Listen, Lucy is a place to express yourself. Freely. Creatively. Anonymous. To find comfort in seeing that you are not alone.
The awesome thing about being open about your struggles is that there are times when things come full circle. You remember talking about how bad it was at a certain point in your life and you realize that may be the time you got a grip on your situation. For me, there are a couple different times when I look back I think—“and that’s when I got it.”
One of those times was when I discovered Post Secret—the books made by Frank Warren. I have told people before that when my brother took me to Borders and sat me down and showed me this series, something changed with me. I finally saw that people everywhere are dealing with their own nightmares and I am not alone in this. Not at all. I remember my brother reading through one of the books and showing me someone’s post card and it was a beautiful pink flower and written on it was “My anxiety controls me.” Even writing about it now makes me tear up because I remember feeling so desperate to feel normal and for someone to understand me. Even though it was anonymous and whoever wrote it will never know how much it meant to me—I felt connected to someone for the first time.
Another “aha” moment I had was when I was studying abroad in London. It was my first trip alone—I had gone to high school and college with my friends and my boyfriend and I very rarely went to the store without someone I knew, let alone another country. I remember the nerves as I got off the plane and thought “OK. Now what?” If I had a panic attack, if my anxiety controlled me while I was there, not only would it ruin my entire experience, but no one was there to help me. It forced me to stop relying on other people to drop everything and be by my side. It forced me to get from point A to point B without having a meltdown. Being in unknown territory was always something that made me uncomfortable, but once I got to London, I saw that not only could I manage to do it, but that I was enjoying every minute of every day. There are so many examples of different things that happened on my trip there that made me feel like it was the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. London launched me into finally becoming healthy again. Deciding to take the risk to go there may be one of the most important decisions of my life.
Lastly, this website has been the biggest moment for me to understand what I have been through, who I have become and where I want to go. When I came up with this idea, I just wanted to find a way to help people. When I launched the site, a year ago, I had never been so excited or nervous in my life. I was literally about to tell everyone I know about my struggle in hopes to help others see that, while we all may not understand exactly what you are going through, we all have our own personal trauma we are dealing with. I felt so happy to be putting this out into the world—I didn’t realize how much it was going to continue to help me. It has made me understand people. It has made me see that people I know are fighting through things that I didn’t even know about. I have learned just how strong and resilient people are and I have seen that the people who write in and follow this site work through their problems and come out on the other side with a strong, positive outlook that cannot be taken away. I learn more from this site and it helps me more than I could have ever imagined.
With having a year of Listen, Lucy under my belt, I feel like I am not sure what is to come of it. I am excited for the future and want to continue to help others express what is going on and I want this site to help create a better world—one with less judgment and more understanding. I have learned that while my daily panic attacks are long gone, I continue to struggle from time to time and that’s when I turn to this site for inspiration and for my reality check. It calms me. It grounds me and it definitely humbles me. Thank you for being there for my first year of pursuing a dream of mine and for helping me show this small part of the world that we are all in this together.
Cheers to one year and to 50 more!
To Mr. Misleading,
When I look back at when we first met, I don’t remember you the way that I do now. I don’t remember you affecting my every day; my personality, my behaviors, my overall poor choices. It was innocent then, you didn’t control me. I’m not quite sure when that changed. I guess I can look back and see signs that you would eventually overtake me, but none so powerful that I could predict my feelings about you today. Many years after our first meeting, you became more important to me than I ever wanted you to become. I didn’t ask for your presence to be so overwhelming, although you had a different plan for your part in my life. You became the thing I turned to, the one constant in what seemed to be an unfair life in my eyes. Too much pressure, too many expectations, too many things that should have happened that didn’t. And you numbed all of them. Through thick and thin, you were there. Some good times sure, but mostly you created a chain of events that eventually would spiral out of control. I’m not sure where I lost hold of your power of me, but all I need to know at this point in my life, is that you won that battle at that time. The thing I hate the most about you is that yes, I didn’t ask for you to overtake me. But more importantly, that I saw signs and still continued to allow you to be most important in my life. Every day you reared your ugly head. I would try my hardest to run away as fast as I could, but you were faster and stronger than I ever was. I used to pride myself on being strong, on knowing right from wrong, on knowing when enough was enough. But with you, it was different. You ran me until I almost died. And that wasn’t good enough. You still hadn’t killed me, and your plan was to not stop until you did. I know this now. I know your game, and I know your plan. Good news for me is that I did finally get it. I am finally faster and stronger than you ever thought I could be. Bad news for you is that I’m done. I’m done with the vicious cycle of dealing with you. Dealing with the façade you created when all the while you were just killing me inside. Dealing with the numbness you caused for a moments time, only for reality to eventually set back in. I did it for too long, and I’m tired. It’s safe to say that you’ll always linger around, waiting for me to come back, plotting your grand plan that you haven’t yet completed. I’ve accepted that. I can tell you today that you can keep waiting, because I’m not coming back. I’m happy. I’m free. I finally feel hope. You have no idea how that feels when you caused me to have none for as long as I can remember. So this is goodbye. Goodbye to our tumultuous relationship that I try my hardest to not resent. And I say that because I don’t want to live with regret, live in the past of wishing and wanting to do things over. I am who I am today, scars and all, and that’s okay with me. I bet you didn’t think I’d ever say that, did you? So I choose to not look back and reminisce on how we first met, on how it got to this point. I know you now, and that’s all I need to know."
I’ve been thinking a lot about my happiness lately. I’ve been thinking that it seems like something so simple, making yourself happy. But it’s actually really complicated. Happiness is one of the first emotions we learn, it’s a word we use everyday, probably multiple times a day, to express how we are feeling. Our lives revolve around our happiness – or lack thereof – and I think that’s what makes it complicated.
What makes a person happy? That’s a question that usually comes with a quick answer; it can be anything, really. A person, a pet, a thought, a purchase, an event. So how do we make ourselves happy? … This question takes a little more thought for me. So say you finally think of what it is that you can do to make yourself happy, and you do it. And then, you’re still not happy. It’s frustrating. Is it because we always want more? I think we feel unfulfilled sometimes because we’re always waiting for the next step. Are we ever really happy in the moment? Or is anticipating the future what gives us happiness? It’s a concept that I constantly wrestle with. I realize that we, like our happiness, are constantly evolving. I’m sure I’ve changed some over the years, but how did the happiest relationship I’ve ever been in suddenly turn into something that made me completely unhappy? Did I change that much? Did my happiness change that much? Or did I just want more? My whole life, it’s always been important for me to strive for more, to do better and constantly improve myself. But I’m learning that at some point, you have to find the balance between the two extremes so you can begin to feel that comfort and fulfillment. And I’m learning that it is not an easy balance to find.
I’ve been thinking about how I can find peace with my happiness before I drive myself completely crazy with this cyclical thinking. I so badly want to just feel comfortable with my life, where it is and where it’s going. I think I’m getting there. It’s a little lonely sometimes, but I think doing it on my own is helping. Something I’ve realized is that I never want to have to depend on someone else for my happiness – that should be up to me. So for now, I need to remind myself daily that I need to enjoy the ride. If another relationship should come my way, I hope that I’m able to enjoy the moments as they come, rather than always waiting for what’s next. When I ask myself, “What makes you happy?” I want to be the answer.
It’s like the John Lennon quote that every girl had in her AIM profile in high school (yes, I’m guilty as well):
“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
I’d like to thank John Lennon and his mom for this little piece of inspiration that I have hanging at my desk to this day. And I’d also like to thank Lucy. We are lucky to have you."
YOUR beauty is more than skin deep"
Sometimes, I hate the way I look naked. "Maybe if my arms and waist were thinner, or maybe if I could just get rid of my inner thighs." That's what I tell myself in the mirror some days. I often wonder if I'll wake up one morning and think differently. Probably not. I'll probably look this way forever. Maybe if I step on the scale and I am 5 lbs lighter, I'll be happier. As if this magic number is an automatic gateway to ultimate happiness. It has to be, because it's the only thing that keeps me from being happy. Everything else in my life is perfect.
The reality is, that's not true. Those things that I used to tell myself every day were false perceptions of my own reality. I recognized that. It wasn't too late for me, fortunately. Even when I was staring at myself in the mirror (all those times), waiting for the pounds to disappear before my eyes, I knew it was irrational. I knew that as I looked at myself, there was a discrepancy between what everyone always told me and how I felt. They would say, "you're beautiful", and I'd say "thank you", but in my head I would think, you must be lying. For some reason, I couldn't look past the skin. These fleeting moments pop up every now and again to haunt me, regardless of how beautiful I know that I am now. When they arise in my head, that's the very moment I have to take a breath and look in the mirror to tell myself, "you're beautiful". It's a constant battle to remind myself that I am me, there is not another like me and there will not ever be another like me. And--and, and, and--I am perfect the way I am. I love myself.
