Am I black enough yet?

Earlier this year after my Grandmother passed away, my father came to live with me and my girlfriend at the time. We lived in a one bedroom, if you could even call it that. He occupied the “living room”, making our twin sized pull-couch the place he laid his head every night. This lasted about two months. For a lot of you, this may come as a surprise. Those who get to hold the delicacy of my deepest pains, know the details of the complicated relationship my father and I have. For times sake, and for the protection of my most vulnerable state, I’ll keep it summed up for you readers.

My father struggles with a lot of mental health issues. Being most present in my early teen years, now that he is in his early 70’s, it has only continued to decline with what my siblings and I believe are signs of early onset dementia. When I got the call from my father in late December that my Grandmother was dying and I needed to come see her as soon as possible, that was the first I had heard from my father in almost a year. That isn’t a new thing, though. He typically has what my mom and I call episodes. Something in everyday life, usually around the holidays, sometimes something I or one of my siblings  — one of his 7 kids– have said, will cause him to shut down. Usually, the first sign of this is his current phone number no longer being in service. This happens every few months. My phone contact list can prove it. I might be the only twenty-five year old I know that has a running list of “Dad, Dad New, Dad Newest, Dad Phone NEW NEW, DaddyO, Dad NEWW” to distinguish all the different numbers, scared to delete any in case he reactivates one and decides to call. The start of every new episode brings with it the same process of coping. First, after receiving the automated message that the number is no longer in service, I feel anger. “AGAIN?!” I throw my phone. Especially if it’s on a day I called to simply hear his voice, or loud belly laugh regarding last night’s Family Feud episode. Then I feel imense sadness. “Why? Why can’t you be healthy. Normal. I just want my dad.”. Then I feel shame, “Why am I so selfish? He can’t control it. It’s not his fault. It’s not mine either”. Then, I feel fear, “What if I never hear from him again? Is he safe? What if he’s lost? What if he forget’s where he is going? What if he get’s pulled over?”. Every scenario you can possibly imagine plays through my head. Then I cry. “I can’t do this”, my mind says. “I’m too young still. He’s MY father”. Yes, he is my father. I’ll be here, still, the next time he calls.

 

Two weeks before the phone call from him about my Grandmother, I had been up past midnight googling his name, and hers, just to make sure neither of them had died. Let that sink in. Do you know the fear I felt typing each letter of his name? The pit in my stomach? The dryness of my throat? The shallow breath in my chest? I pray to the forces that be that none of you reading this ever have to experience that. It stops time and leaves you frozen with each click of the keyboard. Luckily for me, I found zero results. I was fortunate enough to gain some comfort in those results to sleep the rest of the night. My brother had also called to tell me he notified the police of of our father’s absence in hopes of them helping us locate him. All we had was a PO box number. They said they’d be in touch. We also decided to team up and call all the nursing homes in correspondence to the address of the PO box asking if my grandmother was currently there or had been. No luck. So I moved on. Like I do. Like I always have. Christmas came and passed. So did the New Year. And then, he called.

“Hey Hillie…how ya doing?” This is normal. He usually will call as if he hasn’t been absent the last year of my life.

“Hi Dad, I’m good.” I usually curl my lips and widen my eyes. Just to express my internal feelings of crazy reality that this is my life. “How are you?”

“Well I’m good, I’m good. Anyways, I’m calling because your Grandmother is dying…and you need to come say bye.”

Reader, are you still there? Are you following? Not only am I emotionally digesting that this is the first time I’ve heard from my father in months, and that yes–he is alive and okay, but also, that my 97 year old grandmother is dying.

 

When I arrived at the hospital I was nervous, scared, sad, but mostly, numb. I held my chest up, shoulders back, head high — but not too high– and erased every sign of emotional distress I could manage to find. When I entered the room the first thing I saw was my grandmother, nothing but skin and bones, covered in layers of blankets, swallowed by the bed and smells and sounds of hospital that scream “this is death” with every breath. “Hi dad”, there he was standing by her side, combing her hair, like he always did.

