It’s Not The Race, It’s The Finish Line.

So I switched things up a bit with school. Now that I have the twins every day, I had to re-think my schedule. The final couple of courses I needed to finish up would have forced me to extend things a bit…and I really didn’t want that, especially seeing that come the end of May, I’m going to be saying so long to New York and heading home to Tennessee. J YAY!! And so, anyways, I did some thinking and looked over a few things and decided to switch my major to a more general liberal arts degree, with a focus in humanities. It worked out since I already have the majority of the credits I need for the degree anyhow. So I’m finishing up the remaining few credits and will be completely done come graduation in May. And even better, I’m doing all the work online, so it doesn’t interfere with me watching the boys for my sister. It’s already one week in and I’m not going to lie—what with my consulting work, school, AND playing nanny to two VERY energetic (but loveable as all get out) 3-year-old little boys 5 days out of the week—it’s absolutely insane…but it’ll be worth it. Just a few more months and I’ll have what I want. A big part of that is that I’ll FINALLY have this degree out of the way. I never imagined when I went back to finish up that there’d be all these hiccups along the way…but such is life. And now, the hard part is over.


It’s not about the degree. I don’t need it to do what I do. But having it feels nice. I know that when I decided to back and finish up, it was more for my family than for myself. I know I really let them down when I first decided to walk away from the Ivy League path they’d envisioned for me. I don’t think they would have been nearly as disappointed if I’d told them the truth about why I left. If I’d told them that I’d gotten messed up with the wrong guy and caught in a really unhealthy, dangerous situation—they’d have been completely supportive. Well…I think they’d have gone off the rails a bit first and did something crazy like send my brother out to rough a certain someone up a bit, or have my sister call up the Dean and demand that the situation be rectified. Well, technically, my sister did end up doing something along those lines. She called up the school and actually requested a meeting with the Dean of Students himself. When I found out, I was of course, livid and literally had to beg her to stay out of it. My thought process at the time was that I felt like I’d been humiliated enough. I didn’t need or want my big sister or any member of my family to come swooping in and trying to fix the mess I’d made like they always did. After almost a year and a half of covering up bruises, making countless excuses, and constantly feeling as if I was walking on eggshells, I felt completely hopeless. Honestly, I think I just a reached the point to where nothing mattered anymore. I was tired of the pain—both physical and emotional—and of feeling like nothing I did or said was ever going to make it better. It’s not so much that I wanted to die as it was that I no longer cared if I did or didn’t. I think a part of me would have taken death as a relief. Sad and pathetic, I know.


In hindsight, I now realize just how ridiculously messed up that whole situation was. I was stupid to stay; stupid to believe him when he apologized and swore it’d never happen again…until the next time when it did. I was even more stupid for letting him run me out of school, for making me feel like I had no other choice but to go. For making me feel like it was somehow my fault, so I had to be the one to leave. I hate that I gave him that much power over me, but what’s done is done. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is right now and finishing what I started. At some point over the last few years, it stopped being about proving something to my family and instead became more about proving something to myself. I wanted to prove that I could do it…that I could finish. That I could do more and be more. I know that I can do this. And I’m going to. For ME and for the people in my life. Right now, I’m just focusing on the prize waiting for me at the end of all this: I get to go home. Back to my friends and the people that already feel like family to me. Back to long hikes in state parks, just me and my Canon. Back to the peace and quiet. Back to the city life. Back to where I belong. Back home.  ❤ 🙂

xoMESSIE

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Our Skeletons.

I’m going back. To Nashville. I’m going HOME. Yes, because that IS what Nashville is to me, it’s HOME. Not here. Not anymore. A home is a place where you feel loved and protected and safe and wanted. And I don’t feel any of those things here. I should. My family is here. And therein lies the whole of the matter. There’s this saying that goes “…sometimes it’s funny that the people you’d take a bullet for, are the ones pulling the trigger.” It’s true. With my family, it is SO true. My “family”.


