Grow Through It

I remember feeling that 2016 was a horrific year and I couldn’t wait until 2017 rolled around to begin anew. I had high expectations for this year and what it was going to bring. Or rather, I held high expectations of what the year should not bring — I craved a drastic shift from 2016. I expected more gains than losses, I expected a lot of love instead of grief and pain, and I expected much happiness, the type of happiness where I wouldn’t spend a single night falling asleep to tears. It’s true how the saying goes, friends, don’t go into anything with expectations because you’ll only be let down.

The first blow to my expectations was in mid-March when I decided to pick myself up and walk out on my job. I had no back-up plan as I set my keys on my ex-employer’s desk, nor did I have any clue as to where to even begin looking. The only thing I did know was that I could no longer remain in this position. I knew deep in my bones that I had stayed two years too long in a place that did not respect me, appreciate me, or care about me. I had wrestled through those years with the mindset that, “This is just how life goes. I’m not meant to love, or even enjoy, my work. I’m making a paycheck and that’s all that matters.” However, there was a breaking point which I hit with full-force. Following a humiliating display of unkindness from my employer I chose, with the full support of my family and closest friends, to walk out of that horrible environment and never look back.

Not having a paycheck for three weeks when you have the immense pressure of school debt, a car loan, rent, and various bills does something to a girl. Tie those stresses with the feeling of failure for not being able to hold out for a two-weeks notice, and disappointment in the knowledge you’ll never be able to use your four years of work service at that business for a resume in the future, and what do you have? One pretty little package of a hot mess.

Much of March was spent with me sobbing. I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t know where to begin to job hunt. I felt disconnected, confused, and utterly and completely lost.

But within the madness there was also relief. The poor work environment had caused daily migraines, ultimately causing me to black out twice. Within days of being out of that murky place, my migraines began to decrease. Even with the stresses of an unknown career future, my health was improving. And there was also that knowledge deep in my heart brimming with pride that I had finally made the choice to better my surroundings.

Through the tears, I continued to pray and thank God for His constant blessings. And I slowly made peace with my decision and began working to move forward.

I started to apply for every position that fit even one iota of my qualifications. Luckily I was granted several interviews along the way. However, the true blessing was when a friend  had mentioned my name to a mutual friend and I was given an interview. The position in question not only fit my qualifications, but was exactly my passion: event planning. Event planning at a winery actually — so even better! The position was for a manager of the winery’s wine club and coordinator of events.

Within three weeks of quitting, I was hired into a position which matched every aspect of what I wanted to do. I would be remaining in the wine industry. I would be working events. And I would be able to socialize with a wine club of over 750 members.

Blessed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

I have now been working in this position for over four months and couldn’t be happier. Ultimately I learned that, though things seemed almost unbearable during those three weeks of unemployment, the feeling was transitory. I gained wisdom, grace, and knowledge which set a foundation for me to carry the rest of my life. I gained confidence in myself and my ability to choose a hard decision for a better outcome. I also gained assurance in God’s work in my life; I know He works for the best of me even though it may take some time for me to realize exactly what that means. The ends far outweighed the means, and I am grateful for what I had to grow through because I am now a wiser woman due to the circumstance.

The second blow to my shaky 2017 expectation came during my first week of the new job. What should have been an exciting time was overturned when Wilbur decided to break up with me on my third day in the new position.

Though I’ve had enough time to look back and see the various red flags and unhealthy circumstances the relationship was filled with, the breakup with Wilbur was shattering. In an already fragile state, I had little time to shift from worrying about my career future to my romantic future.

In all honesty, I probably knew, deep down, that the relationship was ending for some time. I mean, we had dated for close to two years and Wilbur’s response to me saying, “I love you.” was “Well, I care for you.” Not the mark of a blooming romance, eh? But I was blinded by who I wanted Wilbur to be. I hoisted him on a pedestal. I took every broken promise, no-show-up date, and bad day in stride while hoping I could make things better, make us better. I’m not sure what kept me with him so long — perhaps I liked the chase or I liked to feel like I was needed?

Whatever I tried to tell myself, I was wrong though. Wilbur did not need me. I was a placeholder for whomever he wanted in his future. He kept me around until he found someone he liked better. Short and simple, that was why our relationship ended. He found someone “better.”

I didn’t find the reasoning until a few weeks after our breakup though. Wilbur did not have the audacity to tell me the truth. Instead, he chose to not only break my heart but shatter my self-confidence as well. The breakup was filled with Wilbur telling me all of my wonderful qualities making me an ideal girlfriend, but that I just lacked that Something. And whatever that Something was which I lacked? Well, it made me unlovable.

