Rumi always taught me to break things down

Do I pick male relationships and friendships because I know they will end? Is it some form of self destruction? Is it to punish myself, ensuring that eventually they either fade away or destroy me, so that I’m stuck in a constant cycle of grieving? Is it that I am obsessed with feeling pain or going totally numb?

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I have lately been trying to cultivate my female friendships. This sorority has opened up doors for me in a way I never knew or thought possible. Everyday that I talk to a sister, I realize I’m missing the guidebook that most girls learn throughout their lives. I think that scares me. I always keep everyone at arms length. I do my best to be authentic and genuine but sometimes its necessary to smile and nod with everyone else because their nuances I don’t understand yet.

I find that when I choose a male friend, I already know what kind of personality they have from the moment I decide to invest energy in that relationship. When I find a female friend, I stand guarded, as if preparing for battle. I can feel this rustle of dragon armor, alerted by any possible action out of place.

I think that’s why I’ve avoided them for so long.

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It only just dawned on me that it’s not that women aren’t good friends and I’m saving myself from inevitable pain. Female friendships are potentially lifelong in a way that scares me. I’ve only ever had lifelong friends in family members. Except for the occasional boyfriend, I’ve only ever left myself raw with my sister.

I had one best friend in high school that was a girl. We were so close it was like family. I never worried about judgement or anything like that because we were so open with each other, we had no fear. And then something changed, I think it was just a natural progression of growing up, and I never really got over the idea that every future girlfriend would be some sort of backstabber or painful enemy. Weirder still as that even that specific best friend and I never really stabbed each other in the back, we just went our separate ways.

I know how to deal with break ups on some level. I’ve never dealt with any intensely long term ones but the few men I’ve loved, I’ve loved more deeply than I think I’ve let myself feel for my friends. It’s like wild abandon when I fall in love, both freeing and unbelievably merciless. It may be cheesy but it’s totally like the buildup before a roller coaster. My heart unfolds like a lotus releasing water and slowly builds up to a strong exterior.

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It’s like I decide to let all the men I love be the ones with the power to heal me. In the end they’re the only ones I let in. And for the longest time I had always chalked it up to mommy issues and even though that may be true, is that the whole truth? Have I been slowly convincing myself that I should live alone quietly just to avoid peace and happiness? I definitely hesitate more when I think about going out with girlfriends one on one. My first thought is always, what will we have to talk about? What if they don’t like me? What if I say something stupid or there’s a lull in the conversation? What joke will I make then?

My last relationship was a doozy. But it also taught me a lot about dealing with manipulative people and so for that, I am grateful to have felt the pain. But what about with women? I’ve had girlfriends in most of my life and while we weren’t exactly sisters, we got pretty close. And then something would happen, so and so talked crap about this or blah blah hooked up with this guy and people would disappear and it felt petty but I’m realizing slowly, that stuff does matter. It’s important to know where your loyalties should lie and it’s important to also build up those kinds of skills in yourself. I thought they were petty because I’ve always been a fiercely loyal person, except I’ve made mistakes in the past too and people learn at different paces.

So then I realize that my role in most relationships has been “the mother”. Which is definitely something I’ve been working on. I do not wish to mother anymore. So if I can’t mother, what the hell do I do? What other role is there?

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I don’t even know what positions to apply for. I think back on qualities of friends I’ve observed and I get most of my information from books and movies. I observe as much as I can in real life situations but it doesn’t always apply because I haven’t memorized the moves yet.

I have a friend I want to let in. She’s the most terrifying adventure on the horizon. It’s so silly but I can feel it, we could be friends for a ridiculously long time. Like really, really good friends. So why does that scare me so much?

It’s taken me several months of dipping my feet in the pool to prepare myself to jump in. I’ve set it up next semester so that I’m hugely involved in all of the events and I’ve joined this suicide prevention organization that will be working on campus too to help remove the stigma associated with depression. This means lots of working one on one with feelings and listening and lots of sisterhood commitments. I’m taking Tai Chi right afterwards and I feel like that’s going to be my favorite class. I know that all of this will work its way out and I can feel time slowly peeling off layers on my exterior. I always thought you had to heal something from the inside out for it to feel better. I think I really needed to do that for a while. Now, I’m going to try something different.