You know, there was a time when I would have gone to bat for any one of them, no questions asked. A time when I actually believed they were good, loving people. When I would have said that while “sure, they’re a bit dysfunctional, but what family isn’t” and defended them to others…to myself. Growing up, I didn’t really think much of the dysfunction, you know? It was just the norm. The fighting, the secrets, the cops being called on nearly every holiday or family get-together. I ignored it, hid it. On some level, I think I was probably ashamed of it. I mean, our house wasn’t the place for birthday parties where you invited your friends from school or sleepovers. There was just too much yelling and drama for that. The older I got and the more skeletons that came out of the woodwork—the more I realized just how selfish and callous and oblivious they could be. I finally started to see these people for who and what they really were. My grandmother—the woman I’d pretty much looked up to and idolized my whole life—I saw her for the controlling narcissist that she is. She’s the matriarch of the family, through and through. Right down to who holds the reins and what is and/or isn’t. She’s spent her whole life raising kids. She loves kids. It’s the ones out of pull-ups and grade school that have opinions of their own that she despises. Oh, how she loathes anyone and everyone who dares to even breathe a word in opposition to her. Heaven forbid she’s ever wrong about anything. And my mother—well, she wasn’t much of an enigma. I’d figured her out long before the training bras came off, so to speak. I guess that happens when you’re five-years-old and you wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream and Mommy’s nowhere to be found…so you go to the window and watch her getting in the car and leave with whatever guy she happened to be seeing at the time. And while you’d like to say that it only happened once, you can’t. Because time and time again, she put you and your siblings in the 2nd priority slot and never the first. It’s hard when you’re little, you know? You’re five. You don’t understand why your Mommy would rather be with some man and not you. You don’t know why you aren’t good enough, or what you didn’t do for her to love you enough. You blame yourself. As you get older, the clouds lift and everything starts to look a hell of a lot clearer. You start to blame yourself less. You realize that it’s not—that it’s her. And part of you feels sorry for her—because she must be sick or at the very least have something wrong with her to be so cold and disinterested in her own child. But the other part of you—that’s the part that gets angry because you’re not a kid anymore. You know that the decisions she’s making are exactly those…decisions. Choices. A deliberate and conscious effort and action. That what she’s doing is wrong and unfair. You know it and you want her to know it…but you know it’s pointless because in the end, it’s not going to change who she is. That that is who she is. And all you can do is accept it and move on and hope like hell that you didn’t inherit that motherless gene from her that makes you love—for all intents and purposes—but not actually care about your child if and when you decide to become a parent yourself.


I’ve made so many excuses for them over the years and I’m done. I’m just done. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t defend them when my heart’s not in it anymore. And my heart’s not in it. It may be a horrible thing to say, but they aren’t worth it. I came so close tonight to giving in and giving up and cashing in all these chips I’ve collected over the years…because of them. And the fact that they could push me that far and that close to the edge—well, it scares the hell out of me. And I’ve come too far and worked too damn hard to get to where I am right now to throw it all away for them. They’re my family. They’re supposed to have my back. They aren’t supposed to be the ones to stab the knife in it. They’re supposed to be loyal, but they don’t have a loyal bone in their bodies. I honestly don’t think they even know the meaning of the word.


It’s a long story, but there’s been a war launched between my brother and I this week. He’s had his skank of the moment and her kid nearly moved in here. Neither my mother or grandmother want her here and he’s been told, but of course as he always does, he does as he pleases. Because they don’t have the nerve to confront her directly, I did. Well…he didn’t take too kindly to that, or my calling the bitch for what she is: a whore. And I don’t use that word lightly, but she is one. Hell, that’s pretty much his type—blonde, white trash whore. Of course, you can’t dare insult any of his skanks because then he turns the tables onto you—in this case, me. So it was back to the whole “I’m a whore, I’ve slept with half the county, traded sex for coke…blah, blah…” spiel that’s so worn I’m surprised he doesn’t have dry mouth when he says the words. He also tried to punch me in the face—would’ve if my mother hadn’t stepped in the middle—and threatened to kill me. Wait, what were the words… oh yeah… “I’ll bury you.” Yep. And yet, I get told to shut up and just ignore him. No calling the cops or going to family court and getting an order of protection against the bastard because of course, that wouldn’t look well for them. After all, they have the kids to consider. Funny. They’re so concerned about these kids when it’s convenient for them and never when they actually should be concerned. And the kids aside—what about me? Where the hell is their concern over me? Their flesh and blood. Someone they claim to love. Someone they constantly say they don’t want to go back to Nashville. Where the hell is their concern when he’s spouting his bullshit at me? Holding the worst things to ever happen to me over my head? The bastard has held that damn party 9 years ago and my secret over my head for years. But you know what? I’m done caring, of shutting up and letting things go just so he’ll keep his mouth shut about that night—things he read in my journal that he stole—the words and secrets of a scared 16-year-old who had literally just had her entire world turned inside out, who had to cover up and lie because she didn’t want them to think less of her for having made the mistake of going to a stupid party and getting raped. Even so, I’ve come to terms with what happened and the things I’ve done. I’m not a saint, nor have I ever claimed to be. I’ve made mistakes. I made one that night. I’ve made a hundred more in the time since. I won’t deny that. But I won’t stand there and shut up as he calls me a whore and accuses me of sleeping with scores of men and trading sex for drugs when I have never and would never do such a thing. I may not be lily white, but unlike the trash that he whores around with, I can sleep at night knowing my sexual exploits.


