Autobiography · Mental Health · Personal Development · Relationships

Worth

I’m not sure where it started. A seed planted by someone when I was a kid took root and wrapped itself around everything I learned to believe. This sense of worthlessness. Of being unlovable. Of “if only I were more/less…” thought patterns. If I could just get mentally healthy. If I could just exercise more. If I could just lose weight. If I could just be less jealous, funnier, easier going, better looking, more feminine. The lists went on. Journals full of it, books covering every aspect of how to “improve” myself. My worth tied to a version of myself that never existed. That never would.

This feeling sabotaged relationships from the inside. Sunk its filthy claws into my life and didn’t let go. Colored everything in its image. The impossibility of ever being a capable, lovable, powerful person seemed more fact than opinion. I did not take anything as evidence to the contrary. My entire existence pointed to the truth that I was not worth loving. That I needed to be better before anyone would do that. Before I could do that.

As I packed for my upcoming move I threw away those books. I tossed those journals. I cleared my cabinets of all the little pieces of memorabilia hinting to the fact that I need to be something I am not. All those bullshit motivational magazines. The fabric tape measurers, the food and bathroom scale, the diet plans and lifting regimens. All those letters I wrote to myself about how once I am properly medicated and go through enough therapy someone will want to stay with me. Promises of tomorrows that will find me worthy of existing. Overwhelming and unachievable goals of someday being someone other than who I am. Of someday being the kind of person this or that person would want to love. Would want to keep. I walked them all outside and dropped them in the trash. Take it to the curb on Friday. Never invite them back in.

The shift happened gradually. The acceptance that I am good. Worthy. That I am not broken or in need of fixing. That I don’t need to do anything, change anything in order to be a person other people want. That I want. I am the person I am and I am deserving of every goodness in my life. Nothing and no one can rob me of that.

It does not matter that I’m not a svelte athlete. That I will never grow my hair out. That I wear make up most days because I like the way I look in it. That I’m queer even though I don’t feel like I’m queer “enough”. That I’ve slept with someone who was married when they weren’t married to me. That I used to drink and use drugs and forget about my friends. That I don’t have a petite frame. That I’m the jealous type. That sometimes I like to blow everything off and watch Netflix for hours. That I’ve lied because I thought someone would like me more for it. That I’ve started and stopped running regularly more times in my life than I can recall and will probably do it more. That I used to be able to deadlift 200 pounds, but now haven’t lifted anything in almost a year. That I’m divorced. That I don’t want a “real” job because I love working in customer service. That I dropped out of college. That I talk and laugh way too loud. That I love having my photo taken even though it makes me feel vain. That sometimes I still cry over relationships that didn’t work out. That I said “I love you” obscenely soon to my current partner. That I love to cook, but not for myself. That sometimes I really just want to listen to Top 40 pop songs. That I don’t like to go hiking. That I pour my soul out to strangers on the Internet, but often don’t know how to talk about my feelings to my friends.

All that matters is that I understand that each piece of me is decent and valuable and worthwhile. That I am a good person, an excellent friend, capable and deserving of love regardless of all the reasons I think I am not. And even on the days I have trouble believing it, I have to still know it. To listen only to the part of me that looks at myself like my partner does. Like there is nothing about me that needs changing. That each piece is loved and understood and accepted. A scarred and worn package containing an impenetrable goodness that does not have to be earned or fought for or proven. That exists simply because I do. Because my heart still beats and my breath still pumps in my chest. Just like yours.

Photo courtesy of veeterzy.

Autobiography · Mental Health · Relationships

Move

"run" © telmo32, 2010. CC BY-ND 2.0.
run” © telmo32, 2010. CC BY-ND 2.0.

On Sunday, August 2, 2015 a man threw himself from the building my apartment faced. I didn’t see it, but it didn’t matter. The seed was planted. I’d stand at my window and stare up at his balcony, imagining myself crawling over its cool railing. Every building and overpass became a jumping off point. I was ready.

