Another Cliche Carpe Diem Post

In Julius Ceasar, Shakepeare wrote the words, “Beware the Ides of March.” For the better part of the last two decades, it has not just been the Ides, but the entire month of March that keeps me on my toes. Because the month also coincides with Lent, I typically use the time for self-reflection and personal growth, in lieu of the traditional practice of giving something up. It’s a reminder of the years when just getting through the month was a struggle. Although I no longer feel like I battle through the entire month, I find that every year I am presented with something that challenges my thinking, especially how I think about myself and my past. 

Last year was about anniversaries. This year has been about beginnings and endings. One of my best friends is no longer a part of my life (refer to previous post “I Think I Heard the Fat Lady Sing”). After about three months of silence, I heard from him a few weeks ago. The email began, “Hi Corrina, Well it’s been months. I won’t begin to apologize because I don’t think it would help, but I am sorry…” and ended, “I hope you are well and I do miss you.” I realized it was too little and too late and unceremoniously closed that chapter of my life for good. 

Then there was the news yesterday. I learned that someone I knew from high school passed away unexpectedly (how in the world did we survive before Facebook?). We dated briefly when I was a sophomore. We reconnected via Facebook less than a year ago. I was supposed to drive up to see him for lunch one day; I cancelled. We spoke again a little bit after that, but hadn’t spoken since September. After hearing of his passing I scrolled through our texts back and forth, and saw the text that is haunting me right now. We had been talking just about music (we were in choir together in school) and out of the blue he said, “It’s nice to have someone to talk to….”  

I’m not the sort to believe that death suddenly gives someone amazing qualities that just happened to be overlooked in life. The truth is that we all have good and bad qualities and, even more importantly, the person that we are at any one point in time isn’t necessarily the same person we ultimately become. The problem is that death provides the ultimate opportunity to reflect on someone’s life as a whole, which isn’t an easy thing to do when we’re in the middle of life as it’s happening. I say this because not all of my memories of “Doug” are warm and fuzzy and happy. And I think it’s wrong to pretend otherwise. This was the guy who dumped me (twice), started seeing a college girl who called me and threatened to kick my ass for speaking for him, and after all of this tried to convince me that I should sleep with him. When we dated he made snide comments about my friends and tried to dictate what I wore to school. In my long line of failed relationships with Scorpios, he was the very first. But he was also the guy who first asked me out (via a mutual friend) on my birthday, the guy who first introduced me to Tori Amos’ music, and the guy who told me last summer that he still remembered the sound of my voice from when we sang in choir together twenty years ago. He wanted to get together at an open mic night one time to try a duet together, and I really wish that we had that chance. Instead, I just have a few old text messages. 

And yet, despite the loss, the last few weeks have also brought me great joy. After feeling lost without the choir, I found a new one. This past Saturday night was the first time that I really felt like I was where I belonged (ironically, the new organist knows David- as I’ve said before, sometimes it feels like what’s supposed to be six degrees of separation is really morphed into some weird borderline incestuous soup). I’ve also recently started seeing a great guy (sorry, but I’m still feeling a little selfish about those particular memories). So the scales have balanced out- no need for pity. 

But I have been reminded of just how short and how precious life is, and reflect on how many other times I’ve cancelled on my friends. When I was too tired, or busy or just wanted to be alone. When I figured I would just catch up with them next time. And that is my biggest regret and the real lesson I’ve taken to heart. Because let’s face it, sometimes that next time never comes. 

I Think I Heard the Fat Lady Sing

Since November I’ve been hooked on watching Will & Grace repeats on TV. A couple weeks ago I watched the series finale and knew I needed to write this. I’ve procrastinated, I’ve let it stew, but I think it’s time.

The final episode of Will & Grace aired in May, 2006. I never watched the series when it was on the air, and maybe my feelings would have been different if I saw the finale in 2006 instead 2015. But I have to tell you that I absolutely, positively hated the way that show ended. And I know that the biggest reason I hated it was because as I watched it on the television screen I was also watching the same ending unfolding in my own life and it sucked.

I don’t think it was possible to watch the series without imagining Will and Grace being close friends forever. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work with best friends? Everyone always says that no matter what else happens in your life, you’re friends will be there for you.

Over the last few months I’ve written a few times about Dave. It’s fitting that he’s the one who got me watching those Will & Grace episodes in the first place. After all, he was the friend that would always be in my life. Maybe as a friend, maybe as more, but always there. And like Will and Grace, it appears that the time has come for Dave and I to go our separate ways as well.

