Evolution: Embrace It

“People don’t change,” whispers a scornful, bitter friend.

We’ve all been told vehemently that people don’t change, “If they sucked then, they’ll suck now,” and all that yada yada. Which in all fairness is true for some people – some people really do just suck (forever), but for the vast majority of the population: we are not doomed to suck forever.

To be the same forever goes against the grain; we aren’t meant to rinse and repeat our entire lives. This isn’t to denounce routine by any means, but it is to embrace growth. You shouldn’t be the same person you were at 17, or even the same person you were last year. Every day lessons should be learned, every day we should be striving to be better than yesterday.

When you move to New York, the first thing that people will tell you is to remember that there is always someone better.

This is meant as a warning that the dating scene is hard because in the back of your mind (and your date’s mind) is the lingering thought, “Hmmm… is there someone better? Is this investment worth it?” Not to mention the whole competitive job scene has an underlying tone that you are replaceable (which isn’t necessarily a lie.) But it’s true, in life there is always someone better, but there is always someone worse too. It’s a double-edged sword.

So let’s take that knowledge introspectively: there is always a worse version of myself and a better version, and it’s in the power of the present version of myself to decide how I pan out.

To break that down, lately before I do something mildly destructive I audibly tell myself, “Girl, don’t do that to future you. Don’t put her through that. Don’t give her chores for later.”

The tendency to coddle our present self is in and of itself: self-destructive.

Present you is already having a bad day, case closed. Done. Past you already wasn’t equipped to deal with it, so what are you going to do for future you? How are you going to try to set her up better, make her more equipped to handle a similar mess in the future? How are you going to e v o l v e from this?

If you don’t evolve, if you reject the universe telling you that your current state of being is not sustainable – you are doomed to rinse and repeat. If you don’t learn from the bad day, that bad behavior, or that explosive encounter with someone more woke than you – then these things will always happen to you like groundhog day. You will get stuck.

Change is an old friend that comes when you least expect it.

Sometimes we get to embrace the change with open arms, but other times… the change is too much and not our cup of tea. That being said, we all change way more than we give ourselves credit for. Just last week I was able to talk myself out of hitting snooze everyday simply by asking myself, “Will the ten extra minutes change your day? Is it worth it?” Each day it was a clear answer, the snooze was not hit and I got out of bed earlier than usual.

But this week, I’ve not seen the same rationale and argued that yes, ten more minutes will actually make or break my day. Yet instead of that extra ten minutes domino-effecting my morning, I cling to the beneficial mindset I made last week and make compromises. Meaning if I sleep longer then this is how my routine will get altered, etc. Really, I’m refusing to allow myself to ‘sleep in’ without holding myself accountable for the effect it will have on the rest of my morning.

So you see, the person I was last week, I’m not her today, not completely. The person I was last year? Don’t know her. This is to say, if you knew me in high school or even college, and our friendship didn’t withstand the test of time: you don’t know me, nor I, you.

“You’ve changed,” whispers a scorned, bitter friend.

“Funny how that happens, isn’t it?” I say with a smile.


Dropping this Affirmations playlist as a reminder to embrace your evolution, but also don’t be too hard on yourself today ❤


“I’m Sorry” Sucks

I have a weird relationship with the phrase, “I’m sorry.” Whenever I’m told to say it, or it feels “necessary” to say it… I don’t want to and a lot of times I flat out won’t (guess my zodiac sign.) The times I typically can be found saying sorry are when it’s unnecessary – i.e. when it makes no sense and adds zero quality points to a conversation or interaction.

But I’ve been on a mission for the last couple of years to evolve the whole “I’m sorry” phrase out of my vocab.

thorned rose : Want to get out of here? Mommy needs a drink....

Me to me:

Examples of some unnecessary “I’m sorry” phrases:

  • “I’m sorry for the delay!” -> try: “Thank you for your patience!”
  • “I’m sorry, but this isn’t what I ordered…” -> try: “Unfortunately, this isn’t what I ordered…”
  • “I’m sorry, but I was wondering…” -> try: “Excuse me, quick question…”
  • “So sorry I’m late!” -> try: “I seriously appreciate you waiting on me!”

Examples of necessary times to say “I’m sorry”:

  • Never -> If you did something wrong, figure out a better way to apologize. “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.

“I’m sorry” is a weak phrase.

