So, I was electronically reminded that it’s been nearly five years since I first started blogging. (Here with WordPress, anyhow.) So to commemorate that fact, and because I’ve been a little remiss in my posting lately, I thought I’d reflect some on what all has happened since and what, why, who, and where I am now.
FIVE YEARS. First, can I just say that it’s been one HELL of a crazy ride these past five years…because well, has it ever. I mean, I’m older…and I don’t just mean that in the literal, age-wise sense. Emotionally, intellectually… I’ve grown so much. If people are right about the whole “having a soul” thing…then in that sense…that too. I mean, I feel like I’ve aged a lifetime in these five years…which is both a mathematical and figurative wonder to me. I feel so old. And not necessarily with my physical body…though I could have certainly done without all the broken wrists, broken ribs, traumatic brain injuries, post-TBI afflictions and drama, near-deaths experiences, etc. I mean my soul (if such a thing were/is to exist, of course). Inside. I never would have thought I could feel so different at 30 than at 25…that it could be possible with dealing with just five years…but clearly, it does and it is. I will give my 25-year-old self some credit, though. I’d grown a lot to then. Was grown. I wasn’t that same naïve, reckless, impulsive 21-year-old girl who fell for anything and allowed herself to be manipulated by both people and the world…that or even that scared and shattered 22-year-old girl who thought that giving up a piece of her soul and her self was the only way to make things right…to keep her secret safe and the truth from coming out. I’m not them. I thought I’d seen and experienced and felt so much…but I’d barely skimmed the surface at that point, at twenty-five. I’ve realized that miscalculation now. I’m still dealing the blowback and consequences…still. I know.
These past five years have been a roller-coaster…a thrilling, confusing, sad, complex, terrifying, but still incredible roller-coaster. It hasn’t been easy. Not at all. Not that I expected or even wished it would be. What would have the fun in that, right? In true fashion, I’ve had some setbacks, for sure. Some hell. A lot of falls. A lot of failure. A lot of disappointment, from and for myself and others. I’ve been to the edge and on the verge of giving up absolutely and completely too many times than I can, nor would like to count (or even think about, to be quite honest). But I’ve also had so much greatness and successes and blessings. I told myself I’d go back to school and finish what I started…and I did exactly that. I proved the haters and naysayers wrong.
When I walked off the campus at Colgate all those years ago, I thought I was doing the right thing. It took me a long time to realize that I was just running afraid, both literally and figuratively. Looking back and reflecting on it all…and I know it probably sounds fucking messed up and ridiculous, but at the time, I truly felt like I was alone. At first, I felt like I was special–only in the worst kind of way. The only people I’d ever trusted with something like that– I left them behind, too. There was no point in telling my family or closest friends what I was doing because I knew that they wouldn’t approve. I didn’t want to see that pity look in their eyes. We’ve come a long way in terms of domestic violence and the stigma of it for women. Even now, it’s not something you bring up in casual conversation. The stats on D.V. should be much higher, but they’re not…due mostly in part to a seriously flawed system that doesn’t always act in the favor of the victim(s). Unfortunately, those stats don’t account for all those individuals that distrust the system and instead choose to not come forward or press charges–usually either because they’ve accepted their being and present situation, or because they’re terrified and can’t handle it. I doubt I was the only girl on campus wearing foundation-covered-black-eyes and broken bones…gifts of their own “wonderful” significant other. Now, if they were/are anything like me, they did a pretty good job of blending in…instead of standing out. Behind closed dorm doors…anything could happen, and everything was fair game. Everything. I couldn’t have been the only girl on campus with the hardcore athlete for a boyfriend with a penchant for jealousy and a deep need to be in control of any and all aspects of not simply just his, but my life as well. I’m sure I wasn’t the only girl who knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of a fist or slap or shove. I have to admit my part in it all…as even though the campus was only just over an hour from home…I still felt isolate. It took me a while to realize that was obviously his goal all along…that that was exactly how he wanted me to feel…isolated and vulnerable. It was easier for him to just bend me at his will that way…to manipulate me for their own sick and twisted gain. Would he have killed me if I’d stayed? Well, he threatened it more times than I want to remember, but I want to say that no, he wouldn’t have…but then, I have no way of knowing that with absolute certainty. Maybe I was wrong. I mean, I never thought he’d hurt me before either… that is, until I woke up on an exam table in a room at the student health center with a concussion, cracked wrist, and a splitting goddamn headache—an hour after we fought over a platonic conversation I’d had with his friend and fellow teammate…just the first of what would be many false accusations and assumptions. Not to mention, more cover ups and excuses. With him, the paranoia was unmatched–always the same — that something MUST be going on and/or that one or both of us were or wanted to split up or who the hell knows. He could have all the “girl” friends he wanted…but I couldn’t even have a 2 minute debate with another guy about the facets of the sport that is soccer without apparently wanting to f**k said guy. In hindsight, I just wish I’d stayed instead of running. I wish I’d stood up to him … and the threats he’d held over my head and used against me, constantly, for so long.. He had complete control over my life… but I took it back. Not that it an easy or mess/pain/blood-less fight…but I did it. I made it. I survived. Well, for the most part.
