This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

When You Need to Kick-Start Your Passion

We were lying in bed the other night cuddling and having a care-free, generally fun conversation. I started teasing myself and Luke was laughing, and then I casually changed the conversation to how jealous I am of him for working so hard on his musical projects. 
I said, “You go home and sit in your studio for five hours.”
“Yeah, but a lot of that time I’m dicking around doing nothing.”
“But some of that time you are. I come straight home, sit on the bed, and browse Imgur, Buzzfeed, Hulu, and Netflix for five hours.”
Then came what I’ve wanted to say for a while but hate thinking about: I’m not doing anything with my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy overall. But when I look at the sum of my pursuits, I’m dismayed. 
A couple months ago I went back and read old blog posts from my time in Ireland and the short stories I wrote in the following years. Some were good, others cringe-worthy, but I still see the talent I know is there. In my more personal posts, there’s wit, charm, and an obvious voice. I can even see specks of that voice come out in the fiction writing and almost always got positive feedback on my fiction at my time at Iowa.
Why then have I not written anything of substance in over two years?
Since I left college, life has been interesting. While I was a waitress (and at one point: freelance writer, waitress, and bank teller) I felt stagnant in any sort of creative endeavor. My main goals were to feed myself and save some semblance of money. I told myself, “Once you get a full-time job, things will be different.”
This winter I started cross-stitching again and in the spring/summer I started reading. All were feeble and slightly successful attempts at getting myself back to writing. I had to get the creative juices flowing again, right? I couldn’t just jump right back in without any precursor!
All were excuses. I have zero complaints about my love life and while I wish my friends lived closer, I’m happy there as well. My dog is finally done being sick every other week so that stressor is gone as well. I have a decent savings account so every medical or dental emergency doesn’t send me crying to my bedroom. I adore my job (even if it causes many headaches) and see a future for myself at this company.
Yet I’ve never been that concerned with my day job. I’ve started to look at work as that: work. Some of us are lucky enough to find things that make us money that we are also passionate about, but I’ve realized as of late that isn’t the case for everyone. Luke actually showed me that.
Regardless of his job status, music was a constant for him. I remember when we first started dating and I’d stay up, laying on his bed in his dirty bedroom and listening to him slam away on his keyboard and aimlessly turn knobs on his synthesizer. Today, he’s working on finishing up an ambient album and hoping to find a record label, fulfilling his dream of completing one by the age of 26.
Unless you have a passion for teaching or law or retail or whatever your career may be, many find ourselves “stuck” in jobs for which we have no drive. That is why I’ve tried to think of work as a place to center myself and a means to an end. Work gives me the comfort of steady income, vacation time, healthcare, and a structure to my days. After work time is the time for my passions, at least for now.
Why then, do I waste them away browsing the internet and binge-watching as many shows as I can shove in my face in a given night? I can consume media at an alarming rate. However, reading or writing feel like too much “work” still. It didn’t feel that way in college.
When I get home from work now, all I want to do is “veg out.” In college, yeah I had classes and work and sorority obligations and extra activities and projects and papers. Still you find yourself in college (at least with a liberal arts degree) with a certain amount of free-time you don’t have later in life. I feel I used that time well when I had it, but “forcing” myself to write now feels like far too much work.
Then I thought I would just wait until I wanted to write again. I noticed I did after I started the full time job because I suddenly had a bit more free time and felt antsy. I started writing blog posts again. I have pages of random crap I Facebook message to myself that I can churn out in a half hour. Thoughts on politics, social issues, feminism, people I know, people I love, people that annoy the shit out of me.
I don’t understand why I’m convinced some magical Writing Fairy is going to plop itself on my lap and tell me, “MOLLY, YOU MAY COMMENCE WRITING YOUR PERIOD OF WAITING IS OVER.” I know no one is going to come to my home and tell me I have to write anymore except for me. Without the threat of teachers or grades I find it hard to be motivated. (If anyone does have access to a Writing Fairy though, let me know the going rate and I will pay handsomely)
My office is generally empty and I technically work remotely in that my boss does not see me on a daily basis and I may meet with my team monthly at best. Because of this, I spend hours talking to myself about work, important world issues, stupid petty bullshit, and other random things. I can feel the wheels slowly turning again when I say something witty or write a sentence that makes me pause. I’m trying to engage Luke in more discussions on social issues to get my skills back up and running.
Luke is sweet but not too sweet, like a Pinot Grigio, but incredibly supportive. If I was listening to me I’d probably slap me upside the head and say, “Quit complaining about fucking nothing.” Luke, instead, gave me something much simpler.
“Just start writing again.”
“I can’t just start writing again.”
“Why not?”
“Because…I’m scared I’m not good enough. That any praise I received wasn’t real and that I’ll try and learn I should have given up on this dream to be a published author a long time ago.”
“You don’t think I was scared?”
“Well yeah, but at least you’ve created something. I’ve just been sitting on my ass doing nothing for two years. I can’t even call myself a writer anymore because I’m not…writing.”
“Then start writing again. I love reading your blog posts. I’ll even help you edit, you just have to start again.”
It seems so simple. Could it really be that simple? I’m still not sure. What I do know is “doing nothing,” while fun and relaxing for a bit, is getting tiresome. Is it still my dream? Yes. Do I want it enough to start writing again? Yes. Do I have the time to write? Yes. Do I still have the ideas? Yes.
Am I good enough?
Not writing anymore because you don’t think you’ll be good enough doesn’t prove anything; it doesn’t say you are or are not talented. All it says is that you quit, that you’ve given up out of the fear of a possible rejection that hasn’t even come. So what is the solution? I'm not even sure. And maybe that's the point; squish all of that self doubt and self loathing into a concentrated amount of talent I can slam at a blank Word document until I am happy.

