Why I Will Be Spending the Holidays Alone

I have made a decision that could forever impact my relationship with my family members, and I refuse to feel bad about it. I lived in Texas for three and a half years, which means that there were three years where I did not celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with a lot of my family members. At the time, it was awful. I felt so lonely and I missed everyone so much. Phone calls felt like salt being poured in the wound, and times that used to feel magical turned dark and depressing. 

I live within an hour of all of my family now, but I have made the choice to not spend holidays with anyone this year. Last year spending time with my loved ones felt perfect, but there are HUGE differences between times past and the present. 

First off, I live in America. I think everyone across the globe realizes that the way the coronavirus was handled here was laughable at best, and now we are suffering the consequences as a nation. I feel like our leader isn’t the only one to blame, due to the countless people who actively decide to throw parties, not wear masks, etc, but nonetheless, these people could be umbrellaed under Trump and his negligent and careless response to this deadly global pandemic. Anyways, with spikes starting to occur again, and many questioning if the second wave is here, I do not feel comfortable being indoors, in a smaller space, with lots of people. Especially as an immunocompromised individual I need to take as many precautions as necessary. Now the family members reading this are probably upset at this point do to the fact that I am traveling out of the country in less than a week to attend my best friend’s wedding, however, we pretty much have the resort to ourselves, everything is going to be outside, we all had Covid tests that were sent out to a lab, and we will be wearing our masks. I am also traveling to Salem for a few days after that, where I will be practicing social distancing, I will be getting tested again for Covid, and I will be wearing a mask. 

Now another reason why I won’t be participating in this year’s holiday festivities is because of the election. Most, if not all, of my parents have different beliefs than I do, and that is totally fine! However, I do not like or appreciate the way that some of them have handled it. Now, I have been VERY vocal about where I stand, and there have been times where I have said things when I probably should not have. I have been honest and upfront about my lack of respect for those who follow Trump, and although that may be hurtful, at least I am being honest. And just to clarify, I haven’t lost full respect, but respect has been lost. I know for a fact that they think I am “crazy” for my beliefs, so it couldn’t come as a surprise that I feel that way. Anyways, I don’t feel like being gaslighted or told that I am wrong or told that I am crazy for voting for the side that actually gives a fuck about civil rights, so I am making the choice to avoid those conversations. Also, it is difficult to have a conversation with anyone who refuses to hear where you are coming from. I have found that Trump supporters like to just yell at you when you start speaking about what you believe in or they just insult you. 

Thirdly, I am skipping holidays due to my mental health. Everyone has had to go through depression and anxiety this year, especially with Covid and the election. For those who suffer from clinical mental health issues, this year has been actual hell. I think that the chaos that has been this year has finally caught up to me, and as a result, I have suffered with my mental health. I have been working with the same therapist for over a year now, and I am accepting that I am allowed to create boundaries for myself if I feel like they need to be there. I used to be that person that didn’t prioritize myself and my well-being over others, but I am not that way anymore. If you have kept up with my pieces, you would know that I was kind of reborn earlier this year. I firmly believe that this was my “selfish” year. This was the year where I focused on healing myself, on finding myself, on figuring out what I wanted out of this lifetime. This was the year that I really became confident and happy with who I am. I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me. I stopped dropping my life for others when they are incapable of doing the same for me. I even gave my husband an out, because he was uncomfortable with my newfound freedom and realizations. At the end of the day, twenty-twenty was a terrible year, but it also… wasn’t? I feel found. I found myself. Twenty-twenty was my year of metamorphosis, and I am happy that I can finally see my value. When you respect yourself life becomes so much sweeter. I know that there will always be things that you need to do that you do not want to do, but there are going to be times where you can choose to not participate in something. My stance is that although my personal evolution is something that I am happy and proud of, there are many other factors as to why I need a break. This year has been toxic. This year things have come to light that have swayed me in a different direction. This year has been rough. Like I mentioned before, my mental health has paid the price for that. I refuse to sacrifice myself and my energy just to appease others, so I am taking a break. 

This is a toxic time. This is a time where we must be diligent about protecting ourselves. I have worked tirelessly with my therapist to come to this realization that it is okay to distance myself for a bit from everyone, including those that I love. This is what I need to feel better. This is what I need to get my energy back on track. This is what I need to detox of toxicity out of me. I love my family and my friends, I really do, but I am just starting to love me and take care of me and I need my time. 

