Marching band makes me sad and happy.

When I was in middle and high school, I wasn’t suicidal, but I didn’t want to be there. I was honest with my mom about those feelings when they became a bit too much; I said, “Mama, I promise you that I don’t want to die, I just don’t want to be here.”

First, concert band, and then, marching band, saved my life. It was because of a few reasons:

  1. Band teachers are incredible and they make you feel like you matter.
  2. Playing music as a band is the definition of “being part of something that is bigger than yourself.”
  3. Band people are weird and many are outsiders who don’t quite fit in anywhere else; it felt like home.

I went to the Drum Corps International Southeastern Championship in Atlanta last night with my fiancé. When the first marching band started performing, I automatically started to cry. I had a strong feeling that I would cry because I even have trouble holding back tears while listening to old band toons on Spotify as well. Something as impactful and as meaningful as marching band was bound to have an effect on me.

The title of this post is “Marching band makes me sad and happy”. For the reasons I listed above, marching band made and makes me happy. For these reasons, it makes me sad:

  1. Present day, I no longer play any instruments. When I see bands perform, I feel like I’m missing out.
  2. I have some of my best memories take place during my marching band years because of the people I was experiencing it with; even though I am still friends with some of those people, it’s just not the same.
  3. My anxiety, depression, and identity issues were at their peak while I was in marching band. Marching band was my escape, but when the games, competitions, and bus rides were over, it was back to a life that I hated.

DCI was amazing. This was my second time, and I would 100% go again, maybe in a different state.

An interesting journey I’m on…

Closing chapters from over ten years ago

For context, these posts might help to fill it some background for what you’re about to read: Mommy Issues & A Metaphorical Death.

Long story short, I dated my first girlfriend from age 15-17 after feelings developed the year before at age 14 (puts us in 9th grade FYI). I say “dated” very lightly because just 2-4 weeks after making things official, her mother caught wind of it and started putting up some pretty extensive barriers: transferring schools, blocking my number, confiscating technology, reading through said girlfriend’s phone, etc. We would communicate infrequently and inconsistently through apps and friends’ phones, seeing each other in person only at school/band events or by sneaking around her mom’s back. It was rough because all the while there was a multitude of mental health issues and even just figuring out identities as queer teenagers in the south of the US. It was a weird introduction to dating and being gay, just saying.

Anyway, this went on from about October 2012 to October 2014 (I think). That’s when we mutually ended things because it had just gotten to be too much. That same night, I reconnected with an old friend and dated her for 1.5-2 years too (we don’t like her too much, FYI).

Fast forward to mid-2016: my second relationship comes to an end and me and girlfriend #1 start texting “as friends”. As I’m sure ya’ll have guessed, we started hanging out more (night driving, swimming, sitting in the car and talking, lots and lots of texting because I was still unwelcome in her house). One night, while her parents were on a trip, she invited me over and we made a decision to try dating again. It only lasted maybe 36-48 hours. I remember having breakfast with my current best friend up in Atlanta and I can recall the excitement and the feeling of “it’s finally coming together” when I told her that we made this decision. Just hours after that, I started having doubts and reality did sink it. My plans of studying in Germany, joining AmeriCorps, finishing school, and moving out of my hometown hit me as more of a distant dream vs reality if I was going to choose this path right now.

Furthermore, there was the fact that we were very different people when we broke up and I don’t think we recognized each other any more. Part of me felt like it was a good thing and it would allow us to start over with a clean slate; however, the slate wasn’t clean. We were mixing past feelings of an unresolved relationship with current realities and new goals- it just wasn’t going to work without extreme effort and I guess it wasn’t worth it to put all other aspects of my life aside for something unknown like that. I also realized through my second relationship, that the acceptance of my partner’s family is important to me, and I knew that I would never get that with girlfriend #1. It just wasn’t worth it to try dating again. It was never going to work. Inside, 14-15 year old me was sad, but 18-19 year old me at the time was trying to be rational and not get into something complicated– again.

So, it’s been over 10 years since we started this “shebang”. It’s been a fucking doozy to say the least. We’ve maintained random and inconsistent contact, sometimes getting updates from social media or mutual friends. I’ve told every partner I’ve had about us because some form of contact would always happen. We also share an amazing friend group, and our gatherings have occurred more and more in the past 3ish years, so our interactions have been less forced, awkward, and weird.

Well, we got together as a group this past Sunday. Afterwards, we started texting again as we do every 6-12 months to catch up and she invited me to lunch to formally get up to speed on each other’s lives.