Now, I understand no breakup is easy, but I have had four months to consider Wilbur’s approach and it still boils my blood. Especially when I was told by multiple sources that he “began” dating a girl the day after he broke up with me. (And proceeded to propose to her six weeks later. And get dumped four weeks after that, but I digress…)

In retrospect, I agree with Wilbur. There was something our relationship lacked that would never have sustained us into a longer future. Our relationship had run its course, pure and simple. That is how Life works sometimes, and that is what dating is all about: you’re looking to find your forever partner. However, the part that ticks me off is how Wilbur chose to end the relationship.

First, he chose to tell me everything I did right in the relationship. Okay, that was up-lifting through the tears. But then he decided to take the rug out from under my feet by stating it was something I lacked which made me unlovable. No, honey, it had nothing to do with me. See, I am a firm believer in two things when it comes to loving another person:

  1.  You cannot love someone else if you don’t first love yourself.
  2.  You cannot invest love when you’re busy wondering if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

When it came to Wilbur, he failed in both arenas. (Again, why I stayed for so long with this knowledge is still questionable…) His gaslighting of the cause of this failed relationship on me was due to his inability to take credit for his own ineptitude to love someone. If you don’t like yourself, how can you ever believe someone else does? And if you’re busy looking around for someone better, how can you ever appreciate who is in front of you? It was not of my own faults that the relationship failed.

It has taken me several months to figure this out though. At the time of the breakup, Wilbur crushed my self-esteem and I spiraled downward quickly. I questioned if I truly was unlovable, because if he couldn’t love me after all I had done for him then I didn’t know who could. I wondered how I could ever trust someone again after being told he cared me for so long and then ending things in the manner he did. I wallowed in deep hurt, focused on the pain of the situation, and fell into a depression.

In my weakest state, I took to seeing a counselor who prescribed antidepressants to me. I hardly slept. I hardly ate. My usual outgoing, extroverted self clung to indoor solitude.

Thankfully, though, I have surrounded myself with people who did not allow me to fester for too long in my pain. My family and friends were an hourly hammer of encouragement and uplifting. Before too long I began to hit the gym again, went out with friends, and attempted to regain “my being.” I took myself off the medication within a month’s time knowing full-well I would fight and get better. I lifted my head back up and started to look at the breakup and Wilbur’s unkind words for what they were: a poor reflection of him, and having nothing to do with me.

Thus came the day that I realized Wilbur wasn’t worth my care anymore. I realized it wasn’t me who was unlovable to Wilbur, it was himself. And I no longer wanted to have a Wilbur pedestal in my life… so I knocked it down.

I began to date, going out with a few people just to say that I was trying again. And it was fun! That is one of the best parts of dating — you can keep it light and fun without any of the commitment. I didn’t feel the need to place my heart and soul into anyone, especially someone who would never mirror that romantic responsibility. I was able to be myself — quirks and all — and I loved it. I refound my love for myself. There was no need for me to put on a fake persona or act like I was okay with certain things when I wasn’t. I could be me 100%.

As I gained confidence in myself and in the dating world, I also set to groom and grow certain friendships. Queue G. Already a friend, G was someone I had always found solace in speaking with and whom I had a high level of attraction. So, I went for it — even though he’ll say he made the first move. We went on a date and shared such personal stories within that first one-on-one that something simply clicked. We became inseparable.

And Life has been good ever since…

I would be lying if I said there are times the past doesn’t still hit me in the feels though. Emotions of depression, confusion, deep hurt, and rage can rear their heads from time to time. Unfortunately, even choosing to be happy is a constant battle when you have healing wounds. I’ve failed a time or two. I’ve had a scratch come across my heart when new information is voluntarily shared and I’ve seen red. But I am able to admit my failures and I’ve asked for forgiveness from those affected.

And most importantly, I have repented to God and forgiven myself for those mistakes and moved forward.

The biggest lesson learned from Wilbur’s breakup (and the relationship as a whole) was figuring out what I deserve in a relationship. With even the short amount of time dating G, I realize how much I was giving to the past relationship with no effort being provided by my partner. In vast contrast, sometimes I wonder if I am giving enough to G because he is so good to me. There is this overwhelming connection and comradery between the two of us. I honestly don’t know how I considered any relationships prior to this to be satisfactory — which I think is a beautiful thing: finding the relationship you deserve and investing your all into it.

This breakup also forced me to change my behavior. In my helplessness I learned to take care of my own needs and to rely on those true to me for assistance. I recognized my worth once I accepted how used I was in the past. And I came to acceptance of the fact that no one has control of my Life except for God, not even myself. It took surrendering my control to God to finally find peace in what happened, what hurt, and where I am heading.

The final lesson I learned in regards to Wilbur is this: I may have the right to rage, rant, and hate someone due to their actions towards me, but I also have the right to choose to be at peace with that person. To forgive a hurtful person is to choose the other side of resentment — wisdom. Finding wisdom in pain is not an easy ordeal. I have failed, and I know I will fail again. I’m only human. However, I have chosen to acknowledge the pain Wilbur caused me and channel it into loving those closest to me instead. I no longer want to allow that resentment to remain stagnate in my life.

