Joshua 1:9

I invest my life in other people. Sometimes not in the most obvious ways, but I do. This is why:

When I was a sophomore in high school I was a member of a youth group. These people heavily shaped me for better or worse. One woman in particular had a huge influence on me. On a mission trip, she gave me a bible verse. Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This verse has stuck deep within my soul for over a decade. It has lodged itself in my subconscious.

I was dying and there was this verse. I was watching people be murdered-there was this verse. I was in India, alone and friendless, there was this verse. I watched my friends struggle with infertility-there was this verse. You see, when I first read this verse I took it literally. I took “wherever you will go” to be physically. What I didn’t see at 16 was “wherever you go” to mean so much more than where I physically travel. Instead, the Lord, my God, the God of Jacob, He is with me when my immediate life is dark. He is there when I am hurt and happy. He is there when I’m not sure I’m going to survive the pain.

This woman. The one who gave me this verse-she saved my life. This verse has been something I have clung to in the darkest of nights. It is what was whispered to me while I fell asleep-not knowing if I was going to wake up. It was what prodded me on when I wanted to quit grad school. Watching her live this verse has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Watching her love through struggle has made me even more sure that there is no other love like this. Whatever struggle I have with Christian culture, this, this love, I don’t doubt. This grace is beautiful and undeserved. I can’t thank her enough for letting me watch her life unfold.

Colors

Sometimes, when I am having trouble deciphering what I’m feeling, I use colors to help me define them. It helps me focus. As Annie says, “for such a smart person you are really dumb about your own feelings.” This is a way I’m less dumb about my feelings I guess. The scale is pretty standard:

Black: Overwhelmingly lonely

Navy: Overwhelmingly sad

Blue: Sad but manageable

Yellow: Happy

Pink: Embarrassed

Red: Angry

Maroon: Livid

Green: Jealous

Orange: Irritated

Purple: Bothered

You’ll notice that most of the feelings are “negative”. This isn’t because I have more “negative” feelings than “positive” it’s that I recognize “positive” feelings more than I do “negative” ones. I know what happy and delighted feel like. I have a harder time between sad and lonely. They feel the same to me. It makes me have to actually think about it. This isn’t easy to admit. It’s not easy to tell you that I have to think about what I’m feeling and assign it a color before I can completely identify it. It makes me feel like I’m missing something vital in my make-up. I’m not. It’s just how I process.

I don’t like to react before knowing what I’m reacting to. Sometimes sadness feels like anger. Sometimes things cause both feelings. Sometimes moments start off purple move to orange and quickly become blue and then upon reflection become pink. I’m pink a lot.

So when you are frustrated in how I respond to situations and people-this is why. Because I don’t know what I’m feeling and I haven’t had time to process it. I’m still in the “it’s okay to feel things” phase. It took a while to get there. I apologize a lot for it. I don’t know another way to do it and still function. Just know that I’m trying and for the most part I have a lot of it figured out.

The point is. I have to feel these colors. I also still have to refer to my emotions as colors so take that for what it’s worth.

Feelings Are For the Birds

So. Sometimes you think you are on top of these whole feelings things. Like, you’ve meditated, prayed, sacrificed a virgin to ancient gods, rubbed a stone, and took a nap. You’re ready to go. You’re ready to face the world again. You’re wrong. I was wrong. So. Wrong.

For you to fully appreciate this I’m going to have to tell you a story. This story will make you sigh, groan, shake your head at me, marvel at my integrity, and groan more. It’s a warning. I feel like all of my stories should come with a, “what to expect” label. I should make an infographic for this blog with ratings for stories and then at the top of each one put those little markers so you know. Like a movie rating system. Sorry. I’ll move on.

The story. In May I received a weird text message from a weird number. Since I haven’t just given out my phone number in years I was more than confused. We had some pleasant conversation then it turned to my ex. This person claimed that they met me in a bar that I used to frequent on Saturday nights ($2 drinks for the win!) like a year ago. Let me make something perfectly clear-I don’t give my number out at bars. I never have. I never will. It’s a dangerous practice that even I abstained from. So this person, continues on knowing way too much about me. I’m not sure what he was there to accomplish but it didn’t work. Also, he totally gave me a fake mobsters name. Ha! Like I hadn’t seen The Departed. Flash forward a couple months and I accidentally call said person because it is like midnight, I wasn’t wearing my glasses, and sometimes my fingers can’t find what they want on that damn touchscreen. “He” texts me back the next day asking if I called. I apologized and told him it was an accident. He tells me he met my ex at a bbq.

