Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Way You Live

Today is the birthday of one of my brothers. Naturally, I called and sang for him. I even made an Instagram post for him because he was one of the first ones Bryce introduced me to, and thus was one of the first ones to integrate me into the group. He knows that he's always been very dear to me.

My boys are all very aware of the fact that I am a) very sentimental and b) very open about my gratitude and love for them. And lucky for me, they all seem to appreciate it, or at the very least, they accept me just as I am and don't expect me to change. So this particular brother and I have been texting throughout the day today because he originally sent me a message to thank me for the song left on his voicemail and the IG post. One part of the exchange said this:

Me: If you ever need a friend or just someone to listen, I'm here for you anytime. There's not a thing I wouldn't do for my boys. You guys saved me.
Him: That means a lot. And the same goes for you! And don't say that. You saved yourself. You're a lot stronger than you think, Mal! Keep bringing positivity!
Me: No, see, here's the thing. I'm strong because I have people like you. That year was harder for me than I let on. I genuinely don't know if or how I would have made it to graduation without you boys. When my seizures came back as frequent and hard as they did, it was a battle not to let my depression win. But being around you guys with your infectious, bold, silly personalities, you guys made everything seem okay in the world any time I was with you. And the way you guys accepted and believed in me, that kept me going on the days I felt like giving up because it helped me remember that I could do anything. I pushed myself to go to your games because you guys brightened up my whole life. Even when I was too sick to leave my dorm, I knew that you guys were with me every step of the way. You guys made me your sister when I was scared to trust you and wasn't even sure I wanted you to. Now, I can't imagine my life without you in it, and I hope I never have to.

Yet again, these guys have proven that they don't understand just how much they did for me. And in a way, I get that. There weren't a lot of outright actions they did that made them so special. But that's the thing - they didn't have to do things.

It was just the way they lived and the way they loved me that saved me from the darkness and saved me from giving up on myself.

It was the way they made me feel accepted and normal, two feelings that haven't been so frequent in my life, that reinforced the lessons I've been struggling to learn about what I'm worth and what I deserve.

It was the way they made sure I knew they were always there for me to talk to, the way they listened, that kept me from thinking I had to do everything that year on my own.

It was the way they asked me how I was feeling any time we saw each other that kept me from forgetting that people genuinely cared about what I was struggling through.

It was the way they kept me smiling without even trying that helped me remember that the bad days wouldn't last forever.

And now, looking back, because there weren't a lot of specific actions they can point out, they underestimate the power of the way they lived their lives, and that's why I'll never stop trying to remind them of all the good they are capable of without even trying. They saved me from the darkness and from myself just because of who they are and the way they lived. Because of that, any time I tell my story to people, they have always been and will always be a part of it because they made me a stronger person and a better friend.

I know they're not the only people like this, but they are the most obvious example of it in my life.

To me, it seems like we're surrounded by so much bad stuff in the world that we forget the power of choosing to care, choosing to listen, choosing to be present, choosing to love, especially when other people don't or won't. These are things you can't always put words to, but they are the things that can radically change lives. They are the things that beat the darkness. They are the things that can save people from themselves. That there is often the best gift you can possibly give someone.

Two years later, and my boys are still teaching me about what unconditional love looks like. To this day, I have my soccer ball sitting on my desk that serves as a constant reminder of the army of brothers I have at my back every step of the way, as well as a reminder to pray for them. Hundreds of miles may stand between us, but those boys still help keep me going, and if I can just help them understand the power they have, then I feel like I have succeeded.

So if there's one thing I can say to those of you reading this tonight, it's this: the way you live holds great power. It can be used for greatness and help strengthen people, teach them, and change their lives for the better, or it can be used to break them and shatter already fragile hearts. Choose the former. Beautiful things will happen.