It’s just a surface scratcher to something deeper and, to put it simply, a way to deflect. There is always something way better to be said in place of an “I’m sorry.” I mean, how many times has someone used that phrase and you actually felt better or you felt like it promoted a more positive tone to the environment? Saying, “I’m sorry” is a reactional “oof” to a situation. It conveys how uncomfortable you are and even your distress… in turn, causing you to lose your power.

I’m not sure how one activates cancel culture but can we just get “I’m sorry” cancelled already?

Sure, this article might indeed be coming from a stubborn Taurus who will go above and beyond to avoid saying “I’m sorry,” but let’s seriously think about this. When has a simple sorry fixed anything? When has saying, “I’m sorry, I have a question” shown confidence?

The best apologies that change a situation are ones that come from the heart and are followed with action. And in turn, an aimless “I’m sorry” in email correspondence or for running late, etc. is useless. It’s useless because you’ve probably said “I’m sorry” so many times before that it has lost any and all sincerity it could have (maybe) once possessed. A little secret – the chronic apologizing also creates this weird mini pity party for yourself where the person on the receiving end feels the need to say, “Oh, no worries!” or some other response in an effort to try to make you feel better… and that’s kind of messed up.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a weird history with “I’m sorry.” I hate using it when I’ve done something that calls for an apology, usually getting away with an “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Which yeah, is not a real apology, but didn’t we already agree that “I’m sorry” is fake anyway you strew it? I’m a tragic half-assed verbal apologizer, but my real apology lies in my actions that follow the confrontation. (I know there should be a balance, but I’m working on it okay?!)

Now, in terms of the weird history I have of the “I’m sorry” overuse, I am still training myself out of over apologizing. I have come a long way, but there are still times when I’m writing up an email and have to actively catch myself and rephrase. Not to mention during face-to-face interactions, I’ll find myself at times biting my tongue to catch an “I’m sorry” and quickly rephrase what I had planned to say.

Deciding to change a behavior and actively implementing the change is an uphill battle, but it’s a gratifying one.

Blake Lively in “A Simple Favor”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Duck

Recently I read Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. I practically inhaled the book in just a few short days, and honestly I’m shook. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what I read, because I devoured it like a bomb burrito – so quickly I didn’t even really comprehend what parts of the burrito were actually the game changers, what I should factor in to my next burrito creations.

(I’ve been on a burrito making kick recently, so bare with me on this analogy.)

But alas, some things clearly stick subconsciously. For example, when trying to recreate my bomb burrito, my hand reached for garlic powder out of reflex, and it was in that moment it clicked that I had put garlic powder in that burrito last time on accident… but it was bomb. And then today, I was scrolling on my Facebook timeline and some people from high school were getting too personal (again). It was so annoying, I was two seconds from sending screenshots to one of my friends so that we could essentially poke fun at these people… but then I took a pause and thought, “Who gives a duck. They want to post this, that’s their business – no need to make it mine.” I then went about my business, sans screenshots, sans gossip, sans ducks.

Hehehe GIF by memecandy - Find & Share on GIPHY

Here is when it clicked – the book did something! I’m actually listening to Mark Manson’s advice, whether I realized it or not – yay! Cheers to growth, motherduckers!

Ultimately, Mark’s book wasn’t about not giving a duck about anything and living a carefree life, it was quite the opposite. It centered around the fact that you have to give a duck about things, but you should be selective and thoughtful with your ducks. In turn, this thinking then enables you to think about problem solving differently – what do you truly give a duck about? Why do you give a duck? Does it make sense to give a duck?

Question every problem you have like you’re a child aka – “But why?” yourself into oblivion.

It’s stripping down a problem to such bare bones, that you can then face the root of the issue, the true reason why you’re giving a duck. Nine times out of ten, when you strip down a problem like that, you’ll realize how dumb it actually is and how you’re probably responsible for the problem itself. Actually, Mark will tell you that you are responsible for your problems – every single one of them… but that’s a whole other topic.

Anyway… when you start stripping down problems, a realignment of priorities and values can take place. This enables you to shift your outlook and erase pointless problems. Next thing you know, you’ll find yourself actively withholding your ducks from things that no longer align with you. And trust me when I say you will feel really good about that.

Overall, if you’re looking for a read that will give you a bit of a wakeup call, something that will challenge your comfortable way of thinking… You’ve gotta get your hands on this book ASAP.

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

. . .

