Lifeaversary | 8

*If you are new here, each year I celebrate my Lifeaversary – the anniversary of the day that I attempted suicide (August 3rd, 2009). If you or someone you know is having dark thoughts, or is in a black hole of depression that they can’t get out of, there is help here. and here. and here. and here

You are not alone.  You are not done.  Your depression is lying. The world still needs you. 

I’m going to be honest. I’m struggling with this post this year. I’ve sat down to write it no less than 10 times over the last 3 months. Each time, I write something, hate it, then abandon it to start over.

Not writing a post wasn’t an option – not because I *have* to, or feel obligated to, but I do like to come back every year and read through the Lifeaversary Archives and cry a little (strugglin’ Katie was strugglin’) …but mostly I like to celebrate how far I’ve come.

So I sat down again this morning, on my actual Lifeaversary, and started writing in a million different directions. True to form, about an hour in, I decided to leave again and try again after coffee. But this time, I guess autosave didn’t work or something, and I got this familiar popup alert:

 

do you want to leave or stay popup

 

WordPress is almost making the decision for me, am I right? Leave is highlighted and saying “Click me. Just leave. Everything sucks. You suck. Abandon ship.”

And as with every good peice of writing or Sex and the City / Grey’s Anatomy episode, I had an inner monologue.

Do I leave all of the work I’ve put into this post and start over again? There are tons of mistakes already, and I’m going to make more. 

Do I stay, make the best of this hot mess, accept that nothing will be perfect, swallow my pride, and publish something… anything?

Is it worth staying if it’s not perfect?

Spoiler Alert: If you’re reading this post, I stayed. Here I am.
(subtitle: I really wanted to jump ship.)

I’m someone who loves new things and the idea of starting over.  Notebooks, journals, projects, lifeaversary blog posts… you name it, I’ll start it. But finish it? Good luck. Once the newness wears off, I’m ready to say “Peace out, homie” and look for the next new notebook, journal, project, whatever.

The feeling of a completely blank slate is so… hopeful. No mistakes have been made, nothing is broken, the possibilities are endless. At any given moment, we all have the power to erase the mistakes and begin again. I get massively drunk on that power.

The unfortunate thing about this thing called life is that you can’t just start over from the beginning and restart the clock. You can absolutely wipe your personal slate clean, but the clock doesn’t stop. You don’t get the years you’ve spent back.  Time keeps passing, the clock keeps ticking, and you have to keep moving with it.

Even when everything is a mess, and nothing makes sense, happiness seems like a party that everyone is attending but you’re waiting on your invitation, your lifeaversary post isn’t shaping up to be anything good… just keep going.

Turn the page if you must, but don’t close the book. The story isn’t over.

I don’t know where I heard this, but it stuck with me:

At the end of the day, we’re all just walking each other home.

And internet, I love that we’re on each other’s team.

I’m not sure what the next year will bring, but I’m going to stay and find out.

Til next year,

PS: Special shout out to all of the people, places, and things that have helped me get through those freaking hard days. Recovery isn’t a straight line. It’s a hot mess express. These are some of my favorite tools in my arsenal.

 

 

Relive the last 7 years of Lifeaversaries below:

Lifeaversary | 7
Lifeaversary | 6
Lifeaversary | 5
Lifeaversary | 4
Lifeaversary | 3
Lifeaversary | 2

 

Lifeaversary | 6

It’s my Lifeaversary today.  Actually, it’s my Lifeaversary in 6 days, but you know me being on top of things. (Wink)

For the past 6 years, I’ve celebrated my Life-a-versary — the day that I decided to choose life over…well, not life, and started on what would be the most difficult journey to self-discovery and acceptance ever. I spent such a long time carrying such a massive burden on my shoulders. I really think that my disdain for mornings was due to the fact that moving, walking, just getting up was physically and emotionally painful from dragging along all of the crap…. the baggage – the expectations – the belief that I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t in order to be liked. Letting all of that go was the most powerful thing I’ve ever done.

When someone asks me how I am, or how I’m doing — the only thing I can think to say is “lighter”, “free-er”, “calm-er” — but even that doesn’t begin to describe the amount of relief that I feel.  I wake up every single morning and am grateful for everything.

Okay, that’s a bit of a lie. For the first 10 minutes of being awake, I hate the world. But after that, I’m grateful. For everything. For YOU.

This year — particularly the last 6 months — I’ve taken a huge step back from just about everything and asked the question “Does this bring me joy?” and “Would I want my daughter to be in this situation?” – If the answer to either of these was no, I walked away.

I ditched friendships. I ditched relationships. I ditched clients. Most of all, I ditched apologizing for being who I am. I’m not afraid to tell someone “hey, this isn’t working”, “i don’t have time for negativity”, or my personal favorite, #byefelicia.

I know I’m not perfect — God, I’m my own number one critic. If you were to ask me right now what my flaws are, I would name 50. But what’s changed for me, especially this year, is that I can also tell you what makes me a kickass person who deserves happiness and doesn’t deserve to be treated with disrespect or carelessness — especially by my own self.  I can honestly say that despite my flaws, despite my mistakes, despite my little quirks and imperfections, I’m pretty dang awesome in my on right. Or as I like to say, “I’m charming as f*ck”.  And that doesn’t require an apology.

