A Crazy Girl’s Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together: 5 Ways to Practice Radical Self-Love

Let’s all put on our palazzo pants get real about something: We do not live in a world that wills or wants us to love ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong- love sells. The breath stealing, unfathomable whirlwind of being wanted, well, that’s a different story. Shut up and take our money! So they do. So they will.

The problem isn’t that these messages, these ads and the pull of the products that go along with them exist. It’s that we genuinely believe them, consume mindlessly, and still come up impossibly empty. To genuinely believe is to be wrapped in the silk of safety, warm and carefree; to be deceived, to lose warmth, is to grow cold.

What we need is a little radical self love, and I want to share with you 5 ways in which I practice this.

(If you’re thinking I’m about to suggest chanting and braiding your pubes, hear me out. You don’t need to stop using, doing or being anything. There’s nothing wrong with taming the frizz that kisses the folds of your hair, but haven’t you missed the smell of rain? After all, you’ve spent years ducking inside to hide whenever it came to visit.)

  1. The first way that I know of to get your self-love on is to take up the invitations extended by people who love you. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel pretty tempted to hole up and head inward, dousing your psyche in visions all that could go horribly awry. “What if I go and they’re all douchebags? What if I say something totally offhand? What if nobody talks at all and we turn the situation into a monastery for the awkward?” Look homie, it’s just your anxiety talking. Chances are good that the person who asked you to come already knows you’re a loose cannon with a deranged sense of humour, and that they adore you for it. Here’s the other thing: It makes other people feel good when you show up, and you should do a lot more of it.

2.  This one is super boring; it’s getting some goddamn rest. It turns out that sleep isn’t just for the weak, y’all! It’s also for people who would like to maintain a shred of sanity!The first thing we need to get rid of is the glorification of ‘tired.’ There’s this idea that it’s a demonstration of commitment to stay up all hours consumed by our to-do lists, and it’s not. It’s a lack of respect for ourselves. We’re putting what we ‘should’ be doing over the recovery of our being. I recommend honouring the body and the spirit by coaxing yourself to slumber and rising at the same time both morning and evening. Take it a step crunchier by misting your sheets and pillows with lavender spray.

3. The third thing I recommend is unplugging when you need to. (If you’re wondering how you’ll know when that is, it’s probably right now.) It’s easier than ever to fall into the comparison trap. You’re keeping up with the Jones’, alright. In an instant, you know what they’re doing, where they’re vacationing, who your mutual friends are, when they poop etc. In an instant, you’re reminded how little you’re doing with your life; the vacations you can’t afford to take, the friends you don’t have because you’re staying home, eating cheez-its and creeping on the Jones’, and the constipation that plagues you on the regular. Too far? Too far, indeed. Time to reach for things that make you glad to be alive. Walk your dog, pluck a flower, eat a poutine, sit on a bench and wait for a bus that you know isn’t coming. Observe that there is a lot to your seemingly simple life, and that you quite like it.

4. Something I’ve taken up in a mad frenzy is complimenting people. Everywhere I go, I try to interact with and sincerely remark on something I find unique about someone. I won’t lie, this takes chutzpah. In fact, I very rarely look cool doing it. I have a hard time stringing words together audibly, and sweating excessively under pressure is sort of my thing. Still, I have hope that one day I will be a cool cucumber in the business of making other people smile.
Perhaps the greatest thing about this is that the more I practice, the more connections I make, the less lonely I feel, and the more stunning features and noble qualities I notice in other people, even those I’m just meeting. Sometimes I even like to imagine that I’ve just met myself, and I make a valiant effort to notice hers the most.

 

5. The last big way I know of to cradle yourself in your own adoration is to become inspired by any means necessary. It’s my belief that we limit ourselves when hunting the hunger for something more because we try to control it. We want to believe we’re the kind of people who are sophisticated in our desires, avoiding some of the very things that allow us to return to ourselves. Someone has a song that bellows over his speakers and out of his lungs when he hits the highway alone, and it’s same one he turns down as he approaches a red light. Someone else tears holes in the thought of taking an art class because her scrapbooking skills make doves cry.
I wish they knew that passion is the birth of skill.

