I am Afraid

I have a confession to make to… well I guess to you. Whoever is reading my this. And it may sound silly, but its been on my mind for a while now, so here we go.

I am afraid.

It sounds so silly when I type it out. I am afraid. I’m not sure how you think of me, or realize this through my writing… Then again, it may come through more than I like. You probably don’t think of it at all and I am just babbling. But here is the thing, I really am afraid. Of the future. Of graduating. Of deciding what my life will be. Of being hurt. And as often as I dream about it, I’m actually afraid of traveling. I’m also looking forward to all of these things. I can’t wait to see what my future holds after graduation. I can’t wait for one of the hundreds of trips I’ve planned to FINALLY happen. Those things excite me to my core. And yet they terrify me.

What if I completely screw it up? What if I fail? What if my dreams crumble before my eyes? What if I finally get somewhere and something happens? What if I get mugged/lost/hurt in another country and I’m alone?

But on the other side:

What if I excel at my plans? What if I’m able to put all of my plans in action and kill it? What if I didn’t take that experience I have worked so hard to achieve? What if I didn’t try at all? If I let the fear control my life, am I really going to be any safer?

If you’re anything like me, these are only a few of the questions running through your mind daily. And, despite my fear, I have a love for life. For finding the next trail to follow. For discovering what is just beyond the river bend. For doing something new.

Fear is this little voice in your head telling you what could go wrong, and lets face it, sometimes things can go horribly wrong. (Whats that called? Murphy’s Law?) But, there are so many times where things go wonderfully right.

I guess my point in all of this is that you can either let that fear grip you and keep you from some amazing adventures, or you can push it aside and let life lead you where you never even dreamed possible.

Don’t let fear rule you.

 

What I Wish I Had Known

It’s funny how things change. Just a few short years ago I had no idea what I would do with my life. I mean, I told people I did, but I didn’t. I was starting college. I left my whole world behind hoping to start something completely new. And just a couple years before that, I was coming home crying because I hated where I was. I hated school, the way everyone around me acted, I hated all of it. Looking back I think I hated myself most of all. I was just lost, and struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Struggling may be generous, it implies that I did see it, but only sometimes. I was searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t see it at the time. Again, looking back I know it was there, just waiting for me to find it, but I was blinded by my own misery. 

If only I knew then what I know now. 

I guess that’s the thing though. We all wish that our younger selves could have known what we grow up to find. We wish we could save ourselves, and others, from the breaking point and the pain that we experience. But we can’t. It’s in the past. And that kid you once were grew up. Maybe still a little bitter about what happened, about the people who walked out of their lives, or those moments where nothing seemed like it would get better. Maybe you’re still trying to forgive yourself. Maybe.

I’ve come to realize something. We can either accept it, or we can dwell on it. As much as I hated it all. As much as I wish I could tell myself it gets better. As much as I wish certain things had never happened… those things I wish I could change or forget… All of those things that have happened to me and that I have been through created the person I am today. 

And part of me is thankful for it. I am strong, even if I feel like I’m breaking. I am kind, I care about people. I’m wiser, I’ve lived a lot of life in my twenty-two years, and I know I have much more to live. I’ve grown up, and that would never have happened without those things that broke me, that hurt me, that forced me to make the decisions I made.

I guess my point in all of this is… maybe we shouldn’t wish to go back. To right the wrongs. Or to tell our younger selves what we know now. Without them, who knows where we would be? I for one don’t think I would be where I am today. And for that reason alone, I am beyond thankful.

Escape

I can feel it. The second I’m alone. The darkness beginning to envelope my mind. I can feel its claws beginning to curl and twist my thoughts up with them. And I try so hard to fight it. I numb my brain with tv, I escape into books, I’ll bury myself in a bottle of wine… all to drown it out. The screaming. It’s like someone is trying to tell me what is wrong with me, that no one cares for me, that I’m alone. I know it’s not true, and I try to fight it… but sometimes the screaming stops. And a whisper starts. You’re not good enough. People leave because you’re worthless. You annoy everyone. You’re too much. You’re too big. The list goes on and on. Sometimes my mind falls into it. My escapes fail and I’m left paralyzed by the fear that this voice is right. 

I know it’s not. I fight it everyday. I pray. I read. I focus on the positive. But sometimes… sometimes I need an escape.

Excerpt of a Book I’ll Probably Never Write X

“But it’s not the same!” I yelled. frustration got the better of me and I ran my fingers through my hair. 

“What do you mean it’s not the same? You ended it. We’ve been over. It hurt. I’m still working on moving on.” I could see tears forming in her eyes. Damn it, John. Fix this.

