An Open Letter to My Best Friend

I wanted to write this for my best friend, to reassure her that no matter how many new friends I make, she will always be irreplaceable to me, and I know this will probably make her cry, but I want her to know just how much she means to me.

To my bestest of best friends,

I know you’re scared that I’ll make new friends and forget about you. I know you’re afraid I’ll leave you behind if something better comes along, because you don’t feel good enough. And I also know that the biggest regret I have was not staying in contact with you while I was away at college.

As I sit here, in tears myself, I think back to that feeling of utter loneliness my freshman year of college and how much time I spent by myself. How I would sit in front of my tiny tv eating popcorn, chatting with random guys online, and eventually ending up being emotionally and verbally (well, textually) abused by one of them. Your own posts detail a much worse situation during this same time period, but there is one clear message that I can take from both of our situations. We were miserable without each other, always looking and hoping for someone to see our pain and reach out to help us.

As it was, fate, destiny, social media…whatever you want to believe, brought us back together. We weren’t much better off, me being verbally and mentally abused by someone I had thought to be a friend, you under constant attack from your own family, but at least we had each other. And I appreciated every night I spent venting to you, even though I’m sure you got sick of it after awhile. I think I still have journal entries from that time and there was so much anger in me. But you listened and let me get it all out. Even now you still let me vent to you, and I want you to vent to me more, no matter how hard it is or how stupid it might sound. You walked me through one of the darkest times in my life and I regret not being there to help walk you through yours.

I’m stronger and more confident now because of your support. I’ve gained a little bit of trust that I had lost before, and I genuinely believe I can tell you anything and you won’t judge or criticize me. You might tell me I’m weird, but coming from you, that’s ok. We’re both weird. It’s part of why we work. Our demons get along swimmingly. You’re part of the reason why I started this blog. You opened my eyes to see the truly toxic people in my life and made me want to do better and be better myself. And I know you won’t stop pushing me to be my best because you can see the potential in me even when I can’t see it myself.

And even though we have our ups and downs, like when we’re fighting and not talking to each other, I remind myself that we’ll make it through the hard times too. Most times it seems like we’re not the ones fighting, but instead our own anxieties fighting against each other and making us think something’s wrong or off when it’s not. And that’s scary, because I always seem to know when I’m in the wrong after the fact and that makes me feel like an absolutely terrible friend, like I’m not good enough for you.

But I want you to know that I will always be there for you whenever you need me, to vent, to cry, to just talk. Whatever you need, I am here for you. I do care about you and your well-being, your mental state, and the environment you’re forced to live in. I care about your daughter as if she were my own. And I will always make time to see you and spend time with you. I love you so much and I can’t imagine not having you in my life, because you are irreplaceable to me. You are the best friend I’ve ever had and I will never be tired of reminding you of that. I’m grateful to have as awesome a friend as you. ❤

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Group Meet-Up

I’m feeling ambitious tonight. Two posts in one night? Sure, why not!

This afternoon I had a somewhat planned, somewhat impromptu meetup with three people I’ve only just been introduced to. Like Maka from one of my earlier posts, the girl I met today, Lucy, was introduced to me by my mom, who had gotten me a name and a phone number which I then used to find her on social media. Again, I made the initial friend request, sent messages, and off I went on more new friend-making. I had wanted to do a face to face meeting with Lucy and the other people going to this anime convention I’ve been wanting to go to now for a month, just to see who they were and get a feel for the vibe they gave off and whether we would mesh as friends, so we discussed schedules and places, etc., and today ended up being the day.

I arrived at our meetup place first, and for a good ten minutes was silently panicking that no one would show up and that I left the house for no reason. Well, they did show up and the greeting I got from Lucy was by far the friendliest one I’ve ever gotten from someone I’ve never met. She came right up and hugged me! That just made my whole day better. She had also come with her fiance, Terry, who is one of the other people in this group and shortly afterwards the third person, Chloe showed up. And the energy they gave off was exhilarating. Lucy was just a bundle of energy, like a hummingbird on speed, and she was happy and chatty and it wasn’t exhausting. It was refreshing. She has so much enthusiasm for, well, everything we talked about. The flow of conversation moved as quickly as my brain likes to move, which is to say, we’ll start on one topic and move to another without needing anything to transition. (And if that didn’t make sense, let’s just say the conversation was very fluid and tangential.)

