Thursday, March 27, 2008

Looking Forward, But Not Too Quickly

Volleyball was awesome tonight, despite losing both games. I really enjoy playing in the 4v4 league; it gives me a chance to experience a higher level of competition and attempt to perfect my sets and overhand serves.

I love sports. I love getting sweaty and dirty and experiencing that exercise high after a good workout. I crave that sense of release after a tough match. No matter what happened during the work day, I try to leave it on the side of the court... though sometimes a piss-poor day at work makes for great serves. I tend to get quiet on the court if I've had a rough day; I just want to focus on the game and not goof off as much.

I can't wait to play soccer again. Disney has finally caved and is having a Cast Co-ed 5v5 Soccer Tournament in May. Jolyon and I have recruited some players, so hopefully we'll be able to participate. I'm hoping the interest in hosting a tournament will result in the organization of an actual Disney league. That would be the ultimate; I'd quit softball in a heartbeat to play soccer again.

I'm thinking about giving up softball this fall and coaching soccer again. I really enjoyed playing soccer with the kids and attempting to teach them basic skills. It was an oddly comforting sensation, because it still doesn't seem all that long ago that I was being taught those skills at the town soccer clinics when I was nine years old. In fact, all my soccer memories are remarkably clear in my head, yet memories of my parents' divorce and deaths of loved ones are harder to conjure up. Strange.

I liked how the kids looked up to me. They listened (for the most part) to what I had to say, and a few of them even asked questions, or exclaimed, "Hey, Coach Shelly, watch me!" While I grew frustrated when some of them would spend more time climbing the fences on the sidelines instead of watching the game, I saw myself in those kids. I saw me: the grass-stained, dirty shirt-wearing tomboy with a boy's haircut.

I miss that girl sometimes.

In some ways, though, I'm still the tomboy I was when I was growing up. I would much rather adorn a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt and play a sport with the boys... volleyball, soccer, softball, tennis, floor hockey, basketball, racketball.... anything, really.

I miss the fall. Jolyon and I would call up Ant, Sandy, and James on a moment's notice to gather a group for some pick-up soccer at Mickey's Retreat. We had a good group on last year's softball team... not that I'm not enjoying it this season.... but something about the team last year just felt different.

But I can't dwell on the past, because the present is pretty damn good at the moment. I'm just trying to take this one day at a time, which isn't normally my style. I'm usually several steps ahead, constantly planning and wondering and hoping and worrying. Not this time, though.

This is delicate and fragile, and while it's clearly too late to "take it slow," I'm still going to try to do so in my head.

We're both scared. But this has been developing for 7 months now. The initial cupcake-melting. Universal Studios. Pirates of the Caribbean. Karaoke nights. Post game Celebration lake-walks. Halloween Horror Nights. Equilibrium. Lunch dates. Late-night chats. Bug higs. You're so backwards, it's amazing. Zombie-killing. Econo-mixes. New Zealand. The Orlando Public Library. Cleat-shopping. Hokey-pokey ice cream. The Halloween party. Kayaking on St. John's River. Cirque du Soleil. Cici's Pizza. Conserving Water.

Just to name a few...

Open and honest, that's our motto. We have never had an issue with that before, so it shouldn't be any different now. I used to say, "here's me confronting you..." and I would tell him exactly what I was thinking at that moment. We are able to be uniquely ourselves in one another's presence; we don't need to try to impress the other. He challenges me and isn't afraid to state his opinion. I'm not afraid to get angry at him or call him out when he upsets me. Playful banter turns to philosophical discussions. We have always had an amazing level of communication.

We fell for each other in September... October... November... December... but the timing was never right. Yet that didn't stop us from living in the moment. (Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.)

Are things going to change between us now? I don't think that's possible. A connection this powerful can't be interrupted. It can only get better.

"I'll take care of you," he says.

She responds, "We'll take care of each other."

We'll see what happens.

Food for Thought

If you saw someone on the street who was slightly obese, would you remark to them, "Wow! You're so fat!"?

Didn't think so.

So then why does that make it acceptable for someone to comment on a thin person's weight (or lack there of)?

I am thin. I am aware of this. I have been thin my entire life, thanks to a high metabolism and a life style that includes too many sports to list. I don't need constant reminders of my weight. Hard to digest (pun intended), but it is easy to be thin and be self-conscious about your weight.

While I like my body, there are days when comments like "man, eat a sandwich, will ya?" and "Shelly's so skinny, she'd probably just blow away if the wind was stronger" really get to me. Especially these days, when my weight has been fluctuating due to stress.

I hate how being skinny automatically equates to the idea that we don't eat enough. I wish some people would simply take that extra second to think before speaking.

Sometimes I like to go to a public place--be it a mall, a park, or a movie theater-- just to watch people. People are fascinating. Their mannerisms and personalities, for starters. And the way they hide their true selves from passersby... they saunter through with a fake smile, all the while dwelling on the death of a loved one, or the knowledge that they have made a mistake of some kind.

We are all hiding something. Hiding our insecurities from the world. Hiding deep secrets and other skeletons. Hiding our true thoughts and feelings.

Hiding what makes us human.

We are all hiding, and whether we admit to it or not determines your level of self-awareness. So, be kind. Every person is fighting some sort of battle that you know nothing about.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Have The Right To...

The following list is supposedly universal. I have already identified, in my mind, the points that I have trouble accepting as a "right." Which ones would pose an issue for you? No need to answer... but it does make you think.

Personal Bill of Rights

~ I have the right to ask for what I want.

~ I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can't meet.

~ I have the right to express all of my feelings--positive or negative.

~ I have the right to change my mind.

~ I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.

~ I have the right to follow my own values and standards.

~ I have the right to say no to anything when I feel it is unsafe or it violates my values.

~ I have the right to determine my own priorities.

~ I have the right to not be responsible for others' behaviors, actions, feelings, or problems.

~ I have the right to expect honesty from others.