I Made a Vision Board for 2021: Part One

Let me be the first to say that I am a natural pessimist, an anxiety-ridden, serial depressive who is an enneagram 6. I’m not one for religion, overly positive mantras or crystals, but I’m willing to try just about anything at least once if it’ll improve my mental health and life. Like many others, 2020 was a rough year mentally, physically and emotionally. Fresh off the hell that was Q4 2019 (see How to Heal a Broken Millennial Heart for further understanding), 2020 was doomed from the start. It was to be a year of transition, a metamorphosis if you will. 

When 2020 started, I was at my heaviest – emotionally, physically and mentally – and the most uncomfortable in my own skin. Each day was a trial, presenting countless obstacles for my personal and professional life. However, through all of the changes and adjustments, one thing prevailed: I suddenly had time. More time than I knew what to do with. 

I began having to confront things that I’d been able to push away thanks to being busy at work or by spending time with friends. I discovered pieces of myself that I wasn’t a huge fan of and wanted to change that. Serendipitously, 2020 became the year of realization and inner growth. Now, I won’t be one of those bloggers or influencers that vomit positivity and about how great 2020 was. Don’t get me wrong, 2020 SUCKED. But through the darkness, we can find light. That’s why I wanted to make a vision board for 2021.


What is a vision board?

A vision board, sometimes referred to as a dream board, is a physical way to manifest what you want. It’s a visualization tool used to manifest or ‘visualize’ what dreams or ideas you want to project into the universe. Personally, I’m not into all that touchy-feely stuff, but again, anything is worth a try at least once. This year, I’ve learned that there is no bigger obstacle than myself. I am what creates (and thus destroys) my own happiness. I am the only one who controls that. 

What is included in a vision board?

It can be anything you want. There are a few different ways to go about building a vision board, so truly there is no wrong answer. I made two – one for general ideation (completed) and one for specific goals (in progress). I included quotes, reminders, photos, souvenirs, small tokens/gifts and stickers. Besides the cork board itself, I only purchased one magazine to cut up – otherwise everything else was just stuff I had lying around my house. This does not have to be an expensive project – but it will require some time and thought. 

How does it work?

Vision boards serve as a physical reminder for what you’re wanting to achieve. Seeing it everyday will help keep your goals or ideas at the forefront of your mind as you progress through the weeks and months. It can help to motivate you in a passive way. Rather than an obnoxious alarm on your phone or a calendar reminder, you can be met with a peaceful, self-created image that hangs on your wall as a friendly notice.


Here’s my vision board, broken into four segments: travel, healing, growth, reminders.

Top Left  – Travel 

Each year, except 2020, I plan a trip abroad. I love to travel and to help visualize that, I’ve included a photo of the airplane when I visited Scotland, a luggage tag from France in 2011, a polaroid from the condo in Marco Island and a few travel themed stickers. I hope to travel, whether a big or small trip, and remember how lucky I am to be able to do that.

Top Right – Growth

Midway through 2020, I was invited to join a personal and professional growth program through my company. I was hesitant at first, feeling that I was already at a transitional point in my life, but decided, ‘why not?’. I had nothing to lose, but so much to gain. I’ve included two acronyms to remember daily: one from the work program (S.N.A.P.) and one from the Emotional Detox book by Sherianna Boyle, MED, CAGS (C.L.E.A.N.S.E.)

Bottom Left – Healing

As mentioned in How to Heal a Broken Millennial Heart, 2019 was a shitstorm before 2020 dreamed of it. I’ve included a dream catcher from a Lakota reservation that my grandmother gifted to me, a postcard from Annecy, a fortune cookie and quotes. This section will serve as a reminder that healing is a priority throughout this year – even when it doesn’t always feel good.

Bottom Right: Reminders

The bottom right has no true theme, but just gentle reminders. The moon cycle is a reminder that everything will pass and change. The polaroid is a reminder to get out every once in a while, embrace nature and the relationships that I’ve cultivated over the last year. Lastly, the patch, simple and straightforward –  have a nice day. 

Stay tuned for part two: goals!

UK Adventures: Beast from the East

Buckle your seatbelts everyone, I’m about to take you for a wild ride.

End of February going into March 2018, I made the ultra-fun decision to go visit one of my friends, Linus, in his home country ~ England. It would be my first time going there ever, and I hadn’t seen Linus since we’d studied abroad together in 2016, so this trip was revved up to be an ordeal. An amazing ordeal.

