The Parting of Clouds

I’m not one to complain about happiness, but I am bewildered by it.

I’m more afraid of the dust settling than I am of the storm, you know? There’s something comforting in the struggle – something familiar. Even the loudest crashes of thunder become white noise if you hear it long enough.

But now… life is quiet. Life is peaceful. I have a job that I enjoy, I’m in a healthy relationship, I finally found a space of my own, and no one who wants to hurt me has access to me anymore. And that should feel freeing. I’ve successfully run from every abusive situation. I got away. Not everyone does – and I’m so grateful. I never imagined I would get this far.

So why can’t I relax?

I’m still  scared. I wait by windows, watching the clouds, almost desperate to prove my happiness can’t last… almost wishing to dive back into the eye of the storm. It hurts, but it’s supposed to hurt.

I’m afraid of how badly it will ache when this happiness ends. It’s almost paralyzing. I look at the happy little details, the beautiful moments, and I don’t know what to do with my hands. They’re hungry – they want to seize every second, to feel the texture of my life scratch against my palms. But I worry that my grip is too tight, my hands too greedy.. I worry that I will ruin everything I touch, if only given time.

I have to keep going, right? That’s the only way forward, the only way to build the life I didn’t know I could ever have. I’m going to let myself be afraid until I stop flinching. It hurts, but it can’t hurt forever.

I’ll be okay.


Chicken or the Egg

Listen, there’s no beautiful way to say this: I’m not sure which parts of my personality predate my chronic illness and PTSD. I’m not sure which pieces of myself have always been here and which parts are symptoms turning outward.


I’m not even sure if it matters at this point.

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia and post traumatic stress disorder since I was seven. This year marks my fifteenth year of being sick and sad and crazy – but, as I’ve stated before, I’ve never been happier to be alive. So why can’t I let this go?

As a Sick person, so many aspects of my daily life feel out of control. I can’t control my body, my pain, my exhaustion. I can’t stop strangers, friends, and family alike from explaining to me how I’m using my body wrongly. I can’t go out often with my friends because I’m too tired to function.

This illness has taken so much from me.

As a Mentally Ill person, I feel a lot of shame for the way my disorders manifest. I require a lot of reassurance. I worry that I’m constantly being manipulative. I’m so afraid of men that I carry a hunting knife in my purse at all times. I left my last job because my boss told the staff that I was too much of a slut to be afraid of men and that I didn’t deserve to be protected from the asshole behind this post. That situation created a deep anger and anxiety around being misunderstood and mistreated.

This illness has taken too much from me.

Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by everything that I don’t even try. I don’t pretend to be well in any way. My door shuts quietly, I take meals by myself, I don’t answer the phone. I am not a full person on these days. I am a half-being, sick and sad, eyes wide as I try not to cry. It’s true, these days aren’t happy and they aren’t fun but they feel more honest.

In this way, I need those half-days.

I need time to be ill, to shed the mask of health that I wear every day. You wouldn’t believe how heavy that disguise can be – its weight makes my arms ache. But who would I be without my sicknesses? What kind of person would I be if my body and mind were better balanced, more functional, less damning? Who could I be without near-crippling fear, pain, exhaustion?

Is this the most genuine version of myself? And, more importantly, does it matter?

If there’s no way to return to who I was before being assaulted, before getting sick – if I’m stuck in this sick body – does it matter that I could’ve been something different?

I wish I knew.

The Anxiety of Happiness

This summer is, without a doubt, the best of my life.

I’m excelling at my job, I am surrounded by endlessly kind and supportive friends, I get to spend an inordinate amount of time with a thoroughly lovely man, my art is lighter… This is the life I could not imagine for myself on my best day as a child. I cannot believe it’s unfolding around me.

It scares me.

I am not used to experiencing so much goodness at once. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real, as if I’ve stepped into someone else’s life with both feet. My anxiety makes me glance over my shoulder, almost shaking as I wait for them to show up and demand their happy little life back.

I feel like I could ruin it at any moment.

I am clumsy and too talkative and oddly aloof, detached when I don’t mean to be, altogether too far to reach and too close to escape. I am worried that I don’t have the tools to maintain this happiness, or that my decision to move to Denver will rupture it prematurely. For the first time in five years, I don’t hate this town. We’ve walked under black skies, our hearts in our hands as we laugh into the moonlight. My people have made Fort Collins beautiful and now I have to leave. I’m scared of what’s to come.

There is no neat ending to this story, only a gentle recognition that I am trying my best – that what is coming will come and until then, I’ll keep holding hands and laughing too loudly and treasuring everyone who has painted my life in these brilliant shades. I never thought it was possible to feel this whole.

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I am so grateful.