Be quiet…

One of my goals for myself this year was to learn how to be quiet. I have a need to fill the silence with anything. Music, my voice, TV, anything that can cut the silence. The silence was always uncomfortable for me. It made the thoughts in my head that I was trying to ignore oh so loud. My anxiety would take over. With this constant need to fill the void that I felt silence created, I missed out on so much.

So, I decided that I would slow down and accept silence. I would practice the art of being quiet. I started being quite more when around my family. Not because I didn’t want to talk to them, but because I wanted to really hear them. You’d be surprised what you can learn about someone when you sit in silence with them. Or when you shut up and actually listen to someone other than yourself talk.

I didn’t explain this goal to anyone. I decided it was something I was doing for myself, and it was better left unsaid. When I got back from my trip to Hawaii with my sister’s family, she asked my mom if I had fun because I was quiet. This broke my heart a little. My sister thought I didn’t have fun because I was actually quiet for a change 🤦🏻‍♀️. I was so quiet because I wanted to be genuinely in these moments with them. I tried to soak in every little detail. The experience, the scenery (which will leave you speechless anyway), and all those little moments with them that I’ll never get again. I was quiet and present. I loved every second of that trip with them, but my seemingly sudden behavior change had my sister confused.

This year has been the perfect year to start the practice of being quiet. As we all know, this year has been a shit show. All of the unknown, drastic changes to normal everyday life, and forced quality time with your loved ones, known as quarantine, I honed my ability to be silent. I’ve finally mastered the art of comfortable silence. I no longer feel a need to fill a void.

This morning I wasn’t able to fall back asleep after being woken up. Most mornings, it’s easy for me to slip back into slumber, but today not so much. I laid in bed. The only noises were coming from my fan and Eleanor with her labored breathing. Staring at my ceiling, I was overwhelmed by the stillness. The stillness I tend to miss because even when being quiet, I’m usually moving or active in some way. I eventually moved myself out to my back patio. Sitting here now, I’ve listened to birds and neighbors awaken. I’ve watched the sun slowly creep into the sky. I’ve heard Eleanor and Herschey hunt for lizards. I’ve felt the air go from crisp and slightly cool to humid and warm. I soaked in all of this because I woke up with the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was lying in bed this morning, and the shock of yesterday had finally disappeared. My indifference was gone and an overwhelming heaviness was sitting in my chest. I felt the need to sit in silence and observe. I feel the need to be quiet more than ever now. The need to soak in every second of the next 5 1/2 weeks.

Being truthful…

Virginia Woolf once said, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” When I write, that is what I try to do. I try to tell my truth. I try to make sure that when I tell my story, I try to be unapologetically truthful. I talk about things we all try to keep hidden, anxiety, depression, mental health awareness, etc.. I try not to be redundant in my writing, and I try my hardest to be relatable. To let others know that they’re not alone. We all have heavy stuff we carry.

My life has been filled with heaviness. Heaviness that I have a hard time sharing with others. Heaviness that eats away at me. Writing has been my way to lift some of that weight. To be able to talk about it. To be able to grow as a person. The last couple of weeks have been profoundly heavy on me.

The saying when times get tough, you find out who your friends are, is true. Over the past few years, I’ve let go of people who showed me they were only surface friends. In the last six weeks, I’ve learned a few more hard lessons with friends. People whom I would’ve bent over backward for proved themselves not to do the same. I’m aware that we’re all at ages now where we are adults and have our own busy lives, but part of being an adult and a friend is knowing when to be there for someone else. Those of you that have been there that have genuinely cared to know the real answer to “how are you” and those of you that have shown up; I can not thank you enough. You’ve helped me open my eyes to who is more than a surface friend. I’m finally at peace with my circle becoming smaller.

The last six weeks weren’t just about opening my eyes with my relationships in my life. There was a great deal of reflection about my life. I’ve repeatedly been told my options are limited and I’m complicated. I’ve come to have a love-hate relationship with this complexity. I love that everything about me is complex. I’m a light, bubbly person, but once you get to know me, you see that there is much more beneath all of that. As my best friend, Madison, told me last night, “there’s so much concealed under your outgoing, upbeat personality.” She’s not wrong and what she said sat with me all night. I love the complexity of my being in that sense but hate it in the medical sense. Being complicated in the medical world is not a hidden beauty. It’s messy, and no one wants to be messy. It’s caused me to be filled with fear. I live every day with fear. Fear of the unknown because the unknown in this situation usually points to death.

People are always saying things about how quickly life can change and how we need to live in the moment. How often do you find someone doing that? I feel as if we only think about life that way when something terrible happens. In the last few weeks, I’ve repeatedly told myself that if it doesn’t bring me happiness or serve me in a positive manner that I need to cut it out. But we rarely take our own advice, do we? It wasn’t until I spent a Tuesday morning with my friend Lilly that it all came full circle. Everyone needs a Lilly in their life, and for those of you that know her, aren’t we lucky. She has provided me with an endless amount of entertainment, a safe space, and a love like no other. Sometimes we view things differently, and one of us has to adjust our outlook to overcome the disconnect, and that, my friends, is a healthy friendship. So, we’re sitting on her couch on a Tuesday afternoon after having a good morning. I’m getting ready to leave for a doctor’s appointment, and she can visibly see the fear on my face. For some reason, just to have her acknowledge that she can not begin to comprehend my fear, but has genuinely tried to, as well as how much she sits with it because she loves me, was precisely what I needed to hear. I felt seen at that moment. I had someone look me in the eye and hold back their pain to tell me that they didn’t understand mine, but they tried to, and she wasn’t going to give me advice but that she supported me in whatever choice I made. This was exactly what I had needed at that moment, and Lilly tends to always deliver in those moments of need. I found myself reflecting on our conversation the whole way to Pensacola, reflecting on how I needed to take my own advice, how I needed to remove things that no longer positively serve me. I need to do what makes me happy and stop caring if others understand what that looks like because I have people other than my family, like Lilly and Madison, who will always support me. I have friends that are genuine.

So now I’m at another turning point in my life. I’m lying in a hospital starting a new medication that has the potential to help me or severely cause damage. I’m discussing possibly having another surgery. With all of this unknown and all of the potential life-changing things that can happen, I’m trying to remind myself that I need to take my own advice. I’m no longer going to sit at tables where I might be the topic of discussion when I get up. I’m going to stop caring about what my happiness looks like to others. I’m going to continue sharing my truth even if others don’t understand why. I’m going to try to continue to share my heaviness and make sure others know they’re not alone. I’m going to try and live unapologetically.

