Home

After I got out of a toxic relationship and had nowhere to go, I moved back into my mother’s house. I thought, “oh, I’ll move home and heal myself.” That whole you can’t go home again, is completely accurate. The place I grew up that was once a sanctuary for my soul felt foreign to me. I found myself desperately searching for a place that felt like home.

I soon realized that I could continue to search for “home” in a million places or people, and I would always be disappointed. That feeling of home, that sanctuary for my soul, would only be able to be found within myself. I had lost myself, and that’s why nowhere and no one felt like home.

I started the steps to finding myself again. To rediscover who I was after such a toxic relationship and life-altering events that I chose not to deal or cope with properly. I had a lot of healing to do. I put myself in therapy and began to face all the trauma that happened throughout my life. Some of that childhood trauma I had already healed from without realizing I was doing it. All of that medical trauma that my body held on to and my mind protected me from was my most significant feat. The relationship that left me with severe self-esteem and intimacy issues was a cakewalk to heal from compared to the damage living with heart disease has caused.

I started to set boundaries and work on processing the dark thoughts and emotions that came from the bad news. I began to truly understand who I was as an adult and after a lifetime of chronic medical issues. I found a sanctuary within myself. I found my sense of home. It took three-plus years and a fantastic therapist, but I was genuinely comfortable with myself. I had a strong sense of self. I was happy and content. I did not want to disturb it either. I wanted to ignore anything medical-wise that was going on because it threatened my peace. I was also against letting anyone in that could disrupt my home. I was heavily guarded and selective. Then things changed.

After multiple ER visits and failed medications, I could not ignore my health and the disturbance it was creating. While I felt like things were starting to collapse, I worked feverishly on keeping what peace I could within my home and sanctuary. I worked on what I could control. Then came along a guy. One that caught me completely off guard. Someone who had been right in front of me and I didn’t think twice about. I honestly wouldn’t have even given him a chance had he not shown he was interested in me. I was adamant on not wanting to be in a relationship.

Shortly after we started to date and moved more toward the serious side of things, my health started to implode. Heart surgery. A minor surgery but nonetheless another trauma-inducing situation. I was still guarded and working avidly on trying to let him in. Trying to be open about my mental state and my fears, but it felt like I was swimming against the current. I was trying to navigate familiar but rough waters and let someone help me swim. I only knew how to swim by myself.

Things started to calm down and return to our “normal,” and then the beeping happened. Late one night on the couch, I heard it. It’s crazy to think how a rhythmic beeping can completely derail someone, but it did derail me. Once I realized that beeping was coming from within my chest, I completely panicked. I was paralyzed with fear because no one told me what happened after the beeping. I was expecting to get shocked again, and I laid on the couch trying to prepare myself to be shocked again with tears soaking my face. That beeping lead to yet another surgery. Again a minor surgery, but it left me with more trauma. This trauma was my final push over the edge. This trauma and that damn beeping triggered my flight or fight mode. I haven’t been able to turn that flight or fight mode off since surgery. My nervous system is in a constant heightened state, causing me to be on edge ALL of the time. This is also known as PTSD.

Chronic PTSD is common when someone suffers constant medical trauma. I’d say ten surgeries in total could be considered constant medical trauma. Needless to say that my home and sanctuary I worked so hard to build has been absolutely demolished. I have been an absolute disaster since February. I have been on edge, filled with anger and rage. Things that would have never bothered me before are now setting me off. Then I have days when I can barely keep myself from falling apart. All the while, I’m trying to figure out my relationship and how to let someone else in, how to communicate what’s going on with my body and in my head. How to have a normal functioning relationship when right now nothing about me is normal and functioning. Anytime I’ve let someone, who wasn’t biologically programmed to love and care for me, see this extremely vulnerable side of me, I’ve been disappointed. As much as I loved them and wanted them there at that moment, after the surgery, when things got really tough for me, I was always let down. I was shown that it was easier to depend on myself. Creating a sense of hyper-independency.

