Rain

When the rain begins to fall, and the skies begin to darken, I think about my own mind. Depression threatens to intrude upon my happiness like the looming clouds threaten to choke out the light of the sun. The rain falls from the sky like tear drops down my cheeks as the last remaining rays of light slowly disappear. But then, something magical happens. The rain falls and falls, bringing with it sadness, but something else as well. There’s hope. Hope that the day will become brighter again. Hope that tomorrow will be better. Hope that this rain will wash away all of the cobwebs from your soul and give you a new sense of life, feeling, and belonging. And as you look outside your window, you realize that it is all true. The rain washes away all of the dust, pollen, and grime that cakes the world outside. But when the rain stops falling, and the clouds go away, don’t think about the mud that’s left behind. Rather, look upwards towards the sky as the sun begins to shine once more. A rainbow will appear even after the worst storm as a reminder that things will get better. They always get better. And as the flowers begin to soak in all the nutrients from their freshly watered soil, remember that growing is a process. Rain makes the flowers grow stronger, just like tears make the heart grow fonder. 

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Enlightenment

There was an eerie silence in the abbey that day. The morning prayers had been said, and the nuns had quietly floated their way back into the solitary confinement of their tiny rooms. Lilly Madison, tired of a morning spent all alone, slowly and carefully turned the smooth silver knob of her dark wooden door and slipped into the empty hallway. The door let out a silent whisper of protest as it shut behind her. Glancing in both directions, Lilly glided gracefully down the stairs. The smooth beads of her silver rosary swayed back and forth as she pushed past the heavy wooden doors to the chapel and made her way down the aisle towards the heavily adorned altar. She glanced briefly up at the image of Christ before kneeling at the foot of the cross.

This was unnatural for a nun of her status. As a new member of the convent, she knew that she was not supposed to be wandering the halls alone, nor was she allowed to enter the chapel without a guardian; however, none of this stopped her from slipping her rosary from around her neck and letting the cool beads grace the soft tips of her fingers. With each bead her fingers passed, she prayed a small prayer: one for guidance, one for forgiveness, one for peace and understanding. She prayed for strength, and that God would provide her with the means to accomplish her task.

During the many days, weeks, and months that she had spent alone in her room praying and meditating over the scriptures, she had come to an enlightenment like no other. Lilly truly felt as though God had spoken to her directly, but she kept it quiet for fear of condemnation from the other nuns. She was well respected by everyone, a promising new nun surrounded by a cloud of potential. The abbess had become quite fond of her, and had taken her on as somewhat of an apprentice, mentoring her in the ways of the abbey and helping her to reach a new level in her relationship with Christ. Every day, Lilly fell to her knees in sovereign adoration and prayed that God would make her more like the abbess. After months of waiting for an answer, she finally felt as though she had discovered the very will of God.

The sturdy sound of the chapel bells pounded her out of her thoughts and pulled her to her feet. The abbess would be making her way to the garden for afternoon prayers. Her time to act was now. Rosary in hand, she eased her way out of the chapel. A brilliant smile spread its way across her rosy cheeks. The beads now felt warm in her hand, and she clutched them tightly to her chest as she cascaded down the hallway, through the front door, and across the lawn to the prayer garden.

The gate let out a scream of resistance, startling the abbess from her afternoon prayers.

“Lilly? What are you–”

There was hardly enough time to react before Lilly wrapped the silver string of beads tightly around the neck of the abbess. Pulling her to the ground with all of her weight, she held fast to the rosary, making sure to cut off all air as the abbess struggled for a breath. No screams could be heard as her face slowly changed from a rosy pink to a deep shade of blue. Lilly stroked the hair of her suffocating mentor and began to pray.

“Lord, guide me in my mission to serve you. Cover me with your grace and protection. Allow me to complete the task that you have so clearly made known to me. Give me the peace and understanding to know that your will must be done. Forgive me of my transgressions, and help me to forgive those who have done me wrong. Restoreth my soul, and lead me down the path to righteousness. Guide me as you have guided the mother abbess, and allow me to continue on with her vision for the future of the church. Bless her in death as you have in life, and lead her safely to the pearly gates of heaven. In Christ’s holy name I pray, Amen.”

