Three Years

My blog turned three years old last week. (In case you were wondering, it was March 24th exactly.) I kind of completely forgot about it until now and to be honest, I feel really bad! (Almost as bad as the time I forgot my mom's birthday.) As I tried to figure out what to write to honor such an auspicious occasion, I started digging through some old posts. Laughter, tears, and plenty of cringing ensued. I count myself as so blessed to have a journal of sorts that has documented my struggles, my successes, my lowest points, and my triumphs, albeit I think I may be slightly crazy for sharing it all so publicly. Growing up is a process full of so many peaks and valleys. Self-discovery is a constant battle. It's insane to look back on who I was when I started this blog; to follow myself through breakups, new jobs, moves, adventures, hair colors, and a constantly revolving door of friends-turned-strangers and strangers-turned-friends. Nothing is the same as it was three years ago. I'm in a different city, in a different state, with a new job, a new beau, a new 'do, new friends, and (thankfully) a new wardrobe. As much as I look at this red-haired stranger with disdain for some of the decisions she made, I'm still really proud of who I was and who I've become. 

Despite all of my openness, there is still a lot that I never shared on here. Some of it was too difficult to. Some of it I feared would portray me in a negative light. I feel that most bloggers try to paint themselves as living this beautifully curated life with perfection in every corner. My life has been dark at times and I feel that to go in that direction would lead me to become both complacent (incredibly dangerous thing to be) and in denial. (An even more dangerous thing to be.) Through my selfishness and out of my self-preservation I've been greatly humbled and have learned that my missteps could be valuable to others. I am a work in progress as we all are. These past three years have been difficult to say the least but I made it out and I'm finally starting to see light and a healing.

When I was 20 years old, I started counting calories. It began as me limiting myself to 1,100 a day, which, considering the time that I spent trying to run all of those calories off, was not a lot. I hated the feeling of hunger that would constantly linger but I loved the feeling of my clothes getting looser. I loved looking in the mirror and seeing collarbones. I loved the feeling of control that came along with restricting my diet so I pushed it even further. Eleven-hundred became too many so I dipped down to 900. Then 750. Then 600. I looked great but what I was doing to myself was not sustainable. I won't go so far to say that I had "an eating disorder" but whatever I was doing was incredibly dangerous.

This habit continued well after my 21st birthday in September, through the holiday season, and right up until my second trip to China that January. China was a sort of divine intervention for me because it took my thoughts off of myself and shifted them to the children of the orphanage, especially one child named Moses. It sounds impossible but our reunion and the moments we shared together melted away all of my insecurities and put everything into perspective. I got back to my room the first night after being there and I deleted the app I was using to track my calories. The power of true love and compassion is stifling. Other than my family and Brenden, I have never had so much love or so much care for another human being. I thought about Moses for a year before returning to China and while I was there, I spent every waking minute with him. When I left, I gave him my favorite ring to keep. Leaving him again was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. If I had been old enough, I would have adopted him in a heartbeat. It was probably mostly exhaustion from staying up for 30+ hours when I began my solo journey home but I remember leaning my head against the window on the plane, trying to hide the fact that I was sobbing uncontrollably. The last time I left China I had a peace that I would see Moses again. I made it my project for that year-- to save up to go back. This time, however, I did not have the same peace. I spent the majority of that flight praying for Moses and for myself to be comforted in my time away from him, and that we would be reunited again someday. (In case you were wondering, yes, I am crying right now as I type this.)

A month went by and life stateside had started adjusting back to normal. Not really.  It was a thousand times worse than when I left. My relationship was on the rocks, I had no job, I had no clients, and now that my trip to China was done, I had nothing to look forward to. Every day I grew more and more empty. I would sleep until noon and stay up late doing nothing in particular. If somebody asked, I would blame it on jet lag because that seemed better than my idleness. I went away for a weekend, I drank too much, I came home, I dyed my vibrant red hair black because the brightness of it seemed too happy for me. I looked in the mirror and thought, "who are you fooling?" I wanted to match the vacant set of eyes that looked back at me. Life continued like this until I was dealt a deafening blow.