I have realized that this life is perfect, regardless of how messy and often destructive it can feel. The strength that we build to over come the messiness is what keeps us going every day. My hope for you, and for myself, is to be the best possible version of myself every day and to never stop improving that version of myself. To wake up every morning and be the first person to tell myself, "you are beautiful" and to go out into the world with courage and confidence. If I can be true to myself, I can be true to others. As they say, you can't do it alone."
The moment that you find out that you are going to be a parent is one of the most crazy, exciting moments in your life…We were ready. Ready for the pregnancy. Ready for the changes. Ready for the joy. Ready to be a Mom and Dad.
Just as quickly as joy can fill your life, horror can consume it.
For all the parents out there who have had a miscarriage, our hearts go out to you. For all the would be mothers that have had to attend baby showers or witness their friends and family have children while putting aside your own personal terror. We pray for you.
We didn’t think it was ever going to happen. Two years and three miscarriages has a way of making a couple lose faith. The kind words, “it’s going to happen for you two” and “just keep trying” did little to restore that faith that was stolen from us.
Throughout this disaster, we found each other. We consoled each other. After a terrible experience with a doctor, we were blessed to have found the most amazing doctor to have ever taken a breath on this earth. She listened. She let frustration and tears pour out so patiently before she offered her expertise. She restored faith.
14 short weeks ago we found out we were pregnant! All is well and the baby is progressing beautifully. As each day passes, we are one day closer to meeting our little bundle. But we will never forget the past.
This is our success story. Many of you have similar ones. Some may not have found your success yet. Find Hope."
I’ve always been a confident person. Anyone who knows me knows that I over prepare for everything that I do, that I am an extremely hard worker. Because I am always over prepared I rarely ever get nervous or scared, but what happens when I face a situation that I am not prepared for?
The other night I was lying in bed unable to sleep. I’m almost done with my junior year of college, which means I am going to be in the real world soon. I’m going to be teaching America’s youth in less than two years. That’s when I realized I have no f***ing clue what I am doing. Are you kidding me? I’m going to be 22 years old and responsible for the growth and development of so many young students? I started sweating and for the first time in a long time I doubted myself.
I think one of my main problems is that I always expect perfection out of myself. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually a great thing. It’s made me who I am today. I’ve never been the type of person who just gets things right away; I’ve always envied those people though. My imperfections have driven me to work harder, over prepare, and physically/mentally will myself to success.
Just like everything else, I expect to be the perfect teacher when I walk into my first classroom. Guess what my man? That’s impossible!!! I realized why I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. It’s because I don’t! But that’s more than okay, because that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be a good teacher. In fact, I think I’m going to be an amazing teacher. I just have to take it slow, and realize that I can only learn from experience, not from some text book.
I guess that’s my message that I want to share with everyone. Don’t be nervous or scared about something in your life because you don’t know what you’re doing. No one knows what they are doing until they go out there and do it. You are going to fail, you should! Don’t let it deter you from your dreams or shake your confidence. Rather let it motivate you and learn from it. I read something on this site once that I have since always tried to keep in mind, “Slow down, get in the right hand lane and go the speed limit.” I’m not going to be the best teacher in the world the first day I walk in. Is that still my goal? Of course. Will I fail? Without a doubt. But it’s not about doing it right the first time, only on the rarest of occasions does that occur. It’s about having the courage to change the world, the charisma to captivate people’s minds, the strength to keep going even when you fail. Slow down and go the speed limit. Don’t be scared, be confident in yourself. Don’t worry about the results right away, worry about the process itself. If you do that you don’t have any reason not to be confident."
I have had a lot of time to reflect on Listen, Lucy and all of the incredible submissions I have received so far. I am in total awe of the brave people who have shared their stories and the support I have been receiving from friends, family and complete strangers for me telling mine. I have been wanting to post but have not be able to find the words I have been looking for in order to properly get my message out there. I think I have found them now.
I have read through the entire Listen, Lucy blog again and have been brought to tears over the struggles so many are facing. I know that feeling in the pit of your stomach where you feel like you can’t figure out which way to move. I have seen a lot of different themes throughout the different entries—pain, heartbreak, losing yourself, admitting your flaws and eventually—success. Through all of the different stories I have read I have found one common thread that has led to these people getting to the light at the end of their tunnel--- their support system.
In a majority of these stories, people have thanked their friends, family, classmates, peers and coworkers for being this rock of support that they couldn’t have triumphed without. It has really got me thinking about how important it is to surround yourself with really good people.
I know I talk about my dad a lot and the different things he has told me throughout life—I always knew he was a smart guy but I didn’t know how much his words have impacted me until I started writing again. He has always told me it is okay to make mistakes—because everyone does. Big mistakes, small mistakes—they are all inevitable. But there are a few decisions that you have to get right. One of those decisions is the company you keep.
Tough times in your life cause you to question yourself—your strength, your character and your path you are going down. Your friends, family and significant others should lift you up when you are down. They should show you support and love and care. They should make you laugh. Take a look around at the people you keep close to you. How do they make you feel about yourself? How do they feel about themselves? Do they enrich your life or weigh you down?
I want to thank my support system—my incredible family who has always been there for me. My hilarious and unbelievably supportive friends who believe in me more than I could ever believe in myself and my brand new husband—who is not brand new to my life—you have always been the greatest partner. When it comes to the company I keep in my life—I like to think I nailed it.
I want to leave you with a quote I came across once-- “You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with…Choose wisely.”
Just before Christmastime I received a very lovely gift of a $ 25.00 gift card. It was so very unexpected and from a complete stranger. I was able to do a lot of fun things with my Dad. I don't know the girl who gave me the gift, but I would like to thank her now. It was very thoughtful and generous of her. Thank you also, Lucy, for your mission of kindness. It certainly made my day. "
"I was sitting in Starbucks today working on graduate school applications, when someone walked up to me and gave me a card. I was taken by surprise and had no idea what was going on. I opened the card with two notes and a Starbucks gift card. It honestly made my day, I smiled ear to ear. It made me so happy that there are still wonderful people who embody the Christmas spirit. This brought back the childhood magic of Christmas. I have had a hard time lately and the person who gave me this has no idea how this has helped. It's the little things in life. I'm excited to "pay it forward" this is such a beautiful group."
for the last 3 months or so i have been...lost. i am not me, and i do not know who i am supposed to be anymore. i cannot find myself; i'm just am here, floating along.
i am letting something take over my life and impact me entirely. it's something that doesn't deserve to have this power over me. i'm caught tossing and turning at night, stress weighing on my mind, worry, fear, panic. i wake up with a knot in my stomach; there aren't enough hours. i don't sleep, i'm not eating right, i'm not taking time for myself. i get home exhausted so i don't want to move; i used to enjoy jogging. i can't concentrate. i don't know where to begin to gain control of my life back, so i just don't. i sit, i stare off, i watch mindless television as my means of escape instead of taking care of myself, my home, my relationship.
my relationship is flatlining. my significant other is becoming nothing more than a roommate - i've been here before and i didn't fix it last time so what makes me feel like i'll be able to this time? i don't know how to fix it. i always push the most important people away without trying, but at the same time, i give up on trying to make things better. why do i get to this place where i feel like it's unfixable and there's no point? shouldn't there be a point? i'm afraid i don't see it anymore.
maybe i am just meant to be alone.
really, all of my relationships are suffering. i've had down times - really, really down times. i've been sad, and i've kept to myself, and i've tried to disappear from the world, but it's never been like this. now i'm annoyed by the people i used to call my best friends. i'm not understanding anybody anymore. i question why people do or don't do things. i take everything personally and am constantly feeling attacked. when did i become so judgmental? when did i become so irritable? when did i become so hard to love? i breakdown at every opportunity; for a while it was out of my control. i've always been sensitive, but this is an entirely new level.
i have always put in too much effort. i've given too much. i've tried too hard. i've been taking for granted, and have been told my worst character trait is that i'm too nice. i let people walk all over me, take advantage of me, and expect things of me. i set myself up for this, and now i don't know how to go back. if i don't plan it, it won't happen. if i don't reach out, i won't hear from them. if i don't put in the effort our friendship will fail. why is it always on me?
i have a problem with control, and this is something i am aware of but i don't know how to change. i like knowing all of the details, having an idea of what to expect, and getting my way. i like knowing where my money is going, because i don't have hardly enough of it. i like making the plans so that i know it's within my means, and it'll include the people i wish to see and no one who makes me uncomfortable. i like that feeling of accomplishment, and being appreciated for my work. lately i haven't felt appreciated. lately i feel like everything is expected of me, and when it doesn't happen, i'm to blame. lately i've put too much pressure on myself.
i've feeling more regretful recently than i have in a very long time. if i could only go back...if i could only have done this, or that, i wouldn't be where i am today, i wouldn't be struggling and i wouldn't feel like i'm watching my whole world unravel. i know i can't change the past, i know that i can only move forward, i just need to find the motivation to keep moving forward, to put on those running shoes, to write that cover letter, to have that conversation. i need to be the one to decide to put that smile on my face, to stop taking everything so personally, to not let certain things impact me the way they have been. i need to be the one to decide when it's time to make things right, to make a change for the better, to take back the control of the one thing i should have full control over - my life. i have nothing to be so upset about.
i just need to believe it."
