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So Sad

Losing a pet can be as hard as losing a family member.

This is Gracie’s story:

We’re putting our dog down today, later, hopefully after I take a nap. Her cancer spread so fast… we had just weeks from finding out she was dying to having to make that final, awful decision.

Our kids are heartbroken. Our three-year old completely broke down when she figured out what we were trying to tell her. Gracie won’t ever be coming home again. No more Gracie. Just gone. Our daughter has grown up with this dog; she doesn’t have a memory in which Gracie wasn’t around. Then just suddenly she won’t be coming home.

It isn’t fair.

I bond better with animals than humans. I loved Gracie before I loved her owner, my partner. I had an instant connection with this dog, this wonderful personality in a big, furry, cuddle butt body. Now my furry buddy is going to be missing from my life. I don’t think I’ve cried this hard since my mom died.

We made her a headstone with her paw print, and another stone with her tags for us. Another for the kids to decorate in honor of their first dog. But it isn’t the same. I think I understand now why some people put away all the pictures of someone who died – it’s too painful to be reminded.

I don’t know if I can bear to see her leash hanging up when I come in the door from taking her to that awful last vet visit. She’ll never use it again.

It just isn’t fair.

I just want her to be there when I walk in the door. Lay next to the couch while I watch TV. Get excited at dinner time. But life just isn’t fair, and now my whole family is sad.

So fucking sad…

September 11, I Will Never Forget

September 11th is approaching.

It sneaks up on me every year. A quick glance at the calendar, an appointment, some kind of plans crop up. And there it is.

I worked in New York City on 9/11.

I was close enough to see it, to smell it, to sense it. For days after the attacks, it hung in the air. My heart hurt.

On the first anniversary of September 11, 2001, I went to work several hours late as I just couldn’t do it. I spent that evening creating a painted tile in memory of the terrorist attacks, thinking of those we had lost.

I didn’t know anyone personally who died on September 11, 2001. I knew of people. I hadknown people. I knew people who had lost people. It still hurt like hell.

The next year, I watched the coverage of that day. The reading of the names. The bells tolling. So horribly sad.

Each year, a little less painful, a little further away. Still stinging, less raw. I’ve been down there since That Day. I’ve held my breath. The air shifts around you when you’re there. The way it all makes you feel. Made me feel.

I haven’t gone since the rebuild. I’m still not ready.

And every year, I remember. We all do. So many thoughts, sentiments, emotions. But we move on. We go about our day. What choice do we have?

We turn off the television. How many times can we watch the towers fall?

We stop listening to the news.

We go outside and breathe fresh air.

We remember the blue sky of that day, and we feel lucky to see it again. We listen to the voices of those around us.

We remember, but we have to live. We exchange memories with those we know, those we don’t. Every year I write something. I can’t allow September 11 to go by without writing about that day. I need to remind everyone, remember myself. To think back for a few moments to That Day.

That Day, we banded together – more than most would expect. I hope we continue to do so. Every year. In honor and memory. With respect for those gone and those who remain. Lost without their loved ones. We try to remember, with the trace of time that cushions us. Let us forget just a little bit as we hold our loved ones closer, if only for the day.

Remembering as history changed forever.

And still, we go on.


Scared And Alone

The veil of loneliness can taint us all, leaving us gasping for breath and wondering how to survive.

This is her story:

I’ve never admitted aloud how lonely I actually am. Of course, that has a lot to do with the fact that there’s no one to admit it to.

A few months ago, my therapist told me that I was in denial about being almost completely socially isolated without any friends. At the time, I thought he was full of shit. I didn’t feel lonely because I wasn’t lonely in the first place. I preferred to be by myself – it was comfortable.

Of course, he chalked this up to my preexisting depressive and anxiety disorders. Typically, I argued that I wasn’t depressed and that my social anxiety had nothing to do with my isolation. (See: Denial.)

Turns out, he was right.