We discussed cosplays and times and hotels, and possibly doing another meeting yet this week. And there was talk about different anime and Netflix and fabric and all this LARP talk, which I didn’t understand entirely (I got the gist of it, but not being part of their specific group made it a little hard to follow), but listening to them talk about it felt like how I talk to my best friend about my book and its characters, and her book and her characters. I felt like I would fit right in with this group and came home bubbling with energy myself, which is pretty good after another crappy night’s sleep. I’m super excited to be going to this convention with them. Just have to buy tickets yet…

Who knew making friends could be so easy? I guess when you’re around the right people, it just happens naturally, and I feel like I’ve found more of the right people.

Why Not Me?

Sorry for not posting for a couple days. One of my last writing sessions was moved due to me getting the opportunity to visit my new baby cousin. ^_^

When I was concocting this post in my head, initially it started as this long rambling tangent about the crappy morning I had had, which included waking up super early for no reason and then possibly having a panic attack in trying to fall back to sleep, but I’ll shorten it up for now.

So yesterday the one college friend that I still currently like, Jared, asked to come down to my house to watch the football game with me and my family. I hadn’t originally planned to watch it, but I was tired and told him sure, come on down, I could use a hug. (He gives really excellent hugs.) When he got here, and after I had come up from downstairs after shutting off my video game, we sat on the couch together watching the game. Now, a note about this guy: He’s the only straight guy in my trio of friends from college, and again the only one I’m on good terms with. And we’re friends, but it’s a tiny bit complicated. We’re pretty close as friends. We like a lot of the same video games, so when one of us gets really excited about one, the other shares in the enthusiasm. We’ve spent time together with just the two of us and have cuddled on a couple occasions. He also knows about and understands my anxiety, since I felt comfortable enough to tell him about it after he moved back here, which means he also knows about my issues with Gia, and he’s genuinely tried to smooth over some of the friction between us in a way that felt like he was swooping in to the rescue when she got a bit more sarcastic than was needed. And he likes a lot of my posts on social media, which at first struck me as odd because he didn’t do that when he was living out of state. I initially thought it might have meant something, but then I stopped thinking about it and went about doing what I normally do.

Now last night, he told me about this new girl he’s dating and hasn’t told many people about yet, and I’m ok with him telling me all this. He’s told me about pretty much all of his past girlfriends and how some of his issues with them arose and basically ended them all, including his recent engagement. Still not a big deal to me. I smile and nod and show genuine interest in what he’s talking about because I genuinely want him to be happy. But sometimes I also get on this train of thought of, “Why not me?”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not actively pining for him, but for me the thought process of dating him is simply about convenience. I wouldn’t have to go through that awkward get-to-know-you stage, we already have a lot of common interests, and the things I know next to nothing about I try to show an interest in and not just brush it off as nothing. He knows about my anxiety and doesn’t mind it; he actually gets it and knows that I will do certain things because of it. And I’m a nice enough person. My sarcasm and snarkiness are not overdone and off-putting (I don’t think…), I have my own income, and we’re perfectly comfortable with each other on a lot of things. I think what bothers me most about his seemingly lack of interest in me is that sometime during college he was interested in dating Gia and after seeing what a disgusting slob she is, I’m a little hurt to not be noticed.

On the other hand, when he told me he wasn’t sure about telling Gia about this new girlfriend of his, it made me think that maybe he doesn’t want to attempt this “dating friends” thing again because this “fling” with Gia didn’t end well. I mean they’re still friends, but clearly there’s still some barriers between them. And I totally get that. Being as he’s one of three people I feel I can trust and tell almost anything to, I wouldn’t want to lose him as a friend either. So instead of letting these feelings linger, because this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way, I used them as inspiration for a character in my novel who is in a similar situation, which gave me a chance to put into words exactly what I was feeling and make use of those feelings.