~ I have the right to be angry with someone I love.

~ I have the right to be uniquely myself.

~ I have the right to feel scared and say "I'm afraid."

~ I have the right to say, "I don't know."

~ I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.

~ I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.

~ I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.

~ I have the right to be playful and frivolous.

~ I have the right to be healthier than those around me.

~ I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.

~ I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.

~ I have the right to change and grow.

~ I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.

~ I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

~ I have the right to be happy.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Parental Support

What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories. ~George Eliot

Depicted above is a photo of Dawn (my stepmother), myself, and my dad, which was taken this weekend during an overnight at my grandparents' house in The Villages. My thoughts are tainted due to some sleeping pills, but I wanted to post this photo and say a few words before I drift off to sleep.

I love my family. I had an amazing in-depth conversation with my parents yesterday afternoon, while we were touring around Celebration. I completely opened up to them in ways that I had never been able to before. I told them aspects of my recent past that I have been hiding from most of the world. They didn't judge me, scold me, or ask why. They simply listened and gave me advice, sharing stories of their pasts, as well. I learned more about my parents yesterday than I probably ever wanted to know, but it's comforting to realize and understand that my complications and revelations are normal. My father's opinion is extremely important to me, and to hear him tell me exactly what I wanted and needed to hear was simply elevating.

As we get older, and our lives essentially more complicated and 'real', we often forget that our parents have probably experienced more than we think. They are an incredible resource whom we often overlook. We seek counseling from friends and professionals before we even consider talking to our parents, especially when it comes to typically taboo topics such as sex and relationships. Why do we do this? Do we fear being judged? Are we afraid that we're going to disappoint them? Are we simply just too embarassed to admit the truth of our lives to our own flesh and blood?

Our parents bring us into this world; they introduce us to love, companionship, and happiness. They provide us with the foundation needed to live a fruitful life. They nurture us to the best of their ability before releasing us into the world in which we will inevitably make mistakes. They cannot prepare us for everything that life entails, but they create the mold for us to fill. Parents have the difficult choice of letting their children make mistakes on their own, or butting in to offer advice based on their own experiences. They wrestle within themselves the distinctions between teaching, guiding, and dictating.

Confide in your parents. They are the link to your past, the serenity of your present, and the foundation for your future.

The informality of family life is a blessed condition that allows us to become our best while looking our worst. ~Marge Kennedy

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Trust in Love

I need to pay homage to a nother blog I recently read. The following exerpt really hit home for me, particularly because of a conversation I had with a friend.

The blog exerpt:
The most significant expression of trust is one that can only be come to over time, and even then, the simple passage of time is no guarantee of ever getting to this stage. This trust is the willingness to make yourself vulnerable to someone else. To open up wholeheartedly and let that other person inside of you, thereby exposing your faults, weaknesses, insecurities, shortcomings, fears, doubts, and every other horrible thing that you are too afraid to share with almost anyone else, lest they judge you or think less of you for it. By doing so, you are trusting this person completely. You have given them the ability to strike at you in your most vulnerable places, and the knowledge that any such attack would be sure to cut deeply.

This trust should not be given lightly, because the repercussions of misplaced trust at this level can be devastating. How ironic that the people we care about most are also the ones who have the ability to cause us the most pain and anguish. But really, it has to be this way. In order to truly feel connected with someone, it requires that amount of trust and openness. There is a necessity to feel safe with that person. To feel valued and loved for who you really are - faults and all. Only when we are appreciated for who we are in our entirety can we feel truly content. This is the great risk/reward of ultimate trust.

On the one hand, if this trust were ever to be abused, it promises horrible pain and can lead to serious doubts about our self worth inflicted upon us by those who we used to hold dear - making the feeling of betrayal that much worse. For some people, this fear may be too much.

But on the other hand, this supreme trust offers the promise of greater self affirmation and a renewed sense of self worth, made possible through the confirmation that though we may not be perfect, we may still be exactly what someone else is looking for. And no matter how self confident or sure of one's self that someone may be, there is still no substitute for the unqualified love of another, which inspires trust of this sort. It changes us in ways that nothing else can, and allows us to become more than we ever would otherwise. This type of trust is always a two-way street, allowing us not only to share ourselves, but to gain insight into someone else.

From this exchange of trust, we can take comfort in those common weaknesses and experiences that we have both shared. We find solace in the knowledge that we are not alone in suffering and doubt - that even those whom we admire most must also face the same doubts and insecurities that we ourselves struggle with. This knowledge alone is valuable and often serves to bring us closer together. Without trust, it would not be possible.

I have commented on this person's writing already, expressing my thanks for the insightful words. It's refreshing to scroll through my daily list of blog pals and read an entry such as this one. Most of my friends' blogs are littered with self-depricating thoughts and accounts of tragedies in life and love (myself included, naturally). While I do enjoy immersing myself in my friends' personal lives by reading their blogs (thus not directly involving myself, but still feeling somewhat connected to them), it's almost a relief to read entries in which the writer simply chooses a topic and goes with it. I hope to get back to doing that myself.... someday.

I agree with the exerpt I have included in this post. It's impossible to completely connect with another human being without fully opening yourself up to them, thus inviting the potential to get hurt. This means being 100% honest and open with that person.... expressing your true wants and desires, at the risk of appearing unattractive to the other person.

We fear this concept in intimate relationships. We are terrified of exposing less desireable qualities to another person, fearing that it will taint the level of adoration once held by the admirer. We are scared to commit, to trust, to allow ourselves to fully love another human being, and receive love in return. We are afraid of the pain that we might cause another. Or worse, we are afraid of the pain we might experience ourselves.

"I'm not perfect," someone might say.

The other will respond, "I know. But that doesn't mean you aren't perfect for me."