 

Deep from the Bottle

Tate looked at his watch. Any minute now his plane would be landing, and he would be back in his home town for the first time in ten years. A loud dinging filled his ears as the flight attendant announced their arrival in Cincinnati. He snapped his seatbelt into place and braced himself for the bumpy landing. As he stepped off the plane and into the terminal, he almost immediately heard the loud squeals of his mother as she came barreling towards him.

“My baby!” she cried, tears streaming from her bright blue eyes. Tate wiggled uncomfortably, trying his best to squeeze his way out of her tight grasp. She stepped back, wiped her eyes, and smiled a sad smile. “I’ve missed you so much,” she said in almost a whisper.

“I’ve missed you too, mom.”

Tate lugged his single suitcase behind him as his mom led him through the maze of people and back to her tiny bright green mini cooper. “Don’t you just love it?” She held out her arms towards the car as though she were Vanna White showing off her prize. The bold green color made him feel queasy, but he nodded his head and climbed inside.

As they rolled out of the airport parking lot, Tate’s mother chattered happily about all the things she had been up to since the last time they had talked. He only half listened as he peered out the window. The town that he had grown up in flew past him like scenes from an old movie. Each one brought back memories he had hoped to forget.

On the corner of the street at the shell station sat thirteen-year-old Tate, his hands clinched tightly. He shivered as a drop of sweat slithered down his spine. He looked as though he were waiting for someone and glanced suspiciously in every direction. Before he even had the chance to react, his friend Craig came bounding out of the store full speed. “Run!” he screamed, and the two of them took off towards the alleyways. Craig tossed him the stolen liquor and soon they were safely tucked away behind a dumpster. Tate took a sip and let himself slowly slip into bliss.

“So are you excited for your reunion?” His mother’s question pulled him out of his thoughts and brought him back to reality. Reunion? He had almost completely forgotten about that, but it was the only reason he had come back. Tomorrow was the day of his ten year high school reunion, the one he hadn’t even wanted to attend. However, his therapist had suggested that he go. “It will be good for you to face your past,” she had said. Tate wasn’t sure if he agreed with her, but decided to give it a try. As they pulled into the driveway of his childhood home, he was hit hard with a painful flashback.

There he was, only fifteen, holding a brown paper bag in between his shaking hands. It was a quarter past midnight, and he knew that he was way past his curfew. He took a deep drink from the bottle and tossed the bag out behind the bushes. As he stumbled into the house, the lights flicked on and his angry father sat menacingly on the couch. “Are you drunk?!” he barked as Tate fumbled into the room. Tate laughed and tripped over the rug.

“Earth to Tate!” His eyes blinked as his mother waved her hands in front of his face. “Come on inside! I’m making dinner.”

Up in his room, Tate glanced around at all of his old things. It was just as he had left it. A model airplane that he and his dad had started working on still laid half unfinished on his old desk. A pair of dusty sneakers were thrown lazily into the corner, and his pillows were tousled as though he had slept there the night before rather than ten years ago. “I wonder…” he said to no one in particular as he leaned down to feel underneath his bed. Just as he had suspected, his fingertips gently grazed the cool metal of an empty flask. As he pulled it out, he was hit with another memory.

Screaming. That’s all he heard as he angrily threw his things into his bag. He was eighteen. He was an adult. He wasn’t going to let them tell him what to do anymore. Tate took a swig from his flask as his mother continued to bang her fists into his locked bedroom door, demanding that he open it. He continued to pack his back, ignoring her furious cries. Suddenly, the door flew open, and his dad came barreling in. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” Tate could smell the alcohol on his breath. He laughed. “As far away from you as I can,” he said smoothly as he stared deep into his father’s eyes. His father stumbled towards him, fists flying, but Tate dodged his swings and quickly ran out the door. “I don’t need him. I don’t need any of them!” he thought to himself, and soon he was flying down the highway.