One of the things that I wholeheartedly believe is that we accept the love that we think we deserve. I accepted relationships because I thought I couldn’t get any better. I accepted friendships because I thought that merely talking to me deserved recognition. I said “yes” in situations where I clearly meant “no”.  Wanna fail really fast? Try to please every-damn-one. I wish I would have known that a few years ago.

I know my worth now and I don’t accept anything less. I say no. I ask for help. I stand firm in the beliefs that I know to be true. I’m ridiculously resilient. I fall down sometimes — I fail — I let things fall through cracks — but I always get back up again and start fresh. I apologize where it’s due, and I mean absolutely everything that I say.

So this year, I’m short on words, but not on gratitude for everyone who has seen me through the past few years. Instead of a huge celebration this year, I’m going to therapy, and the Incubus concert… because that’s what I want to do, and both of those things bring me joy. But if you offered me a pancake breakfast or brunch date, I wouldn’t turn you guys down. I also would accept a cardboard cutout of Edward Cullen or Dexter. Take notes.

As I enter year 7, I can proudly say that I’ll stop banking on the phrase “It gets better” and move on to “It got better”.  And I’ll even throw in a “I love this life, now.” Because really. I love it. I don’t love it everyday. And some days I want to bitch slap every one I come into contact with, but they’re just days, and they always pass.

I don’t know whether it’s the fact that my best friend had a baby that I’m so in love with. Or that I almost lost someone so incredibly important to me, but he survived. Or that I had a spiritual awakening knowing that my Grandmother has a firm hand in helping guide my way — or a combination of all of these things. All I know is that I am filled with so much gratitude for everyone, everything, and every moment in my life.

In the coming months, I will be very busy being awesome, all in preparation for my now yearly trip to Florida with my family and to see my dad. I could have gone anywhere for my birthday vacation, but honestly, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.

Except maybe at IHOP. Or your house holding hands watching Dexter while I longingly picture myself stroking Michael C. Hall’s beautiful face.

Some things never change, Internet.

 

Wanna read about Life-a-versaries Past? 

 Lifeaversary 5
Lifeaversary 4
Lifeaversary 3
Lifeaversary 2 

 

Lifeaversary | 2 |To Sir With Love

That’s me and my dad over there. Cute, right?

My dad is the furthest thing from perfect. He’s made mistakes. Big ones. I’ve made mistakes. Big ones. But today isn’t about that. Not at all.

Exactly 2 years ago, August 3rd, 2009 was a day that I will never forget.

I want to say that I remember the day vividly, but I don’t. I do remember sitting on my dad’s sofa at 9PM at night and crying very hard.

After listening to me sob for hours, my dad came over, sat next to me, and buried his head in his hands.

“I’m sorry”, he said.

I couldn’t even muster up the breath to ask him why he was sorry. I just looked at him with what I’m sure was puffy red eyes.He kind of knew what I wanted to know.

“I’m sorry you’re hurting so badly. Am I a bad dad?”

Many of you only know my father from random stories about vibrators and personal lubricant in his hair. He’s more than that. He’s street smart, but not book smart. I have to buy cards with easy to read words so that he won’t be embarrassed that he can’t read it.  I have to read the menu for him. He knows I know he can’t read, but it goes unspoken. I kind of just know when he needs me to read a story, a letter, or a greeting card for him.

When my dad asked me if he was a bad father, I remember looking at him with the tears in his eyes, and all I could do was say “I’m sorry. I’m so broken. Why am I so broken?”

He didn’t have an answer for me. I assumed his decision to get up and walk away meant that he was admitting that I was broken, but he just didn’t have an explanation of why.  After a few hours of trembling, fever, and uncontrollable sobbing, I calmed down enough to walk upstairs to get a shower.

After I got out I walked past my father’s room. He called me in, and I sat on the end of his bed. My dad and I have a few little bonding experiences we share, including the rolling of coins into paper wrappers. He had a pile of coins on his bed, and we sat there for about an hour, in silence. He could have made small talk, but he just knew that silence was all I needed.

When the last coin was rolled, I tapped his hand and said goodnight. He held onto my hand when I touched it, and said the words that I remember everyday:

“If you go, I won’t let you go alone. I’m coming too. I promise.”

I never told my dad about the thoughts that were spinning inside of my head. I never told him how truly unloved, messed up, and worthless I felt. I never told him that I just wanted the pain to stop and I was exploring options from in-patient therapy, to more extreme solutions.

I didn’t have to say a word, but he just knew.

He might not know how to read a book, a menu, or a piece of mail, but he knew the thing that I was scared of saying, thinking, and believing.

After that comment from my dad, I submitted an anonymous secret to Brandy’s Secret Project.

2 years ago today. My dad made a promise to me that he’s kept. No matter where I go, I’m not alone. He can rest assured that I won’t ever be going very far away.  And if I do, I’ll send a postcard. No matter where I go, I will always, always come back home.

Today is my life-a-versary. Send gifts.

And even though my Dad won’t be reading this post ever, I still will be playing this song in his honor tonight. (I know. It’s Glee. But so perfect. Give a listen if you want a little bit of heart-filled-with-joy in your day!)

To Sir, With Love