Take the chance of getting hurt, or hurting someone if that person is willing to trust you. I have been hurt countless times, whether the pain stemmed from a friendship or intimate relationship. I do not fear this pain, because it meant that I was able to trust another person with my faults and weaknesses, ultimately accepting those faults. I will gladly take the potential pain and suffering for the opportunity to experience a human connection so deep and powerful that both people end up in tears over the emotions they have just shared with each other.

I will not stop trusting. This is truly the only way to become close to another. I refuse to continue living a life full of "what ifs." I refuse to be a martyr and allow someone else to pursue what I have wanted all along.

I need to start today.

What if I had told him I how I truly felt when I first felt it? What if I had stopped denying that I wasn't interested and allowed myself to fall sooner? What if I had been honest from the start-- would my life be different right now?

What if. What if. What if.

Like the writer said above-- the people we care about the most have the power to hurt us the most. This is the risk we take when we enter into a deep friendship or intimate relationship. There is no way around it. For someone to fully love you for everything that you are, they need to see your faults, weaknesses, and insecurities. And, undoubtably, they will love you more deeply because you are able to share that part of yourself.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Abandonment. Attachment. Lament.
Frustration. Irritation. Isolation.
Repression. Depression. Confession.
Anger. Temper. Stutter.
Betrayal. Dismissal.
Friendship. Companionship. Shipwreck.
Ammend. Pretend. Contend.
The End.

I slept a grand total of two hours last night, after arriving home around midnight after attending the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness with some friends. I tried to enjoy myself, claiming the distinguished role of Designated Driver because:
a) Pain killers and alcohol don't mix
b) Emotional stress + alcohol = sobbing Shelly
c) Emotional stress + alcohol = enraged Shelly
d) Work at 730am
e) Did not want a glimpse of a hangover while I dealt with the closure of PB&J (yes, we had a joint petname-- doesn't every couple at some point in the course of a relationship?)

It was tough, though. For once, I actually didn't want a distraction. My friends' laughter, the upbeat music, clapping hands... I should have been able to lose myself in the fun. But I couldn't. I wanted to sink into the silence of Shelly. But at the risk of receiving a multitude of "Are you okay?s", I pasted on a smile and sang along, sipping on a rum and coke, minus the rum.

Today arrived. March 15, 2008.

Here is the eerie part. This very day last year, Luke and I signed the lease to the apartment. This very day in 2007. And it's the same day he moves out, signifying the true end of our relationship. This gives me real shivers. For nostalgic purposes, I want to share a paragraph from a blog I wrote at this time last year:

"Last weekend Luke and me took a HUGE step in our relationship. We signed the paperwork and paid the deposits for our OWN apartment. It's a gorgeous first floor, two bedroom/two bathroom... a corner apartment looking out at the pond and pool. It's amazing... and it's ours. We move in on May 12th. The apartment is in the same complex that I currently live in, which I'm thrilled about, because I love the area. My roommates were expecting it, and are happy for me... which is a great relief; I didn't want them taking it personally. I love them and I've loved living with them... but it's time to take the next step with Luke.

I can't wait to wake up every morning to roll over into Luke's arms. I can't wait to have breakfasts and dinners together, when our schedules allow. I can't wait to try to cook for him and do his laundry. I can't wait to have silly arguments about which towels to use when we have Guests in the spare bedroom. I can't wait to fumble with the elctronics while he laughs at me and fixes the problem in a mere second. I can't wait to start our "real" life together.
I'm simultaneously ecstatic and terrified."

I had a childish perspective of what it means to live together. I remember writing this blog. I remember being more excited about the layout of the apartment, and not having to clean up after roommates and worry about roommates not paying bills, than I was about physically 'living' with Luke. I remember feeling like I was forcing Luke to do something he truly didn't want to do: move out of a house he shared with a friend to an apartment with his girlfriend and two cats. I remember doing most of the work, research, and moving preparation between March and May of 2007. I remember telling Robin that I was really scared about moving in with Luke, because it was either going to make or break us. I just didn't think it would break us before the lease was up.

I idealized living with Luke, based off what I had seen in Robin and Brian's marriage. My fantasy of sharing an apartment, and essentially a life, with Luke was just that-- a fantasy. I felt more distant from him after sharing an apartment than I did when we lived 25 minutes away from each other. I was alone every night in the apartment, and asleep long before he even got home from work. Looking back, I'm not sure why I thought living together would bring us closer. The template still existed-- opposite work schedules. Plus, we butted heads about cleaning habits, weekend rituals, and the ultimate-- money.

Of course, my writing all this is probably just my way of coping with the fact that Luke moved out today. It was very surreal. I felt surprisingly calm when I walked into the apartment after being at work for a few hours. Luke was quickly moving items from the former Guest room to a moving truck parked out front of our building. Actually, quickly is an understatement-- he was practically running. Apparently he had to return the truck by a certain time, or he would get charged an extra day.

This made for very quick closure. It wasn't exactly the "hey, been a good run" type of ending I'd foreseen. We argued about why I wasn't taking him off the lease, and why he didn't want to give his keys back to me. We went in circles for a bit, until I finally convinced him that I wasn't going to screw him over and come after him for money. I just wanted this to be as easy as possible-- for the both of us.

Our parting words:

"I'm not going to fuck you over regarding the lease," I said. "Why would I do that? You were the bigger person here, Luke. You took the last step and broke up with me. I should have ended our relationship in September."

Luke tossed his keys on the counter. "Hope your ulcer gets better. Goodbye."

I'm not really sure what I was expecting. A good-bye embrace? A "well, it was a good run" type of closing comment? I don't know. This was the most serious relationship I'd ever been in, so I wouldn't know how these things are supposed to end.

When he closed the door, finality encompassed me. I cried. No, I actually howled. I think I scared the cats. It was worse than when he broke up with me over a month ago. This was it. This was the last hoorah. I wasn't crying over Luke, though. I was crying over the sheer magnitude of what had just occurred. The man I had devoted almost six years to had just left for good. Anyone with a heart can agree that it's simply sad. When love doesn't last, when happiness fades, when fantasies become jarred back into reality... we cry. Then we pick ourselves off the floor, and look at what's left of our life. And we realize that we have a lot to live for... and the living needs to start today.

