Sometimes I fall down, inside of myself.
Unable to get up, or out of the way.
I don’t know what I will trip on,
or what will cause the fall.
But I know I will land, in a hard, loud thump.
My body rejects any efforts of comfort,
and pushes away love and concern.
I am not sure what makes the light fade away,
and allows the darkness to creep in.
I know the pain of trying all too well.
The empty spaces growing,
while the numbness tingles places unknown.
Staying down, too long is not an option.
Pushing my way through the darkness,
helps me live again.
Each fall is followed by my rise,
through the darkness, into the light.
With each fall,
I know one thing,
Nothing remains the same.
I’m sick of caring what everyone else thinks.
I’m sick of being ignored by the people who used to care about me.
I’m sick of perpetrators playing the victim.
I’m sick of the unsaid things that linger in my mind.
I’m sick of the days bleeding into each other.
I’m sick of how quickly negativity spreads.
I’m sick of being the adult in all situations.
I’m sick of people hurting others, and never having to pay.
I’m sick of the anger.
I’m sick of watching while others hurt.
I’m sick of the noise that takes over the quiet space.
I’m sick of not knowing what is to come.
I’m sick of not having anything to grab onto.
I’m sick of twenty-five years turning to silence.
I’m sick of depending on people who don’t really care.
I’m sick of humanity becoming anything, but human.
I’m sick of the hate.
I’m sick of waiting for things to change.
I’m sick of it.
Ever since I can remember, I have loved words. Either in songs, poems, quotes, books…it didn’t matter to me. I just needed to be around words. One of my favorite books as a child was a book of quotations that I found on my gram’s bookshelf. I would spend hours reading through it, finding ones that meant something to me, and I would write them on little index cards and tape them up all over my room.
Words made sense in a world where nothing else did.
This love of words is one of the main reasons that I love Tom Petty’s music so much. His words mean something. They reach the core of my soul, and wrap me in warmth. As the year anniversary of his death is fast approaching, I find myself drawn to looking for more words.
My words have been sparse. For reasons unknown to me. Depression maybe. Grief possibly. Whatever the reason, my words have been harder and harder to set free. This has made it next to impossible to write my weekly blog posts. I watch the days slip by, and the number of posts that I am behind continue to grow.
I do things all or nothing. If I don’t think I can do a job up to my standards, I just don’t do it. Typically, I am able to force myself into it, and usually I produce results I am mildly satisfied with. As this challenge taunted me, I found a way around it.
As I was drawn into searching for quotes, I decided to share them here. I will write what comes from the inspiration of the words, and hope to pass along some of the joy they bring.
To start, let’s begin with:
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”— Theodore Roosevelt
For as long as I can remember, my accomplishments have never been celebrated. In my thirty-seven years, I never had a Birthday party. These days, that is what I prefer, but as a child, I always felt inadequate when I couldn’t reciprocate the invitation to my friends. Other kids had parties at McDonald’s, or the bowling alley, or a big sleepover full of girls. I always had a cake, and usually a barbecue…but that was because it was the day before the Fourth of July. For a little while, I thought the fireworks were for me…it was very disappointing to learn they were not.
When I brought home a report card with all As, I was questioned why there was an A-. Surely, I could have tried harder. When I graduated eighth grade, other kids had parties and gifts, and praise. I didn’t even have a picture taken of me at the event.
In high school, when it was time for the Chorus I was in to have our first, and second, and third concert…there was no one in the audience for me. I had to get a ride from a friend to get there on time. I think it was at this time that I decided to “why bother,” while also increasing my desire to “do better.”
It was a relentless cycle of not caring, and never feeling good enough. I would teeter into the not caring zone, to tipping the scale with chasing the next thing that might matter. Matter to who? I wasn’t really sure. I had dreams that I had to make happen, because if I didn’t, then what good was I? Like the age old question, “If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” For me, it was, “If no one notices my accomplishment, do they really even count?”