A couple of nights ago, I had, for the first time in years, a panic attack. I hadn’t been feeling great about my anxiety for a while and it just all came to a head.
It starts as difficulty breathing, followed by an unbearable pain in my chest. Each muscle in my body intensely tightens and it is difficult for me to sit up straight. In between panicked breaths, I let out hoarse coughs that hurt my chest even more. No matter who is with me or how long I have struggled with this, no matter how much I learn or the different coping techniques I try, when a panic attack happens, the fear of dying is as real as the first panic attack I had when I was in high school.
In short, it’s chaos.
Within minutes of taking my anti-anxiety medication, I can feel my body start to calm down. After panic attacks, I feel exhausted and my body is really sore. I also feel this wave of sadness and defeat come over me. I feel complete disappointment in myself for losing control and I cry. It is safe to say that for at least the next 24 hours, I am not going to be myself. I am very hard on myself and that is something that I need to work on.
Yesterday was a really hard day for me. I struggle with the fact that this is just how I am wired and is something that I need to take care of for the rest of my life. I was thinking of writing an entry to the site but felt nervous to share this with everyone because it is not the usual uplifting stories I promote. But, I think it is important to tell the truth and for the people that read these posts to know that I continue to struggle—and that’s okay. I think that is important for me to realize as well.
Writing out what happened and explaining in detail what goes on with me is my therapy. I know it sounds weird, but I feel like some of the tension, anxiety and sadness is lifted from me when I just take my time and explain what is going on. Today is a much better day. I took care of myself yesterday and I have this awesome roommate who never runs for the hills when these things happen. I got some much needed rest and I feel almost back to myself today.
Life is never going to be smooth sailing; I continue to learn that every day. I am learning to cut myself some slack when I stumble. It is not a bad thing to breakdown from time to time and it is not defeat, it’s life. We all need to continue to pick ourselves up afterwards and keep moving. It was just a bad day, not a bad life.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
He was the one. THE one. I knew it from the moment I met him. He was charming, funny and drop dead gorgeous. The first night I met him, we talked until 4 o’clock in the morning. The very next day we took a walk in the park, he met my parents and soon became the gentleman that opened doors for me. Before I knew it, I was driving 4 hours to see him when he worked out of town, and was lavished with diamond jewelry, “just because.” Months into the relationship, we decided to move in together. I kept thinking to myself, “This is it. This is the happiness that everyone always talks about.” He knew the things I needed, before I knew I needed them. It wouldn’t be for almost a year later, that I realized he knew exactly what I needed, because I no longer thought for myself.
Our relationship was great at the beginning. He worked out of town, so I kept a great balance with my friends and family. Then one day I decided I didn’t want to go out anymore. Why would I go to bars when I already had the man of my dreams? Besides, the fight it would create the next day wasn’t worth it.
I would see my family when he was out of town, and we would spend time with his family once he came home. I didn’t mind always driving to go see his family, because he never saw them. Besides, the fight to stay in town wasn’t worth it.
We stayed home and had quiet nights. I didn’t mind not being social anymore because I adored the time we spent together. Besides, the fight to go out wasn’t worth it.
My friends starting noticing the difference in the social, happy go lucky and fun friend they once had. They tried talking to me about it, but they didn’t know what they were talking about--I WAS happy. I told my boyfriend about it, and he told me they were jealous and I didn’t need jealous friends. Besides, the fight for their friendship wasn’t worth it.
Weeks went on in my new world and I was happy and content. Around the holidays we decided to have some friends over for a small gathering and we both got drunk. I watched him whispering to a girl in the corner, right in front of me. I was crushed. I got upset and tried to talk to him about it. A broken bed, three holes in the wall and a door ripped off the hinges later, I realized I made a mistake. I was wrong to think he would ever do something like that in front of me. He would never do anything to hurt me. In turn, I would never do something so foolish to make him mad at me again, because the fight I created was not worth it.
I started to not live my life, but instead, one that was devoted to not making him upset. I was happy. I was numb. It was a relationship that I willingly stayed in. It was a relationship that I could not get out of.
I knew things started to really go wrong when I would get in trouble for not satisfying him sexually. I felt bad. I felt like a disappointment. I was told that if I didn’t do it, he would find someone else who did. Before I knew it, I became THAT girl. And finally, I knew I wanted out.
I did it. I left. I found the strength to tell him that I was leaving, and I was gone....for a week.
He missed me. He lost the best thing in his life. He didn’t know how he was going to go on without me. He was in a bad place before, but he knew what he did wrong. He changed...and I believed it. After all we lived together, and I loved him. Our relationship deserved one last shot.
My parents, siblings and friends all told me he was just telling me what I wanted to hear. Yeah, right. What did they know? They weren’t in the relationship. They didn’t see him cry. They didn’t know him like I knew him.. and maybe that was a good thing. I could lie to everyone else, but how much longer could I lie to myself? I, too, knew I was being the girl that believed everything he had to say, but I chose to believe it. I chose to ignore that pit in my stomach. I chose to ignore everyone I trusted that made me who I am today. I chose to ignore the (now patched up) holes in the wall. I chose to believe that things were going to work out because he was the exception.
My heart wanted to believe the world I created and ignored, but my head knew better. It took me a couple weeks and a public lashing later, but I finally listened to that sneaky little woman’s intuition. It took me a little bit, but I finally found strength to be done.
Finally, the fight for ME was worth it.
Moving out was hard, but the people I didn’t want to listen to for the past year made it that much easier. It was easy to lose sight of how much people cared about me when I was in the toxic relationship, but I learned quick that I have a good support system that will always be there for me. They knew someday I would find myself. I just needed to be the one to know what fight was worth it."
Throughout the past calendar year I have seen too much tragedy occur. I have watched people that I love go through things that I never want them to go through. That’s always the worst for me, seeing my loved one’s go through things that are extremely trying. I have even gone through tragedy on my own and I can’t say that I handled it with excellence, but life is about learning. When negative experiences occur it is easy to develop a negative outlook. However, that is not what this submission is going to be about.
A saying that I read on an earlier submission quoted a very intelligent man’s famous saying, “Human beings are resilient”. This quote really touched my heart and made me start thinking about how amazing human beings really can be. Even if you just look at the submissions on this site alone; an alcoholic who is beating his disease with confidence and determination, a newlywed couple losing their first child and instead of living with anger, carry out their daughter’s legacy in the best way that they can, A young girl picks up the pieces after a break up and learned to love herself first, and a girl who has conquered her anxiety disorder and created this website as an outlet for those going through tough times to express themselves, in essence to read stories of other’s resilience and find strength for themselves. This site breathes resiliency right off the screen and it got me thinking that amidst all the negativity around the world, there are incredible acts of courage, strength, resiliency, and heroism going on every single day.
In my life alone I see a family man of integrity lose his wife after sixty plus years of marriage. He cries, he is allowed to, he should. But every day he wakes up and continues not just her legacy, but their legacy.
I see a father who will do anything not just for his kids, but for anyone. His past is not perfect, no one’s is. But every day he wakes up and works as hard as he can to improve himself, improve his wife and children’s life, and the lives of the less fortunate.
I see a woman who is recovering from going into cardiac arrest that is only alive because of a miracle take care of her husband with dementia.
I see a mother who breaks her back for her children and her parents just to make sure that they’re doing okay.
I see a young man recovering from two shoulder surgeries in five months, who has had his favorite thing in life taken away from him, show up to practice every single day with the same enthusiasm encouraging his teammates to be the best they can be.
You see, there is always going to be negativity surrounding you, such is life. But there is infinitely more good in the world than bad, I truly believe that. We just have to choose to see the fact that human beings are courageous. They can be mean, but mostly they are kind hearted. They are resilient for sure. They are amazing. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and really see it."
I work with kids that are less fortunate than most. In most cases, they have been dealt a hand that most of us would pass on. They do what they can. They try in their own way. They get by. For them, it is one day at a time. They make mistakes, no doubt. Sometimes some very serious mistakes.
I wonder how I would do if I was in their shoes.
When I first meet them, there is usually resistance...not just from them. They have a look...an attitude. I try to think of a way to get past it. I know that it is going to take time. I have to be smart...be patient.
I wonder what they think about me.
They have a history of making poor decisions. I know this will continue to take place ...even in the future. Probably everyday.
Maybe it can happen less frequently.
One kid that I've worked with for a long time is in jail for a very serious charge. I really don't know if he did what he is accused of doing. But, I do know that at times he is a great kid. I know if I needed help, he would help me in a minute. I also know that he would do the same for a complete stranger. I really like this kid.
This scares me a little bit.
Another kid that I've worked with for years has a very difficult life. He is also very poor. He lacks motivation and follow-through. This is evident everyday. I find myself getting very frustrated that he doesn't try harder. One day, he earned $10 on a part-time job. He used his $10 to buy a homeless man dinner.
