Someone To Have And To Hold

This was one of those times in her life when she wished she had a boyfriend. The thought did not cross her mind often, but today was one of those days when she wondered how much easier her life would be with someone to loyal support her at all times. She cuddled into her roommate’s dog and whispered these thoughts in his ear for no one else to hear. She asked “Will you go out with me? And love me? And support me?”, to which he responded “Yes” with his eyes to every question.

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The Oddity That Makes Life Worth Living

He was raised in the usual manner that unwanted puppies are, with an abusive hand that silenced his instincts — or at least that’s what they thought thanks to the way he cowered at anything raised above a human’s head. He had some odd ticks about him and some old habits that were hard to shake. He was perpetually scared of vacuums, fly swatters, and raised voices. And although it was his instinct to run away from the face of danger, and to keep running for longer than necessary, there was a loyalty in him that toughed it out for the sake of his human. He had learned to trust him despite the lack of loyalty and love that he experienced in his puppy years. He learned that a raised object over his human’s head would not be thrown in his direction, and that vacuums are for cleaning up his shedding fur not to torture him. He learned that he just had to ask in order to be let outside and if he did not run away then he could be trusted to roam as he pleased.  He slowly accepted the fact that “chase” was not a game his human enjoyed for hours around the neighborhood and that it was a more rewarding experience to stay close to his best friend’s side. And although it was in his nature to be fiercely loyal to his human, he learned to love others as well and accept them as temporary humans when his one and only had to go where he couldn’t. He somehow learned to trust that he would never be left behind and that his human would always return for him — because neither of them could live life without the other.

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Blind Acceptance

Mo could tell there was something different about his human lately. He was no longer leaving the house and he had began to disappear into video games as if he was hiding from real life. And as any loyal dog would, he stayed right by his human’s side and hid with him. It was almost as if he was tracking his human’s every move, which he did by instinct usually, but this time it was different. He could sense that something was off this time and was paying close attention to the person he cared most about in this world. Because when his human suffered, he could not help but suffer as well. Mo had witnessed his human in dark times in the past, but again, this time was different. There was a tone about it that invoked caution, not sympathy — because he was headed down a dangerous path of introversion. His tendencies to stay secluded, allow friends to come to him, and spontaneously take adventures as others presented them to him usually worked out for Mo. He was alright with staying dedicated to one human and leaving the rest to fend for themselves. He had grown attached to his human’s sister, but not in the same loyal way that he was with him. He would walk through fire and back to save the man he cared about most, and he was fully prepared to do so.

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The Job I Never Asked For But Always Needed

