I can honestly say that 2019 was a tough one. I struggled a lot this year, and I can openly say that it took a whiiiiile for me to get back to a sense of solid ground. And let’s be real: there will be ups and downs in life anyway. Hills and valleys. Light and dark. And although I wasn’t living in a dreamworld that life, my life, was all roses, this year presented a tunnel of darkness and deep emotions that seemed really hard to navigate. Here are some lessons I learned and am continuing to learn on this journey we call life:
Speak. Even if it’s one person that holds your confidences, who helps you wipe your tears, who assures you that you’ll make it through that tunnel: say something. Let them know you’re barely holding on. I’ve been blessed with that person, and also others who intuitively hold me a bit tighter when we see each other. Those folks may not know the details of what I’m going through, but can sense that I need them. Even in an embrace.
Exchange. My constant goal is to pay it forward. Be the person I needed when I was down. Be there for others as they were and are there for me.
Write. Although I didn’t do a lot of fiction writing this year, I wrote a lot of my feelings down. I needed to work my way through them. Here’s to catharsis.
Hope. It’s not the easiest thing to hold to the heart, hope. Especially when disappointment seems to reign and push you into deep negativity. My bestie and I were discussing this recently and she asked, with all the efforts I’m making to look ahead and not behind, whether I have any hope left. “A little,” I said. “Hold on to that,” she replied. I intend on doing just that.
A brief year-end review. I plan on doing another one as we drift closer to 2020. But I need to say the following: I’m so grateful to my awesome God, my wonderful family, and my dear friends who helped me to remember the light waiting at the end of this weird, endless tunnel I found myself traversing. If nothing else, with everything I witnessed this year, there was something incredible in there: the divine.
How was your 2019 (so far)? I’d love to hear about it.
I saw this on Instagram and nodded my head vigorously.
Dark times come, certainly, with depression. But sometimes you can be–for lack of a better term–a functioning depressive. You’re living your life. You’re smiling, laughing, going to events and spending time with friends. And then you come home, breathe through the minutes before bedtime while laying on the couch, and then head to bed. This can happen every single day.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re going through, if you’re going through this: I’ve got you in mind. I know how it feels. Sometimes putting a picture to it, identifying what is happening to you (how can I be depressed if I’m living my life? you may ask yourself) can make a world of difference.
Fun fact about This Square Peg: I’m a shameless, sincere, straight up goofball. I jazz hand, I make silly faces, I tell/laugh at dumb jokes, I opera sing in the grocery store, I dance like a weirdo. And I have no qualms about any of these things. Being serious is a thing. Being not serious at all is also a thing.
I was reading an interesting post on social media where the author made mention of “corny love.” He said it lovingly about the relationship he and he wife have, and it got me thinking.
We shall have corny love, he and I, whoever he may be, and we shall have it in spades. My goofballery will amuse him to no end, especially during times when perhaps levity is what we need to make a situation bearable. He may not be on the upper echelon of silliness like me, but being open to it is key. I insist on corniness and cheesiness. On text messages that tickle and delight. On sharing my wild, interpretive dancing. On laughter well into the night.
Because even though I don’t share those aspects of my personality with everyone (and I don’t), he’s the one who will have it all. Jazz hands included.
Just thinking about all the times I resign myself to letting things leave me. The expectation(s) that something small would grow into something far more significant and beautiful. And when that doesn’t happen, we have let it all go. At the end of the day, it is lovely to let what wasn’t meant for you slip through your eager, waiting fingers. Because that’s growth. That’s adulting. That’s life. But, boy, does it hurt something awful. Because: hope.
I’ll be honest: this quote, albeit lovely, still triggered me a bit. Because I’m so tired of traveling alone. And when it comes to my favorite season, there’s an unbearable aspect about it: enjoying the beauty and electricity in the air by my lonesome. I’ve discussed this before–that something about fall that drives the desire to be accompanied by another even more than usual. The feeling remains. Heightened by crisp evenings and the turning of trees, no less.
I wish I understood why. I long for a change. Until then: I’ll continue to enjoy the “finest company” around me.
I’ll be moving soon. Still staying in Texas, but moving to a different city. After two years in my apartment complex, it was time for a change. After searching and perusing, I found a lovely new area that I’ll share more about in a forthcoming post. But before one moves, one must pack.
Read this if you need a reminder about how I feel about packing, especially when it comes to moving.
At the end of this month, I need to be ready to go. Ask me if I’ve done single thing to prepare for this timeline. Go ahead, ask me. Did you? Good. The crickets you hear are your answer.
