Late Night Coffee Musings #3

I’m leaving for college in the fall.

God, it doesn’t even sound real. I’m leaving for college. I am departing for ‘life after high school’. The bird is leaving the nest. How am I supposed to leave? I can’t even do my own fucking laundry, let alone take care of myself when I’m sick or lonely.

I wanna take the world by storm. I wanna find what I’m good at and be excellent. I have ambition.It’s not pointed in any specific direction at the moment, but it’s there, and it’s powerful. But is it worth missing my brother’s first year of high school? Of making sure my little sister still laughs at all our jokes and doesn’t say the word ‘totes’? Or my best friend, my sister who’s going to be filling her college applications and going through the rollercoaster I went through.

(As I’m writing this, my youngest sister is trying to replicate Joey from Friend’s “How YOU doing,” and failing spectacularly.)

Everyone asks themselves what the point is of waking up every morning. Why should we get up, why should we try? I love my parents, but I want to help answer those questions for my siblings when they come up. I want my Mom to tell me good morning cheerfully, even when I look like an angry raccoon with bedhead.

It’s not like I’m vanishing for the next 4 years. I’m going to come home as often as I can. But I’m also not stupid, and I know that once I move out, things are never gonna be quite the same. And I need to learn how to let go so I can build something new, something potentially better.

I’m so excited for college, but I’m so terrified of letting go.

And God, I’m so scared I’m going to mess up. I’ve never really felt true fear in my life. I’ve been scared, sure, when we couldn’t locate my brother or my little sister fell asleep under the bed for hours and we couldn’t find her. But I’ve never been bone-chillingly terrified. Terrified that I will go against everything I believe in, against everything I was raised to protect myself against. Terrified that I’ll be so swept up in the moment, I’ll forget that that ‘s all it is. A moment. Just a blink in time that could cast a shadow on the rest of my life. I’m young and impulsive and about to go to move out for college at a good school that’s also a party school. If I start down the wrong path, I don’t know if I’ll be strong enough to pull myself off it. And if by some miracle I am, I don’t even know who I’ll be.

But that’s why we get up in the morning, I guess. To fight through another day, through another make more moments and more memories. To fight, so that one day you wake up, look in the mirror, and know you’re strong enough. You can win the fight with yourself, the urge to let what you want be what you can’t live without, to lose sight of what’s important.

It’s so, so easy to make the wrong choice. And that’s what I’m afraid of.

That my wrong choice has already begun.

Late Night Coffee Thoughts

“I am so tired.”

It’s funny how ‘I’m tired’ is the slightly more honest version of ‘I’m fine.’

You can be tired from a long shift at work, or an argument with your best friend.

Or you can be tired from spending the night crying. You can be tired from pasting a smile on your face when all you can hear is the screaming in your head.

You can literally not move for hours and feel more tired than when you woke up.

I think it’s just our mind, fighting back the tidal waves of insecurity, of doubt, of regret. Pretty tough job, I must say. And it must really suck, going to sleep with the knowledge that when you wake up, you’ll be even more tired than when you closed your eyes.

Addiction. In our Minds, Hearts, and Souls. We are All Addicts.

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Everyone in this world has some sort of addiction. Whether it be drugs, porn, food, TV, soap operas, whatever. We all have one. We usually think back to when it started and wonder if maybe you were meant to do this. I mean, as a child didn’t I (for example) love taking medication? Didn’t morphine make me feel so good? Maybe I was destined to become like this. 

No, you really weren’t. 

I’m not a third- party observer. I have an addiction as well. One not physically harmful, but mentally chaotic. It started about a year ago, at the end of my freshman year. A few of you will think, “That’s ridiculous. How can someone so young emphasize with what we’re going through?” Everyone is always teasing teenagers because they’re emotions are out of control, right? Like a perpetual state of PMS. So, Mr./ Ms. Skeptic? We feel things ten times more than you do. 

