This Is For The Tough Days

This is for the days when my heart hurts like hell, pulsating with a fierce, fiery pain.

This is for the days when I bite back the tears, trying so hard to swallow them whole.

This is for the days when my soul feels heavy, so I slump my tired shoulders down…

This is for the days when getting out of bed feels like a bad-ass, award-winning achievement.

This is for the days when I tremble with anger, my temper on super-short hairline-triggers.

This is for the days when I feel empty, useless and invisible like an actual ghost.

Yes.

This is for those really tough days.

The days that rip me wide open, leaving me naked and exhausted, shivering in the dark.

The days where I just want to give up.

I want the wind to blow a bit harder to force me off the cliff I’ve been hanging on to.

The days where I want to run and never stop.

But, I can’t.

I can’t run. Or hide. Or give up.

Because if I did, the only person I would be running from is myself.

I would be giving up on myself.

Hiding from myself.

So, yes, I can try to bail and haphazardly fling myself under a fast-moving bus when the going gets tough…but the thing is——I actually need myself the most on those ridiculously tough, trying and terrible days.

I’ll stay.

I’ll stick it out.

I don’t need to understand what I’m feeling…God, I’ll always have questions.

I just don’t need to analyze it.

I just need to stay and support the crap out of myself.

How?

What can I do? What will I do?

I can be bold and dive right into the toughness of the day, feeling the icy water drip into my heart, freezing to form incredibly beautiful icicles.

I can run directly towards myself, sprinting with wide open arms, with a supportive smile and a glass of red wine.

I can buy my battered soul a big bouquet of wild flowers.

I can take time and cry a thousand crystalline drops until the skies clear and my salty tear-rain has passed.

I can run my soul a frothy bubble bath, slip into mile-high lavender bubbles and take a breath.

I can retreat from the world, burrow under my down blankets, sigh, moan and just hurt.

I can ask myself, “What can I do for you right now?” And make it happen.

I can curl up into a ball and cry into my pillow for as long as I need to.

I can cue up an angsty, melancholy playlist and scream until my heart slips into a soothed state.

I can reach out, take my own hand and squeeze it hard.

Yes.

There are a thousand beautiful things I can do to support myself.

So I vow to never abandon my sweet self again. Ever.

Because, yes, somedays are incredibly tough.

But I guess they have the potential to have potential, too.

They can be transformative and beautiful and filled with inspiration.

Hell, somedays can turn out to be exactly what I need.

So, I’ll be bold and say I’ll stick around.

-K.

***Inspired by “C”- the individual who gave me way too little, yet just enough. You will always mean more to me than you were ever supposed to. Never settle. Know you’re worth. Never stop reaching. You are more amazing than you realize. I wish you light and love in all you do. And I promise, just for you, I will never stop searching for that teeny tiny bit of hope***

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Living With Depression At Christmas

The pain is indescribable. It consumes every inch of my body until I’m left feeling breathless and numb. Emotions prick my soul like needles. They rush into my head, unwanted, undesired and ready to stop me in my tracks. The embarrassment of being an easy target, prey to the predator that consumes me, feeling like a substandard version of what I feel a person should be.

The inability to experience enjoyment. The fear of feeling happiness because it’s so unfamiliar. The feeling of being lost in a place where I should belong. Not knowing how long I can live like this, how long I can keep doing it for, how long I can keep feeling this way. How is it possible to feel all this and still feel anything at all?

Aching, waiting, straining, synonymous with living my life, every moment spent knowing this has to be the end. As my eyes blink open, a painful noise escapes my lips, long and tiresome, aware of my existence. Internally bruised as I carry out everyday life. Then Christmas shows up, the festive holiday season where everyone around you appears to be filled with warmth and a joy for life that’s so unlike other seasons. Unique.

Bright lights are hanging from cheerful decorations, and I remember what it was like to experience the season with that feeling of excitement. It’s painful to hear those Christmas songs again, the ones I used to sing with my Mom. I have such cherished memories with my family growing up of putting all the decorations together, the tree, the manger, the village, the mantle, the stockings. My brother would always moan and complain but secretly I knew he loved it as much as I did. However, Christmas magic ended in my house when my Mom passed away almost thirteen years ago. Not one decoration to speak of.

