Wednesday, January 10, 2018

This is why I got engaged.

Note: Not the actual proposal, just a playful reenactment.

After the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, my wonderful partner of a year and a half dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him.   

After years of believing I would die alone and no one would ever be as fond of me as I was of them, life handed me a big surprise and an even bigger "I told you so." If only I could go back in time and tell the girl who could never get a date that she would be engaged by the time she was 25 and to enjoy being single and loving herself as long as she could before it happened. If only. 

I wasn't initially going to share this news here, as it is pretty personal and perhaps a step away from the stories and experiences I usually publish, but the other night, I found myself thinking about all the people who have disappointed me and/or so easily left me behind over the past couple of years. And how those people and the pain they caused somehow cease to matter as much when I look at the person who has stood by my side through absolute thick and thin since the moment we said hello. 

~ A couple of months after my older brother's wedding, the last place I ever saw this person, a close family member of mine completely disappeared from my life and the lives of everyone else on my side of the family. Without reason, without explanation, without an excuse. She was someone I loved and trusted dearly. I loved her kids. She sort of felt like a sister to me. To this day, it is a huge mystery to me why she took an ax to her entire family and has completely ignored any of their attempts to reach out. Just like that, she was gone. Just like that, she is a ghost.   

~ I've written about this many times before (mainly on Thought Catalog) and exhausted the subject completely, but I endured a brutal heartbreak around late 2015/early 2016. This person was a good friend of mine for 3 years before we became romantically involved and I lost myself in a passionate, dysfunctional, toxic, whirlwind, hard-to-define relationship with him. He stuck his hand in my abandonment issues pot and stirred the shit out of it. The damage he caused followed me into my current relationship, but luckily and amazingly, it didn't destroy it. He went from being one of the closest people in my life to being another ghost that I will likely never speak of again.  

~ Most recently (and this is still pretty raw), I was neglected by someone I truly thought would be a forever friend. My fiance and I were both very close to her. We went to her house on a near weekly basis. We befriended her children. We called her our mom, and she let us. We told her things we didn't tell anyone else. She was one of my ride or die peeps (or so I thought). Then one weekend, things shifted. We work together, and work got pretty hectic and stressful the weekend before Christmas. She was unnecessarily rude to me. We argued a little bit, but I didn't think anything of it. Friends argue, especially if they work a stressful job together, right? The next day, she was still rude to me. She ignored me when I tried to speak to her and even said "no" when I asked if I could step outside with her while she smoked, a response that secretly brought me to tears. I got understandably salty about the way she was acting and we had another stupid argument. Long story short, she didn't speak to me the rest of the shift and then she ended our entire friendship via my fiance, an innocent bystander during all of this. She never once confronted me face to face. We never talked it out. She never explained what I did that was so wrong and so worth throwing a perfectly good friendship away over. This whole experience made my head spin all the way around (not literally) and left me feeling incredibly undervalued, like our friendship never meant anything at all to her. Like everything was a lie. Like everything was fake. So now that's over. Now she's a ghost too. I'm 99.99% sure she knows we're engaged. She has not congratulated either one of us.     

These experiences and more have cemented my trust issues and made it very difficult for me to believe in good intentions and genuine people.   

But my partner? In spite of all the ways I've been hurt and left and all the times I expected him to leave too, he never did. And this ring on my finger is his way of telling me he never will..at least not without a hell of a fight. 

I've never had to question our relationship or his feelings for me. He's never given me a reason to feel doubtful or unsafe, even though feeling doubtful and unsafe is in my nature. No matter how many times I pushed him away based on my deeply ingrained belief that all people suck and will let me down sooner or later, he bounced back and cleared away the dark clouds inside my head.

And through these ups and downs, he taught me something invaluable:

People WILL stay. 

And the only people worth spending a single ounce of energy on are the ones who stay, the ones who stick, the ones who fight.

So here's to ALL of those people, not just him. Here's to the family members/friends/partners who stay. Here's to the ones who prove people like me wrong.

This is why I got engaged. This is why I'm staying too.   

<3 Madison 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 16)

~ So I haven't been here in three months because I don't know how to be the writer I used to be anymore. I'm not sure where she went. Maybe she grew, changed, questioned, got lost, got influenced by things outside of herself. Maybe my only concerns these days are keeping the lights and water on, my clothes washed, and my significant other happy when I don't even know how to keep myself happy. Maybe it's challenging enough putting one foot in front of the other and facing the reality of potentially starting over with my quest for purpose and individuality. Maybe my needs and priorities have changed. Maybe my whole life has changed (it has) and I don't know how to begin writing about all these new things I'm going through without exploiting myself and the people I care about. Maybe I'm on creative strike because Christina Perri, my hero and inspiration, has quit music to be a mother. Maybe I'm on creative strike because I let my most recent bout of depression knock me on my ass instead of make me stronger and more determined. All I can say is I'm sorry, and please don't hate me. I hate myself enough for all of you.