I choose to move forward for the better.

This decision to move forward has opened my eyes. Over the past few weeks I have started to look at the relationships in my life and see who I want to invest my love. It is amazing that the opposite of pain is love and appreciation. Sometimes brightness enters us through the wound and results in change.

This new outlook on life has led me to analyze my current relationships. Where I once would have hesitated in a new relationship due to trust issues, I have fully embraced my blossoming romance with G. As someone who I knew beforehand and knew his nature, it came as no surprise to me that he would show love and respect for someone he truly cared about. And his love for me, even in the few months we’ve been dating, shines through every single day we spend together. I have never been treated so well by a man, and never been loved so deeply. With my new perception in life, it has been my goal to mirror his actions in all manners possible, and our relationship is absolutely beautiful.

I also have been working to build my relationship with my parents and closest friends. I look at who has been there for me throughout the years, truly and honestly there for me — unselfishly, undoubtedly, and with so much love — and I want to mirror those actions as well.

Unfortunately, that meant some friendships had to take a back seat as I groom my Tribe. Those friendships which were not supportive of me, not healthy, and no longer unselfish. I chose to focus on those friends who made a priority to be my friend, and the others I set on the back burner. Not with the intention of cutting off ties completely, but rather to fully engage myself in the worthiest relationships I foresee right now. It’s almost as if I’m starting with a new foundation and I am choosing to build my life around the steadiest rocks available.

This decision did not come without fatalities though which resulted in the final blow to any and all expectations I held for 2017.

Two weeks ago M moved out. She told me it was due to financial issues, but I have not spoken to her since she moved. The people who are able to hurt us the deepest are the ones we love the most. For someone I viewed as my sister, her departure from my life has left a jagged scar across my heart.

I am not sure what more to say on this front as I am still having difficulty processing this heartbreak. It will just take some time; it is definitely the heaviest lost I’ve ever felt.

However, if this year has taught me anything, there are a lot of lessons sure to come my way. I relish the opportunity, and look forward to coming to peace with this situation as well.

I want to leave you, my friend, with this thought: truly coming to peace with anything is being able to be thankful for the experience of the situation. To fully move on from anything, you must be able to recognize what purpose it served and how it made you better. The purpose may not always appear quickly, but it will in time. Be patient, be resilient, and continue to push yourself to the best you possible.

That is all we can do in this life, after all.

No Rhyme or Reason

I’ve never been depressed. Sure, I’ve had bad times and I’ve had my own share of craziness. I’ve laid in bed at night and started crying for no rhyme or reason at all. But overall, even when things are as dark as can be, I am lucky enough to have the ability to say “I’m feeling depressed,” as opposed to “I have depression.”

I’ve never been depressed, but I’m slowly learning that there’s a big difference between those statements, and the key word is feeling.

In Driving Off a Bridge and Other Fears, I discussed a very confusing and difficult situation between Wilbur and myself. It was written out of pure and raw emotion at, what I thought, was the end of a promising relationship. That post was written from the perspective of a sad, rejected, and very confused young woman with no idea of the horrors depression can have on a person; this post is being written from the perspective of the same woman, now humbled and contemplative of what two months difference can make in understanding and education.

Following that post in January, Wilbur contacted me only three short days later. We talked. A lot. And some hard things were discussed as to what had caused the entire “Hiccup” in our relationship. The underlying factor was his depression.

I had known he struggled with depression, but I didn’t know to what extent. In all honesty, I hadn’t considered his condition to be more than just something to be aware of, and I definitely never thought it would wiggle into our lives and cause such destructive thoughts. Since our make-up, though, I’ve done a lot of reading on depression and cannot believe how off I was in my thinking of the condition.

Depression is literally one of the most helpless and frustrating experiences a person can face. It’s sometimes feeling sad, but it also brings feelings of emptiness, isolation, and self-hate. Those afflicted can feel paralyzed in their own minds and bodies. It’s not something they can simply “get over.”

People who suffer from depression often feel frustrated with feeling like they are a burden to those they care about. With this, they tend to push away people they need the most and end up mentally exhausting themselves with worrying about if their sadness is bringing down their loved ones as well.

Does this sound incredibly disheartening to you? It does to me. It breaks my heart that this person I care so deeply about has this internal battle going on and there’s nothing I can do to help. And that’s the worst part: there is nothing I can do to help!

In addition to taking the time to educate myself on what Wilbur goes through sometimes, I also have been teaching myself some self-bettering skills. One is patience. Another is that words are not always the best gift. Seriously, saying things like, “Things will get better.” or “You’re going to be okay.” are not ideal. Instead, I’ve begun training myself to simply be there for him during the times he needs me, and stressing that I will be beside him through everything for as long as he asks me to be. Offering advice isn’t helpful because, well, I simply don’t know exactly what he is going through. So just being there for him, believing in him, and encouraging him are some of the only things I’m able to provide.