To my boys (because I'm hoping at least some of you will read this): You are more powerful than you know. You are capable of more good than you can imagine. I'm serious when I say that you saved me, and the gratitude and love I feel for you exceeds words, and you know how hard it is for me to be out of words. Keep being you, keep living the way you have since I met you, and mine won't be the only life you change. Trust me on that one. You are influential and mighty and fierce in the best possible way.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Already Enough



I want to be seen without being obscene.
I want to be special without being a spectacle.
I want to be pretty without being promiscuous.
I want to be safe without being sheltered, intelligent without being intimidating, nice without being naive, and fun without being a flirt.
I want to be accepted without being expected.
I want to be invited without being indicted.
I want to belong without losing myself.
I want to be strong without being controlling, and allowed to be weak without being a cliche.
I want to be challenged without being pitied.
I want to be kind without being a pushover.
I want to be stylish without being spoiled, joyful without being fake, and heard without being fixed.
I want to be honest without being rude.
I want to be patient without being indecisive.
I want to be simple without being plain, and sassy without being, well, you know...
I want to question without being judged, and I want to answer without judging.
I want to be loved without needing everyone to like me.
I want to be funny without being told I'm not allowed to be.
I want to be whole, even though, at times, I've been shattered to pieces.
I want to be held without being confined.
I want to be cared for without being controlled.
I want to be chosen without being claimed, and I want to be clear when I say, "Enough is enough."
I want to know my identity without having to adopt someone else's.
I want to see myself without the filters of what everyone tells me I should be.
I want to be comfortable in my own skin without feeling that I need to show it, and without feeling shamed when I don't hide enough of it.
I want to feel beautiful without anyone telling me whether it's right or wrong to want that.
I want to be amazing, and I want someone other than myself to remind me that I am.
I want to be captivating, because that's how I was made to be.
(I want to be seen without being obscene.
I want to be special without being a spectacle.
I want to be pretty without being promiscuous.
I want to be safe without being sheltered, intelligent without being intimidating, nice without being naive, and fun without being a flirt.)
I want to be seen without being obscene.

---

There's nothing like crying at 1 am because the words of a video hit you straight in the gut, is there? That's what happened to me when Jon released this last night. Why? Because this video, these words, they're exactly what I meant when I chose enough as my One Word for this year, and I didn't even realize it.

I just want to be enough. I want to be enough for people to love me. I want to be accepted just as I am without feeling like I have to try to get people to like me. That's why things worked out with my soccer boys so well; they were the first people in my life who never, not for one second, made me feel like I had to be anyone other than exactly who I was. They saw me - like, actually saw me - and without saying a word, told me that I was enough by deciding to love me when I wasn't even sure I wanted them to.

I know that. Please don't think that I don't know how much those boys love me. I do. I have a ball sitting on my desk every day to remind me that I have a whole crew of brothers with me. But after some things that have happened in the past year, there have been these voices ricocheting around inside my head trying to convince me that I wasn't enough for the people who left and that the people who are here now are going to decide I'm not enough for them, either. It's a constant battle for me to shut those thoughts down and believe that the ones who tell me they love me are telling me the truth, no matter what lies I've been told from other people. I want to believe that the way that I love people is enough, that it's not some curse dooming me to a life of those around me deciding that somehow I'm simultaneously too much to deal with and not enough to be their friend.

I want to believe that I am captivating as I was made to be and that my shattered pieces sown back together are enough to hold the relationships that I crave. I want to believe my friends when they tell me I'm amazing. I want my love for people to be enough to earn me respect without making me an easy target to be taken advantage of. I want to be seen without having to try so hard all the time. I want to believe that I am enough to be loved and accepted.

I know in my gut that I am wanted. I have people in my life who have loved me better than I could have ever imagined and taught me more about God than any church service I've ever been to. I just want to believe that I am wanted, so I can stop letting the voices of the lies I've been told gain control over my sanity. Knowing something and believing it are two very different things.

But there's something else Jon said in a previous video that actually fits perfectly here. It's from "The 4 Identity Myths":

So our decision today is: whose voice are you going to listen to? Are you going to listen to the voices of the world that are dead set on convincing you that you're not enough, or are you going to listen to the voice of God who continually tells us in His Word, through prayer, through worship, through community, and mostly through His Son Jesus, that in Him and in a relationship with Christ, He makes us enough?