Now everything I see provokes hurt inside, reminding me too distinctly of the times I didn’t hurt at all. Being with a family I know that I’m blessed to have, the fortune of my predicament seems to inflict a sharp stomach pain. Good or bad, everything feels like it is slowly killing me.

The smiles, the laughs, they show the same person I’ve been to everybody over the years. Then, at night, my body is shaken, rigid, heart beating fast, yet labored. Fatigue by its attempt to keep me going off such little desire for life.

Suffering with depression through Christmas and New Year’s will never be easy but I wish, for me and everybody else, that we make it through another year.

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Serendipity

Serendipity: (n) Finding something good without looking for it.

In a world where nothing is guaranteed and life is so incredibly uncertain…I knew. Honestly, I’ve always known.

It’s you.

Our story is such a long one that I don’t know how my words could ever do it justice. My memories are where the deep feelings are hidden but I’m going to try to explain how I got to where I am.

I wasn’t ready for you back then. Hell, I wasn’t even looking…but something pulled at me to email you back. You were busy getting smarter in Texas for a few weeks so that left us with nothing except technology. No rushing. No awkward first date. Just two people getting to know one another slowly and beautifully.

You were nothing that I thought I had wanted but the pull was strong. You had hurt yourself running and the very next day after being away from home for a month, you came to my office so my Boss could look at your leg. I was so nervous but the moment I saw your face everything just made sense. It was you.

You were a surprise — one that I wasn’t prepared for.

I knew that there was some sort of connection between the two of us, some undercurrent of energy that went beyond what the logical mind could explain, and for a while that was enough for me to know.

Then, life changed in the million and one ways that it tended to — and suddenly, without warning, I found myself in love with you. I guess maybe the signs were all there but I still felt that I was the last to know.

Ironically, as I try to think back and remember when I first knew I had fallen in love with you, I can’t actually remember when it happened. Perhaps it was the way you held my hand or the night you made me your favorite dinner or when I wrapped my arms around your waist while you did the dishes.

But still, I don’t remember falling in love with you…only that sometime during the heat of that summer, I suddenly discovered this well of love within myself with depths that now seem unfathomable.

Now, I realize that it’s always been you.

Even when I walked away from you (praying you would chase me but you didn’t) and eventually found other men to distract me from the way your brown eyes would burn into mine — I see now that I still never really left your gaze.

Although I have said bitter and harsh words to you, I now know that I never meant any of them. It was just that you always had a way of triggering me and challenging me with your bouts of silence and lack of answers.

And through it all, I never really expected it to be you — in fact, in some ways I was hoping that it wasn’t because I knew I had lost you to someone else while you were a million miles away and I wasn’t there to fight for you…for us. We were really over.

However I remember our last night together and as we laid there talking about life and where you wanted to retire to down the road and feeling your hands trace my body in the darkness — I was simply and honestly taken aback when I realized and suddenly thought: “Oh, it is you.”

As strongly as I felt in that moment of clarity when I was laying by your side and in your arms — I don’t know if you had the same experience or not.

Perhaps there was nothing truly special in anything that happened that evening or in the way the dim light created a golden curtain as my hair fell around your face when we kissed. It’s possible that our fingertips were simply spelling out lust against our bare skin rather than love — and afterward, I became anxious about that: What if you experienced the evening in a completely different way than I did?

But then I realized — it didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter if you felt that tingling of love start ringing in your chest as my body was pressed against yours, nor did it matter if you had regret what happened or not.

Because before the evening was over, I was already thinking that even if all we had was that night — then I would still be eternally grateful for it…and for you.

You are the love that I never saw coming, the one that I tried to run away from and close my eyes to because I was scared of what you would ultimately mean to my life and how it would have to change if you met me here in this place where anything is possible.

Baby, I don’t know what the future will hold, and I don’t know when or if you will ever really figure out what place it is that I occupy within your heart, but the thing is that I trust in the magical way that life works out.

I truly believe that if you are the one who is meant to stand by my side, then one way or another, you will find your way here to me.

And just maybe, if or when that time comes, I’ll find out that it’s me — and that it always has been.

I Love You,
K.