I won’t pretend to understand depression as a whole. I’m not sure if anyone can actually claim such a thing. However, I am slowly treading the waters, becoming more knowledgeable of an invisible poison hidden in this sinful world and also becoming more compassionate to those in our society who have suffered for far too long from something beyond their control. Educate yourself, friends! And maybe then the world will begin to become a bit more welcoming on an environment for all…

Change has to begin somewhere.

Driving Off a Bridge and Other Fears

The end never happens how you expect. Sometimes the end happens when you expect, or where you expect, but it’s never quite on the dot of how to expect it. Sometimes this is okay. Endings can be good things in Life. The saying goes, “Every ending is a new beginning.” However, sometimes endings are not okay. Sometimes they are a storm of uncertainty, confusion, and sadness that leave you swerving in their wake and flinging yourself into a river of unknown.

One of my top three fears is driving off a bridge into a river. Another is not being good enough. Endings are good at making you feel like you’re not good enough. That you’ll never be good enough. That you just can’t reach that certain something

The clock reads 3:43am. It’s late… or early, however you want to think of it. I haven’t been able to sleep since I went to bed. I’ve been crying from the bruises. And now, when the tears are finally dried up, I still cannot drift into any sort of slumber. Even a restless snooze would be good at this point.

I ran off a bridge yesterday. I went full-throttle, end-over-end, head first into the brewing water below. The free fall took my breath away. The impact buckled me into a fetal position. The frigid water mingled with the tears of my depression. Yet the worst part was having no understanding of how such a terrible accident could take place at all. The knowledge that the roads were completely dry. The knowledge that there was nothing I could have done differently — whether change my speed or take a different route or bring out the snow tires — to change the impending doom.

Sometimes endings kill you. I didn’t die when I went off the bridge, but the feeling of drowning has yet to subside and neither have the icy prickles to my heart making me numb. I remain in the car, watching the water rise, half-hoping the end is quick and painless while also searching for a way to escape.

Giving up on the things you once treasured can be far harder than simply letting go. Letting go of the person you are, the person you want to be, and the person you thought you were being directed towards. The You of your wants and dreams.

Somewhere between the road, the bridge, and the river below I lost the will to care for which of these two I want to fight.

And I feel lost in my loss.

I’ve mentioned Wilbur a few times over the past couple months. I’ve considered before why I didn’t discuss him more on Peonies ‘n Mint. I mean, I had full posts on my relationship with Army and even posts dedicated to the Golfer. But why not Wilbur? The answer is simple: there was no need to discuss what was, in all aspects, a very content relationship. I wrote of Army at first because I wasn’t aware of how I could feel after X. Then I began to write of Army in an attempt to hide my discomfort and agitation in a relationship that wasn’t completely fulfilling. Ultimately, my Army posts were a comparison of life before and with him. They may have had some substance for those who were processing a broken heart, but to someone who was truly happy they were only fragments of what a relationship could be.

Wilbur is different. I would find myself spending time with him and just marveling that I was able to do so. To write of him would have been bragging. Boasting of my happiness. There was no reason to boast or brag, there was only the want to remain content and comfortable in a relationship of warmth. Caring and understanding and appreciation were our lone bunk mates, I didn’t need the Internet’s help in being happy with this man. I just was.

Wilbur and I took things at a slow pace at the beginning. We explored one another’s minds by questions ideologies, beliefs, histories, etc. Anything we could get our hands on, we made it our mission to discover in one another. We discovered neither of us are perfect by any means, but  we were okay in our faults together. We confided in one another, we talked about anything and everything, and before we took our relationship to the level of “exclusive” we were best friends.

This was something I promised myself before jumping into the dating scene again: I would be friends first and a couple second. It is too difficult to attempt to build a romantic relationship when there is not a foundation of friendship. With Wilbur, this never became an issue.

One of the happiest moments in my Life resonates in my mind. It is the moment I knew I wanted to keep Wilbur in my life. Past being a date. Past being a friend. We play Ultimate Frisbee with a group of friends every Monday during the warm months of Michigan. One particular Monday, over a month into dating one another, I returned home after Ultimate to find my right knee twice the size it should be. I played harder than usual that day, in shoes that were far past their expiration date.