What do I need…

Yesterday during my weekly therapy session, my therapist and I talked about my health. This is usually the topic of discussion and one of the main reasons I put myself in therapy. I finally opened up a little deeper yesterday. See, I have a tough time truly opening up and letting people in. I’ve got these large walls I’ve built when it comes to certain parts of me, and my health is one of them. I talk about it lightly with others because if you get too “real,” it frightens people.

I see the fear and sympathy in everyone’s eyes when I don’t talk about it lightly. When I start to talk about the heavy stuff, people rearrange their faces, so I can’t see their discomfort, but it’s all in the eyes. Your eyes reveal all the things your face isn’t saying. That’s one of the reasons I focus on someone’s eyes when I first meet them. I digress, I can see the sadness in their eyes. I can see my friends and family getting upset. When I see this, my tough exterior goes into effect, and I stop talking.

I know that those who care about me are allowed to feel a certain type of way. They’re allowed to be upset and think things are unfair. Lord knows I do. I’ve cried what I could only imagine the amount of tears that could make up a large body of water. But herein lies the problem. Majority of them are thinking about how it effects them if something happens, not how this truly effects me. The problem with this is a dynamic has been created that’s even more unfair. I always have to be the strong one. I can’t show too much emotion because it triggers fear in those that care. If I stay collected and calm about it, then it must be okay, right? Wrong! Instead, it makes it very lonely for me. Those first few moments I’m alone after these exchanges, I break down. I get in my car, get to the end of the street and sob into my steering wheel. Or I wait until I’m home, then I sit in the shower holding myself while sobbing.

I’m starting to reach the end of my rope with this dynamic. I’m finally beginning to be brutally honest. When asked if I’m okay, I’m finally admitting the answer is no. I’m talking about my health more matter of fact and not sugar coating it. Maybe this is my way of coping or maybe it’s because I’m tired of feeling so alone in this. What I’ve learned over the last 5 years, is that people don’t want to know the truth. They want a version of the truth. For years I’ve been giving everyone a version of the truth and hiding this huge part of myself.

I’ve written about how I resent my health and heart about how I never wanted it to define me and how I’ve fought so hard to be someone outside of my heart conditions. Yet they consume me. If you’re ever with me and I’m looking off into space with my mind racing, you can bet that 98% of the time, I’m thinking about my heart and all it entails. It creates fear and anxiety that is hard to describe. It eats at me from the inside out. I don’t want it to define me or be my whole life, but it is what makes me, me.

Lately, I’ve been wholly consumed, overwhelmed, and distracted by my health. Every skipped or extra beat creates panic. Anytime something feels off, my mind immediately goes to the worst-case scenario. I’ve been trying not to get my hopes up because I’m yet again in a situation where everything in my life is barreling forward except my health. So, for the last few weeks, my therapy sessions have been all about my health. Yesterday my therapist asked me what I needed from others, and I honestly couldn’t answer the question. I don’t know what I need because, on a deep level, I always deal with this on my own. I don’t let anyone help me with the deepest darkest parts of it. I get told, “you’re so strong,” but honestly, what other choice do I have?

What do I need from others? I could use a conversation with someone where I can’t see the discomfort in their eyes. I could use an emotionless discussion—one where I don’t have to sugar coat it. I want not to have to worry about how this is affecting the other person for just one conversation. I wish not to feel a level of loneliness that consumes me even in a crowd of people. I want for someone actually to understand what it’s like for me. I wish for my therapy sessions to be about the common problems of a newly 30-year-old, like dating and developing relationships, making good career choices, or nonsensical problems.

Describe yourself…

Recently I’ve been asked to describe myself to others. Or to tell someone about myself. I never know how to answer this question appropriately. I don’t think someone wants to hear how I would describe myself or how I see myself. I don’t think it would come out in a socially acceptable way. I’d much prefer to hear how others see me. So I thought about it long and hard. This is how I see myself.

Last night while driving with my windows down the hot, humid air on my skin, and The head and Hearts- Rivers and Roads turned up, I felt overwhelmed. That kind of overwhelmed that makes tears silently fall down your cheeks. Something triggered an emotion that was just under the surface and was needing to be released. There it was a few simple tears while singing the words that were making the emotion show itself. This happens to me a lot. It is situations like this that made me realize that I was a little different.

I always knew I was a little different, and I knew at a young age. Not the kind of difference where I don’t have friends and was socially awkward. The type of difference where I didn’t fully relate to others. I have always had what has been described as an old soul or sad eyes or a sense of sadness about me. Many different people, from family to strangers, have told me this. “It’s that tortured soul that makes you artsy” or “You can tell you suffered trauma, and you carry it.” Doesn’t everyone suffer some kind of trauma? I mean, hell, no one has perfect parents or a perfect life. Isn’t that what makes us human? I know I am a little damaged. I was born damaged, and I do carry the weight of that with me. I have experienced emotional trauma because I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable. And the older I get and reflect on myself, the more I grow and find myself, the more I realize that maybe there is a sadness to me.

Maybe I’ve always known it, and that’s why I’ve felt different. Perhaps that’s why I talk too much. I talk to distract so it isn’t as noticeable or I’m too boisterous so you can’t see that it’s there. Because being different wasn’t something I was okay with, and I’ve always cared what people thought of me. I have overcompensated my whole life just to please others. The more I grow, the more I am embracing this part of me.

I like sad books, movies, and songs. Especially the songs. I’m a lyrics person. When I can relate to a song, it’s because I can tell that the person who wrote has the same sense of sadness to them too. Hell, I’m the person that cries when I hear a song that moves me—case in point, last night. I can recognize this sadness in art. In paintings, sculptures, and photographs. I like stories that are real and raw. That don’t have the perfect ending. It creates a beautiful kind of sadness. I would describe it as an air of melancholy. Maybe I have it because I am such an empathetic person. Or it’s the trauma. Or it’s that I have an old soul. Or perhaps it is because I am meant to show it to others, in the hope that it moves them.

I’m the kind of person that finds solace in little things. Like when I’m feeling sorrowful I want to go outside and stare at the stars and moon. Or go to a library or bookstore and get lost in the stories. Or drive with the windows down and a song filled with emotion turned up. Or go to the beach and become engulfed by the water. I want to feel everything in those moments.

I’m also the kind of person that is full of contradictions. I want to be fiercely independent but have someone that will take care of me when warranted. I like to be alone but feel lonely. I am creative and lazy at the same time. I want to feel everything and, at times, nothing because it’s so overwhelming. I want someone to see me truly but I have walls I’m not sure anyone can handle. I am afraid I’m a disappointment to others, yet I demand respect and hold myself accountable. I’m all over the map, and I know it. I know that I’m different and sorrowful. I’m empathetic and constantly overwhelmed by emotions. But how do you tell a stranger that? That’s never the things they want to hear. They want you to list off your accomplishments or generic descriptions about yourself. They don’t want to hear, “I like sad music and have an annoying laugh.” Y’all my cackle is out of control, and I know it. Earlier my friend told me my laugh was angelic, and I thought, “yeah, okay, for sounding like a demon is cackling.” I’m sorry if you’ve ever heard it.