My first moment of "living"? I stopped ignoring the grinding of my brakes and brought the Shellymobile into the shop. Three hours, six phone conversations, and $427.89 later... I drove out of the shop with new brakes, a new perspective, and a new smile.

I'm going to be all right.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Last Letdown

I can't believe I actually trusted that Luke would be true to his word. I spent the latter half of our relationship asking him to do simple tasks for me, which he would ultimately forget to do. He was always "too busy" or he "lost track of time"... and many times he had simply forgotten I had even asked him.

I'm happy that I decided to text Luke and let him know, out of the generosity of my heart, that I had a doctor's appointment Saturday morning after I worked a few hours, and that I wouldn't be around the apartment until after 1pm to help him move out.

His response? He has to work on Saturday.

I'm sorry. I missed the part where that's my problem.

We agreed that this would be the weekend he would have his belongings out. He's had almost two weeks to prepare, whether it meant getting a moving truck for some of his larger pieces of furniture, or simply coming by the apartment and pack up his stuff. I offered to help do whatever he needed, and since I haven't heard from him, I assumed he was good to go.

When I read his response on my phone, I was floored. He could have at least had the courtesy to let me know. I have been looking forward to this day in a I'm-dreading-this-day-but-it-will-only-get-better-from-here type of way.

We shot a few texts back and forth. One in particular mentioned that he was sorry and that "work has really sucked this week."

Wow, Luke.

It really "sucked" that you ended our 6- year relationship, assuming in a "perfect world" that we would co-exist as roommates. It really "sucked" that you made me doubt myself as a woman, which has thrust me into therapy. It really "sucked" that I became so stressed out that I wound up in the ER and a $160.00 medical bill. And it really sucked that you never fixed my car brakes like you promised, the result of which I'm noticing now and will have to fix on my own to avoid getting killed.

But, hey, your week at work has really sucked, too. No hard feelings, 'k?

I ended up calling him, because my anger was making my hands shake and I couldn't text anymore. He picked up the phone. I asked him why he didn't tell me he had to work, when we had previously agreed that he would move out this weekend.

"I didn't know my schedule was going to change."

Really? They usually give you a week's notice.

"Yeah, I guess I found out last week."

I responded with the next thing that blurted out of my mouth: "You should have told me. I have someone moving in on Sunday, and I need you out." (A little white lie to expedite his lazy ass moving out really doesn't phase me right now.)

He got irritated that I didn't tell him that I had found a roommate. Not really his business, and since I didn't hear from him, I assumed we were still a go for Saturday. He stated he would do what he could to get out this weekend... said he had to get a moving truck for his bed and other items. Said he had a storage unit rented already.

I simply repeated, "I need you out this weekend. Take a sick day from work. Do what you have to do, or I wil just start putting your stuff outside the apartment." Obviously, he can probably call my bluff on that one... I'm still too nice of a person to just scatter his things outside.

When we hung up, I felt a bit of rage taking over. I channeled it by rummaging through all the cupboards and cabinets, taking items tainted with Luke and tossing them into his room. I went through the storage cabinet on the porch and cleansed that of Luke germs as well.

In one of the storage bins, I found a book titled Sex Games. I'd never seen the book before, but after flipping through it, some of the pictures looked intriguing. I figured the book belonged to Luke- perhaps he needed to reference it now and then. If he did, I never saw the results. The book is now in my nightstand drawer. Spiteful? You bet.

I'm infuriated that he has let me down again. I'm frustrated with myself for believing he would follow through with the agreed deadline, when he has let me down many times in the past. And ultimately, I'm just disappointed. Yet again, my expectations were set too high for him.

And just so that it doesn't appear that I am being a cold-hearted bitch: had Luke called me and explained, like a big boy, that he was being forced to work on his day off, I would have told him that it's no problem if he moves later in the week. It's the sheer lack of consideration that floors me and causes me to react like this. Trust me, when you deal with a lazy man for as long as I have put up with him, there comes a point where your ugly side has to take control and take action.

I needed to get this out, so that when I meet him at the bank tomorrow afternoon, I don't smack him in the face.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


In a previous entry, I noted that one of the ways we can heal our hearts is to focus on the many blessings in our lives. For me, it's my friendships. I have some amazing people in my life, two of whom I want to mention in this entry.

The picture above is myself (left) and my sister, Robin (right). She's not my sister by blood, but my sister through a chance encounter in 2006 that culminated into my realization that we met by fate.

We met at the pool in our apartment complex. A rather annoying man was hitting on me in a not-so-subtle way. When he finally asked me a legitimate question ("Where have you worked at Disney?"), I started to list a few places. Robin, who was swimming nearby, overheard me say that I used to work at The Great Movie Ride. She swam over, sensing my discomfort, and interrupted Captain Obnoxious with a "Hey, did you say that you used to work at GMR?" The rest is history.

Robin has been more than a friend to me the past two years. She has been my counselor, my fashion advisor, my nutritionist, my family. I have leaned on her when I didn't have the strength to stand. I have confided in her my deepest secrets that I know others would use against me. Through our stories of our pasts, we have discovered that we lived paraellel lives. Some may call it a coincidence, I call it fate... especially since our current situations regarding out ex-relationships are strikingly similar. We are each others' support system, comforting the other when we take a step back, and embracing the happiness that awakens when we are together. She is the sister I never had but always wanted. I hope every woman, at some point in her life, gets the opportunity to have a friend of this magnitude.

Above is my friend, Jolyon. We met on the volleyball courts in February of 2007. I noticed him because he made a comment about my white tank top. It was raining. Enough said.

