Like a Child Learning to Ride a Bike

Remember that time you bought me flowers? It was the first time you ever expressed your admiration towards me. Every flower petal was perfectly in place and you said it was no big deal and I deserve it. You told me you loved me and I believed you. Your heart shined through your light blue button-down and your smile softened as you waited for my reply. Like a child standing in front of their class, butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I stuttered through my response. A response that lead you to cradle me in your arms and kiss me with lips as soft as silk.

Remember that time you told me you wanted to marry me? We were laying side by side when you took off your necklace and put it in my hands. Your eyes slowly glided from my hands to my face, undressing my body in an imaginative gaze until their found their place, sinking into my green eyes. A valley of wonder and promise. You spoke with tender words, as your hand tightened around mine with the necklace tangled in my fingers, then told me you loved me. You waited for some kind of reply, and like a child dancing in the rain, I gave my response. A response that lead you to cradle me in your arms and kiss me with lips as soft as steam.

Remember that time we sat for hours in your car? You remained motionless, your palms tightly clasped in your lap with your face lowered and eyes streaming with anger. Maybe it was something I said. Something you said. Something we both didn’t say. I left you car with eyes swollen and bloodshot, but later that night you texted me and said you loved me. You waited over an hour for me to reply, and like a child talking to its mother, I gave my response. A response that lead you to buy me flowers, with petals tender yet torn, you cradled me in your arms and kissed me with lips as soft as morning light.

Remember that time when the bed felt cold? Words were sharp and emotions were tender. You were resting beside me, body heavy as stone as an ocean churned between us. I rolled over to face you, and with your back as your barrier, you formed a wall to keep me out and my sorries away. I closed me eyes and wished this would disappear, but when they reopened your room was a blur, distorted between a watery haze. I whispered “I love you” and waited for your reply, but like a child lost in the woods, the tree did not respond. No longer would I be cradled in your arms and kissed with soft and tender lips. I got up to leave that night and you didn’t even stir. Your body remained motionless, breath steady, and eyes hazy. I turned to face you as I stood holding my jacket when the ocean sent a wave of clarity to wipe away my tears. You may once have told me you loved me, but the flowers you have given me have since wilted and died, and much like a child baring cuts and bruises, I learn from my mistakes and decided to move forward.

An Answer to the Bullies

I just posted a blog post as a kind of answer to the bullies I faced in high school on The Girl in the Boots and I truly surprised myself.

High school was not “the time of my life” as some have told me before. “Embrace these years because you’re gonna miss it.” Lies. All of it.

High school was much like the experience dolphins have in the aquarium. I was on display to be judged and all did judge me. I was forced to preform tasks outside the normal academic routine, I was laughed at, judged by my superiors, and then left alone until it was time to be on display again.

What I have since gathered from all of this is that the comments about my size, hair, voice, and body shape have been received and remain within me; however, I rose above them.

The damage they have caused can still be seen on my body today, but in the end the figurative ghost created by their taunts has diminished.

The girl who was displayed for so much judgment let the words crash with her spirit, but in the end, my spirit has only grown stronger.

The Dirty Truth Brushed Under the Rug

It was something I never expected to hear in high school. I walked into the school, running late and missing the normal crowd of people I usually enter the school with. Everyone was already in their classrooms so I rush, trying to get into class before everyone settles down in their seats and begins their work. What I walked into was not my normal History class with students laughing and the teacher cracking jokes. When I entered the room I could see the walls that have been raised around the students and the teacher. Some of my classmates sat in groups, some hiding their faces between their arms while their bodies slump across their desks. The teacher was sitting in one of the small desks and was comforting a student who was crying, her friends surrounding her with their eyes just as strained red and lips quivering.

Walls grew around me as I felt a sense of seclusion and a desire to be alone, without even knowing exactly what has happened, I just knew there needs to a separation from me and the class as everyone else has created a barrier to hold in emotions, to seclude themselves, to be alone.