My father was an only child. He was born to my grandmother and grandfather in New Orleans, Louisiana the year of 1944. Before Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream. Before JFK announced his presidential run. Before Rosa sat on the bus. Most importantly, before Emmett Till became a household name. My father’s father passed away 3 years later. I don’t know much about him, but of what I do know: he drove big rigs for a living, Coca-Cola trucks, to be exact. He had lighter skin and red hair, so people called him Red. He carried a strand of my father’s hair, tied with a bow, in his wallet (which we still have). He was madly in love with my grandmother, and she with him (she never remarried). And when he died, he was thrown in an unmarked plot because blacks were unworthy of a proper burial. To this day, we have no idea where he rests. I just know it’s NOLA that has his remains. My grandmother worked full-time as “the help”, for a wealthy white family in town. My dad spent most his days being raised by his six uncles and two aunts, who are, without a doubt, character’s from a movie you just can’t fathom to believe are real. Those stories are for another time. My father would often tell me of the few times my grandmother had to take him to work with her. He considers the two of them lucky, because the white family she worked for had kids his age and allowed him to play with them. They owned horses, and for fun, they’d all get to ride them. One time, around the age of ten, my father decided he didn’t like school and wanted to go to work with his uncle’s instead. My grandmother agreed, and let him join his uncles. My father claims he lasted less than half a day out in the fields, bent over, knees dirty, sweat dripping from his brow, hands torn, before he decided “my life will be more than this. I’ll go back to school”. Still there, reader? Do you conceptualize the bond I am trying to build through my words? The bond of an only child and widow, in the south during the late forties? My father would turn eleven years-old the day after Emmett Till had been murdered. The day, I claim, forever changed my father’s life and everything that came after.                                                Emmett Till was a 14 year-old black boy from Chicago, visiting family in Mississippi, who was brutally murdered by white men for attempting to flirt with a white girl at a grocery store. He was wrapped in barbed wire, beaten, and dragged behind a truck before being dumped.

A week later, my grandmother put my eleven year-old father on a greyhound bus, all alone, across the country, to Los Angeles to live with his aunt. Scared for her sons life, because a white girl at his school had given him a note exclaiming she liked him. Are you still there, reader? Let that sink in.

 

“How long does she have, Dad?” I could barely get the words out.

“Well, I mean, I don’t know. They aren’t really sure. The nurse is going to come back to talk to me about hospice…but I’m scared to move her!”

“Okay…where will you take her? Wait, where are you even living now?” The last time I heard from my father personally, he and my grandmother had been living in a suburb outside of LA. But, last I heard from my brother, he had moved out. Which relates back to us only having a PO Box number to reference, earlier in this story.

“Well, I’ve been living in my car while she’s here. But before she got sick we were just in hotels.”

I stared at my hands. Palm to palm, fingers intertwined. I noted how my left thumb always rests over my right. How weird, I thought. All while feeling the rhythm of my heart beat, trying my best to pace each new breath off of each new beat. Trying to prevent the thump of each pulse from internalizing in my head through each of my ears. I blink. This is the part where I am the adult and I have to remember which words to choose and which words to say and which words are emotion and which word are logic.

“Dad…why didn’t you call me? We need to get you somewhere safe. It’s cold out.” It is very important to stay calm, monotone, and non-expressive or emotional when talking to my father about something that holds a lot of emotion.

“Haha! I know. But, my car has seat warmers! I’ve been good. It’s a lot comfier than this hospital room chair thing…I can tell you that.” There is a positive that is also a negative about my father. He takes everything so lighthearted.

