What Can You Live With?

We all have these intricate plans for how we think our lives should go. We obsessively strategize how to make these detailed plans tangible while life sometimes laughs right in our faces. Things hardly ever go as planned and even though we know that, we’re still thrown into a frenzy when things don’t go our way. Some people respond beautifully under pressure and some downright choke. And there’s also always an annoyingly vast population of people that spectate on the sideline as your life is in shambles, who always insert themselves in your business with a “well, if I were you, I would…” But the only problem with that is we can plan in our heads for different scenarios all we want, but you will never know what you would do in a situation until you’re faced with it and have no other choice but to deal with it.

At 22 years old, I realized I did not have a plan. I can write out a detailed list of worldly possessions and events I anticipated and the order in which I thought it all should happen, but it didn’t turn out that way. Sure, there were plenty of preceding signs, but the exact moment I realized I did not know what the hell I was doing was when I suspected I was pregnant. It was that exact moment when all that planning went out the window. My life went from “I want to finish school, marry the love of my life, have his and hers babies and live this beautiful life thereafter” to “I’m a broke college student in my last semester of undergrad, I think my boyfriend is cheating and I might be pregnant, now what?”

I still vividly remember this time three years ago like it happened this past weekend. My then-boyfriend and I had just gotten back together in April 2014 after being broken up for nearly a year. Things between us were seemingly better than they had been in a long time and I thought I was happy. Our honeymoon phase lasted a few months and gradually ended within a three week span. That fourth of July weekend, there were some fireworks and I did, in fact, get pregnant. (It wasn’t funny then, but I can laugh at it now). I started feeling symptoms as early as three weeks. I was very lethargic, nauseous, moody and my chest was very tender. I lived by the Pink Pad app and when it said that my period was four days late, I felt so betrayed and deleted the app.

I dramatically waltzed into Walmart as only I could and bought two pregnancy tests. Of course, this was after I vigorously googled all possibilities first. I took the test, took a picture of the stick and sent it to my best friend because I wanted additional confirmation. After a brief conversation with my boyfriend, I was sure about one thing: I didn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. We were young but marriage was a frequent topic for us. We picked out a gorgeous Vera Wang Love Collection engagement ring six months prior to this, even though we were broken up because we both just knew we were still going to be together in the long run. But when life started getting realer than it had already gotten, I knew I wanted to abandon ship yet had no idea what I wanted to do with this “maybe” baby.

I’ll never forget July 30, 2014. I was in the midst of moving out of my townhouse into another complex and went to the Student Health Center that morning. Before the doctor offered me a pregnancy test, he told me I was pregnant and he thought I’d make a great mom. Before I could get to my car, he called, confirming the pregnancy and congratulated me. I instantly shared the news in the best friend GroupMe and then called my boyfriend. I broke up with him two days later. The uncertainty of everything was enough to make me want to leave. He came to see me that weekend before he had to get settled into his apartment at school to try to talk this out and to get his belongings. Needless to say, it was the most awkward and emotional weekend ever.

He wanted me to get an abortion because again, this wasn’t in our plan and he didn’t know how we were going to take care of this kid, which is a very responsible yet irresponsible but still respectable reason. As for me, I was on the fence about it. His points were valid, but I was not emotionally stable enough to go through with the procedure. Depression is no joke and I knew this one decision was literally going to make or break me. We made an appointment at the nearest Planned Parenthood that was two hours away. I made it very clear to him that I was not helping him pay for it nor was I going to St. Louis alone.

Immediately after that, I drove to the woods, parked my car and cried. I sat there for a long time, contemplating all options. I’ve never had SI, but I convinced myself that I would rather die before I harm this baby. I also knew that wasn’t even an option at all because 1. I’m too scary, I wouldn’t even try to purposely give myself a paper cut. 2. In my heart, I just knew that this is not what God intended. I was still in a deep funk, but I really believed that my best days were still ahead of me. I didn’t consider adoption. I wasn’t okay with having an abortion. I was terrified of the thought of having a medical abortion and I simply could not picture myself in a clinic. I personally didn’t have any friends who had an abortion that didn’t regret it and given my condition, I knew I couldn’t live with that on my heart.

Now every single major decision in my life is based on this one question: what can you live with?

I knew I was going to struggle, I knew there was a chance that I was going to do this completely on my own and I knew my faith was being tested.

I called my mom, told her the news, she thought I was joking, I got mad and hung up. I called back, told her I was serious and a very ugly cry followed. Her response was totally unexpected. She told me she was proud of me and she supported whatever decision I made because I had done everything I was supposed to do up to this point in my life. That was a huge Waiting to Exhale moment for me. I waited until after my now ex-boyfriend made it to his school to tell him that I changed my mind. He argued that he had a say so too, but I explained to him that whether he was in or out, I was pretty sure about what I was doing. One monkey ain’t never stopped a show!

It hurt to see us divided on the matter, especially because we both had valid points. But I realized that only I have to live in my head. Not him, not my friends or my family. I had to do what I thought was the right thing to do that I could be okay with. I didn’t have the ideal living arrangements, financial stability, emotional stability, an undergraduate degree (yet), or a boyfriend anymore. I didn’t want to be a single mom, I didn’t want to work multiple jobs, but I also knew I could not bare another emotional burden.