I got a text from my friend Sara at the orphanage. Although we still kept in touch, it was infrequently given the time difference and such. She told me that Moses's home orphanage wanted to take him back. I won't get into China's  how laws and regulations work as far as orphans are concerned but lets just say that this was not a good thing. I felt the life fade out of me. I must have experienced some sort of temporary fugue because the next thing I knew, I was crumpled on the floor, crying into the carpet. She promised to keep me in the loop as far as Moses's well-being was concerned. I knew what was going to happen and I started to become hardened. My fear turned into anger. By the time she let me know what Moses was gone and not coming back, I could not feel. My heart had become a cold, calcified mass in my chest. Not because I wanted to be angry but because I could not stand to be hurt again.

The year that followed was an interesting mix of the highest highs and the lowest lows. If it was some sort of chart or graph, the lines would be so askew that they would be dipping and flying off of the page with no lulls in between. Still hardened, I channeled my anger into determination and somehow managed to score myself an internship at a TV news station. I had no idea if it would work out or not. I knew nothing about news, I had dropped out of college a year and a half before, I just needed to shake up my life in a radical way. (Once again, divine providence was intervening because in that internship, I discovered "my calling.") The weeks that led up to starting at Fox were full of joy but not without intense internal struggle. I was forcing my relationship to continue despite it clearly being over. I was struggling with guilt and fear and instead of dealing with it, began alienating myself from everybody I knew. By the time I started working, I decided on a full-time schedule. I wanted to impress my new coworkers and I also wanted an excuse to be reclusive. My first day marked the beginning of a new adventure and the end of my relationship. I didn't have time to think about that though. I had to focus on the task at hand.

Autumn dissipated as quickly as it had rushed in and the next thing I knew, it was almost Christmas and I was saying goodbye to my assignment desk buddies. Having separated myself from my friends and loved ones, they were "all I had," in a sense and it all hit me harder than it should have. In a very "me" move, instead of buying a "thank you" card from them all, I bought a sympathy card. It said on the outside "Very sincere condolences..." and then on the inside, "...for your loss," after which I wrote "(me.)" I look back at that and laugh because it was such a dark time and nothing was as indicative of my mental state as that damn sympathy card. During the next few weeks I began looking for reporting jobs. I sent out resumes and reels to every small city I could think of. During this time, it became evidently clear that while I had spent the past few months "finding myself," everybody had sort of moved on. So-called friends dropped out of my life like petals from a dying rose. I soon found myself in a situation not unlike the year before-- jobless, alone, and depressed. Only this time, I was angry as well.

Catharsis in the form a road trip in early March and the start of my career later in the Spring once again brought me back to center by realigning my priorities but I still held on to that anger from those who had forsaken me with little explanation and more so those who said hurtful things as they backed away. I've been really struggling with that lately. My best friend and I recently parted ways. My intermittent periods of reclusiveness and my struggles with once-in-a-while dissociation were too much and she told me that I can't blame my mental well-being (or, at times, lack thereof) for being a "sh**ty friend." Maybe she was right. Maybe we should have met in the middle. As for the others, they sort of left without any explanation, as if I wouldn't notice.

As painful as it is to lose friends, it's often for the best. These last three years have been full of hurt but more joy than anything else. It's all in the way you choose to look at it. I've learned how not to act, how not to treat others. I've been learning to let go of my anger and I've found that being in love is like a constant readjustment as far as priorities go. Caring about somebody else is the greatest thing we can decide to do. I guess that all of this is to say never, ever, for any reason, let somebody's seemingly-perfect life make you feel bad about your own. Not to discredit the immense amount of good that has happened to me these past few years but sometimes I think it is a necessity to peel back the ruse and look at the often-ugly inner workings of the heart and the mind. A lot of times I feel uninspired and forcing myself to pretend to be carefree and creative is exhausting. It's okay to feel melancholy every so often. It's okay to struggle. Just know that you never have to struggle alone.

Here's to growing up and hopefully many, many more years of blogging. Love you all!