I want to make a couple of things clear: the first is that I’m not a pro at any of these things, particularly the sleep bit. Personal growth is the sort of shit that happens slowly and deliberately, and I still find it very difficult to trust the process. I just know that when I do these things, I feel a little more like myself.
The other is that you will be as clumsy and brilliant in this endeavour as any other. Expect your voice to crack, and expect the urge to use it more often. Expect terrible days, and expect the growing ability to recognize them as just that- terrible days. Expect to feel embarrassed and tired as often as you are dizzy with freedom and joy. Expect to encounter resistance and fear as much as love and gratitude.

This journey is terrifying; maddening even. For every rolling hill, there’s a crater in which you’ll roll your ankle. But something happens when you befriend yourself. You become curious, and receptive to what it has to say. And what it says is

‘I am not here to make you happy. I am here to make you whole.’

A Crazy Girls Guide To Getting Your Sh*t Together: Making Happiness a Priority

It’s been 3 months, and you’re probably wondering where the hell I’ve been.

The curve of November’s lips curled into a frosted smile and I knew that it was time to begin again. Of course, I had no idea how (or why) I would do this. In a sea of splintered beginnings and sudden endings, it had been my strategy to float somewhere in between; avoiding the fumbling first impression, escaping the ‘fuck you’ that is the finale and making no waves of my own.

Fun becomes a foreign concept when you can no longer remember the last time you felt it between your fingers. Glee looked me in the face and I found it hard to make eye contact. I realized that I was purely and genuinely terrified of anything that caused my heart to swell. If it didn’t have a deadline, smell a little like dog shit or threaten to crush me under the weight of feeling dumb, I didn’t busy myself with it. Sadness sweetly serenaded me until it was the only sound I listened for.

I haven’t written because I didn’t know what to say besides that I was learning to enjoy life and sucking donkey balls at it. For every winning moment, there were 10 spent scared into wondering if I shat my pantaloons.

Happiness is a learning curve.

It’s not like learning to swim, or to speak French. It is something that I am literally breathing into what once felt like a lifeless vessel. It’s a whole new skin that isn’t nearly as thin. Sometimes I still feel guilty about wearing it. On these days I consider crumpled pajamas and a tear stained pillowcase instead.

This is why I make it a priority. This is why I no longer close the blinds. This is why there are affirmations on my mirror and scar tissue in my soul. I fucking deserve to be here.

For so long I have been so good at being so gone. My bleeding heart has been my fountain pen and I almost don’t want to know what I look like in the light. I have taken you on this journey and you have accepted my darkness, cradling it with your kindred spirit. When the splinters of sunlight came through, I wondered if I’d lose you.

I’m not sad anymore. I thought it meant that I wasn’t a writer anymore, either. In the midst of all of the awkward agony of getting to know ‘fun,’ I discovered that I’m quite a lot of fun, too. This inspired me to go forward with a new series, and I hope it finds a way to leave you fuzzy inside.

Here goes nothin’!

The Difference Between Being Careful and Being Free: Who Am I Without Depression?

It was a Thursday. I was wearing leggings as pants. Things were strange.

I felt an overwhelming urge to run, as I always did when the elevator doors were about to kiss each other closed. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk. It was more about the way the psychologist stared at me like there was a pickle growing out of my chin. She announced that we would be spending the hour together painting our feelings. (What she meant by this was that I would paint and she would sit behind me cooing softly.)

“Fantastic,” I said, recalling the week we made a collage of my happy place. The idea was that I would take it out and look at it in the most desperate of moments. This would have been fine if I had known what said happy place would look like, but I didn’t, so I cut and pasted pictures of flowery meadows, soft kittens and chicken parmesan. Things were strange.

I dipped my brush in crimson paint. She asked me if I was angry. Her words were delicate porcelain and I did not want to break them. I told her that I liked the colour red. Things were strange.

The day I decided not to see her anymore was also the day I concluded that art was overrated. I was tired of feeling like a lab rat with a paintbrush, and besides, I had more important things to do, like drink smoothies beneath my duvet of misery. I banished the term ‘artist’ from my resume for the next 6 years. Things were definitely strange.