I never intended to be her mother, and I never wanted to steal that role away from the woman who can rightfully claim it. In fact, I had declared on multiple occasions that I would never become a mother if I had anything to say about it and that rearing a child was not in my future. It’s not that I don’t enjoy children, in fact they are some of my favorite kind of people, but I never felt the motherly urge to want to raise mini versions of me. I am open to the idea of adoption, and that’s essentially what was handed to me the year after I graduated college. I never asked for it, but I never really knew what to ask for in life anyway. Life knew what I needed to be handed, and that was Colleen. She is my little sister by birth, but has become my daughter by accident. Mom and Dad never intended to abandon her, and Mom in fact did not physically do so but Colleen was left standing all alone her senior year of High School and I was drawn back to her to cater to her needs. I fed her as best I could off of three jobs and worked through weekends until I was promoted to a job that could pay for so much more. I looked forward to returning to her every evening after work and sharing dinner with her when I could. I double checked that she had everything she needed to succeed in school and celebrated her good grades. I delivered lunch to her at work when I had a spare 30 minutes and slipped her extra cash when I was able. I paid for her life when she allowed me to — because she had proven time and time again that she was a capable adult at the age of 13. She had her life more together than I had in years, yet she needed me and I needed her. I needed a best friend who would forgive me for all wrongs I had done in the past, and she needed a mom who encouraged her to get out and experience what life has to offer. I needed a reminder that life is more than a pursuit of intoxication and she needed someone who encouraged her to let go. I needed to find stability and she needed to be pushed outside of her comfort zone. She needed an older guide through life, and although I had no idea which direction I was headed in, I was thankful for the company along the way. I wanted to pass down my limited wisdom and tell her that life is not meant to be stressed over but rather enjoyed, and I needed to hear those same words echo throughout my life.
I never wanted to feel responsible for another human being and I never wanted the pressure of leading a new soul through this world. I am anxious that I will let her down and that one day she will look up and realize that I am only human and not the ideal role model she needs in her life. I am worried that one day she will no longer need me and no longer see the value in me that I struggle to see without her eyes. I am worried that one day the facade that I can do no wrong will fall and I will be left to be raised by her instead. I’m worried that I cannot make this last and that when she graduates college and moves across the country for Graduate School, I will become irrelevant. I am nervous that she will move on with her life and move on without me, and I am worried that I will not know what to do when I am no longer playing the role I told myself I never wanted to play in the first place. I am worried that I will lose her to life and that this bond that we have created will lessen with time and distance and that the relationship we had once depended on so heavily will cease to be what we remember it fondly as. I am worried that our prime is over and that she is grown up and no longer needs me as much as I need her. And I am worried that if I am no longer playing the role of secondary mother for her, that she will not forget how to be my sister. I am terrified of losing my best friend and daughter to the world and that she will never find her way back into my life. And I am incredibly sad that I feel an era coming to an end. She no longer needs me to take her to her first music festival, and no longer seeks my advice when encountering a new drug. She can plan her own road trips and navigate her life expertly without assistance. She can pay for her own food better than I can pay for my own, and she makes better food than I have the skill to create. She is making plans for her life without consulting me first and is confident that she is making the right decisions for herself. She will be graduating college in just a few months and I will no longer be known as a mother to her and her friends. I will no longer have a house that I am welcomed at as a matriarch and I will no longer have life updates to check in on them with. I will have to move on from mothering and I am terrified that they all might forget what I have given them in the past and to stay in touch with me. I don’t want to move on because I have never felt so loved before in my young life, and I have never felt so much irrational love for one individual. I am afraid that the love will not be enough to return to when she has all the answers for her own life, and that I will be left all alone again trying to figure out what to do on my own. I am terrified that this is a relationship with an expiration date and that I am rapidly and carelessly approaching that deadline without having any backup plan to make it last longer. What will I do when she no longer needs money from me? And what will I do when she no longer calls me when she needs to talk through an important decision? Who will I be without her as my dependent? And who will I care for when she is gone? And who will care for me when she no longer sees the point in it? I have to grow up because she is, and I don’t want to be an adult. I want to be a mother and I want to find comfort in knowing that I am needed. I want to serve a purpose in other’s lives and I want my influence to be welcomed and thanked. I don’t want to be forgotten, but the passing of time only works against that aim. I have to find a way to stay connected with her and involved in her life without smothering her because I no longer know who I am without her.