I’m reminded of when I was in college. Knee-deep in essays and homework and my on-campus job and my off-campus job. When there was a deadline for a paper, I would write that thing at 2 in the morning the day it was due. Typing furiously on the computer in our basement at some ungodly hour. And I would, nine times out of ten, score high. Naturally, I started to believe that my waiting until the last minute to complete my homework was the key to my excelling; the last minute fear and adrenaline was somehow resulting in amazing theses statements and sentences. It had to. (What can I say? Youth.) Anyway, procrastination became a bit of a crutch. My younger brain theorized that waiting until the last minute met success.
Enter adulting. I do my best to get things done on time. Emphasis on my best. No worries: I pay my bills on time. But when it comes to a project at work that has a loose deadline…
Were we talking about packing?
I haven’t packed. Haven’t moved a thing. Empty boxes and crates crowd my living room, waiting to be used, calling out to me. We have 18 days…
One of my characters in one of my stories makes reference to not dousing her hope with her usual brand of doubt and cynicism. I am her and she is me. (Incidentally, one popular writer-related question I get is, “who are the people you’re writing about in your fiction?” I am them, they are me. What writer isn’t writing about themselves in some way? Anyway, digress. Back to the outside of the parentheses.) The truth is: I am terrified of hope.
We need hope. We thrive on it. It keeps us going. I hope in a lot of things. In a brighter future. In seeing my father again. In finally living what the Scriptures describe as “the real life.” But there’s one giant aspect of life that I hesitate to hope in, for fear of repeatedly breaking my own heart and spirit: love. I’ve discussed my track record when it comes to relationships. I’ve yet to meet my Person. The pathway to said Person hasn’t been easy; it’s been sad, disappointing, weird, head-scratching, and just ultimately completely unfulfilling. Naturally, when this happens more often than not, the wall builds itself. Brick after brick of solid, hard doubt. And when hope tries to poke her head in (could this be…?) I nudge her away and steel my chest for what realities may hit me in the face.
Admittedly, it stinks to look at things this way. But can you really blame me? Without the benefits of preserving myself, my sanity, my heart, I’d be in a corner somewhere, rocking back and forth and worse off than I already am. Of course, we must then discuss self-fulfilling prophecies. A good friend, more often than not, has reminded me that I tend to manifest negativity when it comes to finding my Person and finding love. She’s called me out on statements such as: no one wants me anyway, and whatever, I probably won’t find him, whomever he is. Regardless of whether my comments were made in jest (they were, on the surface), in her estimation, those comments end up becoming self-fulfilling prophecies: if I am expecting these things for myself, then I’m basically writing my own future. I’ve agreed with her and have promised to work on not pronouncing such negativity for myself. Deep down, though, I’ve struggled to communicate that those comments and related, unspoken thoughts come from a fear that believing the opposite and resting in hope will just leave me completely wounded, waiting, and disappointed. And so I frame things in dry, deprecating humor, hiding truths. (I try to avoid the whole self-deprecation thing as a rule, especially since I’ve done so much work to not relegate my own self to zero status as I did in the past. But old habits rear their heads when we’re talking about fear.)
Where is the balance, dear reader? How can I be both hopeful and realistic? How can I stop submitting to fear by way of self-deprecation and be mindful of what I say/nurture my own self, without appearing as if I’m on a one-track groove whenever it comes to talking about my personal life with my friends?
For four years (and really, for many years before, since I was an avid reader and was already consciously and subconsciously doing this), I analyzed plot lines, characters, meanings, subtext. I did this in everything I read. I did this in art classes, in play writing classes, and most certainly in the plethora of psychology courses I took. Looking for meaning. Looking for rationale. Looking for archetypes. Identifying and explaining symbols. Breaking everything down. And I did it well, to toot my own horn. And I loved every minute of it, too. I was one of those people anyway, like I mentioned before. Listening to music was always an adventure, for example, when it came to lyrics. What does it all meannnnn? I’d like to thank Led Zeppelin, by the way, for Stairway to Heaven and the Eagles for Hotel California–I spent many a sweet hour researching and looking for the meaning behind those intriguing pieces of music. (I still don’t know.) Anyway, my point in saying all of the above: when you’re already looking at the world that way, it makes it hard to not look at the world that way. I’ve discussed trying not to psychoanalyze and overthink things to death before. It’s a constant struggle. It’s a constant struggle to not look for underlying subtext and motives. This becomes even more difficult when it comes to relationships. When it comes to potential romantic relationships, to be specific.