 

My grandmother passed away a few days later, with my father, her only son and best friend for the last 73 years of life, by her side. When my father arrived at our place, he had nothing but a toothbrush, a pillow, and two sets of clothes. I put new sheets on the makeshift bed, while my girlfriend at the time showed him the bathroom and where to find the things he might need. It was raining, so hard that night. As if the world could feel the heaviness in my chest and the confusion of heartbreak and anger and peace felt within my heart. I was so sad my grandmother had passed, but so mad my father was here, but so happy that he was with me. I went to bed numb.

***This isn’t a part of the story, but it more than deserves it’s part. Or as I should say, she does. My girlfriend at the time is the only thing that helped me keep my sanity. Keep myself together. She never once questioned my father coming to live with us. She never once complained. She never once held anger, frustration, annoyance, or bitterness towards either of us. Yes, you’re probably thinking, of course she didn’t. No. Don’t think that. Because I can guarantee a large margin of you would have been annoyed. Would have been impatient. Would have wanted your space back. Especially when financially my father was not helping and we were already barely making ends meet. Especially in a one bedroom the size of a studio. She has forever won a place in my heart that will never ever, ever be replaced because she gave me two months with my father that gave him shelter, gave us time together, and gave me time to mourn and live through this season. If I could give her a trophy or award for human of the century it would be hers. That is the most selfless love I have ever witnessed, and my God, I will never forget it. She loved him like her own and she had only met him once before.

 

My father continued his stay for another two months. During that time I worked two jobs, full time, 7 days a week to barely be making enough to get by. Any second of free time I had, I was helping him find a place to live. The frustrations I felt grew stronger by his lack of urgency and selfish behavior when viewing places. “This one’s too small, Hill! I can’t even fit my couch!”, “I don’t like this location”, “I don’t like LA anymore, I want to move to Sacramento”, “No nevermind I hate Sacramento it is too hot, I’m an LA guy there’s lots going on there”. This was constant. Every day. Every day his decline in health was more apparent. By the way he’d forget what he did that morning, to the way he’d get lost on the one road that led between the store and my house. Sometimes my only escape was to sit in my car and cry. Cry because I don’t know how to help him. Cry because I’m scared of what might happen. Cry because I feel like I can barely stay afloat, yet life is moving faster than it ever has.

His last day with me is the one that inspired this post, for you, my reader. We started out with breakfast. I made us bacon and scrambled eggs, with sourdough toast on the side. We drank our coffee black, his stirred with a fresh cinnamon stick. It was my only day off that week and I had decided I’d spend it with him going to open houses of all the apartments we had looked at online. Breakfast had ended and we were now lounged on the couch finishing up his morning ritual of Price is Right. Drew Carey is no Bob Barker, but my father still loves it all the same. As it finished, we started reminiscing on old stories. Stories of my grandmother. Stories of how much he missed her. Stories of his childhood and things he still remembers. Most the stories I had heard before. My favorite past time as a teen was sitting with my father and grandmother and asking them stories about their lives during the events I learned about in my history books. This one though, was new.

My father was in the third grade at the time. Which means he was around the age of eight or nine. He generally took a certain route too and from school, but on this particular day, he decided to take another route. Without knowing, this path was taking him past another school, one he hadn’t been by before. As he approach, he noticed all the kids outside, playing in the school yard. He also noticed the colors he saw; white. He was approaching an all white school. He said it looked fun, all the kids playing and laughing. He continued on the sidewalk, head down, worn out loafers kicking a pebble down the path, avoiding stepping on the cracks not to break his grandma’s back. As he drew closer to the school, he noticed the kids were now looking his direction. By then, a group of them were now headed his way. Fence in between them, the white kids bodies flew against it, fingers gripped on the metal that kept their worlds separated. Confused by this action he paused to look up at them, their eyes staring at my father with anger he did not understand, and as if rehearsed they screamed, “Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!”.

He was a child. A child all alone on a sidewalk, walking home from school. Are you there, reader? Can you feel the weight of that, reader? Do you have kids, reader?