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I Admit ~ I Was At Fault, Too

I still think of you, even now.
I think of you almost every day.
I dream about you sometimes.
I swear I see you everywhere.

It’s not that I miss you or that I wish you were here by my side — no — it’s deeper than that. Something more complex and much less savory. Something more unresolved. Like a frayed rope that exists —yes, still — after all this time, between our two hearts.

This mornings air had a chill and thinking of you easily sent a shiver through my spine.

I think of how I blamed you for everything — and deemed myself blameless thirteen years ago. I think of all the problems that cropped up, like belligerent weeds, between us. I think of the good and beautiful times we shared, memories inked like unforgettable tattoos, on the deepest parts of our souls.

We grabbed life by the horns together. Grew like glorious vines together. Laughed uproariously together. Forged mountains of ignited inspiration together. Dove incredibly deep together.

But we f*cked it up together, too.

We let our darkest fears and deepest triggers seep into our relationship like a virus and throw us around by our throats. We let our unhealthiest patterns of relating color and corrupt our experience completely.

Then the unthinkable happened. I lost my Mom suddenly. Yes, I know she was like your Mom, too…but working on us instantly turned in to the back seat of my world. I gave up. Not only on our marriage but on myself. Nothing in the world mattered outside of my Father and my Brother. I know I should have gone to you, spoke to you, let you help me — but everything seemed impossible and not about me anymore.

You tried so hard and I pushed you further away.We tried not to drown in the pain and bullsh*t of it all, but it was so hard to find the words back then. It was so hard to understand what was happening.

The bricks of what we shared — the very foundation that formed our at-times soulful relationship seemed to scatter, blow up and disintegrate so quickly.

We were good at stepping on each other’s toes — we were experts on it, in fact.

And over time, through the years — we stopped relating to each other’s hearts. Fear gushed into our perceptions, wholly altering the truth of the situation, we would look at each other and see only pain.

Hurt, anxiety, abandonment, distorted shadow figures of what was.

We saw our own sh*t.

Not each other.
But — and this is the key — the pain we felt was not actually caused by one another; it was already there, long housed in our hearts.

We didn’t know that at the time, though.

If we took a peek behind the scenes, we would have seen this: We used each other (to an extent) to play out the destructive patterns, the sob stories that were alive inside of us — before we even met. Really, we broke ourselves; we did not break one another.

And perhaps we both needed to break, so we could ultimately heal.

I know it was wildly painful for you, just as much as it was for me — and I know we did our best at the time. We both deserve a huge amount of compassion.

But we were both wrong. The things we said, the childish sh*t we pulled. The secrets we tried to keep silent from one another — from ourselves even. The power struggles and passive aggressiveness and manipulative mind games we flirted with.

We were both wrong.
Yes.
Both of us.

It’s so freeing to admit that I played my part, too — it’s freeing to finally take responsibility.

Rather than just calling you toxic — I see the deeper truth that gleams from underneath the surface. I see that you weren’t toxic, but what we shared became that way. What we shared got poisoned because of both of us, as well as circusmstance.

And I’m not proud of my actions or behavior — but I can be honest. The untarnished edges of this honesty can crush me, just as it empowers me; it can humble me, as it cleanses me.

A welcome sliver of peace seeps in my heart, into the hallowed place where loving you will always be.

I learned so much with you about myself. About love. About needing to own my own sh*t, in the deepest way possible. It was this learning — with you — that ultimately set me free.

So I’d rather be grateful than angry.

I’d rather say what I never thought I’d say to you — thank you.

What we shared was wonderful but unhealthy, at times. However, it was ripe with growth. It helped me wake up and I hope it helped you wake up, too.

I hope it helped us both jolt to life, taste our truths, untangle the grittiest, most terrifying threads of our bullsh*t and learn to love ourselves, for real.

I’m sorry for the parts I played.
We were both wrong.
It was my fault, too.
I still think of you as the moon comes out to play with the stars.
I send you wordless messages across the miles delivered by the breeze.
A whisper. A feeling. A fragile trail of stardust —
Thank you for loving me.
I’m sorry.
You will always be a part of me and I’m happy we made promises before God that, some,  I will always keep.