There’s no universal blueprint to ensure that you get all the things you want out of life. You can hope, wish and pray for it, but sometimes things still turn out differently than desired. You’ll find yourself in dilemmas, trying to re-trace your steps to see where you went wrong while your family and friends offer unsolicited advice on what you should do as if there’s a one size fits all solution. Everyone will not agree with your decisions, but they’re yours to make. Don’t ever let anyone dictate your actions and back you into a corner. You have options!

If you get stuck or you inevitably deviate from your plan, don’t think about what makes the most sense or what other people think you should do. I’m a very rational thinker, but I’ve learned when making important life-changing decisions, you have to think with your heart and consider how you are emotionally affected. We tend to neglect that aspect and our emotions actually have the greatest impact on us. Think about what makes you happy and what you can be at peace with and you can never go wrong!

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The Silent Killer

Even silence has a sound. Nothing sounds a whole lot like something when it’s just you and your thoughts alone in a room. Silence speaks greater volumes than words at times. Imagine coming home after a long day and it’s silence greeting you at the door. For some, that’s ideal, but when silence taunts you and you’re face-to-face with your unspoken truths, it’s another story.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced and even appreciated silence at some points in our lives, but I learned silence made a sound, a very unpleasant sound, roughly six years ago. I didn’t know how to communicate nor was I willing to learn. Like most people, I thought if I didn’t address things and ignored them, they would go away. And if they didn’t go away, I thought I could pretend until I convinced my own mind otherwise.

I tried to keep myself busy enough to avoid myself. Who has time to think when there’s so much to do? I tried to resist being alone at all costs because I didn’t want to be stuck in a room with just me, my thoughts and silence facilitating the unwanted meeting. As much as I hated these frequent unexpressed forums, I decided that suffering in silence was easier and less painful than speaking up. Thoughts of having to hear myself utter undesired words that actually pertained to my situation, the responses I would receive from others and even how I would cohabitate with these said truths were enough to keep me quiet. I didn’t want these things to be true about me and I was ashamed.

I allowed silence to hold my tongue hostage for two long years. That screaming quiet let me die a little every day until I could not contain myself any longer.

I was depressed and didn’t want anyone to know. However, I thought I could pull a fast one on depression by sleeping. I thought the only way I could avoid thinking and all my 19-year-old problems was to sleep them off. It might sound crazy, but I did and I’ve never wasted so much time in my life.

I slept two years away. It only took me several years later to realize how destructive my behavior was. Besides my relationships and grades, my emotional and physical health suffered more than anything. I look back now and know that it wasn’t worth it. I inflicted more stress and pain on myself all because I would not speak up about anything. I was a stone wall to the public eye and a coward to mine. To this day, my biggest regret is those two years I’ll never get back and the spiraling damage they caused.

I know I’m speaking rather vaguely right now, but please understand this is a process. Baring your soul isn’t easy and words can’t be unsaid once they’re out there. I’m still learning how to summarize and verbalize all that I’ve endured. I’m still learning to be comfortable in my truths. No matter how ugly they are, they’re mine and I need to own them so they don’t own me.

There’s still life in my voice, even when I thought we got separated in the darkness. And while there’s still life in this body, I want to use this voice to be heard for someone else and to help someone else. I’m probably not the best example, so hell, if you have to, look at me as what not to do. Take what you can from these posts, be better than me and go be the example for someone else! I’m telling you, there’s someone who needs it who won’t say so.

 

*Photo Credit: K. Lashay

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The Beginning

If you’re reading this, this means I finally stopped thinking so much about writing and actually started! (And this was my only sentence for about a good ten minutes lol) Okay, so let’s start with that concept. Less thinking, more doing. I am in no way telling you to be impulsive and irrational. As a thinker, over-thinker and a re-thinker, I’m telling you to stop planning in your head and start executing. Right here. Right now. Easier said than done, right? Well, if I’m doing it, there’s no doubt in my mind that you can’t do the same.

I must admit that the idea to blog dropped out of the sky and smacked me in the face. Do I know what I’m doing? No, no I don’t. However, I convinced myself this morning to stop obsessing over the technical intricacies of blogging that I have no idea about and simply start writing. There’s nothing wrong with learning as you go. No one, absolutely no one, came into this world proficient in everything. You learn through what? Experience. And the only way to gain experience is to take action. After years of being my typical hard-headed, stubborn self, it’s finally been hammered into my head that I do, in fact, have a gift and a passion for writing. Gifts were meant to be shared, point blank.

But to make this endeavor all that it can truly be, I have to be honest with myself as well as build a good rapport with my audience. So I have to tell you that the main reason I decided to start blogging was after I finished watching “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix and cried my eyes out two days before my 25th birthday. Without revealing any pertinent information about the show, I will say that I was very upset. So upset that I cried on and off for hours, but still finished the last three episodes and cried some more. And then I became even more upset because I remembered all the people who told me how good this show was, as if it was just purely entertaining and not based on unsettling and triggering realities that an unprecedented number of people struggle(d) with on a daily and/or deadly basis. This show invoked a lot of mixed emotions for me, but it ultimately made me want to share my stories and insight in hopes of helping someone else.

I know I’m not the first nor the last to go through something and I am also not arrogant enough to believe that my struggles are unique and no one can relate. The truth is, as different and as special as we’d like to believe that we are, we all have commonalities that make us interconnected. If you can’t take anything else away from this experience, I need you to internalize and truly believe that you have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s the shit no one wants to talk about that makes us beautiful. There is beauty in the struggle and healing in transparency!

 

*Photo Cred: Devin Cain

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