~ Relationships are hard. All of them. It takes work to keep people in your life and to know who to let go of and when to let go of them, whether temporarily or permanently. Sometimes you think you don't want someone in your life anymore when that's the last thing you want, and sometimes you think you need to keep someone in your life forever when they're actually the last thing you need. You have to know where your thoughts and behaviors are coming from. You have to recognize the difference between hating other people's flaws and hating your own. You have to get up every morning and try, even after you've failed. Because forgiving yourself is infinitely more important than forgiving other people.

~ Googling your problems will not make them go away. In fact, it will make them much worse. Step away from the computer, phone or tablet and towards your own personal improvement goals. The Internet cannot explain why you make poor decisions.

~ True love is rare. Hold on to it, even when you feel like it's too much or you don't deserve it or you're not giving enough of your best self or you're simply not ready. Love that stays by your side through the absolute worst and ugliest of times may truly never come again (no matter what they say about plenty of fish being in the sea), so don't die wishing you had treated the person who loved you fearlessly and unconditionally with a little more care and commitment.

~ Be nice to your dogs and cats. Pay attention to them. Spend time with them. Do everything you can to help them live long and happy lives, for these are the best living creatures you will ever know. 

~ There is never enough room for hate, revenge and discrimination, but there is always plenty of room for love, forgiveness and understanding. Strive to live and breathe this truth, and you will eliminate a great deal of your emotional baggage. And sometimes the love, forgiveness and understanding need only be aimed towards yourself.

~ Celebrate the baby steps in life. If you sat on the couch in a puddle of despair and self-pity for 4 hours and only got up long enough to fold your laundry, celebrate the fact that you folded your laundry. If you got out of bed after believing you couldn't, celebrate the fact that you got out of bed. If you said sorry and tried a little harder to be better after hurting someone, celebrate the fact that you said sorry and tried a little harder to be better. And if you failed to write a new blog post for three months and finally wrote a little something, celebrate the fact that you finally wrote a little something.

<3 Madison     

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tales of depression and shared darkness

There's this girl I know who shall remain nameless that I want to tell you a little about today.

We aren't friends. In fact, when we first met, we were enemies. We didn't like each other at all. She bitched at and about me, I bitched at and about her, and we even had to be mediated like 5 year olds who couldn't share their toys. But over time, we learned to tolerate and get along with each other a little bit. I still wouldn't say that I like her, but upon closer inspection, I have a really profound and interesting reason for that. 

She shares so many of the qualities and characteristics I hate about myself.

Knowing her is like looking into a mirror that only shows you the ugliest parts of yourself. Perhaps that's the case with everyone we have a problem with. We have a problem with them because they show us our worst selves and we don't like it. So we crucify and belittle them to avoid acknowledging that maybe we're not so different. 

The other day, this girl admitted to me that she struggles with anxiety and depression, but it wouldn't take rocket science to figure as much. I so clearly see her pain when I look at her. There's a darkness in her that has grown progressively worse in recent weeks, much like my own. She seems so unhappy and lost, much like I've been told I do. Her eyes are a million miles away, much like mine. She moves slowly, much like me. She struggles to focus, much like I often do. 

But if you compared her life and mine, you probably wouldn't understand why I share her depression or the qualities that make her a difficult person to care for. She has a complicated home life, her best friend died in a car accident a few months ago, she's struggling financially, and her boyfriend is a piece of shit (in my opinion). I have a peaceful home life, my best friend is still alive and thriving, I'm financially comfortable, and I have a wonderful boyfriend. But I still went through one of the darkest bouts of depression I've ever experienced this month. I even drafted a post here detailing my suicidal thoughts and ultimately deleted it because it was just too heavy, too disturbing, too much. 

My point, although I'm taking awhile to formulate it, is that depression doesn't care if you make good money or have a really nice boyfriend. It can still devour you and throw the little parts of your life that are less pleasing in your face. And while I may have a seemingly perfect/ideal life to some people, my life is far from perfect. I have things going on that I don't know how to process or cope with and thoughts and emotions swirling around inside of me that make me feel like I'm losing my mind. I have days where I don't see myself living past the age of 30, much less 40. I look at my future, and it looks like a long and winding road with occasional rays of sunlight to bask in, but mostly just a lot of exhausting and meaningless footsteps that forever lead to nothing in particular. I don't like feeling that way, but I do. I don't understand it, but it persists.  