** My fiancé is quite informed of everything, so she’s been an incredible support. Girlfriend #1 also has a wonderful girlfriend of about 1 year, so she is also being very encouraging towards us. **

So, lunch with the ex. It sounds so much more dramatic than it was. We did kind of go down a rabbit hole, though, in regards to trying to piece together exactly what happened between us over the past 10 years (more so the first 2, and also 2016ish). Turns out that trauma has a way of taking parts of your memories, so we struggled to get an exact timeline of things.

So, that is the journey we are currently taking: after a pool party in a few weeks at our good mutual friend’s house, we are bringing forth all remnants of “us” and going through them together and then burning them- both physically and digitally. I want to close this chapter for good because every time we meet my brain goes to the unresolved. It’s distracting and it brings up a lot of anxiety because that time was nothing short of stressful and traumatic. Our solution to this sounds a little crazy, I know, and I can understand that, but unusual situations call for unusual and unique resolutions. This is what my ex said about it: “I feel like for a lot of people, sitting in a room with your ex, drinking and looking at old photos would be very weird, but for us it just seems like something that needed to be done way before now.” I agree with that 100%. Wish us luck.

I am feeling excitement.

We are halfway through 2022 and I am feeling extreme excitement. There have been a lot of mental changes in my brain and also some life changes that my fiancé and I have decided on. WordPress also has this cool new background color thing going on, so I thought I’d try it out! Let me know if it sucks, please!

  1. I have officially applied to some paid writing gigs. I’ve been writing in journals since I was 12 and I’ve had blogs for the past 5 years (no, I have never made money from them… mostly because I don’t know how). The point is that I have loved writing since always and I’ve just been too scared to try to make money with that skill because someone might tell me it’s not good enough or I won’t be successful. I would say that writing is my dream job because it can be done remotely and it’s something I love and I’m good at it. I can write a fictional story, I can do journal entries, and I can write an informational paper on the importance of bees.
  2. Colorado. I have dreamed of living in Colorado since high school. 10 years ago. Wow. I went on a trip with my mom to Colorado when I was about 14 or 15 years old and we went back one more time and I just haven’t ever let the dream go of living there. The landscape is just breathtaking. It’s so different than Georgia and I’m craving change. Not to mention, it’s a more liberal state, marijuana is legalized (mostly thinking in the medicinal sense), and it’s closer to my fiancé’s twin sibling.
  3. Tiny house living. When I was in Germany in 2017, I was planning what I would do between returning to the states and joining AmeriCorps NCCC. I created several folders in Google Drive dedicated to “van life” and “nomadic living”. I researched the best solar showers, portable refrigerators, and how to find places to park. Then, I arrived back in Atlanta, GA and found that I didn’t have the money or the time I thought I did in order to fulfill this goal. So I stashed it away. Fast forward 4 years and the topic of “going tiny” has come up again in a new form. Long story short (I will dedicate a blog post solely to this bullet point soon!), in about 2 years, we’re planning on selling the house, buying a tiny house, and moving to CO for the foreseeable future. Obviously a lot can happen between now and then, but you better believe I’m holding on to this dream because it escaped me once before. The reason for waiting is my fiancé’s job and our senior dog.
  4. Wedding season. Our wedding is in 2 months and we are somewhat prepared. I actually don’t have much to say on this topic except that I still want to elope and eat some cake already.
  5. Podcasts. I’ve been listening to some pretty cool podcasts recently. The tiny house obsession has lead me to topics surrounding minimalism and sustainability, so I’ve been learning a lot about how to live more sustainable for the environment, but also for myself. For example, I heard someone say that many people often fall into the trap of “when I get this, when I go there, etc., THEN I will be, I will feel, I will have, etc.” The reality of it is that we should already identify ourselves as what we want to be. This is how we trick our brain into acting how we want to act. Fake it till you make it at its finest, am I right?? Anyway, this lead me into personal development, career advice areas, and so forth. We come full circle because the podcasts and having a happy career and feeling fulfilled are what lead me to take a chance and apply to some writing gigs. We’ll see what happens, but I am already feeling more joy.

Dating with Intent

I did not come up with the title of the post. My friend told me about her recent dating experience and the topic of “taking dating more seriously” came up. We didn’t like that “title”, so she suggested “dating with intent”.

So, in regards to my friend, she explained that during her early college years she was partying, dating around, and not very focused on long term relationships/dating. Fast forward 5 years and she is now taking dating more seriously; she’s putting more thought into who she goes out with and she’s looking for someone to spend years with, not one or two nights.

I feel like I experienced a similar shift recently. I haven’t done a lot of short term dating. In fact, I’ve only dated one person for short term: 3 months. All other relationships have been 6 months- 2 years in length. However, I feel like my mindset through all of these was very scattered.

