Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fucked Up

“The fact that you’re struggling doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you unloveable or undesirable or undeserving of care. It doesn’t make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a difficult time coping, and at times, we all fall apart. During these times, we aren’t always easy to be around—and that’s okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time. Yes, you may sometimes be unpleasant or difficult. And yes, you may sometimes do or say things that make the people around you feel helpless or sad. But those things aren’t all of who you are and they certainly don’t discount your worth as a human being. The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved. You can be difficult and still be cared for. You can be less than perfect and still be deserving of compassion and kindness.” -Daniell Koepke

I feel like for the past 4 weeks, I have said, "I'm fucked up" far too many times to count. I've always had this sort of twisted ideology swirling around being damaged to the point where love becomes impossible for others. It's a test of sorts. Part of me believes I am unworthy of love, so part of me projects this onto other people by telling them I'm too messed up to love. I have realized though, that I am really, deeply loved by enough people that I feel like a cloud floats beneath me. They peel back the layers of my decided fucked-up ness and soak them in warm, lavender scented bathwater. They brush my hair, they wipe my tears, they fill up what my mother would call the love tank. 

When people used to talk about self care, I would listen, nod, and smile. For a long time, I convinced myself that waking up at 6:00 a.m. to do yoga before work was a strong enough act of self care that I could prioritize a million other things over my own well being for the rest of the day. This is not self care or if it is, it's twisted by my own nonsense. Self care has become crucial to me over the past few weeks though. When the bottom drops out of your life, you, shockingly, have to continue existing. Suddenly, I feel keenly responsible for my happiness, for my emotional well-being, and for my ability to make it through the day. I make myself get out of bed, I make myself do yoga, I make myself eat, I make myself laugh, and at some point there is a wave of relief and stillness that falls around me. The letting is important too. I let myself cry. I let myself feel all of the nasty things that come with a break up. I let myself try things I'm afraid of. I test my limits and reevaluate. 

I meditate. I repeat the phrase, "You are enough." I listen to just a handful of songs. When I'm feeling risky, I listen to someone else's music. This is almost always helpful. I go to work. I do my hair. I douse myself in coconut oil. I realize I have gone several days without crying. I feel compelled to dance. I remember that I like to sing and so I sing freely. I remember that I like to read and so I read freely. I remember that I've always wanted to go to New York and so I start to try. I realize that I never disappeared, I merely buried myself under someone else's shit.

We dust our demons off. We dance to Nicki Minaj and we drink maybe too much. Maybe just enough. 

I feel 22 for the first time in a long time. I feel like the world has unfurled and opened itself up to me. And all I had to do was look past my circumstances and into what I wanted next. There are times when I feel selfish and I must remind myself that I have been given a gift, a chance, a choice; the option to leave behind the things that I thought I was permanently attached to. This recognition is an act of self care as well. I recognize my own physical and emotional strength, to start each day anew, to learn to be and to breathe and to live in a totally different way. When sadness comes, and it does here and there, all I have to remember is how well I can take care of myself, better than anyone else ever could or would. I am mine and only mine, I don't have to share myself anymore.

So this morning, I cry, I tell my roommate, "I'm too fucked up," and she says, "You're not fucked up. You're not fucked up at all." And I let myself believe her. Despite everything, despite what I've lost and what I've gained, despite what I'd been taught to believe about myself, I let myself believe that I'm not too fucked up for anything, not for happiness, not for success, not for any kind of love. I deserve love, every bit of it, especially from myself.

We all deserve it. Despite what anyone says or thinks or makes you feel about yourself. You deserve all the love that will befall you, every bit. Know yourself. Love yourself. Accept gifts. Accept love. Believe in an inherent goodness within people, despite all of the reasons you have not to. Keep going, it gets better. 

Friday, September 2, 2016


I wrote an instruction manual for putting yourself back together almost three years ago. I'm not sure where it came from, I know I wasn't terribly sad at that point in time, but I built something for myself to return to when I was too far gone. Three days ago, my life changed in a way that I had been trying--and failing--to prevent for a while now. I tried to cope, I tried to fill a void that felt immeasurable, and I kept coming up for air, feeling like I had drowned, or died. My best friend pulled me out of my abysmal sadness and into her little white bean car that has rescued me countless times.

When I told her I was going to dye my hair blue and call myself Chrysanthemum, the flower of death, She sent me the link to that instruction manual, and reminded me that I'd written it. I read it. A few times. I cried and wondered how a nineteen year old me had provided such a fitting manual to cope with the present pain that felt like it was searing through my chest. I wondered how she was so wise and how I was so clueless. Then for some reason, Elephant Journal shared the article once more, and I received a new flood of sweet, beautiful people reaching out across the void and telling me they found solace in my words. Me, this ruptured pile of emotions, had somehow provided some comfort to people on the worst day of my fucking life. I thought about reaching out to people and felt too weak to do so. Within three days, each person I'd longed to tell but feared to burden, had somehow known to reach out. My friends filled my ears and my heart and my inbox with words they'd diminish as cliched and obvious. But they were saving me. They were healing me. Over and over and over again. With words.

This morning, I received an email from Notes From the Universe (I'm sure many of you did as well) that said this:

Chloe, it's time you step forward to claim whatever it is that you want from life. 

Just remember, the gate keeper who will give it to you is the same gate keeper who has kept it from you, gorgeous. 

Good thing, 
    The Universe

I was riding the bus to work for the first time in a long time and feeling profoundly small. I felt people looking at me as I tried to make it seem like I wasn't crying when I was obviously crying. I felt my phone vibrate and while searching for something else, I read this and realized, better yet, remembered once more, that there is something vibrating inside of me. There is something strong, profound, ever-expanding, and incandescent that is growing within me. For a long time, I turned that thought off, I shut that hope down, and I willed myself to take up less space, to be less of what I was, what I still am.

I told my sweet Sara this morning, that instead of increasing, my anxiety was shrinking. I walked down the street yesterday and looked at beautiful people for what they were, remarkable. I felt untethered to the emotions that had sunken my shoulders and left shadows beneath my eyes. I was floating. And also falling. Ebbing and flowing between what feels like all-consuming emptiness and freedom. I am shaken up and shaken out. I don't know what I'm stepping forward into, only that it has felt like stepping off a cliff and that I am now suspended in a glorious and excruciating free fall.

There will be moments in time throughout this life where our deepest certainties abandon us. When we woke up seeing things one way and must go to sleep seeing them anew. It will feel like swimming through concrete and pulling off your fingernails one by one. It will feel reckless, wild, and sad, over and over again. No one will say the right thing and you will be sure that the feeling in your chest will end you. Pockets of clarity will come. Unconditional love will save you. And that has to come from inside of you. You have to believe that the person you are is worth climbing this mountain of grief, to get to the other side, to continue to be and love and live and grow.

I will resist the urge to be reckless. I will resist the urge to believe I am lacking. I will take deep breaths when it consumes me and trust that I'll make it out to the other side. I will understand the impermanence of everything. I read this now and know that the hard work of becoming is slated in front of me. 

It's time to put myself back together.