What Anxiety Is To Me

I could not get this off my mind this morning so here it is. I was thinking about what to say to my doctor when she asks, “What makes you think you have an anxiety disorder?” because I know she’s likely to ask a variation of this when I next go in and ask if she or someone else has the ability to determine whether or not I have an actual disorder. I haven’t really wanted to know before, because to me, not knowing means not having to face it or the stigma that may come with it. But at the request of my best friend, I intend to ask at my next appointment, and I realized this morning that knowing what I may have will give me closure over it because then I won’t have to worry about what it is or read through a dozen different articles trying to figure out where my symptoms fit in.

I’m still very hesitant about seeing a therapist regularly only because I’m not sure I can afford it or if my insurance will cover it, and I already have problems talking to strangers about things I like, let alone my problems. On top of that, I’m very distrusting of doctors because so far, they have not given me a diagnosis or answer for something that I didn’t already know. When I went in to have my headaches checked out at the request of my mom, the doctor told me they were likely caused by stress at work, which I had told my mom a dozen times. A few weeks later when I had my first and only seizure, I went through a whole bunch of tests new to me, including an MRI, EEG, and EKG to see if they could find anything. Well, even with all those tests and blood work, the neurologist that I saw said he didn’t know why I had had that seizure. Quite honestly I had come to the conclusion that it was caused by me hitting my head when I fell.

So going in to possibly diagnosed with an anxiety disorder is daunting not only because I’m scared of the answer but also because I’m scared of being misdiagnosed or being told it’s nothing and to do such and such things to bring my anxiety levels down, which is something I’m already doing. Like little to no caffeine, regular exercise, and writing to empty the chaos in my head. Even little behavioral changes like trying to make small talk with the cashier at Wal-Mart or meeting new people one on one, or even just doing this blog to write out things I’ve never really put into words before and letting the feelings go so they don’t drag me down. I’m doing all of this now so I can avoid therapy in the future.

So here is what anxiety is to me. It’s having to make and know plans in advance so I can mentally prepare for that future event. Usually a week in advance is ideal, but I have made exceptions for last minute plans that were made a day in advance. It’s also replaying conversations in my head continuously trying to determine if I’ve said or done something wrong and overanalyzing everything to the point of feeling like everything I’ve ever done is wrong. It’s having to listen to music through headphones while grocery shopping in order to stay calm and focused enough to get everything I need as quickly as I can. It’s about avoiding people to stay home and chill where I know I’m going to be more comfortable anyway. It’s asking someone to make phone calls for me, especially for doctor’s appointments or talking to insurance people, because I get nauseous just thinking about it. It’s asking someone to go with me to a new place because I’m afraid of going by myself. It’s getting irrationally angry about something so insignificant it shouldn’t bother me, but it does, like channel flipping to avoid commercials or making noise just to make noise (like tapping a spoon against a glass bowl or screwing around with ringtones while I’m trying to listen to the tv). It’s about worrying unnecessarily over minor mistakes at work and the fear of being fired over something as small as a misspelled word.

All of these things, and some I haven’t mentioned, are what anxiety is to me. Everyone has different triggers but what we share is a fear we can’t control or sometimes even understand. And trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t have anxiety issues is like trying to explain why we exist. It’s impossible for them to fully comprehend our mental states, although there are a select few who really do try to be supportive and understanding (my mom is one of them). If you know someone who has anxiety, don’t be afraid to reach out to them, but let them come to you at their own pace as well. It’s hard to talk about and hard to trust someone with something so personal. And don’t try telling them to get over it or that they “should” do something just because it worked for someone else. We need to do what’s best for us and only we know what that is.

Sometimes…

Writing is my form of therapy. Sometimes I write to vent. Sometimes I write when I’m anxious and need to calm down. And sometimes I write just to write. Character profiles, line editing and scene revisions, or that one annoying scene that I can’t get out of my head. I tried to write earlier today but the words came out clumsy sounding and I stopped. It wasn’t a pleasant scene either, and not something I was in the right mindset to keep working on. I was watching Criminal Minds while I worked (I work from home so I can do that) and it got in my head.