My father still carries this moment, and every other moment just like this that has yet to be spoken, with him. What do you remember about hate when you were eight? Do you remember someone making fun of your shoes? Your braces? Your hair? Come on, reader. What do you feel? Now imagine that hate being directed at who you are. For no reason other than the color of your skin.

I am not going to pretend and say I have suffered like my black father. My black brothers. My black sisters. My black grandmother and grandfather and all those before me. But I will acknowledge that I have suffered in others ways and I suffer next to them. For them. I carry their pain as I see it in their eyes. On the lines of my late grandmothers hands. The lines that tell me the stories of her being born a slave that escaped in the dark of the night by the hand of her elder brother, with mother by her side. I carry their pain in the stories that my father and grandmother share with the numb tone of their voice that somehow manages to raise every hair on my body, leaving me just as numb as they neglect to feel. In the same way they numb their pain from the memories of unwarranted hate, I numb the words that roll off your tongue telling me I am not black. Telling me I am less than the stories of my bloods past because my skin tone is lighter, because I am also white. If I am not only white and not only black it does not mean I have to choose one or the other. Telling me I am more white or less black because my hair is finer, does not omit the truth of my blood that pulses through my veins. Telling me I am more my mother because the hint of blue in my eyes is to disregard the other part of me that makes me whole and who I am. My father. I am not half, but whole. I am not one, but both. I don’t have to choose one or claim one. I have always felt white enough, but never black enough, in the eyes of you, my reader. By the words that roll off your tongue and the laughs that follow your ‘playful’ jokes or your inconsiderate ‘nonoffensive’ remarks. I am black and act black and look black and talk black. There is no right or wrong way to simply be. To exist. My history is deep and my history is strong. My history is as black as black can come and I claim it to the highest because he is my father.

He is my father. I am his daughter. Am I black enough yet?

 

 

 

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I’ll never win the race

When I was in kindergarten, our small town known for it’s juicy, sweet corn and cherry trees, hosted an annual Turkey Trot. A run during Thanksgiving that consisted of each grade level racing against each other to win a pumpkin pie. It’s hard to call it a run, when my memory notes it was a 200-meter foot race of 6 year olds on the track. But, when I take myself back to that day, standing on the white line, waiting for the horn to blow– it definitely felt like the run of my life.

Parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, the towns mayor– were all in the stands. It was held at the one and only local high school, on a huge track outlining the football field, with a man around my pa’s age commentating through the speakers. I remember it was early, the morning fog still hovering just above the grass. My dad, wearing his worn and faded Los Angeles Raiders leather jacket, and I in purple sweat pants. Or maybe they were green and my shirt was purple. I think that’s it. My shirt was purple, and on it, plastered across my chest, was a number held together with pins.

I remember while looking down at my weathered Nike shoe, perfectly placed behind that white line on the track, that I was nervous. A feeling of nervousness someone my age shouldn’t have felt. I was feeling nervous to be embarrassed. It confuses me, on why I felt that, but in honesty I was probably embarrassed of being last and what my older siblings might say. All that to say, I was nervous.

Amidst the nerves and angst awaiting that starting horn to blow, I remembered my best friend at the time was right next to me. This was my first best friend. We did everything together. I lost my first tooth with her. I had my first dress up birthday party with her. One of our favorite movies at that time was “Baby’s day out”. She really was that ultimate best friend. She was tall, long legs and arms, shoulder-length blonde straight hair, and a normally thin girl. I was shorter, kind of stalky. I had chunkier legs and arms, long curly hair pinned back in a pony, an inhaler in my pocket, and the slightest sign of a belly around my waist. It’s safe to say she was favored to win. I just didn’t want to be last.

“On your marks…” “Get set…” “BRNNNNNH!” The horn went off and so did we. One foot, after the other. “Keep going!” I told myself. “Faster!” I said. Twenty or so kindergarteners racing head to head for those top 3 spots. One by one, or in clumps, we rounded the round-about, passing the field goal. Now, it was a straight-away to the finish line and an all out sprint.