Unfortunately, the world is never going to completely get it. We're broken people surrounded by other broken people who hold on tighter to the hurt than remembering what it feels like to be happy and loved, because negative voices are almost always much louder than the voices of truth.

A man's ego and pride will have him running through a red light. A woman's fears and insecurities will have her stopping at a green one. We're all so used to the bullshit and games that we don't even know how to genuinely connect with one another anymore. She got played so now she avoids getting close. He got played so now all he does is play games. We're more concerned with how we got hurt than we are with how to be happy. The only thing most are learning from the pain is more excuses. And some of us could be so great for one another if we'd just "man up" and face things. Love isn't hard. People are just difficult.
- Rob Hills, Sr.

A friend of mine posted that on Facebook yesterday. Humans, we're difficult creatures. We're difficult to love people and we're difficult to let ourselves be loved. One other thing that struck me about that video last night is the variety of people featured in it. I know I'm not the only with the feelings and fears I'm talking about here. But I think we're all so ashamed and afraid of being judged that we keep this stuff to ourselves when, in reality, so many of us are just dying to hear that someone else gets it, that we're not dramatic or crazy or overreacting. Imagine the freedom that we could find if we all just stopped playing games and told the truth about what is in our heads and hearts.

I think we all want to be loved and accepted and seen as enough so desperately that we forget the truth: We are not the opinion of the people who don't know us. We are not the opinion of the people who hurt us. We are not even the opinion of the people who love us. Our worth is found in who God says we are. We are masterpieces, created in the image of a perfect Father who makes nothing less than beauty. We are sons and daughters of the King. We are princes and princesses.

We are already enough.

"The single desire that dominated my search for delight was simply to love and be loved." - St. Augustine

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Don't look at the mountain. Just climb.

Sometimes I wish I hadn't stopped drinking soda. Because I hate coffee and tea and MAN do I wish I had caffeine in me this week.

For some reason, even though I'm so tired at the end of the day, I can't sleep at night. Thanks, universe. It's not like I need to restore my energy levels or anything.

But I have no choice but to keep pushing through and stay on top of all the crap I have to do because graduation is 104 days away and if I get into one of these competitive Ph.D. programs, I need to impress them with my last semester.

It'll all work out and get done. It always does.

Just gotta take it one hour, one day, one week at a time.

I just hope I don't spend the entirety of the next 104 days in this sleep-deprived haze I've been in for the past 9.

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

To the ones who surprised me in really bad ways...

You still won't admit you did anything wrong, but I think there's a part of you in there somewhere who knows I was right in saying what I did to you. I had to. I could see myself becoming again the girl I promised I'd stop reverting to and you becoming the guy that I keep trying to get away from. It took me six years to get out of it last time, and I'm still trying to put myself back together from that; I'm not going to let someone else come in and tear down all the work I've put into rebuilding myself.

I don't think you're a bad person. I don't think this was some malicious plan you concocted to hurt me, not after everything we've been through. I just think you're too young to know how to stop being selfish and I got caught in the crossfire. I think you're just a kid who hasn't totally realized how much what you say and do affects people. I think you've just got a lot of growing up to do still; maybe as time goes on you'll understand what I've been trying to tell you.

I'm not sorry for loving you, but I do wish I hadn't loved you so blindly. I wish I hadn't loved you to the point that I didn't realize how messed up the way you were treating me was until after the fact. I wish I didn't love you like I do, to the point where I'm still second guessing everything and wondering if I should've done what I did or if I need to take back what I said and try to fix this. My friends are right. This isn't on me to fix. It's not going to be fixed until you can own up to the role you played in all of this. The only thing worse than no reconciliation is cheap reconciliation; I don't want to go back to you until you realize you need to and actually want to treat me differently.

I would've gone to the ends of the earth to help you if you needed me to - hell, I still would - and it feels like you...just didn't care. You've said you love what an encouragement I am to you, but you couldn't be bothered to show me the same respect and care I've shown you. That is why I told you it feels like you've been using me as an ego boost - because I've been giving and giving of myself to you, and I barely get anything from you in return. That's an exhausting way to live.