About 10 months ago, I told my new therapist (who doesn’t treat me like a dolphin with an oven mitt) that despite all of the personal discoveries I’d made, depression seemed to be moving in and making itself comfortable while renting rooms to anxiety and insatiable boredom.

“Well, if we don’t fill the spaces inside of us with things we’d like to feel, other shit moves in. It’s not the good shit, either.”

“You’re losin’ me, P.”

“What do you do when you’re not busy applying the skills you learn in here?”

“I thought they were the whole point.”

“No, balance is the point. Do you know how to have fun?”

I was almost insulted. It felt as if she were insinuating that I was a juice box in the plastic cooler on the beach of life. Who was this broad to tell me I wasn’t Pina Colada mix?! Like clockwork, she lined up to throw one of her exhausting and impressive curveballs of truth.

“You are fun. I can see that from here. Do you know this? What is the difference between being careful and being free?”

I didn’t have an answer to that. I went home that evening and mulled over just what it was that I wanted to feel instead of this ever-present numbness. I recalled the way it felt to have joy ripple through my stomach and crawl into my heart. It’s a very specific feeling; somewhere between wanting to collapse into hearty laughter and the urge to puke a little.

When I was young, I noticed this every day. The feeling fluttered by whenever it happened to be sunny and stormy at the same time. It settled on my shoulders as I set a new record for jump rope. It reached for me every time my favourite song would play over the radio in our minivan. Can you imagine how much joy I must have known during a time when every song was my favourite?

I thought a lot about what kind of person I would have to become to feel like this again. What I could have used in those moments was advice from my 9-year-old self; I had to know what she would do. Somehow I’m certain; it is not this.

This thinking before living. This concern for the stain on my shirt that I am pretty sure everyone can see. This filtering and editing of my thoughts before they are pretty enough for paper.

I don’t have time to wonder how different my life might be if on that Thursday, in those leggings, with that therapist I had said “Yes, I’m very angry.” I don’t have time, but I spend it anyway. I forgive myself for this every day.

I forgive myself every time I pluck the wrong string. I forgive myself when my eyebrows come out more RuPaul than Cara D. I forgive myself in the many moments I am tempted to say “I’m not an artist,” and instead blow the idea away; a spore on a dandelion.

I guess what I mean is that I’m not a traveling hippie, and I’m not a college grad. I still don’t know deadlines, but I get a lot of sleep and I’m slowly becoming more familiar with fun. Things are stranger than ever, and I’m still okay.

(You will be too.)

Crooked Frames: The Robbery of Perfectionism (And How to Kick It.)

My therapist’s credentials hang crookedly along the wall of her office.

On the day she caught me staring, she told me that she displays them this way because she is a recovering perfectionist. “And,” she said, “it helps me spot other people carrying that burden. Like you.”

Most sessions, it’s like we are sitting opposite each other, cross legged in the very cluttered den of my brain as we sift through the junk, discussing the feelings that made the cut and the thoughts that ought to be tossed. On this particular day, it was more like being invited to a roaring gala. I just couldn’t hear her. When I pointed out that it had taken me months to make this observation, she smirked and leaned forward.

“You’re not bothered by it. Perfection is not something you expect from me, but here’s what I really want to know: Could you live with your walls if they looked like mine?”

DAAAAYYYUUMMM, Mrs. P!

After reflecting for a moment, I decided that no, I could not. This pattern of thinking was indeed familiar to me, and up until then it was a pattern that I tolerated because it didn’t register as a swatch of thought that I could repaint. Driving home that evening, it occurred to me what a wasteful system it had been and how strange it was that the things we are most proud of can become grievances simply by hanging them haphazardly.
Since then, I’ve started to distinguish unpleasant symptoms that exist in my own life as a result of a frenzied desire to be spotless in a mud puddle. It’s been an instrumental tool in maintaining happiness, and my spirit is decidedly less turbulent these days.
I realize that there are a ton of people like me out there; the kind that know there’s a pattern, but can’t determine where it originated, much less change it.
I wanted to write a post based on my own experience for any of you who are reading and thinking “this shit is the realest.” I hope it will help you identify the perfectionist inside and start kicking it in the taint. Here are 7 signs that you’re afflicted:

1)You read this, felt weird about it, and subsequently denied the horrible truth that you are the victim of an aggressive (and impossible) vision that keeps you up most nights.