How does one describe themselves in a light that doesn’t reflect that they’re their own worst critic? The guilt we feel for our failures and moments of harshness. Or the insecurities we have with ourselves. If we only focused on the good things, we’d come off as conceded. I can’t appropriately describe myself with accomplishments and generic descriptions. I’m full of failures and depth.

Mental health…

I’ve been in my own world lately. A world filled with doctors visits, medical testing, sleep deprivation, and anxiety. I’ve been working extremely hard at not letting myself spiral down a deep dark hole of depression. When I say working extremely hard I mean doing everything humanly possible to keep myself from completely shutting everyone out and becoming 300 pounds while binge watching everything I can stream on my TV. I haven’t been the most hands on version of myself when it comes to my relationships. I have not been the most attentive friend, sister, daughter or granddaughter. The balance between keeping myself from being consumed by my anxiety and being present is a tiresome battle.

For the last several months I’ve traveled to New Orleans, Nashville and Pensacola to see doctor after doctor. Trying to find some rhyme or reason to why my heart and oxygen seem to do whatever they want. For 13 months I’ve been dealing with trying to get a handle on my tachycardia and all that comes with it. I have requested referrals to see specialist. I have tirelessly fought to find a solution. Recently I discovered my oxygen levels like to dip down a little too low. Hence my recent photos with a nasal cannula or an oxygen pack strapped across me. Also you can notice my increasingly dark circles under my eyes. All of this has been consuming. Wholly consuming. Mind, body and soul. It’s taken EVERYTHING in me to maintain my sense of humor and to keep my head above water.

To all of you I keep sending photos like this to…you are welcome!

I constantly feel like I’m treading water. I have days where getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have days when making my bed is my biggest accomplishment. Most nights I toss and turn, stare at the ceiling, and mull over every possible scenario that the doctors could throw at me. I’ll be in a room of people and not be present. I get lost in my thoughts at times while having a conversation with someone I won’t have heard a word they said. I get tired of talking about it and feel like everyone is tired of hearing about it all. Mainly because I never have answers. I keep having to ask off of work for appointment after appointment. I’m afraid to ask off for a mental health day and I’m needing those more increasingly. Even when I am at work it’s hard to stay on task, my mind is always elsewhere.

For those of you that follow me on social media and see all of my self care posts it’s because I am struggling. It’s because I need to be reminded that depression and anxiety are normal. That I need to be told from time to time that it’s perfectly okay to not be okay. So I post it to remind myself and because I know that someone else might need to be reminded that they’re not the only one going through it.

Last time I wrote I had just been called a “ticking time bomb” by a doctor. I then waited days to hear from a team of doctors that they all agreed. That I was too complex of a case for them. I was consumed with anger and frustration. My mood has since turned into one of worry, fear, and doubt. My weight is fluctuating. I’m stressing so much my skin is breaking out. Some days I stare into the mirror and think, “what if this doctor can not do anything? What if I have only two extreme options? One that results in more side effects and ailments. Or one that could result in paralysis and relying solely on a battery to make my heart function?” What do I do then? Do I risk the extreme? Do I continue to fight and be “brave” or do I let go? Give up and live life like I am in fact a time bomb?” Do I do that whole “live life to the fullest” thing that we all say we will do? Live with no regrets. Stop waiting for my life to happen after I get well and just accept that at any moment my heart could stop beating. That my defibrillator could go off and revive me until one day it can’t. Do I risk it and fight or do I live my life until I succumb to ventricular fibrillation? Hence my aloofness as of late.

These questions are debilitating. They weigh heavy on my mind, my soul and my physical body. My sisters recently joked about why I take such long showers. They said I was contemplating life in the shower and well, they are right. I get lost in the hot water and steam. I imagine scenario after scenario and how I will handle them. But now I am doing that all the time not just in the shower. I’m fighting for answers and fighting depression. I constantly get told by friends and acquaintances how they admire my strength and grit. But I feel like such a fraud when complemented by them because I feel anything but strong. I put up a great facade of humor and strength, but I’m struggling to not cry constantly. Every time someone asks about my appointments, asks how I am doing, or every time a stranger stares at me toting around my oxygen. I needed to break my facade and show everyone that I am indeed struggling. I am fighting for my life right now. A life I want to live and I live that I have been greatly blessed in. I have a very dysfunctional family that I wouldn’t trade for the world. They’re my biggest support system and despite not always seeing eye to eye, they have NEVER let me be alone in anything I do. I’ve also managed to be blessed on the friend front. I have somehow managed to find some of the most amazing individuals who support and understand me. They check on me regularly and love me endlessly. I haven’t been the best or greatest friend lately and ultimately I know everyone will understand and accept it. Depression and anxiety are a hell of a beast.

The whole purpose of this post is to let others know that the taboo of discussing your depression and anxiety is not okay. Tell someone what you’re going through. Don’t put up a facade. I can not reiterate enough that it is OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY!!! Go to counseling and don’t be ashamed of it. When someone asks “are you okay” say no. This post was not for attention but for help. I want my words and my story to be read by someone who also has days where getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do. I want them to know that being open and honest about struggling is perfectly normal. I want my story and my words to help. I want people to know what I am actually feeling and going through. That social norms and expectations set by society and social media are not how we have to live life. That it’s okay to feel sad and to try to get help for that. That by taking care of yourself you will let others down and you don’t owe anyone an explanation when that happens. For those of you that sometimes feel like giving up, don’t. Keep pushing. Keep trying. Find your meaning. Your soul satisfying moments and relish those. Keep fighting that deep dark spiral that is depression even when you feel like you can’t. Take mental health days and don’t feel guilty. Cry in the shower or on the bathroom floor. Feel it and learn to let it go. Continue to move forward even if it’s at the pace of the tortoise not the hare.

Sick and tired of being sick and tired…

I would like to know what it is like to not be complicated. To not be so completely complex that you feel like you have no control over your own body. To be genuinely healthy and to not live in fear. I was asked the other day what my main concern was with all of the electrical issues going on with my heart. My answer was simple. I fear that I’m going to go into V-fib and be shocked and hurt myself or someone else. I’m afraid it’ll happen when I’m driving and I’ll cause an accident. I’m afraid it’ll happen when I’m awake and alone and I’ll fall hitting my head or hurt myself worse. Most of all I am afraid that there is no solution to my particular perplexing issue and that it could be my demise.