I Never Asked For This

My healthy practices did not begin out of a love for my body and a love for myself. They did not develop simultaneously with a sense of enlightenment and I still cannot tell you what the meaning of life is. My quest for happiness did not begin out of boredom or restlessness, and I did not choose to embark on it consciously. I have no idea what I am doing and no clue what direction to head in. This was not a well thought out plan and it was not one that I was recommended by an enlightened individual. I had no idea what I was asking for when I invited love into my life and I had no idea that after the invitation I would have so much trouble finding it. I did what I was told to do in order to find illusive “happiness” — I repeated the mantra “I love myself” countless times, tried to find value in my body, and embraced my mind and the thoughts it has the power to create. I started exercising and paired my diet down to the essentials that my ancestors ate in order to treat my body like a temple. I worked a high end job with a well paying salary but took time in my work day to enjoy flowers. I sought to be proud of the status I held in life and for someone to finally turn around and recognize it. I spent obligatory time with family and friends, and reminded myself that I am told those are the moments worth living for. I wanted all the accomplishments and recognition for finding a happier path in life and I wanted to be a poster child of progression for others. I wanted to embody self-love, or at least I told myself I did.
I did not realize that I needed love in my life until it was almost too late. I did not choose this path to happiness, instead I was forced down it if I wanted to continue living at all. It was my only option besides suicide or accidental death and I saw no other direction to head in besides up. I needed tragedy in order to recognize that there is so much more to this life than I saw at first. I needed everything to be stripped away from me without a choice in order to realize what I really wanted. I cannot imagine that everyone who seeks happiness needs to hit a proverbial rock bottom first, but I did. I needed no other option but to learn to love myself, because it was the one thing I was terrified of doing. What if I didn’t find value in my actions? And what if everything I have done in life so far held no significance? What if I find that I have no future and that I have been over shooting with my expectations my entire life? And what if I discover that I am the one thing that is preventing me from being happy? All of these questions scared me away from ever seeking a truthful answer, until one day I had no other option but to face my fears. I cannot recall the day that it happened and I cannot remember the moment when I decided to invite love into my life along side the hate I always held against myself. I don’t know what made me do it, besides having an overwhelming feeling that life could not go on in the same manner it always had for me, otherwise it might be my preemptive end. I was terrified of forever losing a sense of what happiness is, and I fought out of a corner to rediscover how to incorporate it into me once again. I was not always terrified of love — but it was only once I thought I didn’t deserve it in life that I craved it most. I did not choose to find it, I was forced to in the end.
My Yoga practice did not start from a desire to strengthen my body and find peace of mind — it began because I had trouble breathing out of panic. My healthy diet did not begin because I wanted to treat my body kindly and only give it what it was meant to naturally process — it began because I could not keep any food down thanks to an anxious stomach and acid reflux. And my writing did not begin to flow out of me because I had enlightened ideas to share with the world — it began because I had so much in my mind that was unprocessed and torturing me that I needed a release. I was a terrified animal, cornered into facing love and it was a fight and struggle to get out of that corner of hate that I had grown to feel irrationally safe in. I did not choose to face my fears, they came to face me when I thought I had nothing left to live for. I faced the fear that I was sick and broken by proving myself wrong with yoga practice and climbing mountains. I faced the fear that I hated myself by writing down the exact opposite every day and reminding myself that there were aspects of me that I felt value for. And I faced my fear that tragedy had broken the person I used to be by asking myself who I wanted to grow to be instead. I would still say that I struggle with finding love and happiness in my life, but I know that there is no other choice but continue searching and following the path I have set myself on, because there is no turning back. That is simply not an option because that would mean the end of my life. I was so close to ending it before I had a survival instinct to keep my head on and chin up — and I listened earnestly to what that instinct had to say and clung onto it like a life vest in the midst of a shipwreck. I still have so much to learn, but I am learning to listen to myself and damn the opinions of others. I am learning that I need to find my own path to “happiness” and that no one else can share it with me. It is not a lonely path, but it is one of self-discovery and painstakingly slow progress because the journey is what I am seeking, not the end. I do not believe that there is truly an “end” to this search and I know that I will spend the rest of my life wandering, looking for the fruits of my labor to indulge in. I know that I will forever be growing and changing, and I can easily end up right back where I started if I lose track of my own progress. I know that this is never ending, and it terrifies me to commit to something so uncertain with no guaranteed reward, but the thrill of it makes me feel alive again.

