Post 5: Practicing Self-Love

So, life in its beauty and splendor, has been kicking my butt lately. Do you ever feel that way? The simplest tasks have been tumultuous, and my sensitivity to the world and its problems often bring me down.  An increased amount of anxiety and frustration from that and other things has brought me to the brink of despair and hopelessness multiple times. It is hard for a thinker to not think too much; my mind is my field of freedom and my cage. 

I am extremely hard on myself at times. I will forgive someone 10 times over for something, and then dwell in frustration and anger at myself for doing the same thing. I set for myself impossible expectations, and I have a hard time forgiving myself, even when there is nothing to forgive. I am trying to work on loving myself, flaws and all. It’s a hard job!

I have to say though, that in the midst of my troubles and self-criticism, some imagined and some not, I had a proud moment, a moment in which I felt compassion on a level I have never felt before. I’m learning that oftentimes when I judge someone for something, or I ridicule someone’s decisions, I sooner or later find myself in the same boat. It has humbled me into a very prominent Devil’s Advocate for the other side or the underdog.

Long story short, I apologized to someone for mistreating them in the past. At the time, of the mistreatment, I didn’t realize that I was doing it. I was much more callous and accusatory because I was ignorant of the problems this person was facing. Finally, after suffering some similar issues, I understood. You see, I had prayed for years for God to heal the relationship by fixing her, with only a half-hearted attempt of asking Him to fix me. Instead of doing that, God showed me her struggle, and my veil was lifted. I saw things for how they were, and the raw truth stabbed my heart into regret and compassion, and I realized, God was ready to fix it, through me.

I apologized, and I feel so much peace about the situation, and I also feel proud. It feels like I have finally done something good, after feeling like a failure of late. I am not a proud person concerning tooting my own horn or bragging on myself, but I want to take a minute to recognize my growth. I have been going through a growing phase for a while now, usually falling quite short of my expectations, but this time I didn’t. I feel like I need to acknowledge this moment in my life and in myself, because it is a reminder that no matter how bad things get or how bad they feel, there is always a chance for betterment, for growth, and more importantly, for hope.

Those of you who know me best will appreciate what I’m about to say, because it is so rare for me to do so. But, here it goes: “Good job, me. You’re learning, you’re growing, you’re strong, and you’re succeeding in this life. Yay me!”

Thanks for reading. Sending you love, and, a sliver of hope,

Carrie 🙂

 

Post 4: “The Wasp”

 So, today, I got stung by a wasp. I was washing dishes in my sink, and I reached to grab a thermos, and it was hiding on the back of the cup. He got me on my pinky, and it hurt so badly. It swelled immediately, and I couldn’t bend my finger. I was so angry at this wasp, I am ashamed to say, I killed him. Not once, but 3 times. 3 violent times. After he was dead, as weird as this sounds, I felt regret rush into my heart. I killed a tiny little being, who was just as scared as I was. His reaction was to sting out of fear, and I took it to heart.

This tortured me as the day went on, so much so, that I tried to make up for it. I was cleaning and rearranging some stuff today, and I saw a spider crawling on some of my clothes. I hate spiders. I mean I hate them! They scare me. Anything with more than four legs I tend to avoid. I get chills just thinking about a spider, or any too-many legged creature crawling on me. When I saw the spider, I ran to get a tissue, and I immediately remembered my murder this morning. I wrapped the spider up, and I ran out the door, with it still in my tissue, worried that I would squish it, or that it would fall off the tissue, or that it would come after me with all of those tiny, gray, hairy, way to dexterous legs before I could get him outside. I made it out the door, placed him gently on a piece of fireplace wood, and felt proud that I didn’t kill him. But I still felt bad about that wasp.

At this point, you are probably thinking that I am crazy, and I am not entirely sure that you aren’t correct in your assumptions. A few hours later, I was thinking about the wasp again. (I’m telling you, he has haunted me today, haha!) I thought about how we were both scared, and how we both took each other by surprise, and how even if we didn’t realize it, both of us as creatures of nature took to our flight or fight response to any immediate danger. The wasp? Stung me. My response? Kill the wasp. All of this happened within the span of 10 seconds. A 10 second exchange of fear, miscommunication, defensiveness, and revenge. That’s when it hit me. This is what humans do to each other all the time. All. Of. The. Time.

We see something that offends us, or in some cases hurts us, and we immediately respond with some kind of action. It automatically creates a “me vs. you,” or an “us vs. them” scenario in which someone has to “win.” We act almost immediately, usually in anger, and we get all puffed up and proud and defensive, often asking, “How dare they?” It doesn’t matter the situation either. Someone pulls out in front of somebody on the road; a waiter messes up an order; someone has to wait extra time on something completely out of any one’s control; someone dares to question to status quo; someone goes against expectations; someone speaks up about something he/she finds wrong; someone is just…different. We are so tolerant of our twins and so scared of anything that fits outside of our parameters of expectation, and just like my response to that wasp, we get angry, and in some cases violent.