Rather than cause a scene or hell—make her leave–what really pisses me off though is that they continue to let her come over—despite both still saying that don’t want her here—ESPECIALLY after all the shit he’s done and said to me over the past few days. And the fact that his smug fucking bastard self is winning is what pisses me off the most. He gets what he wants and nothing changes. Nothing. Ever. Changes. It’s the story of my entire fucking life. And they don’t see a thing wrong with it. They don’t see how their silence is, in essence, condoning everything that he’s doing. Everything that he’s saying to me. I told them to make a choice. Either get rid of her—and stand up to him for me, for once—or I’m done. And they chose to let it be. To “keep the peace” by not making her leave—as in, not get him pissed off by kicking her out. So…they made their choice. And their beds. I’m done. I can’t do it anymore. They aren’t my family anymore. They’ve shown it time and time again that they have no regard whatsoever for how I feel. So I’m going HOME. To Nashville. To the place where I don’t feel like yelling and screaming at the injustice of the people and situation I’m surrounded by every five minutes. The place where I don’t feel like I constantly in a backslide into the past, being dragged under and drowning by memories. The place where I feel like I actually have a chance. A future. Where there are people who actually care—good friends that I might not have known for very long, but that I trust a hell of a lot more than these people I share the same blood with. Those people—they’re my family now. And maybe that’s a horrible and hurtful thing to say, but until you’ve met my family, until you’ve lived with them, been dragged down into their hell where there’s no air and you can barely breathe and you’re alive but you’re just waiting for someone to do the humane thing and let you out of your misery…don’t judge me. Don’t you dare.


As soon as I can make the arrangements, I’m gone. As badly as I want to just pack it all in, get in the car and drive and not look back right this second—hell, at this point I don’t think I care what the destination is so long as it’s a hell of a lot of miles between there and here—I can’t. I’m stuck here, thanks to these damn headaches and the doctors—half of which don’t have a clue and the other half who seem to be getting off on treating me like a guinea pig the majority of the time. Thanks to the lovely state of Tennessee and the even lovelier medical specialists it employs, whom for some godforsaken reason won’t treat a patient with out-of-state insurance, nor someone who doesn’t have full-resident status in the state—despite the treatment being for injuries sustained in an accident that occurred in that lovely state. Oh, the irony! So thus the dilemma I find myself in. I am stuck. I can’t stop treatment—I need it. And I’m hoping like hell that it works. Then there’s the legal aspect—the lawyers and this damn court case. So no, I can’t just stop. So instead, I’m spending my time trying to find a loophole—something—that could fix this little dilemma of mine somehow. Once I figure that out—figure something out—I’m out. Once and for all.


I’m going back.

I’m going HOME.

 

xoMESSIE

You Never Know Who You’ll Meet.