2) You weigh yourself, poop, then step back on the scale to see if anything remarkable happened, like the loss of 35 pounds. (Spoiler alert: it hasn’t. Get down from there!)

3) You refuse to participate in new endeavours by feigning disinterest, the authentic reason being that you are equal parts terrified and full of shit.

4) Someone has actually told you that you apologize too often and encouraged you to knock it the hell off.

5) You’ve thrown a party and spent the entire soiree obsessing over whether or not people are having a good time. (They are. Parties are fun. You are fun. End of story.)

6) You have been known to rip out the entire page due to a minor error. (This also applies if you get mad and draw a giant dick over said page.)

7) You attach happiness to a schedule and spend your life chasing it, convinced each time that if this one thing should fall into place, inner peace will be yours.

The bad news is that this distorted thinking makes your existence a hell of a lot harder. The good news is that you get to practice disciplining yourself to handle your heart with care, which is a lot more fun than holding up the possibility of failure as fuel. Here are 5 methods I’ve been using to allow myself to be human and therefore fallible:

1) Positive affirmations- I mentioned this in my last post, but I’m so sure of them that if I were Billy Mays and you were an innocent patron watching television, I would try to sell you double. I like to replace any self-loathing thought with something I enjoy about living in my skin. If thinking means becoming, imagine all the stunningly beautiful, positive opportunities that await you. (Spoiler alert: Self worth is going to narrrate your life. Allow it.)

2) Emphasizing the good- I used to think that people who practiced the art of gratitude were pretentious. There was just no way to be thankful for everything, and maybe that’s still true. What I’ve noticed is that I am less bothered by things beyond my realm of control or understanding. When I observe my progress, I try to highlight the great decisions, take apart the low moments and look closely at what makes them different before making my next attempt. When you’re tempted to criticize yourself or the current situation, interrupt that thought with gratitude. For example, instead of telling yourself that your hair looks like a hobo’s butthole or wishing your friends would rise your standards, try saying something like “My hair is doin’ a boss ass job of keeping my head warm!” Remind yourself that having a friend is a very lovely thing, even if they act dumb sometimes.

3) Allowing Myself to Be a Beginner- If you’re worried about trying something new in case you are terrible at it, the stone cold truth is that you are probably right. You are probably terrible at it because you’ve never done it before. Luckily, this is an inevitable fact faced by any being who dares to begin. I took up playing the guitar over Christmas and it still pisses me off that i’m no Jimi Hendrix. However, I allowed myself to play so badly that I was pretty sure ears across the land were bleeding, and guess what?! Now I only suck this badly SOMETIMES! I have even gone as far playing for and alongside other people. Who am I?! Oh, right. I’m a woman with shit to do.

4) Knowing that it’s all relative- Something that runs deep in people like us is the desperation that comes with wanting our efforts and achievements to be recognized and validated by other people. We lock ourselves tightly in silver cages, waiting patiently for the words to free us. What I’m getting at is that if we don’t try to find our own way out, the only option is “stuck.” When passion develops, so do answers, but in order to find it, you have to be willing to search. When you stumble upon something that makes your heart vibrate, you’ll know it immediately, and you won’t need an echo to tell you that being so unbound has always been the key.

5) Being mindful- A moment becomes pretty goddamn exhausting when you’re spending it in anticipation of the moment to follow or in nostalgia for moments that have passed, never to return. This will make your memoir look more like a checklist, and who wants to read that? When I feel invisible in the midst of all who are coming and going, I try to listen for the smallest sound that I can hear. As a result,I begin to notice colours and sounds being far more vibrant, more razor sharp than ever before. This ignites the feeling that there is always something to discover, like I can peel back layers of my mind to find that nothing is at all what it seems; it’s more.