“I know. I know I screwed things up, and I’m sorry.” I watched a tear escape and run down her cheek. I reached up and wiped it away. “You’ll never know how sorry I am. That I hurt you. That I left. That it took me this long to realize what I had done.” My voice trailed off a moment.

“Damn it, Ann. I still love you.” The words came out in a huff and her eyes widened, probably unsure what to think. “Everyday I wake up and I miss you. And I know we’re not enemies, we talk here and there, but I keep expecting you to come bouncing in my room telling me about your day. Or, for you to text me complaining about work.” She looked away, and then at the ground. I kept going.

“I’ve torchered myself since I ended it. I’ve tried to move on, but every time I go out all I can think is that she isn’t you. Her laugh isn’t right, her smile isn’t as bright. She doesn’t point out every dog that walks by us.” She looked up, a smile smile crossed her tear stained face. 

“I don’t know if I can keep up this charade anymore.” My voice sounded rushed, even to me. It was hard to catch my breathe. Breathe, idiot. “I don’t just want you in my life, I need you. You know me better than I know myself and I miss that.” I took her hands into mine and pulled her a step closer to me. Our faces and bodies only inches away. 

“I’m so sorry, Ann. Please, forgive me.” There. I said what I needed to. The ball is in her court. She looked up at me with her big hazel eyes. Her blonde hair falling just her left one, it always did that. Her eyes looking searchingly into mine. She was thinking. Forming her words in her mind before she spoke. 

“John,” The way she said it made my heart shatter. “John,” she said again a little quieter. “I will always love you. Always. I can’t imagine the day you won’t have some piece of me.” She took a deep breathe as I held mine. “And I miss you. I still think about you. I still wish that -” she shook her head before continuing. “You broke up with me. You ended things because you were afraid. You still had some growing up to do. I did, too.” Don’t say it, Ann. Please. I silently begged. 

“I think you still have some growing up to do.” The words felt like daggers through my chest. “And I’m still working on me.” She slipped her hands from mine and laid one on my chest. “I’m sorry, John.” She took a step back. “I just think if we ever try it again, that will be it for us. No more chances, nogoing back. We get one more chance, and I don’t think we’re ready.” With that she got up on her tiptoes and kissed my cheek. Tears rolled down her face as the woman I loved walked away, and all I could think was how I wish I hadn’t walked away in the first place.

Home

A dear friend of mine asked if I could post this as a guest writer. Give it a read, absolutely amazing.
Have you ever read those stories of the people that live in the same place their entire lives and are totally content to stay there? That feeling, of staying in one place, living and dying in the same town, no matter how big or small, has always remained a mystery to me. While I don’t want to travel the seven seas nor do I give a damn about the wonders of the world, I have never been one to rest my heels anywhere. Some of that is probably nature, but most of it is nurture. I want to see what is over the horizon, what is over the mountains, or what lays the on the other side of the river. I moved a lot as a child, 13 times before I was even 18. No two places were the same. There were the plains and slow rolling hills of middle Georgia, the coast (where I am most at home), and the mountains. A bevy of places, mostly for a year or two, then moving on, my family always chasing the next win or the next ring. I never knew different, only that making any lasting friendships was difficult, and, as I aged, I stopped bothering. I learned to rely on myself only, to keep my own counsel. Does that sound hard? Cold even? Like I said, I never knew and still don’t know if it is good or bad. It just is. But somewhere along the way, things changed. 

 I always thought home was a house, with a dog, in a small neighborhood where everyone knew everyone and children played together and grew up together. Home, where everyone knows your name. Home, where everyone knows your parents and has seen you grow. Thankfully, it appears I was wrong. 

 I swore I would never come back here. Too many bad memories, too much that that reminded me that I was a failure and had let myself down and my family down. Too much wasted potential. But, God or the universe don’t care about our promises. Slowly, after beating myself up for half a decade, I have stopped doing that and come to know myself. I stopped hating myself. I figured out that living life as a cold wannabe asshole is a damn lonely way to go through the world. What I realized is that people matter. Friends matter. The way you move through life matters, how you touch lives and people matters. 

 I realized that home isn’t a house. Home isn’t a town. Home is people. Home is friends that love you, people that care about you enough to yell at you when you are doing dangerous, harmful activities. Home is being able to say that you would do the same for those people and doing it, letting them know that you love them as much as they love you. 

 I never wanted to come back here. I wanted to leave as soon as I signed my lease in that nasty apartment in willow trace. I hated these mountains. I hated the weather. I wanted the sun on my shoulders and a life unfettered by anything other than my own wants and desires. How wrong I was. I came looking for nothing and found everything I ever wanted. I found love and acceptance far beyond what I ever deserved or what I still deserve. I was lost and I was jaded, but now I was lost, I am found, I am free, and I am happy. This is the home I never knew I dreamed of and now I am struggling to accept the idea that I must one day leave. 