So I talked to the potential new roommates today, Andy & Robyn—a really nice couple I met through roommates.com that have a gorgeous place right off Whites Creek in Nashville. They’re actually the ones that initiated contact with me, rather than how it usually works on these kinds of sites and it’s the person looking for a place that will typically contact the person(s) with a place/room available. They both seem really nice and easy-going and from the sounds of it, Robyn has a bit of an interest in art as well. I talked to her briefly and learned that she even taught a class at Watkins, my school—AND that she has family up here in Central New York (literally minutes from me)…so it’s definitely a small, small world. It was only one phone call, but I think the arrangement could work. I mean, the location is amazing—no more driving an hour back and forth between Murfreesboro and Nashville. And it’s right by Briley, so no Interstates—which of course means no constantly getting stuck in rush hour traffic when you need to go/get out of downtown Nashville. And for those of you that are all too familiar with rush hour traffic in Nashville—you know just how valuable that is/can be.


My family of course think I’m crazy to move in with a couple of complete strangers…again. True, this isn’t my first foray into living with strangers…the other time being with the 2 guys I moved in with out in Joelton that I found through Craigslist. Granted, that decision might have been a bit hasty on my part and it could, in all honestly, have ended NOT so well for me—“Um, Hellooo Craigslist Killer anyone?!”, as my sister would say—but it didn’t. The guys were nice and normal enough. And besides, this time it’s a couple—which is a hell of a lot safer—statistically, speaking—than if I were to find another place to live with just guys.


My family—they’re so damn paranoid. That—and they watch too much damn Law & Order, I think. Not everyone is some sadistic serial killer or rapist out to get me. And yes, these people are strangers and I know essentially nothing about them and yet I’m going to be living in an enclosed space alongside them, but so what? My mother’s always saying that she doesn’t know where I got it from, my daredevil behavior—and my ability to just throw caution to the wind and jump head first into something with little or no disregard for the risks. That she’ll never understand how I could leave everyone and travel so far away and actually be comfortable while I surround myself with strangers. My grams says I have gypsy blood. She’s probably right. I like meeting new people. It’s just my nature. And that was part of the reason why I moved to Nashville—to start over and meet new people—to make a new life for myself. If I wanted to sit holed up inside an apartment or room all day and having no contact with anyone beyond my four walls, I would have stayed in New York instead of moving to Nashville. I moved because I didn’t want that. I still don’t. I’ve tried telling my family they don’t have to worry, but they won’t listen. They think I’m being reckless. Unsafe. But whether they like it or not, sometimes you just have to have faith in people. I don’t want to live my life looking over my shoulder or thinking the worst of people. That’s no way to live. I want to live, believing that people are inherently good. I don’t trust in much or too many people these days, but the one thing I do trust—and need/want to trust—is myself – and my instincts. And my instincts are telling me these people are good people. That they aren’t serial killers who are going to cut me up into pieces and bury me all over their back yard. And that they aren’t of those weird couples with some decked out and super creepy sex dungeon in their basement or god knows what the hell else (Hey, I’ve seen Law & Order: SVU!). I think I’ll be safe. LOL


Hopefully I can get the car fixed quickly, so I’ll be down there by the end of the week. I might not have much to bring with me thanks to the fuckers that illegally threw away all my belongings that were in my apartment, but I’m still leaving. I’m not staying here in New York any longer than I need to be. It’s bad enough I’ve been stuck here this additional time while this car crap gets figured out. It’s time to go home. Past time…  xoMESSIE

Only Tennessee.

Low-lyin’ clouds

Birds singin’ all night long

I see the hills in my dreams

And hear the bells, hear the bells in my bones

Never thought I would give in

Now you’re underneath my skin

**

Only Tennessee

Only Tennessee can save me now

Lazy, long roads

Trees bending in the wind

I’m coming home

**

Wild flowers in the fields

In the fields of my mind

I feel the sunshine

It’s coming through

**

Never thought I would give in

Now you’re underneath my skin

Only Tennessee

Only Tennessee can save me now

(Song Credit: “Only Tennessee” — Written By: Claire Guerreso & Daniel Tashian)


I’m heading home to Nashville after this weekend. FINALLY. Even if I didn’t want to go and I wanted to stay her in NY — which I definitely DO NOT!! — I couldn’t. The lease for my apartment–the one I literally only lived in for 3 weeks, by the way–is up at the end of the month, so I have to pack all my things and move into my new place.