So instead of showering and keeping to the usual Monday tradition of heading to a friend’s house for a movie night, I settled down to Netflix and kept myself in bed. Wilbur texted me and asked if there was anything he could do to help but of course I said no — I’m always afraid of appearing weak in front of people. (Remember those faults I mentioned…)

However, a half hour later I heard a knock on the front door. I stumbled my way to see who it was and guess who? Wilbur stood in the doorway with a half bottle of Ibuprofen and an ice pack. Knowing M and I had just moved into the new house, he thought we wouldn’t have the needed supplies to take care of a swollen knee. He was right. And as soon as I accepted his offer, gave him a quick hug, and thanked him profusely, he left. Gone. He didn’t expect me to cater to him or thank him like most guys I’ve dated would have hinted. No, he was a complete gentleman and simply wanted to make this random girl he liked feel a bit better. It worked.

I don’t think the smile from that October evening has left my face. Until the Bridge, that is. The water wiped the smile away pretty quickly.

In the following months Wilbur exceeded all my expectations in the person I prayed to date. He was kind, he was generous, he apologized, and he forgave.  One of the most meaningful traits: we prayed together. Perhaps only for meals, but we discussed our faiths with one another at depth. We discussed a lot at depth. He questioned his future and he wondered at mine beside me. We didn’t know where either of us were heading, but for now, we were happy where we were. We questioned why some things had happened in our pasts the way they had. We became one another’s confidants.

Or at least, that’s what I thought. I was happy. He said he was happy. He acted as if he were happy. And then all of a sudden…

Yesterday.

The Bridge.

He was no longer happy.

He said I’m not the One. He doesn’t feel that connection with me. “We don’t have chemistry,” was how he put it. He is worried that my feelings surpass his and that his might never catch up. He’s not sure why; I’ve cared about him more than anyone he’s dated ever has and he feels completely happy with me but yet… He doesn’t want to go forward and find out his feelings don’t grow, can’t grow. He doesn’t want to hurt me in the future, so he’ll just do it now. Less investment.

I could have handled those excuses. In my head, all that he was saying was, “You’re good, but you’re just not good enough. There’s something about you that’s just not there.” Are those not the same words Army used on me? I think I would have handled the situation better if Wilbur had ended there. Got up, no goodbye, no hug, just left with me wondering what more I could have done and never having closure to what I thought was the best relationship I’d experienced. I handled it fine with Army, I could have done it again.

Instead, Wilbur continued. He told me he doesn’t feel as if he deserves happiness in his life. He confided that there might never be someone for him, that that’s his fear.

This. Broke. My. Heart. This, these words. How am I supposed to continue on grieving a relationship where the real reason we ended was because the best man I’ve ever met believes he is unlovable? The chemistry thing just blew up — he’s doesn’t feel I’m not the One, he feels there is no One.

Let me be the first to say, if there were ever a person who deserves happiness, it is Wilbur.

Ben Higgins, this man makes you truly look unlovable.

I am a big girl. I know how to express my feelings, I know what I want, and I go for what I want. I’m a strong, independent woman. I pride myself in my strength because in the past it has always been me, in the end, to have to push myself into being okay and happy.

This marks the Free-fall. I felt strong during the Free-fall. I voiced my disapproval of his decision. I told him I didn’t agree. I showed him that this situation was not one of my choosing.

Unfortunately, I tend to think of what to say after I’ve had some time to think. I shared these disagreements with Wilbur but I had no real reasons as to why I disagreed. I’m not sure it would have mattered to him anyways — its like he has a mind block — but it does matter to me.

Wilbur believes we have no “connection” or “chemistry”. That’s what he said first. I think I laughed. I hope I didn’t, but I might have because that  is absolute bogus. In the context of relationships, chemistry is a complex emotion that two people get when they share a special connection. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) It is the impulse making someone think, “I need to see this other person again.” — that feeling of “we click.” Wilbur and I have this. We like being together, we like doing activities with one another. Or at least he led me to believe he felt that way; he told me so only Friday that he did. This is because we have similar interests, but it is also simply because. Plus, beyond just having a connection with one another, we also are attracted to one another. I still get butterflies when I catch him looking at me and he appreciates my appearance any chance he’s given. Pardon my lack of etiquette, but Wilbur saying we have no chemistry is total BS.

I do agree my feelings for him are farther along than his. I am aware of this. I am also aware of the fact it has been only five months. Five good months, but everyone progresses in relationships differently. This is why I hadn’t told him the exact extent of my feelings; this is why I hadn’t told him that I love him. Why put pressure on a happy and healthy relationship? I was more than willing to bide the time, see if the tides might come together in some sensible way. I have no doubt that given the time, our feelings for one another would only strengthen and grow. I am in no rush for this occurrence, but I still have no doubt that it would have happened.

He is worried we were moving too fast. If he had communicated this fear with me, if I had known, now that I know…. there are so many solutions. There are so many ways to make us work.

I’m pleading to the water below. To the moving River before I’m washed away in it.

I don’t know if Wilbur is afraid of being in a successful relationship because it limits options, scared of a potential future of dating someone long term only for it not to work out, or if he honestly has a block disabling him from believing he deserves happiness in his life. It might be a bit of all three. And this, this is the Impact.