Normally I would have shrugged but the only thing he knew about my ex was that he was military. The end. No names, no MOS, not what he drove, no ethnicity, nothing. As small as this place seems sometimes it is still too large to deduce who I dated from that amount of information. So he says that the ex talked about me. Sure. What’s not to say, “she was completely wonderful and loyal and I fucked her over. It’s cool though because I didn’t really care about her or the fact that she was a person.” Apparently, he said I’m clingy. (I’m not clingy. It is not clingy to want to see the person you are dating more than once. You know what’s clingy? The way he became with the horrible woman he dated during/after me) So what do I do? Ignore the fact that there is some person pretending to be someone else that has far too much information about me? Hell no. I swallow my pride and unblock him from KIK.

Yep. The ex. Unblocked. I message him. Ask questions. I still don’t know if I believe him. He claims he has no idea and never said I was clingy. We continue to talk. He flirts. I may flirt back (groan away. I stopped myself). Then he gets sick. Not regular sick. Hospital sick. The big “C” word is mentioned. Every part except my heart says, “who cares?” My heart says, “his family isn’t here. What if it was one of your friends? What if it was someone you loved?” Turns out I’m a fucking decent person. I talk to him. I visit him in the hospital. I become friends with him on facebook (this was forbidden when we were dating). I scroll. You see, I thought I was over all of the hurt. I thought I wasn’t angry anymore. As I scrolled and saw all of his posts that proved he was with someone else while dating me I realized a couple things:

1. I’m not that nice.

2. I’m soooooooooo much prettier

3. Being an EMT does not make grammar your subject

4. This hurt and anger will never go away

5. It doesn’t have to dictate my life

It was like being sucker punched. Evander Holyfield couldn’t have hurt me more than this did. I was so upset that I didn’t even sleep well. I wanted to rage. I wanted to comment on every post just to show him that I saw them. I wanted to scream and throw things. I wanted to listen to 3 Doors Down (it’s my angry music-leave me alone). I didn’t do any of those things. I closed the browser. I texted people. I took a hot bath when I got home. I listened to some Neil Gaiman. I told myself that just because he hurt me once doesn’t mean I have to let him do it again. Being nice to him doesn’t mean I have to let him take advantage of me. But most importantly, this hurt and anger shouldn’t dictate how I interact with guys in the future. Because so far it has and that really sucks for both of us. So just because my ex is a dick (yeah, he’s still a dick because he isn’t sorry) doesn’t mean every guy I meet is.

Like With Most Things I’m Moving On

To say I’ve had a rough year so far would be an understatement. By all accounts I’ve had one of the hardest years of my young-ish life. From battling depression to losing my grandmother. From personal disappointments to just staring blankly at a wall for hours. I’ve struggled. Then my dog went missing in March. I took it hard. I had him for over a decade. This dog was my version of a ride or die. He loved me so much and the guilt that overtook me when he was gone was unbearable.

What guilt? The guilt that I should have spent more time with him. Should have spent more time petting him. More treats. More walks. More drives. Just more of me to more of him. He deserved it. I got him shortly before Stephany had Haylee. He grew with her. He loved the kids. He dealt with an obnoxious amount of hair pulling and sticky fingers. He had a sneaky way of just wiggling under your hand. He was a stealer of food and a master at escaping. He liked to sleep in and snuggle close during thunderstorms. He barked a lot and hated the ex.

It was awful to lose him and the fact that I never found out what happened to him makes it harder. I still have pictures of him everywhere. Like with most things I’m moving on. I adopted a dog who desperately needed another chance at a family. She’s a three-year-old dachshund. Her name is Annie. I wasn’t ready for another dog when I adopted her but as soon as she was in my car I knew there was no way I could give her back to the shelter and condemn her to that life. After all, we all just need a chance. She’s currently thriving at my house. It’s a great environment for her and having her in my house has calmed me down. She was what was missing and I need something living in my house.