I sat at my desk and remained quiet, the air was deep and heavy as it weighs down my body as the stone wall grows higher. I have never seen my class so still before. Between the sniffles and the tears running off of desks and cheeks, I saw the troublemakers sitting at their desks, still in their click but all at separate desks facing forward, eyes down on their desks and phones out of sight. There silence was something I never knew existed. The normally social and energetic kids were with no desire to move or be heard. They were separated from the class as if their bodies were only an outline and their souls have slid from their mold and just went away.

Soon my teacher got up and moved to the front of the class, his voice was soft as he spoke and his eyes were drained cold and welled up as he said “If you need to, feel free to leave class whenever you feel the urge and go to see a counselor. The principal has brought in a few extra people who can offer you assistance.” He then handed out a piece of paper with questions on it and put on a tape of a show from the History Channel. He went back to his seat next to the student he was comforting earlier. No one did their assignment, the teacher didn’t ask for us to turn it in.

Before class was let out the morning announcements came on. Instead of hearing a student’s voice being loud and obnoxious the principal came on. He didn’t address the footballs team big win or events that would be taking place through the rest of the week, but I didn’t expect him to. He started with “I know many of you have already heard the terrible news about one of our fellow students. Please come to the office to speak to a counselor if you feel the need, we are here for you. Let’s try to make this day as a time of remembrance and positivity as well as we can.” What I soon learned was that one of the students has commit suicide and was discovered that morning by her father when she didn’t wake up for school. She was a star athlete, had straight A’s, was a popular girl full of positivity and was loved by all students and faculty, and by her twin sister.

I didn’t know her directly but I had class with her sister. I felt like my sheltered life has been hit with a sledge hammer and started to crack and crumble. We have all heard about suicide, seen it take place on television or in movies, even read about it in books, and despite dealing with my own anxieties and depression, this feeling was unknown territory. I felt terrified and I couldn’t explain why. I was scared for my friends, how were they dealing with this? Are they depressed or suicidal? Do they need help? I began to visualize every person in that school as glass dolls, dangerously close to breaking, their own fragility becoming more and more apparent with every step they take through the hallways.

After graduating high school I heard the news of another suicide of a female student. Although I am unaware of the reasons for either of these suicides or of the students themselves, the news hit me and rattled my spirit. Facebook blew up with posts about suicide awareness, depression, hotlines to call if you’re feeling like hurting yourself, and support from everyone in the school system and community. Everyone stepped up offering support, some even posting their numbers to call if you wanted someone to talk to, however, all this love and support would then vanish back into nothing as the daily routine was rediscovered and everyone went back to facing their own stressors. Everyone began to move on.

Now I’m a junior in college, scrolling through social media and seeing various posts about suicides. I begin to think about my experiences and about how I feel on the subject. Since my two encounters with high school suicides, I have been exposed to the death of a friend’s significant other and a friend’s grandfather who took his own life. Suicide and depression is a topic that is shut out from reality because it is viewed as personal and something you need to deal with alone, behind closed doors. From all of this I felt as though I needed to evaluate myself and come to terms with my own reality that I’ve kept hidden behind closed doors.

Time and time again you hear a suicide take place and everyone says “We had no idea she/he/they was feeling this way.” This made me think, if my depression and anxiety got any worse and I begin to greatly consider ending my life, who would I turn to for help? My first thought was on my family. Could I confide in them? The quick answer was no. Why? We’ve never been an open family, freely discussing emotions. I thought about when I broke off a past relationship and how when I told my mom I found no comfort in her. I sat on the couch, trying to hold back tears, she sat in the rocking chair across the room. I thought about when my parents came across a post I wrote on my blog about the bullying I faced in high school and how I had to deal with it alone. It wasn’t until my parents had a glass of wine or so that they addressed the post, they said I made them feel like bad parents because they didn’t help me with my “issues.” I thought about the time I was being called bad names for giving an answer to a question in a way that my dad didn’t like and then he said that if I’m upset about something I need to just get over it.