By now I decided to look up, count, see how many people were in front of me. “One…” I huffed and puffed between each breathe. “Two…” I breathed. “Th-” was me. I was number three. I was in 3rd place. The finish line was now steps away, I was going to get third. I was going to get to take home a pie for Thanksgiving! I would be thrown on my father’s shoulders, wearing the plastic bronze medal, holding my pie, while my siblings gathered below reaching for the slightest touch of my hand. I would be the hero. I would get the bronze.

But, this is why I’ll never win the race. I remember this moment, clear as day, and so do my parents, who’ll still sometimes bring it up when relevant. Here is why I’ll never win:

When I got the the finish line, a few steps from crossing and claiming 3rd, I glanced over my right shoulder. Over my shoulder was my best friend. The one I did everything with. The one that shared her dolls and watched movies with me. The one I ate lunch with and played red rover. My first, best friend. In that moment, I didn’t want to beat her. I didn’t want her to feel bad. I wanted to see her win. I wanted to see her carrying the pie, bronze around her neck, her parents crying tears of joy. I wanted that moment for her. I didn’t want to steal it from her. I wanted her to have it too, with me.

As I got to that finish line, one step to go, I stood still on my left foot giving the slightest pause, grabbed her hand, and crossed in unison to finish the race in 3rd-place with my best friend.

We both ended up taking 3rd that day. We both took home a pie and we both got the bronze, plastic medal. I can still remember my dad’s voice, “Hillie! You had it! You would have won! Why’d you do that, silly Hillie!” In his high pitched, excited, soulful, expressive way. He even let out a few giggles. Or chuckles, I guess we should call them.

It is something my parents still talk about. It is something I have always remembered. It is something I’ve always questioned. Why did I do that? I’ve found it relates in all aspects of my life as well. From kindergarten, to middle school, through college, and even now. I don’t like to leave others behind. I don’t like to take the gold, so they can follow suit in silver and bronze. I like them with me, laughing, crying, celebrating, with me. In all settings. In the work place, in groups of friends, and by ourselves. I want my friends to be the stars. To claim the gold and feel like the heroes they are. That feeling, for me, is better enjoyed when seeing it through their eyes. When seeing their faces light up, and that belief in themselves is discovered.

I’ll always sign up for the race. I’ll always participate in the race and I’ll always want to win the race. I’ll always try my hardest in the race. Don’t get the wrong impression. I still do my best. But I’ll also always never win the race. It’s not in my blood. What’s in my blood is helping others succeed alongside me. Helping others see their own potential. Helping other’s get that victory moment, where their dad throws them over his shoulders, plastic medal around their neck, pie in hand, and the crowd screaming their name.

I’m competitive against myself, but not against others.

 

That is why I’ll never win the race.

 

UnderDust&Sheets

I had lunch with a friend yesterday.

I love getting lunch with friends. Especially this friend. A friend that, from the moment we met, saw my soul for what it is. Saw me, for who I am, good and bad.

The topic of well-being was our focus, over full-mouthed bites, stuffed with meaty sandwiches and overdressed salads, we reflected on the new and the old.

New steps of freedom–happiness. What that means and looks like. How to pursue and achieve the balance we seek. Noting that part of that balance and happiness comes from facing, and over coming, scars from the past.

I looked at her in silence, I thought about the parts of me that ache. The ache that comes late at night, the ache that comes from hopes and dreams, the ache that comes with pictures from the past. I believe in perfect timing and fate taking control, not luck, and this was one of those moments. That morning, while getting ready for the day, I stumbled upon a book about trauma, and how it affects the body–and brain– after a traumatizing life event. Anything from a break up, to being fired, to losing friends, to getting in a verbal argument, can cause the ptsd this book was referencing. I’m paraphrasing, but it goes on to state that traumas, depending on how deep their scars, change the (your) brain.

“After trauma, the the world is experienced with a different nervous system.”