Relationships are something Wilbur and I were never afraid to discuss with one another. I know his past and having this knowledge makes the Impact so devastating. How could someone so wonderful think so poorly of himself? What was done in the past that it has been brought into our relationship, darkening the light that we have and casting shadows on what we could be? Those close to him say his ex “screwed him up.” This is heartbreaking. Not only because it literally has caused Wilbur to break my heart but also because it is unfair.

It is unfair to me. It is unfair to our relationship. Most of all, it is unfair to Wilbur.

And so here I am, after the Impact, waiting in my own personal River of despair. The sinking is happening much longer than I would prefer. I want the hurt to halt. I want to not think about it, him, us anymore. I want to be there in what I can only imagine is a very confusing and conflicting time for Wilbur. And yet, I need to take care of myself too. I’m the one in the car. I’m the one who can’t decide what is worth fighting for more in her perspective views.

The one thing I keep questioning as the water around me rises is Wilbur saying we aren’t meant to be together, that he can’t be happy. This could be true, most definitely. Every relationship is either going to succeed or fail for a number of worthy reasons. However, only Friday we had a moment alone together that crushes all of the air out of him saying this…

Friday we attended a concert of a friend. We went with House and enjoyed a few hours with good company and good music. Afterwards, Wilbur asked if I would like to spend more time together which I replied, “Of course.” Our plan was to go back to my place and relax to a movie. M and her boyfriend inquired if we might want to watch a movie with them as that was their plan as well. Wilbur said sure at the concert, but once we were on the short distance between the concert and home, he confided to me he’d rather just spend time with me. As we hadn’t seen each other alone in a few days, I completely agreed. So we took to watching a movie alone and catching up on our week’s events and lives in general.

During this time, I turned to Wilbur and asked if he was happy: happy with us, happy with where we were. He responded with no hesitation that he was. No thinking, no debating, no battling behind his eyes as to whether he should say Yes, No, or begin a discussion that we had ample opportunity to have.

I asked this question after two weeks of him appearing rather distant from me. Week 1 I was ill with the flu and I wouldn’t have wanted to see Wilbur anyways in fear of giving him the bug and also not wanting him to see Sick Ashley. (It’s definitely not a pretty sight.) I questioned his distance, though, at the end of Week 1. Another opportune time to discuss with me what seems so abrupt from yesterday. Instead, he said it was an argument with his brother and difficulty at work that had him on edge. And on top of these two issues, he visited the doctor and was scheduled for surgery in February. Worried over the recovery time, the inability to be active during that recovery time, and the finances towards the surgery only added to his stress level. He explained this as we entered Week 2 and I made it my mission to take a step back in an attempt to not add to his stress.

On Saturday he seemed to have a bad day. I picked him up for dinner with some friends and he told me right away that he was a bit stressed and that if he was quiet throughout the night it had nothing to do with me. He made sure to quiet any discontent I might have even when he was suffering inside. This is the kind of person he is. Asking if he was sure he wanted to still go, he replied definitely and we had a fun evening together.

Throughout the evening Wilbur inquired if I might want to see a movie if we returned home in time. He had looked up times for 5th Wave, a movie he knew I wanted to see as I am in the process of reading the book. Unfortunately we realized en route that we would not make the movie time and instead discussed watching something on TV. It was only 9:30pm when we returned back to his house so there was time to do so. However, when we came to the driveway he turned to me and asked if I was okay just dropping him off. He wanted to just head to bed early after feeling so awful all day. He asked if it was okay, if I was upset at him. I replied I wasn’t upset at him at all but that it still sucked. I didn’t like that he had to go through these feelings. I didn’t like not knowing how to help.

We kissed our last kiss goodbye. If I had known then…

He sent me a text message about an hour later reading, “I’m really sorry about tonight. I think the world of you and appreciate you very much.”

I kept reading through that text message yesterday, trying to decipher the hidden message between it’s two short sentences that led to the Bridge and Impact. The message was the first few drops of water the River pushed into my car.

The tears of confusion are what keep its level rising higher and higher.

Why did he go out of his way these past few weeks to make sure I knew he wasn’t being distant from ill feelings towards me but rather in life in general? Why want to be alone on Friday when he was given the opportunity to be with friends? Why stare me in the eyes and tell me he was happy with us? Why send that infuriating text message Saturday night if he didn’t expect to be with me anymore?

Everything Wilbur has said over the past three days is contradictions. Yes, no. Me, not me. Happy, unhappy. Life, feelings. “To be or not to be,” that really is the question, Hamlet. And soon enough I’ll be Ophelia, drowned in my own maddening thoughts.