Or maybe, and more likely so, maybe I have to stop waiting until I'm "in the right place" and accept that I want to write because without it, I'm not sure who I am. Dear God if that isn't whiny and millennial sounding, I don't know what is.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Reflections on Sexuality

Some days, I wonder if my sexuality matters.
One year and fifteen days ago, I “subtly” (as subtle as I can be) came out in a blog post. A couple months later I made a post about bisexuality, but besides that, I haven’t mentioned much of it on Facebook. In June after the recent Supreme Court decision, I made a post about how excited I was for my first Pride Parade as openly bisexual.
It was then I realized I might have come out a year ago a bit too subtly.
I got a couple messages from people that made clear they thought this was my coming out. I kept thinking in my head, “Jeez, dude, this happened like a year ago,” but I still took in the kind words. I was pumped up for my first Pride Parade nonetheless. I had heard criticisms of them becoming more commercial and generally geared toward a white, male, homosexual audience. After going, this is more or less true, but I was still hoping I’d had a great time.
I did…but I had the distinct feeling I shouldn’t be there.
I’m not involved with any organizations around Illinois or the Chicago area (not for a lack of desire, I just hate leaving the house and interacting with people), but my lack of “belonging” feeling wasn’t from my not knowing anyone present. Luke was very supportive and had a great time himself. As much as I tried though, I couldn’t shake the feeling I not only shouldn’t be there, but I didn’t deserve to be there.
My relationship with my sexuality has been a long and complex one. I first came out as bisexual to my mother in 8th grade and her reaction was to laugh. I forgive you, ma, but that was a bit harsh. Quickly as I came out, I went back into the closet. I don’t remember what exactly prompted the conversation with her, but I had the same feeling then I did last year when I told my closest friends and family: I don’t deserve to come out.
I’m in a long term relationship with a man who I adore and want to spend the rest of my life with. I’ve never dated a woman. I’ve never had sex with a woman. I’ve never experienced persecution for my sexuality and I recognize the immense privilege associated with this. I never walked down the street hand-in-hand with a girlfriend and my family will likely never have to face my sexuality in any real way since I’ll never bring a woman home. My tiny, self-critical voice inside my head keeps telling me I’m a very convenient bisexual.
“Let me get this straight…you’re an atheist, feminist, wannabe hipster living just outside of Chicago, wearing boots and glasses and giant hats, who Instragrams any swanky place she goes to, who doesn’t want children, and you’re bisexual? Wow. Aren’t you cool.”
No one has ever said this to me, but I tell it to myself constantly. Many times while wandering through Wicker Park or Lincoln Park I’ll catch my reflection in a store window and wonder if I’m a fraud. I have the privilege of passing. On top of that, I have the privilege of even debating how to, or even to at all, present my sexuality to the world.
So the question comes back to: does my sexuality matter, in any real way? Does it matter that I’m both attracted to women and men if I’m in a relationship headed toward that life-long commitment? This whiny, self-doubt is pathetic and helping no one, so why bother mentioning it? I don’t deserve to wear a label of “queer” and frequently don’t feel like I could call myself LGBT. Do I have to be out longer to be comfortable with this? Does my voice in any of this matter? Does my perspective matter? I’m not afraid of labels, but can we be afraid we’re not worthy of the label to start with?
What would make me deserving of this label? 
I can’t be the only bisexual wondering this. Bi-erasure is a constant problem in media where our only frequent representation is that of a bisexual (almost always a woman) who is sexually promiscuous, only adding to negative stereotypes. We are a porn gimmick and a man’s fantasy. Perhaps we wouldn’t be so afraid of calling ourselves “bisexual” if it wasn’t considered a joke, a phase, a non-issue, or a college girl pastime.
I'm not sure what I wanted to come of this long rambling. I'm not sure if it helped. Coming out did show me how quickly we assume any girl-boy pairing is a heterosexual one and any perceived girl-girl/boy-boy relationship is obviously a homosexual one. It showed me our understanding of sexuality has broadened, but only minutely so. We can now see two options, gay and straight, and all the other gray areas in the middle are messy and "millennial bullshit." 
But with my sexuality, I can't help but come back to my relationship and how I view it in the context of everything.
The other day I laid in our bed staring at the ceiling fan move the hot air around our two-flat in Oak Park. Luke came in and laid in my lap as we watched The Tonight Show on my computer. Later that night when we were walking home from the bar near our house, I couldn’t help but notice the way the moonlight hit his face before we crossed into the tunnel under the train.
I loved this person. I didn’t love him because he was male. There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to a certain gender, but I found something beautiful in that moment of realizing that nugget of truth in him. In us. Of all the people in the world, male or female, this passionate, wonderful person fell into my life. And I never wanted this person to leave.
Perhaps coming to terms with our own bodies, mind, and general personhood is yet another facet to self-love.
I'm getting ready to get my next tattoo in a couple months. It's going to be bisexually based. I'm trying to convince myself still that I deserve to have this. "What does it matter?" I still ask myself every couple days, I still wonder aimlessly, I still question sitting her at my computer typing away. I'm trying to learn not to hate that question, but embrace it. I'm trying to learn to question myself in a way that doesn't accuse my brain of being a liar. I'm trying to love revelations about myself without thinking, "You should have realized this sooner." I'm still trying.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Graduating: Some Tough Love and Unsolicited Advice