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Moment Of Clarity

I thought it would be painful…letting you go all those years ago. I thought I would suffer, that my heart would be anguished with the loss of you, my first true love. Or worse, maybe it would stop altogether.

Maybe without you, I would’ve simply ceased to exist.

I thought I would become adrift, for you had been the anchor I had formed my identity upon, the compass I had relied on for my direction. I thought without you I would become lost, disoriented.

I had expected to taste salty tears as they fell upon lips that once spoke so fondly of you; that my head would lay on my pillow damp with tears for as many nights as the moon continued to kiss the stars.

But one day, years ago, I just knew.

I hadn’t expected such a feeling of relief as I cut the ropes that once shackled me to you. One instant of tremendous clarity. One instant, where I finally knew.

I no longer needed you.

I no longer needed your opinion of me, your affirmation nor your approval.

I no longer needed your judgements, your criticisms, your condemnations.

I no longer needed your expectations I could never meet; your hoops too high to jump through, your goal posts that shifted with every changing breeze.

I no longer needed your blame, your excuses or your justifications.

I no longer needed you pseudo love, fraught with conditions and attached with strings.

I thought I needed you. I didn’t.

I thought it would be hard to let you go. It wasn’t.

I thought I would miss you. I didn’t.

For in one instant my heart was awakened to the truth of who I was.

I was more than the lies you made me believe about myself. I was more than the look of failure in your eyes when I fell short of your demands. I was more than how worthless you made me feel. I was more than the ways you tried to break me.

I was a warrior, sculpted by the hands of creation, fashioned into being by the very hands that created the oceans and the stars and the mountains and the air.

I was strong, I was brave, I was wise. I was gentle of spirit with the heart of a lioness.

I was creative, passionate, sensitive and kind. I was of open heart and open mind. I was powerful, generous, thoughtful, daring, empathetic, raw, complex, courageous, understanding, forgiving.

I became everything you were not.

I no longer carried the shame you made me suffer under the weight of.
That shame belonged to you.

And I no longer carried my hate for you. For that would have only bound me to your darkness and gave you permission to destroy my light. It would have allowed you to stay within me, to destroy my peace, to blacken my heart with the malice that lived within you.

It would have tied me to your soul-destroying bitterness, your ugliness. It would have anchored me once more to you, who tried to drown me.

Instead, I chose to go into the world and love more fiercely, show more compassion, be more generous, offer more kindness.

I chose to forgive. For me, not you.

I chose to dis-empower hate.

I chose freedom.

I chose love.

I had stood firm upon the unshakeable truth of who I was.

I had flown to heights you had only dreamed of.

For I had let you go.

No longer was I held down by all I allowed you to be in my life.

I no longer needed you.

I was free…and I thank God for that moment of clarity.

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Feeling

I’m having a panicked, teary-eyed, blurry moment where I’m afraid I’ll never be able to write again. I’m afraid the words will never again pour easily, but awkwardly instead, and land on the page with a horrible thud.

Ugh.

But when I say I’m afraid to write, what I really mean is this:

I’m afraid to feel.

Because what is writing — other than feeling? Hell, what is living — other than feeling?

A tear rolls down my cheek ever so slowly that I quickly wipe away. And I do the thing that often feels like the scariest thing in the world:

I feel.

My tender heart opens, peeling back each petal-like layer gently, and I feel.

I glance around the crowded cafeteria where I write this, and I feel.

I feel my own sh*t. I feel the electric pulses of fear that drill into my gut with agonizing precision. I feel a slew of awkwardness and self-doubt. I feel the tears I always try not to cry. I feel the weight of this sparkly smile I’ve spent years hiding behind. And yes, I really mean years.

I feel other people, too. Complete strangers and people I know dearly.

I glance up and see an adorable baby’s bright blue eyes, and I feel his boundless curiosity. I feel a young girl’s confusion and shyness masked with a smile, her suffering tucked elegantly into the pockets of her bright yellow shirt. I feel the extreme exhaustion of a mother sitting next to her four small children trying to keep it together.

Then I see what looks like the regrets of an elderly woman, her wrinkles indicative of a thousand memories made, a life lived, a heart broken, children raised — yet a palpable amount of uncertainty remains in the creases of her forehead. I think, maybe she’s still not sure if she did the right things or made the right choices in her long journey.

