4 states, one year

Holy shit, I'm still alive! 

I feel like thats the appropriate way to open this post up. It's been one hell of a year since the last time I checked in.  SO much has happened. And I'm gonna tell you all the  details on everything thats happened and why I went completely silent on my blog. I've missed it so much and I have been looking forward to the day when I feel fully ready to come back to it. I'm ready, lets do this. I'm in a good place again after this rollercoaster of a year. Man, a fuck-ton of shitty shit has happened. But a lot of great things have come from it and I'm excited to have learned some new lessons and to share those with y'all. This is gonna be a long one and I'm a little rusty at this, so cut me some slack if it's all over the place. Trying to fit an entire years worth of experiences in one blog post without overwhelming y'all is hard! But here we go....

The last time I spoke to you guys (typed to you guys, whatever) I was living in Southern California  with my then boyfriend. I thought I was happy..and for the most part I was. I had a great life. But something was missing. For me, at least. I couldn't tell and still can't tell you what it was. I still struggle to understand it. I felt like there was something more out in the world that I was missing in my life. In hindsight I think I was just craving adventure and new experiences. Maybe my life in the suburbs of Orange County just wasn't ever going to satisfy me and thats what the issue was. I didn't know what the reasons really were then, but I knew I had to find out...and after a year of a lot of self reflection and a lot of tears over things that could have been, I feel comfortable opening up about it all. Because I understand it more now. I understand myself more now. 

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When I realized that I wasn't happy, that I needed more, it was the hardest pill to swallow. I had very little to complain about, my life was great. I had great friends, a great boyfriend, I had a good job that I enjoyed but I still felt like it wasn't enough. I felt so selfish for wanting more. So I ignored it until I couldn't anymore. Not the smartest idea, I know. Having a great life while simultaneously wanting more is a difficult position to be in because there are only two outcomes to that situation. You either settle and hope for the best or you change your life completely to make yourself happy knowing that it hurts people you care about. And both of those options suck. I know myself well enough to know that I'm not the kind of person to just hope for the best, so I made the decision to leave my boyfriend who I had lived with for over two years and go see what was out there. To find the "more".  Leaving a good man was the hardest decision I've ever made. Breaking your own heart hurts and knowing you're also breaking a good mans heart makes it hurt so much more.  It's been a year and it still hurts. Maybe it always will. Falling out of love is strange. I still care deeply for this person and I imagine I always will. Romance evolves and changes but maybe having a special connection with someone never does. I owe so much to my ex and he will always own a special place in my heart and thats okay. Fuck, it's more than okay! Just because things don't work out with someone doesn't mean that the relationship was bad and you can still carry the good memories close to your heart. I know I wouldn't be who I am now if it weren't for my ex. He taught me so many valuable life lessons, helped me to become a person I am proud to be. In many ways I owe him the life I have now and I will forever be grateful for the relationship we had. I used to think I wasn't allowed to hurt because I chose to leave. Now I allow myself to feel that pain and I don't beat myself up because I realize that even though it didn't work out, I had something worth hurting over losing. And I'm allowed to feel that loss, even if I'm the one that chose it. 

Leaving my ex was just the beginning. Shortly after that (I mean like, a matter of two weeks) I packed all my belongings and moved to Northern Nevada. The first of three out of state moves I would make in the year to come. I spent a few months there with my family so I could heal from the breakup. I spent time in nature and having good conversations about life with my godparents. It was exactly what I needed. I ended up building a foundation for another relationship during that time that lead to me moving to Naples, Florida. I regret moving so fast. I hate that I did. But it happened and pretending it didn't doesn't allow me to grow and learn from my mistakes...and this was hands down my biggest mistake. I moved for someone I barely knew, who had convinced me it would be the best decision of my life. I ended up in an extremely abusive relationship with this stranger who manipulated me from day one. I was feeling so lost after my breakup, so vulnerable that I allowed myself to ignore all the red flags I saw from the beginning. That is something I'm still struggling to not beat myself up over. I was in a weird place, shit happened. I used to feel like it was life punishing me for breaking a good mans heart. And there might be some days where I still feel like that. Like it's my fault...even though I know it's not. 