My whole life I’ve been rather challenging. The punishment was always worth the crime as a child. I always pushed my limits with my parents. I tend to tell the truth when people aren’t ready or used to it. I’ve been an ever-evolving person. I’ve had many stages in my life and I’ve only recently really come to know who I am as a person. My emotions have always been complex and so has my personality. I now appreciate my peculiarities and obscurity. Besides my challenging and evolving personality, my health has been a whole other beast.

While I have made it well known my heart has always been far from normal. It’s been something I’ve fought against and resented my whole life. I didn’t want it to define me and that’s exactly what it has done. It’s what makes me who I am. It’s consuming. While all of my friends and family would describe me as strong because of it I feel completely at its mercy. It started out abnormal, which to me is kind of ironic because I feel like I’m a little anomalous as a person, but it’s grown to be quite literally one of a kind. My particular malfunction in the heart is not a structural problem anymore. I’d kill to go back to my valve being the only serious issue. An easy answer and an easy fix. Structural issues of the heart are simpler, but no, I have to continue to be challenging.

A lot of you are not in the medical field and don’t know medical terminology and don’t exactly understand how it all works. Your heart has an electrical system that makes it beat correctly. That lub dub you’re supposed to hear occurs because of the electricity flowing through your heart. My heart, however, likes to have premature ventricular contractions(also known as skipped beats) at an abnormal rate. It also likes to go into ventricular tachycardia, which means my heart beats WAY too fast. I just learned the other day that one area of my heart was beating at 300 beats per minute during one of these spells. When this happens my heart feels like it’s beating out of my chest. Also when this happens my heart gets stuck in this rhythm of beating too fast to actually pump. When this occurs I am not getting oxygenated blood throughout my body because my heart can’t efficiently pump it out. When it’s stuck like this the muscle then begins to spasm and not beat all. That is known as ventricular arrhythmia and ventricular fibrillation. My pacemaker is designed to try to pace my heart back into a normal rhythm and when it cannot my defibrillator kicks in. If I didn’t have my pacemaker/defibrillator I wouldn’t be here today. I have had at least one spell of ventricular tachycardia and arrhythmia every month this year. I’ve had more but there hasn’t been one month without. I could have died at least once every month this year without my ICD(implantable cardiac device).

Finding this out and being told just how severe and serious of a case I am has been absolutely overwhelming. Honestly, there isn’t a word to describe the emotion I am feeling. I knew it was serious and I know that I downplay it to everyone else, but I can’t anymore. I can’t pretend I am okay and that I am normal anymore. I can’t mask my fear and uncertainty anymore. It is so exhausting physically because of the arrhythmia and the high number of PVCs I have regularly. I am extremely symptomatic with it all and it physically drains me. Also, being so emotionally concealed and strong for everyone else is beginning to take a toll. Completely relinquishing myself to the fact that I am not healthy and will never be medically “normal” is proving to be difficult and incredibly depressing. I’ve got a lot of uncertainty ahead and it’s not going to be easy. From starting a medicine with a black box warning label and severe side effects to accepting that there may never be a solution. It’s going to be a tough journey with a lot of ups and downs.

To everyone that has reached out and to everyone that has respected the fact that I am not ready to talk, I thank you. I have a lot I need to process still. Emotions are all over the place right now. But I appreciate every one of you that is in my corner, thoughts, prayers, positive vibes and listening ears, you all mean a lot. I have some of the BEST friends and even better family.

Existential Crisis, party of one…

 Sitting here waiting on my parents to arrive for dinner, I was actually on time for once, and I find myself thinking…”Holy shit! You’re about to be 29!” Where did my twenties go? This panic has set in a few times over the past 5 months.

Where did my twenties go? Why did I think I had all this time to accomplish things? Why am I so unsatisfied with where I am at in life right now? Did I even do anything meaningful in my twenties? Questions like these have been plaguing me and leading to what I can only assume is an existential crisis. Quarter life crises are played out. I’m taking this one to a whole nother level.

Existential crisis is also known as that moment when one questions if their life has meaning, purpose or value. I’d say mine definitely started brewing after my brush with death in November. I started thinking about what if I wouldn’t have been lucky enough to have my defibrillator? Would my short time on earth have made a difference? Have I made a difference to anyone other than those genetically programmed to love me? With these circumstances and 30 looming around the corner, I find myself pondering the deeper questions in life.

Recently I had someone ask me what the one thing I wanted from life was and I did not even have to think about it before responding. I want to make a difference. I couldn’t figure out exactly how to communicate it at the time, it was late and there had been drinks involved, but after thinking about that conversation I now know how to convey exactly what I meant. I want to make a difference, not in the sense of changing the world, but in helping others. I hope that my kindness, vulnerability, empathy and hopefully my words can make a difference to someone. To help them in their journey through life.

How do I go about doing that? How do I figure out what I want to do in this life that will help me achieve my goal in life? I thought it was Nursing. To be a good nurse, the kind of nurse that makes being in the hospital bearable. My health made it clear that that wasn’t it and now here I sit almost 29 feeling a little lost. Do I continue to write and eventually write a novel? Do I work to eventually open my own book and record store, since books and music are things that changed my life? Do I work for a charity like the American Heart Association? Do I move or do I stay in my comfort zone? How do I figure out the answers?

In January I had someone recommend the book 30 before 30. As I have slowly read this over the past few weeks I have been all over the map. I have related to the author, been inspired by the author and been envious of the author. She writes about how she made a mess of her twenties and accomplished all these small goals she set for herself. While reading this book in public I get unsolicited advice from strangers like, “Don’t worry your twenties are for figuring things out.” First of all, this isn’t a self-help book and what exactly are we figuring out in our twenties? Did I do my twenties right? Did I make a big enough mess? Did I accomplish enough? Does anyone else feel this way?

I spent my twenties in serious relationships and having heart surgery. Reflecting on my twenties I guess I can say I have realized just how strong I am. I was put through emotional and physical hell with 5 separate heart surgeries, all differing in severity, and I overcame every obstacle thrown my way. I never gave up and I continue to fight to be the healthiest version of myself. I don’t accept the answer “no” from my doctors. I loved with all my heart and in two completely different ways, two people. I learned to let go and how to take time to heal from hurt. I learned to be careful with who I trust and what I won’t put up with. I learned that sometimes the tough decision is the right decision. I learned what a broken heart feels like and how cold the bathroom floor is at 3AM when you’re sobbing and wondering why someone doesn’t love you. Most importantly, I have learned how to forgive and grow from disappointment.