Advice to those Graduating College this Year

I’m going to start this off by telling y’all one of the biggest truths about post-college life that no one says:

Being an adult sucks. Sometimes.

Here are some hard truths about graduating you need to hear that I wish someone had told me.

1.        Take the first job you find post-graduation, if only to get some steady income. You’re not too good for anything. Yeah, maybe you didn’t think you’d be a full-time waitress months after graduating, but at least you can put food on the table. You don’t have to stay at that job forever either, just get your feet wet and gain some stability.

2.        Don’t spend any graduation money you get on random stuff. Seriously. Don’t spend a single penny unless you have to. That money can come in handy as you’re trying to find work and can be a security deposit for a new apartment in a new city. You don’t need to blow a grand on something cool. You’re not a kid anymore with a huge amount of disposable income. The same goes for anyone who get a sum of money upon graduating age! Save that! I know more than a few people who that saved from financial hardship only months after graduating.

3.        You are unlikely to find your dream job upon getting your diploma. Accept that. You may be lucky enough to but the average graduate is going to struggle. Take solace in the fact that everyone else around you (for the most part) is struggling too.

4.        Learn to budget and budget well. I know people who are much older than me who still struggle with this. This is the perfect time in your life to start. Look how much you make a month and then at all the bills you have for a given month, subtract all of that, throw at least $100 into savings a month, leave a bit of a cushion for yourself, and divvy up the rest. Yeah I know, it sucks, but like any new habit you have to learn the new behavior. You’ll thank me later.

5.        It’s okay to make a huge change after graduating; don’t feel like any relationship or friendship is going to keep you in the same city forever if that’s not what you want. Don’t stay in your college town just because you’re scared to make a change. If you love the town you've called home for four years, by all means stay, but don’t stay out of fear of breaking free. You’ll feel stuck soon enough if it’s not what you really want.

6.        Transitioning a romantic relationship from college to the “real world” can be harder than you thought, especially if one of you is still in school or one has already graduated. Moving your life from “college dating” to dating with two full time jobs is more different than you’d imagine. Take a deep breath, communicate until you’re both blue in the face, and take it one day at a time. Graduating can also be a great time to take stock of your life and figure out who should go and who should stay.