– The Body Keeps Score

For the first time, possibly ever, I felt validated in the change that happened through the trauma I experienced post weight-loss. It is difficult to describe the darkness experienced during that time, but it is a pain so deep, a sense of lost hope so big, it is hard to fathom making it through a day. I had days where getting out of bed seemed impossible, appetite was non existent, the next hour seemed unbearable. I had moments, lying naked on my bedroom floor, crying up to God, the heavens, the Universe, for help. For guidance, understanding…love. I had no idea who I was anymore. My physical self was changing faster than I could comprehend and with that the world around me was responding in a way I had never experienced. It felt like the 3 years of transformation that happened were in a womb, and all the sudden I was reborn, in this body, years later.

This silence passed and I realized my fork was set for another oversized bite of salad. My appetite no longer as present. I had an “aha” moment. A moment of realization over lunch, on a cloudy day, with a friend that sees my soul.

I told her a story of what it feels like to be me, right now, seeking the happiness and balance I’m currently chasing.

This is what I said.

“Imagine you’re in your childhood bedroom. I see myself, at my mom’s house, in the bedroom I grew up in, set up exactly how I left it. But, although all my stuff is in there–my bed, dresser, books, drawings, pictures, desk, computer– I can’t see it. It’s covered, clothed, with sheets layered in dust. And, I want to take the sheets, and rip them off. I want to touch my belongings and feel them, look at them again, have them again. I feel so close, they are right there in my reach. But, I am stuck. I can’t quite grasp the sheet. I can’t quite get my belongings uncovered. That is how I feel. About my soul. About the me that existed in the body I grew up in. The person I was before. The happiness, love, and joy that flowed from me before. I can feel it in me still, it’s just covered by sheets and dust, and I can’t figure out how to get it off.”

I am not the person I once was. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I am changed. Sometimes, for the better. But sometimes, I feel for the worse. I loved the person I was. The way I viewed the world, people, myself. The life I lived was something so filled with joy, confidence, love, and hope– anything felt possible and anything was possible.

I do not love myself the way I once did. You might assume the opposite. Being in the body I am in now. But, that is the honest truth. I see my flaws now. I’m more critical of those flaws now. I am more uncomfortable now. It is not something I am proud of, or happy about, but it is me being honest with myself, and you.

Part of this journey I am on is learning to acknowledge my flaws and heal them in the process. I want to love myself, whole-heartedly, again. The way I used too. I want the sheets and dust to be yanked up so hard a light so bright is unveiled and leaves me blind to what once was.  I want to see what is. I want to see me.

WhyME?

A constant struggle of mine throughout this process is the never answered question, why me? Time and time again, my thoughts, my breakthroughs, my downfalls, lead me back to that question– with no more an answer.

It’s true though. Why me? Why was I so lucky to have that “aha” moment and start the process of getting healthy, that ultimately changed my life?

I have major guilt. I feel guilt for being the chosen one. For being the lucky one. I have guilt, every where in my life, because I don’t feel I deserved it. Even though I worked my ass off for it… I just…honestly, I don’t.

But I’ve recently realized it’s not just in relation to this topic. Jobs, relationships, friends, material things; whatever it is, I always end up asking, why me? As if, I am not good enough, not worthy enough to be given what I’ve received–what I’ve worked hard for.

But, a lot of the time, too, I’m proven wrong; but still can’t shake that feeling.

 

I received a text from a friend today– one no one wants to get. I’ll keep it short and say that tumors were found and she needs a biopsy done asap.

 

“Fuck” I said. Over and over again. In my head, out loud, at the ground, to the heavens and to the universe, “Fuck”.

“Why her?” I thought. Out of everyone, why this beautiful, strong, healthy, passionate, caring, giving, loving soul. Someone who is conscious about health and wellness and living to the fullest. One who serves others and lives a life of doing so. Why her?