This is the part that sucks. The leaving. As glad and as excited I am to be going home and seeing my friends and everyone in Nashville again, I feel sad about leaving my family, the kids especially. When I first got here, back in July, the Twinnies–they didn’t even recognize me. It actually took them awhile to warm up to me at first. And now they’re all over me. Ty especially. He’s such a little lover. He’s always climbing into my lap and giving me hugs. My grams watches them during the day so we’ve made a routine, Ty and I, of taking an afternoon nap. He’ll climb on the bed, take my phone and open up the PBS kids app (all on his own!). He’ll watch the shows for a little while until I tell him it’s time to take a nap. Then he’ll hand me the phone, turn over so that he’s facing me, and then literally curl right up against me and fall asleep. He’s a big-time cuddler and it’s the cutest thing. I’m going to miss the little guy. So much. And Jakey–that kid is something else. He’s got a temper, that one. And he’s a little monkey, too. He’s always climbing on and jumping off from things…he’s totally fearless.


I hate to leave the girls, too–especially with everything that’s gone/going on with Emma and Avie and the whole custody/family court thing. Who knows what the hell their mother has up her sleeve and/or will try to do the next time she gets pissed and feels like being a bitch and taking the girls out of pure spite. Then there’s Angelina–she’s out of control. Her attitude is atrocious and she doesn’t seem to think that she has to listen to anyone. My mother instead of disciplining her like she should, just lets the bad behavior continue–as she’s allowed it to for years. As her first granddaughter, she spoiled the hell out of Angelina. She still spoils her. She let her get away with murder all these years and only now is she cracking down on the behavior…now that Angelina’s 12. Hell, she’s going to be a teenager. If they think she’s bad now, I can just imagine how she’ll be in a couple of years. They’re in for a hell of a time with her, I’m sure of it. And they’ve only got themselves to blame.


So anyhow, yeah. It’s time for me to go. And while I may be leaving, it’s not goodbye. So…I’ll see you on the flip-side New York. ‘Til then…


xoMESSIE

D.O.A — A Poem

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the rumor,

its probably making its way ’round that godforsaken town, no doubt.

How I packed up all I own

In the back of that Jeep Cherokee.

And headed South, to Tennessee.

Leaving everything and everyone

That ever meant a thing to me.

Needing to get away and to be free

So desperately.

Tearful goodbyes,

Pleading and persuading me to change my mind.

But not this time.

No turning back,

No looking in the rear-view mirror.

As I make my grand debut into the Real World.

With a heart so heavy that it physically hurts,

And the determination to make it work.

When that Friday morning came,

I drove off in the mix of snow and rain,

With nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Knowing from that moment on,

Nothing would ever be the same.

That was the moment, the day, my whole life changed.

In hindsight,

If only I had stayed.

Maybe it wouldn’t be this way.

But I had to leave.

I had to get away.

‘Cause nothing here was ever gonna change.

And I couldn’t keep living my life this way.

Ashamed to go out, to show my face;

forced to shoulder all the blame.

The people in this town, they’re all the same

They’re gonna think what they want,

believe who they want

No matter what I do or say.

It’s always going to be this way; they’ll never change.

The way I see it, I had a choice to make.

I could choose to stay; continue to hide and bow my head in shame

Or sever ties with this town and run away.

I chose to escape.

With a suitcase and a dream

Said I was gonna find out what it truly means

To be young, wild, and free

Free from all the pain and memories

Free from him.

Free from this town,

All of it, everything.

Driving down the Interstate

900 hundred miles between where I’m going

And the place I once called home

Staring out at the open road ahead

Feeling somewhat lost, torn apart inside

Like something’s missing

Like something isn’t right.

Close my eyes against the blinding white light

That now fills my line of sight

As I flash back and wade through all the moments of my life

The good and bad

The happiness and strife

All those milestone moments that shape a life

A broken record with no music.

The perfect euphemism for my life.

I try to swerve, turn the wheel to the right

But I swerve a second too late.

No walking away this time

Neither luck nor God can save me now.

Can’t find traction, I’m spinning out.

A grief so raw and new,

Like petals on a recently-bloomed flower  

And reassurances don’t hold water

When you’re down to your final hour

And pity means even less

When you’re the body lying on the table

A tragic Jane Doe

Whose name no one knows.