I think therapists tend to be correct about these sorts of things the majority of the time, anyway.

Since May of this year, the dark cloud of apathy and despair that has permeated my entire life has gradually dissipated. As a result, I find myself wanting to do some of the things that before held no interest or pleasure: reading, watching movies, even exercising when I can muster up the energy. The more the veil lifts, the more acutely aware I become regarding my situation and my life. The loneliness, ironically postponed by my depression, has finally hit. And it is more painful than I could have ever imagined.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely socially isolated. I always have my mom to discuss our favorite books and watch TV shows with. When my sister has friends over that I’m comfortable with (usually ones that I’ve known my entire life), I can count on some decent conversation. Oh, and I run a blog. Not like anyone views it, but it makes me feel some sense of connection to the waking world.

Granted, none of these things are typical for a seventeen-year-old girl, although I’m only now realizing that. The more I type, the more I feel it’s as though I’m defending some sort of losing argument.

In many ways, I suppose that I am. It’s like starting off a sentence with, “Yes Officer, I was speeding, but…” I’m just digging myself into a deeper hole.

A huge part of the problem is that I don’t have any confidence when it comes to talking to people my age. I have a hard time connecting with others. Even as a child, I was somewhat of a loner. In elementary school, I got by with a small group of friends that I had known (get this) most of my life – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but when middle school started and everyone got sent off to different districts, I was up the creek.

Never having developed the same social abilities as everyone else, I spent 2/3 grades struggling to swim. I had/have several nervous habits, such as picking at the skin on my lips and fidgeting when I talked to someone; couldn’t hold eye contact with others. People pointed this out to me on multiple occasions, and I’m still consciously aware of them to this day.

Basically, communicating with others has never come easily to me. There’s always been a definite block there. Eventually, I learned to make friends, and have had a couple of good ones over the years, but when my depression hit for the first time when I was fourteen, certain aspects of my life got markedly worse – such as my anxiety, which has been prevalent for as long as I can remember.

Both took a serious turn for the worse my junior year, resulting in the social isolation I’m experiencing today. I alienated every single one of my friends, and when I was hospitalized six months ago, I was pulled out for the remainder of the year. When my senior year starts in September, I’ll be finishing up high school online. It’ll be better for my anxiety and depression, but it’ll lay absolutely nothing on my loneliness.

The boredom might be the worst part. I have nothing to look forward to during the day, so thus I spend a lot of time sleeping as much and as long as I can, just so I don’t have to deal with the tedium of being awake. My schedule is achingly dull: I wake up. I blog. I fill the empty hours with television shows and video games. If I can concentrate, I might read a book. Otherwise, it rarely deviates.

The loneliness itself is potentially the only thing worse than the boredom. I find myself wondering about the few people who were once in my life, and how they’re doing. Sometimes, I hopefully check my phone (I keep it turned off for precisely this reason) for messages, expecting none. After months and months of alienation, everyone has written me off. I don’t blame them for not wanting to deal with me – I don’t even want to deal with me.

Every couple of months or so, I have a conversation with an estranged friend, although they’re usually brief and unfulfilling. Despite how starved I am for company, I have walls that are made of concrete and insurmountably high. I push everyone away; I keep everything to myself. If I’m suffering, I don’t say a word about it. Even when I did have friends, I very rarely came across a person that I could open up to.

I know that I should reach out. Complaining about my situation isn’t going to fix it, and I fully acknowledge my role in perpetuating the problem. But on top of being closed off and introverted, I’m socially anxious, complete with debilitating physical symptoms and the occasional situational-bound panic attack.

I’m too scared to attempt to cultivate any relationships with others. When I interact with anyone outside my family, I spend hours, sometimes days afterwards ruminating over potential error and how I humiliated myself in conversation. Isolation has only made this worse, of course.

About a month ago, I hung out with someone for the first time in over eight months, and he hasn’t contacted me since. I’ve taken this as a slight, and I’m still going through what I might have done wrong over in my head. Which is pretty sad, because to feel slighted requires some sort of expectation. I had none.