And then there are times, like right now, when I want to write, but for the life of me, there just are no words waiting to jump out and be written. Most often, it’s when there are other things distracting me, like the TV or dad, but sometimes that writer’s block is there even in the silence. But there is a quote that always makes me feel better when writer’s block hits.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour

So, sometimes I will sit at my desk, stare at a blank screen for a few minutes, check emails, etc. and then I will just start writing whatever is on my mind. After a few lines, I just keep going and going until my muse triggers and I find something that starts to flow like water. Sometimes what I write is pure gold and doesn’t need much revision. Other times, and this happens more often, it’s crap and I know later I’ll have to rewrite it because it sounds forced or it doesn’t sound anything like I imagined it would. This was not something that happened overnight. I took a lot of college classes on creative writing and actually minored in it, and this helped me learn how to better my writing from the mediocre high school level that it was at. And it was awful. I probably mentioned that in a past entry. It was just laughably awful.

Even now, I’m looking at buying some books on writing about magic, fight scenes, and darker scenes, just to read about them and learn new ways to try and better my own writing. I still have a couple books from my college classes and recommendations from professors that I need to read, but I feel like wanting to read more about how to better your writing makes you that much better a writer. I tend to strive for perfection, but sometimes there are certain areas of writing where I have no experience and I need someone else’s feedback to help me. A lot of times, that someone is my best friend, and I always appreciate whatever feedback she gives me. It helps make my somewhat good writing into better writing.

I’m not sure if I’ll be posting any of my personal writing here yet, especially since I’m still working on my first novel and I’m still pretty shy about sharing it with anyone besides my best friend. I can say I have a harder shell for critique about my work, but that doesn’t make sharing it any less intimidating. I’m just glad I have a small support system that helps me feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Having even just one person believe in my dreams and goals makes it all worth it, because I know how hard I can be on myself, and how many critics are out there telling me I can’t do it or I’ll always be a starving artist because writers don’t make good money. It’s not about the money for me; it never was. I write because it’s who I am.

More New Friends

Earlier this week, my mom told me she met some girls in the store where she works that are going to this anime convention I really want to go to in February and she told me that when she told them about me wanting to go, these girls asked if I needed a ride and/or wanted to come along with them. Well, my mom initially told them that I was only planning on going the one day (which at the time I was, because my other “friends” hadn’t made any kind of committed statements that indicated to me that they even wanted to go). When she came home and told me all this, I told her I would be ECSTATIC to go with them and spend the weekend at the convention, and would even be willing to split hotel costs with them. Having been to three different conventions previously, I know that the whole weekend brings about a ton of different events and programming and experiences, and I told her the only reason I wasn’t going the whole weekend was because I didn’t think I could afford the tickets AND a hotel room for two nights by myself, since I still haven’t heard any solid info from my friends about whether they’re going or not. (I’ve also put the info on Facebook for them regarding times, registration fees, etc. and I got more responses from other people than the ones I asked to go with me.)

So last night when mom came home from work, she had gotten me the one girl’s name and phone number for me to get in touch with about meeting up and going to this convention together. I sent her a friend request and a message this morning and we’ve been talking on and off all day just in general, like getting to know each other kind of stuff. Her last question to me was about this convention and I sent her two long messages describing my situation and my ideal plans and have yet to hear back from her, but even just the general conversation was pretty easy and she seems super nice. And as it turns out, we have a mutual friend (acquaintance on my part); however, it is the younger brother of “Gia” from the last post. So I’m slightly torn. Do I attempt to make friends with this new girl because she has this love and enthusiasm of things I enjoy and run the risk of encountering Gia’s brother, who may then take some of the things I might say by accident back to her? Or do I ignore her and let another amazing convention slip out of my fingers because I’m too afraid to try something new and not care what other people think?

Right now, I’m perfectly ok with the first option. I missed out on seeing my favorite voice actor two years ago (because we had just gone to our first convention a week before and really didn’t have a lot of funds for that one, so we REALLY didn’t have any for this second one) and I am determined this year not to miss out on three more of my favorites. I even mentioned in my Facebook informational post that I was going regardless of whether anyone else was going with me. I figured if someone else is going with me, not only can we split the costs, but we can also double the entertainment/enjoyment factor (depending on who’s going, of course). Plus, when you’re on a mission to make new friends who are supportive and energize you, it helps to actually attempt to make new friends. So yeah, I’m hoping maybe we can do a meetup sometime before the actual convention, especially since I’ll be traveling the two weeks before the con and I won’t be able to meet then. But I know people are busy and when I get my next response, I’ll bring up the subject of meeting beforehand so I know who to look for in February.