I knew all along that a romantic relationship with Dave was a long shot at best. The catchphrase from The Hunger Games held just as much irony in that area as it did in the novels. The odds were definitely not ever in my favor. But I had no doubt in my mind that no matter what else happened, our friendship would remain intact. Until it suddenly didn’t.

Unlike Will and Grace, Dave and I have had no heated arguments or tearful fights. There’s only been stubborn silence and that empty void that exists whenever something happens in my life and I want to tell my best friend all about it, only to realize that he isn’t there anymore. No closure, no understanding of what happened or why. Just silence.

Being Able to be Wrong

Two weeks ago I hit a bit of a bump in the road. I’m not really ready to go into the details right now- the wound is still a bit raw. But for a few days around the start of the new year, I was in a bit of a funk.

What stood out during that time was when two former classmates reached out to see if I was okay. You see, I didn’t hear from anyone that I was close to in high school. Instead, I heard from two women who were acquaintances at best. And it humbled me beyond what I can probably put into words.

First, let me set the record straight: I am not one of those people who loved high school or considered it any high point in my life. On the contrary, I’ve often told people I couldn’t be paid enough to do those years over again. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends. I had a small group of friends, but that wasn’t enough to keep me from feeling awkward and like an outsider. I was bullied a lot in elementary and middle school, and while the bullying stopped by high school, that feeling of not really fitting in never went away. I suspect part of the reason I keep people away now goes back to how isolated I felt back then.

When Facebook began gaining popularity I was surprised by some of the friend requests I received. I couldn’t understand why someone who wanted nothing to do with me 15 years ago suddenly wanted to be my “friend” now. I accepted those requests, and figured that maybe some people needed a large number of Facebook friends to feel significant or validated in some way. Not wanting to share the ups and downs (and we’re talking a lot of downs) with people who ignored me at best, I began keeping many of my posts as vague as possible.

One of my favorite ways to keep a post vague was to just post some song lyrics. And that was what I did two weeks ago. I posted from the song “Moving On” by Asking Alexandria:
“I’ve never been so torn up in all of my life. I can’t believe I let myself break down… I’ve never felt so hopeless than I do tonight. No, I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m moving on.”
Melodramatic? Maybe a little, but it was a pretty honest description of how I was feeling.

I didn’t expect anyone to notice my post, let alone comment. I needed to get my feelings out in some way and that was my only expectation. But to have two women offer me positive vibes and a shoulder to cry on, well it was huge for me because I instantly felt less alone.

It also made me rethink all of my assumptions about my former classmates. I realized that maybe it’s time to really put high school behind me and acknowledge that just as I’ve grown into a different person, so have the people I know. So to all of my Facebook friends, I offer my sincerest apologies if I ever silently judged you or your intentions. And I thank you for wanting to be in my life, regardless of how big or small of a role you play.

Everyday Warriors

Although I admittedly suck at staying in touch with them, I am blessed to have a number of inspirational people in my life, and I wanted to give them some of the recognition that they deserve. These individuals have each inspired me to push myself beyond what I thought possible, to grow spiritually and mentally, and try everyday to be a better person. While I would love nothing more than to recognize each of them by name, I want to respect their privacy, so I have changed their names. I hope that each of them will be able to see themselves in this post and understand how grateful I am for the impact they’ve had on my life.

Three and a half years ago I started my journey towards becoming a black belt. One of my first new friends was a woman named “Rachel,” who was less than a year away from earning her black belt. Although I participated in sports in middle school, I’m definitely not what you would call a naturally athletic person. In fact, I tended to be awkward and a complete klutz, which was my biggest concern when I decided to start training. Rachel and I bonded over some similar struggles that we shared, especially when it came to the frustration of not being able to get your body to do what you want it to do. But watching Rachel earn her black belt was what made me finally start to think that it would be possible to eventually earn my black belt. As fate would have it, the weekend I finally tested for my black belt, Rachel was testing for her second degree black belt. It was a rough weekend for the both of us. I couldn’t breathe for most of the first night (later found out that I had un- diagnosed asthma), and was unable to complete one of my board breaks. Rachel struggled with her knee. After the first night of testing we vented to each other about how frustrated we both felt with the results of all of our efforts. But the following night, we stood together and received our new belts. Rachel proved to me that the impossible was possible after all.