There is never an answer to the, “why me”. Because whether it’s context is good or bad, I find that it’s still asked. If you win the lottery, “Why me?!” one might exclaim. Or if you get that call from your doctor, “tumors have been found…” “Why me?…” You will ask.

You will always wonder why. will always wonder why. But if there is anything I have learned, it is that God is not a vengeful God.These things that happen to us are just a part of living, being alive. They are not not deserved, they are not punishment, they are not earned. How we respond, how we act and react, is all that we can control. What we do, in those moments, after those moments, is what defines us. Not the why’s.

Our lives and the things that happen within our lives are not determined by the why’s. We must remember to have hope, and faith, and that whatever leads us to the unanswered questions of, “why me?” is all apart of our story…one with reason beyond which we can see.

 

Climbing Mountains.

He said he always admired me because of the mountains I would climb. I didn’t understand.

He went on, “In my eyes, You’re the modern day Super Woman!” His face was lit up. Mine…probably blank in confusion.

“The way I see you, from our years of friendship, it’s like there is a mountain in front of you, and no matter how high, you look at it and say ‘I can do that’.” I sat silent. How did he know me so well? Actually, how did he know the old me, so well?

“You’re right.” I said. “I was like that. I remember being like that. No matter what was placed in front of me, I was always so confident I could. And I did.”

“What changed?” He asked.

“I have no idea. That is what I’m searching for. An answer. A reason. An understanding of how I lost that person. Where she went and why.”

When I looked up at him, his face was sad. It was full of so much sympathy and pain. It pained him to see me so lost now. Which in turn, pained me.

“I’m getting better though!” I exclaimed, in hopes of bringing us both, well, hope. “It’s small, and not as headstrong as it used to be. But I do feel it coming back.”

He stared at me, still. “It’s not completely gone. Look at you. Whenever I talk to you, you’re doing something amazing. You always are. You were in a magazine! You’re a go-getter.”

I hate this. These moments of people saying things that I don’t yet fully believe about myself. In a way it feels as though pressure is added. Or maybe I tend to feel sad because I long for that old me so much. She was a badass. She definitely scaled every mountain in front of her. It was awesome. There really was nothing I thought I couldn’t do. It was scary, yet so empowering. Sometimes I wonder where I would be in life if that woman was still around.

“I know she’s still there.” I replied. “Because I feel her. Especially since I’ve become aware. When I walk up to a barbell, I usually think I can’t. But, then I do. I lift the weight. I get the reps done. I don’t stop. And every time that happens, a little piece of her is awakened.”

It’s true. I used to climb mountains. Every and any mountain. I was determined, confident, strong, and sure. He continued to list off different things I had accomplished throughout my life. Things I had forgotten. Things I needed to hear. He’s always been such an important friend, and once again, he proved why. In a time of feeling so broken and lost, he was able to steer me where my heart was longing to be. Where my soul was longing to rest. I felt her come back to life in his words and presence. Whether it be the fact we hadn’t seen each other in years, so she lived fresh in his memory. Or simple truth and fact that he knew. He said these things and they lingered on my mind all night.

I am grateful for his words. I am grateful for the memory of the girl that used to climb every mountain. I still climb mountains. I do. They aren’t as big and they aren’t as often, but I still climb. I have too. It is who I am. It was was keeps me alive and thriving, searching for more. It is what keeps me sane. It is what helps me believe in myself, when no one else does.

I climb mountains. That is how I got here. In this place of confusion and search for my old self. If I hadn’t have climbed that mountain, maybe one of the biggest mountains I’ll ever climb, I wouldn’t have lost her in the first place.

Maybe I’m on my decent down, from that big mountain, and just got a little off path. Maybe I’m still on that same mountain, and what’s happening on that mountain is preparing me for the next mountain.

Whatever it is, I know I can climb mountains and those words will stick to me like glue until I climb them all.

To him, I want to say thank you.

Standing still.

Do you ever just stop and let time be dead?

Seriously. Do you?