However, we didn't start hanging out until August, when Jolyon took on the responsibility of Captain of our fall softball team. I found out his birthday (thanks to the wonders of Facebook) and coerced a few teammates into throwing him a surprise birthday gathering at softball practice one evening. He was very touched by this, and despite the months of brutal teasing that commenced after that, we are closer than ever now.

Jolyon and I have a very unique friendship. He has seen me at my worst, and loves me anyway. He has taken care of me when I didn't have the energy to take care of myself. He calls me out if I am wrong. He argues with me and challenges me. He knows how to put me in my place. He doesn't hide or mask his true feelings around me, and when he does, he knows that I am already aware that he has done so.

As cliche as it is, I truly do not know what I would do without Robin and Jolyon in my life. They have both been such positive influences; they teach me more about myself than I ever wanted to know, and I am a better person because of it.

Robin and Jolyon, I love you both. God has blessed me with burdens so that I would meet you and enrich my life as a result. And for that, I thank you.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Black & White Sleep

Ever feel like you are missing out on something if you fall asleep?

I've stopped relying on Tylenol PM to fall asleep. I've been swallowing two pills a night for the past four weeks, which is probably not helping the intestinal infection. Dr. McDreamy told me that the pain meds would be enough to relax me and help me fall asleep. They seemed to be working earlier in the weekend, but now the clock is creeping towards 3:30am, and I am still wide awake and full of energy.

I can't pinpoint what exactly I fear I will miss out on if I let myself drift into dreamland. My worrying has been irrational lately, which makes it difficult for me to fall asleep at night (hence the need for a sleep aid). I'm curled up in my childhood twin size bed, with an electric blanket and a space heater. The fan is on (I sleep with a fan on the floor; I can't sleep without some sort of constant noise) and the rest of the house is quiet. My stepmom will actually be waking up in three hours to get ready for work.

My vacation is almost over. It was a very mellow weekend, definitely something that I needed. I don't want to go back to work, mainly because I face the task of reprogramming my new computer and setting up templates, toolbars, and rearranging the desktop. Very tedious.

I hung out with Jeff at his apartment on Friday night, which was very relaxing. We had our usual philosophical chat about life and relationships that lasted close to three hours. We usually see eye to eye on a lot of issues, but we actually disagreed on a few things this time around. Nonetheless, we agreed that if we were both still single at age 40, we'd get married. I have a feeling we're both going to do everything in our power to make sure that doesn't happen...

On Saturday, I hung around the house with the family, and killed them in Scrabble. I went out to dinner with Jenn to catch up, and then we went to Lana's parents' house, where her family was celebrating her mom's birthday. Birthdays usually mean there is cake involved. I love cake.

Today, I lunched at Panera with the college roommates (Bean, Peggy, Quinn), JRye, and Laurie. Afterwards, Laurie introduced us to a new Starbucks on Shrewsbury St. We even ventured back to Assumption's campus to experience some nostalgia as we hung out at the old media center. The place I called home for four years now seems empty and unfamiliar. I've been out of college for almost three years now, though it often feels like ten years has passed.

I spoke briefly with my friends about the break-up. My college friends knew Luke fairly well, since he visited campus many weekends from sophomore to senior year. It was difficult to gauge thier reactions... I think they just felt bad about the entire situation, since I had mentioned many times in college that Luke was "the one." How foolish I was in my early 20s.

I often wonder-- is there really just one person out there? My outgoing nature tends to blend well with many people, so much so that I often misinterpret friendship vs. chemistry. It's difficult for me not to get along with someone... I can almost always pinpoint the good qualities in a person, embrace them, and form a common bond. I thrive on getting to know someone on a personal level; this is why I have formed many friendships over the years, some more intimate than others, of course.

My dad says that I have a knack for reading people, that I am a good judge of character. This makes me realize that he must have been extremely frustrated with me and my decision to stay with Luke as long as I did. My dad knew, from an early point in our relationship, that Luke was not going to be enough for me... that he would never challenge me intellectually or provide me with room to grow. We had a conversation a little over a year ago regarding how often Luke and I faught or disagreed. I answered honestly, telling him that Luke and I rarely fought or disagreed. I never thought much of it, at the time. Now, I'm realizing it is very crucial to argue and disagree, to challenge one another. This is an aspect in a relationship that I want. I want a man to argue with me, to not let me walk all over him, to be firm in his beliefs.

It's amazing how much I am learning regarding what I want in a life partner. I'm looking at everything--men, philosophy, religion, hobbies, professions-- with a different perspective. It's almost as if I have been asleep for a few years, trapped in a grey haze, and I am just now waking up. I don't want to lose this feeling.

I'm pretty sure that is why I don't want to let myself fall asleep. I fear I may fall back into the deeper sleep, where I dream in black and white, instead of vivid colors.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ways To Heal The Heart

From one of the books I am reading.....

~ Go on an adventure, even if just for a day. Take the time to create a new experience for yourself, to experience yourself in a new way.

~ Grieving doesn't mean being down all the time. Do things that will lift your spirits; be around others who are having a good time.

~ Tell your story of the break-up to each of your friends, one by one. Each time you tell it, you will be healing a new layer of pain and opening yourself up to more love.

~ Write a forgiveness letter, forgiving him for every mistake you can remember.

~ Write an apology letter, acknowledging every mistake you think you made during the course of the relationship.

~ Take the time to listen to the stories of others who have lost love. By putting yourself in their shoes, you experience that you are not alone. Your loneliness becomes less.

~ Go somewhere new and meet new people. New experiences always bring out something new within ourselves.

~ Reach out and ask for the support of your friends. Ask them to invite you to dinner. If they seem to be avoiding you, it's because they don't know what to say or how to act. They would love to know what they could do for you.

~ Don't rush the healing process. Plan to be in the grieving process 3-6 months.

~ Count your blessings. Often, when we are grieving a loss, we forget to appreciate what we do have.

~ Be patient with yourself. Instead of getting frustrated with yourself when you experience a setback, reward yourself with a treat.