Now don’t get me wrong, as bad as I hate to admit it, some people are just jerks. But guess what? We all can be! If you could’ve seen me killing the wasp, you would’ve been horrified at how diligently I killed it. (Imagine, Jack Torrance in The Shining, with a little less of a creepy smile.) The fact is, we all land on both sides of this coin. I have found, that like the wasp, most times when someone lashes out in anger for no apparent reason, there is a reason. The majority of the time, we will never learn that reason. But what we do know, is that if we are honest with ourselves, and the situation is just right, we can admit that we have all done the same thing at some point in our life. We lash out either due to frustration, worry, stress, sadness, difficult times, bad days…oh, there are so many possibilities. Sometimes we sting people with our actions and our words, and sometimes we get stung. Neither situation is a good place to be in.

I tell this story because it opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes we just need to slow down. We don’t have to be obsessed with “winning,” or proving ourselves or getting revenge. We don’t have to return anger with anger or rudeness with rudeness. We never know what people are going through. Life can be so hard that sometimes it feels as if we walk around with our defense shields up, ready to squash and squelch anything that looks at us funny. This week, just today even, let’s think twice before we return negative behavior with negative response. Instead, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and strangers that we come into contact with. Let’s remember life is hard enough without making it harder for anyone. Let’s treat our stings with the healing balm of love rather than stinging reciprocation. We all have bad days, but we all deserve good days. Every last one of us. And, I hope that you have a fabulous one.

Post 3: “Control, or Rather, the Lack Thereof”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Sometimes I have so much to say, but I am not sure how to say it, and sometimes, the words just don’t want to come out. But, tonight I had an epiphany that I thought I would share.

I sometimes get caught up in the idea that I have to be “normal;” that I have to meet people’s expectations of me, and be 100% “with it,” for lack of a better term, all the time, and that if I’m not, I will ruin something, whether it be a relationship, a moment, or a possibility of something that I can’t even pinpoint.

Well, world, I’m not, and I never will be.

Some days are great, and some days are not. Sometimes I feel in control, and sometimes I feel like a dandelion seed, being blown every direction, with no control at all.

I used to think that if I could control my outlook, or myself, in all things, that I could prevent a lot of problems or issues in the future. And to an extent, that is totally true. I am in control of my actions and who I am, but, taking care of one’s actions and reactions is not synonymous with having it together all of the time, neither is it synonymous with being able to control other people’s outlook or choices.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t try to go out of our way to be kind to someone, or to try to show those we interact with that there are good people in the world and that love without expectation of reciprocity does exist. But, we ourselves aren’t in control of their reaction or their response to that love.

The service at my church a couple of Sundays ago was about loving without expectation of reciprocation. This is a beautiful idea for all people to practice-loving for no other reason than to love, helping for no reason but to help. Can you imagine that world? It almost brings tears to my eyes!

I have thought about this concept for a little while, trying to wrap my brain around it. We are born as self preservationists with greedy intent, and sometimes we have to work hard at not allowing that to take over.

True love is not only taking care of each other, it is also accepting and realizing that we all go through things, we all suffer through things, and sometimes we don’t know how to handle them. Confusion, inundation, panic, insecurities, and frustration can come across as hatefulness, avoidance, selfishness, or apathy.

I am convinced there is a reason that causes the horrible bad moods that we sometimes find ourselves in. When we realize that, we may better learn to be compassionate and supportive to those who hurt us, even though our first impulse might be to react in anger or hurt or feelings of rejection.

I say all that to remind you that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. It’s okay to feel confused, upset, worried, or even lost; it comes with the territory of life. There is no cure all for it, no magic mantra or potion to make everything okay 100% of the time. And it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay.

If you find yourself around people who expect you to be perfect all of the time or down you for struggling with anything, even the simplest of things, love them from a distance.

Find the people who will love you when you can’t love yourself. Find the people who will understand that you may not feel like going out every weekend, and that it’s okay. Find the people who understand if your text responses are short or even nonexistent because you’ve had a long day. Find the people who know you struggle with something-whether it be anxiety, depression, insecurity, anything-that will support you as you work through it. Find the people who check up on you. Find the people who notice when your smile isn’t as bright. Find the people who send you things that make them think of you randomly. Find the people who not only know your quirks and loves, but they remember them as well. Find the people who will not get upset with you when life happens.

In this life, you will lose pieces of yourself. The walk becomes dark and covered in mist, and the light you once had will grow dim. Sometimes you have to rely on someone else to help you build your flame. Find the lights. Find the people that will help you find the missing pieces, and the ones that stick around as you put your puzzle back together. They will guide you, heal you, love you, and help you.