As I daze off into my own slippery mind, I am thankful of the people who are in my life. M is an amazing friend who does not push me to talk when she knows it is not my way. My parents wiped away my tears and allowed me to recant the same things written in this post over and over again, expecting my mind to run itself tired and hopefully sleep soundly. House friends have reached out in understanding and concern, not fully comprehending why things are processing the way they are either.

One friend brought me back to God’s word and connected yesterday’s church sermon with this difficulty in Life. The sermon centered around using God as our GPS in life. He will always set us on the direction meant for us. Sometimes we head off towards dead ends using our own man-made compasses, but when we falter in our steps and realize where we went wrong, God directs us again.

I have felt from the very first date with Wilbur that God led me to him. He is the exact person I prayed to meet. He has faults. He has baggage. He isn’t perfect and there are a handful of things that drive me crazy when I think about them too long about him. But… I don’t care. I’ve never cared. I’ve only ever wanted to encompass him in love and caring and respect knowing that is what I need as well. He means the world to me, and since I have the same problems in my own right, how could I ever downgrade the person he is for the flaws he carries? All in all, we were working through our issues, together, one step at a time.

Or at least that was my intent.

I saw a quote last night that I would like to share:

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.

This has made me think: did I stumble over this quote for a reason? Is it directed at me? I’ve been sick for months, I’ve had personal problems with friends, I’ve felt difficulties for awhile, and now Wilbur.. I only have to wait for the arrow to finally be released, right? But no… My stresses are nothing I cannot handle. So I think this quote found its way to me for another reason.

I’m thinking this is for Wilbur.  His stresses seem to be escalating at an alarming pace. The only constant he has are his relationships. His family is the steel core, his friends the feathers, and the razor-sharp tip? I’m presumed to think it is me. Me. It’s me, Wilbur! The target is Happiness and all of us are helping you fight through the strain of the pull-back and when Life finally lets go, it’ll be the effort you put into focusing your aim at the target that will provide you with either success or failure.

The fact remains, though, that even if your aim is on-target, without a part of the arrow you’ll never fly true. If you lose the feathers, your aim will go off course. If you lose the core, you’ll never get anywhere. And if you lose the tip, even if you hit the target, you won’t stick. The arrow will fall right off, doomed to lay on the ground until you have the nerve to enter the shooting range, retrieve it, and attempt reattach a tip to the strong core.

Why in the world would someone not take a chance on the strong arrow already before them? An arrow provided by God in the expectation that it’ll be shot. I feel as if the opportunity is being tossed aside, and one day in the future the shooter will realize exactly how easy pulling back that arrow, firing, and making a perfect bulls-eye could have been. One day in the future might be one day too late.

I can be dramatic here, right, blogosphere? I can tell all my woes and wishes to the Internet and the only impression someone can make on me is a small Like or Comment. I’m not too worried about believing my interpretation of this quote is exactly how I just portrayed it.

And the fact remains, Wilbur will never see this post. He’ll probably never even seen this quote. He’ll never wonder at its meaning and ask me to explain my thoughts. He’ll never know, and I’ll never have an answer on whether or not he thinks archery might be a good hobby for him to partake. I don’t know if he cares to think about how I feel or what might God be trying to tell him. But, in time, God will get through to him and I hope that there is still an opportunity for him to find peace and happiness in his life.

Even if it is not with me — though I definitely feel like it should be at this moment in Life — I hope he opens himself to what he ultimately deserves: pure and utter contentment.

2015 in Reflection

I wrote a reflection on my year in 2014 (2014 in Reflection) and, looking back, to see when and where I was in my life at each month in the past is a very powerful experience. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can change and directions in Life can alter. This time last year I was preparing to begin a new career, was steadily becoming more infatuated with a new relationship, and the worst loss I had to cope with was that of a broken heart. 2015 brought about a whole new level of craziness that only reinstates Peonies ‘n Mint’s tagline: I am truly blessed to have loved, lost and gained so much.

While looking back at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, I have to laugh. I made a list of 15 Goals for 2015 and actually succeeded in quite a few of them throughout this year. How I was successful with each strike off the list may not have been completely planned, but it was a success nonetheless! My only “failures” were not running a timed race every month, not going Paleo for an entire month, not learning mixology, and not seeing Miranda in concert. Thankfully, these are options I can make goals for in 2016 if I choose; 2015 was not my only shot!

Overall 2015 was very eventful::

January: I began work at Heartland in a new career path of real estate. This path took me to enrolling in real estate classes and ultimately passing the state examination to receive my real estate agent license by mid-summer.

February: Referring to my goals list in 2015, I chose to continue working and volunteering with Susan G. Komen after leaving Shadowland and no longer being in the event planning business. I was asked to be head decorator at a gala called Pink Tie Ball held on Valentine’s Day where over $18,000 was earned for research and treatment of breast cancer. I also helped decorate for the Little Black Dress event at Shadowland in October 2015 and will be on the event committee for Pink Tie Ball 2016.