7.        For some people, especially people who particularly loved school, life without grades can feel stagnant. Before, you always had something to put up next to your life and judge how you were doing. “Doing alright” is a lot harder to discern after graduating. I’ll give you a different kind of report card instead:

·        Are you paying your bills? All of them? On time too?

·        Are you saving, even a little bit?

·        If you’re not in your “dream field,” are you working toward that? Or are you okay with where you are?

·        Do you have at least one good friend you can lean on throughout this post-college life?

(If you’re doing/have at least one of these, you’re doing fine, trust me.)

8.        You will know at least one person who seems to have their shit figured out so well it actually hurts to watch on Facebook/Instragram. They landed a great job post college and have time to have a fabulous night life on top of that, or they got married and had a kid within a year. Either way, it’s tough not to judge your life compared to others. Don’t do it! Know that at least one person you know will look at you and think, “Gosh, she seems to have it figured out.” The scary truth is none of us have it figured out, even the people you envy on social media. We’re all struggling in our own ways.

9.        If you didn’t in college, start taking care of your body! Start watching what you eat and/or working out, even little by little. By your mid-twenties you’ll start feeling your metabolism slow down and it’ll be scary. No more late night pizza binges without feeling horrible the next day…

10.        If you want to take a couple years after school to find yourself and work smaller jobs in order to work toward your dreams, do it! Take a look at your life and your goals upon graduating and figure out what works for you. As long as you can pay your bills, you’re doing fine.

11.        Try to become financially independent as soon as you can. Luckily we’re legally allowed to stay on our parent’s health insurance until 26 (thank God, I’m still riding that particular gravy boat), and you might honestly need this as you create a cushion for yourself. But as soon as you are able, try to get on your own cell phone plan (or at least pay for yours) and try not to borrow money. There will be times you will need help after graduating and trust me, your parents will be much more willing if you aren’t sucking them dry the entire way through. Plus, you’ll start feeling like more of an adult after being independent. I can’t stress this enough! Yeah, the first apartment I could afford on my own may not have been amazing, but I appreciated it because it was mine and I worked for it.

12.        Your first major financial or medical emergency after graduating will be terrifying and it will always come at the worst possible time (right between jobs, after a big debt has been paid off, middle of the holiday season, etc.). Take a deep breath and look through payment plan options. You’ll feel like you’re drowning but if you take it one step at a time, more than likely you’ll be okay. It’ll make you appreciate all your parents did for you growing up even more too.

13.        Always make time for fun. Some parts of adult life feel so serious and as you stop understanding slang and your teenage siblings tell you that you’re not cool anymore, you’ll feel old once or twice. Life post-college is stressful, yes, but it’s not all bad. Find joy in the little things and give yourself things to look forward to.

14.        Being in your twenties is a weird time in that people all around you will feel like they can have input in your life, almost more so than in college. When are you going to get married? Kids? A house? A better managed 401K? It will be annoying and overwhelming. Smile, laugh it off, and tell people you’re doing your best. Know your family is only trying to help even if it is maddening.

15.        For the most part, it gets better. Trust me. You’ll fall and stumble more than once but the best thing you can do is embrace the struggle and lean into it. No one has life all figured out, so don’t be too hard on yourself to have all the answers within 30 days of walking across that stage. Get to know you and everything will be okay, I honestly promise.
From graduating
To struggling

To sort of "making it work"

Friday, April 24, 2015

My "Prom Proposal" Was Different...and Perfect.

I have a little story to share with everyone. As prom season fast approaches, I’m seeing articles on Facebook and Buzzfeed daily about extravagant “prom proposals.” I keep searching my brain and I can’t remember anyone my age getting a prom proposal in high school. That may be because:
·        Our generation skipped that whole thing?
·        I went to an all-girls school so you either went with your boyfriend or a friend from Marquette.
·        I was entirely oblivious to the entire prom process.

To say I was an awkward child always has been an understatement. No men paid me much attention until I got into college and even then my short boy cut wasn't doing me any favors. I had my go-to date though for dances: Justin Hartman.

Justin was one of the few people I stayed in contact with from middle school. He was always nice, a bit eccentric, and was one of my first crushes (this was before my Gaydar was effective in any way…). Justin was the perfect dance date because he was a great dancer, a fun time, and he actually cared about color coordinating. He attended many a dance with me and I always loved when he came along to DSHA functions. I’ll never forget his go-to skinny black tie.