I was not surprised by this.
There is another kid that I recently met. We haven't connected. He's tough. I know his story. It's not a good one. It's going to take more of an effort to connect. I just heard that while on a group visit to a library he found himself alone. He found a wallet laying on the ground that had, among other things, a substantial amount of cash in it. He turned it all in.
I have got to try harder."
I have wonderful people in my life who never hesitate to tell me how smart, talented, beautiful and special I am … but I don’t believe them. I hear the words and say the thank you’s all the while thinking, “If you were me you wouldn’t think so.” It’s not that I think I’m a terrible person, I know I am nice and pleasant but I’m average. Any time something amazing happens to me I chalk it up to luck, coincidence, or a blessing from God – nothing I did could have made this or that happen. My friends and family are always telling me to have more confidence, like I can just grab it out of thin air, but it’s not that easy. As a child I think I was confident, I was definitely sensitive but I remember thinking I had strengths. I’m not sure when it all changed but I can feel the waves of insecurity and doubt rush over me almost daily, and then there’s the guilt. Why do I feel this way when I have a loving family, the best friends and a caring and hilarious man who loves me? Surely something must be wrong with me if I can’t feel good about myself with all the good that surrounds me. The place where it is currently affecting me the most is my career. I’ve never had a dream job or a goal I was aspiring to I just knew that I wanted to find something I could be happy doing and succeed. I always saw that as a negative, everyone has dreams and goals, where are mine? I have a good job where I am still pretty new and I try to work as hard as I can to prove myself. Still, no matter what, when my boss asks to speak with me I am positive I’m getting fired. I completely freeze, red face, sweating, tears welling up even after he tells me they are moving my position in order to preserve my spot in the company, it takes days for me to accept that he is telling the truth. I have an exciting life event coming up and as I prepare and receive gifts and congratulations, hearing how excited everyone is for me, I wonder why? There it is - the doubt. Always creeping up when I should be so happy and basking in everyone’s enthusiasm for the big day. The interesting thing about it all is that most of the time, I am a happy person, I am just trying to figure out why I deserve the things I have. My hope is that with growing up I find peace with who I am and learn to accept the good things in my life for what they are. I truly am the luckiest girl in the world, I can’t wait for the day I can see myself as others see me. That day will be awesome."
Sometimes, a tragedy happens there is nothing you can do. You want to help or offer some words of comfort but your mind goes blank. In those moments, the moments when you think, “How will they go on? How will they get through this?” I always remember what my dad has told me over and over—human beings are resilient.
My friend Karie lost her child, Harper, only four days after she was born. Karie has been my friend for over a decade. We have been through a lot of different things together and we have watched each other grow up. We have watched each other fall in love, get jobs and get married. When she told me that Harper had passed away, my body froze. A million questions ran through my head as I sat at my desk and tried to process what I had just been told and to figure out how they were going to get through this.
Karie and her husband, Matt, are the most solid, impressive couple I have ever had the luck to know. To see how they have handled this tragedy has left me in awe. Not only have they supported each other through the hardest time in their life, they have chosen to put all of their focus and energy on Harper’s Heroes, a foundation they started in honor of their beautiful daughter. They have worked so hard, put in so much time and have had such an amazing turn out and outcome and I have never been so proud to know them. They have turned such an impossible situation into helping others in need. They have dedicated their days to raising not only awareness, but finances for Pennies for Heaven.
Karie and Matt are the definition of resilient.
I wanted to take the time to tell a story about an incredible couple, who I love so much—who have made sure their daughter will never be forgotten and who I am lucky enough to call my friends. I wanted to also help spread the word about Harper’s Heroes, an amazing foundation started for a gorgeous little angel. Please check out their Facebook page, read up on their efforts and help out and support them if you can.
There are not enough words for Karie and Matt to truly know how incredible I think they are—they are not only Harper’s Heroes but they are my heroes, too.
Have you ever been broken? Like really broken.. into what feels like a million tiny, little pieces? You’re scared, hurt and angry because you think you’ll never be able to find every little piece to put yourself fully back together again. First you blame everyone and everything you can think of, but then you realize it just comes down to you.. in reality, everything is your fault. What is so wrong with me that he didn’t want me anymore? Why did he say the things he did? Did he mean any of it? Am I not pretty enough? Is there someone else? Every SINGLE possible question floods your mind every second of every day.
Some of you may be reading this thinking wow.. this girl got dumped.. big deal. Yes, I know there are plenty of people out there who have it MUCH, MUCH worse and would kill to have“problems” like mine. I can say that I am thankful that this is one of the biggest hardships I’ve been through in my life thus far. However, love IS the thing that makes the world go ‘round. Love fuels every motivation, no matter if we realize it or not. If you’re not in love, you’re looking for love. If you’re not looking for love, you’re simply pretending you don’t want it. Money and success can give you temporary joy, but material things merely can’t give you true, permanent happiness.
I know, first hand, how powerful love is. I changed my ENTIRE life for love. I am so young, and I have so much potential; but I decided to put a guy before everything/everyone in my life, and now I have been left with what feels like nothing.
I have always had one goal in life: to get a kick-ass job that pays a lot of money. I wanted to prove to all of the people that have doubted me that I have more potential than they ever thought,and more importantly, I wanted the people I love to be proud of me. After working my ass off in college, I ended up turning down a great, very competitive job offer my first semester of my senior year. I decided I would keep looking because I knew love was more important. I wanted be married with a family, even if it was in a town with a population of 10,000. I did find a job, making 3x less money, in that tiny town. I graduated, moved here, and started my new “dream” job within 3weeks.
Everything was great for the first few weeks. I was so excited I finally got to see my boyfriend every day after being in a long-distance relationship for a year. I cherished waking up next to him and just doing everyday things like going grocery shopping. The simplest things like making him lunch or making his coffee in the morning made me smile.But my relationship suddenly fell apart.. within less than 2 months. We started fighting, a lot. He became obsessed with drinking with his friends more than he ever had. I quickly realized that his phone was much more interesting to him than I was. A complicated relationship with his sister, who was once one of my best friends, left me feeling inadequate and put on the back burner. Whenever I would confront him about my feelings, he would make me feel like I was wasting his precious time.
Suddenly, I started questioning every decision I ever made. I was living in an apartment all alone, and every person I knew in my new “home town” was either his friend or family. Then my biggest nightmare came true. After asking him why his priorities had seemed to change so much, I was presented with a response that I had feared for a while: He wasn’t willing to compromise or work at this relationship any longer. He was done. We “mutually” agreed that we weren’t right for each other, but I knew that I was losing the most important person in my life.. and to make it even worse, it was through a TEXT. He couldn’t even bother to call me or come over to see me one last time. I left work early that morning and drove all the way home to my parents’ house. The tears did not stop flowing.. for 3 days. When I came back to my lonely apartment, I completely broke down. I deleted every social media site I had so I wouldn’t accidentally come across pictures of him happily carrying on with his life. I gathered his stuff together because I knew being reminded of him in any way would just kill me. I deleted every picture of him on my phone and threw away every piece of memorabilia in my apartment.
That following week was harder than I could have imagined. I was completely alone.. no family, and only a few friends who were carrying on with their own lives. I tried my best to be productive at work through the tears. I suddenly had so much free time, which meant more time for every crazy thought to enter my head. Hearing things like “he seems fine” and “he’s already hanging out with his ex girlfriend” from his friends made me go completely crazy. Knowing that it took him less than a week to get over what I considered the most important relationship in my life beyond hurt me.. it destroyed me.
Here I am now, 2 weeks after the breakup, trying to pull myself together enough to merely function. I’ve been trying my hardest to take all of the advice everyone has given me to heart; but when it comes down to it, I just feel empty, lonely and numb. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, and I can’t get the memories of him out of my head. I am down to the lowest weight I have been in 5 years. I evoke every bad memory of the severe anxiety issues I faced when I was younger like it was yesterday, and I fear SO MUCH that my eating disorder is back again. It’s so UNFAIR that I’m forced to be alone in this town with nothing to keep my mind off of him.
But, you know what? One thing I’ve learned is that LIFE IS UNFAIR. Feeling sorry for myself is going to get me nowhere.I can be sad and cry and think about the past as much as I want, but it’s not going to change the way things are. I can give into my anxiety and depression liked I used to, or I can rise above it. After all, I have made my own decisions, and when it comes down to it.. it really IS my fault. I relied on one person for my happiness, and that’s a lot of weight for one person to carry. I have to figure out how to love myself, and maybe being all alone is going to force me to do that for the first time in my life. You simply cannot rely on anyone.. for ANYTHING! Never depend on others. Rely only on yourself for your happiness because while other people can make it easier for you, only YOU can choose to be truly happy.
I know that I will never find EVERY piece of my broken self, because I have lost something that was such an important, significant part of me for so long. But I know that eventually, I will be able to find the biggest, most important pieces and maybe even some new ones that can fill in most of the empty spaces."
Why can't you stop?