All those dreams that now will never be.

 So much potential that the world will never get to see.

A split-second decision, one sharp swerve to the right.

A victim of fate on that dark night.

Lifeless and cold.

No chance to grow old.

No hope of survival.

A nameless Jane Doe

Declared dead on arrival.

 -12.26.2015-

-JLR-

Merry Christmas (Twenty-Fifteen)

Merry Christmas y’all!!

**

Can we just pause for a moment here so I can lament on how absolutely surreal and crazy it is that it’s already December—correction, the end of December? It’s unreal. I don’t know where the time goes, I really don’t. Add to that, the fact that we’re quite literally on the very cusp of a brand new year—2016—well that just makes it all the more surreal. Seriously people…where did the year go…??

**

And to think that this time last year, I was in the midst of packing my things in preparation for my big move down to Nashville. I can’t believe an entire year has passed since then.

**

But it has. And it’s been one hell of a whirlwind of a year, that’s for sure. I’m not going to lie–I had my doubts about moving 900 miles away from literally everyone and everything I’d ever known and starting over in a brand new city completely on my own—I did. Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. I’d given myself a few weeks—a month or two, tops—before I went running back to New York, tail between my legs, so to speak. I expected the glitter and excitement of being in a new place to wear off. And that I’d grow weary of city-life and having to sit in rush hour traffic for almost an hour just to get my daily caffeine fix (**because I’ve GOT to have my iced coffee and the DD on Fesslers Lane makes THE best iced coffee in town–and also happens to be the only 24 hour joint around for miles**). I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in or make any friends—the real, honest-to-goodness kind like some of the ones I’d left behind in New York. But more than anything, I was afraid of failing—that I’d be given this incredible opportunity—heck, that I’d worked like hell for and earned—to go to such a wonderful city and I’d just somehow screw it up like I’d done with most every other good thing in my life up to that point. That was my biggest fear. And if we’re being completely honest, sometimes it still is, just a little.

**

Suffice to say—AND THANKFULLY, I MIGHT ADD—all that worry (or most of anyhow) was for naught. I’d already fallen in love with the city when I’d previously visited in April to tour Watkins—it’s such a beautiful place, how could I not—but I think I fell in love all over again once I hit those city limit signs. As fate would have it, just as I hit the city, the song “Home” by Daughtry came on the radio—ohhh, I kid you not—and it was the best damn sign I could have been given right then. It couldn’t have been clearer in telling me that I’d made the right choice and that Nashville was right where I was supposed to be. As crazy as it sounds, it really did feel like I was home. And now here we are–here I am–a year later, and that feeling hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s only gotten stronger.

**

As guilty as I feel to admit it, I’ve never been happier. I’ve made friendships that I’m confident will last for years to come, and I’m beyond grateful for that. In a sense, they’ve become my sort-of stand-in family…and while they can’t replace my actual family, it helps knowing they’re there if need be. I met a sweet, kind, and probably the most understanding man to ever walk this earth–especially to put up with this distance the past few months with me here in NY and him back home in TN. I’m just beyond anxious to head back and be home–and moreover, to see everyone.

**

I’ve been given so many incredible opportunities that I never would have even imagined in New York. This whole Hollywood and movie-making business—never in a million years did I imagine being a part of that whole world. Heck, even if you’d told me last year that I’d be here…I probably would have laughed in your face. It’s just so…not ME. Or at least it wasn’t, I should say. I guess I have fate to thank for all of this—for putting myself and my friend Alan in the same 2-D class. After all, that’s how and where it all began—the two of us becoming fast friends, bonding over our shared dislike of the Professor-from-HELL and all but a few select classmates in the class. To recap from there, he’d written a screen-play and was planning to make his first film. Knowing I was a photographer, he asked me to take some BTS pics of the auditions. It was just for fun. Nothing special.