~ Give yourself permission to feel that life isn't fair. Reflect on the dreams and goals you had hoped to share together. Feel your disappointment and write a letter expressing those feelings.

~ Don't try to be "up" and in a good mood for your friends. Give yourself permission to hit bottom. It is only by accepting the waves of grief that you will heal your heart. By respecting the healing process, the pain will go away completely and permanently. True friends will support you.

~ If you feel a need to get away to heal yourself, take some vacation leave from your job as soon as possible. Your boss and co-workers should understand.

~ Repeat to yourself, "I will get through this." Remember that others have been through it. You are not alone. Soon the pain will be gone.

~ Ask a friend to come over just to hang out. Let him or her know that he doesn't have to say or do anything. Practice just being together. Go for a walk or sit and watch the sunset or moonrise. The peace you feel will comfort your soul.

~ Give yourself permission to be like a child. If your loss brings up unresolved issues of the past, go to the zoo or a fun theme park with a friend or family member.

~Go to church and pray to God. Share your deepest feelings of inadequacy.

~ Put yourself first. This is your time to be pampered. Release any obligations that are making your life crazy or causing you more stress than you can handle right now. You are grieving a loss and have other things you need to do right now.

~ Don't hold back your tears. It is okay to cry; crying is good for the soul.

~ Sit with someone while you are in pain, without saying a word. This can be very comforting. Sometimes, in our darkest hours, we just need a loving presence nearby.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hospitals & Homestead

I attempted to go to work yesterday. I had stuff I needed to get done before my vacation, and I felt guilty knowing that someone else was going to have to meet my deadline. But my boss arrived at work, and within minutes, asked me why I had come in.... and told me to take the rest of the day off to see a doctor and then rest.

So, I went to my previously scheduled therapy session with Vera, though she cut it short and told me to use the time and see a doctor. Before I left, though, she told me that I was making very good progress, especially since I told her about my conversation with Luke and his moving out soon. I asked her how long the "healing process" typically takes, and she told me that we would discuss it next week.

I don't like going to the doctor. I like to think there are other ways to cure what ails you.

Live in rooms full of light
Avoid heavy food
Be moderate in the drinking of wine
Take massage, baths, exercise, and gymnastics
Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sound of running water
Change surroundings and take long journeys
Strictly avoid frightening ideas
Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements
Listen to music.
~A. Cornelius Celsus

I decided I didn't want to pay the $100 co-pay at the ER, so I opted to visit my friendly Urgent Care doctor, whom I'd seen several time before, usually just to get an antbiotic due to severe head colds. I waited almost two hours in a room full of sniffling sick people. I made small talk with a girl, who was probably around my age, who ended up getting diagnosed with Strep Throat. She was probably contageous. Fantastic.

When I was finally admitted into the clinic, the nurse had me step on the scale. For the several years or so, I've been a consistent 122lbs. I cringed when the nurse announced that I was 112lbs. I was upset about this-- a few of my work pants had been looser than normal, and my mentor has commented on how thin I've become since the breakup-- but to actually hear my weight and realize that I've lost 10lbs in a month (and I'm not a woman who can afford to lose any more weight)... I realized how stressed my body had become.

The doctor examined me. He had me lay on my back and put pressure on my stomach, abs, and kidneys.... in which his touching a few spots made me cry out in pain. He was concerned about this, and decided I needing some tests. Tests that I couldn't get done at the clinic. Great. He filled out a referral and sent me to the ER.

I was frustrated with myself, by this point. I should have just gone straight to the ER. I made a quick stop at my apartment to grab some reading material and eat a sandwhich (since my previous stay at the ER had lasted almost 9 hours), then headed down the road to the hospital.

I didn't have to wait very long in the ER's waiting room, since the doc had written "STAT" on my referral. I felt bad, though, when my name was called before this one man, who was doubled over in pain. Granted, I was hurting, too, but I could walk on my own.

The nurse made me put on one of those hospital gowns. You know-- the kind with the open back. I hate them. I always feel mortified when I have to walk down the hall, past other people and male doctors. Yes, I'm sure they've all seen their fair share of human flesh, considering their chosen professions, but it still makes me uncomfortable. Moving on.

Enter Dr. McDreamy. Seriously.

Like the clinic doctor, McDreamy had me lay on my back, while he felt around to determine the pain's specific location. He noted that he was concerned about my gallbladder, mentioning that I might have some sort of infection. Then he made small talk, in which I may have mentioned that I had just gotten out of a 6-year relationship... and he may have mentioned that it was Luke's loss. Then, McDreamy asked if I lived in the area. It was a very lovely conversation, until he ruined it by announcing that I needed some tests and then he was going to get me something to ease the pain.

The part I always dread: having my blood drawn. My veins are unusually small, and often times my blood has to be taken from my hand. After about 20 minutes of waiting in the claustrophobic room by myself, two paramedics came in.

The man asked me, "So, how do you take your needles?"

I looked at him, reading his nametag that stated, "Paramedic Intern."

Oh hell no. I understand that they all have to learn somehow, but my veins have been tortured in the past by legit doctors, and there was no way in hell I was letting an intern prod around my arm. The last time I was at Celebration Hospital, one nurse stabbed me incorrectly, and made my entire right arm numb for a good 30 minutes. She then apologized and said she was from housekeeping. This did not amuse me.

Anyway. The other 'real' nurse took my blood and hooked me up to a banana bag of magical drugs. She warned me that she was giving me 4mg of morphine, as well as some other nausea suppressants. And thus, the fun began. Morphine apparently makes me very chatty, and slightly dizzy.

Someone wheeled me around the hospital to get an ultrasound. I had a wonderful chat with the ultrasound technician. I told her more than she probably wanted to know about my personal life. But, I figured if she's going to get up close and personal with that rediculously cold gel, then she can get to know me a little better.