Hyper-independence with the inability to ask for help and PTSD makes being sick and in a relationship so easy 🙄. And now my health is getting worse. Memorial Day weekend, I ended up in the ER. On my way to work, I had to pull over because my heart was going crazy, and I was so lightheaded I thought I would pass out. Then I ended up in the ER again a week later. No real answers and a ton of questions. Multiple conversations with multiple doctors later, I had an echocardiogram, wore a heart monitor, had a tilt table test, and downloaded the data from my new pacemaker. In the meantime, I had done my own research and could already tell from my symptoms what was going on. Then I got the call of, “you have decreased function in your right ventricle,” on my birthday with no further explanation. I had to wait a week for the final confirmation that my pulmonary valve was leaking again and causing all my issues, well, I think most of my issues.

Here I am, sitting in my house on my couch, three dogs and a boyfriend sleeping on me, and I’m happy. I’m happy at this moment. Happy that I have someone who is willing to be there when things are bad, to be patient with me when I’m an emotional basket case, and to ask questions to do his best to understand. I’m letting someone into a home that I no longer have. My body and my mind are out of my control. I’m once again in medical limbo. I know what’s to come, and I think that makes it worse this time. I know how bad things will get before they get better, and I know how hard the recovery is, not just the physical but the mental recovery. I’m going to have to rebuild my home, my sanctuary, and figure out life with a new valve and a new scar.

Trauma changes you. It re-wires your brain. Recognizing your trauma and working actually to heal also changes you. The amount I have changed and the person I’ve become is astonishing. Mental health is so essential for a taboo subject. Your trauma can spill over into your relationships. Identifying it so you can communicate it properly is equally important. Remember that you can look for that feeling of home in another person or different places, but you’ll never truly find it until you realize you are your home.

In the end I just want things to be simple…

It has been months since I have sat down and wrote anything for myself. I haven’t written anything outside of school or cards. Writing is one of the best outlets for me. Honestly, I have not done any of the things I typically use as an outlet in months. I have been in such a weird place. I have been in this strange survival mode, and when I finally got out of that, I was in catch-up mode. Only to go right back into survival mode and to now find myself back in catch-up mode. It’s been a vicious cycle. I tell you what, survival mode really messes with your psyche. There were points over the past four months where I felt like a stranger to myself. I felt as if I were outside of myself looking in. I did not recognize myself. It had been a few years since I was in full-on survival mode, and I had honestly forgotten how dark that could get. It sometimes felt as if I was swimming against the current, and even though I was doing everything in my power to stay afloat and fight, there was no outward progress. When things get that dark, I tend to become overly critical of myself. Who knows why? Maybe my therapist could tell me, but I re-evaluate every little thing. I judge myself for everything. I overthink EVERYTHING. I have felt distant from everyone in my life since November. I felt like I was unable to really connect with anyone at all. I’ve been in my head over-analyzing.

Feeling like you can’t connect with anyone will mess with your head too. I have all of this stuff I want to say and want to discuss, but I’m distracted. I can’t engage properly, and then I felt as if everyone could see it. There were times where I would be talking to friends, and it just felt forced. Or awkward silences while sitting with my boyfriend where I thought he was thinking to himself, “what am I doing?” I know that I only felt these things. I was the one feeling disconnected. I was the one in a dark place and lost in the aftermath of survival mode. Recognizing this doesn’t make it any easier. The depression that creeps in isn’t talked about. There is no preparation for it, even if you know it’s coming. It’s serious. So severe that I stand in front of the mirror and cry over the changes in my body. When I know, I should be patient and give myself a break, but I legitimately have no control. Or when I am feeling disconnected and behave differently, all the while knowing I am acting differently. When you’re in survival mode, nothing matters but getting through the hurdle in your way. Everything hits you after the fact. The laying in bed worrying about complications in your surgery or that what if’s that could happen aren’t mentally dealt with until it’s all said and done.

I’ve sat awake at night recently trying to process all of this. I am trying to mentally claw my way out of this darkness that is in my head. The only positive that comes from this darkness and survival mode is that when you’re overthinking and criticizing yourself, you have these moments of clarity. Or what others may refer to as spiritual shifts, epiphanies, realizations, etc., whatever you want to call it. At least for me, I prioritize things. I get a chance to see what really means something to me. I can see how I need to shake off the fluff and focus on what matters. With my surgeries and 2020 being the mess it was, I’ve had points when I shook off the excess and tried to refocus. I’m currently in a position of refocusing and slowly getting out of my depressive state, and prioritizing.