The flask made a loud clang as it hit the hardwood floor. Tate blinked. He was back in his room. Back in his town. It was as though nothing had even changed. No. Something had changed. Someone was missing. Another flashback came.

The call had come late at night while his cellphone sat on the counter of the bar. It was a number he recognized. His mother’s. Tate ignored it and called to the bar attendant for another drink. His phone continued to buzz noisily. He continued to ignore it. The dinging sound let him know that he had a new voicemail. Should he even listen to it? He hesitated for a moment, but finally decided to press play. “Tate…” his mother said softly. “It’s your father. He’s dead.” Tate dropped the phone. He could hear it clang against the hard floor as he the threw his bottle of whiskey across the counter. It smashed against the wall sending tiny shards of glistening glass trickling around the room. The hot tears burned as they fell.

Liver disease. That’s what had killed him. His excessive drinking has finally caught up to him, sending him to the grave at only fifty years old. He was too young to die. Tate picked up the empty flask and threw it at the wall. After his father had died, he had stopped drinking altogether. It had been hard, but he knew he wasn’t ready to face his father’s same fate. It hadn’t been easy. How many times had the bottle called out to him, tempting him with just one tiny sip? He closed his eyes. The pain cut him deep. His father had tried to stop him. Tried to make him better. But his own abusive use of alcohol had lead Tate spiraling down the same path towards destruction.

The sound of his mother downstairs in the kitchen, the haunting chime of the clock in the hall, the creaking of the wooden floor beneath his feet. It was almost too much to bare. The memories. The heartache. The pain. He shouldn’t have come back. He shouldn’t be here. Tate flung open the door of his closet and desperately threw out all of his things. “Where the hell is it?!” he snarled between clenched teeth before feeling his hand touch the smooth surface of a well-hidden bottle. He grasped the bottle between his shaking hands and raised it towards the ceiling. He knew what he should do. He knew that he needed to smash it, to rid himself of this poison for good. But something inside of that bottle called out to him once more. His pain, too great to bare, threatened to break him, but the bottle, he knew what it could do. He knew it could make him forget all of this.

His sudden burst of energy now gone, Tate sank to the floor on his knees, cracked open the bottle, and took a deep drink. He felt the warmth of the liquor as the tears began to fall.

Keeper of Memories

Collect things—that’s what I do. Yard sales, garage sales, thrift shops, consignment stores—these places are where I belong. There are so many treasures out there. So many things that people just want to throw away. Valuable things! Things that could use just a little bit of love. Some things just need a little paint. Sometimes its as simple as dusting them off and giving them a good cleaning before ta-da! They look brand new! Hoarder? No. No, I wouldn’t call myself that. I’m a collector. I collect things. That’s what I do! Who says I have a problem? I can see no issue with the way I live. These things, my things, they’re my treasures. Can you not see how each one of these items needs me? How I need them? Well, just let me tell you. Let me tell you, and then you will realize that I am not a hoarder. Oh no, I’ve never been a hoarder.

Ever since I was little, I have always held on to things: paper clips, receipts, dolls, stuffed animals, shoes, clothing, books, you name it. Why, you may ask? Well you see, each and every thing has value. You may think I’m a hoarder now, but just wait. I will show you how I am not a hoarder. I will show you how each and every item I own has meaning, or, a purpose if you will. Do you see this right here? This is the very first toothbrush that I ever bought. Garbage, you say? Blasphemy! You just don’t know how to repurpose it. Now think of it like this, and I swear you will understand why I must keep it. I may not be able to use this old thing for my teeth anymore, but what about cleaning other things? I can use it to scrub my watch collection, and to get into those tiny cracks in the floor. I can also use it to polish the dirt and dust off of my shoes! What do you think of that? Oh, well now you must be wondering why I need a whole collection of old toothbrushes. That’s simple! I don’t want to use the same toothbrush to scrub my watch collection that I used on the floor or my shoes! Are you finally beginning to understand? I am a collector! A treasure hunter! I have many titles, but I can assure you that hoarder is not one of them. “Oh, but look at all this mess!” You say. What mess? I see no mess! I only see possibilities. And memories. So many memories.