“You held me down, you took control. Dear Fear, how did I get here? How do I let go when you were all I’ve ever known. So long, Dear Fear, I wasted enough years. I’m scared out of my mind, but I’ll never know unless I try. So this is goodbye Dear Fear…”
I don’t know if any of you heard or read about Alexandra Kogut— she was an 18-year-old freshman at SUNY Brockport) who was beaten to death back in September of 2012 by her high school “boyfriend”, in her dorm room…with her own curling iron–of all things. It was brutal. I think the story made national news and the Dateline show even did a piece on her a few years back. Her story/murder really hit home to me. Literally. She grew up and graduated from a high school not even 20 minutes from the small town I grew up in. I doubt she ever expected the boy she’d loved would ever be capable of what he did…and yet, she’s gone and he’s serving 25 to life in prison for her murder.
It just goes to show that you truly never really know a person…or what they are capable of. We just don’t. I think there’s a little bit of evil in all of us…but what sets good people apart from those doers of heinous, horrible acts and atrocities is, for the most part, that we have a conscience. Most of us have this moral fiber in us that, either knowingly or subconsciously, sort of serves as a guide. For the same reason that we have laws and rules–for without such we’d only have chaos–we have a conscience that intuitively tells us what’s wrong and what’s right. That moral compass, in my opinion, is what makes us GOOD…that makes us human. Naturally, we don’t always get it right. We make mistakes. We’re not perfect. But the difference is that our mistakes generally don’t affect or hurt others, only ourselves, for the most part. The difference is that we (good people) can accept and recognize that little amount of evil that’s in all of us and KNOW how to hold it at bay or compartmentalize/ignore it. Those that are evil simply don’t care about the consequences of their actions. They don’t acknowledge or feel any remorse for the detrimental effect their actions have/have had on others. I think we’re all familiar with the whole “Nature vs. Nurture“ bit…you know, that annoying debate on whether a person is born evil or bad…or if it’s their environment/society that made them that way. The latter is a cop-out, if you ask me. Just another excuse…though sadly, not all that surprising…considering. It’s a known fact that if there’s a way our generation (sorry, fellow Millennials) can shirk accountability or cast off blame off ourselves and to others …we pounce on it. We’re a generation that thrives on convenience. The easier, the better. We may be lazy and spoiled and oblivious, not to mention self-centered at times…but we are (the majority of us), for the most part, good people. Flawed, but GOOD. I believe we’re all just doing our best in a chaos-laced, unforgiving world. We try to acknowledge and learn from our mistakes so that we know better the next time…when and if it’s possible. I just wish we weren’t so quick to pass judgement or to point fingers. But that’s exactly what we do. And we do it all the time. It’s always someone else, or something else to blame–we’re so good at lashing out and laying fault with video games, music, weapons, etc…but those don’t kill/abuse/rape, etc…PEOPLE kill/abuse/rape PEOPLE.