I know that things could be worse. Much worse. My life thankfully has not been a tragic one. I’ve had the good grace to know friendship and what it means to be loved. I have supportive parents who have stood by my side, albeit at a distance, throughout my struggle with mental illness. Loneliness by far is not the worst thing that I have experienced. But it’s still hard.

I am seventeen years old.

I am mentally ill.

I am graduating next year by the skin of my teeth.

I am completely friendless.

I am lonely.

And it hurts.

Guilty By Association

It has become abundantly clear in my seven years as a parent that guilt is part of the role. We, as parents, are forced to fight that little voice that screams your child’s name into your head every time you’re forced to make a decision. That voice keeps us wishing we could throw our kids into a backpack and carry them with us where ever we want to go.

That damn voice has kept me from applying to my dream job in Sydney… but it’s also kept me from becoming bar fly. Which may have also once been a dream of mine, before I had a kid.

I was about to turn 19 years old and in the fog of the partying days of my freshman year of college. My parents were so pleased because I was on scholarship to go to a Catholic University (HA!).

Little did they know that their daughter was engulfed in a crowd of kids who’d been so disciplined all their lives that this was their opportunity to break free. I, on the other hand, had two older brothers and a lot of freedom growing up, so the drinking and partying was nothing new to me. I was the beer-wench for my brothers’ parties when I was ten, and tapped my first keg when I was twelve.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.

January of 2003 brought with it a big surprise… a BABY in my tummy! It felt so great coming out of the fog of my partying days with a baby bump, only to hear semi-weary “congratulations” from passers by.

At 19, the only responsibility I’d ever had was to put clean underwear on and brush my teeth. I even failed at THAT sometimes! Please remind me of how this is a “congratulations” moment.

But alas, my child was born 9 months later after 20 grueling hours of labor. I wish I could say that it was the best day of my life, but I can’t. It was the weirdest day of my life. I’d just squeezed a child out of my fun-hole and it kept trying to suck on my nipples – wild. Needless to say, this day was certainly significant.

Here we are, seven years later. I’m stressed to the point that I’d love to disappear for a few months, but that green stuff that makes us happy and gets us places isn’t exactly abundant in my life.

No, not medical marijuana… I’m talking about money. Okay, medical marijuana isn’t exactly abundant, either, and it should be. I hear it takes the edge off (ahem).

I’ve made some sacrifices (read: rearranged my entire life) for my little guy. There are days I wish I could come and go as I please – and I’m not just talking about trips to the store. I’m talking about doing what my friends do, like deciding one day that they’re going to move to London to work for 6 months.

I can’t do that because I need my family to help me so I can go on to become the CEO of a major corporation one day, and flying 12 people to London sounds expensive.

I need my parents because they pick my son up from school. I need my brothers around because my kid is an only child and without my nephews, he’ll never learn the value of sharing or what it means to get into a fist fight and still be best friends 10 minutes later. He needs his family – I don’t, but I need him.

Soon he’ll be 18, my career will be well on it’s way, and I’ll regret ever wishing that things were different, so I try not to.

But I feel guilty because there’s so much time that needs to pass before I’m on my feet. Almost as though my son is going to have his career established before I do. Perhaps THIS is why people wait until they’re in their 30’s to have kids.

Excuse me. I have about 1000 Legos sitting in front of me that need to be pieced together to build an airport.

Why Us?

Why is it always us?

The tall, kind, gentle people

I’ve noticed that we’re the one’s who are targeted by bullies. The tall people like me, the short people, the people who are unique. Anyone who stands out.

Why us?

Why anyone? We are unique: tall, short, neat, unusual; people live in the world like everyone else. So why do we get bullied? We are the ones that get bullied.

But, we always get back up. I want to see change – at my school, for myself, and close friends, I’m tired and I’m taking a stand. I’m changing this.

Wish me luck!