In my senior year of high school I was dropped off at the award ceremony, where I won an award for excelling in Home Economics. No one was there to see me receive it. No one. At graduation, my gram and mom were there to watch me receive my diploma. Not one picture was taken. My celebration for graduating after a full year of receiving high honors? A quick trip to McDonald’s, where my mom criticized my dress and complained about how long the ceremony took, and how hot it was. I was grateful for the lunch, but it happened more so because it was lunch time. I know my gram felt bad about it, but at 80, it was the best she could do.
Because I had no support, emotionally or financially, there was no way I could go to college right out of high school, no matter how badly I wanted to. I told myself it was better that way, because my gram needed me. I couldn’t leave her behind when there was no one else willing to help her. I found a full time job, where I walked three miles to and from until I had enough money to pay for a taxi.
When I was able to figure out a way to go to college, I took as many credits as financial aid allowed me. I was working full time, and taking at least 15 credits a semester. Then, I had to take a break when my son was born. Quitting was not an option. I had to complete what I started. When my son was twenty-two months old, and my daughter was only a few weeks old, I received my bachelor’s degree in human services with a 4.0 grade point average. My mom, gram, and brother were there watching me, but again no picture and no celebration. It was clear that my gram was proud of me, and that alone was enough of a celebration, but it was another time where it seemed as though I didn’t make the mark.
Weeks after graduation I was hired for my dream job…you guessed it…nothing.
I received an award from the Governor of Vermont for the Healthy Aging of Seniors in the area. There were sixteen awards given out to the whole state of Vermont, and I was one of them. At twenty-nine years old, I was honored for the difference I was making in lives of the people I served. No one came to the ceremony to watch me receive the award.
When I decided that it was time to go after my master’s degree, I was working full time, and raising three young kids: 8, 6, and 3 years old. I was deep in depression from the loss of my gram two years before. During the time I was in grad school, I fought to keep my son safe from the bullying he was enduring at school, lost our home to a fire, was homeless for a short time while things were situated, all while the domestic violence in the home continued to escalate.
Three days before graduation, my ex-husband was arrested and removed from the home. I lost my job when I did not have child care. My daughters and I drove to the church where graduation was being held because I had worked too hard to let him take this from me. A group of people who took time out of their lives were there to celebrate me. My brother even came to watch me receive my master’s degree, Friends took pictures to help me cherish the day.
My mom was not able to come, and I tried to not let that bother me. I did beat myself up though for only graduating with a 3.86 and not a 4.0. I couldn’t accept the praise, I had to keep saying, “But I could have done better.” I pushed away the compliments and burrowed my head into the familiarity of the past.
When my life long dream became a tangible reality, and my book became real, and available to the world, it quietly passed like any other day. No celebration. And my thoughts went back down the rabbit hole. I self-published, it didn’t count. There were mistakes. It wasn’t perfect. The list of criticism went on.
Emails and reviews came in. For the most part, all good. People could relate to my story. They said it was well written. They thanked me for sharing my story. It was hard to receive. It was harder to believe. They just feel sorry for me, because it is a sad story. I didn’t want their pity, but it turned out I was unable to accept their sincere words. How was I enough to be worthy of their kindness?
I entered my book in multiple contests. Each rejection proved to me that I was not good enough, that my book was not worthy of the five-star rating. I found each and every negative remark that had been said about my book, and I held them closer and closer. I was done. I couldn’t let this control my self-worth any longer.
On September 1, 2018, I received word that The Monster That Ate My Mommy had been awarded Honorable Mention in The Reader’s Favorite contest. I shot down the congratulations that appeared on my screen, only to say, “But it’s just honorable mention.” It took me some time to embrace what had really happened. And then it hit me.
Maybe it is me. Maybe it has always been me. Not feeling worthy enough to accept celebration or praise. To stomp it out as quickly as it comes. I don’t like a lot of attention, and maybe I have always been the one to not want a big deal made out of my accomplishments. I have come a long way, and do have a lot to be proud of. My new goal is to accept, and embrace what I have to be proud of.
No more negative self-talk.
Easier said than done, but all I can do is keep on trying.
Repeat after me:
You are worthy.
You are enough.
You are loved.
Bringing light to the darkness is what has gotten me this far.
If you look close enough, there is always light to guide the way. Never stop looking.