Why won't you stop?
Don't you want to stop?
Can't you see in my face that your hurting me?
Can't you tell your hurting yourself?
I choke back tears.
I want to cry.
I stay strong.
I can see you changing.
You body is different.
You don't talk much anymore.
I feel like your no longer with me.
You ask for things.
Thats the only time we talk.
I want to cry.
I stay strong.
Years go by.
Don't you love me anymore?
Don't you miss me?
Your stare is blank.
Your body is weak.
I lose hope.
I'm no longer strong.
Because of you.
I worry everyday.
Didn't you see the faces of those who died?
Gone too soon.
Never got to live.
I want you to die someday.
Old, satisfied, happy, sober.
Your soul is beautiful.
Sometimes I see it peaking through.
I hope it peaks through someday forever.
I'll tell myself to stay strong.
I'll put on a front.
I'll try not to cry.
I'll think of you everyday.
You will overcome this.
You will get better.
I will see the real you again.
I believe in you.
I'm your biggest fan.
I love you."
Helplessness is horrible. When you are completely helpless in a situation there is no worse feeling. To watch someone you love deal with unbearable pain and not being able to stop it? There is nothing like it.
I have been witness to some horrible events in my life. Most of the time I was on the outskirts of the situation looking in on people I love trying to cope with a tragedy I couldn’t understand. For a long time I tried to find reason as to why there is so much heart ache and pain and loss. I still don’t have an answer. When I think of the sadness those closest to me have endured I feel a pit in my stomach. You try to find the right words to comfort them but there aren’t any. There are no words to take away the pain of loss.
Unfortunately, this is life and it is hard. Horrible things happen and all you can do is be around to help your friends and family when they need it. You do not need to come up with the answers because there are no answers. You just have to be there. Be sturdy and responsible and reliable. Surround yourself with people you can count on. Surround yourself with people with loyalty because when a tragedy hits, those are the people who won’t flinch. Be one of those flinch-less people."
When I was creating this site, I had a conversation with a couple of people about how much of the past I wanted to talk about and its importance to the success of this page. I felt like it was not important for me to get into the details, but to give an oversight as to what I went through because it shows how important this site is to me. I am still overwhelmed by the support, kind words and amazing submissions to my project. I want to help people find their way through difficult times-- I hope this site is doing that. What I didn’t realize was how much it was going to help me, even though I have been healthy for so long now.
A few weeks ago, I spoke at my old high school in a class where I sat and studied English. It was a really cool experience and it was my first time publicly speaking about Listen, Lucy. A lot of my issues started in that high school. I was sick and turned into a nightmare version of the lively teenager that I once was. It was one of the hardest times in my life and I always felt a pit in my stomach when I thought back to high school, especially that year.
I spoke to the students about my past, how I got into writing and why I wanted to create this site. I explained how alone I felt and I would never wish that upon anyone. The teacher thanked me and I left the school feeling a bit of triumph. I was able to return to where it all started and speak about how I got through it. I didn’t realize how important it was for me until a few days later.
I have worked really, really hard to get to where I am and sometimes I forget about how bad it was. I have tried to remain positive and I rarely let myself think back to those times but, really, working so hard to get healthy is why I am who I am (I learned this through one of the past entries on this site). It is also how I came about creating this site and now I have been able to read all of these stories and share them with my small world.
I promise you it does get better. I am hoping someone that reads this post thinks, “I can get there.”
I am not a huge success but I am happy and I am healthy and while I have a huge group of people to thank for helping me get there, the person I need to thank the most is myself-- as cheesy as it may sound. I make no apologies for my past or the issues I face day-to-day because we are all a work in progress. Progress is all you can ask for and little by little you have to keep working to get better. You will get there. You will also have your moment when you can look back on a crappy time in your life and see how far you have come and think, “I am awesome.”
I have never had any serious problems in my life. I have always been pretty confident,
I was a pretty popular kid in school, not that it would have even mattered to me if I wasn't. I never really cared what people thought of me. I have had amazing friends, friends I have had since kindergarten. I don't have many friends but the friends that I have are good ones. I have always been healthy. I have never had any issues getting a job. I actually one day said "I want to be an Event Planner" and I googled "Event Planners" in the area I was living in and I sent my resume and by the end of the week I was hired. I now have made a rather successful career for myself. Life seemed to just always work out for me ("knock on wood"). I have a really awesome family, I never really had any major family troubles aside from typical teenage issues. I was just always very lucky in life, I guess it was luck but whatever it was life just always seemed rather easy for me. I never worried about anything, if things didn't work out I just figured...oh well, things will work themselves out and I would move on. But the one thing that was always missing from my life was love. Not family and friends love but being that "knock it out of the ball park" kind of love, I always wanted that. Until about year ago I was beginning to think that perhaps I will never find it, maybe I have been given everything else in my life so easily, that maybe you really cannot have it all, maybe this will be my life...just me. And I was beginning to accept that. It took me 31 years to find the man I want to spend my life with and I will tell you it was worth every minute of waiting. June 9, 2012, one of my best friends text me asking if I was interested in going out with her friend's brother. June 10, 2012 he facebook inboxed me (thank you social media!). June 15, 2012 was our first date and I drove home from that date honestly thinking "Is it possible to throw up from feeling so happy?" I will never forget thinking that...it was the greatest. And we've been together ever since.
I wasn't sure what I wanted my message to be with writing this but then I realized, there are so many people out there that settle, that rationalize being with the wrong person just because they want to be with someone. I have been that person. I have been the person that puts the front up that you feel so happy but in your head you feel sad. I am here to tell everyone out there that settling should not be an option. You should not rationalize being with someone who does not make you over the moon happy, who does not love all of your flaws, who does not empower your decisions and support you. You should be with someone who when he/she looks at you, you can feel how proud they are of the person you are. You should be with someone who has your back. You should be with someone who looks at you when you feel so ugly and for some reason they shockingly tell you how beautiful you are. You should be with someone who makes it easy to work out your differences and you want to make it easy to work them out as well. I am here to tell you all...it is worth the wait. This is your life. You are in charge of your destiny and life is way to short to spend it with someone who does not appreciate you and who does not make you truly happy. Each and every one of us deserves to be happy, happier than we could have ever imagined. We all deserve to be content. Each and every day I feel so happy to come home just to see the smiling face of the man I love. I once read a quote that a friend posted who went through something so tragic in life and it stuck with me. The quote read "I'd rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special". I always kept this with me because that is how I always felt. You see all of these romantic love stories on tv and you think that is what you want, and to an extent that is what it is, only there isn't romance every day but just true joy and happiness that you feel inside. One of my girlfriends asked me a few weeks ago if I was just so excited for where my life is right now, and I explained that it doesn't feel the way I expected it to feel. I am not jumping out of my skin and wanting to run around like a crazy person screaming from rooftops but I just feel incredibly content and at ease...and I'll tell you...that feeling is the very best feeling in the world. Life can be so crazy and so tragic and so dramatic and so sad and so stressful and so hurtful at times...to feel at ease and content and happy....well there isn't anything better in my opinion. So for all of you people out there who are feeling in your head like you are settling but are trying so hard to rationalize it...I am living proof...I am here to tell you..there is something, someone, better out there for you. Someone who is your someone who will make all of your days brighter and better and happier...you just have to be strong enough to wait for them to arrive.
I always thought life shouldn't be this difficult. I have always worked hard, my husband works extremely hard every day. I was always told told if you work hard good things will come to you. After many, many years of working hard I thought I should have more, be able to go on vacation once in a while, be able to buy the things I want and so on. I can't buy things I want, I can't go on vacation and I didn't know why. A few months ago I read a passage in a book , God said, I gave you everything you truly need. God is never wrong so I guess I was looking in all the wrong places and just maybe I do have everything I need.
Listen, Lucy –
Loss is loss. It never gets easier. It never goes away…
She was doing what she loved. She was enjoying a beautiful Sunday morning in Chicago. She had just returned from a trip to China. She was planning her retirement and her move back to her beloved Pittsburgh. That return to Pittsburgh did happen, but not the way that she had planned. It was on that Sunday morning that our lives were changed forever. It was later in the evening that we learned what had happened and it was the first time in my life that I truly knew what loss was. I knew what grief was and what hate was. I had never been so angry in my life. I was sixteen years old and I had just lost one of the women that I admired most. She was struck and killed by two men who were coming home from a bar. They had probably been drinking all night. They lost complete control of their van, drove up onto a curb, and killed my aunt. We have had some tragic deaths in our family, but we never thought we’d lose her this way. I remember my dad and his siblings travelling to Chicago in the days after and I remember hoping and praying that they had the wrong woman…
This happened in July 2002. It seems as if it happened yesterday. The pain and the anguish are still present. Every holiday, every wedding, every family vacation, there is a void. She is not there. The sun rises and sets everyday, whether or not we believe it is going to do so. I knew that my life would never be the same and it is not. But looking back, I have grown stronger and I now see some good that came from the bad. Right before her trip to China, I had reconstructive knee surgery. My dad was out of town and my mom had four children to take care of. My aunt came to the rescue. She drove from Chicago, probably listening to books on tape the entire way (I never knew how she could do it and not fall asleep). We spent an entire week together, I learned things I never knew, and I grew to admire her on a level I never had before. She quizzed me on SAT questions and she told me time and time again that I could do whatever I put my mind to. I realized what a classy, intelligent, humorous, and genuinely compassionate person she was. She had a heart of gold, yet she always told you exactly what she thought (whether you were going to like it or not). God gave me that week with her; a week that I cherish more than anything.