Mason held me close to his chest and cried quietly. Whispered weak words about how I promised never to leave. So I started going to therapy twice a week. I saw a psychiatrist for the first time in my life. I quit my job and had serious talks about hospitalization. Every night I had to text my therapist to let him know I was still breathing. Anything to keep my feet on the ground beneath me.

Nadine and I took long walks around the lake and didn’t say much of anything. She just held a safe space for me. Let me know it was okay to not be okay. Let me know how much she loved–still loves–me.

By the end of October we’d moved out of that building, out of that city full of skyscrapers I couldn’t help but imagine myself climbing. More and different medications. New therapist. New psychiatrist. I kept trying, but I was still slipping. Changing places didn’t change anything. We both knew it wouldn’t, but what else were we supposed to be trying?

In December I moved back to my hometown. Alone. I slept in my parent’s spare room. And in mid-February I was finally cut loose by the words, “I want a divorce.” Found an apartment. Kept making weekly trips back down to Portland to see my therapist. Checked in every four weeks for medication management. Slowly started building a foundation without Mason. Tried to learn how to keep my head above water with no one to help me swim.

It’s amazing what you find yourself capable of when you have no other options.

No other options. I’d always believed I had an out. Always assumed eventually I would give into the call of balconies. The allure of tall buildings. But the medication was starting to work. And my therapist believed in me. And I reached out to my family. And I finally didn’t feel like a burden in my own home. My feet remained strong under me.

For whatever reason, it stopped feeling like everything was my fault. I was a victim of poor brain chemistry. There was nothing wrong with me. The world began engaging me. It was straight up terrifying. Strange things happen when you start to believe in your own abilities. You start catching yourself thinking that the difficult things in life are not caused by your short-comings.

Fell into a relationship. Climbed back out again. Kept telling myself that this new life wouldn’t be like the last one. It would be better. Strong and stable. That this time I really would learn to do it different. It was time to row the boat ashore. Time to prove it.

I am not in the in-betweens anymore. Not caught up in a rebound. Not waiting for my now ex-husband to finally show up on my porch and beg for me back. Not hoping I could somehow get pieces of my old life into my reality. Now I’m in it. Committed. This is the new normal now.

And so my medication management gets transferred from a psychiatrist to my primary care physician. And my therapist tells me it’s time to start thinking about what “long-term maintenance” is going to look like. And for the first time in my life, the people around me are telling me that I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. And I believe them. I believe me. I got this.

At a Target I try on a shirt that doesn’t fit me and I do not blame my body, I blame the clothing. That’s when it occurs to me that I am not the person I used to be. Not at all. Not in the least. Because I used to know I was broken. Unlovable and worthless. I used to know I was staying alive as a favor to those around me. But that wasn’t it, was it?

No.

As we drive to dinner my new partner plays me “Teleprompters” by The Uncluded. And Kimya Dawson is singing to me, “I say these messages to you, but now I need to hear them to. I am beautiful. I am powerful. I am strong. And I am loveable.” And for whatever reason I believe her. I know her. I feel her. And it is not dependant on what my lover thinks about me. It is not hinging on how good of a writer I am. Or how often I call my parents. Or what I see in the mirror or where I’ve been or what I do. It is not something I have to fight to earn. It’s just true.

“I am beautiful. I am powerful. I am strong. And I am loveable.”

I’m sorry I didn’t believe you when you said it to me. I’m sorry you left before I learned it. But I am not sorry that it turned out this way. I’m not sorry for the road we had to take to get here. We couldn’t have done it any other way, right?

My counterpart reaches across the car and squeezes my leg and I don’t want to be anywhere else. I don’t want to be anyone else. I just want to drive with him and be exactly who I am.

At the stoplight he leans over to kiss me. He whispers he loves me while hovering a quarter of an inch from my face. And I do not question it. I do not wonder why. I just think, “Yes. I want to live my life like this.” Yes. I want to live my life.

Autobiography · Writing

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IMG_0068
Seattle, WA 2015.

My dear readers,

I’m going through a very difficult time in my personal life right now and I’ve decided to take a break from blogging. I need some space to focus on myself, to figure out my true hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Know I sincerely appreciate all your love, support, and compassion. We’ll talk soon.

Ruby