True happiness. That is what is in this picture. I started this blog on July 1st, the year anniversary of when this photo was taken, but could not find the words. Any of them. This was the night Tom Petty helped make a twenty year old wish come true. This was the night that everything was perfect. This was the night that the pain faded, and pure happiness took over.
This was the night I decided to live, and not wait. I went with my gut, and upgraded my tickets to front row. I had always talked myself out of them in the past, telling myself that I didn’t deserve them, or the money was better used for something else. That voice exited long enough to purchase them, and quickly returned as guilt came crashing in.
Because of my experience of life never going as planned, I could not get excited before the tickets were in my hand, and I was in my seat. It couldn’t be real. I didn’t want to work up the excitement, only to be let down. I was stressed out and anxious as I waited to receive the tickets as the rain poured out of the sky.
As they scanned the tickets, and we made our way to our seats, my anxiety changed to pure bliss. If only for a moment, I would have my chance to see Tom, and maybe, be seen by him. The magic from the night outweighed anything I could have wished for.
Still, a year later, I have a hard time believing it happened the way it did. Darkness turned to light in the moments on that night. I mattered in the sea of insignificance, if only for a second. Everything lined up, and my wish was granted. It could not have been more perfect.
There are very few moments in my life that play out this way. Or, very few that I allow myself to accept. When I went to write this a few weeks ago, I wanted more than anything to feel that happiness again. To find that smile and see the sparkle. The harder I looked, the more distant I became from that night.
For the moment, it was perfect. A dream. An everlasting memory. I didn’t want to taint it with the pain that this year brought. The pain of outliving most everyone I love. Sadly, Tom has been added to the list. But, for the moment, only a year ago, the lifetime of pain left my body.
I long for that feeling. A feeling I did not know I was lacking. The most important thing I had forgotten was to live. To live in the moment. To appreciate the little things, and the big ones. To let the love in. To let the love out. To be. To just be.
Searching for perfection will always lead to failure. To find happiness, the kind that is in my eyes from this night, I need to remember how simple it really is. Expect nothing, and be grateful for what is.
Tom always has a song to get me through. A perfect one for tonight, and every night after, Wildflowers, because I belong somewhere I feel free.
Thank you Tom, for the memories, the magic, and the words that reach my soul. ❤️
Last year I made my New Year’s resolution to write a blog every week. The perfectionist in me felt that this was doable. It’s only fifty-two posts after all. For the first half of the year I succeeded. I wrote a post every week. Even as I went out to Hollywood, and then Tennessee, I made sure that I had something written for the week. My desire to be my best, to do more, to be everything to everyone pushed me forward. I couldn’t give up, I’ve come to far. Then, out in the distance I saw more of the same.
An overwhelming sense of darkness fell over me, and I was unable to care about one of my favorite things. I have gone years without writing. The torture of having words trapped in my head, with no place to go was enough to keep me stuck. Self-sabotage. It is one thing I mastered early in life. If I could make myself feel miserable, no one else could. I could deprive myself of joy, and the darkness could linger. I didn’t like the darkness.
I believed that to be true until recently as I watched the days, and then weeks pass by without allowing myself to release the words, and find joy in doing something that I love. Secretly, I craved it. I long for the normalcy of the miserableness. Changing what you know is a layered process. I wanted it to be fixed now. I didn’t have time to wait for it to go away.
I lit a candle to illuminate the darkness, to give the appearance that it was gone. This worked for a while. But the real issue wasn’t being addressed. The desire to be all and do all takes too much of me. I give, and empty myself, but no one replenishes what they take. I smile, and push ahead. The smile is much like the candle. It hides the truth. It shows what people want to see.
I was trapped. Stuck. The depths of darkness held me tight. Whispering….shhh…and erasing all the creativity that I had. The longer I waited for the words to release, the stronger the hold of the darkness was. I couldn’t shake it off of me, even now I struggle with finding the words. Breaking the silence, and freeing myself from the weight of the shadows.
I know the darkness will always be there. I know that the light will always come. Knowing is half the battle.
To the darkness.
To the light.