Sometimes a hello is just a hello. Sometimes a touch isn’t more than a touch. Sometimes a look is not meant to communicate anything other than the natural progression in someone’s attention or line of sight. Logically, I know all of these things. But when you have someone in waking thought, and you want to find meaning, and you want substance…all those perfectly natural things become potential somethings. Plus, I’ve read fiction my entire life. I’ve written fiction my entire life. I’ve read the lovely pairings designed by authors. I’ve done the same. I want that for myself. So I recognize now that my search for meaning and depth in seemingly simple things is coming from a place where I want there to be meaning and depth–and those things may not be there at all. A mess.
But This Square Peg, you lovingly say, maybe there is something there. Maybe. But I can’t look for a symbol here. I don’t want to. I just want the real thing. And my nine year-old bratty self wants it now. But that’s another post. (That nine year-old though…she asserts herself during the most inopportune moments.) I’m just working on taking life and people at face value. That becomes more difficult when I have a writer’s heart and an English major’s brain, all of which long for 1) meaning and 2) control. And love. Actual, true, real love. Yes, I just went way, way deep on you.
So: what does it all meannnnn?
Let’s leave that question unanswered for now.
Talk to me in the comments about whatever you like, but specifically, if and how you deal with overthinking and unnecessary analysis.
This post is inspired by a very moving and honest post on In My Sunday Best, where blogger Sade openly discusses her experience with relationship rejection. Read it and reflect; I appreciated her candor and discussing the inspiring lessons she learned about herself. As I read it, it reminded me so much of my own journey. A journey fraught with rejection.
Before I go on, I want to thank my tried-and-true readers for hanging with me in this little corner of the webverse. I’ve always considered This Square Peg to be an online journal. And in a journal, you talk about the highs (loving my natural hair, my writing, my adventures) and the lows (managing my depression, emotions, and the various disappointments of life). Thanks for supporting your Square Peg through it all, with your comments, your follows, your reading.
My first foray into admitting my feelings for someone and the rejection that came after happened in the 8th grade. At the time, I didn’t necessarily feel rejected; although my declaration of “love” was by no means mutual, I still felt that the object of my affection and I became somewhat friends after all of that. Nevertheless, it started the ball rolling. The combination of movie fantasy, being a romantic (more on that later) and an intense desire to be loved/be in a relationship were usually the catalysts. Despite being a shy girl, something came over me during those moments–being bold and expressing how I felt meant more than anything. Throughout my 20s, it happened time and time again. Meeting a guy, finding myself attracted to him, eventually opening up and telling him how I felt. I continued on despite the pain of rejection; somehow, there was a degree of hope that one day, the person I was meant to be with would cross my path. But hope isn’t steel. Eventually, it all started to affect me: what was so wrong with me? Why didn’t they want me in return?
After this happened, I was officially done. I told myself that even if I was attracted to someone, the weariness on my heart and the embarrassment of putting myself out there with no mutual return were simply things I no longer wanted to risk. I was also suffering from what Sade eloquently described as “rejection as reflection.” Their rejection of me had translated into seeing myself with incredibly negative eyes. Unworthy. Unpretty. The rest. By the time my 30s came along, although I became committed to now loving myself and repudiating that negative self-view, there was no way I was ever going to put myself out there again when it came to relationships and matters of the heart.
These days, I continue to remain stalwart in not approaching a guy with my feelings; I’m fine with the menfolk doing some work. However, I also don’t believe in coyness or not being open if I share his feelings or his interest. I don’t believe in stringing people along. But that man hasn’t shown up.
Let’s talk about that word, yet.
A friend recently described me as a romantic. Deep down, I balked at the description. Something about that word completely turned me off; I imagined treacly women who were hopelessly waiting on fairy tales and other unrealistic, rose-colored wants for a relationship. Sure, I believe in love and in falling in love, but I’m also not naive to the uneasy parts of relationships. I lived in a household when things got all too real, at times. Never doubting that my parents loved each other, I was equally exposed to times when things weren’t so pretty and escape, by all parties, seemed ideal. So being described as a romantic wasn’t my favorite thing. But it’s me, folks. I had to analyze why it put me off so much. See the previous sentences. I associated a romantic nature with a weak nature. Weak and unrealistic and living in a total fantasy world. But that’s unfair. A romantic person who believes in love and wants it for herself can also be a realistic person who has her feet squarely planted on the ground. So yeah, I’m a romantic realist. It is what it is. Thanks to that friend who got me thinking and ruminating.
So, to wrap rejection and the yet in a pretty bow: not allowing my history with rejection to douse me with negativity, cynicism, and a belief that love will never come is something I’m trying to balance. I don’t want to give in to mentally throwing away the idea of love because it hasn’t appeared, or base my feelings on things not working out in my past. Like Sade reasoned, none of those guys were meant for me. Looking back, I can make that statement with absolute certainty.