Do you see this porcelain doll? Her face may be broken, and she may be missing a limb–or two–but that’s not the point! I’ve had her since I was little. She was my best friend—my only friend. She may not look like much now, but at one point she was stunning! Her hair was a rich red, her eyes a brilliant blue. Her dress wasn’t a dingy shade of mustard like it is now, but a yellow as bright as the sun itself! She was there through it all, the sadness, the tears, the angry shouts emerging from my parents’ bedroom at two in the morning, the abuse that I watched my mother go through, and the abuse that was soon turned on me after she died. She was there for me when my father locked me in the closet for misbehaving, when he forced me to use my own toothbrush to clean the entire house on my hands and knees, when he told me I was worthless, selfish, and unworthy of any love from him, and even when he blamed me for the death of my mother. So you see, it was only fair of me to be there for her when my father pulled her from my arms and threw her against the wall, when her pretty little face shattered into a million tiny pieces across the kitchen floor. I picked up every little chip and placed them all into this plastic bag because it was my turn to take care of her.

I cannot let go of anything because each item I own represents a small part of who I am. So, think of me as a keeper of memories. A collector of all things that once were. The one who brings life to the things forgotten. But never, and I mean never, call me a hoarder.

Memories: Part Three- Field Trip

It was a cold and dark morning. The sun was still fast sleep behind the misty mountaintops as we lined up outside of my middle school waiting for the Greyhound buses to arrive. On one side of me stood my mother, all wrapped up in a warm winter coat, trying her best to fight off the early morning chill. On the other side of me sat my suitcase, packed full with enough clothing to last me for the three-day, two-night field trip I was about to go on with my sixth grade class. In my arms was Mr. Bear. I had pulled his hood up onto his head in order to keep him warm, and I held him tightly against my chest. While most girls my age were embarrassed by their stuffed toys, I paraded mine around proudly. I had no shame and couldn’t care less if the others thought he was childish. There was no way that I was going to let him miss out on the exciting adventure I was about to have at the Atlanta Zoo.

When the busses finally arrived, the smell of exhaust filled my nostrils and nervousness began to creep through my veins. As a “grown-up” twelve year old, I felt as though it was childish for me to be feeling this way, so I did my best to put on a face of indifference as I shoved my suitcase into the bottom of the bus. My mother pulled me into a tight hug as the tears began to roll down her cheeks. “Your first time ever going away from home!” She said between sobs as I desperately tried to wiggle from her tight grasp. “Mom! People are beginning to stare!” I said as she held me tighter. “Let them stare!” She cried. “I don’t care! I’m going to miss you!”

When it was finally time to board the bus, I turned to look back at my mother. She was smiling as the tears continued to flow from her eyes. I smiled and waved back, trying my best to keep up my bravery charade. Once I was seated comfortably on the bus, I sat Mr. Bear snuggly in my lap and waved out the window to my mother one last time. Despite my valiant attempt to remain brave, a single tear still managed to escape from my eye as the bus began to make its way out of the parking lot.

Memories: Part Two- My Tenth Birthday

February 9th, 2004 was the day that I turned ten years old. My childlike mind was full of excitement over the fact that I was finally turning a two-digit number. “Turning ten is a big deal,” I remember my dad telling me. “You’re no longer a little kid anymore. You’ve officially joined the big kids club!” This, of course, filled my little heart with pride, and my excitement for the day only grew stronger. My mother was busily preparing for my party. I had invited all of my close friends and was waiting impatiently at the door for their arrival.

Finally the time had come, and one by one cars begin pulling into the driveway. Sleepovers had always been my favorite way to celebrate my birthday, so my party guests entered my house lugging sleeping bags and pillows in preparation to spend the night. The kitchen table slowly began to fill with brightly wrapped boxes and big, shiny bags tied tightly with colorful bows and twisty ribbon. The kitchen held a variety of smells: the savory aroma of pepperoni pizza stacked high in cardboard boxes on the counter, the sweet and familiar smell of cookie cake that my mother had bought every year for my birthday, and the faint smell of my friends’ houses that lingered on their pillows and bags.