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and happiness and celebration, but if you don’t feel that do you really need to “celebrate?” No. Anyday can be a holiday if you really think about it, and it is okay if you need to isolate for a bit in order to heal and work on yourself. I am sure that a lot of people reading this will be upset by the words that I have written, and that is okay. You are just as entitled to your feelings just as I am entitled to mine. I wish I felt bad about not wanting to celebrate the holidays, but I really don’t. I already feel happy. I already feel like I can breath. I love that I am going to have this time to continue healing myself, and I like the pressure is off and that I am no longer anxious about that. 

Don’t feel guilty about giving yourself time. You deserve to go through your journey and process however you need to do it, and don’t allow anyone to make you feel like you are making a selfish or bad choice. Take care of you, it will be the best thing that you can do.

The Fear of Co-Dependency and Lack of Individuality

I have a fear, and it is something that I think about constantly. This particular fear of mine dictates how I navigate my marriage and how I live my life. This fear is so terrifying to me that I make an extra effort to make sure that it never comes to life. So what is this fear? I am afraid of losing my individuality and becoming co-dependent.

I was fifteen years old when Stephen and I first started dating. The aftermath of the sexual assault was still fresh and my relationship with my parents was lacking. I didn’t really have friends, and I felt alone. I was desperate to find love, to find someone who wanted to spend time with me, to just find someone who found me to be somewhat worthy of them. I always envisioned having a partner who I had that special connection with. I used to wonder what it would feel like to have someone hold me, to laugh with me, to tell me that they were in love with me. I was craving it so badly, that when I found it, I gave into it. 

Stephen was everything to me. He was my world, and I became so engulfed in love that I lost myself. I placed all of my happiness onto him, and I became the person that I thought he wanted me to be. I stopped hanging out with the few friends that I had because I wanted every free moment to be spent with him. If I couldn’t see him over the weekend or after school on weekdays I would be devastated. He brought so much light into my world of darkness that all I could see or focus on was him, resulting in me forgetting about me. 

The sad truth is that Stephen never made me feel like he should be my reason for living. That was all me. I think I just got so sucked up into a world where I could finally trust someone. I finally had found someone who was authentic and sincere, and he genuinely cared about me and my well-being. I felt safe with Stephen, and I saw a forever life with him. He was mine. My life was just revolving around Stephen. 

My co-dependency started to become scary when I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. I became increasingly jealous and territorial. When I found out that he held another girl’s hand in band practice, and he didn’t have a choice, I made him delete her from social media. When I found out that another girl had a crush on him and told him and he kept it from me, I wrote an article and printed it on the front page of the school paper. I was ruthless. I was even disgusted with myself, but I was not going to let anyone or anything take Stephen away from me. I had too much to lose. 

Around a year after we started dating, Stephen had reached his limit with me and my behavior and attempted to break up with me. He expressed that he couldn’t handle my jealously anymore, and he didn’t like that my whole world revolved around him. Which, to be honest, is completely understandable. I had a big dose of reality when we had that discussion, and that fog that I was in for the past year finally cleared up. 

I had realized that I willingly gave up everything that I was for this relationship, even though I never had to. Stephen loved me for me, and he never asked me to give up on myself for us. I couldn’t believe that I did that to myself. I put myself this incredibly unhealthy situation, and I promised myself that I would never do that again.

I am truly lucky to have the partner that I have. He never makes me feel like I have to give up any part of myself in order to please him. And if I were to be honest, if he did have that kind of expectation from me that would be a deal-breaker. I am unwilling to change any part of who I am for anyone, even him.

There was a situation that happened not too long ago that was kind of the inspiration behind this piece. As you know, I have a thing for tattoos and piercings, and for a while, I was fixated on getting my septum pierced. I wanted it so badly, but Stephen does not like them and told me no. First of all, no one, not even my husband, is going to tell me “no” about something that I want to do to MYSELF. I will gladly hear and appreciate any opinion that you may have on any matter, but anything that I want to do for myself or to myself will ultimately be MY decision. I didn’t end up getting the piercing because the jewelry that I wanted was going to be way too expensive, but had it been more affordable I would have gotten it done. 

I have this viewpoint about my marriage that I am not sure a lot of people agree with. I am so overprotective about maintaining my individuality that I almost look at my marriage like a separate partnership. I love Stephen so incredibly much, and he means the world to me, but he is not my world. I will never allow myself to do what I did back when we first started dating. The moment I place all of my happiness and everything that I am into his hands is the moment that I will lose myself. So when I say that we are in a “separate partnership,” I simply mean that I want us to make decisions together and live our lives together, but I also want us to be our own people. If I want to travel on my own without him, then I am going to do it. If I want to hang out with my friends without him, then I am going to do it. If I want to do something to my body then I am going to do it. Even if he hates it. He is not my daddy, he is my husband. And I am his wife. Just because you are in a committed relationship doesn’t mean that you need to forget about yourself. 