Of all journeys I have taken, loving myself has been the most strenuous, because I am constantly arriving. There are always folds in time that wrap me up and tempt me to stay, but the difference is that I’m no longer smothered in fear. Rather, I’m pulled away by the notion of all that I have yet to behold and make sense of. I’m not afraid of the the root that flees the forest floor, because I am no longer looking at it as if it were placed there to trip me.

People will float up to feast upon my joy while others drift away in search of a dream of their very own, each one etching themselves upon my heart.

And this time, all pages of my story will remain as I am; messy with adventure, littered in love letters, and most importantly, intact.

Crooked Frames: The Robbery of Perfectionism (And How to Kick it.)

My therapist’s credentials hang crookedly along the wall of her office.

On the day she caught me staring, she told me that she displays them this way because she is a recovering perfectionist. “And,” she said, “it helps me spot other people carrying that burden. Like you.”

Most sessions, it’s like we are sitting opposite each other, cross legged in the very cluttered den of my brain as we sift through the junk, discussing the feelings that made the cut and the thoughts that ought to be tossed. On this particular day, it was more like being invited to a roaring gala. I just couldn’t hear her. When I pointed out that it had taken me months to make this observation, she smirked and leaned forward.

“You’re not bothered by it. Perfection is not something you expect from me, but here’s what I really want to know: Could you live with your walls if they looked like mine?”

DAAAAYYYUUMMM, Mrs. P!

After reflecting for a moment, I decided that no, I could not. This pattern of thinking was indeed familiar to me, and up until then it was a pattern that I tolerated because it didn’t register as a swatch of thought that I could repaint. Driving home that evening, it occurred to me what a wasteful system it had been and how strange it was that the things we are most proud of can become grievances simply by hanging them haphazardly.
Since then, I’ve started to distinguish unpleasant symptoms that exist in my own life as a result of a frenzied desire to be spotless in a mud puddle. It’s been an instrumental tool in maintaining happiness, and my spirit is decidedly less turbulent these days.
I realize that there are a ton of people like me out there; the kind that know there’s a pattern, but can’t determine where it originated, much less change it.
I wanted to write a post based on my own experience for any of you who are reading and thinking “this shit is the realest.” I hope it will help you identify the perfectionist inside and start kicking it in the taint. Here are 7 signs that you’re afflicted:

1)You read this, felt weird about it, and subsequently denied the horrible truth that you are the victim of an aggressive (and impossible) vision that keeps you up most nights.

2) You weigh yourself, poop, then step back on the scale to see if anything remarkable happened, like the loss of 35 pounds. (Spoiler alert: it hasn’t. Get down from there!)

3) You refuse to participate in new endeavours by feigning disinterest, the authentic reason being that you are equal parts terrified and full of shit.

4) Someone has actually told you that you apologize too often and encouraged you to knock it the hell off.

5) You’ve thrown a party and spent the entire soiree obsessing over whether or not people are having a good time. (They are. Parties are fun. You are fun. End of story.)

6) You have been known to rip out the entire page due to a minor error. (This also applies if you get mad and draw a giant dick over said page.)

7) You attach happiness to a schedule and spend your life chasing it, convinced each time that if this one thing should fall into place, inner peace will be yours.

The bad news is that this distorted thinking makes your existence a hell of a lot harder. The good news is that you get to practice disciplining yourself to handle your heart with care, which is a lot more fun than holding up the possibility of failure as fuel. Here are 5 methods I’ve been using to allow myself to be human and therefore fallible:

1) Positive affirmations- I mentioned this in my last post, but I’m so sure of them that if I were Billy Mays and you were an innocent patron watching television, I would try to sell you double. I like to replace any self-loathing thought with something I enjoy about living in my skin. If thinking means becoming, imagine all the stunningly beautiful, positive opportunities that await you. (Spoiler alert: Self worth is going to narrrate your life. Allow it.)

2) Emphasizing the good- I used to think that people who practiced the art of gratitude were pretentious. There was just no way to be thankful for everything, and maybe that’s still true. What I’ve noticed is that I am less bothered by things beyond my realm of control or understanding. When I observe my progress, I try to highlight the great decisions, take apart the low moments and look closely at what makes them different before making my next attempt. When you’re tempted to criticize yourself or the current situation, interrupt that thought with gratitude. For example, instead of telling yourself that your hair looks like a hobo’s butthole or wishing your friends would rise your standards, try saying something like “My hair is doin’ a boss ass job of keeping my head warm!” Remind yourself that having a friend is a very lovely thing, even if they act dumb sometimes.

