Autobiography · Personal Development · Relationships

Strength

We sit in his car and I wipe tears away with my coat sleeve. I’m reminded of how my Portland therapist taught me the difference between being tough and being strong. The difference between acting like nothing hurts and knowing things will hurt, but doing them anyway.

My best friend tells me my heart is always going in fifty directions. That is must be hard if not impossible to follow something like that.

On the wall in the restaurant two signs hang next to each other. One reads “be strong” while the other “be gentle”. Finally I’m at the place in my life where those two demands do not seem at odds with each other.

In his apartment I wrap my arms around his waist and hold him as close to me as I can. One part pride, one part relief, two parts heartbreak. I cling tightly to the idea that wanting different things does not make either of us undeserving people, just not right for this partnership. And I can’t help but feel a little swell in my chest when I think about finally standing up for what I want in life. But no, that doesn’t make it easier when we kiss at the door, say “I love you”, and I walk out for the last time.

It’s a new kind of ache. One where I stand with my feet firmly planted. It does not question or try to pull in any particular direction. I know what I want and I know if that’s the way I’m heading. Know when it’s time to change course. Narrow my vision. Finally honest.

I think about having children in the next couple years and begin to look at all my options. Think about the things I want to do that don’t involve a partner. Think about my past relationships and what works and what doesn’t. What builds me up and what immobilizes me. Think about how to do this all differently. It’s my dreams. It’s my job. It’s my sobriety. All of this. This belongs to me. And if I don’t want to, I don’t have to share it with anybody.

An interesting feeling. Walking on the ground with my own two feet. Not tip-toeing around anybody. Not sieving everything through someone else’s list of wants and needs. And for the first time it does not feel selfish or pointless. It feels like taking care of me. And that feels… Worthwhile. Finally.

Photo courtesy of Ray Hennessy.

Autobiography · Relationships

Decisions

Inside the clock” © “Rachel Pasch, 2009. CC BY-NC 2.0.

“Keep the rubber side down,” he said. Bicyclist slang for, “Be safe.” I had to look it up.

Felt more like a demand than a request. A way to assert dominance. My molars clamped down on each other and I pressed my tongue hard against the roof of my mouth, eyes narrowing.

“No,” I whispered, “he didn’t mean it like that. Of course he didn’t.” I shook my head and tried to stop the line of thinking I was about to follow.

But my neurons were already firing off in the same way they had been for years. I caught myself wanting to say, “You’d like that? Wouldn’t you?” All spit and vinegar. All angry teenage girl seething, “I do what I want to do.”

I wanted to lash out at every person who has ever assumed I took their opinions or desires into consideration when making my decisions. Who thought their preferences were floating around in my head while I debated what to do, what to wear, how to cut my hair, what scent to put on in the morning.

“No, actually. You never crossed my mind at all.”

When I dropped out of Berkeley my ex reached out to me and said he understood. That Cal wasn’t what he thought it would be, either. Followed with, “But why don’t you just admit you’re not cut out for it? That you only went there to spite me.”

To this day, my skin crawls when I think about it. How he could think–months after our break up–that my choices were bound to him.

Nobody spends that much time thinking about you, kid.

Thinking about me.

That’s the only consolation we get, isn’t it? The realization that no one spends their days wondering if what they’re doing is okay with us. That most hurts, joys, disappointments, heartbreaks, and wonderful surprises are all decided by chance.

Very few things in life are done to lift you up or to hurt you. You just happen to be there at the time.

It’s empowering and soul-crushing. We are small and insignificant. We can do anything without making much of a difference. May as well do what we want. Love fiercely and risk everything. Work hard and learn all we can. No one is watching.

This one’s for me.

Autobiography

Running, growing, and rap music

"rune" © Alessandro Pautasso, 2009. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
run” © Alessandro Pautasso, 2009. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The past two weeks I’ve been only just functioning. December’s introduction left me incapacitated and stumbling. Wrapped in a blanket, curled up on the couch. This week I managed to pull myself from the apartment with unwashed hair and dirty fingernails. All hazy around the edges, my heart and my head were only half-way there. The kind of week I have trouble even remembering. My word. I know, I swear, I did things.

My exercise weeks start on Thursdays. Wednesday’s scheduled rest day has had a tendency to bleed into two or five days lately. My body has no idea how to go about sleeping these days. Running and trips to the gym get scrapped for sleeping in, cups of coffee, and promises to get it done this afternoon. There is always an excuse to find later. I know I have to trick myself to going outside before I even have a chance to think about it. Can’t fall for that, “Oh, come on, you have all day.” I know that isn’t true. Plus, I’ve always preferred the morning. Continue reading →