Even though my life has been rough in patches I have been happier with myself this year more than any other year. I’m happier with my appearance and who I am. I’ve forgiven myself for a lot of my past. I’m still struggling with the culture of Christianity and the severe divide I feel between politics and faith. I don’t doubt the existence of my Creator. I don’t doubt his love for me. I am just having a hard time with His people at the moment. The politically-charged environment in America doesn’t help much. It’s been tough to say good-bye to people that were family for so long but at the same time I cannot support inserting personal faith into general government. I know that if things were flipped and the majority faith here was something different that I would have a problem with that doctrine being forced on me as guidelines to how I live my life. I also believe wholeheartedly that we are meant to love as He loved and at the end of the day I just cannot look at another person and say, “you don’t get the same rights as me.” What makes any group of people get a say in who does and doesn’t receive rights? That went further off course than I intended. You may not agree. That’s okay, it’s my blog not yours. Turns out if you disagree you can just stop reading and move on. No hard feelings here.

Essentially. I’m trying. It’s not easy. I didn’t expect it would be.

Can I Not Just Be In The Moment?

A couple of weekends ago I sat in the back of a 4,000 women worship service. While being surrounded by amazing music-with the entire goal to draw you into a place of worship-I couldn’t help but notice the amount of women holding up their cell phones. I couldn’t stop noticing it. It was suddenly everywhere. Women filming the worship service. Women taking selfies. Women taking pictures of friends. During. Worship.

Then I realized-we’ve lost the ability to be in the moment. How many times have you been at dinner with your friends and you pick up your phone. For nothing. Not because you got a text or an alert but just because you might have. I do it all the time. I’m bored, I pick up my phone. I’m in the middle of work, I pick up my phone. I spend so much time on it that I forget to look around. I forget about my actual human connections. Do you do this too? I’m betting yes. I’m betting that the little notification light on your phone drives you just as crazy as it does me. To the point where I have to turn my phone upside down at night so it doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night-because it will. As I type this, my phone is right next to me-plugged in. Just so I don’t miss a text. It’s just crazy.

As a population have we lost the ability to just be present in the day? Maybe asking people to be present in the day is too much. Can we at least be present when people are talking to us? At meals. During meetings. During presentations. While we are just sitting as a family.

You know what the problem is when you spend most of your time communicating via text/instant messaging/facebook? You only view the conversation through one lens. You only know your part of the conversation. You only know your tone. You only have a reference of previous conversations. You are missing the nonverbal cues. I fully believe that is why so much miscommunication happens when talking online.

My friends live so far away that I rely on my phone to keep up on their lives. I love my phone. I love the instant communication opportunities it gives me. I don’t love what it has done to me. I don’t love changing my day around the damn thing. I have left things early because my phone is dying. I just want to do better.

Raspberry Filling

Let me tell you about a date that I went on a couple years ago, not the full date, you just don’t need that many details about this instance. I’m not even going to tell you where on the internet I met him. Just that I met him on the internet. I’ll start from the time we exchanged phone numbers.

I’m not a phone person. I don’t like talking on the phone. I’m leery about giving out my phone number-especially to strangers. My phone is almost always with me and if someone has my number they can reach me everywhere. It’s not like when my phone was attached to the wall. Now they can reach me at Wal-Mart, the gas station, work, and the gym. It just seems so much more personal than giving them a landline. I gave him my number. I even programmed his name in. You’re laughing but I am not the attachment type. It takes a lot to get me there and normally your name doesn’t get programmed in unless I think you’re going to stick around. I programmed it in anyway.

He called. We talked. I was a fan. As much of a fan as I could be you know? Intelligent. Holds conversation well. Good at arguing. And that was just what I brought to the table. It was going to be a good time. We decided to meet. I was so nervous. Like, couldn’t control myself nervous. It took me three hours to get ready. He was going to take me to a steak house franchise and I wasn’t concerned about being over-dressed.

I have to interrupt this story. I’ve done some really really dumb things in my life. Things that are unsafe. Things that should have led to murder. I’ve lived to tell. Please do not do these things. I don’t do them anymore. It’s a terrible idea and dumb. You’re not dumb. Don’t do them.

I met him in a parking lot. He got out and opened the door of his truck and I got in. (see? Dumb. So fucking dumb) We were going to a neighboring town. He said I looked nice and we started talking. On the way there he put his hand on my thigh and I didn’t move it. He asked if we could go to Denny’s instead of the original plan. I agreed. Disappointed. And a little angry if we are honest. I had spent three damn hours trying to get ready and look nice. Nope. Denny’s. I could have worn pajamas. Sigh. Oh well. I tried so hard not to stare at him. He was unbelievably attractive. This made me nervous.