3) Allowing Myself to Be a Beginner- If you’re worried about trying something new in case you are terrible at it, the stone cold truth is that you are probably right. You are probably terrible at it because you’ve never done it before. Luckily, this is an inevitable fact faced by any being who dares to begin. I took up playing the guitar over Christmas and it still pisses me off that i’m no Jimi Hendrix. However, I allowed myself to play so badly that I was pretty sure ears across the land were bleeding, and guess what?! Now I only suck this badly SOMETIMES! I have even gone as far playing for and alongside other people. Who am I?! Oh, right. I’m a woman with shit to do.

4) Knowing that it’s all relative- Something that runs deep in people like us is the desperation that comes with wanting our efforts and achievements to be recognized and validated by other people. We lock ourselves tightly in silver cages, waiting patiently for the words to free us. What I’m getting at is that if we don’t try to find our own way out, the only option is “stuck.” When passion develops, so do answers, but in order to find it, you have to be willing to search. When you stumble upon something that makes your heart vibrate, you’ll know it immediately, and you won’t need an echo to tell you that being so unbound has always been the key.

5) Being mindful- A moment becomes pretty goddamn exhausting when you’re spending it in anticipation of the moment to follow or in nostalgia for moments that have passed, never to return. This will make your memoir look more like a checklist, and who wants to read that? When I feel invisible in the midst of all who are coming and going, I try to listen for the smallest sound that I can hear. As a result,I begin to notice colours and sounds being far more vibrant, more razor sharp than ever before. This ignites the feeling that there is always something to discover, like I can peel back layers of my mind to find that nothing is at all what it seems; it’s more.

Of all journeys I have taken, loving myself has been the most strenuous, because I am constantly arriving. There are always folds in time that wrap me up and tempt me to stay, but the difference is that I’m no longer smothered in fear. Rather, I’m pulled away by the notion of all that I have yet to behold and make sense of. I’m not afraid of the the root that flees the forest floor, because I am no longer looking at it as if it were placed there to trip me.

People will float up to feast upon my joy while others drift away in search of a dream of their very own, each one etching themselves upon my heart.

And this time, all pages of my story will remain as I am; messy with adventure, littered in love letters, and most importantly, still intact.

Chaos, Chambers and Valves: 9 Ways To Ease An Aching Heart

I’ve spent a lot of time recently patching the trenches in my ticker.

It’s draining and it’s painful, but it’s honest work. As human beings, we are constantly in search of someone to relate to, someone to bandage our knees, to say “I see you.” When a connection like this develops, it is a natural high that makes life taste more forgiving. The tricky part is that there is no way to gauge how long the fire between your fingers will be yours; loss is the fee of love.

There is no way to steer clear of the fallout or the dull pang that taunts your tears, but I’ve been the neurotic, desperate girl at 2 AM, combing Yahoo Answers, and since I could never find the kind of advice I was looking for (i.e. something other than links to strange porn,) I figured I’d let the healing happen, and come back once I felt like the writing could happen, too. Here are 9 ways of coping that I hope will make your skin a less lonely place to live in.

1. Feel. Violently.

You’re going to cry, and when you do, you’ll get a headache. You’re probably going to do everything humanly possible NOT to cry, including that creepy, heavy breathing that only precedes bawling and barfing. You’ll feel a stray tear graze your cheekbone, and that is how you will know you’re done for. When the levee breaks, you might even sound a little like a parakeet caught in an oscillating fan. It’s around this time that you will begin looking for answers as if they were keys to the cage of your suffering, and it’s around this time that all incoming signals will be watered down and blurry. With a heavy heart, realize that there is absolutely no more to do than to stop running and sit inside of the ache. There is nothing to do but cry, expressing everything and nothing. Cry loudly and softly, into tissue and couch cushions. Make room for days that smell entirely of loss, and for brutally brief pinches of the heart. Sometimes the only way to get someone to leave is to invite them to stay. This someone’s name is misery, and she will be on her way once she realizes that you cannot afford to feed her.