That's what depression is. It's profound heaviness and existential dread. And so many different kinds of people struggle with it, no matter their back story. And I felt compelled to write about this nameless girl because I find it interesting how we walk such different paths, yet somehow land in the same place over and over again.  

I saw her last night sitting Indian style on a sidewalk, smoking a cigarette and looking completely defeated. Her boyfriend was 30 minutes late picking her up. Mine was 30 minutes early.

For some reason, I woke up this morning with that image of her burned into my brain. Maybe because it mirrored all the times that I too have sat on the ground alone, defeated and waiting to be picked up.

<3 Madison        

Monday, August 21, 2017

Wise reminder from a wise soul

I had a conversation with an older and wiser man the other day, moments after I walked out on a job I couldn't see myself keeping or enjoying. (It was a second job...I'm not unemployed again, don't worry.) And although I can't recall what he said to me verbatim, it was something along the lines of this:

"If you don't wanna do something, don't do it. Don't worry about what these people think or what anyone thinks. You wanna know why? 'Cause you're the one who's gotta live with it."

I love that. I especially love it because I used to live by that notion, but have since fallen a bit short.

The truth is, I care pretty deeply what other people think about me and have an acute fear of being judged. I usually make decisions based on what I believe will please others, and if I make unconventional decisions to please myself, I often feel unnecessarily ashamed and embarrassed.

I left this second job feeling a bit deflated because everyone told me I should work both, even though that was never my desire or intention. They said it wouldn't hurt to save up some extra money and keep myself busier. (I will forever be baffled by society's obsession with busyness.) Of course, these people had good intentions, which is often the case. But I didn't take the job for any of those reasons. I took it to try something different and see if I might possibly enjoy it enough to make a switch from my first job. I quickly concluded that my first job was the superior choice, so not wanting to waste my time or anyone else's, I left. And people probably disapproved in some capacity.

But that last conversation I had before climbing in my car and driving away was exactly what I needed to hear to quiet the voice of disapproval in my own head.

If you don't wanna do something, don't do it. 

I love my work schedule. I love the money I make, the hours I work, and the time I have off to spend with my writing, my loved ones, and myself. I may not have the fattest of paychecks, but I have everything I need and more. I'm not struggling. I make good financial decisions - probably way better decisions than most people in my age group. At this point in my life, I am lucky enough to be completely taken care of. I do not regret my decision to leave the second job because it was in fact what I wanted.

It's okay to do what you want and not do what you don't want, as long as you go about it the right way. Your life is yours and yours alone, and no one has to live with the choices you make except you. If you disappoint people along the way, so what? They will get over it.

Just a friendly reminder for today and every day.

<3 Madison  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sorry for being the writer who disappeared.

I read this wonderful and beautifully detailed article the other day, and it gave me a thought: a lot of really talented and promising writers/bloggers mysteriously disappear or fade into the background, don't they?

Yes, you could say I am one of them.

When I first dove into writing, I was all over the place. I was featured on many of my favorite websites, and my posts garnered a good bit of attention. I published my own eBook, and my work has appeared in print four times. I freelanced for a variety of clients and websites. I was full of passion and ideas. I felt like I had found my place in the world and nothing could stop me.

But somewhere down the line, I started to fade away. My life changed, and my attitude changed with it. Writing got hard, and making money off of it was even harder. I got discouraged and weak. I had my heart broken, and sometimes I wonder if that experience was my final muse.

I have a hard time pinpointing exactly what went wrong, but all signs seem to point to my ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression. Although these struggles do not define me, they are very much a part of my day-to-day existence. It's hard to write when I'm engulfed by my insecurities, apathy, self-hatred, and a looming sense of monotony. It's hard to utilize my time when I waste so much of it simply trying to put one foot in front of the other and have a normal day.

So I disappear a lot. Along with the hoards of other talented artists who have so much to express and so few mental and emotional tools to do so. It's a paradox.

And guess what? Nearly every single writer/blogger I've followed, looked up to, and/or been inspired by over the last 6 years has disappeared in some capacity. Some of them have given up. Some of them have chosen a different path. Some of them have lost their way. And some of them are being held captive by the beast that is mental illness.

I'm sorry for being the writer who disappeared. I'm sorry if you have clicked over to my blog to find nothing new when you hoped to find otherwise. I'm sorry if I have disappointed or confused you with my frequent dry spells. I'm sorry if I have not lived up to the version of myself you see when you read my writing. I'm sorry if I have failed to provide you with the doses of inspiration you have come to depend on.

I write this in hopes that you will understand.