It’s not always black or white…sometimes the lines are blurred. Some people just can’t help themselves. They may be mentally ill or carriers of some degenerative disease/condition that prevents them from being truly aware of their actions. The brain is an incredible, fickle mystery of an organ…one compressed nerve, a shortage of some chemical…and everything goes hay-wire. In that regard, some people may not be entirely or deliberately responsible for their actions…some may not even be cognizant of what they are being blamed for, having been rendered incapable of guilt and/or remorse. I can sympathize with those that are legitimately unwell/unstable. Mental illness is real. But cases like that are the exception, not the rule. Most are just plain EVIL. I hate it when criminals and do-gooders paint this picture of injustice and innocence, and try to circumvent or take advantage of the good in others to get away with their evil crimes and despicable actions.Those sob story excuses of how it’s not the killer’s fault–he just snapped–or the rapist that was abused as a child. I know a lot of people who have had a rough childhood and/or came from a broken home, or something…and they didn’t grow up to be murderers or rapists or criminals of some sort.
In the opposite regard, there are also those that are evil DESPITE a happy childhood and or having been raised to know right from wrong. There are those that have been given so much opportunity, who haven’t had to want for anything and whom have/had everything…you know, the PERFECT life: Two happily married parents, education from only the prestigious and best schools, a guaranteed lifetime of financial security, and not to mention, a whole platoon of friends and loved ones to give them the (and more) support and encouragement any one person could want or even need, for that matter. What that tells me that evil is a conscious choice. Even sociopaths know right vs. wrong. They just choose to embrace the latter (wrong)…over doing what’s right. All we or I can do is be grateful that evil is the minority. Good continues to reign the majority of the time. As it should be.
Anyways (me and my damn tangents, I knowwwww) … Let’s get back to the last 5 years…
I promised myself I would move on and I have…though I’ve yet to quite master the “no-turning-back” part. And I promised myself I would go off and see a little bit of the world and if it the possibility were to present itself, to find myself. Well, I did the first part. I’m still working a little on the other part. But I’ll get there. I promised I would leave this town and go somewhere; find a city or town where I could and would finally feel like I belonged. And I did that. I packed my things and moved to Nashville…even though no one understood or approved or hell, even thought I would. But I did it. Alone. 900 miles from the only people, place, and life I’d ever known for a city filled with millions of strangers…with no real, clear plan of action. I’d decided I would figure it all out once I got there. A risky move, for sure…but also, a fulfilling one. Call me crazy, but I decided to chase my dreams and follow my heart…for the first time in what felt like my entire life, or ever. But it all paid off and was worth it. I found my place. My SOMEWHERE. I found happiness in the unlikeliest and most unexpected places.
I’ve also met/become friends with some of the most interesting, talented, generous, and just overall utterly amazing human beings there … the kind of people who you can just meet and somehow just know and feel like you’ve known them forever. It’s been an uphill battle, testing my limits, finding and diffusing my choice of breaking points. I’ve accepted my weaknesses…AND my strengths. I have them, too. Who knew?
There’s more. For once, I can say that I’m in a healthy, stable (about damn time I stopped fishing out the losers, right y’all) relationship with a great guy — the absolute best (I might be a tad bit biased lol) — a guy that god-knows I probably don’t deserve–but am beyond grateful for. Most days I can’t believe that I was the one to run into him outside that coffee shop nearly 3 years back (… no joke, I LITERALLY ran into him, iced-coffee everywhere…I was a hot mess!)… and not some other girl. It felt like fate…like we were meant to meet. I can’t explain it…just how it feels. It’s no state secret that I haven’t exactly had the best track record when it comes to relationships…some of that is on them…some of it’s on me. I’ll admit, there were times I wondered if I’d ever get it right. If I’d ever stop the running and the self-sabotage when the path took a turn towards serious…when things got real. If I’d ever find someone worth risking my heart and everything for. Relationships were never really my thing. Until now. I don’t know what it is or what changed but it’s going on 3 years now and I haven’t felt that itch to run…not even once. If you read my posts or know me personally–that’s HUGE for me. I don’t know what it means or what is says about him or our relationship or the future, for that matter…but I’m happy. He’s great. I’m great. Aside from the distance thing [he visits a lot and SOON I’ll be back in TN where distance won’t be an issue :)] it’s good. The rest…just doesn’t matter.
So … the past five years …
I’ve learned. I’ve lived. I’ve grown. While I’m not too keen on the whole “thirties” thing… I am looking forward to seeing where the next five years take me. Stay tuned and I guess you’ll find out with me as I go.