I found home on a broken road and wouldn’t trade it for the world. 
-Anonymous 

The Library

I walked along the book covered walls to the back of the old library. The smell of old books makes me feel at home. I sat down at my usual table in the far corner, away from the rest of the world. Rarely did anyone else come back here. I laid my books across the table, stopping only to push my glasses back up the bridge of my nose and to tuck my long brown hair behind my ear. Time passed more quickly than I thought. I wasn’t sure how long I’d been sitting there, but my coffee had gone ice cold. I glanced at my watch. It was almost midnight. A yawn escaped my lips. Just a little bit more and I’ll head home. I had just turned to a new page in my book when a loud crash came from just a couple of rows over. I jumped. “Oh!” Curious as always, I slowly stood up and made my way toward the sound. Books were scattered into the aisle, some open, some closed. 

“Hello?” I said quietly. A groan came from around the corner, I followed it. A boy was kneeling over the books and stacking them. His blonde hair was long enough to cover his eyes from her view. I coughed to let him know I was there. He looked up, falling over when he saw me. He obviously didn’t think anyone was still here. 

“Oh,” I struggled not to giggle as he nearly fell trying to stand, he was taller than he looked, “I didn’t mean to startle you.” I pointed toward my table in the far corner, “I was sitting over there and heard the crash.” He brushed off his pants and nodded at me before leaning over to pick up some of the books. “Here, let me help you,” I smiled cheerfully and began picking up the books. 

“Thanks.” His words were barely audible, I almost thought that I had imagined it. I smiled in his direction and continued to stack the books back on the shelf. He still hadn’t even looked at me. We continued like this, in total silence, till there was only one book left. Both of us reached for it and our fingers touched only a moment before we bumped heads. We both fell to the ground with a thud, laughing as we held out hands to our foreheads. Then, our eyes met for the first time. His dark eyes widened when they met my sea green ones. I felt my cheeks flush behind my glasses. We stayed like that for a few seconds. I finally broke the silence.

“I always knew my hard head would get me in trouble one day,” a shy smile played on my lips as I waited for him to laugh at my joke. I wasn’t disappointed. He chuckled as a half smile appeared on his face. 

“Thanks for helping me with the books and all,” his voice was still quiet, barely above a whisper, but I liked the sound of it. He stood up and reached out his hand to help me. I paused, painfully aware of half grin and the chaos it was wreaking on my stomach, I reached the rest of the way. His large hand enveloped my small ones and with one quick yank he pulled me off the ground. I don’t think he expected me to be so light because when he did that, I flew into him. We steadied ourselves. 

“I’m so sorry,” his voice was finally above a whisper. I laughed.

“Totally fine, no worries!” I looked up at him, suddenly realizing his arms were around me and our faces were incredibly close. “No worries…” my voice trailed off into an embarrassed giggle. I think he realized our closeness too because he took a sudden step back. I brushed off my jeans and tucked my hair behind my ear. He cleared his throat.

“Tyler, Tyler Foster.” 

“Haley, Haley Martin.” I wanted to throw in more of a James Bond reference but the way he was looking at me made me forget.

“It’s a pleasure,” he grabbed my hand and brought it to his lips, “to meet you, Haley.” And kissed the back of my hand. Blood crept all the way down to my toes. No way of hiding that now… Then I noticed the red tint on his cheeks. At least I’m not the only one. 

“You as well.” I jokingly curtsied and he laughed. A voice rang out over our heads. 

The library will be closing in ten minutes.” 

“Is it already that late?” I pulled my phone from its place in my pocket and clicked the home button. 

12:50

I sighed. “I should probably go pack up my things.” He bit his lip and nodded.

“Yeah, me too.” I nodded back. But neither of us moved. 

“Maybe I’ll see you again.” My heart dropped a bit at his vague statement. I simply nodded my head in agreement, hoping he would catch the hint. He didn’t. “I’ll see you later, Haley.” He grinned, “Haley Martin.” 

“I’ll see ya around, Tyler, Tyler Foster.” I gave a small wave and turned to go back to my table. I gathered up my things, a small smile tugging on the corners of my lips.

I’ve always loved the library.

Wondering on Paper

I don’t know what hurts more… loving someone when they don’t love you back, or people loving each other but can’t be together. I’ve had a few friends talking to me this week and it just hurts my heart to hear them in so much pain. But what hurts worse? Loving someone with the whole of your heart and knowing that they don’t love you, or two people loving each other and knowing that they could never be together? Either way… what kind of life is that? 

You deserve to be happy and have someone love you and for someone to be with you…. I don’t understand people’s logic…