An Old Dog

The dog of the house had grown used to lounging around without much purpose any more. Usually he spent his days investigating his yard, finding the most comfortable spot on the couch, and begging for food when it was available. Stretching was a highlight of his interactions with others and he would slowly crawl out of his comfortable position and extend into a full body downward dog pose in front of those who had awaken him from his deep slumber. He peeled himself off the ground slowly, as that is all his old bones will allow and stretched into a walking position with his joints appearing to strain with the movement of the old man who was kept locked up too often.
He remembers the times when he would run the trails every day and had a daily patrol of his neighborhood. He has a young spring in his step when he is reunited with the trees and the earth that he grew up playing in, but there is something so old about him now. He can appear to be a puppy again at times, but he is slowly getting older and it is slowly beginning to show. He seems to creak when he moves and need time to warm up his fragile body. He moves cautiously now and slower than before so that his human friends could actually keep up and he can take in more scents and scenery. He used to move erratically and all over the place, searching for the squirrel that he smelled hints of on a tree, darting in, out and over the foliage of the forest and barely allowing it to slow him down. He used to be young, free and full of more energy than I would ever possess. But times continues to pass and he continues to change in the slightest of ways.
“Good morning my handsome boy,” is my greeting for him every morning, where I find him cuddled up on the couch that I had vainfully tried to keep him off of. He had grown cocky with age however and would only stretch and wink at me in response before snuggling down even further into the cushions. The kinks in his legs seemed to not exist when cuddled up on the couch and he stretched and moved into curled up and contorted positions to continue on with his marathon like nap. He spent most of his day on the couch now versus on the trails. He seemed to fit in perfectly with both, however one made him look young beyond his years while the other made him appear ten years older than he actually is. In his old age he found comfort in copious amounts of rest and hours spent in the woods and he learned how to convey his need of both. He had always been a communicative dog, and I constantly reminded him to “Use his words” instead of do silly things like drink out of the toilet or pee in the house. If only he could use his words however, maybe he would tell his owner that he was bored now a days, and that despite his old age his was not entirely happy with spending entire days inside. Maybe he could tell his owner that keeping him locked up and bored would only make him older with time, while roaming on the trails and in the neighborhood kept him young. Maybe he would be able to share that daily walks would be good for both of them. He would say all kind of things, that I am sure of, but I think his first thought would be “I’m bored.” Sometimes he looks at me and that’s all I see written across his aging face. I do what I can to help ease him into his age and physical constraints, but I also do everything within my power to keep him young and moving. I know that sitting around without purpose makes me feel old and useless, and I can only imagine how useless a lazy herding dog feels without anything to herd. He does not receive excitement every day and there are those days when I cannot be bothered to entertain him or myself. But most days he reminds me to get outside and get out of my own head. He is my best friend and adventure partner and I do not know what I will do without him one day. So I do my best to keep him young and entertained. I do my best to take him out on trails and encourage him to say hello to other dogs. And I do my best to make up for the fact this his true best friend and owner had somehow forgotten what it took to take care of him. He had so much time and love invested in him when he was younger, that maybe his owner now feels that his work is done? Or maybe he just takes the companionship for granted and forgot to return the favor of loyalty and love. He began to take for granted the loyalty of his dog and his dog began to expect that adventures and exercise come from other people, not the one who owns him.
It is a shame that such an amazing and love filled dog is so neglected by the one person he unconditionally loves. It makes me sad that he is not paid the attention he requires any longer and I do my best to make up for it. Maybe I spoil him unnecessarily and he hurts less than I see in his eyes, but something tells me that he needs more attention than he is receiving. Something tells me that he has been ignored for too long. And while unemployed and sitting around at home, the very least I can do is get outside and stretch my legs with him. He keeps me healthy and I attempt to do the same in return. The trails will never be the same again without him, and I am to never lose my trail buddy as long as I can help it. He is not my dog to claim, but he is one of my best friends and I feel the compulsion to care for him all the same. I feel the heart wrenching desire to do all I can to make this old dog comfortable and live a happy last few years of his life. I hate to be morbid and say the end is near, but he is getting older and that is a reality that I cannot ignore for long.