Letting Go

I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to write about for today’s blog post and then it came to me. Part of the purpose of this blog is to help me deal with my anxiety and let go of some of the things that bother me the most, one of which is the toxic friends I keep. There is one “friend” who is above the rest in their toxicity level, and this is because for six to nine months, she tormented me with psychological mind games and made me feel like this horrible monster. As it turns out, I wasn’t the problem. And even now that we’re no longer living together, there are a myriad of things she does and says that really piss me off.

So here’s a little bit of context. This girl, “Gia,” was someone I was aware of in high school, but was never really friends with. She was a grade above me and I only met her through a different friend of mine (who ended up stabbing me in the back later). Anyway, when I graduated and went away to college, I happened to remember halfway through the year that Gia went to the same college as I did and we started hanging out between classes after that. We really connected and introduced each other to a new anime show. She also let me play on her game systems because I didn’t have any that first year. The next two years, we decided to live together in the same dorm room, which also went well because we had differing class schedules and some nights she worked down at the building’s front desk. The following year she graduated halfway through and knowing that, we lived in different buildings that were right next to each other. Fast forward a year and a half. I had just graduated, also halfway through the year and while applying for jobs, I was accepted at one in the area where I had gone to college. However, since I didn’t live in the area, I asked Gia if maybe she would like to move in together and could look around at apartments in the area, since she already lived there for her job. Three weeks after New Years, we had moved into our new apartment and that Monday, I started my new job. It was quite the whirlwind experience. Nine months later, I was laid off and living off unemployment while searching for a new job. After we renewed our apartment lease at the start of the year, I was still between jobs and Gia decided she wanted to get a cat. Personally, I thought it was both a great idea and a stupid one. Great because I love cats, stupid because I was going to be home all the time and this cat was going to bond to me instead of her. And that’s exactly what happened, and this is when our relationship started to deteriorate. The first six or so months after getting the cat, Gia seemed to expect a certain level of “domesticity” from me. She expected me to say hi every day when she came home from work, clean the apartment regularly, and empty the dishwasher. She even told me she felt like she always had to walk on eggshells around me because she could never tell what my mood was.

First of all, I regularly emptied the dishwasher, dusted and vacuumed the apartment (except Gia’s room) for the sake of my allergies and cleaning up cat hair, and swept the kitchen floor because I liked to walk around barefoot and there was generally kitty litter (or salt in the winter) on the kitchen floor. I cleaned up her cat’s vomit whenever she threw up because we didn’t want it sticking into and staining the carpets, and when she was gone for a weekend, I both fed the cat and cleaned her litter box. The issues that Gia had with me were that I left my dishes in the sink with water in them (most often they were left there because they had food stuck to the sides of them and I was letting them soak, and would put them in the dishwasher later); she didn’t like how I played with her cat (which I did try to modify because she wasn’t my cat); and I didn’t wash the dishes very often. However, whenever there were large amounts of dishes that couldn’t go in the dishwasher, she was the one making them because she did a lot of baking and cooking for work. Excuse me for not wanting to do your dishes.

This was a very difficult six months for me. I was made to feel like this horrible, lazy, sloth-like person. My unemployment ran out and I was surviving on my savings, which meant the only things I really spent money on was rent, utilities, and food. I stopped buying the stuff for the “diet” plan I had been on, which led to me gaining back all of the weight I had lost, plus a little extra, none of my clothes were fitting anymore, and I spent more time in my room with the door closed because I couldn’t stand to be around Gia anymore. Eventually I reached out to an old high school friend, now my best friend in the world, and told her about everything I was going through and that I needed someone to talk to. My only regret was having not stayed in contact with her through college. She managed to calm me down and talk me through the rest of this ordeal. Gia and I made up enough to make it through the rest of our lease agreement and then we went our separate ways. For me that meant coming back home, which I hadn’t wanted to do, but I’m glad I did because I got to spend more time with my bestie and her daughter, who I love like a niece. Getting to spend all that time with her was great therapy because we were always laughing and being around her never left me drained, except from laughing so hard our sides hurt.