As much as I’d hate to admit it and accept it myself, I have gone through phases of dealing with depression and anxiety, never being able to find comfort in the people you should be able to always rely on. Maybe they weren’t phases, and instead I’m still trying to make light on a subject that really shouldn’t be, but I’m a conservative person who has problems with opening up to people. My last relationship lasted four years and even then I struggled to let him in. I would fight myself from telling what I was actually feeling in the moments of crying and panic attacks. I felt like a fool for behaving this way and was too embarrassed to explain what was going on in my head because I never wanted to be looked at as weak or crazy. One day a panic attack hit when we were sitting in his car and I began to cry uncontrollably, unable to catch my breath, and my whole body hurt and shook with every gasp of air and thunder of sobs as tears exploded. I balled myself up and hid my face as he just sat there and waited for me to finish.

To me, having depression meant you were a statistic, one of the millions of people who claim their life is something less than stellar and relies on mind altering drugs to be happy. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be someone broken, I wanted to have a perfect life, to fit in with my family, have good grades effortlessly, to be pretty and perfect and normal.

I’d fight with myself at night, often crying for no reason and beating myself up for the way I am: my body, my face, my style, my brain capacity, anything. I would do things that I’m not proud of in these moments as a way to control what I was feeling and to take back any sanity I had left with myself. I hated who I was and dealing with the feelings I have with who I am today, but I still remain silent.

Depression, anxiety, any other mental illness, and suicide are not something you should walk around. I know I’m being a hypocrite when I say this, but we need to be open. We need to find ways to allow ourselves to heal. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time on being unhappy without ever addressing it, and still…

I guess what I am trying to say is that to prevent suicide there needs to be more done within a household, within a community, and within the school system. The only time there is light shed on these topics is when depression has run its course and a life has been taken. We need to prevent this from happening instead of focusing on how to move forward after it is already done.

Creativity in School

Being in college has opened my eyes to a whole new world as I strive to move towards a good career and earn a living while doing what I love. Professors are eager to help us students understand our own style, create our own opinions about different authors and writing, and edit our writing while we develop our language and morph into honorable writers.

On top of my writing, I’ve began drawing (as you may have seen in previous posts), a skill I honestly did not know I had. Of course I’ve taken art classes in elementary through high school, but in that time I was unable to find a passion for it. This made me wonder, why was I unable to find love in something that now favorably takes up so much of my time?

And then I thought about how it was not until my Sophomore year of college that I finally decided to change my major to English. Writing, being a form of art (at least in my eyes), is something I am very passionate about but could not come to love it until I was out of high school and well on my way as a college student.

What I’ve determined is that while schools encourage students to be creative and write, draw, play music, sing and perform as they please, they still hold strong guidelines as a thin strip for students to walk on. I’ve taken many art classes over the years but was told my drawing and other pieces were not well done. But why? That’s how I envisioned it. Is it because my lines are not dark enough for the teacher’s pleasure? Is it because I didn’t shade correctly? Is it because my lines aren’t straight enough and the curvy lines not curvy enough?

Then I think back to English classes when I was asked to write on a topic of my choosing. Let’s say a poem. Students would get points off for not following the proper syllables, line length, or meter, a very good reason for point deductions, however holding points on an assignment because the teacher did not like the topic or word choice is disheartening.

I love being creative in many of it’s forms, but having someone tell you your assignment is not good is what pulled me away from taking part in it outside of school.

As I began college, and the main focus moved from following a certain style to creating our own, is what reopened the doors to the world of writing. I was so used to hearing what I’ve written is not correct, when in reality there is no reason why it wouldn’t be. Before college I was lost and had no idea who I was a writer. The boundaries created to enclose students into writing as one another, to where there is almost no diversity, is what held a form grasp on me, which is why I believe schools need to have a more open and free flowing creative outlet for students to explore the many possibilities of art.