I love you. I want the best for you. But after all these years, I'm finally realizing that sometimes I have to love myself more.

---

You're the last person I expected to do this to me. You once called me just to reassure me that you hadn't done this to me. You've known my scars from the beginning, and up until now, you've always taken such great care of me in terms of the way you treated me knowing about those scars and fears and insecurities. I can't help but wonder what changed and why it changed so suddenly. This went from being one of the friendships I felt most secure in despite the great distance between us to one of the biggest sources of pain and confusion in my life.

I guess the reason that the fact that you would do this was such a shock to me is because you're a Christian. I know, I know, Christians are broken people, too, but I've told you many times that you understood Christ-like love to a depth far beyond what I understood. You were always this sweet picture of Jesus in my life...until you weren't. And I'm left wondering where that guy went.

I've been holding on to this hope that there's something going on that I just don't know about. That you're dealing with something and just need some time to yourself. But I see you all over social media and it seems like you're having a ton of fun with everything you're doing. It seems like you're okay enough that you could, at the very least, text me and tell me why you've been ignoring me for almost three months.

I know that you know that what you're doing is hurting me. That makes this hurt me even worse. That you used to be one of my best friends and one of the people I trusted most and would still do something you know causes me pain is just mind-boggling. It makes me question if I ever knew you as well as I thought I did. The guy I believed you were wouldn't do this.

I'm hurt, and I'm angry. But I know that if you decide to come back and apologize and tell me what's been going on and why you so suddenly disappeared from my life, I'd forgive you. And that's not just because I'm a firm believer in second chances. It's because I love you. It's because I still hold on to the hope that the guy who is doing this to me isn't who you really are at heart. It's because I value the friendship we had and will always wish we could get back to that. It's because I always thought this was one of the few friendships in my life that was built to last, and I'm so, so freaking scared right now that I was wrong.

---

There are so many names I could call you right now, but what good would that do? It's been more than nine months since you asked me to call you back and then pretty much vanished into thin air (except you didn't, because thanks to social media, I know that you're alive and well), and I'm past the anger stage by now. I'm hurt, and still very confused, but I'm not angry. If this is really what you were willing to do to someone you said was your sister and your best friend, then you're not someone I want or can handle having in my life.

The first few months, I spent a lot of time beating myself up. I replayed the last months of our friendship over and over again in my head wondering what I did wrong, going back to the lies I've heard so many times before that if I just wasn't so (insert adjective here), you wouldn't have left. I thought I had to have done something wrong, because why else would my best friend in the world leave without a hint of explanation? I thought that if only I could figure out where things went wrong, then I could do something to fix it.

But then, after many discussions with my therapist this summer and my best friend (the one who I know actually isn't going to up and leave me), I came to this very freeing realization: this isn't my fault. I didn't do anything wrong here. For pretty much the first time in my life, I know I was a good friend to you. I supported you both at Campbell and afterwards. I was your biggest cheerleader. I was there to listen any time you needed me. I helped you with school stuff. I was a good friend to you. This time, it's not that I chased you away. You just got up and left. And that's on you. I'm not going to carry the burden of wanting or trying to fix this when I didn't break it to begin with.

On the one hand, it still blows my mind that you would do this. You told me that I was your sister and your best friend, that you'd never trusted a girl the way you trusted me, that you had dreams of us being in each other's wedding one day. You knew from the very beginning, literally from the very first day we hung out, that people abandoning with no explanation was my biggest fear, and you promised me that day that you would never do that to me. You promised me that if you were ever upset with me, you would come and talk to me about it. And for a while, you did. I was so amazed by it because you were the first person besides Matt who forgave me when I messed up and didn't automatically just ditch me. I never thought I had to worry about you doing this to me...until I did.

On the other hand, I'm kind of not surprised by this. Through the four years we were friends, I learned a lot about you. I watched the way you treated other people, especially when it came to relationships ending. I learned the situations you'd been through before I met you with people you called friends and how you'd responded to them. So looking back, it's not really all that shocking you would pull something like this. You're very good at running when things get hard. You pretty much always pick "flight" instead of "fight," no matter how worthy that something is of being fought for. You protect yourself from feeling anything remotely deep at all costs, no matter how that affects the people around you.