After scarfing down my last slice of cookie cake, I ran to my mother, begging her to let me open my presents now. After some convincing, she finally gathered everyone in the living room, and one by one I began to unbox or unbag the various gifts I had been given. To this day, I still love the sound of ripping wrapping paper and the slight crunch it makes as it falls to the floor. As usual, my mother would make me pause after opening each gift, pose for a quick picture, and then thank the person from whom the gift was from. Gift after gift was opened and this routine continued. Pause, pose, thank. Pause, pose, thank. Finally the sad moment had come in which I had reached my last present. This present was in a brightly colored bag with a tag reading, To Lindsey, Love Mom. Slowly and carefully, I tugged at the purple and blue ribbons, until the bag was open. After tearing through towers of tissue paper, I could finally catch a glimpse of the furry white ears that poked up through the opening. With a burst of excitement, I pulled out the fluffy, white bear with the purple, draw-string hoodie and quickly ran to my mother for a warm and loving embrace. It was in that moment that my “creative” ten year old mind decided that the most appropriate name for my new friend would be Mr. Bear.

Earliest Memories

My eyes opened. I was completely and totally shrouded in darkness. Fear struck my heart as I reached out, searching for something, anything, to hold on to. In my mind, the monsters began to form. They growled from beneath my “big girl” bed and snarled from inside my closet. My heart was racing and my palms began to sweat. I could feel the railing that surrounded my bed, protecting me from their reach, but my fear grew stronger and stronger. I felt the sobs rising up through my throat until I released them with a vicious scream! My wailing continued until the light flicked on and the soothing voice I had come to know so well enveloped me in warmth and love.

Writing is Hard

Sometimes writing is hard.

You sit down at your desk, laptop on, Microsoft Word open, and you slowly place your fingers on the keys.

“Okay,” you say to yourself. “Let’s write something good.”

Now if only it were that easy.

The seconds fly by. Seconds turn to minutes, which turn into hours, until you finally shut your computer and stand up with a sad sigh. Another day spent staring at a blank computer screen.

Where’s the inspiration? Where’s the magic? Why can’t words just appear on the page and inspire any and everyone who reads them?

If only writing were that simple.

Sometimes, writing is hard.

But one day, something magical DOES happen.

You sit down at that same desk with your same old laptop, Microsoft word open, and you write. You write and you write and then you write some more! Words turn to sentences which turn to paragraphs that go on to fill pages!

And as the seconds turn into hours, you finally stand up with a satisfied smile and think to yourself, “THIS is what I live for. This is why I write.”

Sometimes all it takes is one day, but sometimes it will take years.

All you need is little time and a whole lot of patience.

Sometimes writing is hard. But that will never mean that it is not worth it.