Recently, with the loss of another friend to a tragic accident, I believe I have finally found some solace and some peace. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I trust in God and I trust that these loved ones have been taken from this life for a reason. I know that they are in a better place. I know that they are happy. Life goes on. They would not want me to be sad. They would want me to remember the good times (and there were SO many good times). At my dear friend’s funeral, I was reminded of his humor and I was consoled by something that he had written in our eighth grade yearbook. His favorite song ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton reminded me that, “beyond the door, there’s peace I’m sure, and I know there’ll be, no more tears in heaven”.
I am a husband, a father, a son, and a brother. I am a godfather, an uncle, a cousin and a friend. I am also an alcoholic.
The very first time I said those words I was nervous. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I was in a room full of strangers and I didn’t know what to expect or how I would be received. Each meeting the words came out a little easier. Now I look back on those days and I realize just how therapeutic they were. For me, saying these words was humbling and at the same time provided me with a sense of freedom.
Presently, I worried about putting these words to text, but after I had time to think about it, I knew it was the right thing to do. Anyone who knows me well, is aware of my situation and, for the most part, understands. My initial worry about writing it down was that others would judge me, unjustly. Then, I realized this is who I am. The accumulation of my past experiences makes me, me. Besides, I think this is what Listen Lucy is all about --- being able to express yourself freely in hopes that if others are out there experiencing the same types of issues, they can find comfort in seeing that they are not alone.
Without going into specifics and without minimizing the effect of my disease, my troubles with drinking were pretty typical to others that experience problems with alcohol. I was never able to control it. Generally, when drinking, I would consistently make poor decisions that I normally would not make. I didn’t get in any “severe” trouble, but that was because I was fortunate. It could have been much, much worse. My health suffered. But the biggest problem wasn’t that I was hurting myself, it was I was hurting the people that were most important to me.
It was difficult to finally understand and admit that, for me, alcohol was the problem. Once I finally admitted it, I knew I could do something about it. I knew where to go. I am not deeply religious, but I knew my recovery had to begin with prayer. For the first few months, I went to mass every day and prayed for strength to overcome my problem. God gave me the strength and showed me the way. I went to meetings and learned how others can listen and be open-minded. I distinctly remember another person’s advice to the group while sharing his thoughts, “Slow down, get in the slow lane and go the speed limit.” For some reason, these words stuck with me; they gave me hope. I pursued counseling. I talked and listened. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months.
August 8, 2013 will be 7 years of being clean and sober. My health has improved, but more importantly so has my perspective. I feel things now that I had never felt before. In many ways, I feel like a new person. I really like this feeling. I have a long way to go, but feel as though I am closer to becoming the person that I want to become.
I never want to drink again. I feel pretty confident that I will be successful with this goal. But, from what I’ve learned, I know that becoming too confident can be dangerous. I realize that for the rest of my life, I will always have to guard against becoming too confident.
I am a husband, a father, a son, and a brother. I am a godfather, an uncle, a cousin and a friend. I am also an alcoholic."
"My dearest Listen Lucy,
This is the first time I’ve put any of this to pen, and I am doing it for a reason that I hope is more beneficial to others than to myself. I don’t want to write to share my struggles – instead, I hope that this shines some light on the brilliant perspective of recognizing the good that does exist and making the most of your life…really taking advantage of the YOLO! Unfortunately, you will have to bear through my struggles to reach my happiness!
13 months and 29 days ago, my world turned upside down. I was diagnosed with a chronic condition that I that be apart of me every day for the, next 76 years – yes, I have every intention to live until I am 100 years old! After my diagnosis I was put on medicine that did not agree with my system at all, to the point that 16 days later I found myself in the hospital with doctors poking and prodding every inch of my body– trying to figure out exactly what was happening internally. I was living my very own episode of HOUSE, but I was the patient (in my mind I always play House, he is brilliant and British – does it get much better?!). I faced a choice, as I lay in bed surrounded by IVs, my rock of a mother and doctors contemplating what my next step would be. Nearly finished with my first year in graduate school, my mom gave me the choice of continuing my program or taking a well-needed, long break.When my mom, the woman who wouldn’t let me watch tv or talk on the phone until my homework was finished growing up, said this I knew I had a trying road ahead of me. I made the decision in seconds – recognizing that quitting a graduate school I spent four years trying to get into was not an option – I NEVER have believed in giving up on dreams for any reason.
For months I struggled every single day. I was forced to watch every single piece of food I put into my mouth, monitor the way my body felt every single hour of the day, take a combination of pills, ointments, and self-injections and more frequently than not I couldn’t control my tears. For me, my condition was extremely unique as I never fit the stereotype and while I feel great, my insides are at a constant war, leaving specialists at a loss and me extremely frustrated. As things began to shape up and I got my quality of life back, my condition came back with a vengeance. Between January and February I was given news that rattled me worse than my initial diagnosis. My method of coping was spending the next 14 days laying on my couch feeling (and definitely looking) like death (it was not attractive, probably even a little bit scary), as I took medication that knocked the light out of me. I hit rock bottom, no doubt. My mom, making the four-hour drive, found me on the couch of my apartment, unable to stop crying and unable to grasp that I am a resilient and strong young woman. I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve the path that I was given – I worked hard everyday, I was nice, I took care of my body, I never ate junk food, I worked out, I went to church and my family and friends were so loved. I, in a moment of regretted weakness blamed God and felt betrayed. And, this time I didn’t know how to pick myself back up and I was too proud to ask professionals for help.
The thing about rock bottom though, is there’s only way to go: UP. I had two choices: to feel sorry for myself, which I never have, or to actually LIVE. I cant say at which point I made my decision but I can promise you it was someone who made me laugh very hard one day that changed everything. My world is rife with complications but guess what?Everyone has their own set of problems – andmy problems, or yours, are no worse than someone else’s – even when it seems like the darkest, gray cloud is hovering over only you (solution: find a giant, by giant I mean GINORMOUS, umbrella a.k.a a support system). In fact, I count myself to be one of the lucky ones – a blessed soul. So I began to live. I lived each day – I threw away the rules that were so strict I stopped living in the first place, and most importantly I found things that made me laugh- I’ve been told it is the best medicine around! I realized that I had a group of ROCKSTARS for my support and among them the incredible person that pulled me out of my slump (little did I know until just recently, I pulled him out of his!).
Now it is May, and exactly 14 months and 6 days after my diagnosis I will graduate with my master’s degree and begin my professional career 5 days later. Looking, back I couldn’t be happier (in fact I am certain it was recognizing this as my greatest goal that landed me my AWESOME new job!).
So to all of Listen Lucy’s readers, here’s some perspective for your struggles that helps me: When my life feels like its the worst of the worst, I think back to my run-ins at the hospital, and how every time I am there I feel so sad for the person in the room next to me, and so happy to be me. I remind myself that I am not being punished but simply this is a PART of my life –NOT MY LIFE; but rather, an occasional hiccup that reminds me to be humble and thankful for everything I have- #faithrestored (still apologizing to God on that one). Look around and recognize that tears are not a sign of weakness but that those tears represent your faith that ‘it has to get better’ and you will not settle for anything less, be patient to those around you because you have no idea what they woke up to that morning and most importantly remember that not everyday is a rainy day- there will be bad but it is always counteracted with good.
Today: I live more colorfully, I smile more frequently and love more deeply.
Remembering this, I go back to the life that consumes all of me, the life of a 20 something female, done with school, living in an urban city, an exciting career ahead and complaining about the fact that my ‘incredible’ lives on a different continent. Now that my friends, is one of my biggest problems, my other half is an ocean away: #firstworldproblems!"
I often forget how lucky I am. I come from an amazing group of family and friends. I’m beautiful, athletic, funny, and have a personality that lights up a room. There are so many things I love about myself, and I’m not afraid to admit that—but I wasn’t always like this. In fact, I had to go through the most devastating heartbreak to acquire the love I have for myself today. Here is my story.
I dated someone for 4 years. It was a very healthy relationship and everyone close to us would have said the same. But when he decided to break it off, my entire world stopped. Literally, I stopped. I could not understand what was so wrong with me. I could not stop texting him, begging for him back. I could not stop contacting his family, hoping to still feel connected to him somehow. I felt so weak and helpless. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t study. I couldn’t talk without crying. I lost 20 pounds and failed 3 exams. I told my parents I didn’t want to go back to school the next semester. I had no idea who this girl was. One night at school, I was sitting in my apartment alone. I picked up my phone, and texted my mom something so disturbing that almost NO ONE knows about. I was questioning whether or not I wanted to live, without him in my life.