Prom time was a strange time for me for multiple reasons. On April 10th of that year, I got an email saying I had been nominated for prom queen. Look at pictures of me from that time and tell me that wasn't shocking news. It was a great pick-me-up since I had just failed my first road test. I remember my mom was thrilled at the prospect her daughter could be a prom queen.

The next morning my mom died suddenly.

Prom was about two weeks after my mom passed and having fun was the last thing on my mind. When you experience a great tragedy, even if you’re trying hard to ignore the entire event, you walk through life with a fog around you. I already had my dress before my mom died but the idea of planning for prom was no longer something I thought about. There were no discussion of a limo, no giant after-parties I thought I would attend, and very flimsy prom group plans among my friends.

The week after my mom’s funeral, I got a text from Justin that he wanted to meet up for ice cream. This wasn't that unusual; I had been getting these messages from people frequently checking in on me. I was strangely quiet as we sat. I remember I didn't want to talk to him but it was nice to be sitting in silence with a friend.

By that point, I was sick of talking about my mom. Grieving is hard enough without hundreds of sets of eyes on you constantly. She was a staple in the community and I felt like people kept projecting their own feelings of loss over my mom onto me. Her funeral mainly consisted of me hugging and consoling people rather than the other way around. I was exhausted. I felt like people were pitying me and staring at me at school and all I wanted to do was hide. For once, I didn't like being the center of attention.

Justin smiled, “So, Prom. What are we doing?”
“Well, I know you've been busy for obvious reasons, but we haven’t even talked about prom yet. Isn’t it coming up in a couple weeks?”
“Well yeah, but…”
“It’s, okay, I've been thinking about it. I’m going to see if I can get us a cool car to drive there in…”
“Wait, what makes you think I’m automatically going to invite you?” I teased.
He smirked, “Honey please, who else were you going to take? Obviously we’re going together.”
(He pulled a giant Men’s Warehouse catalog from his lap and dropped it on the table.)
“Now, let’s talk colors. You told me you have a dark blue dress, so I’m thinking of going with yellow, like this color here…”

At this point in my life, everything felt like it was crumbling around me. I felt like I was walking through the rubble and trying not to fall and break my ankle. Home was depressing and everyone around we was walking on egg shells worried they were going to turn me into a blubbering mess. Justin gave me something great in that moment. His bluntness over prom and the refocusing of my attention was exactly what I needed.

A couple days later, a loose lipped family member let slip I had been chosen as prom queen (you’re obviously not supposed to know about that beforehand). I remember I was so foggy in that time I forgot to get him a boutonniere until the day of (now that I think about it, he may have ended up having to buy his own). Justin, on the other hand, handed me on prom day the most flamboyant, loud, entirely fabulous wrist corsage I’d ever seen. There were yellow roses, blue feathers, and a blue sequined wristband.

That night was amazing from start to finish. I had a great supportive group of friends as my “prom family” and Justin was the perfect date. Few moments were more exciting than walking down the steps at the Tripoli Shrine Center in Milwaukee with Justin on my arm, pretending that I didn't know what was going on. We danced the night away; I distinctly remember Justin getting frustrated at my total lack of swing-dance-abilities.
My favorite prom memory still is Justin stealing my prom queen crown and prancing through the event to the confusion of many women around me.

That prom corsage stayed attached to my bedpost for the next two years. I still have the crown on our dresser at home and may or may not wear it around the house when I’m feeling down. Was I made prom queen because I was the girl whose mom just died? Maybe, but I had a remarkable night regardless. I do still love people’s reactions when I tell them I was a prom queen. I’m frequently told I’m “not the type.”

So maybe I didn't get a big fancy prom proposal. Maybe my dress did cost $30 off a sales rack from the year before and had little snowflakes on it even though prom was in April. Maybe my dad did drive us both after Justin’s car plans fell through. And maybe I did get through prom without being about to find a single drop of alcohol. The prom I ended up having though was ten times better, and 90% of that was thanks to Justin.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Reflection on the Last Thirteen Years

How long has it been since I've blogged? Holy crap. I realize, as many times as I've alluded to or described it briefly in the past, I've never written in depth about my own mental health issues. I've always had a bit of an issue with being open in this area in my life for a multitude of reasons. But I feel like it's time I gave it a shot, not for anyone in particular, but for me. As most things with this blog, I write it for me and hope the occasional person will read mildly narcissistic as that may be. Isn't blogging just that to a certain extent? Anyways...