Like I have said, I am deeply, deeply in love with Stephen. He is an amazing human being and I am lucky to have him as my husband. I respect the hell out of him, and we really are a great match. However, in order for me to live the life that I want to live, I can’t put him and his desires before my own. I am not living our life, I am living my life, and I am trying to make the best of it. Stephen just so happens to be an incredible part of it all.

I am Falling

I am falling. 

When it comes to my depression and anxiety, I never know what each day is going to look like. Some days I feel like I can live a functional life, while some days I can barely get out of bed.

I am falling.

Just as I thought everything was starting to look up, I realized that I was starting to come back down.

I am falling.

Internally I am screaming for help as loud as I can, but as desperate as I am to reach out to others I am afraid to burden them.

I am falling.

There is a tiny voice in my head that keeps taunting me. “Here we go again. Brookana is falling into another low.” I want to grab my mind and shake it, I want to scream “SHUT UP” and “LEAVE ME ALONE” but I know whatever I do I won’t be able to quiet the voice. 

I am falling. 

I haven’t cut in a decent amount of time, and the only reason I am writing right now is to distract myself. I see my scars on my thighs, the marks that represent that desperation to feel something, to satisfy my mind. I don’t want any more of these reminders, but the amount of strength that it is taking to not pick up my blade is exhausting. 

I am falling.

I haven’t left my house in three days.

I am falling.

I am isolating.

I am falling.

I am not sleeping.

I am falling.

I wonder what it is like to not have to experience depression and anxiety. Is it as sweet as I imagine it to be? Not having to worry about sinking, not having to worry about bleeding, not having to think about how your own mind is trying to sabotage your life. How freeing it must feel to not have anxiety that dictates what you can and can not do, to have this warden in your own personal prison, to have the power to literally take your breath away and make you feel like you are dying.

I am falling.

I imagine my life is a giant rabbit hole. I keep falling and falling until I can finally grip something and pull myself up, and then out of nowhere I slip and I am falling again. If I hit the ground, that means I am gone, but if I can eventually pull myself up I could finally experience living.

I am falling. 

My cat won’t leave my side. I think he can sense something is wrong.

I am falling.

This time around, I refuse to say that I am fine until I actually feel fine.

I am falling.

I am breathing. With each breath that I inhale and with each movement of my chest reminds me that I have more life to live. 

I am falling.

I need time to work through this.

I am falling.

Just like every other time I sink into a low, I know I will be okay.

I am falling.

I am strong but I am fragile

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I have had people tell me that I am weak because of my mental health. I have had people tell me that I need to cope better with life. I have had people tell me that I need to grow up. I have had people tell me to put my big girl panties on.

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I feel like I am like a windshield with a crack. With time the crack gets bigger and bigger until you fix it or it just shatters. 

I am strong but I am fragile. 

My strength stems from not following through with the things that my plagued mind wants me to do. Pills, knives and the garage give me haunting thoughts that chill me. I don’t want to do anything, but sometimes I do. I am constantly in a fight with myself, with my heart and my mind constantly playing an intense game of tug of war. I want to stay but I want to go. At the end of the day, I choose to stay so my heart always narrowly beats my mind. 

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I have worked so hard on making the best out of my life. Medication and therapy have been incredibly helpful. The days where I wake up and I don’t feel like I want to die are my favorite days. Being in love feels sweeter, being outside with the air caressing my skin feels freer, friendship feels more special, life just feels like it is finally getting easier. I can breathe, I can appreciate, I can feel bliss. 

I am strong but I am fragile.

As hard as I work on my strength and my well-being, it can also be easy for me to crash right back down. My mind is funny that way. I have a strong inkling that my mind is sitting at the edge of its seat, just waiting for something inconvenient or unfortunate to happen so it can have another chance to bring me down. Sometimes my mind can swoop in so fast to bring me down that I can almost feel my heart break from defeat. Here we go again, time to fight for life once more.

I am strong but I am fragile. 

When my mind wants me to end my life I do whatever I can do fight against it. I listen to music. I snuggle with my animals. I clean. As much as I try to distract myself, my mind can sometimes be stronger than me. It has this need for me to harm myself, and it won’t shut my thoughts down until it is somehow satisfied. So it is almost like we make a deal, or a compromise one might say. So when I dig into my skin with that razor it is almost like I can breathe again. I held up my end of the bargain, and now I can have a few moments of freedom from my tormenting mind. 

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I am sick, but I am trying to get better.

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I want to live.

I am strong but I am fragile.