2. Hulk Out.

Congratulations, you are now moving into the bitter, turbulent stage! You’re still going to feel miserable, of course, but now you have a place to direct that misery. You should know that your feelings are valid, no matter who attempts to tell you otherwise. Though there is no way to escape these feelings, you are responsible for the way that you choose to demonstrate them. There isn’t a right or wrong way to go about this, but keep in mind that whatever fuel you contribute to the fire will cling to you like cheap perfume. (This is a lesson that I have been served a time or ten.) Still, the frustration below the surface must be released. If you shove it down dark and deep, it will claw its way out. Write the person who gave you your heart bruise your official review, and set that shit on fire. Throw trash at their photo until you feel less like garbage. Wherever you decide to steer the rage, try your best not to land in a ditch of regret.

3. Leave The Stain.

You want to forget, but that’s futile. I mean, it’s just not possible. The memories will become less intrusive over time (largely in part because you adapt to anything you torture yourself with long enough,) but this is not about coming clean. This is about understanding that, just like with grass, when you are barefoot in love, there is splatter to be had. I don’t know much about art, but every beautiful painting I’ve seen is just a series of intricate stains, and I’m willing to bet that a great many of them were not part of the artist’s original vision.

4. Meet Yourself.

You are undeniably different now. Heartache changes people, although this is not the travesty it feels like it is at the moment. You can’t see it yet, but you have learned a great deal. This is one of those wildly inconvenient and ill-timed parts of life that disillusions you into recalling what was softly enough to melt back into its background. The emptiness inside of you reaches for the calloused hand of familiarity while your soul rejects the discovery and the pain, howling “Get rid of it!” You will, but you cannot bury your emptiness underneath other people. Whatever is buried has a way of being unearthed, and if not, you will never be able to forget that it is there. This is here to teach you something also, and you should be brave enough to listen to what it has to say. Emptiness cannot be buried or hidden, but it CAN be filled, and the way that you do this is by finding a companion within yourself; you do this by giving yourself the spotlight and standing in awe of the glory of your character.

5. Forget “What It All Means.”

I couldn’t tell you, but what I do know to be true is that you can set the load down. Maybe you were the asshole, but if not, I would guess that it didn’t have a whole lot to do with you. (I know, isn’t that line the worst?!) There probably IS an answer, but you should get right with the possibility that you may never know what that answer is. Learn to accept the open, fraying ends that life brings to you in abundance, try to be okay with unanswered questions, and to stop waiting for “sorry,” and “I love you.” You need to know that you deserve these things, even if they never grace your ears. When all of these elements line up, happiness will kiss the tip of your nose again, filling you with new questions entirely.

6. Don’t Be A Dick.

Look, if you’re reading this and feeling anything I’ve written, it probably also means that you are feeling like a bag of shit. You’re wondering why you, why this, and why now. Because you are getting nowhere, you talk shit to yourself until you are reduced to more of those pesky tears you’re trying not to spill. It’s not working, man, and you need to cut yourself some slack. I know that it would be simple-minded to assume that a phrase like “speak kindly to yourself” would drastically change the course of your sadness, but please do. Grab the unopened Post-It notes from the junk drawer or your favourite lipstick and cover your mirror in love letters. Read them when you brush your teeth, and when you inevitably stand at war with your own reflection. If you can think of no loving words, take some of mine: remind yourself that “everything is difficult before it is easy,” and that “good things are going to happen.” (Because they are.)

7. Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Think of all of the far-fetched, absurd, seemingly ludicrous things you have ever wanted to do, and pick one. Flip a coin if you must, but make up your mind and sign yourself up. Now is not the time for questions or fear, so to reassure you, YES, you do have time, and YES, you really can do this. When you unpack for an extended vacation in the village of affliction, it can make you feel about as interesting as a pair of socks. Give yourself something else to think about, write about, and talk about. At the very least, if it all blows, you’ll be able to bitch about that. (AND find the will to try something new.) Don’t go back to bed, the day brings dreams of a different kind.