Things I thought mattered now seem so ridiculous. All the things I thought I once wanted seem like a different life. The person coming out of this darkness is one I don’t entirely recognize. I’m now a much simpler person. The thought of, “what if I don’t wake up from this surgery” or “what if while my pacemaker is out or off I go into v-fib and that’s it?” All of those kinds of thoughts change things. Over the last 15 months, I’ve realized how much I want a simple life. I want comfort and meaningful moments. I don’t need to have the nicest and newest things. I don’t need a bunch of convenient friends. I’d rather have a few close ones. I don’t need the fluff, the excess, the materialistic crap. I want a quiet life somewhere where I can have all the dogs. Go on vacation when I want to so I can continue to broaden my horizons. I want a roof over my head, food on my table, and, honestly, dirt on my hands and the soles of my feet. I want more meaning that makes sense to me. I don’t care how it looks to others. All my tears in front of the mirror over new scars or a few extra pounds need to mean something more.

My body went through hell twice in ten weeks. My mind hasn’t come out of hell in the past four months. Making the changes to get me to the place I want to be mentally will be a process. I just want a simple life that when I lay in the bed before my 11th surgery, which will inevitably happen, and I think, “what happens if this is it?” I want to be content with my answer. I want to be able to say that my life has been all I ever wanted it to be. I don’t want to have doubt or wish I would’ve done things differently. I want to be able to walk away with my mind and heart strong enough to keep the darkness out. I don’t want to lose myself and avoid my outlets. I don’t want to feel disconnected. I want to look in the mirror and not have a meltdown because I’m bouncing back from surgery. I just want simple.

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.

Failure…

Failure is not something “we” as a society openly talk about. If you’re anything like me though, then you have had moments where you’ve felt like a failure. I tend to compare my life to the life of my peers, THANK YOU social media. As a whole “we” do not get on Facebook or Instagram and post about the things we fail at. We post about our BIG moments. Picture perfect moments(that are usually scripted). Our accomplishments. Our failures are also BIG moments though. So why don’t we share them? I feel that we get so caught up in being perfect and appearing to have the perfect life that we become unimaginably hard on ourselves. I constantly say that I am my own worst critic because it is true. I tend to feel that everything I do isn’t enough or good enough. Hell, I thought I would be in a much different place in life at 29. I thought I would be a different person than I am, but my failures have shaped me to be this person.


I thought I would check all the boxes in my twenties. You know, do everything the way you’re “supposed’ to do it. I’d graduate high school and go to college. I’d get my degree and start my career. I’d meet the right person and fall in love. We’d buy a house, get married and start a family. Let’s all just take a moment to laugh at that, please! I have FAILED miserably at ALL of those “boxes”. While I can laugh at this I also struggle because I see my peers doing all of these things. Checking off these boxes in the “right” order. I find myself green with envy at times and other times I am not envious at all. That’s because I have realized that my failures were blessings. Realizing this has freed me of the weight of my failures that make my green side shine. My path is different than theirs and my timeline is my OWN. Finding this clarity and growing comfortable with it has happened because I openly talk about how I have failed at things. I laugh about it and I don’t hide it away. I don’t feel shame for failing at something anymore and neither should anyone else. So let’s talk about some of these failures.


I’ll stick to the “boxes” I failed to check off. I still don’t have a college degree! My first attempt at college was right after high school like the majority of people. 18 and so confused with adulthood, my heart was not in it. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted from my life. I had a hard time seeing past the day at hand. I took time off of school. I took the time to figure it out. I moved in with my sister(the best roommate ever) and we had our own little house and routine. I worked multiple jobs and took the time to think about my future. I realized what I wanted to do with my life and took my test to get into a nursing program. Passed with flying colors and nailed my interview. Now after 2 attempts I have had to retire that goal and that was not so much a failure because it is out of my control. That was because of a whole other demon I battle daily and will never truly have the upper hand on. I went back to school recently to work towards another dream of mine and my heart decides to stop. So once again I have not failed but had to put my health first. While overall it is a failure because I failed to check off that box, I know that I will continue to work on getting my degree. I will accomplish that goal and it will no longer be in the failure column. I will do it without rushing and sacrificing my health.