I tried today and I realized I might have a problem. It is impossible for me to stop. To just sit and let myself be in a moment. I am constantly thinking of the next. The next thing, the next to-do, the next moments. But I am never thinking, or being, in this moment.

Being that way, has made me cold. I am desensitized to the every day encounters with friends, coworkers, store clerks, and strangers walking by. I am in my own world of constant motion and I just don’t know how to stop.

I fought myself. For three minutes, I had to fight myself to sit and stay at the beach. I had no where to be, nothing at all to do, and yet I was sitting there fighting my thoughts and angst not allowing myself to actually sit and enjoy the waves.

I wonder how many waves I’ve missed over the years.

I wonder how many moments are so hard for me to remember because I wasn’t still. How many moments will I continue to lose because I am in a constant forward motion.

What helped me be so successful at losing weight was the feeling of control. The feeling of the constant. The feeling of gaining control of my life. I recently have realized I am a co-dependent person. I love to please others and I give my all, to others, all the time. I have always been that way. But what was so addicting about losing weight and getting healthy was the control I felt in doing something for myself. Loving myself enough to have will power and choices depending on what I decided. It was new. It was fresh. And that gained sense of power kept me in a constant climb toward success.

But everything comes to an end, right? I reached my goal weight. I had nothing more to lose. I knew what to do now. My constant, it was gone. Losing weight was no longer my constant because the task was completed. Weight loss, it ends. Sustaining does not, but that’s a completely different subject. Weight loss, though, the game that get’s created subconsciously, it ends. And you’ve either won or you’ve lost. In my case, I won.

So what became my constant?

I don’t know. Nothing is my constant. Nothing can be constant that cannot be controlled.

There’s a dirty little nemesis they don’t teach you about when starting your weight loss journey; it’s called anxiety. Anyone I have ever met or spoken too that has battled food, weight, or insecurities knows what I am talking about. Once you gain consciousness of your body and learn to be in tune with it, it is almost impossible to not develop some sort of anxiety. I believe that comes hand in hand with control. The lack of control, causes more anxiety. I never thought of myself as an anxious person, or someone with anxiety; until I lost all my weight.

Something about losing yourself, and getting lost in that, really causes you to lose sight of YOU. You grow anxious and constantly in motion, because, well, you have tasted control and now that it is gone, you don’t know what to do.

This might have turned into a rant. And yet I titled this “Standing still”.

What is God teaching me?

I wan’t to be standing still. In moments, in myself, and yet, my everything seems to be in a constant.

To be Me.

What’s it like? It is still. It is chaos and turmoil and confusion and fear. It is constant and it is swift. It is still. It is calm and it is motionless. It is a slow, fading ripple. It is a large, forceful, crashing wave.

To be me.

No one warns you about life; about it’s heartache and wonder and loss. No one warns you about life; about it’s beauty and it’s treasures and magic.

To look in the mirror and see a stranger. That is what it is like. To look at old pictures, and mourn what you see, because that person has died and gone.

Where? How?

With time and decisions and growth. You slowly covered her, layered her, left her. Forgotten, alone, and lost. You did not acknowledge the person she was or the beauty she held. You left her. Alone, covered in loneliness and shame, like books you forgot to read that pile up in your forgotten corner; she was forgotten and laden with dust.

Now you want her. You’re looking for her and you long for her. You say sorry and with confidence you await her return. As if it were that easy. As if sorry were enough. As if she had time to wait around for you. Wait for you to finally come back. You chose others and things and addictions and pleasures, over her. Didn’t you? You chose quick moments over lifetimes of sureness. You became self-centered and consumed without batting an eye in the direction of her heart.

And now you lay there. Sorry and alone. Confused and lost. Wanting, searching, hoping she will return after all this time.

Part of you still believes. Part of you still hopes. Part of you still holds on.

But the other; it knows. Let her go. She’s already gone.

What’s it like? To be me?

I don’t know, because I am still trying to find me.