They are the stars when your night grows dim; the flames that help rekindle your spirit. When you find them, hold onto them, and don’t let them go.

You don’t have control of all the circumstances in your life. But it’s okay. With the right help and support and love from your lights, you’ll make it. If you haven’t found them yet, keep searching, and do not settle until you find them. You are a beautiful creature who deserves to be in this world, and not only just alive in it physically, but truly alive, loved, appreciated, treasured. You my friend are amazing, and I will remind you of that anytime you need to hear it.

Love and peace,

Crazy Carrie

Post 2: “Grief”

I recently moved into my grandparent’s house, about half a year after my Papaw passed and my Mamaw was moved to an assisted living facility. The house is a member of the family itself, being the place where my mom was raised, and the place where my sister and I had the ultimate daycare as children. The house had been everything to she and I, from a palace where we had Kool Aid tea parties with extra sugar, to a grocery store with fake groceries, to our own doll babysitting club. As we got older, it became a place of refuge from our busy lives, difficult decisions, and the struggles of growing up.

When I decided to move in, I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it. Everywhere I looked contained a memory, a hug, or a piece of advice peeking around the corner. I decided that to be able to live in the space that indeed was the second home of my childhood, I would need to make a few changes. I did. My family and I took to painting the walls, moving some furniture, hanging up new pictures, getting new furniture, all to create a home of my own. It worked, or so I thought.

The other morning, I woke up, and my first thought was: “Oh, I forgot I stayed the night with mamaw and papaw. Where’s Cathryn? (I reached for her beside me; we always shared a room when we would stay the night.) I wonder if mamaw is cooking breakfast and if papaw is watching tv. I need to get up and go see-”

Then it hit me. Hard. Devastatingly hard.

As true reality set in, I cursed the fact that I had to wake up in this new, alternate reality, a reality full of grief and hollowness and longing for what I can never have again. I was mad at my brain for tricking me so easily into believing that I was a kid again, sharing another morning with my grandparents, and I was mad at my heart for allowing me to forget that papaw was gone.

I have never felt disappointment like that before. I have never felt my heart go from day to night that fast, not even when I actually lost him.

It was kind of like the opposite of waking up from a nightmare. When you have a nightmare, you wake up, so grateful to be out of the situation you thought you were in.

This time, when I woke up, I longed to go back to the dream, back to the days I loved as a kid and that adorn my heart like fine jewels in a crown.

But I can’t. We can’t. None of us ever can.

You know, after losing someone, it doesn’t seem like things will ever get better. You kind of accept the fact that things won’t be the same, but you hope to at least be able to function normally again, without tears sneaking out of your eyes or scents making you flash back to people you can no longer hold in your arms. The grief you have felt, and felt, and felt yet again, seems to become your closest companion.

Grief-the mere connotation of the word itself brings thoughts of sorrow and feelings of sadness that seem to rush up out of nowhere, wrapping you in a suffocating hug, clinging like a straight jacket of despair. I have waded deeper in the ocean of grief this past year than I ever have, not only grieving for the loss of my loved one, but grieving with so many others who have lost their loved ones.

I didn’t realize initially that when we lose someone very close to us, we lose a piece of our entire life. It’s not just the person who goes, but the feelings of happiness or contentment associated with that person go too, along with traditions and visits that you never knew were such an integral part of your life. For me, it’s the loss of cantaloupe eating on the front porch; late evening visits where the porch light stays on till you get home, just to light the way for you; watching Walker Texas Ranger and court shows; being asked three times if you had enough to eat; listening to stories of childhoods I never experienced.

I have learned grief and love are very similar. They both shatter allusions, fill our hearts, overwhelm us, and manipulate our emotions. They both make their presence known to all of us, attaching themselves to us in the wildest ways, regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status. They both create longing in our hearts, and they both capitalize on strong feelings for those we care about.

I wonder if that’s why grief is such a powerful force. It’s like loving someone twice-once as they live this life with you, and then again when you live your life without them, loving them almost more because they aren’t there to feel and see your love in action. You can’t prove it to them anymore; you have to hope that they knew and still know how much they mean to you.

Grief therefore is a bittersweet feeling, a circle of continuity in regard to our acceptance of what was and what now is. It is knowing that you had an amazing person in your life, while also accepting that the person you loved so dearly is gone, but then remembering how grateful you are to have had that person, while simultaneously wishing he or she was still here.

A year later, and this is where I am in the grieving process. The highs of memories and the lows of realizations cycle through my mind and heart regularly.

I read a quote recently that said to keep the best qualities of the people we have lost in ourselves, in order to not only keep their memories alive, but to honor who they were. What a beautiful thought that is!