And on to another one…failed relationships or also know as relationshits. In my twenties, I had 2 serious relationships that, well failed. Clearly, I am not married or engaged. Now I see that them failing was them working out in my favor. Don’t get me wrong at the beginning of them I had those moments where I thought, “Maybe this is the one!” I really would love to have that beautiful 50-year marriage that everyone dreams about, but I sure am glad it hasn’t happened for me yet. My relationships failed for many reasons, some that were not my fault and some that were. While they aren’t my failures alone they are still failed relationships. The low points that came from it led me down a path that was HARD, but beautiful. I was/am on my path to finding myself without someone being attached to my existence. I have found how to set boundaries. To have personal growth I had to face hard truths. I started going to therapy (and I strongly believe everyone should at some point in their lives) to figure out how to set boundaries, identify toxic behaviors and to identify my insecurities. I have to actively work on these things and without failing I would not have been able to get this. I had to fail. While I may not be married or engaged like I thought I would be at 30 at least I didn’t marry the wrong person. I have had the opportunity to figure out exactly what I want in a partner and find my peace. Peace is something I never even knew I needed. I am now so comfortable alone that I refuse to disrupt this peace unless someone is absolutely worth it.


Obviously being alone means I have not been able to start a family, not that being married is the only way you can start a family, but you get my point. But being alone is not the only reason I haven’t popped out mini Madelyns. I really did think I would be a mom by now and that I would eventually have 4 kids. Now, this isn’t a technical failure on my part. For those that have read my blogs or know me, you know that I can not have kids. While that is not my fault, completely out of my control and I in no way shape or form caused this to happen. I still felt like I failed as a woman. Please, please spare me the whole, “just because you can’t have kids doesn’t mean you failed as a woman” or “having kids is not the only thing a woman can do” speech. I know bearing children and starting families aren’t the only thing a woman can do or the only thing that makes us a woman. Biologically, however, it sets us apart from men. We are given the ability to grow life inside of us and I have moments where I feel like a failure.


While I failed to check off those big boxes we’re told we must accomplish to be successful, I have also failed at many other things. I have failed at any and every fitness challenge I have set for myself. I am currently living at my parents for the 2nd time in 3 years. I have failed to hold myself accountable for the goals I have set for myself. I have failed by letting myself get discouraged because I see my peers’ lives progressing faster than mine and I have failed myself by not openly talking about the things and ways I have failed. Our hard moments in life tend to be kept secret and swept under the rug. We put up our “happy” pictures and filter our lives so they appear constantly perfect. I am guilty of it. I have deleted photos after a break up so people can’t go back and see where my relationship failed. I post updates of my health when things are going well and I post photos of a happier time while laying in bed struggling with depression. When you struggle with depression and you have those days when it takes everything to get you out of bed just to shower, you feel like you’re failing. I fail A LOT at things. I hate being bad at something. I get discouraged easily and I have cried endless tears because I feel so far behind sometimes. But I am realizing that it is okay that I have failed. It is okay I am not the person I thought I was supposed to be. It more than okay, to be honest, and accept the things I have fallen short on. It is okay because being open and honest about it has allowed for personal growth I did not know possible. It’s allowed me to be vulnerable and be thankful for my big moments that are good. I have been able to accept that my timeline is my own and however small my progress may look to someone else, it is still my progress. It is moving forward at the pace that is right for me.


I am not writing this to preach change upon others. I am writing this in hopes of being relatable. To let others know it is okay when you try something new and you suck at it. It okay to acknowledge your failures. It doesn’t make you seem less than it shows you have courage instead. It is okay that you haven’t checked off those boxes and it is okay if you aren’t the person you thought you would be at this point. Talk about your failures!!! It allows you to grow and to set new boundaries. It helps you see the good things that came from failing.