I did my research and the cheapest way, and really the most fun way, to get to Linus was to first fly to Paris and meet one of our mutual friends there, then together her and I would fly to London that same day, and then… you know what, I’m actually a psycho planner so below is what had been planned:

See my full excel here if you’re looking for planning inspo… LOL I AM NOT ASHAMED

As you can see, we get to do a fun trip hitting various cities. Our two days in London (really only one proper day) we went to Warner Brothers Studios and did the FULL Harry Potter shebang. It was bliss, I would easily pay the 40-50 bucks to go again, and again, and again. It was magic and everything I hoped it would be and more…

PRO TIP: You have to book your tickets for WB Studios in advance. Like as soon as possible, because depending on the time of year, they can be all booked up for several weeks out!

After our super fun Harry Potter escapade, we hopped in train up north to the main event: the visit with the lovely Linus in his humble abode located in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I’ll be real, the only Newcastle I had ever heard of was the one in Indiana, so I didn’t know what to expect when signing up to visit this town. But I’ll be quick to say Newcastle is a pretty major city that perfectly maintains the English quaintness I was craving. We had loads of fun seeing the town, great shopping, fun nights out. We went to this great bar called The Alchemist and the cocktails were so extravagant and hands on, I felt like a witch brewing potions – and lemme tell ya, the potions were working!

At this point you’re probably thinking, “This trip seems so nice! Way to be dramatic, Emily. So much for a wild ride…”

Well here we go… if you scroll back up to my lovely calendar, you’ll see that we had an unassuming day trip planned from Newcastle to Edinburgh. It made sense to do, it was a two hour journey via train, we could easily leave Newcastle early morning and leave Edinburgh late evening. Not to mention, the train tickets were stupid cheap. It was a great setup.

PRO TIP: Check the weather before you travel anywhere – near or far!

Our journey begins like most, tickets are bought, including surprise tickets for an unsuspecting Linus & his roommate as gratitude for letting us crash at theirs during our visit. We’re all buzzing with excitement to journey up to Edinburgh. I can’t wait to catch sight of the castle, more Harry Potter vibes, and of course catch some Scottish accents.

We’re nearly halfway through our train ride when we notice a light snow flurry begin to pick up intensity, and it’s not long before our train makes an unplanned stop. We’re at a standstill for nearly an hour, and it’s unknown when we will start moving. Linus’ roommate’s mother begins texting her frantically, “You guys are crazy to go to Edinburgh! Didn’t you check the weather?! You should turn around and come back…”

Upon the relay of the mother’s message, I speak quickly and firmly for us all, “No, this snow is nothing. We’re fine!”

Oh, those are the famous last words, aren’t they?

The snow certainly was nothing compared to the harsh winters experienced in Indiana, this weather would barely get us a 2-hr Delay from school! But what I had not taken into account is that the UK is not equipped for this kind of icy weather. It didn’t come often enough for it to be a problem, so when it did the country would just simply hold tight at home and wait out what they call a Beast from the East.

The ‘Beast from the East’ is a phrase used to describe cold and wintry conditions in the UK as a result of easterly winds from the near continent.

When pressure is high over Scandinavia, the UK tends to experience a polar continental air mass. 

When this happens in winter, cold air is drawn in from the Eurasian landmass, bringing the cold and wintry conditions that give rise to the ‘Beast from the East’ moniker.

Met office UK

So, basically it’s a crazy polar vortex that can be blamed on Scandinavia, ultimately. This is when the Beast from the East becomes a focal point of the story.

As we finally make it into a snowy Edinburgh, I’m awestruck. This is where some of my favorite film, TV, and literature is set – this is the backdrop of all of my daydreams – I’m in heaven. We wander around, snapping photos and trying not to slip in the quickly piling snow. Then we get to the castle…

Instantly I feel transported back in time – I can almost see the historical figures walking around. is this real life? Am I really here?

We continue, or mainly I continue, to snap photos and relish in the atmosphere before we soon declare it time to explore elsewhere – maybe grab a bite to eat before the train back, maybe finally try some Scotch because when in Rome… 😉

We don’t make it very far from the castle, when suddenly the wind picks up and snowflakes fall in thicker form. What had first felt like a gentle breeze with wisps of snow, now suddenly becomes a rioting force whiting out the landscape. We make a dash into the nearest pub to escape the beast, and quickly get cozy at the bar while we wait for a table to become available.