The next morning, I received an E-mail from my dad, and I want to share some of it with you:
“I have been staying pretty neutral through all of this, because that's just me, but I just can’t anymore. I knew the day would come when one of you decided to try flying solo. It happens. I also knew that you were not the one to ever believe this, so why bother telling you. When I heard about it, I felt very sorry for you, but I was happy too. These are the things that help us grow. YOU have to figure a way to be without him. Nobody can help you. They can comfort you. They can point you in the right direction. They can write you stupid emails or texts, but YOU and only YOU have to pull it together and start walking again, AND you need to do it for YOU and not for anyone else. Life is not and never should be about any one person. If he is the only thing that defines you as a person, then that is a relationship you should not be in anyway. I don't believe that, and I don't think you believe that, because you, of all people, have so much!! More than most people. You better believe that. You are not perfect, but you are pretty damn close to it, but sitting still and being numb because you cannot figure a way to be without him is not who YOU are. You are not that person. You are someone that is so touched by the world. That is a beautiful way to be. I wish I was more like you, and I try to be. You care!! You give a shit!! I love that about you. You get that from your mom. Ok ... I am done. You are wonderful. He is a fool. And love ...... well ..... it's undefinable and fleeting. It is the best drug and the worst poison all at the same time. I say figure out a way to love yourself, love your life, and the hell with anyone or anything that stands in your way.
I love you .... more than you will ever know .... Dad”
This is only half of the E-mail, but I read this E-mail EVERY single day. It has been a year and a half since my heart was broken, and I still read this every day. Not so much because I need it still, but because this is the E-mail that essentially saved my life. I have absolutely no idea where I would be without my dad. This man has taught me so much about not just love, but life. He is the smartest guy I know. I have never been so strong in my entire life. NOTHING can upset me now. NO ONE can hurt me now. I am more independent than I ever thought I could be. I was numb for about an entire year after the breakup. I stopped crying every day, but I did not stop thinking about it. It wasn’t until these past 6 months that I am now 100% ready to move on and it feels amazing. I know I am worthy and I know I have the ability to make someone else happy. Not every love story ends in a happily ever after…but sometimes it ends to teach you that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. I am the STRONGEST girl I know and I truly believe that.
He will never know how much he affected my life.
He will never know how strong I am now.
But that doesn’t matter.
As long as I know, and as long as I love myself, I win. "
I was born and raised in a city, community, and family where football is king. In a way, football has been my life for as long as I can remember. I used to wake my parents up at six in the morning every Sunday just so I could look at the newspaper to see the football helmets; football is actually how I learned how to read. I could do multiplication by seven by kindergarten because that’s how much a touchdown is worth. I loved everything about the game, and my life revolved around it. In fact, I am going to school to become a teacher and a football coach.
Growing up in a family where football is so often talked about only made my love for the game grow. We played it at every family function and it dominated conversation at every holiday. God forbid someone try to have a wedding during football season, that’s grounds to call off the wedding. I grew up watching my cousins, and especially my brother, play for our high school team and have amazing success. I worshiped my brother and wanted to be just like him, this meant that I HAD to be a great football player, no excuses at all. Coming from a community and family where football is so dominant, my mind was brainwashed to think that I had to start as a sophomore, I had to make all-conference, I had to make All-star teams, because in my mind that’s all that really mattered. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I came to college I had that same attitude, I had to start as a freshman, and if I didn’t, I better start by the time I was a sophomore or I will be too embarrassed to show my face around the community. Well guess what happened. I didn’t start as a freshman or a sophomore, and I let this game that used to be the love of my life, become my biggest stressor and allowed it to cause me grief instead of joy. I was depressed, there is no other way to describe it. That’s when I had the conversation with my dad that changed my views on life forever. He told me, “I think this is the year that you are going to start, but, if you don’t, who really cares it’s just a game.” It was here that the words that I had heard for so long and had chosen to ignore had finally sunk in. Football is just a game! At the end of the day does it really matter what you did on the football field? Forty years from now will anyone remember or care what kind of football player you were? I hope not.
Instead of a life revolving around football I have chosen to live a life dedicated to helping others. I love the fact that I am going to become a teacher because it means that every single day I have an opportunity to change the world, to make someone’s life a little better. At the time I decided I wanted to be a teacher, it was mainly because I wanted to be a high school football coach. Yes, I do still want to coach football, but now for all the right reasons. As a coach I will have the chance to work with kids who were in the same position that I was in. Day in and day out I will be able to relate to them and preach that is important to be the best football player you can be, but it’s infinitely more important to be the best person that you can be.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Football is life”, I used to live by that. It turns out I wasn’t really living at all. When it comes down to it, football, shopping, work, whatever it may be, doesn’t really matter. What really matters is if you’re making the world a better place every day. I probably won’t make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but that’s okay, I’m just going to keep trying to make people smile."
I am my own worst enemy. I have mentally and emotionally beaten myself up for far too long. We are all human. We all make mistakes. That is what growing up is all about. I will forgive myself. I will pray for strength. I will come to terms with my past. I've knocked myself down, but I'm going to get back up. I'm going to tune out all of the things that tell me I'm the mistakes I've made because I know that's not true. I will not let an event in my past overcome who I am and define my being. Sometimes things in life really make you wonder. I know this event was thrown at me for a reason. As cliché as it sounds I believe in that motto. My past was a lesson and it has allowed me to realize that it's okay to cry sometimes; even if your problems aren't as serious as someone else's. Crying is my therapy. Crying has helped me drain my emotions. But I don't want to cry anymore. I will conquer this and I will be happy again. Thank you Lucy. "
She showed us that it is possible to fall in total, complete and unconditional love with one person and feel that love grow every single day of your life together. She lived a full life with the person she loved most in the world and created this enormous, loving, army of a family and that is the legacy of their love story that will live on forever. She taught us how to love with everything we have.
As I plan my own wedding to the love of my life, I feel a void. I miss her smile and laughter. I wish I could have seen her reaction to my engagement and I wish she would be able to be there to see me in my wedding dress. It is a type of missing that I have never felt before. While I understand that this is a part of life and that I was lucky enough to have her around through 25 years, the feeling of loss and sadness still sometimes sneaks up on me while I am thinking about my wedding, my future and the life I want to build with my fiancé.
Her love story with my pap is one for the ages and one I will be sharing with my children. It is a perfect example of what love should be, what marriage should be. I know on my wedding day there will be something missing and I know my entire family will feel it. I also know that she will be watching over us while I walk down the aisle, when we sing our song and while we dance in celebration of a new marriage—one that will hopefully be as special and as meaningful as hers and my pap’s.
GramZ was the essence of love and laughter. Her joy is something that really is in each of us and if we continue to pass her joy, her memory and her being on to our children and our children’s children—if we try to emulate the life she lived and marriage she had--- will she ever truly not be around? I feel the void of her not being with us, but I know she is never too far away.
I must admit, life has been somewhat kind to me throughout my years on this earth. I have been fortunate to have a good family
, good friends, a place to call home, and food on the table. After 25 years, I am able to say that life has treated me well and if I had to do it all over again, I would. While this has been the case most often, I have had my share of daily struggles and seemingly overwhelming obstacles to conquer. Each time a new struggle comes up, it seems more monumental than the last. However, I am extremely aware that the magnitude of my struggles may not even come close to those of another. From an empathetical standpoint, I think my suffering has given me the opportunity to acknowledge and relate to another during their times of grief, pain, and sadness, even if I have never "walked a mile in their shoes". What it boils down to though, really, is the importance of everyone's feelings during their times of hardship. I firmly believe that it is important to validate someone's hardship and not to diminish their suffering in comparison to another. What I am trying to say is that the obstacles in my life have generated suffering, pain, sadness, and grief, even if the magnitude of that suffering is different from another. So the question remains: how do I cope? For me, running has always been my outlet.
I entitled this "Why I Run" because I think it is important to determine why we do the things we do for stress relief, fun, and overall general health. By trial and error, I learned that running, more so than anything else, was most beneficial for me during times of stress, boredom, anger, or unhappiness. There are many ways to alleviate tension, some people talk to a therapist, write in a journal, listen to music, or even read a good book to just unwind from the hardship of our daily struggles. Aside from running, I find music and writing to be exponentially helpful in the healing process. I have been fortunate enough to have the capacity to use my body in a way that allows me to enjoy nature (all by my lonesome) while exercising and sometimes, even listening to loud music. This to me has been the perfect way to de-stress.
I write this to express my passion about running during some of the most difficult times in my life, and even still, some of the happiest. I have suffered from heart-ache, rejection, humiliation, family crises, school difficulties, work drama, and overall stress, just like the rest of us. "A healthy lifestyle" was modeled to me as a kid but in some cases, not followed through by those modeling it. Lack of communication has permeated relationships in my life, to a point where the relationship came to an end, and suffering ensued. I have lost loved ones due to death and friends to drugs. These hardships have shaped me as an individual. In order to deal with them, running became a way of life, a way to get my body moving, clear my mind, and be creative with my thoughts. It has generated more pleasure than anything else.