So at the end of my freshman year in high school, I got curious, and I dabbled, very lightly, in what would soon come to plague my thoughts. (It’s not drugs, my numerous trips to the hospital for surgery have alienated me from any drug, harmful of not. I’m not ready to say what yet, something else I want to discuss). I was fascinated, and you know, the very first ‘hit’ of your addiction is amazing. Soon you’re going back for more, craving the same effect, until you need more and more and more of it to reach how you felt that very first time. I went back, this time to explore further. That was the first time I crossed that barrier. We always have things that we block off with our minds. “Skydiving? Hell no.” “Ditching school? I don’t think so.” “Justin Bieber? Don’t go there.”  When we cross that barrier the first time, it’s extremely easy to do it again, and again. 

When I crossed that barrier, I felt like my mind had been warped, that my innocence had been ripped apart (I’m a fairly sheltered girl- my friends have to explain 3/4 of dirty slang to me), and the GUILT. It was EATING ME ALIVE. I couldn’t look my family in the eye, and I had this huge parasite in my chest, chomping away. I wanted to cry, throw something, and shout. 

Did that stop me from going back again? No. Because I’d had that first feeling, and I wanted it again. 

Slowly, I started feeling more comfortable with it. Each time I expected the guilt to lessen, to no avail. I couldn’t joke with my sister, I couldn’t focus on my schoolwork, and all I could think about was what a pathetic loser I was. This has been going on for a year. 

And I’ve finally decided that it needs to stop. 

Sure, we’ve all sworn to stop many times before. But we always break. But when you abstain from your addiction for a day, a week, a month? That shows you can abstain forever. So even if you make a little progress, it’s progress nonetheless. 

Here are the steps I plan to take to stop this awful feeling in my chest of unworthiness. I don’t want to feel like a liar, like I have something to hide. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

  • Make a journal. Stop your whining, it helps when you’re feeling like the biggest piece of crap on the face of the earth. Write about what you did, what triggered it, how you feel afterwards, and what you need to watch out for. 
  • Depending on your addiction, you need to avoid your triggers. The smallest, most inconsequential things that we don’t suspect can throw us off our game. So keep your eyes open at all times. 
  • I realize that it’s hard to go cold- turkey. I’ve tried. A lot. So there are exceptions. Chew gum, croquet, eat something with similar ingredients. Don’t plug your earphones into the computer. 
  • If you’re not comfortable or emotionally ready to tell someone, because you’re afraid of losing they’re respect, or that they won’t act the same around you, I understand. I can’t even tell complete strangers what my addiction is. Best way to keep you from indulging? STAY WITH PEOPLE. And not people that encourage whatever it is you do. Stay with the people that you wouldn’t tell you have this addiction In the end, those will be the ones to pull you through. 
  • Don’t allow yourself the opportunity. A lot of us bullshit ourselves all the time. “Oh, I’m not actually going to smoke, I’m just testing it. No, I’m just logging on to the computer to go on facebook. I have a headache, and I can’t do anything without getting rid of it.” Be honest with yourself. You know exactly what and why you are doing it. 
  • Exercise. No matter what it is you’re suffering from, this actually helps. Seems our elementary school teachers aren’t lying after all. It focuses you, distracts you, and you get fit in the process.
  •  Don’t give yourself any free time. Boredom is the mother of addiction. It’s almost guaranteed that with free time, you’ll lapse. 
  • One person I read about marked his calendar for every day he stayed clean. He was pretty hard core too, and when his checks started being more than his X’s, he didn’t want to lose his streak. He kept a list of reasons why he couldn’t indulge with him to look at at all times. You can write it in the back of a binder, planner, notebook, whatever. 
  • If it persists: Seek help. Join a group, online or otherwise. I can hardly believe I’ve been doing this for a year. When I started, I was sure I would never do it again. 