As we’re waiting, the chatty bartender quickly learns our story. Pouring scotch into a glass, she tells us very seriously, “Everything is closing down, I’ve never experienced anything like this. Even the castle is closed down, and it’s not been closed down in some 50 years! I’ll be surprised if the train will take you to Newcastle tonight…”

We nervously laugh in response and brush her off like idiots.

An hour or so later we’re stuffed to the brim with bangers & mash, scotch, and beer. Once the bill is paid, we begin to make our way through the now full blown blizzard towards the train station.

Well, reader, have you guessed what’s happened yet? Have you?

After a lengthy walk with many near-falls, we make it to the train station. We’re immediately met with a flustered conductor who tells us that all trains have been cancelled and that we should check back in the morning. He then points us to their office where they get us booked up in a complimentary hotel for the night and even equip us with meal vouchers for the inconvenience.

Im Fine GIF - Im Fine Friends GIFs

At this point, all we can do is exasperatedly sigh and get on with life. It’s just one night… I quickly google the hotel to find that it’s actually a 5-Star hotel anyway, so it’s totally fine. And it’s only one day of being the same clothes, luckily I always carry contact solution and spare contacts, so it’s fine. Seriously, I’m fine.

Chrissy Teigan GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

The next morning, Linus’ roommate checks with the train station and they tell her we need to check back later – nothing’s moving as of now. But they also quickly add that they are doing tickets on a first come first serve basis and in person only – so we need to be physically coming down to the station periodically to check the status...

Each morning and afternoon we dutifully check in at the station to see if there’s anything leaving Edinburgh, but always we get the same answer, “Nothin’ yet.”

Days quickly turn into weeks, weeks turn into months…

Just kidding 😉

We ended up being stranded in Edinburgh for four days in total. The trainline, Virgin, put us up in incredibly nice hotels each night and also provided us with breakfast and dinner vouchers each day. They were “perfectly splendid” and we lucked out with their hospitality.

Unfortunately though, due to the weather, everything in Edinburgh was closed down – all of the shops and museums and the castle – truly the only things open were the pubs. So we weren’t that put out, just drunk and stuck in the same clothing everyday LOL!

One of the highlights was when Linus and I stumbled upon this secret little pub off the beaten path, it was so cozy and felt so unapologetically Scottish – it was truly a highlight of the stranding. We were even encouraged to take off our shoes to dry them by the fire – it felt surreal and as if everything was a purposeful vacation in that moment.

So now we’ve hit a super fun part, and I’m curious if you’ve done the math and caught what’s about to go down next!

Not only had my return flight to Paris been missed, but by the time we made it back to Newcastle, so had my return flight back to the US 🙂

PRO TIP: Book all of your travel (flights and hotel) with a CREDIT CARD! Most credit cards have some of the best travel protection imaginable and will refund you for nearly everything – as long as it’s a valid excuse like sickness or weather, etc.

Nope GIFs | Tenor

But did ya homegurl use a credit card to book her travels? Or at the very least get traveler protection?

I was able to rebook my flight to Paris just fine since the UK was so greatly affected by the winter weather, but France was completely unaffected… so I was out a good chunk of change for my flight back to the US.

Needless to say, major lessons were learned, incredibly unique experiences were had… yet out of everything, there’s only one thing I would change. That’s right, after all that chaos I only have one thing to change.

My attitude.

Due to everything constantly changing, being completely out of control of the situation, additional vacation days being used that I had originally allotted for other things throughout the year… it was all eating at me and a lot of the time I struggled to properly enjoy what was put in front of me: an extended, nearly free, vacation with friends I don’t get to see very often. I wish that I embraced it all a bit more openly and accepted that the situation was out of my control, and just lived in the freaking moment. Clearly, there were definitely times I was able to get outside of my own head and enjoy myself, but can you just imagine what more experiences could’ve been added to the list if I just let go?

PRO TIP: Let go & live in the moment.

Ask Yourself

I see you.

I see you struggling with bills, having to work in a team hellbent on one upping each other, and I also hear you deferring blame for your current situation.

But sometimes the hardest, most necessary, thing to do is to take responsibility for your present.

You’re having a hard time with bills, well ask yourself: what are some things you can do to lessen your financial strain?

You’re frustrated with your work environment, well ask yourself: what can you do to adjust the environment to be more flourishing for you?