8. Forgive

Believe it or not, this won’t bleed as much in the days, week and months to come, but there is no timeline for the restoration of a shredded soul. It’s okay if you can’t do this right away. Try not to rush grief. (It’s unaffected by your protest, anyway.) Let’s get real for a sec: forgiveness is not for the faint of heart. It takes chutzpah, my friend! It means that you have to own up to your contribution to the splatter, and then forgive yourself for it. Forgive yourself for not knowing, for not understanding, for not listening; for not being able to fix it. You can resist forgiveness, of course, but I assume that if you do, it’s because you’re still angry. This is fine, but as long as you are angry, it is also very possible that you are insanely, passionately hurt. Carry your ache, let it give you the grief that it must, but be sure to let it go when you are ready. I’ve said it before, but pain is heavy; too heavy to lug around for the rest of your days.

9. Leave It Uncorked

This is the most important one, and it’s probably going to reek like the smell of booze in the grips of a relentless hangover. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. You’re hurt and you’re angry and everything inside of you shouts at you to lock love out. People may even encourage you to do this, but I think it’s a mistake. The mistake lies in the fact that while you can resist your heart, you cannot ignore it. You can leave love crying at the gates, but you cannot unhear the sobs. I don’t know why it is considered brave to walk alone, as if companionship were meek. It takes courage to open yourself to an experience again and again. It takes guts to commit to leaving people better than you found them. You’re going to cut yourself on love. You’re going to burn yourself with your curling iron. You’re going to knee yourself in the face trying to tie your shoes. The great news is that you’ll survive.

I don’t know how long it’s going to hurt, I can’t say whether you’ll have the chance to show your scar to the one who left it. But the other day, there was a little girl spastically dancing to the radio at a gas station. She flung her hair and flailed with joy, and I noticed that there is a lot more to life than waiting in line. You’re raw and brave, and you’ll have all the time in the world to dismantle and to repair. What was once scar tissue will be a mosaic, and all that was taken will be yours to give once more, if you know what to look for; if you know that danger is often just opportunity standing in the shadows.

Glass Jars: The Art of Being Sensitive

I can’t remember a time in which I wasn’t sensitive.

It’s really not tough to bruise my ego. For a long time, I felt that this was a hurdle I had to clear if I stood a chance in the big, wide world. It clung to me like lint, and removing it was a strange hell. Besides, it was never long before it would cover me again.

I hold things a little too close for a little too long. I coat them in my very clumsy love. There is no such thing as forgetting.

Not for the girl who recalls every minute of your 7th birthday party. Not for the girl who knows every word to a jingle for a local car dealership that hasn’t kissed airwaves in at least a decade.

Hurt doesn’t fit inside my closet. Instead it spreads itself out like some kind of unwelcome guest. It is painfully obvious.

Only I’m not sure WHY it’s so painful. I don’t understand why it is considered noble to suffer in silence. I don’t know why being modest about the pain we feel is taken as an expression of strength. Maybe it’s easier for some people to compartmentalize suffering. Maybe they can store it in a cabinet and pull it out one drawer at a time. Maybe the cabinet remains dusty and untouched.

But I can’t.

There is no organizing my grief. There is no “save this for later.” There is no grace as I expel these feelings. I will cry until my skull feels like it is caving in, until my nose is so stuffed that breathing becomes an alarmingly difficult task.

I will do this because it is a choice.

Because I spent much too long sealing my feelings tightly in glass jars,

And because this is what I need to be whole again.

If a jar were to spill out of my open mouth onto concrete, and if the glass were to spider, would we call it fragile?

Why would’t we recognize its incredible durability? The odds have been beaten in front of us and all that we notice is the way the jagged lines meet each other as if it were a funeral.

Yes. I am fragile and delicate. But those are just cheap rip-offs of vulnerable and brave. I know what the ugliest parts of me look like. They are very real, and so it must be true that other parts are really quite extraordinary.

There is no forgetting what I know by heart. My soul attaches itself to every gorgeous detail of those I love. Because I cannot forget, I weave bits of them into every piece I write.

It’s these small, gorgeous, haunting details that remind me there is still time for the unimaginable to happen.