If this is really how little regard you have for me and my feelings after everything we went through together, then frankly, I'm not sorry you're gone. I was missing the person I thought you were instead of who you clearly are, and thanks to the love I have in my life, I realize that I am worth so much more than what you gave me.

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I'm tired. So tired.

What a week.

If this week is any indication, this semester is going to be even more exhausting than I expected.

Friday, I came home from work, took a 3 hour nap, and still slept 16+ hours that night. Not even kidding. I tried to wake up so many times and my body was just like NOPE.

Yesterday, when I did finally manage to drag my butt out of bed, all I did was sit in my recliner and listen to music and complete jigsaw puzzles on my phone (currently my new addiction - though I suppose that if I'm going to be addicted to something, there are plenty of things worse than this).

Today, I did go to church and ended up having a mini coffee date with a girl I'm friends with from there, and I went to the pharmacy and grocery store for two items, so at least I got out of the house, but I seriously just feel dead.

I've said from the beginning that grad school is a special world of hell because you're in college and the real world at the same time, but when I said that before, I was mostly just referring to having to pay bills and be an "adult" and all that. Well, now I REALLY mean it, because having this job/internship plus all the school stuff - a regular class with papers to write, a professional development seminar with its own assignments, and writing a thesis plus its own seminar and regular meetings outside of that - already feels like a totally overwhelming mountain to climb and it's only the first week.

108 days. Hopefully I'll make it through them with more energy than I've had this past week. Lord knows I'm going to need it.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

112 days. 16 weeks. Let's get it.

Officially back to the real world.

I had my internship yesterday morning, class yesterday afternoon, and then class this morning.

Then, I work all day tomorrow and Friday.

So basically, I have Mondays and Wednesday afternoons off during the week, and then obviously, the weekend.

But with a Master's thesis, papers for a regular class, plus my internship, I have a feeling I'm not going to sleep a whole lot or very well this semester.

It's gonna be hard, and it's gonna be exhausting, but I'm so thankful to be able to do it. God provided the funds for this semester in the craziest way, and I'm going to thank Him by working my hardest to succeed.

And I know that even though graduation feels forever away, before I know it, these 112 days will be gone and I'll be getting ready for the next chapter of my life. So I plan on taking advantage of every minute I'm given here.

NYU, you better bring it.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jonas


So. Blizzards are fun.

And by fun, I mean terrifying for me to even walk to the deli to get food. Thank the good Lord I made it there and back without falling, but it was questionable. Luckily, the guys in the deli all love me, so they said if I needed them, to yell and one of them would come help me. I bought two salads at once so I didn't have to go out again, at least not for a long while.

Those pictures up there are from when I made that trip at about 4:20 today. At the time, the snow at its highest point hit about halfway up to my knees and coming down hard. It's now about 8:30, and Holly just got home, and she said it's still coming down hard.

Being from the coast of NC, never in my life have I seen anything close to this, so it's simultaneously fascinating and scary.

Down in NC, they didn't get much snow, just a crapload of ice, so much so that Campbell lost power for about 24 hours because of extensive damage in the area. My friend said that they had to run the dining hall on a generator to feed everyone and give them at least a temporary place to sit and be warm, and then they opened up the Convocation Center, the one place on campus that was still lit and heated throughout the whole ordeal, for one massive sleepover for any of the probably 2,000 on-campus students who wanted out of their cold, powerless dorms/apartments. I'm glad I didn't have to be there through that. The one time we lost power while I was there was because of tornadoes, and it was only out for about four hours, and it was in April and thus not 30 degrees out.

According to the weather app on my phone, the snow is supposed to stop around midnight. I'm quite curious to go out and see how much there is at the end of all of this.

What? This is only my second NY winter. The beauty and magic of it all hasn't totally worn off on me yet. It may be a pain some days, but I hope it never does.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Friends help friends get some nerve.