If you’re unhappy with the present, don’t just accept it for what it is and continue to stew in your dissatisfaction, blaming others for your current state. Take control, figure out what it is you need to be happy and thrive.

I don’t mean in a broad sense either, take baby steps, find little things that will slowly ease you out of your situation. Here are some steps you can take to change your present.

Identify The Problem.

You’re having a hard time financially. Ask yourself:

  • Where is my money going?
  • I don’t want to adjust my lifestyle, is it possible to get a second job? -> If you feel you are above getting a second job… but want to keep your frivolous lifestyle and struggle financially… we just found your problem dude.

You’re unhappy with your work environment. Ask yourself:

  • What can the team be doing differently that would help me thrive?
    • More communication? -> suggest daily check in calls or go the extra mile and directly tell your supervisor you feel out of the loop.
  • Is it the environment or the actual work that’s the problem? Would I be happy doing the same thing but with different people? Or do I hate my current routine? -> Depending on how you answer these is the difference between career change or a company change.

Take Action.

Ok, you’ve identified the problem – now actively do something about it.

It’s not enough to just say “Ope, yeah that’s the problem. Glad I can give the cat a name.” No, no, no.

If finances are a problem and you don’t want to downsize your lifestyle and quit living above your means, it’s time to buck up buttercup. There is nothing wrong with working more than one job. There is a massive misconception in thinking part time jobs are either food or retail, but how about working at a wine boutique? Babysitting? Photography? Dog walker? Tutor? House sitter? There are options! Fun options, at that.

If you’ve realized you’re unhappy with the your work environment – and you feel it’s nothing that can be solved with a good kumbaya moment with colleagues… maybe it’s time for a company change. Nothing wrong with that, people evolve and grow and that’s just life. But if you see yourself changing companies and still being dissatisfied with your life… it’s time to bounce careers, to try something new. If you don’t know where to start in a career change, just ask yourself what activities make you truly happy and explore that. If you’re keen on succulents, google “jobs working with succulents” or literally anything that brings you happiness: google that word + job.

SO

Hope you didn’t think I had more than those two steps, because I don’t. That’s really all you truly have to do to fix your present situation: identify the problem + take action.

It sounds simple, but I recognize the complexity of these two things and I also recognize the potential big steps – and existential crises – these can lead to. But this is what’s necessary to adjust your present to make way for a happier future.

Not to make this a religious post or anything, but the Serenity Prayer always comes to mind when I’m faced with difficult situations and looking for guidance on how to move forward:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

I Needed Saving

Many of us grew up with like-minded aspirations of falling in love, getting married, starting a family, and making memories with them. This is the story of my first love.

I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 21 and divorced at 24. I lived a life of domestic violence that was somehow disguised as happiness and common place struggles. I spent 9 years of my life dedicated to pleasing him, caring for him, nurturing him, and ultimately enabling him. We had the best times and we had the worst times. I never saw the damage being done to me and my soul until I hit a breaking point. I found myself exhausted from just waking up every morning. It was to a point where I just didn’t want to wake up anymore. I share my story with the hopes that other people that were in my shoes will not wait until it’s too late to see the warning signs of an abusive and toxic relationship.

We met in high school, 2009. We were honestly smitten with each other. We just clicked. We would talk about everything and anything together. We found ourselves spending an incredible amount of time at our local park, as that was the only thing really to do at the age of 13 with no means of transportation. We had so much in common: Passion for music, love for animals, the outdoors, video games — just to name a few. We had all the right ingredients to have and build a solid relationship. And that is what we did.

In the beginning, he made it clear he liked to smoke marijuana. I made it clear I was not okay with it. Him choosing me over the drugs was the best case scenario. Well, I found out later the first year of our relationship, he was lying to me and he was still doing drugs behind my back. We came to an agreement and I caved in and continued my relationship with him because he meant more to me than a “harmless” joint. With that behind us, he continued to show me love and kindness. He respected me and listened to me. We gave each other a reason to keep pushing in life. We were living the dream. Little did I know, he would be the reason why I wanted to stop pushing in life and what made me want to give up.

Fresh out of high school, we both went to college. We had dreams and goals that we shared together and set forth to make happen. Well, life happened instead and we both wound up dropping out and moving in together and took on full time jobs. Things were rocky, but I saw that as typical issues couples go through. I never understood the severity of the yelling, cursing, and occasional abandonment. He always came back and apologized and cried and said he would never do it again. I believed him. Every. Single. Time.