After I graduated college, I didn't expect the numbness toward being creative that I found. Creative writing for the heck of it felt impossible and my work life didn't do much to help. I was a waitress, working odd hours and sleeping when most were awake. When I did have a spare second, I used to it to try to figure out how to get a better job and finance a move to Illinois.

The summer after graduating, I took myself off the medication I had been on since I was around eleven. Mandatory warning: I do not suggest anyone do this on his or her own. It's dangerous and should only be done with doctor supervision or with a doctor's suggestion. Toward the end of my senior year, my doctor at the time pointed out most of my mental health symptoms had subsided or were well regulated, so I should consider weaning myself off the drugs.

The very thought was terrifying to me; they were my security blanket and I didn't want to let them go. I had heard horror story on horror story of people deciding they were fine and going on benders that ruined their lives. Now, for a bit of background.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at a young age, both by circumstance and a genetic predisposition. At sixteen I was diagnosed with PTSD from events in my childhood, though I only got counseling for it specifically when I got to college my freshman year. All the while, from ages 15-22, I was also self-harming. Even as my other mental health issues were under control, the self-harm addition persisted though the end of college.

I've been described by a lot of people as an open person, though the truth is my openness is more of a shield than anything. If you share far too much information about yourself, people won't ask you questions about the things you want to avoid. My subjects of choice? My struggles with mental health and specifically suicide and self-harm.

I don't have a problem talking about depression and anxiety. The average person knows at least a bit about both and though there are definite stigmas wrapped around both, society has come a long way. I promised myself at the age of thirteen never to discuss suicidal thoughts and eventually learned not to talk about cutting either.

I watched one too many movies where characters end up in a psychiatric ward from which they never escape. I already felt a lot of guilt surrounding my depression/anxiety, feeling like I was a burden to people, and thus never discussed my encounters with suicide with my parents. My mom was pretty perceptive and I think she guessed some things, but never confronted me directly about it.

My first suicidal "moment" happened when I was thirteen. What brought it about is not important; what is important was how close I came. My letter was written, erased, and rewritten. I had about half of my funeral  planned in detail (even in my darkest times, I was still irrationally organized). I had two or three concrete plans and what they were aren't important either.

There's a lot of shame in suicide but also a lot of fear. The fear is of being found out, not of death. If someone finds out you're at that edge, they'll try to help and then you won't get to end everything. You feel hyper-rational when you're suicidal and if you focus on it enough it's actually a rather terrifying feeling. It's something I have found difficult to snap out of but I know how it feels when it's coming on.

I'm not entirely sure what pulled me out of that dark place at that age, but I have a rough idea. I started setting small goals for myself or things to look forward to. "Oh, you can't kill yourself, you're going on that field trip next week!" "Wait, not yet, the dance next week will be fun!" I never believed in much of an afterlife so the idea I was going to miss out on impending events was enough to take my life day by day until the clouds slowly dissipated. Does that sound dark and messed up? Because it is.

From there I was fine until this past year. I had defeated the suicide monster for ten years before she reeled her ugly head again. I was a little over a year out of college and my life felt stuck. I was struggling as a waitress and bank teller, working long days and my free time was solo and lonely. Wandering a mall at 11am on a Wednesday is rather depressing. I had an amazing boyfriend who was supportive and loving, but I felt like I was touching my life with thick gloves. I couldn't connect.

I'm a great liar; it's something you learn to perfect when you cut, when you're depressed, when you're feeling like you're losing control. I smile a lot, almost too much to be fair, so even the man I was closest to couldn't see it. I came close, closer than I thought I would after teetering on that cliff so long ago. What pulled me back? Similar to last time with small goals, but as silly as it sounds, Luke helped me immensely. His constant love and support, never judgement, has made all the difference.

Cutting was the same thing. I started when I was fifteen, a result of not yet diagnosed PTSD and a lack of knowledge of how to handle flashbacks. I remember telling my mom when I was sixteen about it and she didn't react in the best way. She cried a lot but she blamed me to an extent, saying something along the lines of, "Why do you keep causing more problems?" I know she didn't mean it, that it was said out of frustration, but it hurt. I stopped and kept clean for almost two years, but that's when the addiction took hold. I did it once because I was stressed out and about something silly and college-y that wasn't a big deal and it felt good. It felt really good. Down the rabbit hole I went.