Sometimes I have a really hard time unlocking the best version of myself. Sometimes it takes almost every bit of energy I have to simply make the bed, wash the dishes, run errands, feed myself, clean myself, enjoy myself (never mind write). Sometimes I think I'm the worst and everything I do sucks. Sometimes I can't show up.

Please read the article I shared above, for the writer of it explains this better than I ever could.

<3 Madison

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

On true love, detachment, and being a good human

Monday was one of the most stressful, emotional, challenging and bittersweet days I've been through so far this year (for reasons I'd prefer to keep relatively private). In a nutshell, I was put into a highly stressful and comprising situation by people I trusted and had to act fast to do the right thing, even though it wasn't the easiest thing.

Details aside, perhaps we can all relate to being in a situation like this. We've all been betrayed. We've all had to act quickly instead of thinking slowly. We've all had to put our selfish needs and desires aside for the sake of doing the absolute best thing for the absolute best creature, whether animal or human. (In my case, it was an animal.) We've all been in situations that have put life, love and humanity into perspective. We've all had the wind knocked out of us in the best and worst ways.

So ever since the incident in question, I have been consciously working hard to be an overall better human being and put some important lessons into practice. I want to share my thoughts here, in hopes that they will help you do the same.

On true love:

True love is selfless and works tirelessly to make the object of your affection or admiration feel as happy and secure as they possibly can. My boyfriend, my mother, and a new and wonderful friend of mine were my rock when I was going through what I went through this week. They all taught me about love. They all jumped to my rescue and soothed my fears. They all made me realize that I was doing the right thing for the object of MY affection at that moment in time. And they all made me want to love bigger and better than I've been doing lately.

If you love something, you must be selfless and steadfast. You must work hard and be better. You must treasure who and what you love with every fiber your being is capable of giving. And when you can do those things without question, THAT is true love.

On detachment:

Attachment is my middle name. My whole life, I have become attached to people, animals, material belongings, ideas, ways of life, and ways of thinking. I don't like change, and I really don't like losing things that once brought me comfort and familiarity. But you know what? That's life. Change is literally constant. It's a train that never stops going. And where there is change, there is some degree of loss if you're as delicate and fragile as I am.

I had to detach myself this week in the name of being selfless and exercising true love. I would've done it anyway, but the only thing even remotely upsetting me about it was that I had to detach. Because detachment is hard. It makes me sad, and sometimes I stay sad for a really long time. But sadness, like everything else, is temporary too.

So let go, detach if you must, and take comfort in the fact that the chips of life and love will always fall exactly where they belong...even if it takes them awhile to get there.  

On being a good human:

I witnessed good humans turn into bad humans this week, and it would be an understatement to say that was a hard and unfortunate thing to watch. Perhaps I've been in denial or ignorance of their true character all along, but I digress.

I really do wanna see the best in people in a world filled with assholes. I feel everything so deeply, and I just don't want to be all the more burdened by the thought of how many people are just plain terrible. But I work in the food business (HA!) and I live in the real world, so I can't always shield myself from rude, careless, selfish and cruel human beings. But what I can do is be a better person myself. I can do the right thing, choose love over hate, and be kind and understanding to the best of my ability.

You can't change other people, but you can change yourself.

You can be better.

<3 Madison  
   

Monday, July 10, 2017

Impermanence

Nothing is permanent.

This has been a recurring theme in my life this year, and it's nice to finally put it out in front of me after months of struggling to do so.

I don't like change, but I've experienced it in such abundance this year that I've become nearly paralyzed with apathy and inaction in response...As if refusing to actively participate in or accept said changes will somehow save me from further loss and disappointment.

I moved out of a home I lived in for 24 years. I've had and loved pets since I was 7 years old, and I now live in an apartment that won't allow them. My younger brother, whom I have been inseparable with since he was born, is moving 845 miles away. My job is changing. My body is changing. My bills are getting higher. There are people I used to be attached to like glue that I either barely talk to now or don't talk to at all anymore.

And to state the obvious, this is the first blog post I've written in two months. What's worse is that I'm not even sure if I want to be a professional writer anymore. I've said this out loud, and the words feel strange coming out of my mouth every time.

I'm not trying to say that change is bad or that impermanence is devastating. It can be of course, but it's also completely inevitable. It's been said and preached millions of times before, but I've floated through my life for years with the belief that if I stayed still and lived simply, I wouldn't be swept away by the waves of change. But now impermanence is the story of my life. And I've realized that if I continue to stay still and live simply, life and people will go on without me. I have no control over any of it.

I'm at a point in my life where I just really need to ask myself the hard questions and wonder if my reaction to the aforementioned changes has led to growth or failure. Or if this latest breakdown is merely a sign of a forthcoming breakthrough.

As always, I will write about it all.

<3 Madison