Ah, this was another reunion I've been waiting for and counting down to!


Emma! She is up here visiting someone else this week, but since we haven't seen each other in a year and a half, we knew we had to make plans to see each other. I wasn't allowed to go to work today because, as it turns out, I have a nasty case of bronchitis and was wheezing so badly when I went to my thyroid appointment yesterday I got sent to urgent care instead. So this morning, after I went to get my lungs rechecked and got a new prescription for my anxiety medication, I came home and took a quick nap (because I didn't fall asleep until after 4 this morning) and then met her at Spiegel for lunch.

Our friendship definitely started in a bizarre way, considering I had a major crush on her then-boyfriend and then bonded with her and helped her through their breakup, but now I absolutely cherish the relationship we have now. She is, to me, the kind of older sister figure I've always wished Holly was to me. I can talk to her about anything and everything, and I know without a doubt that she trusts me just as much.

Because I look up to her as much as I do, I take her encouragement to heart when she tells me that I should do something. So today, in the midst of the three hours we sat at Spiegel eating and talking, there were two major things I decided to do.

One: I joined an online dating app called Bumble. Yes, I know the stigma it has among a lot of Christians, but I firmly believe that joining this doesn't mean I have to or will change my morals. I like this one because the girls are in control and are responsible for making the connections once two people like each other. Perfect for a totally-not-passive girl like me. I've been here a year and a half and have barely stepped out of my shell/comfort zone. I want to fully enjoy the last months that I have here and meet new people. That's my only real goal here. I've been thinking about doing this for a while, but I don't think I would have gotten up the nerve to do it if it weren't for Emma today.

The second thing was a lot harder, but also really good for me. Like Summer, Emma knows all about the situation I've been dealing with lately, and while talking through the latest update with her, I finally gained the courage to do something about it. Anyone who knows me knows that it is incredibly hard for me to get the nerve to stand up for myself, because I hate confrontation and I hate risking hurting or upsetting people, but the more we talked, the more reassured I felt that I needed to do this. I couldn't (can't) allow myself to get back in another toxic relationship of any kind when I'm just healing and recovering from the first one, one that nearly destroyed me. I've felt so used and desperate and so many things I promised wouldn't show up again after Landon; I needed to say something.

So before allowing myself to overthink it, I texted him right there at the table to tell him we needed to talk and asked him to call me when he could. Well, he did almost immediately. So I went outside in the 30 degree weather and told him everything I was thinking and feeling. Everything he had done that was not okay but that I'd let slide before. Everything I was afraid to tell him before. I put it all out on the table because I knew this was going to be the only chance I had. I told him just how scared of him I am, but that I don't want to be. I told him that it felt like everything had changed, that he had changed. He knows all about Landon, and I reminded him of that, and said straight out that I can't allow myself to get manipulated and used again. He said he didn't know where any of this was coming from and tried to reassure me that he's still him, and maybe he didn't and maybe he is, but I told him that it's the truth and that I need some time and space away from this, away from us, away from him. I need to get my sanity back and protect my still recovering heart.

There was nothing left to say, so I went back into Spiegel shaking, partially from the cold and partially because my heart was racing from actually doing that. Emmanuel, working today, gave me a hug, then Emma looked at me and said, "Do you need a drink?" So I did something I've never done before and had a couple drinks in the middle of the day. It calmed me down and we talked about lots of things, including other stuff to get my mind off of it. We finally left Spiegel about 3:00 and hung out up here for a couple more hours before she finally had to go. It was a lot more time than I was expecting to get with her, so I was really happy and my heart was full by the end of the afternoon.

I have really good friends. They protect me, but they also push me. Emma, Summer, Clayton, with those three in my corner, I know that even when I make some stupid mistakes (because I have and I know I will again), they are there supporting me and pushing me to be as smart and in control as they know I can be.

Thanks to Emma, I got a chance to do that today.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's about freaking time.

Oh, my Wolfpack. You poor, poor, desperate boys. I love you, but this year is hell.