We got married in 2016. The wedding was not ideal. But it wasn’t what mattered to us. We loved each other and we wanted to share it with people who loved us too. This is when the verbal abuse escalated to mental and psychological abuse. There would be days where he would twist stories around and I believed them to be true. I was the perpetrator. I broke him. I never loved him. I used him for his money. I believed I was this monster because he was the one with chronic depression and I was not. At some point, I asked myself, “Then why doesn’t he leave me if I am this way?” I reached out to my good friends who honestly never knew anything behind closed doors; from an outsider’s view, we were the perfect couple. This is when my friends and family started getting concerned. Well, I sometimes listened to them but explained they will never know what it’s like living and loving a person with mental illness. They won’t get it.

I felt alone. I felt isolated. I felt like I was fighting a battle that was never going to end. The days of him attempting suicide were escalating and it seemed to be his shield or defense against me speaking out or retaliating. He was slowly losing his control over me because there was something in my head that clicked one day. I decided enough was enough. I sat him down and had a very deep conversation about respecting me and how he needed to do better and I was no longer tolerating his abuse. He acknowledged his wrongs, like always, and we went about our life together.

In 2018, we split up. We needed space, I needed space really. He did not take it well. He kept blowing up my phone, trying to force himself back into my life. He would get super understanding and be peaceful but then the next day, he was calling me a crazy bitch and that he fucking hated me. When we did see each other, that was the first time he got physically abusive. Sure he’s put holes in our walls and wrecked cars out of anger but never once laid a hand on me. It was the first and last time that happened. It was over. The police were involved and he was gone. That was my wake up call.

My rope was at its end and I was either going to hang from it or swing and jump from it. I chose to jump and take my life back. And boy, I have never looked back, only to reflect on the signs I chose to ignore.

I want people, especially women, who find themselves in my shoes to know lying, cannot be tolerated. Name calling, cannot be tolerated. Using suicide and mental illness as a crutch to manipulate you, cannot be tolerated. Punching holes in walls or destroying property, cannot be tolerated. All these are signs that lead to domestic violence of every variation. We wind up being the enablers but that is what happens when we are THE VICTIMS. However, we aren’t victims forever. We are survivors and there is life after all the chaos. It’s not easy. We will have our fair shares of struggles. Best advice: use the resources given to you: your friends, family, work place, hobbies. Do not deny help as we want to, it’s necessary and will only make the process easier.

My divorce was finalized on a summer day in 2019. This is known as the day I was finally free. I no longer needed saving.

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.

The Forest

She trekked, well more like stumbled, through the forest. Huffing and puffing, throwing muffled curses under each labored breath, as she aggressively swatted the deadly branches out of her warpath. She wondered if she’d ever make it to the other side, to the clearing.

Oh, the clearing.

The clearing held so much hope and promise – greener grass, a bluer lagoon, and neighbors with adequate amounts of sugar to share. To get to the clearing was to get to comfort. Once she made it through the woods, and into the shining clearing, things should be better.

They had to be better.

Lost in her thoughts, she missed a step. Her pointed boot caught under a fallen branch, one she had absentmindedly thrown in her own path, no doubt, and flat on her back she lay – staring up at the sun between the treetops. Other than letting out an exasperated breath, she remained completely still; absorbed in the view above her.

How beautiful.

It’s as if the leaves and branches themselves were sparkling images in a kaleidoscope. The more she focused on the dazzling leaves blowing in the breeze, the less anger towards the world around her she began to feel. She closed her eyes, took a long, deep breath, and embraced her pause. As she reopened her eyes, she slowly stood back up and gently began brushing the dirt from her body.

Time to get to the clearing…

She trekked, well more like floated, through the forest. A soft smile resting upon her face as she moved onward, softly wading through the lush tree branches, taking care none scratched her along the way. She wondered if this feeling of peace would be magnified once she made it to the clearing; more importantly, would this feeling be long lasting? Her moments of peace and happiness were often fleeting; her only lasting feeling was that of an insatiable hunger.

That feeling of an insatiable hunger for more…

Whatever she had, wherever she was, whoever she was with… it was never enough. It was never where she wanted to be, it was never right. Hence, the current journey to the clearing. She had read enough about the place to know this would be it; the place to fill the void in her heart, soul, and stomach. It would satiate her, hopefully even more than that.

She just had to get there first.