The opportunity to express yourself is a very important aspect of young lives as we come to discover who we are. I would have never come to understand my love of writing if I did not allow myself to explore the world of creative writing in college. Secretly I had a burning passion for it, but I worked hard to keep it from bubbling over because I never saw myself as a good writer.

Freedom to write as you please is beautiful. Freedom to draw, design, paint, create, and explore as you please is beautiful. And this is something schools and parents should focus on as their kids grow.

Learn to love art and you will learn so much about yourself.

A Bully and the Bullied.

In a  few previous posts I talked about my experiences with a few different forms of bullying. Being someone who didn’t exactly fit into the mold of the average female girl in middle and high school, I ended up facing many issues with making friends, being accepted by my peers, and dealt with constant behind the back rude comments in relation to my size, complexion, grades, and lack of social skills. It was a hard few years where I ended up losing friends and being known as the girl who couldn’t read and would receive terrible grades. As one can imagine or has experienced themselves, being on that end of bullying is something that can change you forever. The people who hurt me so much in school may become coworkers or acquaintances down the road, but the fact that they given me so much anxiety is something that i will never be able to erase.

Yesterday my family decided to go visit my grandmother who is spending some time in an assisted living home after a health scare. My dad has been more than proud to flaunt the fact that his daughter has started a blog–even though I’d rather my family not read it because…. well…. you know… awkward–and began reading my NEW New Year’s Resolution post… you know the one where I talk about falling off the working out bandwagon and end up back in a relationship with pizza and vodka… yeah not something my grandma needs to know about.

But anywho, my grandmother got a kick out of my blog and began requesting posts that she saw would fit. The topic she kept referring back to was on bullying, a topic that sparked my interest. Turns out the little old lady who gets more kisses from her six children, eleven grandchildren, and new great grandchild than any woman I know, was once the bullier in school.

Maybe with age comes a sense of guilt from your past decisions, maybe she just thought I could make a good post on this topic, or maybe she is tired of hearing about the increase in bullying in schools and wants to tell her side of the story.

Whatever her reason was that she decided to share insight on such a topic, I was confused and honestly surprised. How is the woman who bakes me three bags of chocolate chip cookies before every semester a bully?

As she stated, she teased her fellow classmates because it was a way for her to show her superiority. She had a desire to be part of the popular crowd and lowered her morals in order to achieve that title.

It’s pretty much the oldest saying in the bullying books–‘the bullies only bully in order to make themselves feel better.’ I’ve heard that saying so many times in middle and high school that I thought of it as cliche and annoying. It wasn’t until after hearing my grandmother’s story did I actually feel that that phrase was true.

It was hard to wrap my head around the idea that someone I was related to was on the other end of the middle and high school torture that I’ve experienced–nor the fact that this woman is the kindest person I know. And if this has proved anything to me it’s that everyone has the ability to change. The phrase ‘once a bully, always a bully’ actually may be busted because we will all have time to reflect on our past and when we get older, if we start having kids and grandkids, it will come and hit us full speed ahead how terrible and life changing bullying really is.

There’s no way to downgrade any form of bullying, be it cyber, physical, or mental, bullying is bullying and it needs to stop. Yes schools have taken a huge step in the right direction to end or at least prevent many forms of bullying, but I know there is more to be done.

This topic isn’t really something that is addressed in highschool because ‘you’re old enough to handle things yourself’ and ‘nothing should be taken too seriously.’ Even with that being said, bullying is still a huge problem that can and has put people in a deep dark place where they feel completely alone and worthless. It shouldn’t have to take some horrible incident for bullying to become a worthy topic in schools. It’s important for administrators and students to be proactive and think ahead in order to prevent any of these instances from happening in the first place.

If grandma Judy thinks it’s time for a change in schools then gosh-darn-it it’s time for a change. I hope this post was as interesting for you as it was for me. Let me know what you think in the comments below!