We lost 4 major players at the end of last season: 2 to graduation, 1 to a transfer, and 1 to an early exit to the NBA. A recipe for disaster for a team like this.

We started out really well. Non-conference play left us with a 10-3 record, which is better than anything I can remember in recent years. So at first, I was excited and hopeful.

Silly me. I forgot what conference we're in. The ACC is one of the hardest, if not the hardest conference in college basketball. And losing the 4 we did, plus the transfer in that everyone was super thrilled about getting injured seven minutes into the season, meant that we were left with basically no depth. Like NONE.

We started 0-5 in conference play. Excruciating. And today, we set out to play Pitt on the road. They were ranked #20 and had a 15-2 record, so I was dreading this game going in. I was just trying to be realistic, based on the previous five games.

Somehow, someway, we pulled out the win 78-61. We pulled out the win in a major way. At one point early on, we were up 30-9. It was insane. It was like a whole different team. I was thrilled, though, because this was an example of the team we are capable of being. It was the first game that I saw the offensive play being spread out so Cat didn't have to carry the whole team.

It's still a long time until the end of the season with so many tough games ahead of us (like I said - this is the ACC), and our record still isn't good, but man, y'all, 1 conference win feels a whole lot better than 0. There is hope yet.

Either way, this is a rebuilding year, and I'm a ride-or-die Wolfpack fan. Red and white to the end.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

History doesn't have to repeat itself.

"If you let him back in again, even for one conversation, I don't think you'll ever stop."

That was what Clayton said to me on FaceTime the morning I finally reached my breaking point and blocked Landon from my life for good. It is the statement that has echoed in my head every time I've thought about him. Five months later, and I've held strong; this is the longest I've ever gone without talking to him.

I learned how to cut him out. I found the strength to break the six-year toxic cycle I was caught in and take my heart back from a boy who never had any intention of taking care of it. And the longer I lasted in the recovery process, the more I realized just how messed up everything was and how I could have and should have gotten out much sooner. But since I can't rewind the clock, I made the promise to myself that I wasn't going to let myself be used and mistreated like that again. I thought that would be easy; there was no one in my life who was anywhere close to as dangerous as Landon was.

Then, I realized I fell for him.

No big deal at first. Sure, it was weird, but we made a promise to stay friends no matter what and hold on to the bond we'd had long before I told him how I felt. I was fine with it. I had told him from the beginning that us still being in each other's lives was far more important to me than the feelings I had for him. I was eager to hold on to a relationship of any kind. So I let things go, things that my friends tried to tell me were not okay, things that, in the back of my head, I knew weren't okay, either, but let slide because I was scared of losing someone who had been dear to me for quite some time.

Getting to spend time with Summer these past few days, we've been provided with a lot of time to talk and bond in ways that you just can't over the phone. She knows about every step of what has been happening, and how it has made me feel. We were talking about this, and when I made a comment wondering how I managed to get myself in another messed up situation with a boy so soon after I finally freed myself from Landon, and I said that history does seem to be doomed to repeat itself, Summer, like the wonderful friend she is, reminded me that that's not necessarily the case and that I have the power to change things before I get hurt even worse.

So I flew back to New York today with a lot on my mind. I knew I need to change things and set the boundaries now, but I didn't know how to do that without blowing everything to pieces. I don't want to destroy this relationship for good, but I'm scared, and I have to protect myself because I've learned too well by now that I'm the only one responsible for and truly capable of doing that. There's a lot to figure out, that's for sure.

But mostly, I'm just feeling really grateful that I have friends like Summer.


Friends who, no matter how far apart we are, consistently call me out on my inability to take care of myself. If it weren't for her, Clayton, and Emma, I would be in a very different, much worse position than I am right now, and I'm so thankful that even when the people who know and love me best are hundreds of miles away, I have the security of knowing that I always have people watching out for my best interest and helping me make the right decisions, even when what they have to say sounds harsh and isn't what I think I want to hear.

History really doesn't have to repeat itself. And because I have this support, I have the strength to make sure it doesn't repeat for me.

Praise the Lord who put such love and loyalty in my life.

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