Maybe she never found her way — maybe she’s lost. Maybe I am, too.

I feel.

It’s not pretty — it rips me right open — but it’s medicine for my heart. It’s so real. And goddammit, I need real. We all need real. We do so many elaborate, busy things to avoid feeling, to avoid what’s real, to avoid truly seeing others — and oh boy, yes —to avoid facing ourselves.

What if we stopped avoiding and started feeling?

Sure, roll your eyes if you need to, but consider it anyway. Consider what beauty would happen if you stopped looking away from your own depth of heart.

What if we worked up the subtlest bravery to feel our sh*t — all of it — our grief, our pain, our longing, our hope, our deepest confusion, our heartbreak, our dreams, our passions?

Even though that might sound impossible and overwhelming, it’s not. It doesn’t need to be. It’s very possible and wildly necessary. We can all feel, right now. And we can taste the extraordinary benefits of doing exactly that.

For we are not automated robots, at all — we are born to feel. We are embossed in thrashing emotion. Even though we walk around confidently and act convincingly like productive puppets who know what we are doing — we don’t have a f*cking clue most of the time. Most of the time, we’re stumbling and struggling.

And isn’t that a beautifully fragile, wonderfully vulnerable, magnificently human thing?

I challenge us all to weep and laugh and taste the luscious fragility of being human.

Maybe it won’t feel comfortable. Maybe it will be painful — maybe it will ache and burn and we will feel terror or doubt or joy — or some glorious, messy mixture of all three.

Great!

Then let us feel it. Let us feel it all.

Because even when feeling hurts or seems downright unbearable — it’s inherently healing. It’s grounding; solidifying; revealing. It is truth itself. It’s oozing poetry and gritty hope and delicious art in the making.

I feel.

Much like that elderly woman I saw, I feel uncertain of so much.

I don’t feel confident or put together or shiny. Ever.

But I wonder if human beings are actually supposed to feel confident or put together or shiny. Maybe awkwardness and vulnerability and honest-to-goodness emotion are way juicier than a mask of stony confidence could ever be.

Because the more I live, the more my heart gets broken open, the more truth I taste — the more I realize that the simplest, earth-shatteringly vulnerable moments are the only things we have.

They’re utterly precious.

They are the moments when we allow ourselves to be fully human; when we spill out the bullsh*t dance of trying to hold everything so tightly together.

As I glance back across the cafeteria, I notice the elderly woman has gone. She’s been replaced by a different face, perched similarly in the exact same seat.

And yet, what connects these two women who will likely never meet is the look of confused uncertainty in their eyes. The uncertainty that is reflected, too, in my own eyes.

The gorgeous, gut-wrenching uncertainty of being utterly human.

The uncertainty we all feel, every single day.

We don’t need to walk around and try so hard to pretend to be confident. We don’t need to bulls*it ourselves into believing we have it all figured out.

To be vulnerable, to be honest, to be real, to stumble, to fall, to share genuinely and admit we just don’t know, to f*ck up, to feel —

It’s all we have.
It’s utterly precious.
Feeling is the medicine we forgot we needed.
And at the end of the day…we CAN feel.

-K

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To The Guy Who Tried To Break Me

I never said I was an angel.

My hands are dirty with the mistakes of my past, and my knees are scraped from the struggle to find what will make my heart soar in this life.

I’ve never said that I am perfect.

Instead, I only have good intentions — like the rest of us, I suppose. I have lied to others and unfortunately to myself. I have made choices that I knew were wrong, but I chose to make them anyway — simply because I wanted to.

I’ve never said that I am not to blame.

I have caused tidal waves in this life with the mistakes I have made. I have hurt others, sometimes accidentally, and sometimes on purpose. I don’t always bite my tongue and choose peace. Often I will say the very things that I know shouldn’t be said, just because I delight in saying what so many choose not to — admittedly, I take delight in being difficult at times.

I’ve never said that I know it all.

While I have come so far on this journey, I know that I still have far to go. Each and every day I learn more about who I am as a person and what I want from this one amazing life. I know that I have challenges waiting for me up ahead on my road, and I know that I will be crying and bruised at some points — yet, I still choose to travel forward.