Being alone in nature while running is the most therapeutic aspect of the sport, or at least for me it is. It gives me time to refocus my energy on something other than my problems, on something other than another person, or another situation. It allows me to clear my mind and activate a part within me that generates drive, ambition, and determination; but still be creative enough to generate problem-solving ideas. For a while, and even still today, running is difficult. It takes energy from my entire body to keep moving and pushing forward. Some days it's easy to run and some days it is much more difficult. On the days when it is difficult, or I am tired, hungry, fatigued, or exponentially frustrated, I have to find a reason to keep going. I do this because this is my outlet and I know that if I can get past that next mile in nature, I can get past anything that "real life" throws me.
Aside from activity, quotes, passages, meditation, and reading have helped me to calm my anxieties or worries. A favorite quote of mine, from author William James, sums it all up: "Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction". I always try to remember this when faced with a difficult decision or when running in nature. It has helped me to keep pushing forward, even in the face of hardship.
Thank you for giving us a place to express ourselves creatively, Lucy. :)"
My experiences in life have been somewhat disheartening. From the time I was born until the day I said no more, I was told I had a learning disability. I had a speech impediment that made me sound dumb and dyslexia that made me skink at reading out loud. My courage was buried so deep within my mind that even I couldn’t find it. That was until the day I realizes that the only thing that entombed my courage was the people saying I was dumb and separating me from the normal kids. I realized that I had the power to exhume my shattered spirit. I put aside the thoughts of the people that were trying to “help” me with ridicule and dumbed down learning. I wanted to prove to them that I could be better without them taking credit for it. I started to read my books, to challenge myself, and to say what I have and what I didn’t have. From that day on I didn’t have a learning disability because I didn’t let a single person tell me I did. Now I am taking my seventh AP class, accepted to all of my colleges, and using some pretty good resurrection imagery in the first couple of sentences. My friends and I have a thing we do when things are not going our way. We hold are hand up and pull on an in visible truck horn. It’s a message to us that if something gets in the way it’s that things problem to get out of the way. Nothing can stop a truck if you keep the gas on. That is the only way to truly get over problem, do it yourself and don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. That goes especially for those who are pushed down by a person who thinks they know you better than you do."
My struggle is actually happening now; during my senior year. I am in a Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus class and from the very beginning of this class I have been struggling to keep a passing a grade. I started with a B but when our chapter tests started coming my grade started to drop drastically. Ever since elementary school i have had problems understanding math. There has been one year, my eleventh grade year, that I have truly understood it. I ended my eleventh grade math class, which was Algebra 2 with a high B. My teacher was so good at explaining and breaking down the problems for me. I don't know how to deal with my class now though. I ask questions and get extra help outside of class but grade still remains low. I already am going to a good college so that is not an issue but for my own sake i would like to know I passed this class safely, not with a barely passing grade. I'm still going to try my hardest to work through the struggle of my of math and hopefully I will receive the best outcome!"
I am not lonely
I am just alone.
And sometimes I like it
And other times I don’t.
I am a big girl and I can be by myself.
But there are times where I feel like a prisoner of my own mind.
& I can’t leave the monsters that inhabit it behind.
I run away from my past
But some how the memories always seem to last.
Time heals most things, but not all
Cuts, scrapes, and hearts but maybe no what happened that fall.
The pain sinks in and I can’t push my demons aside
They crawl inside of me and ask to take over and I must abide.
Then they stop and disappear and I am okay,
That is until they come back the next day.
I am not lonely
I am just alone.
And sometimes I like it
And other times I don’t.
I am a big girl and I can be by myself."
Like most people I've had my deal of struggles throughout my life. I don't claim to have it any better or worse. I don't strive for pity nor to I condone receiving it, but one thing that I'll focus on that I have been dealing with most of my life is anger issues. To put it simply, I can not control it. I've gotten better over the years and what has helped me is finding my girlfriend. Is the past I have had my little melt down and rampages where I've put holes on the walls and broke stuff but I'm getting better...well in the process of it anyways. I've gotten to an age where I can wrap my head around how stupid inflicting self harm is, its just when I use to snap it seemed to be the easiest option. A few broken bones and stitches are all that really remind me of how bad it was and how upset I use to get, but now when I feel to upset I just think of the girl I care for and it manages to calm me, relatively speaking. All in all, I feel that through positive thinking and hard work I'll be able to better control any flares of rage I get. Thank you so much for hearing me out and this website sounds like a great idea!"
I'm a senior in high school and i have become very stressed out. On top of playing two sports, I have to keep up my GPA, apply to colleges, and make some big decisions that can affect my life majorly. This year has made me realized that things aren't going to be much easier once I go into college. Making a decision on where to go is so hard because there are so many things effecting my decision. These factors are my parents, location, reputation, size, etc. I feel that only being 17 I shouldnt have to make this kind of decision by myself. Yes I do have my parents and counselors helping me make my decision, but in the end it's all up to me. I feel so pressured when making my decision because of how expensive college is and if I don't like it I could have potentially wasted thousands of dollars. I am starting to close is on my decision, but I find it hard to make sure I'm doing the right thing for myself. I feel like it would be a lot easier to make a decision if there weren't so many options. I have gotten into a school in their honors program but no sports. i got into another school to play a sport there but no honors program, so in the end it comes down to if I want to play the sport or not. In the end I think I'm going to play the sport but i don't know if it is better to go for academics. All in all, senior year is not the blow off year that I was hoping for. Even though I am maintaining my GPA, sports, work, and a social life. This is one of the most stressful times for me right now."
The pain lingers with me everywhere I go
You were taken away and never brought back
You never got to live, and I wonder what you’d be like
I know you’re in a better place, even if it’s not here with me
You were taken away and never brought back
You became an angel with beautiful wings
I know you’re in a better place, even if it’s not here with me
But I still wonder why I never got to say goodbye"
My best friend, my love, my laughter
we were inseparable but after,
He moved away, we talked no longer,
those few months our love grew stronger.
The letters written came and went,
at the mailbox is where my time was spent.
I waited for him to come home
to let him know he’s not alone.
Being thousands of miles apart is rough
I’m always asked, how do you do it?
I say, it’s tough.
I know soon we’ll be together
but for now I will weather.
Through the hurt I keep my head tall
so my heart will never fall.
I love my Marine no matter where we are
and I know he’s here whether near or far."
Pretty soon I'm headed off to college. I've always grown up with a very tight-knit family, even through the divorce when I was 12. Recently I learned that my dad is planning on moving from the house I've grown up in for my whole life to be with his girlfriend and her kids. I'm torn because my house has so many memories with it, and my dad just doesn't understand that. I want him to be happy, but when I come home from college I want to be able to come home; not to a strange new house. I told my dad that my decision was to not live with him in his new house because his girlfriend and her kids are not my family. I told him I'd visit occasionally too but I just don't want to stay there. My dad isn't one to wear his heart on his sleeve, so it was very strange to see him cry when me and him went out to dinner. I'm feeling a mix of emotions and don't know what to do at this point. My dad was always my best friend and over time we've started to grow apart. I don't want to shut him out of my life, but I've barely been around his girlfriend and she's a stranger to me. I don't want to hurt my dad's feelings but I also don't want to put myself in an awkward situation. I've only talked to my mom and grandma about this and don't usually vent to people I don't know, but this actually helps. I used to keep a journal just so I could get my emotions out in the open so I wouldn't bottle them up until I got to my breaking point. So thank you for listening. It means a lot."
I have been dealing with a lot of grief as I count down the days till my high school graduation; which is suppose to be a happy event. I can relate much of this grief to what occurred about eleven years ago, when my father passed away from cancer. As the days go by and I grow older each day I find it harder to coupe with the fact that my father will not be here to witness all that I have accomplished in life, as well as my accomplishments to come. Even though, I know he would be extremely proud on the young woman I have grown to be, every girl dreams of and appreciates her father being by her side. However, his absence encourages me each day to accomplish something new. I strive to be the best and to achieve the highest because I know he is looking down on me and pushing me along the way. I used to be so angry that he was taken from me. However, now I see that even though he is gone from my sight, he will always be there to encourage me. From here on out, I would like to devote my life accomplishments to my father. Regardless of the fact that he will not be there to cheer me on, I know he is in heaven with a proud heart. "
I am strong and determined.
I wonder about the future.
I hear my kids laughing.
I see my wedding day.
I want to have a good job.
I am strong and determined.
I pretend I am rich.
I feel proud of my accomplishments.
I touch the diploma in my hand.
I worry about messing up.
I cry for failure.
I am strong and determined.
I understand I must work hard.
I say that I have to fight for what I want.
I dream that everything goes my way.
I try to do my absolute best.
I hope for a successful and long life.
I am strong and determined."