truly enjoy or I am with someone whose company I love, or better yet, both of those things combined, I forget I have a phone at all. It goes on silent and disappears to the bottom of my purse.

What do I want?

I want to hear your voice. I want to see your face so I can mentally record the lines of your smile and the sound of your laugh. I want to be together without the glow of a cell phone lighting up every five seconds. I want to exist with you in a space where a cell phone is irrelevant. I want your eyes on mine and mine on yours. I want to be present in the moment we’re in – together.

I want to care less about other people and care even less if they care about me, or us. I want you to let go and be you. I want to be me. I want to get to know you, really and truly know you, for all that you are and all that you want to be. I want you to trust me. I want to trust you.

I want to talk a lot sometimes, and at other times, be comfortable in complete silence. I want us to be wild and weird, to be quiet and boring, and to love and live without fear.

I want to be genuine with you. I want be loved for all that I am. I want to love you for all that you are. And I want to give zero fucks if anybody else even knows about it.

I want to stay old fashioned.

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