I choose to see the good in myself and in others because that is how I want to live my life.

Because despite all these claims of promises that I can’t make — I can promise that I will always do the very best that I can.

I wake each morning knowing who I am down to the depths of my soul. I soak in my darkest corners, and realize that what lies there beneath the surface is just as valuable as the smile that plays upon my lips. I understand that no one is free from their darkness, and that it is sometimes a daily struggle not to let it take over.

For me, my insecurities shout obscenities at me from behind the clouds of my heart. They yell and torment me about all the times I was hurt and crying; they tease me with memories of the situations when things didn’t go the way I expected them to.

Yet it is my choice whether or not I feed into them or recognize them for what they truly are — fear.

Most of the times that I have caused hurt and made mistakes have come from fear. From either striking out against another first so that I wouldn’t take the first blow or because I was protecting myself from the seductive lure of possibility by self-sabotage.

And yet, here I am — alive, doing well and thriving during simple ordinary days.

Because I choose to be the good that I want to receive in this life.

I know that I will continue to make mistakes, and I know that I will undoubtedly hurt those I love — but I can try my best not to let that happen.

I can try, simply, to do the best that I can.

I can’t control the actions of others — but I have learned that I can control how and if I let them affect me. I can’t guarantee that my friends or romantic partners will always make choices that I will be happy with — but I can choose to accept and love them anyway.

I can choose to love someone not because they are perfect — but because they are real.

Each day that we wake up we are given a challenge to be better than we were yesterday. We are challenged to choose between living life with our fears dragging at our heels, and the mistakes of our past weighing heavily on our shoulders — or, to simply let it all go.

We can choose to treat others how we want to be treated — without being a doormat. We can choose to block harsh words and actions with a shield of kindness and understanding. By doing this, we are acknowledging that another may be acting out of pain or fear, and so instead of trying to engage them — we can simply choose to let it go and send them light and love anyway.

Being the person I am does not rely on how someone else chooses to live their life.

I will extend unconditional kindness, love, respect and support to others not because I am an angel, but because I believe that choice is a form of self-love.

It’s being true to who I am — regardless of the actions of others.

Within each of us we hold the gift of unconditional trust. Just because we have been hurt before does not mean that we have lost that sacred ability to believe in others.

Living with truth means being honest with ourselves — only then can we be truthful with others.

To speak the truth does not mean that it will always be pleasant, but if we teach ourselves to address other people and situations in a way that is authentic for each of us, then we will set the expectations for others in our lives.

This means being honest about our feelings — whether it is love, fear, anger or pain. It means not making excuses if we feel like not doing something, or making false promises because we don’t want to let someone down. This type of truth is letting our romantic partners know if we are feeling attracted to someone else or if we are falling out of love with them — it’s valuing honesty above all else.

No one ever said that speaking the truth and living with trust would be easy — but it is worth it.

I never said I was an angel. I am merely a beautifully flawed woman doing the best that I can. I am a woman who tries to extend love and kindness to those who need it the most, someone who believes that in the end truth and love not only prevail — but that they are the very qualities that make life worth living.

Now read this carefully, Mister…

I choose to be who I am and speak my truth regardless of others — not because I am heartless or even brave as many have stated, but because I have hid from myself for far too long.

With my broken wings and my bare feet, I make the choice to not be an angel but to be real instead. I don’t claim that my heart and soul is divine perfection manifested — but I do guarantee that it is unlike any other.

And it is that truth that will continually set me free, soaring into skies unknown and living a life that I love — all the way down to my painted toes.

So the next time you think you have any right to call me names dictated by my past — think twice. Your words have rattled my core and have even made me feel ashamed and slightly punished but because of the people I surround myself with have made me realize that it’s your problem that you can’t see the beauty in my honesty — I’m going to be just fine. However, you need to do some work on your perspective. My past doesn’t make me “unstable” or “psycho” or “nuts,” it makes me stronger, which is why those cruel words didn’t break me. YOU, didn’t break me. And I will never give you the chance to do it again. And that in itself, is 100% your loss to live with.

It is my nature in all situations — good, bad, painful or indifferent — to say goodbye to you in true Kristen fashion. I wish you well and when you cross my mind I will continue to send you light and love.

-K