One More Chapter
A twenty two year-old's view on life, death,
and Taylor Swift conspiracy theories
and Taylor Swift conspiracy theories
It's about time that I post in this blog again, so here it is, and this time it's a bit more personal and much more emotional than I'm used to, but I'll try to maintain my usual humor as much as possible.
Today is June 27th...
Exactly one month ago I stepped off the airplane and onto United States' soil for the first time in almost four months. So much happened in those four months to me not only on a physical level but most definitely on a spiritual level.
One thing I've noticed is that over this past month I have been infinitely more happy than I have been in a long time. I realized this as I was driving home yesterday and I spent some time thinking about it and the reasons why this was. You see. I've been trying for a long time to be happy and it has been one of the hardest things I've ever done.
On a Sunday afternoon in early January 2010 my parents sat my sister, brother (who was home on break from college) and me down, saying that they had something they needed to talk to us about. I thought that they were going to tell us that our dog, Molly, was going to be put down. She'd been struggling with a tumor in her skull and half of her face had sunken in. Instead they told us that they'd decided to separate after almost 20 years of being married. I had just turned 15. It was, and continues to be, the worst day I have ever lived through. And, for that reason, I am not going to go into much detail.
What was to follow was six years of deepening depression, self-hatred, self-harm, eating disorders, severe body dysmorphia, orthorexia, and most prominently: anger.
I was angry at everything and everyone. I hated people and couldn't be around my family without snapping at them for even the littlest of things. My parents sent me to therapy after four years of this and, while it helped a bit, it wasn't enough. I feel horrible for what I put my family through, especially my sister, who would try at times to be the peacekeeper. It was no use. I was just so unhappy. I would spend many nights either screaming or crying my self to sleep. When I was eighteen it got to be so bad that my father asked me to leave his house and I moved in full-time with my mother.
For those of you who know me personally and seem surprised by this, don't be. I almost never showed it when I was out with friends or at family events (though, not always).
Being with my friends was how I stayed sane.
I truly believe that without my amazing and enormous support systems that kept me distracted and somewhat happy - even if it was only part-time - over these past years, I wouldn't be here today. During the particularly bad months I remember thoughts of suicide were so often on my mind that I was sure I would give in. I had to continuously remind myself what it would do to my parents, my friends and that there were tons of people who loved me.
Being away from my father's house turned out to be great for me. Because most of my anger had been focused on my father's new wife, being away brought about the slow but steady decline of this hatred that had been filling me for years. It took until I was away at college for though to see a real improvement.
But then my mother noticed something new. Instead of focusing the anger on everyone around me, it was transferring to myself. Before long. I hated myself. There is no other way to phrase it. Because that was it. I really, truly and fully hated myself. I hated the way I acted, the way I sounded, and - most dramatically - the way I looked. I even started showering with all the lights off so that I wouldn't have to see body in the mirror getting in and out of the shower. (I'll get more into all this in a separate post).
Throughout it all, I continued to rely heavily on the amazing support of my friends and family. I don't understand how my mother is able to remain so kind to me after all I put her through.
By the time I was ready to leave for France, I was an emotional wreck. I needed to get away more than ever.
Over those four months I learned the true meaning of heartache.
Don't get me wrong, I had the most amazing time. I saw beautiful places and met amazing people. Making a long list of plans for the future and find inspiration everywhere. I even started to let go (slightly) of my very negative body image as I began to relish in the way the European woman embraced their curves and seemingly ate a diet consisting of purely cheese and pastries. But I had never been away from my friends for that long and I missed them dearly. Thank goodness for internet.
But I didn't really know what it meant to miss people until then. Sure, I'd go summers without seeing some friends until we came together at the beginning of the school year. But during the summer I had my friends at camp to keep me distracted. In Europe, it was just me. I had friends, yes, but nothing like the friendship that I had come to rely on over these past years. It was only surface-level. We were all kind to each other and were good company, but none of us were really all that similar. If we hadn't been thrown together due to our rather unusual circumstances, many of us would probably never have become good friends (with a few exceptions, of course, **ehem** Kit Klaes and Natalie Lapointe).
Coming home, I was picked up at the airport by several of my friends from the summer camp I work at. All of whom have become such a huge part of my life, I'm not sure how I have ever survived without them. Literally.
I spent the first week of being home meeting with all my friends who I had been missing while away. My friends from camp, the few good friends from high school that I've stayed in touch with, my dance family and the small family that I've made at the wedding venue I've worked at the past four years.
Never in my life have I felt so loved. Never have I felt like I belonged like I do with these people, especially my camp family. And ever since I've been back, I've spent a lot of time being with only the people I know who make me happy and doing things that I know I want to do.
I moved to New York to live with my brother recently. I had been planning my trip there for a while now, but most of the original plans had fallen through. So, still determined to salvage my plans, I packed up anyways and headed south. But, after only a few days, something in my gut felt wrong. I knew that I belonged back with my friends and all the people I had spent the last four months wishing I was with.
But my brother had been anticipating my visit and seemed excited that I was with him. He didn't seem to want me to leave, and I didn't want to disappoint him. I also didn't want everyone to think that I had failed my "big" move to NYC. Which really entailed getting a random job at a vegan juice bar/restaurant.
After several emotional phone calls with my mother, it was decided that I was to moved back home.
It was the best decision that I ever made.
I am surrounded by nature, peace and people I love. I am back working at camp (well, kind of) and I am happier than I have ever been. I think it is because I am finally starting to just do what I want. I am not worrying about what everyone is thinking of me, because I am only surrounding myself with the people who I know love me for who I am and not what I look like or people who like something that isn't the real me. I've felt so at home with the people I'm around and I've never felt more wanted in my life.