I've never felt lonelier than when I lived in Florida. I was living in a new state with a man I was afraid of.  I didn't have many friends and he tried alienating me from my family who were already three thousand miles away. It was a really dark time for me and I didn't have the emotional ability to put effort into blogging because I was basically in survival mode mentally. I was constantly walking on eggshells and being worried all the time. I had nothing in me that I could give to anyone else. I started to change. I shut down. I was living in a constant state of fear. Afraid of when the next time all my belongings would end up tossed on the lawn would be or when the next time he would scream at me for hours and and kick doors down when I was able to get away long enough to lock myself in a room would be . When the next time he would throw me on the ground or sit on me calling me names would be. This person would even threaten my dog when I was "out of line" for sticking up for myself. I often felt like a hostage in his home. He always let me know it was his and not ours...I was just an unwanted guest that he begged to stay. Between the mental and physical abuse and the extreme gas lighting, I felt like I was losing myself completely and I sure as fuck didn't leave the great life I had in California behind to lose myself. I spent my childhood watching my mother stay in relationships like this. We were regularly stuck in emotionally abusive homes and I always knew that I would never let myself stay with a man who hurt me.  So I made move number three. 

"choice is too precious to be wasted on vermin" -Sub Rosa

"choice is too precious to be wasted on vermin" -Sub Rosa

I packed my car up and drove to New Orleans for a weekend to apply to live at apartments so I could get out immediately.  At this point I was afraid for my safety and I knew I needed to leave as soon as possible. As soon as I was approved for a place I had them send the lease over so I could sign it and move in immediately. It took less than two weeks for me to move from Southwest Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana. One of my best friends, Hannah, flew from Las Vegas to Florida to help me drive to New Orleans and stayed with me for about a week to help me get settled. I couldn't have done it without her. The first month or two I was still living in fear of my abusive ex. I was always looking over my shoulder, afraid he would have someone watching me. I would dip into random bars and throw a hood over my hair if I even felt like someone was following me. I spent a lot of nights on the verge of tears whenever I heard a motorcycle, thinking it was him. I Was able to physically get away from my abuser, but mentally he still had control over me. I've been in New Orleans about six months now and I'm finally feeling like I'm in control of my life again. I'm not afraid of him. I have a great life. I have great relationships with incredible people. I've gotten in touch with my creative side again. I have so many wild experiences that happen on a daily basis in this city. Walking down the street is a damn adventure here! I found the "more" I was looking for. It hurt to get here, but I'm here now and I'm happy. I couldn't have had this life if I didn't destroy the one I had before. Bittersweet feels like the appropriate word to describe my feelings about it. 

I guess one of the biggest lessons I learned from all of this is that you should always listen to what your heart is trying to tell you, even if it hurts and you don't understand exactly what it's trying to say. Sometimes you have to break your own heart in order to gain a life thats even better for you. The greatest thing that happened to me was moving to New Orleans and that wouldn't have become my reality unless it had the roots to grow from one of the worst things that ever happened to me. Life is a roller coaster. There will always be ups and downs and most of the time those are out of your control. All you can do is learn how to find the good in the bad because I promise you, it's there...somewhere. It's all about perspective. I've learned that whatever I go through, I get through. Even though its felt like my world has ended multiple times in my lifetime it's just been my world changing. And I guess in a way that is kind of the same thing. My old life had to die in order for my new one to grow. It feels like a death but it's simply an evolution.  I'm sure there will be many more evolutions in my lifetime. And I'm sure many of them will hurt. But I've learned that there is beauty in all of lifes hardships and changes can be wonderful after they feel awful. Most importantly, I've learned that I'll be okay no matter what life throws my way. My world may end but there will always be a new world waiting for me to build it. I am the architecture of my own life, we all are. I am so thankful for all the things I've experienced in the past year, the good and the bad. I've traveled to so many new places and gone so far out of my comfort zone that I don't even believe I have a comfort zone anymore. The world is my oyster and I'm not afraid of it anymore. I've made so many good memories and made so many good friends along the way. I feel so lucky to have the life I live. I am content. I am thriving. I am living in my "more."