I have all these questions heavy on my mind and heart as I approach my golden birthday and I have the typical late twenty-something shit going on too. Will I be forever alone? Is there anyone worthwhile to date? Do I have too much baggage? Why am I dissatisfied with my job? Do you ever feel like an adult? Being single at 29 was definitely not where I thought I would be when I celebrated my 20th birthday with my new boyfriend. My ability to self-sabotage relationships at this point in my life is uncanny. I seem to either put my foot in my mouth or retreat into my shell (there is your turtle joke, Alexandra!) and become too nervous to be myself, to text or call first, or to innitiate anything. Navigating your late twenties trying to figure out when you’re supposed to feel like an adult and how to act like one blows. I feel stuck in a transitional state. Every decision I make has so much weight to it now.

All of this being said, or written out… whatever, it has made me decide to develop my own list of 30 before 30 goals. Some big, some small and some that may seem silly to others, but they’re my goals. My goals to make sure I successfully make a mess of my twenties and figure things out. In the last year of my twenties I’ll be bolder. I’ll fight my fear and text or call first. I’ll live a little more, unapologetically. I want to be able to go into my 30’s and know that I made the most of my twenties. Take this last year by the horns and “figure things out.” Maybe answer the question of what can I do to make a difference? It may seem like a silly goal to some, maybe naive or make me seem like a dreamer, but I don’t think that being a good person who wants to help others is a silly dream.

Since people relate to and like photos. Here are some photos of some of my birthday celebrations through out my twenties for your viewing pleasure…enjoy

 
 

Infertility awareness, yo!

Here we are in April.  Spring is in full effect and with it, change is in the air.  Something about warmer weather, April showers and longer days makes me feel like all things are possible.  Many exciting things are happening this month; Game of Thrones, Easter and I’m getting in with a new specialist to determine if surgery number 9 will be necessary. One of the biggest things, for me, in April is the week of the 21st-27th.

The week of the 21st-27th is National Infertility Awareness Week. World infertility awareness is in June, but I wanted to address it this month instead. Infertility affects men and women. 1 in 8 people suffer from infertility of some sort and only 15 out of the 50 states have insurance coverage for it.


If you’ve followed my blog posts, or know me personally, you know that I suffer from infertility.  I suffer from ovarian failure and wrote about it back in September because one of my dear friends, who had a VERY hard time conceiving, was finally about to give birth and my sister had just told me she was expecting.  The harsh reality of never being able to have my own children hit me hard that week. I was definitely caught up in my feelings, so I wrote about it to help sort things out.  That was the most personal post I had written at the time and I found it to be insanely rewarding to share. That blog post got some serious recognition and reached TONS of people.  I am still getting messages from strangers about it. So, I thought why not raise some more awareness?

When my sister and her husband told me they were pregnant I was so happy I wanted to cry.  I actually did cry tears of joy when I got in my car. Now, I knew this news would be coming because they were wanting to get pregnant, but I was still so surprised and excited.  Why did I choose to cry in my car rather than share my emotions with my sister? I chose to cry in my car because I knew after the tears of joy the tears of sadness would come rolling down.  Once I was home I ugly cried where no one could see me. I’m not telling everyone this because I want your pity. I want people to understand what living with infertility is like. I could NOT be happier and more excited that my sister is having a baby.  Y’all, I can NOT wait to hold my niece in my arms and tell her how much I love her already, but at the same time, I am sad.

I’m sad for myself and for women all over who understand this sadness.  I don’t want friends or family to feel weird telling me when they’re expecting.  I don’t want them to think that they have to deliver the news delicately. I’m not going to break down crying in front of you and curse the universe.  I’m going to celebrate with you and be there supporting you throughout it all. I am going to love your child unconditionally. I will, however, in private, process my emotions of envy.

I will never experience that first time the baby moves in the womb or has hiccups. I won’t understand what it’s like to not be able to breathe because everything has shifted internally and my belly is expanding (right now I only feel that when I eat too many tacos).  I won’t experience the pain of childbirth or breastfeeding. I will be envious of your journey throughout all of it. At times I may be jealous, but I never want someone to feel they can’t share their experience with me because I can’t have kids. 

As a woman being told you can not have your own kids is soul crushing.  You can not do the one thing you are biologically meant to do. Being told bluntly at 20 years young is harder than you could ever realize.  I was at the age where I was still starry-eyed and naive. I had all of these plans for my life that I was going to accomplish and had yet to discover life had different plans.  This was my first wake up call in that department. My biggest dream for myself was to be a mother. I wanted to be a mother like my own. One that encouraged me to be myself no matter what anyone else thought.  One that would go without just so I could have what I wanted or needed. One who wasn’t perfect and showed me that it was okay to not be perfect. I wanted to raise children with my sisters and share stories and experiences about motherhood with them.  The sense of utter failure I developed after being diagnosed was something I can not accurately describe. It’s been just shy of 9 years since being diagnosed and I still struggle to be okay with it to this day.

There is a sense of obligation to immediately tell anyone whom you are seeing and see a potential future with, “Hey just so you know my womb is barren!” Dating in your late twenties/early thirties is hard enough. Everyone has baggage at this point they’re bringing to the table and when you bring a bag full of bricks like infertility to the table, well it can be a deal breaker.  This makes it discouraging to date. You hope and pray that you eventually find someone who will think life with just you is enough because sometimes IVF or adoption is too expensive or isn’t an option. Infertility is draining.

The depression that comes with your diagnosis…Lord.  My doctor recommended therapy after I found out. At the time I thought I would just process this on my own.  It wasn’t as big of a deal until I got older. Once your friends start having children and you experience that first breakdown because it hits you that that will never be you.  I felt guilty for feeling sad for myself. I’ve since gone to therapy to try to process it, to become content with it. Most days I am fine. I know I will be fun Aunt Madelyn and I am totally okay with that role.  It wasn’t until I found out my sister was pregnant that I started to feel sad again. 

After Devon and Kyle told me the exciting news and I ugly cried on my stairs for a solid 45 minutes.  I confused the hell out of my dogs sitting there sobbing, those poor babies, I felt immense guilt. I shouldn’t be feeling sorry for myself, I should be celebrating.  I let it all go, or so I thought. Months went by and I went to the first appointment with them, I felt my niece kick, and I started planning my sister’s baby shower. A little backstory here, my sister is AMAZING, y’all.  I’m sure everyone thinks that about their sister, but it is more than that when it comes to Devon. She still scares the hell out of me. One of my biggest fears in life is that I will disappoint her or let her down. She has the biggest heart and always goes above and beyond for others. She is the hardest worker I know and she loves even harder. Devon has hosted many a baby shower for her friends and poured herself into making sure everything was just right. Therefore, I knew this had to be perfect for her. I spent 3 months planning, coordinating and crafting. I was putting myself under an extreme amount of pressure and stressing myself out beyond belief. 