Time passes fast when you have an addiction. The days turn to moths, to years. You aren’t able to look at pictures, laugh with friends without remembering the taint of your addiction. It’s like a shadow, hanging over your head, like a guillotine. We fear that someday someone we love will discover what we have done, and it will all come tumbling down around our heads. I don’t want to live in fear anymore. I don’t want to live in shame. No more half- assed attempts. I want my life back. I want to be able to look back on this a year from now and be proud of myself. The first step that I didn’t mention up there is that before you do anything, you’ve got to want it. I picture how happy I was and how happy I can be once I purge this disease from my life. I’ll post updates on how I’m doing in this area, and maybe someday, I’ll have gained enough emotional stability to reveal what my addiction is. If you want to share your story, please do. You have no idea who can be inspired by it, or feel like they are understood. 

I want my life back, and I intend to get it. 

Pride Goeth and Comes Before a Fall

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We’ve all heard the quote ‘Pride goes before a fall” before. The religious context isn’t a matter here. What I was wondering is why there isn’t a quote about how if you didn’t have that pride in the first place, you wouldn’t have fallen. Pride has been said to be tied to nationalism, individualism, patriotism, etc. Ideas that give you the warm and fuzzies. But in my opinion, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Coming from a high school perspective, where the tumultuous and vicious emotions are tearing inside teenagers, pride is like your shadow, brushing a feathery hand of influence on your actions. How many relationships have fallen due to misconstrued pride? When somebody suspects that their loved one has betrayed them, half the time (especially for us teens) the reason for our hurt isn’t necessarily that we were let down by someone we trusted. It’s that our pride was wounded. Our pride in the thought that we had firmly controlled that aspect of our relationship and surely, the other person wasn’t about to damage it. When two boys square off in a fist fight, or two girls back-stab a former friend, why is it? What would cause people who were once so close to turn on each other like wild animals?

Pride.

It’s a carnal, primitive part of ourselves we cannot escape. Of course there are instances when pride is good, for example if you are advocating a cause you believe in, and your pride won’t let you back down even when all the cards are stacked against you. But the reality of the situation is that pride is almost always harmful. I have an example to validate my claim. I have a friend, let’s call her Denise. Denise, for the past year, has fallen prey to the peer pressure of drugs. Her grades have taken a dive, she can barely get dressed in the morning, and she’s been absorbed into a crowd that will someday be occupying the grounds of a federal prison. Denis won’t accept advice, and she will not admit that she has a drug addiction.

“I know it’s wrong, but it’s only for a little while. I’m young! I can stop whenever I want, Vera, okay?” she said when I confronted her. Just last night, she was admitted into the ER after a car accident that killed two of the ‘crowd’. She was spared, but she’ll never be the same again.

Why didn’t Denis go to her parents and ask for help? Why didn’t she talk to her friends, her teachers, counselors, a support group? Was it because she didn’t want to stop? I think that she wanted to stop. I think she wished for her old life more than we can ever imagine, but she didn’t think she had a hope of getting it back after all that she had done. Her pride stopped her from seeking aid, her pride made her wave away advice, and her pride nearly cost her her life.

We all use different words for it. When we don’t want to go apologize to a friend, “Oh, it was her/his fault. He should come to me. ” And thus a friendship is lost to the jaws a pride.

“I didn’t do so well on that test because I didn’t study. I could have done even better than you if I’d bothered.”

“I can’t tell anyone about this. If they find out that I’ve been (insert shameful deed) they’ll lose all respect for me. I can’t have them look at me like that.”

I suffer from the claims of pride too. But I have a picture in my head. I have the power in my own two hands to make my family closer. I can take time from watching TV to play with my little sister instead of deeming her childish and embarrassing. I can remember that my schoolwork and studies are going to pay off that day when I anxiously wait by the mailbox for the acceptance letter from my dream school. I know apologizing to a friend that upset me will make her/ him understand that while I can be upset, I can just as easily forgive.

Will I have the willpower to make this picture reality? I don’t know. We all have pictures in our heads that we want our lives to be like. If you want to share with other’s your picture and your difficulties in achieving it,  let me know. Pride has been humanities banana peel on the ground since the beginning of time. It’s about damn time we all stopped slipping.