I was fortunate enough to work with “Christine” and “Marie” for a few years.  I was going through a lot of stress at work, combined with finding myself growing away from some of my friends.  Christine and Marie allowed me to vent and offered sympathetic ears.  I alluded to Christine in one of my previous posts (Depression Does Not Equal Pity Party) as someone who has been through more than I can begin to imagine.  Marie has also had a number of personal struggles, especially within the last year or so.  But what makes them both so amazing is that they are still the first to offer that sympathetic ear if a friend is having a problem.  Beyond that they both demonstrate what it means to go through struggles with an indefinable grace.  Christine is the one who keeps it all together; who is able to keep a brave face and continue to push through.  Sometimes it’s important to put on that brave face, and that’s one of the lessons I learned from her.  Marie, on the other hand, is not afraid to ask for help–to admit that she can’t always do it alone.  It was Marie who gave me the name of the therapist I started seeing.  As a stubborn overachiever, sometimes asking for help is the hardest thing to do, and what I admire about Marie is that she reminds me that no one can do it all alone and there is no shame in asking for help when help is needed.

There is one more woman that I need to mention- let’s call her Lucy.  She was a classmate in high school, and although we didn’t have any classes together we had some friends in common and she was always nice to me (I was a bit of an outcast in school, so I never forgot the people who made me feel like I fit in).  Lucy was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  While I was just starting to pick up the pieces from my depressive episode, Lucy was getting ready to undergo surgery and chemotherapy.  No one who have blamed her for cursing God and curling up in a ball under a blanket.  Instead she started a blog, and has been documenting her fight.  And believe me, she’s fighting.  Depression was enough to make me a barely functional human being, and here is Lucy, her posts showing that she hasn’t lost her sense of humor. She was, in a way, one of the reasons why I decided to ask for help–I figured that if she could handle a cancer diagnosis with such a positive attitude, then there was no reason for me to continue to allow depression to suck the life out of me.  In fact, I have to give Lucy credit for the title of this blog post. On her birthday, when she was thanking everyone for the Facebook birthday wishes, she said she wanted to name 2014 the Year of the Warrior, for all of the people who were fighting obstacles. And I also have to admit that I totally used her idea to title my goal poster that I mentioned in my last post.

I cannot possibly begin to explain how these four ladies have changed my life for the better.  I consider myself honored to have them in my life, and I hope that one day they can understand how much of an impact they’ve had on me and how grateful I am for that.

Ringing In the New Year

Yes, I’m a day late.  And yes, I’ve been slacking a bit on my posts.  ‘Tis the season.

I suppose plenty of people take the changing of the calendar as a time to wax poetic about the old year. No, on second thought, I don’t suppose–I know.  Nothing like an entire week of almost nothing to read on Salon.com except lists and countdowns to make an information junkie ready to pull her hair out.And those that aren’t reminiscing about the old year are busy making resolutions for the new year.

So let’s get one thing out of the way right now.  I don’t do resolutions.

It’s not that I don’t look at the new year as a chance to turn a new leaf.  And of course, just like everyone else, I would love for 2014 to be the year that I lose a ton of weight, start feeling better mentally and start learning how to take care of myself like a functional adult.  But aren’t these the same things everyone wants for themselves?

I had the chance to ring in the new year with friends at a small party.  The party was hosted by one of my closest friends, one of the longest friendships out of my current circle of friends.  While I was there, I began talking to her neighbor and we ended up talking for a couple of hours because it turned out we had a lot in common.  As we raised our glasses at midnight, I thought to myself that this was the perfect way to spend New Year’s Eve–with one of my oldest friends and with my newest friends.

And then I started thinking about it even further.  One of the biggest regrets that I have in life is that I absolutely suck at staying in touch with people.  I don’t know why it’s such an issue for me, but it’s not a new issue.  I see my Facebook news feed and I see how much some of my former classmates are still in each others’ lives, even if they no longer live anywhere near each other.  I regret that I missed the opportunity to maintain those friendships the way I wanted to.  Even now, I struggle to maintain friendships that I truly cherish.  I don’t know where the time goes, and I start to feel uncomfortable with the idea of trying to show up again after being MIA for so long.  I wish I knew how to show the people in my life how much they mean to me.

Sometimes I wonder if the wall I built was to keep people out to keep myself in.