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Fall, Metaphor, Fall

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I keep complaining that I’m too old for college. I keep seeing everyone else I know on Facebook with their new careers and various professions, and I think to myself, ‘god, why am I taking so long to get my life started?’ And then, just a minute ago I realized that college is really damned good for me. I don’t know how to be a friend to people, I don’t know how to have fun responsibly, I don’t know how to be an adult. I don’t know how to get my shit together. I picked a great fucking time in my life to really just get it all out. I think my mother failed because she had a kid so young. I mean I can’t imagine having an eight year old by my side right now and I know that I’m like that old kid in college but whatever. I’m learning so much about myself right now and I honestly can’t imagine having to do it differently.

I got that dating app, Bumble. I don’t know why exactly I decided to use it. Most of those things are usually catered towards booty calls and fuck buddies like Tinder but I think because it’s so fledgling, there are actually a couple people on there worth texting. It may sound naive, but honestly I can’t imagine being apart of some crazy circle jerk with frat guys and I swear, I’m no homie hopper.

There are definitely the creepers on there but for the most part, the guys seem pretty tame. I am constantly reminded that I am behind. Seeing as the format is such that the female starts the conversation, I have no idea what to say to someone who’s already in the midst of their career. Usually, it’s just random shit I think of that theoretically I would say to someone in a bar or in public. I try to be as authentic as I can. Sometimes, it works and sometimes it doesn’t. In a weird way, it’s totally liberating.

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What it has made me realize though is that I have a lot to learn. There is someone real. There is someone out there who totally fits with me. I may not find him on some online dating app, but he’s out there and I’ve discovered I’m on a quest for something real.

Sex sucks sometimes. Relationships suck sometimes. Everything, on some level, really sucks sometimes. But I think what determines whether it’s worth fighting for is the good stuff too. How high can I get when I’m happy? How much does it fill me up? How do I attempt this task without getting too invested too soon?

I have an attachment problem. I know this. My life coach and I talk about this. It stems from my unconscious abandonment anxiety. It lives, it breaths. I can feel it whenever I walk through campus. It perches on my shoulder and tells me everyone is leaving me. It lives in my mind as I try to sleep.

I see the ghosts of all the faces I miss and all the people I’ve lost and I constantly grieve for people that mean nothing. In the end, I know that I will find peace and so I live my waking moments grasping at straws trying to piece together a puzzle I seem to never fully understand. And that’s okay. Because I think I still have a crap ton of stuff to get out of my system that I didn’t know was alive.

My aunt told me that your mind can only process one emotion at a time. When dealing with trauma, it is largely incapable of deciphering things it doesn’t want to recognize as part of the problem. That’s why things move so slowly. One minute, I think I’ve processed enough to move past old problems, and the next I’m bludgeoned over the head with something I dealt with years ago. All the anger aside, I recognize that life is about struggle. I wholeheartedly embrace that part. It fuels my need to create, express, articulate. It is a part of me.

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As the air to cools and I remember last fall, I know why this is my favorite time of year. I send my blessings to the people who fill me up with frustration because it drives me to refocus. I feel the humidity change and I know it’s time to begin the next phase of evolution. I can’t wait to change I can’t wait to be different.

Letters I’ll never send pt.2

Dear mom

I’m frustrated that our relationship takes place over the telephone. I hate that I don’t recognize your hands or your face, that I don’t instinctively know how tall you are next to me; that I haven’t seen you age.

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I hate that I’ve had to create boundaries and walls because you don’t respect my space. I’m frustrated that it took you leaving to finally appreciate my value. I hate that leaving made you crazy and institutionalized. I am angry that there are so many times I’ve wanted you next to me, and now after all these years of learning to do it all without you, you’re soon to be released. I am terrified of seeing you all the time, of letting your craziness into my beautifully crafted existence. I have nurtured my soul for so long, healing it from the pain of your absence. I’m afraid of what I’ll have to do once you’re actually present. What kind of healing will I be forced to endure then? What kind of anger or apathy will course through me at that point?

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I hate to say this, but I think you should stay where you are, alone in Bakersfield where you can’t hurt anyone else. But I also know I don’t believe that cuz I’m kind of curious to study you and your strange tendencies. Like some sort of flower I planted and forgot about.