It wasn’t until 2016 that I realized just how toxic Gia really was, even when we weren’t spending all of our time together. The apartment she ended up finding she’s still living in, and I still dread every time I have to go there (although this year I have decided to not make any effort to go there unless to see another of my friends if and when they’re in the area because that seems to be the place to go…). I dread it because every time I went there last year, the counter beside her kitchen sink was piled full of dirty dishes, from the sink all the way to the wall, which is about 2-3 feet long. Her stove always has crumbs, stains, etc. on it and her small kitchen table always has a pile of stuff on it, like baking supplies that are left out, piles of mail, random empty boxes, etc. On top of this disaster, her trash can is usually full to overflowing and she has the bag pulled up out of the plastic bin as if she’s trying to maximize everything the bag can hold. The space under the counter where all of the dirty dishes are is usually full of random recyclable things that didn’t make it into the recycling bin, and last time I went, she had an enormous fort of empty boxes, trash bags, and recyclables behind the front door that went around the entire one end of the dining table. The living room is littered with cat toys, because she now has two new cats (she lost the cat that she got when we were living together), her bathroom is generally fairly clean (it’s about the only room she cleans when company comes, and directly across from the bathroom, you can see into her room and there’s usually clothes, dirty or clean, I can never tell, in a heap on her floor or draped on her drying rack. Most often they’re dropped on the floor.

It’s disgusting.

Now if that wasn’t the worst of it, she has become even more sarcastic and snarky and some of the “jokes” she makes are no longer funny. When she had sent a group text message to me and two of our mutual friends, I had turned my phone’s volume off because I don’t like group messages and several messages in, she sent a message to all of us saying that she thought I didn’t like her anymore because I wasn’t responded to her messages and I had not sent her a birthday wish. Now, in all fairness, I was already annoyed by all the message notifications so seeing this message further irritated me. Part of me was glad though because she appeared to be getting the message that I was ignoring her, but the assumed attitude the text was sent with was enough to send my own sharp response that lacked all humor. Most recently, there was a group gathering for New Years because our one friend was home from Arizona, where he’s going for his PhD, and Gia made a fuss over my asking for a salad to go with her “epic” lasagna (which wasn’t all that epic). Since we had lasagna for Christmas, I wanted something light to go with Gia’s lasagna, because I knew how she liked to cook, and it was usually very heavy and filling. She finally relented when I agreed to have at least a small portion of the lasagna but having to fight for a f**king salad was ridiculous and unnecessary. (Thankfully the one friend in this group that I still like swooped in and saved the day by trying to smooth things out and make things work. He knows about my ordeal with Gia and now seems to be trying to keep the peace between us, but he also knows about my anxiety and is way more understanding than the other two in the group.)

There are a ton of other examples, like her throwing a colossal fit over me canceling plans in July after having an anxiety attack over her boating plans (I don’t like boats) and saying I “threw a wrench in her plans, just for the sake of chaos,” which basically told me she didn’t give a damn about my anxiety. But all of these things added up to me deciding I no longer want to be friends with someone who doesn’t support my new, healthy lifestyle and who spent six to nine months mentally tormenting me, and still makes jokes that are actually demeaning. It’s going to be hard to sever the ties because I don’t like confrontation so I can’t just directly tell her I don’t want to be friends (I can only imagine the fit she’d throw if I did). Which leads me to do a more cowardly thing and to just let myself drift further away from her, ignore all correspondence, and slowly end things on my terms. It’s not the best plan, but it’s the one I’m going with right now.

I apologize for this sounding like a big gigantic rant, because I know that’s what it is, but just thinking about Gia makes me seethe with anger and that’s why I need to let her go. She’s not good for my health anymore. And if you are suffering from any kind of abuse, physical, emotional, psychological, please, please, please reach out to somebody. No one should have to go through that alone.