Two days before the shower I was agitated with myself, so much so, that I cried the whole way home from buying succulents for centerpieces.  I essentially put myself in timeout. I avoided the rest of the tasks I planned to tackle that night, took a shower and went to bed. The next day while reprimanding myself for being so damn emotional it hit me.  Why was I making such a big deal out of this? Why did it have to be perfect? Well you see, this is the closest thing I’ll ever get to having a baby shower. It is the only one that my mom will be the Nana-to-be at.  It is the only time Devon and I will share this experience. It was such a big deal to me because of my infertility. Once the shower was over I felt relieved and then the guilt crept in. I felt guilty because once again I found myself jealous of Devon.  I could not have done this without the help of the lovely ladies below and I am sorry if I was annoying or overbearing when it came to planning. Hopefully, now you guys understand why I got a little OCD about the shower. 

Infertility doesn’t come with a handbook. It comes with feeling distraught and depressed. It comes with hormone treatments and a price tag.  It comes with a sense of failure and pangs of guilt. It comes in waves. Some days, weeks, or months you’re content and others you feel like you’re the only one missing out on the joy of motherhood.  So the week of April 21st-27th is a big deal to me. It means more to me than it does to most. I will, personally, never go through IVF treatment and have repeated negative pregnancy tests, because I know I have infertility due to ovarian failure.  So, to those women who put their bodies through hell and have yet to get pregnant…keep your faith. Stay positive and remember that even if you never get pregnant it will be okay. It seems like the end of the world, but I can promise you it isn’t. Remember, adoption is a beautiful thing and doesn’t make someone less of a mother.  To those of you going through the adoption process, I have the utmost respect for you. Adoption may never be an option for me either because adoption agencies aren’t too keen on giving a baby to someone with heart failure and I am okay with that. But, those of you waiting and getting discouraged, be patient. Your child is out there and you will get a chance to be a parent.  And to those of you who know you may never be a parent…YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I may only be a dog mom and in the end, that is okay. Ladies, when you find yourself sad, feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling guilty, FEEL IT!  It is okay to feel those things.  It is normal and we are only human. Don’t let anyone let you feel bad about not being a mom.  Don’t feel ashamed if you have to take antidepressants, go to therapy or if you decide you need to change your whole life because of your diagnosis.  No one completely understands what it feels like until it is them and you don’t have to explain yourself. Hold your head high the week of April 21st-27th and know that other women are in the same boat as you, a boat that no one wants to be in but one in which you are not alone.  

My friends and family that have been patient and supportive, THANK YOU. Thank you for considering my feelings when you got exciting news and when you were sharing it, but next time don’t worry about me.  I will be just fine. And Devon, thank you for going to my appointments with me, thank you for verbally assaulting the doctor that basically told me I was being a hypochondriac, thank you for letting me be so involved in this pregnancy. I love you more than I’ll ever be able to express. I couldn’t be more thankful for you understanding that this is as close as I will get to having my own child and for you to understand what that means to me. The kind of sister, daughter, and friend you are is why I know you are going to be the BEST mother to Cadence. 

Suck it up, buttercup!

It’s only January 7th and I’m already seeing people discouraged about their New Years resolutions. Y’all, it has been a week. One week. One week does not define your whole year. The new year is seen as a fresh start, blank page, clean slate, whatever you want to call it. Most change does not happen in a week. Life altering changes are the ones that happen immediately. Pregnancy, getting fired, getting promoted, death, car accidents, winning the lottery, etc.. Those are the changes that are immediate. If you’re wanting to make changes this year you have to work at it EVERYDAY. Did you know it takes four weeks of doing something, consistently, for it to become a habit? My cardiologist gave me that bit of knowledge after I got my pacemaker and had to alter which ear I used to talk on my cell phone. A whole month for something to become a habit.

Instead of discouraging yourself after a week, why don’t you give yourself a break and continue trying? My new year certainly did not start the way I intended. I made some decisions that were out of character for me and I am trying to navigate my feelings toward that since it is not something that is normal for me. However, that is kind of what I wanted for this year in a really roundabout way. I ended 2018 with the intentions of taking 2019 to expand my horizons. To take chances, try new things, and to continue to better me.

2018 taught me a lot. It was a strange year and the last 8 weeks of it were incredibly difficult. I had multiple life-altering changes occur and I am bringing one of them with me into this clean slate. I have a lot of unknowns ahead of me. I will be dealing with who knows how many new diagnoses and whatever else my heart throws my way. I am going into this year fully aware this is happening and I am not getting discouraged. So why are you getting discouraged after a week?!

Continue to push through. Life gets hard and positive change does not come easy. I constantly have people telling me that I am strong, a badass, or they don’t know how I handle things. Want to know how? I refuse to give up. I continue to push through. I am still terrified to go to sleep and well, do anything for that matter. At any moment I could just flatline again, but I push through. I focus on what I can do and control. When things get tough and I get discouraged, because I do get discouraged, I think about it in the most literal way. There is nothing I can not do about what has already happened. It is what is and you have to accept it, even if you don’t want to. I can only focus on how I handle it and how I can change what I can.

I’m lucky because I got a second chance and most people do not. That is why I am embracing 2019 and growing at my own pace. I’ve set big goals for myself this year as I enter the last year of my twenties. I plan to travel as much as I can, to continue to work on my education, to move out of Destin(finally), to continue to recognize my toxic traits and work on changing them, maybe actually let another person in, and most of all to make something of this writing. I’m pretty sure my blog is awful, but all the support I get really means a lot as I push myself to improve. My biggest goal this year is to self publish my first book. I honestly don’t care if it sells. As long as I can say that I worked my ass off and accomplished it will be enough.

Your goals for this New Year aren’t going to happen with the snap of a finger. Don’t beat yourself up because you’ve already slipped up. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start over. You’ve got 51 more weeks. Take it from someone who constantly is getting knocked on their ass. I get 5 steps ahead only to be knocked back 3. It will be okay. You still have time to accomplish what matters most to you. My point here is DON’T GIVE UP AFTER ONE SET BACK!

Oh what a year…

As the year comes to an end and I’m getting ready for Christmas, I keep finding myself reflecting on how much happened this year. Did anyone else feel like January lasted 3 months and the rest of the year flew by in a matter of minutes? I know there are still a few weeks left until we enter 2019, but I plan on being busy. So now is my time to write.

As I entered 2018 I was in a strange place, personally not physically. I was living at home. Starting over and trying to heal and find me. My only intentions going into the new year were to fall back in love with myself and my life. I had been bitter, cynical and in an unhappy situation for far too long. No big “new year new me” bullshit. Just the realistic hope of moving on with my life.