**

From that point to where it stands now…it’s all pretty much a blur. Now I have contacts and credits in the film industry that I never expected to have—and still can’t believe I have. I’ve been on an actual film set and have seen just what goes into the making of a film…and I now have the utmost respect for the actors and actresses out there that do it for a living. It’s not exactly an easy job, despite how it looks from the outside. And the days are long. I was the set photographer, so I was there for the whole of it—and there’s a lot of waiting. It takes a lot of patience. A LOT OF PATIENCE. What came most unexpected to me is how much I’ve actually liked what I’ve done. I didn’t think I would. I mean, granted, there’s some parts that I really don’t like. For instance—the diva-bitch actresses who think they’re–as my friend Alan would say, “The Meryl Streep(s) of Nashville”— and as such, are in desperate need of a hearty dose of “reality check”. There’s a lot of conniving and underhandedness, too…but I think you’ll find that with anything. For the most part, though, I’ve enjoyed the experience. Word on my freelancing is spreading and I’m getting offers for sessions and websites left and right—it’s all kind of crazy. A good crazy.

**

Of course, there’s the not so great misfortune that’s come with this year as well. The little hiccup in June with the accident and the damn concussion that has really done a number on me, in more ways than one. It’s unreal how your whole life can change in a split-second…and it did exactly that. It’s like someone pressed the pause button on my life that day and it’s only just recently begun playing again. I don’t have my life back, not completely. I’m trying to get back to it, slowly. It’s hard when you’re still trying to wade through the pain of a pounding headache day in and day out. I have all these damn meds—seriously, there are 6 different pills—that I’m supposed to be taking every day. They’re supposed to help with the headaches. They barely even touch the surface most of the time. And I hate taking them because they make me really loopy—you know, that whole out-of-body, noodles for limbs—kind of feeling. That’s no fun on its own, let alone when you’ve got a splitting headache to boot. So I’m trying to work through the pain. It’s a process. And it sucks. But really, what else can I do…

**

All in all, I’ve come so far this year…further than I thought I’d be. And a great year it’s been. Headache and stressors aside, I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings…

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And on that note…a little Happy Holidays from the two–and my absolute favorite–(little) leading men in my life… (**You’ll have to excuse the Jake cranky-face–the little guy was in no mood for pictures or presents…but even sporting a pout, he’s still a little cutie pie!**)

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(**Oh, and did I mention, these little cuties just celebrated a birthday a couple of weeks ago…TWO already! How is that even possible? It feels like it was just yesterday when it was just the three of us all day, everyday…when my nerves were shot from weeks of sleep training and episodes of Dinosaur Train and Daniel Tiger on repeat (*I still know the theme songs to both by heart btw*)…and every smile or smallest feat was cause for an impromptu photo-shoot. Now my Twinnies are turning into little men and I just want to scoop them up and never let them go and just make them stop growing. 😦 **)

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xoMESSIE

Guilt-Soaked Goodbyes.

Guilt. It’s a tricky little thing. Just an itty bitty five letter word, but oh how quickly it can bring you to your knees…


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I’m leaving soon; heading back home to Tennessee. I have one last follow-up with my primary care doctor next week, and then I’ll FINALLY be done with all these doctors…hopefully. As much as I would love to say that I’m cured and the headaches are gone…I can’t. Because I’m not and they aren’t. I’m still getting them on a regular basis…about every other day or so. And it really depends on the day how bad/intolerable they are. Some days I get lucky and I manage to take the meds in time either before or just as one is coming on and I catch a break and the headache’s not too bad. I’ll still have it—I’ll still feel miserable as all hell…but at least I can work through it. Unlike the bad days when I’m not so lucky and it doesn’t matter how many of those little white pills for the headaches or pain killers combined—I have no choice to suffer through it by way of hiding away in bed all day in a dark, quiet bedroom just trying to breathe through the tears and the excruciating pain that in the moment, seems endless. I refuse to go back to another ER—even on those bad days. I won’t do it. I refuse to put myself through the circus of trying one cocktail of meds after another…with only a brief, temporary period of relief—if that–and no real answers or solutions to why I’m still having these headaches—over 4 months now since the accident—and why none of the dozen or so different meds I’ve tried have worked. I don’t see the point of putting myself through that. It’s insane. Literally—it’s INSANE…the definition of insane is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That’s what I’ve been doing. I keep going back, thinking that maybe one of these doctors will give me something for these headaches that actually works. Or at the very least, give me some kind of explanation as to why this is happening…and when I can expect all this to go away. Because the headaches will go away. Or so I’ve been told. Eventually, they will go away. I’d just like to know when, so I know how much longer I’ve got to live with the pain. Because right now, not having an expiration date on these headaches, it all just seems really hopeless. But yeah, after next week, I’m done with the doctors for a while. Other than that, I really only just need to meet with my lawyer about the case and then I can get out of New York. We were supposed to meet last week, but he was called into court the morning of our meeting and had to cancel. While I could just have him answer my questions over the phone or by email as we’ve been doing, I figure that since I’m already up here, we might as well have a face-to-face meeting at least once before I head back down to Tennessee…and I really want to get everything squared away BEFORE I go back so I don’t have to worry about any loose ends to deal with once I’m gone.