No, it doesn’t take away the pain or the discontentment that has ruffled the plans of our lives and shadowed our happiness with a veil of grief. It doesn’t make everything “okay,” nor does it fill the hole in our hearts. It doesn’t put things back together for us, and it will never replace what we lost. But it is something. It’s something better than living in the past, dwelling on the way things used to be, or painfully longing for something that will never be the same. It is SOMETHING. Sometimes one something can be the first step to healing, like the first ray of sun after a cold, dark, seemingly endless night.

So for me, I will remember my papaw and the legacy he left for me by trying to be like him. Slow to anger. A steady friend. A faithful believer. A peaceful leader. A hard worker. A generous giver. A sincere helper. A good person.

Maybe if we all can honor our missing loved ones this way, we can make a world that feels like they never left us.

Love and blessings,

Crazy Carrie

Post 1: “I’m not sure what I’m doing, so please don’t judge too harshly.”

Let me start by saying, “thank you.” Thank you for clicking on my blog and taking the first step in getting to know me, my craziness, my search for contentment, and my wayward contemplations.

You should know that I love to write. Writing is one of the few things that keeps me grounded, rooting me to the core of myself amidst the barrage of emotions and thoughts that seem to hail on my mind on a daily basis. I have told myself for a long time that one day I would share my writing with the world, and as soon as I would state that, the self-doubt would creep in, asking very haughtily, “Who cares? Who cares if you like to write, and what makes you think anyone would want to read it?” So, I backed away, keeping my words locked tight in a journal, while simultaneously locking my feelings behind closed doors that would rival those belonging to a bank vault.

What changed my mind? An odd event really.

Tonight, I’m embarrassed to say, I randomly dressed myself up-cute dress, makeup, the works-with nowhere to go, no plans on the horizon, and no night out on the town in my near future. I did it simply to see if I could feel beautiful, to see if I could feel special, even just different, if in no one’s eyes other than my own. And I did. For a fleeting moment, I could see myself, dressed to the nines, doing all the things I have dreamt of- a night at the opera, a broadway play, swing dancing in a Jazz club, a walk through the streets of Paris, with the Effiel Tower winking at me behind the tears of a light mist. It was a beautiful moment. I was beautiful in that moment.

Then, as my opened my eyes, remembering where I was, I wondered, who else in the world has done this? Who has had tried to recreate a version of themselves that they long to see, dreaming of dreams they rarely share with the world? How many people, women and men alike, are living their lives while dreaming of another one? How many people find themselves trapped in a world they feel they don’t belong in, searching for something but not knowing what they are searching for?

And this is the reason. This is the reason that led me to write a blog for anyone who has ever felt any of the feelings I have mentioned above. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers, nor do I have the ability to change my life or any one else’s so profusely that they are living their lives to the absolute fullest everyday. But, if I can make one person feel less alone, less stressed, or less crazy by sharing my thoughts, it’s worth it.

Sometimes I feel as if I am supposed to be doing all the things and only the things I love, taking advantage of everyday for fear of not having tomorrow. Sometimes this feeling overwhelms me so much that I feel trapped, unable to break through the walls that society has built for us, thick with the bricks made of long held beliefs, expectations, and demands that we be our best selves, while simultaneously going full throttle adventure mode, all at the same time.

I must admit, if this is how my life is supposed to be, I am failing miserably.

I live for travel: exploring new people, feeling the air of new places on my skin, learning from people different from me, and if I could, I would go and keep going until the wanderlust in my soul felt satisfied. But, alas, I can’t travel all the time. College loans and car payments have a nifty way of showing up when I really want to buy that plane ticket.

However, due to the limitations of being able to follow my dreams, I am learning that to live a full life, as cliche as it sounds, one must find excitement and contentment in the little things. For me, it’s the cup of coffee I have with my favorite creamer; the look my dog gives me when I know he is happy; the genuine kindness of people; the way the stars play hide and seek with the trees in my backyard; the sound of Nat King Cole’s rich voice; the passion of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata;” the hugs from my family that feel like home; the peace of knowing I tried on the days when I didn’t think I could even do that.

Those things may not be eye catching or life changing events, and they definitely won’t leave their mark on the history of the world on a grand scale, but they do accomplish something. They leave their mark on me, and with them, I can leave my mark wherever I go.

This blog is open to whoever wants to read it, and there may be a few old timers out there who have discovered the secret of life. (If so, please be kind enough to share with the rest of us slackers.)

I in no way intended for this to be a cliche post, nor did I intend for it to be so long. But, if you are out there reading this, and you feel the pressure and the struggle to be everything you think you should be and everything everyone else thinks you should be…pause. Pause, take a deep breath, and just be. Be your amazing, beautiful self. Fight for your dreams, work for your dreams, live your dreams, but live your days too, because they are the dreams you didn’t know you had.

Love and blessings,

Crazy Carrie