2018 started for me in Port St Joe, Florida in a house that is no longer there. Golf cart rides, lots of champagne, sparklers on the beach, bonfires and me learning how to play poker with friends that helped make 2017 an interesting year. Hanging with these guys was the only way to ring in the new year. As this year closes it is safe to say I still have not mastered my poker face. I also still think that a New Years bonfire is the best way to spend NYE!

A whole hell of a lot happened in January. It felt like the longest damn month of the whole year. I found myself already getting angry because I was making the same mistakes as before. I kept thinking to myself, “What in the hell are you doing Madelyn?!” Maybe it was my Wednesday, Crestview lunch dates with Laurie that helped push me to realize that I didn’t need to lose sight of what I wanted this year to be or maybe it was the news that my Grandma Anne was taking a turn for the worst. Something happened at the end of January that put my ass in check and pushed me in the right direction, but I’m not exactly sure what. I also was told the news that my sweet sweet bestie, Lilly, was pregnant after years of trying. I had just had an appointment that delivered the news that 100% sealed my fate of never having my own children and hearing her tell me she was pregnant was one of the best things that could have happened.

Entering into February I had the chance to get out of town to celebrate my cousin and her fiancé. I gladly said, ”See ya, Destin.” That was some of the first one on one time I got to spend with my new brother Kyle. It was nice to talk about music, Star Wars, life and of course Devon’s driving 😂. While in Tampa my urge to ditch Destin started to get stronger. The restlessness that filled me on the ride back was almost unbearable. Coming home to find my grandmother had been told that there wasn’t much time left was almost too much for me to face. I found myself watching one of the most important people in my life welcoming my biggest fear and leave this earth as we entered March. The year was off to a terrible start and her death made me re-evaluate a lot in my life. I let go of the people and things that were holding me down and started to make plans to move forward the way I wanted.

March and April were filled with traveling. A bachelorette party in Orlando with tons of laughter. A road trip to DC and Virginia to celebrate two of my favorites getting married. All of the traveling, job switching, and new experiences made my restlessness grow, yet again. My urge to leave getting stronger and stronger each day. I finally registered for classes and decided to push myself to go back to school. To figure out a new path since nursing was a no go. I was working out again and beginning to feel like myself, finally. I had lost myself for someone else and I was still healing. I was becoming a better version of myself. I spent a lot of time with friends and my mom. I still wasn’t completely content with being alone. I celebrated my little sister turning 21, which made me feel incredibly old and helped her get over a breakup. There were some strong drinks, chocolate, chick flicks, nights in bed crying and laughing. As May started my stepdad and little sister were home for the summer and living at home was becoming harder and harder. My stress was at an all-time high. I was feeling suffocated. Summer was starting and my desire to be outside and never home was getting out of control. My cousin’s wedding and bachelorette trip came just in time. I was able to get away, relax and clear my head. I got to spend time in my favorite city and then spend a weekend with my dads family. Once again getting out of town only pushed me farther into restlessness. I was finally comfortable being alone and with my singledom. Over the past couple of months, I started writing more and putting myself out there. The words of encouragement were relieving. I finally felt like I found a new niche and felt determined to continue to see where it takes me. My decision to move was made and I started saving money.

I ended May driving through a tropical storm to spend Memorial Day in Tampa with my Jules. Ever since we met Memorial Day weekend in 2011 we have spent the holiday in the sun together. I was not about to let the tradition die. I received the best news when I got there, baby Fern would be arriving in December. My 7th memorial day spent with Julie was exactly what I needed. Sometimes you come across people that feed your soul in such a positive way and she is one of these people. Any time I get to spend with her I jump at the opportunity because she has a way of saying the right things when I need to hear them. Once again, getting out of town and clearing my head only made my desire to expand my horizons strengthen.

I welcomed my birth month with open arms. I was ready to say goodbye to 27 and dive into 28. Living at home was starting to get more and more stressful. There were too many people, personalities, and animals in a small space. My patience was nonexistent and my temper got the best of me. I am the kind of person that celebrates my birthday ALL month. Do some people find that annoying? Yes! Do I care? Ha, no! After one of my many celebrations, I came home and the littlest thing was the catalyst. I found myself at my breaking point. I’m not proud of it, but I screamed at my sister and stepdad. Lost my temper and called Devon. Devon is usually my voice of reason when I let my emotions get the best of me. She agreed that I needed to remove myself from the situation and environment I was in. So I made the move to get out of my moms and move in with a friend. I completely derailed my plans of moving at the end of the year. I had my 80s celebration and said goodbye Dani and Cj all the while being incredibly angry at myself. I found it hard to actually enjoy my birthday celebration and found myself reaching out to someone who only made things worse for me. My actual birthday weekend arrived and it wasn’t a weekend I was looking forward to at all. We finally had the service for my grandmother. I welcomed 28 and said my final goodbye. I was finally forced to face all of the emotions I swept under the rug when dealing with her death. Not being in the best place personally, I spent my entire birthday weekend crying myself to sleep. One of the most positive things to happen in June was Haley graduating nursing school. She had what can be considered the HARDEST 14 months of her life. She suffered significant losses and didn’t let them stop her. She studied hard and even in her most emotional moments kept her head up. Her strength, determination, and perseverance are definitely something to be admired. I’m beyond lucky to be able to call her my friend and being able to see her graduate brought me great joy in a time where I was feeling sorry for myself.

July and August flew by. I’m not sure anything productive even happened in those 8 weeks. I know I celebrated birthdays and pretty much-avoided responsibilities until school started. I did partake in a short 24-hour getaway to mobile with Haley. She took her nursing boards and passed like I knew she would. I signed a lease with Ashley. Committing myself to at least one more year here. It was a tough decision to make and I’m still not sure I made the right one. I promised myself I wouldn’t ring in 29 here, but I’m here until at least August 31st of 2019 now. I do have to give a huge shout out to all of those who helped us move. Also to Kim and Chris for letting me crash with them while I got moved in. I hope y’all are still laughing at me having to pee on the side of the house because I couldn’t get one of y’all to open the door 😂. I certainly am! By the way, I still need to get the dog apartment from you. The family did manage to pull off a surprise party for my grandmas 80th birthday. Spending time with them was definitely a highlight. I wish I remembered more from July and August. You would think it was me that got the concussion on the 4th of July not Alex 😂! Sorry Alex I had to, love ya mean it.