You know what I remember about that night? How he helped me across the parking lot because it was icey. How he never made me feel unattractive. He didn’t flirt with or stare at the waitress-no matter how hard she tried. He didn’t stare at other women when they walked past. He looked at me. He kept as much eye contact as I would allow him. He helped me into his gigantic truck. He held my hand for a bit on the way home. He brushed the hair out of my face. He learned things I liked. He made fun of me and didn’t act like I was dumb. It was one of the nicest feelings another person has given me.

Sometimes you just need to reflect on the people who have made you feel great in your life. I have a lot of amazing people in my life. People I admire so much and stalk relentlessly on Facebook. My dating history is all over the map. Most of that is my fault and some of it is because modern dudes are douchebags. This is a happy memory. The fact that I wasn’t murdered is just the raspberry filling in that cake.

February

February was a rough month for me. I turned 30. Which had nothing to do with the month being just terrible but instead had everything to do with how the family didn’t react. They’ve made up for it and some part of it was probably my fault. I’m a planner. I always have been and this year I planned nothing. I assumed changing decades was big enough to warrant someone else doing the planning. I was wrong.

I was also sick quite a bit. Had a realization that I do not look how I want to look and my health has taken a toll because of life decisions. I’m working on that.

The roughest part was my grandma dying. I’m not sure where to begin. For the vast majority of my life I was pretty certain she didn’t like me. I can’t blame her. Well I can a little-I was a kid. I’m fairly certain neither of us formed attachments to other people like others wished we would. That makes it difficult to like one another. She came to live with us when I was in elementary school. That didn’t cement a bond. I’m mouthy and sarcastic. She was no different. We both liked to read though. That was something we always had in common.

She was a Cubs fan. She grew up in baseball heaven and lived miles from the greatest team to play the sport and remained a Cubs fan. She liked an underdog. That says a lot about her as a person. She always wanted the underdog to win. Fortunately, most of her other teams were already the underdog.

Most people in my life would call me blunt but that’s because they didn’t know my grandma. She had an opinion and you were going to hear it. Nice or not. Appropriate or not. Tactful? Yeah. Definitely not. She wasn’t afraid to make you mad or tell you that you were being dumb.

In the last couple years, she changed. She reached out more. She called me. She was excited when I would stop by while in St. Louis. She wanted to go to lunch or dinner with me. She wanted to talk to me. And not just to tell me what I was doing wrong or ask about the rest of family. She wanted to know about me. She wanted to hear about work and hobbies. She wanted to know me. I even drove to St. Louis to pick her up and bring her to my parent’s house for Christmas. Which we never thought she would agree to. She spent 4 days with us. We drank coffee and watched cat shows. She hung out on the couch with my dog. She told stories and even played Cards Against Humanity with us. She called my sister a prude. I think it shocked her that I wasn’t one.

My grandma and I had a lot of differences when I was growing up. It was difficult to not be liked. Those last years though-those are the ones I’m going to remember. The times when we got to bond and I felt like she really liked me-not just loved me.

A New Decade Approaches

In exactly 11 days I will be 30. It’s kind of a big deal to me-but not for the reasons you would think. I mean, I don’t mind getting older is all I’m saying. I’ve practically been old my entire life. I was born with the personality of an 80 year old grandmother. But one of those grandmas that lived through the depression-not the fun ones.

I’m excited though, you know? My life isn’t exactly what you would call hard but I had some definite rough patches. I don’t have to tell you-you’ve read this blog. But not just that. Not just him. I almost died in my 20s. It was a really hard time not just for me but for the people who love me. I imagine the ones who don’t care for me didn’t have an opinion. I lost my dog, my grandpa, my uncle, some friends, and made reckless decisions.

My 20s had some perks. I met my best friends. I graduated with both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I found a career I adore. All of my nieces and nephews were born. I traveled to India. I let myself become attached to a person. I watched so many baseball games. I discovered my voice. I reconciled with my body (mostly). And I fell even more in love with my Savior.

The world is a scary place right now. And I’m not sure what my 30s hold. But I do know that I’m going to continue growing as a person. I’m going to try to consistently put myself in the place of others and understand their views. I’m going to be kind. I’m going to read more about everything. I’m going to continue working hard for what I want. I’m not going to allow others to make me jaded. I might even start cleaning my house and doing laundry on a regular basis-but if you look at my list you can see my plate is already pretty full. I mean, being kind is a full-time job for me.