I’ve addressed my commitment issues before. In addition to those, I also had feelings of just not wanting to be in something long term. I just didn’t want it, so why did I keep falling into these things? I don’t have an answer for that.

My point is that even though I was in [mostly happy] long term relationships, I didn’t initially go into them wanting that. And, as the relationship progressed, I often found myself wanting to exit the situation for a variety of reasons. My body and mind is always go, go, go, and on to the next.

I’m not sure when the change in mindset or desires happens for people, but I think my own brain experienced a shift in the last 6 months. What I’m referring to is the “I wanna run around” mindset versus the “I want to settle down” mindset.

All of sudden, following the whirlwind that was my AmeriCorps NCCC experience, starting therapy, moving into a new house, starting a new job, and resuming my studies, I had the sudden and strong craving for stability and security.

I had moved countless times during 2018. After moving back home, I experienced daily anxiety and panic attacks caused by the simplest things. I entered a new work environment and stepped onto a changed university campus. And I kept up with it all, but I was tired. As the weeks went on, I accepted even more tasks and activities into my schedule, but it was exhausting.

Unexpectedly, I longed to slow down. I didn’t know how (that’s something I’m still working on), but I knew I needed to for my own mental and physical well-being. With this new feeling also came a daydream of coming home after work to a cozy house and to an unknown, blurry-faced, long-term partner.

Don’t ask me when, why, or how, but somewhere between May, June, and starting therapy, I was no longer interested running solo or running away.

Of course, those who read my blog know that I have since found a beautiful and amazing partner who is making all of my daydreaming come true. I feel differently within myself when I am with her and I think a large part of my current mindset is thanks to therapy. I also think there’s the natural maturity and growing older that makes people crave security. Whatever it was, I’m happy it happened.

Having a Life Outside of Your Romantic Relationship

The moment you go from single to taken, you tend to spend ALL of your free time with the new human in your life. This is normal. I think the first 2-3 months are very “honeymoonish” and you forget that you have hobbies, friends, and family. You might also forget that laundry, grocery shopping, and meal prepping were ever a thing you had time for.

Once you get settled in a relationship, both partners might resume their independent interests as well as start to combine them. I think this is SO important.

The topic of pursuing activities and events independently from your romantic partner is an interesting and tricky one for me. I am in full support of having your own friends. I also fully support merging friend groups. I support whatever works for whoever.

The issue that I have run across has been partners who are shocked to learn that I want to do things alone or only with my friends. In the past, its been taken VERY personally and it made me significantly decrease the amount of time I spent with anyone else who was not my partner. I learned later that that was very manipulative of them and that I should feel free to hang out with my friends whenever I please.

Currently, I am dating a lovely human. She and I both have our own friends. We have met most of each other’s friends and have spent time together with them, but we also regularly plan things independently of each other. It’s such a simple thing, but for me to spend time with my friends and not feel guilty about it is a new feeling for me.

So, my message to everyone is to keep living your own life even if you begin sharing it with someone else. If your partner doesn’t support your individual endeavors, then they are not the partner for you.

Easy to Get, Hard to Keep

The title of this post is one of the ways of how I would describe myself in romantic relationships/interactions. I have a long history of being the heartbreaker in relationships even if I was the one who initially sought out the other person.

I don’t know if there is one specific reason as to why I always am the person who ends things. Without insulting the people that I have been with, I think that maybe I got bored. I also know that I oftentimes got annoyed.

I have always felt like I was the more “mentally stable” person in the relationship. The first few people I dated has issues they did not want to address. The last person I dated took an initiative to better themselves for themselves. In both instances, I did feel like I was emotionally supporting both myself and the person I was dating. It was very draining.

This post isn’t meant to diss the people I’ve dated. I think it’s my fault for 1. getting involved and 2. letting things go as far as they did before I ended it. I also don’t wish to erase all the wonderful moments that happened in those previous relationships. While they were very complex, they all had simple moments of joy and love scattered throughout.

The main difference I have noticed within myself now and the me from back then is a willingness to be more vulnerable because it feels safe to do so. Because the woman that I am currently dating is in a mentally secure place, I feel okay to voice even the most minuscule of complaints or concerns. Before, I felt like I couldn’t mention any sort of “hardship” to my partner because it was always so incomparable to what they were experiencing.

I normally feel the urge to end things rather quickly in relationships, but I suppress the action and stay for the sake of being loyal and giving the whole thing a true try. So far, I have not felt this with Chelsea. I don’t want our time to end. I don’t want to run from this.

So, in conclusion, I feel that I have entered a very healthy relationship and I look forward to seeing how it continues on.

What’s the “right amount of time” anyway?