Denial

If I’m being completely honest with myself: I would admit that I have a smoking problem that it is killing me slowly; I would see that smoking is getting in the way of other things I want to accomplish and making me lose motivation for things I once cared about; I would see that I am too hard on myself because I take the easy way out in many situations and I know I can do better; I would admit that I am lost at this point in my life and I’m not quite sure what to do with myself anymore and if I really even see value in myself anymore. I would admit that I am caught in a complex of my own creation and that I am my own worst and best partner for progress. I take ten steps forward in one day, and lose all of them the next. I remind myself that I am spoiled and that’s the only reason I created this complex, because I am bored and not willing to put down my vices and put in the work the way I used to. I almost feel as if I worked hard enough in my youth so it gives me a free pass to fuck off now. But that’s not the case. I have seen my progress slip away just as easily as my health and I convince myself that I can’t be bothered to deal with what life just hands me. I used to have motivation and determination before I discovered what a release intoxication is. But I don’t think it is a release for me any longer. I know that it is hurting me more than it is helping and I keep lying to myself everyday in spite of it. Part of me thinks I don’t deserve a happy healthy life, but the larger part of me knows that I have just been too lazy to pursue it lately. I am lost and have been for so long that I can think of no other way to live. I like having the excuse that I can’t do any better because it was not laid out for me in life. I long the path that is just handed to me and one where I don’t have to truly work at anything. I have convinced myself that it is alright that I am under achieving because I spent so much of my youth trying to over shoot all goals. I had to teach myself how to be less of a perfectionist and somewhere along the way I lost track of what it was like to be like that in the first place. I’ve allowed the images of my past to haunt my future and remind me of what could have been and what I never worked to obtain. I trust myself, but do not trust that I always make the right decisions when they are difficult. I don’t know who I am anymore and I am trying desperately to rediscover that, but allow the influences and opinions of others to derail me. I thought I was on the path to happiness by doing yoga, writing, and learning to do less harm to myself. I thought that because my health has improved and I have not had a vomiting attack that I was actually making progress. I looked back at where I came from though and am ashamed of where I started from versus where I am today. I allow the disappointment in myself from the past taint my future and never truly forgive myself for my past transgressions. Thoughts, words, and actions that I regret linger with me for years and I apologize to others for my selfish actions before they ever even take place. I know that there are those who admire me for what I have done in life, and at moments I can find a way to admire myself, but that is easily forgotten again in the face of another inevitable mistake that I’ve made because I’m only human. I expect so much out of myself that I know I will never be satisfied, but I also know that that shouldn’t stop me from trying. I have tried to rationalize with myself and lower the standards I am held to, but in the end my mind wanders further than I am willing to make my body go and I set expectations that i know I can never reach. I find comfort in being a failure somehow. Always succeeding in my youth set me up for impossible expectations and there was always a piece of me that wanted to be the child who fucked their life up and was infamous among my classmates for breaking all the rules. I was such a rule follower, trusting in the words and decisions of others to get me to the right place in the end. But as I grew older, I realized that those people I had trusted were just making it up as they went along. I trusted in the ideas and words of others to fulfill me and as I grow older I realize that they never will. I am attempting to blaze my own path now, but I have no standards to set it against and I have no idea where I am headed. I keep telling myself to trust in my gut, but my gut has been so angry and violent for years that I am no longer sure if it is really a friend I want to hold close. I have trouble trusting myself at all until I go to share advice with others and they seem to accept my words warmly and with deep thought. There are few who I trust to speak the truth to me, but there are many who I am trusted by for speaking the truth. The image others hold of me is foreign and imaginary in my mind, and it is hard for me to fathom the image of the older sister which my younger sister praises and looks up to. I receive admiration from others, but it never sinks in completely and I am always there to doubt their kind and supportive words before they can get under my surface. I could be doing so much more in life, and I know that despite what others have already applauded me on accomplishing. I am a lazy piece of shit and I have been telling myself that for so many years that I have actually come to believe it. I see no chance of redemption and I never give myself the opportunity to truly be redeemed. I work hard and try to appease myself, but in the end it is never good enough. I want the impossible and I will never be satisfied until no one on this earth has a single bad opinion about me expect for myself. And even then I will hold my inner criticism dear despite being exponentially outnumbered. There could be a million yaysayers in my life and I will still stubbornly be the only naysayer left. I cannot seem to forgive myself for something, and I cannot figure out what it is. Until I do though I know that I will never truly love and support myself. I rely upon others to do that for me so that I can continue beating myself down in opposition to their support. I truly don’t know what is so detestable that I do not want to remember or forgive myself for, but I know that there is something deep in my soul that will not allow me to rest until I pay it the attention it needs. But I am not ready for that. Instead I hold the hate like a close friend and refuse to let that familiar part of me go. Who would I be without hate? And who would I become if I only saw love? I am terrified of taking that leap and losing all sense of who I am.