I told few people about my cutting over the following years, close friends and more random acquaintances. I never gave much detail and I'm not sure if I knew what I wanted to happen as a result. Sometimes, when you have a secret, it blurts itself out in very obtuse ways. Most everyone's reaction was the obvious one: take sharp things away from me and suggest I seek help. After seeing numerous psychiatrists over the years, I was done with the therapy thing; I lied too much to do it honestly. I hated that "admitting" moment with people; it's scary. To me it felt like I was admitting defeat, that I wasn't smart enough to keep my mouth shut, and that I was looking for attention. That last one stings the most.

I despise sympathy to an almost unhealthy level. I hate asking or getting help from people for personal issues and would rather go it alone 99% of the time (I'm trying to get better at this). Relationships came and went, almost all of them experiencing the cutting with me and one point or another and they all tried to help...which makes sense. For some reason though, once people try to help, it only makes me try to push them away or hide it better. Didn't say it made much sense, did I?

Luke was partially the reason I stopped cutting. I've had a few slip ups over the last two years, but I still consider myself two years clean. I remember the first time I cut in our relationship and I texted him; I don't know why. I wasn't looking for sympathy but it had been a long time since I'd picked up a knife and I was scared. For the first time, my addiction was actively scaring me and I couldn't "control" it. A couple hours later I opened the front door and he was standing there with a bouquet of flowers.The tag said, "Happiness Bouquet."

Inquisitively, I looked at him and he said, "Because you deserve to be happy." No rifling though my things to take so much as tweezers from me, no lecture, just love. This isn't to say everyone else's attempts before him were bad; this is just the one that stuck. Between that and my recent suicidal episode, the look on his face when he learns how badly I'm hurting is the most devastating thing I've ever seen.

With all of this background knowledge now, you can see why I was scared to pull the plug, so to speak, on my medication. With a few exceptions, life without medication feels...different. Most of my adolescence was spent medicated, and it's not something I blame my parents for at all. There were times in my life that if I had been without it, I probably would have died. They did what was best for me at the time.

After two years, I feel like most of the drugs are out of my system. The first few months I didn't notice much because that stuff can linger for quite a while, especially after over a decade of use. Eventually though I noticed a few negative things:

  • I freak out more easily than I did before.
  • Smaller things stress me out quickly.
  • Random things can get be down for a day or two for no real reason.
  • My brain feels more frantic if too much is going on.
The most recent suicidal episode was the first time I tried to face that demon head on with no help. And I made it out okay. It was the most blatant answer for me that I was doing the right thing. Though there are some negatives, the good greatly outweigh the bad:
  • My brain feels "clearer."
  • I don't have to worry about forgetting my medication.
  • No more concerns about medications interacting with another.
  • I feel creative again.
That last one has been the most important thing for me. I was creative throughout all of my schooling, yes, but that was partly fueled by the academic atmosphere I was in. Being in high school and especially college, being surrounded by a bunch of talented people makes you want to better yourself. That's one of the biggest slaps in the face when you graduate: no one is there anymore to see if you are trying.

For the first time since I've graduated I'm feeling creative again. I started early this year with cross-stitching. Then, I started baking cookies. Now I'm reading again. All of this is slowly inching me closer to the pen and paper (or Word document more realistically). Is it because of the medication? Because I've finally gotten over the post-college blues? Because I have a job I'm comfortable in and makes me feel fulfilled? Because I live in a great house with a supportive partner and feel happy in general?

Maybe. Most likely, it's a combination of all of the above. I've spent the better part of my life facing demons and monsters around every corner. I'm not sure what to do sometimes without the constant struggle. When life feels settled, something always ends up happening and WOOSH! I'm headed for a tail-spin. But most of all, I've spent most of my time in this life denying my issues to the world.

I hate talking about problems, REAL problems. It makes me feel whiny, weak, and generally like a worthless person. I have this intense fear of being a burden to anyone ever. I'm not going to start spewing my level of happiness for everyone and it will still take me a while before I can freely express my lows. With this new-found stability though, it seems as good as any a time to start. I can't keep denying my struggles to others or to myself or I'll end up in those dark places again. And next time, I might not get out.

My name is Molly. I'm a 24 year old woman who is a dreadful combination of self-esteem issues and overconfidence. I love my dog, my boyfriend, and my job. I struggle with depression and anxiety. I've overcome PTSD and a seven year self-harm addiction. I've come back from two suicidal episodes with a new appreciation on life.

I am a survivor.