For so long I mourned your loss and now I’ll be mourning your arrival. It’s so strange that time moved by so quickly. I never thought this time would come. I remember being 12 thinking, wow 14 years that’ll never get here fast enough. It’s been a long time coming and I wish I could just press pause and slow it all down.

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I know I’ll never send you this draft and I have a couple other letters where I call you a bunch of ugly names and say terrible things. I think I even wrote you a hate poem if that’s what I should call it. A hate poem. Lots of stuff your devout head would cringe hearing. Then I think about the meeting we had last where you said all those nasty things about daddy and manipulated me into visiting you and all the torturous terrible crap you pulled TEN YEARS LATER after you claimed you had changed and now I realize more and more all the things your brother and sister said about you were one hundred percent true and I really DO remember more than I want to because I’ve repressed so much evil stuff you did just so that I could actually enjoy talking to you on the phone. I used to pray I could compartmentalize like all the men I’ve dated. I realize I already have that talent, I just only apply it when it comes to you.

I hate that I enjoyed our phone conversation yesterday. I hate that we actually laughed and I wasn’t furious with you when we hung up. Because annoyingly enough, I felt a lot better when the call ended. I felt like I had lifted myself up and began more healing.

Sometimes I wonder if school is just my alone time. Like my whole life revolves around you and your actions and then I go to school for a semester and it becomes about me again and when it ends, I finally have the energy to think about my feelings. And I hate that I feel like I ALWAYS NEED TO DO DEAL WITH MY FEELINGS. I hate that I’m also grateful for them. I hate that I do not regret the way things have gone and that I wouldn’t want to be anyone else or have a different life because for so long and as countless journals full of hate poems over the years will tell you, I used to. Acceptance is a bittersweet feeling I have come to terms with and yet I find myself rebelling against my own acceptance. And now the ramblings of my once angsty self have quieted and yeah, fuck you.

I feel much better now, thank you for being my constant outlet for anger. Now onto the next draft, the one that won’t hurt your feelings.

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I remember

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I like this time of year because I’ve always lived in the same place. Every time I smell the air and feel the chill or the wind picks up at just the right moment, it’s like this transportation back to random moments that smelled the same or felt the same. Depending on the music, it’s like I don’t even exist in this time or place.

I remember being very little, perched on the edge of the top of the staircase watching my mom vacuum the hallway to her room. There was this awful orange shag carpet throughout the whole house. It never got clean but she vacuumed it all the time. I used to hum to the sound of the vacuum, trying to harmonize with the loud sounds. I think it somehow soothed me. I was driving home today and remembered there were two closets in that hallway. I’d completely forgotten them there. One was for the vacuum the other one I don’t remember but I think they had wooden sliding doors. The vacuum closet makes the same sound closing as my vacuum closet does now. I never noticed that before.

I remember the smell of the carpet, the smell of the house. I remember sitting in the office and the smell would sort of build up in that room when all the doors were closed. My brothers room was next door. I don’t remember what we did with it once he moved out. I do remember it was a man cave for her ex husband at one point. Beyond that, I don’t know what happened to it.

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I remember the CDs my brother bought my before my first semester in middle school when he told me it was his job to make sure I was cool. He got me Sublime and Ima Robot. I remember being in the auditorium after violin or improv classes listening to those CDs as I jumped around the wooden fold down chairs. I remember the smell of that place too. Very cold and tall.

I remember when my first real love in high school came to my house and wore my favorite pajama bottoms even though they were too short, I have no idea what became of those either. I had another dog at that point. She drowned a couple years later.

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Facebook has this weird ability to remind me of all these people and the lives they still lead. I forget that time goes on for them too. My best friend in high school has been messaging with me and it’s kind of like a lot of things have come full circle lately. Weirdest part was remembering that was 8 years ago when we got high and sat on a neighbors lawn looking at their blow up Christmas lights. I remember the pants I wore not fitting properly and a rather unfortunate camel toe. I remember when I had no hair and hats helped me stay warm. I pity you short haired men during these months. You must have endless supplies of beanies.