May: I lost four friends in 2015, and May marked the passing of the first. My best friend who has been my Harry Potter-premier partner and country concert comrade since kindergarten lost her mother unexpectedly. Jamie, whose home was like a second dwelling for me growing up, went to heaven following complications with a minor surgery. Jamie was a highly intelligent woman and one who gave me a lot of advice during my drama with X. I looked up to her fondly. And though the loss was painful enough, my heart hurt most for Granger, who is my best friend and daughter of Jamie. Every person handles grief differently, but it seemed as if Granger simply did not want to handle the grief at all. My heart still hurts for my friend as she and her family continue to struggle with the loss.

June: The second friend lost was Army. And though I might scoff at calling him a friend today, back in June that is exactly what I considered him. I never thought him and I had a future together; we were far too opposite in personality and beliefs. However, Army was someone I cared for and his family was some of the best people I have had the pleasure of meeting. The sudden and unexpected break up left me in tears for a few days, and then mad at anything male for a few months.

In retrospect, it was quite the blessing to lose Army. Not only did I come to the realization that my heart could continue to mend after another heartbreak, but I learned I could love people differently with every relationship I came in contact. I also broke out of a very gloomy and God-forsaken viewpoint after this break, something of which I can never fully thank Army for granting me the opportunity.

July: I ventured on a spontaneous road trip with Teeth in July and it ultimately ended our friendship. Though we are back on speaking terms, Teeth now lives in North Carolina and our conversations are very limited and usually spoken within group texts with the other two girls from the 2014 cruise, Saki and Toto.

August: June and July led me to the most pivotal change in 2015: my participation in House. While being disgusted with men and dealing with the after effects of a broken friendship, my life was a bit gloomy. I was questioning a lot of things and I felt as if the only way for me to break out of the darkness was to force myself into some light. And so one Tuesday evening I chose to branch out and join a Bible study group full of individuals I had never met and at a church I had never attended.

I have not looked back since.

House has become a firm foundation in many aspects of my life. Not only has it reignited my heart to be open to God, but it has provided me with some of the strongest friendships I’ve had to date.

September: Speaking of House, September is the month I attended a bonfire of a fellow “Houser”, roasted stale marshmallows, and met Wilbur. Wilbur has quickly become one of my best friends. My feelings for him grow stronger every single moment I spend with him and, at least right now, this is all I’m going to share about our relationship. I’ll keep you all updated in the future…

October: I moved in with M at the very beginning of October. We painted and pounded and were pleasantly surprised when the vintage apartment went from being “a place” to “our home.” Living on my own is not the same as going away to college and living in a dorm. It’s been an eye-opening experience, but one I am loving every minute! 2016 will be a great summer what with living only a minute from Lake Michigan and the beach, and living right downtown has been perfect with remaining active in the community and keeping up with friends.

November: The last loss of 2015 and one that continues to haunt me in my dreams sometimes: Saki’s cousin and a friend of mine, Brandi, lost her life tragically to Lake Michigan after being washed off a pier. Brandi was a strong supporter of the Right for Life, which her and I worked together with during college. Her loss hit a spot deep inside me; she was only 24 years old at her passing. It’s incredible how much losing someone can hurt, but death of a young friend is even more painful. I’m still working out why God decided to take her when He did, but I believe it was for the best reasons. I am proud to have called Brandi a friend, and I am happy to know I will see her sometime in the future.

December: December has been wonderfully uneventful thus far. There has been quite a bit of holiday joy: work holiday parties, Christmas light viewings with Wilbur, enjoying the Star Wars VII premier, gift shopping with friends, small game nights to enjoy Christmas movies and treats. I hosted a Christmas party for House on the 11th which was a hit. I made all the food myself and coordinated a White Elephant Gift Exchange — all of which I am happy to report was a success. I am enjoying the lead up to Christmas with those closest in my life, and I wouldn’t want things to be any different than they are right now.

As for Firsts in 2015, I had several:

  • First career shift
  • First full year with no school or homework
  • First time dating someone with no religious affiliation
  • First experience with the pain of death in my life
  • First venture away from my home church
  • First time joining a group I had no connection with (House)
  • First consideration of switching my church membership
  • First Ultimate team weekly activity
  • First trivia team weekly activity
  • First spin class
  • First time going to a movie alone
  • First friendship sparked via the blogosphere (Hillary)
  • First spontaneous road trip

Life is good and I am happy.

Next up for the end of 2015: Christmas Day celebrations, New Years Party, MSU taking on Alabama, and receiving a little Christmas bonus from work.

What I’m looking forward to in 2016: family vacation to Disney, new goals and aspirations, three weddings of some very close friends, lazy summer beach days, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and everything else the New Year brings to me life!