September was definitely eventful. I got moved into my place. School was in full swing. We had Lilly’s baby shower. With her due date approaching fast I sat down and wrote my first deeply emotional and vulnerable blog. I finally organized my feelings and wrote about my infertility. It was extremely humbling to have so many people share it, message me and thank me. I had no idea it would reach as many people as it did and it helped me see things in a new light. I finally was at peace with a future of not being a mom. Being a mom was something I had wanted to be my whole life. Now, after learning about my diagnosis, coping and healing from it, I can say that I am content with my infertility. Sometimes I still get sad but I understand that my life is meant to be different. I was still having a hard time with my commitment to stay another year here and I had not been out of town in a while. I was unfocused and feeling hopeless. I needed to get out and clear my head. I packed up for a weekend getaway to the Forgotten Coast in search of some mental clarity. I came back feeling refreshed and centered. September also brought a new opportunity on the job front. After a lot of delibertating, I decided to take it. 

It was now October, my FAVORITE month of the whole year! It was filled with celebrating Devon’s 35th birthday. Tiffany and Andrew got engaged, FINALLY! Lilly gave birth to Ellie and it was quite the event. Ellie and Lilly gave us all a scare and I am ever so grateful that they both are happy and healthy. Hurricane Michael hit, caused devastation and put school on hold for me. I had a much-needed break that would come back later to bite me in the ass. I spent the month being a complete basic pumpkin and Halloween loving white girl. Family football weekend was a blast despite losing the game. We left at half time and went to a bar. Devon and Kyle celebrated their first anniversary that weekend and were true sports. I spent Halloween with my best friend and her munchkins. We were a bat family. Her 4 year old told me my butt looked nice in my leggings and completely made my month. It was honestly a wonderful month. I was the happiest I had been in a while. I let my guard down and November reminded why I don’t relax. 

Then came November. Life was finally feeling right. I finally stopped holding my breath and relaxed. Then it happened. I didn’t derail my plans this time my health did. Every time I get 4 steps forward my heart knocks me 3 steps back. I spent the whole month feeling defeated. November was hard. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without my family. I’ve been scared and confused. All the doctors appointments, everyone driving me around, letting me vent and being an emotional crutch. I couldn’t be more thankful for my family. November was definitely the most challenging month of the year. I still don’t think I’ve completely wrapped my head around everything that happened. It wasn’t all awful. I got to celebrate baby boys. I had baby Bennett and baby Coles baby showers. Sweet Ophelia turned 1. Thanksgiving was great. I worked a solid 12 hours on Black Friday and the only reason I committed was because of Madison. My Herschey turned 7. I discovered my love for a night in with a onesie and face mask. I drank more water than I think I ever have and my dear friend Taylor asked me to be a part of her special day!

And now it’s December. Getting out of town, after I thought I was going to have to cancel my trip, was exactly what I needed. My time in New York was not long enough. Honestly, being in New York was the first time I’ve ever felt that comfortable in my own skin. Something about the City just felt right. I am so thankful for my hosts and being pointed in the right direction food wise and literally. Jesica is directionally challenged so having someone tell me to go left or straight was a HUGE help. I am so thankful Jes came with me. Her gypsy soul is undeniably similar to mine. Going to New York has definitely not helped my feeling of restlessness. My desire to get out of the worlds luckiest fishing village is at an all-time high. Half of me is tempted to sell everything I own and be irrational and move. The other half is rational and knows my life is filled with unknowns right now and I need to be responsible. I won’t pack my bags just yet. I’m going to finish these finals and papers. I’m going to shop for Christmas, way to wait until the last minute huh?! I’m going to welcome 2019 and hope that it’s a year of as much personal growth as 2018 has been.

So far December has been great. I’m slowly getting back into working out. I ran a mile and a half yesterday. I’m slowly accomplishing my mountain of homework. I finally am caught up on laundry. And I’m realizing just how much I’ve grown this year.

I owe a lot of my growth to my best friend Madison. I’m so proud of her. She works her butt off. She moms hard and she’s accepting help from her parents even when it hurts her pride. Being a single mom in school and working 40 hours is not easy. She’s grown so much this year and has pushed me to see qualities in myself I couldn’t see. Devon and Kyle who have made a point to include me in their big moments this first year of marriage. When I felt alone they both knew exactly what to say and do. My mom has been my rock. My safe place. She’s driven me crazy with her worrying. She’s made me laugh uncontrollably. My dad and stepmom have supported me without question and made sure I knew I would be okay when I thought I wouldn’t be. My aunts have all provided me with support and encouragement. My whole family has been a huge part of my personal growth.

I was asked to describe myself at the beginning of the year. As I answered the person stopped me. She told me I was describing myself based off of what I thought people wanted to hear. I couldn’t describe myself in the way I saw myself. It took me all year to finally be able to answer her question.

I, Madelyn, am first off a crier. I compartmentalize my emotions. It was something I mastered at a young age. I have an extremely hard time vocalizing and expressing my emotions to others. I cry when I’m happy, sad, anxious, angry, stressed, the list goes on. It’s one of the only ways I can let out my emotions. I am a music junkie. Not musically inclined at all, just obsessed with music. I’m constantly listening to music. Searching for new artists and songs. I listen to a little bit of EVERYTHING. I am the type of person that cries during certain songs. I am stubborn. I have a hard time believing in myself. I love hard. That doesn’t mean just in relationships. I love hard when it comes to friends and family. I will put others first and neglect to take care of myself because of this. I’m still learning how to say no. I stay alarmingly calm in stressful situations and this can be contributed to my health. I want to be every animals mom. I love animals and if I could I would rescue as many as I could. I now know what I will and will not put up within a relationship. I’ve had too much of my time wasted and I have too much to offer to be considered an afterthought. I believe in monogamy and casual dating is not for me. I am incredibly awkward. I rarely say the right thing at the right time. I constantly am putting my foot in my mouth. I’m working on holding myself accountable. If I want change then I have to be the change. I don’t think I will ever be a morning person. I am not healthy. I may never be. I am different medically and I’m learning to accept it. I laugh at my own jokes and use humor as a coping mechanism. I hate my body and I’m trying to learn to love it. I always want to eat, even if I just ate. And I finally love myself as a person again.

All year I’ve worked on figuring out who I am. 2018 has been a HUGE year for me. Being able to sit here and write about it has been a big step for me. To actually hit publish will be even bigger. Opening up and being vulnerable isn’t easy for me. I’m going into 2019 with the hope that I expand my horizons even more. I hope to welcome 29 and leave this town for my thirties. I hope to continue writing and finding my groove. I hope to keep an open mind and continue to grow into the best version of myself. I hope to finally tame these damn eyebrows and continue to feel comfortable in my own skin. I hope to learn how to say no and work on the right balance of selfish and selfless. I hope for more chances to travel. But most of all I hope for answers, that my heart will not throw me curveballs, and some stability medically.