Weird places to find blessings

It’s been a while since I posted anything. Largely because school has completely taken over my life as it has for a long time. I never thought I would ever tire of learning and I haven’t really but I have tired of the bureaucracy of trying to get a diploma. Had you told me that it would take me this long to finish school even a couple years ago, I would’ve laughed. I’m not a patient person by nature (as much as I constantly attempt to hone this particular art form) and I don’t think I’ll be done with school until I’m well into my late 20s. Hurrah for education!

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I write because of something semi related but also completely unrelated. I decided when I started school that I wouldn’t become involved with anyone seeing as I really need to spend these next few years developing my skills as both an artist and as an individual. But of course, hormones have their own way of overpowering the spirit.

I found this guy in ceramics class who I’m not really sure why I became so intrigued by him, but I did. And this was definitely reciprocated. He walked me home after classes, texted me everyday, made plans for the days we didn’t see each other. He invited me camping post-election to escape the craziness of the whole debacle. I couldn’t go but I really wanted to. My sorority duties and friendship ones had taken up my entire weekend and I didn’t want to disappoint the three separate birthday girls I’d promised to celebrate with. Rightly so if you ask me. I’m learning how to be a reliable friend even if my every fiber wants to take a spontaneous camping trip to go shoot off rockets somewhere in the desert. Because yes, that was the event: amateur rocket launching in the desert whilst also camping with my crush to escape a republican dominated election. How much better does it get than that?

Suffice to say, I began developing feelings for this genuinely good man. He would spontaneously invite me over to make me dinner or try a new bottle of wine (which I knew he only bought for me because there’s always a ton of beer in the fridge). He picked romantic comedies when I suggested comedies or action movies (which I love so it wasn’t some sort of sacrifice or anything). We really only fooled around and kissed and I slept over a couple times just to be in his arms.

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It was really sweet and felt totally right.

But then he started getting distant, using distancing language and responding less and I couldn’t really understand what was going on. Yes, things had moved quickly in that short span of time where we started getting close but it also seemed like we were just kind of getting to know each other in a truly exciting and authentic way.

I started feeling like I was missing a big chunk of the picture and that’s when he called me his “friend”.

Nope.

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I’ve done the whole being strung-along for forever thing, I’ve done the unrequited thing, I’ve done the I-don’t-want-to-press-the-issue thing. I’ve done a lot of those and I discovered no matter the ending, they all fucking suck. My feelings are always hurt in the end and I’m not a doormat anymore. I have evolved.

So I built myself up and I totally asked him directly: “hey, so what is this?” I explained all the mixed signals and all the feelings and things I’d developed and I knew it was really early to ask these things but fuck the waiting bullshit and I sort of just became a I-press-the-issue sort of girl in that moment.

And then he told me he was emotionally unavailable and I should date someone else if they ever came around and were awesome and he apologized. I felt like a bag of crap and I definitely cried a little bit as I walked home, totally confused.

Being the gentleman that he is, he texted me when I got home (we’re neighbors by the way) and explained how he never meant to lead me on and that I wasn’t imagining things, we really did have a connection. He said we could still be friends and get to know each other better without all the intimacy because he’s still “finding himself” and all that crap.

What’s weird is I woke up the next morning, post-semi-break-up hangover and felt infinitely better. It was such a weird blessing to have that anxiety off my chest. I hadn’t realized how heavily it had begun to weigh on me. I felt all the little tendrils sort of disconnecting from my heart and even though it still stings, even today, I realized that I had taken back all the power and shoved the ball straight into his court. He wants to be friends? Fuck that noise. You want to be my friend? Prove it.

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Thus far, he’s still pursuing me on and off and it’s annoying because the second I stop thinking about him and refocusing on myself, he texts me or hits me up or snapchats or whatever bullshit friends do to let them know they haven’t forgotten about you. And everyday I think about him less and remember that my original goal had been to avoid this kind of heart hurt in the first place.


So this is my metaphorical pat on the back for standing up bravely against potential hurt and I implore you, if this ever happens to you, remember that it made me feel SO MUCH BETTER to lay all the cards on the table. Nothing can hurt you if you do everything you can. I hate reading between lines and playing bullshit games just to find out I could’ve saved myself so much energy had I spoken up sooner. Have courage! It totally pays off.