Afterwards, someone wheeled me back to the ER, into the "Patient Observation" room, which I'd been in before for the kidney. It's a room full of reclining chairs, blankets, a TV, and a nurse nazi. Nurse Nazi made me give yet another urine sample. No one wheeled me to the restroom, so I had a good time stumbling down the hall past more McDreamys, holding my banana bag in one hand and a cup of piss in the other. I'll take the stripping of my dignity for $500, Alex.

Not long after I stumbled back into the observation room, two more nurses came to get me for some xrays. At least one of the nurses was kind enough to hold my banana bag as we walked down the hall. Once we got into the xray room, she told me that I needed to remove my bra and slide my jeans down to my knees. Man, if I had a dollar for everytime I'd heard that phrase.....

Removing my bra was quite the challenge. For one, I could barely stand up at this point. And two, banana bag is attached to a wire, which is attached to the needle sticking out of my arm. My bra straps got tangled around the wire. I started laughing hysterically. The nurse had to unhook my IV, and in doing so, spilled some of the dripping liquid all over the floor. I tried not to laugh this time.

I had to stand up against the xray machine, pants at my knees (thank goodness for the hospital gown at this point). It felt like I was having a mug-shot taken. This was very akward, especially since the technician reading the xrays was a man. Fantastic.

The nurse returned me to the observation room. I sat in the reclining chair for about an hour, waiting to find out what was wrong with me. This is always the scary part. What if it was something serious that required surgery? I was pretty convinced it was either the onset of an ulcer, or simply my body's response to stress. But I knew I was doing the right thing by getting checked out, even if i did wait 48 hours to see someone.

As the minutes ticked by, a few more people were brought into the room. But each of them had a significant other with them, who was providing verbal support and a comforting presence. I tried not to dwell on it too much, but it was difficult. I continued texting various friends, to remind myself that I do have people who were worrying about me. But I couldn't help feeling alone and lonely. Hospitals scare me. Needles scare me. And those stupid hospital gowns scare me.

McDreamy delivered my results. He helped me out of the recliner and said, "Lets go someplace private to talk." Mmm, yes, ok, you don't have to tell me twice.

All my tests and xrays showed no immediate "red flags," as he called it. Nothing that required surgery. He said he couldn't give me a cause of the pain, only some presecriptions for pain killers and something for severe abdominal pain. He wanted me to come back for a follow-up in 2 days, but I told him I was going out of town. So, basically, I'm supposed to rest and take the meds every 4 hours (which means constant loopyland and no alcohol or driving a car). I wasn't truly satisfied with the diagnosis, so he tried to specify it for my own peace of mind, calling my pain an "intestinal infection."

It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy. ~Chinese Proverb

Jess came to pick me up from the ER around 815pm, which was very sweet. The morphine hadn't worn off all the way so I was hesitant to drive my car. She came inside to see my apartment, too. I think I may have over-thanked her, but that was probably the drugs talking.

Jolyon called me soon after that, since we had made plans last week to watch a movie that night after volleyball practice. He was at the hospital and wanted to come in and see me. I told him I was already at home, so he came over to drive me to Walgreens to fill my prescriptions. He helped me fold and put away my laundry, and he helped me pack for my vacation. I had taken both pills by this point, and was starting to feel very loopy. Kind of felt like I'd had a few beers... like I was spinning and floating at the same time. Very odd. Jolyon got a kick out of it, though. I'm not sure if he was laughing at me or with me...

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." ~Henri Nouwen

And as I write this, I'm enjoying the comfort and security of being back in my childhood bedroom in Massachusetts, even though it has no resemblance to my childhood bedroom, since my stepmom turned it into her office. I'm glad that I decided to keep my vacation plans to come home. This trip was originally planned with Luke-- we were going skiing and our families were going to meet for the first time and have dinner together. How quickly things change.

"When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn't the old home you missed but your childhood." ~Sam Ewing

It is good to get away from everything for a few days, though. I'm feeling very relaxed right now, which is definitely something I need. I'm seeing several long-time friends over the weekend, and hopefully going skiing at the local mountain... provided I'm feeling better.

It's always a little weird to come home to my parents' house and drive around in my hometown, noting new buildings and stores. It's bittersweet. I see the reasons why I moved to Florida: the climate, the cleanliness, the friendly southern attitude. But I also feel the memories of my childhood, which engulf me as soon as I step off the airplane. Safe memories. Memories of friendships from elementary school. First kisses. First jobs. Social hang-outs. After-school activities. Soccer teams. Family traditions. 21 years of memories from Massachusetts.

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. " ~ The Wonder Years

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Found It

This past weekend, I somehow mustered up the strength I'd been needing. I told Luke to move out.

It pretty much hit me on Friday evening. Just like that. I was ready for him to be completely out of my life. I felt strong, relieved, and liberated... like someone had simply smacked me across the face and awakened me. And it felt fantastic.

However, lets rewind, since I haven't written in awhile.

I went on a mini-road trip to Gainesville with Robin and Jolyon last weekend. We had planned to visit James at the University of Florida. The drive wasn't bad-- we sang along to some broadway musical soundtracks (RENT and Hairspray being the main focus) and stopped for some much-needed coffee at a Dunkin Donuts in the middle of nowhere.

James had let his hair grow out, since he was no longer restricted to the "Disney Look." We also met one of his roommates, though it was a brief encounter-- he pretty much passed through the living room, said hi, tossed the TV remote at my chest, and left the apartment. We probably walked a good 5-6 miles that day. We explored the campus, as well as "downtown" Gainesville.

Highlights of the day included:
~Cheap bean burritos.
~Skull and cross-bone signs that read, "All cars illegally parked will be towed, dismantled, and sold for parts."
~Wandering into a cute, used bookstore... after which James akwardly commented something to the effect of, "Uh, thanks for taking us into the lesbian library."
~Getting smoothies from cute older woman who claimed, with an accent I couldn't place, "I have been making smoothies for 8 years and have never been to the doctor."
~Watching a partial sunset in the UF football stadium.
~Poorly designed mini-golf course, which I blame for my high score.
~Eggplant parmesan pizza (despite burning the roof of my mouth).

