Breathe

I wouldn’t normally describe myself as a cynical person. When God created me, he created an adamant optimist. I overdosed on fairy tales as a child, and now I believe in happy endings.

Still, I am only human, and there are times when life becomes too much. Those are the times when Panic knocks down my door and demands to be my friend. And since I do not want to be friends, this demon becomes a little aggressive and tries to convince me that everything sucks and that I am completely incapable of handling any of it. Panic tells me that I am not brave or kind or good enough. I apologize over and over and I’m not really sure what I am sorry for–for existing? For being me? For not being perfect every second of every day?

Friends like that, whether they are real people or an uncontrollable force in your mind, are not needed. They are exhausting.

A few weeks ago, after a particularly emotional weekend, I told my boyfriend that there are times when I hate the world.

“I don’t know if this will help,” he said, “But maybe we can list off some things we are thankful for.”

“Um…”

And our list began. I listed everything that I could think of that brought me joy, from books to my family to being fortunate enough to have a source of income.

Panic does not like knowing I have better, more reliable friends. He does not like knowing that there is still hope in my heart and good in the world.

I know he will come back; he has no problem showing up uninvited.

But I know he will not stay for long.

I will live happily ever after.

IMG_3982

Advertisements

heavy hearts

By now, most people are aware of the shootings that occurred last week at Northern Arizona University and at Texas Southern University. In the wake of the massacre in Oregon (not to mention the countless other school shootings that happen in our country on a regular basis), these events were not statistically surprising, but they were no less heartbreaking.

And although these stories dominated the news and social media, not everyone is aware that the shooting at NAU directly affected my family.

I thank God that my cousin is safe.

I thank God that the shooter was identified and will be rightly punished for his crimes.

I thank God that my family and my friends were able to come together and punch tragedy in the face with their love and support, because I don’t know what I would do without them.

I pray that God will heal the wounds–physical and emotional–with His amazing love. I pray that we will keep those who did not survive in our hearts, and that we do not forget the pain that their loved ones will always endure. I pray that our attitudes about violence will change; that we will offer support and empathy when it is needed and our government will do whatever it takes to make this stop.

I don’t want to write about all the details; quite frankly, a quick Google search will tell you all the information you would probably need or want to know. Reporters have invaded my family’s privacy and pictures of the injured are all over the Internet. It’s sickening, and my heart is angry and hurt and sad all at once. I don’t think I ever want to see a gun again.

It is exhausting.

It is exhausting to turn on the news and see a headline that calmly informs us that there has been another shooting. It is exhausting to worry about my own safety and the safety of my family and friends. How many more people will have to die before we finally wake up?

With every shooting, political opinions reach the surface of my Facebook and Twitter feeds. In my perfect world, there are no guns and no wars and no needless shootings at all, but I know that is not the world I live in. I know we cannot screen for every mental illness and ban every single weapon.

But I’m tired of doing nothing at all.

I know many people who purchase guns for self-defense or hunting; while I do not want a gun for either reason, I understand that they have that right. Those situations are clearly very different than the school shootings I am referencing, and I am not trying to condemn every single person who owns a gun. I may have somewhat of a pacifist mentality, but I know that ultimately, it is a human being that has to pull the trigger.

To those who buy guns with the clear intention of hurting others: you have declared a war in which we are all casualties and soldiers. You’ve stolen lives, ripped families apart, and made this place we call home a truly frightening place to live.

You wanted a war?

Congratulations.

I’m fighting back.

lost in the woods (or somewhere similar)

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”

I suppose I’m writing this because I feel a little lost. I tell myself that maybe—just maybe—the magical combination of brutal honesty and pretty words will create a map that I can follow.

I’ve been lost before. I remember it being very dark, and very cold. I remember feeling like I’d never find my way home. And even though I desperately wanted to get out, I don’t think I wanted anyone to find me.

If someone found me here, I thought, they wouldn’t love me anymore.

I’ll go ahead and spoil the ending for you: that was a lie. A disgusting lie that—sadly enough—we all tend to believe every now and again.

I’m not in that cold place anymore. I’m not entirely sure where I am, actually. I just know I want a map or a GPS or something, which is nonsense, because I have never been good at following directions. Or giving them. Or  remembering where things are.

Oh, you live on the west side of that street downtown that’s adjacent to that other street ? I’ll nod and pretend like I actually know what that means.

Why would I think that life, with all its winding roads, would be any different?

Another spoiler: it’s not. I have no idea where I am going. Sure, I can go down this road, and see where it goes…

but I can’t know for sure.

I once heard that if you get lost, you should stay where you are.

And so, afraid of ending up in that dark place once more, I decided to stay. There have been times when I say I will leave. There have been times when I ask someone if they could find me. There have been times where I take a few steps onto the next road, but I always come back because I would much rather bask in the sun.

This is my fatal flaw: I am afraid of change. I do not embrace it, like the adventurer I claim to be. I cling to what I know. I wish on stars instead of casting my own spells.

I want to know that I am capable.

I want to know that I am loved.

I want to know that everything will be okay.

It’s not so bad here, I say. Just a while longer.

I’m not wrong—after all, I’m perfectly happy here.

But there are so many other things to see.

I’m looking at the next road. The sunlight is streaming through the tops of the trees.

And I think, It might be beautiful over there.