**

Once I’m down in TN, I don’t think I’ll be coming back up to NY for a visit for a long while. A really, really long while. I love my family, I do. But these past four months…they’ve made me more certain now than ever that what I did—moving 900 miles away to Nashville—was the best decision I ever made. And this place, this town, this entire area—it doesn’t feel like home to me anymore. Which is really weird, but it’s the truth. I don’t feel like I belong here…and a part of me can’t help but wonder if I ever did, or if that was just something that I convinced myself of. I honestly never thought I’d be the one to leave. Never in a million years. I never thought I’d be happy living 900 miles away from my family…spending holidays and celebrating birthdays without them. Away from the little ones that are–without a doubt–my heart and soul. But I did find it…happiness. In fact, I’m happier in Tennessee than I’ve been in years.


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But as seems to be the case with most good things in life I’ve found–happiness is a double-edged sword. With it comes the guilt of leaving everyone and everything behind. I know that moving to Nashville was a good decision…the right decision…and I don’t for a second regret that decision. I’ve made some pretty reckless, spur-of-the-moment decisions in my life…but this time was different. I thought long and hard on the decision to move to TN before I made it. I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be easy. I also knew that I wasn’t just leaving my family and friends behind. I was leaving my old life behind. And in a sense, I was leaving the old me behind as well—the broken girl with haunted eyes and a tragic past. That was one of the hardest obstacles I had to face in moving…the letting go of who I was. But at the same time…it was the easiest, because I really didn’t like who I was…who I’d become as a result of some events of the preceding recent years. I allowed people to intimidate, bully, and mold me into someone that I wasn’t…someone that I’d always sworn I would never become…someone that I despised with every fiber of my being. I felt so unaccomplished. A failure. Looking back—at that point—there really was nowhere else to go but up.


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They say you can’t start over, that you can’t wipe the slate clean…but that’s exactly what I’ve done…what I’m doing. It’s easy in Nashville. Everyone is so nice and welcoming and they make you feel like you’re part of the fold…like you belong. It’s like a breath of fresh air…a huge change from how things are here in New York, that’s for sure. I’m really lucky because I’ve made a lot of really great friends since I’ve moved to Nashville, people that I really feel like I can trust, despite having only known them less than a year. I’m not lying to them or pretending to be someone that I’m not, if that’s what anyone thinks—what with the whole clean slate and all. It’s not like that. Granted, I haven’t exactly been overly forthcoming about what ALL that sent me running down to Tennessee, but I’ve been pretty open about most everything else. My guy BFF down in Nashville—Alan—he just looooves to tease me that he’s going to write a screenplay about my life one day because of all the crazy family/personal/love life/WTF-filled stories of mine that I’ve shared with him. He thinks they’re absolutely hilarious. But what’s really funny is that he doesn’t even know the half of it. Oh, the things I could tell him…but won’t. A girl has to have some secrets, doesn’t she?


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So that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. Excited to go back and see all my friends–my “Tennessee family”…and feeling guilty for being excited to leave…and of course, all sorts of anxious and stressed out about feeling guilty for being excited about leaving. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. An unavoidable one, unfortunately. If I were one of those people that believed that everything happens for a reason—and I am—then I would have to say that there must be a reason why I moved to Tennessee…a greater purpose that I’m just not aware of yet. One thing I do know is that I’m happy there…and for now, that’s enough for me. In fact, right now…it’s everything. The rest…I can figure out later…


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xo MESSIE