Many articles, people, and even licensed therapists recommend to wait at least 3 months after meeting/dating someone to put a label on the relationship. I, too, have followed this rule in my previous relationships, but this one feels quite different.

After having only known her for 3 weeks, I was ready to call her mine. I’m not normally so bold, but this just felt SO different and so right.

Well, it’s been 6 weeks now, and I have restrained myself from bringing up the conversation. I’ve decided to wait another 2 weeks. Maybe 3. My heart is sure, but my mind is still cautious. I also want to be respectful and cautious of her emotions and feelings towards that.

I had a long conversation with a friend about what I’m currently feeling towards Chelsea and she told me to “jump in”. She knows how cautious and how guarded I normally am, so my enthusiasm and quick attraction/attachment to this person was quite out of the ordinary for me.

As you all know, I have also been in therapy and that has also given me the courage to live my life more vulnerably- especially when it comes to love. I haven’t had the best examples of romantic love (my parents and my own relationships were not ideal exemplifications). When I met Chelsea, everything about her felt so foreign (in only the best of ways), it was like a lightbulb went off, “Oh, THIS is what it’s supposed to feel like!”

So, currently, things are still going really great. I’m so incredibly happy when Chelsea and I spend time together. I feel like I’m being 100% my authentic self and I don’t have to “act” or fake anything. It’s truly fantastic.

I have never been this forward with my feelings.

I decided to take a leap yesterday and tell Chelsea that I felt myself falling for her much quicker than I thought I would. I told her that I normally keep those more intense feelings to myself for at least 2-3 months, but that I couldn’t and just didn’t want to do that with her.

Luckily, her response was not a terrified one.

I met her friends on Saturday. They were great to be around. We went to one of their apartment complexes which had a pool. We floated, we ate, we mingled, and we left. Apparently, one friend referred to me as Chelsea’s girlfriend (a conversation we have not had) and I totally missed it, but Chelsea definitely heard it and internally freaked a little bit because of the fact that it hadn’t been discussed yet.

Chelsea and I spent over 30 hours together this weekend. That’s insane. I haven’t done that with someone since being in AmeriCorps and having to spend every waking hour with 7 other people.

We also had another important conversation. I told her that I was doing my best to see her for who she was presenting herself to be towards me instead of me seeing her through “rose colored lenses”. I have fallen so quickly and I want to be certain that the person I am falling for actually exists and is not this person I’ve created in my mind by ignoring certain parts of her.

I don’t think I’ve failed to see her as she is, but your brain can do some crazy things- especially in the first few months. So, I told her I really like her, but I am also keeping in mind the “honeymoon” phase of new relationships.

That is all.

Spending the night for the first time.

A few nights ago, I spent the night at Chelsea’s house for the first time. My roommate was celebrating her birthday and I was expecting things to get crowded and loud, so I made the decision to spend the night elsewhere, in hopes that maybe I would get some sleep.

Before you all get your hopes up for a dirty story, let me inform you that nothing happened, and I truly did go to her house to spend time with her and SLEEP.

She forewarned me that her mattress was quite firm, but I must say that it was actually very comfortable. I would even say that I am open to transition to a firmer mattress because when you’re sleeping with someone else, you’re less likely to both end up in the sometimes uncomfortable valley of the mattress.

It turns out that I sleep just the same with her as I do when I’m by myself. Waking up is, of course, much more enjoyable because her lovely face is just inches from my own.

Things are going well, ya’ll.

An Important Conversation

Chelsea (the woman I have been dating for a month) came over after work yesterday. The traffic-filled drive from her place of work to my house is absolutely godawful, so I really appreciate her making the trek.

We had a very healthy and vulnerable conversation yesterday. It concerned something along the lines of investing everything into something that might blow up in our faces. In other words, she (and I) are taking personal risks by emotionally investing in each other and the relationship we are building as humans; there is a fear there of it not working out, obviously. Then, all the risk and vulnerability would be “for nothing”.

I don’t think it would be for nothing. I don’t know how she would feel about that. I think that all of my experiences, good and bad, resulted in me becoming somehow wiser, more informed, and a little richer in life experiences. So, at the end of the day (or at the end of a relationship), I don’t think anything was “for nothing”.

Anyway, I could see how difficult some of that conversation was for her, so I’m really grateful that we were able to have it.

After I confessed that I was surprised by how quickly I started to feel attracted towards her, she confessed a similar statement. We talked about how easy it felt to talk to one another.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with her, my own insecurities and fears occasionally crept through my mind: what if I feel like this is it for me, but this is just the beginning of her experiences? I think it’s too soon to think that way, but that’s my brain. You’re welcome.