I've found my happy place.
Thank you for reading,
P.S. Thank to the amazing people who have kept me going through all these years:
Kate McGahie, Bethany Morrill, Ilana Mahler, Maura Dalianis, Ariana Sacco, Claire Mullan, Chickee Sacco, Nate Greene, Nate Lucas, Victoria Farrell, Curtis Reid, Ben Babbitt, Elena Viapiano, Audrey Keohane, Erika Wilson, Nicki Barrett, Sam Mahler, Jenn Stone, Liz Chasse, Tori Esteves, Kit Klaes, and, of course, the amazing Victoria Carrier and my unbelievably supportive family.
Song of the Day
"Scared" by Delta Rae
Everyone should go check out this band. I know that I posted a song by them in the last entry, but I just can't get enough!!!
My last blog post was written in an airplane on the way back to the United States all about what my experience studying abroad had given me. In it I mentioned that it gave me a new perspective on things. And I said nothing else. Well, this post is to explain that statement.
When I said that I had a "new perspective" I meant on two particular things: my college and my country.
When I left the United States for France it was safe to say that I was less than Patriotic. The only time I really expressed any love for the US was when I was tailgating and singing along to some extremely patriotic song lyrics at country concerts in the summer. And even then it was more for the tradition of it all. I have always been one of those people who just can't help but see all the bad things about our country.
I felt that we were often ignorant towards the rest of the world and other cultures, obnoxious, unhealthy, obsessed with technology, self-centered, overly fast-paced and just generally hated by the rest of the world.
Turns out, leaving the place you've grown up in and spent your entire life for months on end can cause an extreme case of homesickness. And this homesickness can lead to a very real appreciation of the place you call home. It wasn't until I was missing all of it's wonder and beauty and consistently explaining what life in the U.S. was like to the Europeans that I really appreciated how amazing of a country it is we reside in.
The United States is truly a place unlike any other. Sure, we are practically an infant in comparison to the countries of Europe and Asia and, sure, we tend to be a bit obnoxious with our American pride. But why shouldn't we be?! We contain some of the most amazing geographic locations, we are full of people chasing their dreams and you can drive to any state you want and witness a completely different way of life while still remaining in your own country. I'm not kidding when I say that Europeans - especially those who haven't been to America - are completely enraptured with The United States. And, not to mention, our country is ENORMOUS. The state of Texas is bigger than most countries. You can go on a life changing journey from coast to coast and not even have to leave the comfort of your own country.
I think it's safe to say that upon coming back to the United States last week, I was a changed woman. I love our country inside and out. Yes, we have flaws, but I think going abroad for months and months will allow you to realize that all countries have flaws. And I mean a lot of flaws. And for the enormity of the United States, I'd say we're doing pretty good.
So, I'd say that the way my perspective changed on my school was very similar to the way it changed on our country. Though when I left I can't say I didn't like Umass. I love Umass and I always have, but I was never a die hard "Go Umass" type of student (which we certainly do not have a shortage of over at the zoo).
People who attend Umass Amherst are so freaking in love with their University it's scary.
I never really understood this. I mean, I liked how much diversity there was. I could literally take a class in anything I wanted to. I could easily meet and make new friends because there are just so many people that it's actually impossible not to find people you like or people who merely share the same interests as you. People are generally all pretty cool there too. I also never have issues with food since we've pretty much got the best food in the entire country and there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not thankful for that miracle. Without a doubt, Umass is a great school. But there was always something missing for me. I couldn't figure out why people were just so overy obsessed. It's good, yeah, but I don't know if it was great.
Now I get it.
Having to attend a university in Paris puts it all in perspective for you. In Europe (excluding the U.K. who have a similar University construction to us) there is not really "college". You finish their equivalent of high school then people generally will go out in the world and begin working and building a family. Some people though do decide to continue on with their education.
For these people, they don't live on campus and they don't have meal plans or anything. There really isn't actual campuses. Most of the time it's just a cluster of a few buildings. People don't identify themselves as "ICP students" or "Sorbonne students". It's just not the same. It's more like everyone is just taking classes at these schools while continuing their life as usual. And the fees are sickeningly low. A year of college in Paris is about $1,000 for a student. (For me it was much much more expensive as I was still paying for housing, food, program excursions, etc.)
While I was taking classes in France I began to realize that I was really missing Umass. I missed the way everyone was living together, walking to classes together, eating together, etc. I missed the feeling of community and the way that everyone was happy to be at the University. I missed the way that everyone would walk around in their Umass gear 24/7. I'm not exaggerating, if you weren't sporting at least one item of clothing or at least one accessory with the Umass logo, you'd get weird looks. I missed being on a college campus.
There is no denying that Umass Amherst really is a community and really is a network. No matter where you go in, what I think is safe to say, the entire world, you'll find someone that goes to Umass or that knows someone who went to Umass. It's crazy. And I love it. I may be spending several semesters away from Amherst and taking a break to hike across the country, but don't be fooled: I love my school.
I love Umass Amherst.
Everyone should go.
Coming back last Wednesday was one of the strangest feelings, but I have never been happier to be in this wonderful country and now I have the itch to travel to every state, to really know my country and to really appreciate it for all it is. But, there is no doubt, I am a New Englander through and through and I think that if there is anything that studying abroad has given me, it's an even deeper adoration of how amazing our little section of the United States really is.
Thanks for reading,
Song of the Day
"Bottom of the River" by Delta Rae (Thanks Victoria!)
About This Blog:
I started this blog as a way to challenge myself to write more over the 2014 year, but it has blossomed into so much more than that. I use it to let people in on what's happening in my life, talk about things I find important and to spread the news about amazing people, places and art.