Monsters

Sleep. It is a beautiful thing. It’s a necessary part of life. However, sometimes sleep simply isn’t possible. There you are, lying in bed all cozy and warm as your eyes begin to slowly close. Your mind starts to drift off into dream land. Your body relaxes and your breathing steadies to a slow and even pace…but suddenly, it happens. Monsters. There they are, creeping up the edges of your bed. Slipping under your sheets, they slither and slide all the way up to your ears. As your mind begins to fall asleep, the monsters begin to whisper. Doubts. Worries. Fears. All of your anxieties race desperately around head, clouding your thoughts with images of depression, loneliness, and fear. You sit up; panic fills your heart. Are these the monsters from your childhood? The ones that hide in your closet? The ones that you always begged your parents to chase away? No. Sadly, these monsters are worse. Much worse. Why, you may ask? It’s simple, really. It’s because these monsters are real. Worry is the monster who will make you obsess over decisions and the choices you make. Doubt will make you feel as though you aren’t good enough. Fear will stop you from accomplishing your dreams. All of these monsters lead to the biggest monsters of all: depression and anxiety. These monsters will not only haunt you at night. They will hunt you down even when the sun is shining its brightest. These monsters are cruel. They can make even the happiest of days dark and gloomy. They’ll push you to the floor and then kick you while you’re down. But wait! What’s that over there? There’s a light. A light so faint that, at first, you almost miss it. But it’s there. Shining bright even in the midst of all this darkness. Hope. Love. Peace. These things are coming. These things can scare away even the worst of monsters. They get brighter and brighter until you are overwhelmed with sheer joy! The monsters have fled back to the deep, dark depths from wince they came! There is once again a feeling of peace and relief in your heart and soon you begin to drift off to the wonderful world of sleep. So what lessons can be taken from this? Some of life’s scariest monsters are the ones that live in the darkened corners of your mind. While worry, doubt, and fear are all apart of this crazy thing we call life, they should not be the only thing that consumes us. There is hope, there is love, and there is peace to be found. You just have to find that tiny speck of light in the distance. Don’t let your doubts, worries, and fears pull you into the suffocating world known as depression. There is a way out, but it’s up to you to find it. Reach out for it and hold on tight. Never let go of the love, the hope, and the peace, for it will guide you back to the light. Hold on to the promise of a better tomorrow, and never again let those monsters take control over your mind. So when the sun sets on a long day, and your mind slowly slips into a deep sleep, push away those monsters for good and never let them come crawling back again.

Introversion Chose Me

What does it honestly mean to be an introvert?

Does it mean that someone is depressed or anti-social? Or maybe it means that they are stuck-up and rude?

Recently I was asked why I had chosen to become an introvert. Wait. Go back and reread that part again. Why had I “chosen” to become an introvert? Let me take this moment to explain something to anyone who may be reading this. As an introvert, I often enjoy spending my time alone, whether it be reading books or just simply relaxing on the couch. I love to take long walks by myself in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Writing is the most efficient way for me to communicate my thoughts and feelings because I have a hard time expressing myself verbally without talking too fast, stuttering, or stumbling over my words.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have a wonderfully small group of incredibly close friends, and I could honestly not be any happier. When I am with my close friends, I can talk and chat and laugh and joke around….all of the “extroverted” things that most people do not think I am capable of.

What most people don’t realize is that introversion is not something that someone just all of a sudden “chooses” to be. It’s a part of who I am and I cannot simply change that. Being an introvert in no way means that I am depressed. I am perfectly happy with my life and myself. Of course, I have some insecurities about myself, but then again, who doesn’t! Being an introvert simply means that I find solitude in being alone. I don’t need huge groups of friends to make me feel better about myself. I never feel the need to attend crazy and raging parties in order to have a good time. My tiny tight-knit group of friends and maybe a small outing every now and then is truly all I need to feel happy and satisfied. After a fun “get-together”, there may be a couple of days where you don’t hear from me, but that’s only because I need some alone time to refuel. And you know what? That is perfectly okay.

I will not apologize to anyone for being an introvert. I will not apologize to anyone for embracing who I truly am. Don’t criticize me or belittle me for who I am. Just because I choose not to make small talk, attend parties, or speak out does not mean that I can’t. Trust me. When I need to express my feelings to someone, or I have to attend a party and make awful small talk with people that I hardly even know, I can do it with no problems whatsoever. However, don’t expect it to be a regular thing. I may not enjoy small talk, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy talking about my passions. If you could actually take the time to get to know me, you might discover that there is more to me than meets the eye.

One of my favorite quotes about being an introvert is simply this: “The funny thing about introverts is once they feel comfortable with you, they can be the funniest, most enjoyable people to be around. It’s like a secret they feel comfortable sharing with you. Except that the secret it their personality.”

I am an introvert. I did not “choose” to be this way, nor do I wish that I wasn’t like this. I am happy being just the way I am. God made me with his perfect design, and God does not make any mistakes. So if anyone ever wants to know why I am an introvert, the person to ask is not me. I do not know why God made me this way, but I am not one to complain. I did not choose introversion; Introversion chose me.

I am an introvert, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.