I’m ready for a new decade of my life. I’m ready to heal. I’m excited.

On Being Stood Up

I will never understand “ghosting” or just not showing up. There is no amount of reasoning that will ever make it okay. I know that most of the time the term “adult” doesn’t mean much. I mean, just look at how certain “adults” in our government system behave. I know this and honestly don’t expect a whole lot out of my prospective suitors. People being what they are and all. But ghosting? Unacceptable.

I hate everything about first dates-and first dates from the internet are no different. I don’t know what specifically it is but I hate all of it. I think what I really hate is the getting ready-I get all worked up about it. I spend hours getting ready and not because it actually takes hours for me to look like I belong in society. It takes me hours because I spend most of that time sitting on my bed, half-dressed, trying to convince myself that I’m a freaking adult and can attend a social function damn it. (I’m rather hard on myself at times) So you see, if I can convince my eternally realist self that I can attend a damn dinner for 2 hours and be polite why the fuck can’t these guys get their act together?

Ghosting doesn’t bother me as much as not showing up does. If you have ghosted on me you’ve typically not responded to text messages and I’m not even worried about showing up. The ones that really bother me are the ones that have made me go through the entire process to get ready and instead of being a decent fucking human let me show up and sit there. You know what that feels like? No. Good. I hope you don’t. Those of you that do-you know where I’m coming from. It’s awful. Humiliating. The hostess keeps asking you if you want to wait or be seated. Thank God I didn’t want to be seated. And this isn’t even an isolated event. Four times. Four guys. Yeah. You read that right-four times. I don’t even like to put myself out there that much and it still happened. And the kicker is that each time the guy asked me out. This wasn’t initiated by me. Why bother asking me out if you don’t want to show up?

So the next time you decide you want to ask someone out and then later decide you no longer want to see that person-tell them. Be the good person. I promise you that the minute of anger that comes from canceling at last minute is nothing compared to the awful feelings you will cause when you just don’t show up. Let’s be adults people.

Dating Sucks

I’ve decided to try dating again. I mean, I don’t want him back so what am I waiting for? Though I wouldn’t turn down an engraved invitation from the dating world acknowledging they accept me.

Dating has never been my thing. I don’t hold a lot of stock in zodiacs (it’s cool if you do but it’s just not my life) but I am the exact definition of an Aquarius. I’ll recap for you:

  • Progressive
  • Independent
  • Humanitarian
  • Runs from emotional expression
  • Temperamental
  • Uncompromising
  • Aloof
  • Frank
  • Imaginative
  • Detachment
  • Curious
  • Affectionate personality (maybe…but not always)

You see those italicized traits? Yeah. Those are my main personality flaws. This makes me hate dating and all things associated. So you would think that I would be thrilled with the “new” dating right? Wrong. Because it sucks. For those of you unaware of how “new” dating works it goes something like this:

Person 1: It would be cool if we did something at some point.

Person 2: Yeah it would.

Both die waiting for the other to make plans. It’s like we both have to pretend we are not interested in the other to avoid being labeled as “desperate” or “clingy”. Why is it so awful to show you are interested? Yeah. Even I said that. Honestly. I hate when guys are over interested in me. Part of that is my insecurity and belief that when they finally get to know me they will just be disappointed. But I still want him to be interested. Because if he isn’t who in the relationship is going to be? Because it sure as hell isn’t me. Have you met me? I refer you back to the list. Runs from emotional expression was literally written after doing a study on me.

If it doesn’t go like scenario one, it’s like this:

Person 1: God you’re so fucking sexy.

Person 2: Um. Thank you? (Seriously. How do you respond to that?)

Person 1: We should hang out soon.

Person 2: Uh. I guess that could be a thing.

Person 1: Tonight. Come over.

Person 2 now has to decide if they want to be found chained in the basement or not.

So. Death or sitting at home waiting for the other person to care more. That’s how dating is going for me so far. And I’ve already promised my family and friends that I would be more cautious since they’ve read this blog. Sigh. Do better society. Demand better from the people trying to date you. Show others you care and you are interested. I mean, after all, what’s the worst that could happen? You sit at home alone like you are already doing.

Yeah I know. I’ll take my own advice too.