Now, back to this past Friday, in which I left a voicemail for Luke, telling him that I wanted him to move out. I'm tired of coming home at night, wondering if he has been there, or if he's coming back when he gets off work at 1130pm. I'm tired of checking the mail and having most of it be police and hunting magazines for him. I want to be able to hang out in the living room again, but I feel like I can't do that, because he still has stuff there that remind me of 'us.' Even though I'm over the 'us' aspect, I really want to cleanse the rest of the apartment, like I did to our (my) bedroom. I want to re-decorate, rearrange the furniture, and I want to paint a few accent walls. And I can't do any of that until he is physically moved out. He told me when he broke up with me that I could keep the apartment, and now I'm ready for him to keep his word. More on his response in a bit...

Saturday, we (Robin, Jolyon, myself, and Robin's brother, Randy) ventured to the Plant City Strawberry Festival. It was your typical country fair: creaky carnival rides, junky fair food, and sketchy carni folk. At least this time Robin and I didn't get trapped on one of the rides. I really wanted to stay for the MercyMe concert that night, but a lingering headache transformed into a full-blown migraine. I really thought I was going to get sick in the car on the way back to Jolyon's house. I passed out in his bed for awhile to let the medicine kick in, but still felt out-of-sorts as the night progressed.

Luke sent me a text messsage Monday morning while I was at work. He apologized for not getting back to me over the weekend... said he had a busy weekend because his friend, Amanda, was in town. More feelings of irritation washed over me... he always had an excuse for not doing something for me, or not getting back to me. His text also said that he didn't have a place yet, but would find one asap. That wasn't good enough for me. Not anymore. I went outside and called him.

It was weird to hear his voice. I started out by saying that I thought he already had a place to live, since he hasn't spent a night at the apartment in almost a month. I told him that I was ready to move on, and that he needed to move out, and that I wanted to be there when he did, in the event that we needed to have a "that's mine, this is yours" type of discussion. I told him that I wanted him out on the 15/16th of this month, and that if he didn't have a place by then, he can put his stuff in a storage unit, and continue living wherever he's been living for the past month. I told him that I didn't want to be cruel about the situation, but he offfered the day of the breakup to move out. I had mixed emotions while talking to him, and was shaking when I hung up the phone.

I had difficulty focusing the rest of the day. And then my day was cut short when my computer crashed. Literally. The tower fell over. I may not have a replacement until I come back from vacation next week, and who knows how much they can recover off my hard drive.

And today, I had to take a sick day, which was pretty much the last thing I needed, considering my deadlines at work. It started last night. I played tennis (badly) with Jess and Jolyon, and then we went to Alan's apartment for dinner with Katy and Robin. It felt like my ab muscles were tensing up... and, believe me, my abs are not what they used to be. I thought maybe I had pulled something, but shrugged it off, since I didn't want to miss out on the softball game.

Unfortunately, the pain increased, and I had to ask Chad to take me out of the game. I was pretty upset, especially since I was playing a position (second base) that I actually like, but I tried not to show it... just told Chad, "Sorry, but you need to take me out." I hate that I couldn''t play, though. I always try to tough it out. In highschool, I finished half a week of goalkeeper training camp with a broken wrist. I played in a floor hockey game in college with a broken toe. And I played in many, many soccer games when my asthma tried to keep me on the bench.

I started to worry when I realized that the pain I was feeling was pretty similar to the pain I experienced a year ago, when my kidney blew up. My abs were swollen and I was starting to get scared... more so because I didn't want to spend the night waiting in the ER... plus, I had given Jolyon a ride to the game, so he was going to be stranded with me. And then I began thinking about my work deadlines and my crashed computer. I started replaying my earlier phone conversation I'd had with Luke. I thought about a friend's personal problems and started blaming myself for not being there for her. I remembered that I still had "homework" to do for therapy, that I still had to pack to fly back to MA on Thursday, that I needed to terminate our bank account..... all while sitting on the softball bench, hunched over. Sometimes I can't control my obsessive worrying, something I know I need to work on. I'm trying.

Jolyon drove my car while I tried to get comfortable in the passenger seat. He wanted to take me to the ER, as recommended by several of my teammates, but I just wanted to go home. By this point, I was pretty sure it was stress-induced... the past month my body has taken all that it can-- between not sleeping enough, not eating properly, over-exercising... I even skipped my freakin' monthly vistor last week, and I'm on the pill-- it's been absolute clockwork for 7 years, so that was mind-blowing (and, trust me, I'm not pregnant.)

When we got to my apartment, Jolyon told me that he would take care of everything, and that I just needed to get into the bathtub, and that he would stay with me in case I needed to go to the hospital. I started to protest, because he didn't have his car or a change of clothes for work, so how was he going to get to work, or get home (all irrational thoughts, at this point)... and he told me again not to worry about it. I ran myself a bath, and once I got in, I started crying, which physically hurt, thanks to the mysterious pain. I remembered that my therapist had told me to just let myself cry whenever I felt the urge.

I cried for a good five minutes. I cried because I had actually found the strength to tell Luke to move out. I cried because my sister took a step back and I wasn't there for her when she needed me. I cried because my work has been suffering and now I had just lost a bunch of important emails and files due to my own clumsiness. I cried because I allowed my disease to regain control. And I cried because I realized that I have so many people who care about me, who will go out of their way for me. It was a variety of tears-- relief, pure sorrow, exhaustion, and happiness.

And then I stopped crying. Despite my abdomen, I felt oddly relaxed.

I realized that I had found the strength to tell people what I want. I'm learning that I don't always have to be the tough one, on and off the field, and that it's ok to let someone else do the worrying.

And it's always ok to cry.