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Danielle Ione

Romance Writer. Twin Mama. Wife. Sarcasm enthusiast. Mental Health Awareness. LBGT Advocate.

Month

October 2015

In the most unconventional ways, he has helped me.

My husband started this thing with me when I was at my lowest point in life.  When I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror.  When I saw nothing but negatives and saw every insult I had ever been given.  And it was hard, but years later, I can say how rewarding it is.

When we first got together, I was suffering from bipolar, and anxiety, and depression, and insomnia, oh and a little bit of a twisted view on my body.  Not only was I screwed up in the head, constantly drifted from one mood to the other, from highs to lows, from OCD behaviors to being relaxed.  But I was also really hard on myself.  I couldn’t look in the mirror and not feel devastated. I felt like I needed to be thinner, do my make up better, have prettier hair, better skin, better…everything.  I was tired of looking at myself and cringing.  I had been told I was pretty, my husband found me t be gorgeous, and really, there was nothing wrong with me.  But still, I had issues.  I desperately asked for reassurance from my husband.  It was something I needed.  I needed to know that he thought I was beautiful, that I was worth the trouble, that I was worth anything at all.  And in the beginning, he was there with a compliment in hand, to ease my anxious and ever self deprecating mind.  But there was a line that needed to be drawn, one that only he saw, and one that I fought.

He told me that he wasn’t going to compliment me anymore.

It sounds strange, you know.  Isn’t that what husbands are supposed to do, compliment their wives, make them feel pretty when they’re feeling less than average.  In a way, yes, if all things were normal, if I hadn’t relied on my self worth on what my husband thought of me.  I needed him to tell me positive things about myself, to feel as if I was doing okay in life.  If he thought I was doing poorly, I went into hyper anxiety mode, because i valued his opinion so much, or too much, I guess it depends on who you ask.

So, he stopped complimenting me.  It wasn’t to be mean, in fact, it was the opposite.  He was doing it to make me better.  Because I was dependent on his words.  I was dependent on him to make me feel valuable when I couldn’t do it on my own.  And that was the problem.  I was unable to make myself feel valuable and by me constantly asking for his validation, I was screwing myself up, taking steps back instead of forward.  I hated it, at first, because I spent a little while struggling with it, but when it started to work for me, it really worked.

I had friends that didn’t understand.  They told me that, in order to feel better about myself, he needed to compliment me.  That I needed to know what he thought about my apperance to know if he was happy with me.  I needed to hear those words to feel pretty.  But that wasn’t the truth.  The didn’t understand where my head was at, they didn’t understand his need to help fix me in the only way he could see how.  They didn’t get it, because they weren’t us.  They were me.  They weren’t struggling.

I ignored them though because I knew what he was doing had my best interest at heart.  Because although my husband has a sarcastic asshole exterior, he’s actually one of the most generous, selfless, kind heart, and loving person I’ve ever met. Don’t tell him I told you that though. 😉

And on the days I asked him, “Do I look okay.”  He would simply nod and say “You look fine.” And on the days I pleaded with him to just tell me I looked beautiful, to compliment me, he said “You know why I won’t.”

And I did.

He wasn’t the type of person who liked to say things for the sake of saying them.  In fact, he’s a firm believer in doing things because he feels them.  He’s proven to me over and over again that the times he does to the romantic things, or compliments me, those are the times I remember with such happiness that i could burst.  Those are the times that stand out to me because they mean something. Because in those times, I knew he meant what  he said.

It was tough though, because what woman doesn’t want to be told she looks amazing even when she’s sitting there in sweatpants, no makeup, with Cheetos on her face.  But he stayed true to it.

I started to think about it the other day.  Mainly because I was looking in the mirror and realizing just how old my body is starting to look.  Okay, not old, but older.  I’m a mom of twins, my body isn’t what it was.  Sure, I’m thinner than I was before I got pregnant, but I have this weird twin skin thing going on, with stretch marks all over my body, and my boobs are no longer those perky and awesome twenty-something boobs.  I had a moment of weakness, because I wanted to know if he still found me as attractive as he did the day he met me.  We’ve been together for five years this December, married for four years, the curiosity was getting to me.  We met when we were young, when we were kid-less, I had to know.  I wasn’t asking out of curiosity, I was asking because I went back to that mind set of needing validation.  I needed his opinion to make me feel okay about myself, instead of being independent enough to feel good about myself, by myself.  So, of course, he refused.  He hadn’t had to refuse in a long time, and it took me back.  It made me see how far I had come, because besides that moment, I had kind of come into my own skin.  I’ve been proud of my body. I birthed two kids, with two failed epidurals, for over 36 damn hours and came out in one piece.  That was something to be proud of.  And I’ve been comfortable enough with myself to wear no makeup, and still feel like I rock it.  I’ve been happy to know that I birthed two tiny humans, and still feel fairly confident with my body, with myself as a person.  I’ve been independent enough to not need anyone else telling me that I am pretty to feel it.  And that was big.

After his refusal, it put things into perspective for me.  Brought me back to the mindset I needed to be in.  And I thought to myself, how lucky am I to have a husband who works so relentlessly to make sure that I am strong, that I am independent, that I am mentally healthy, even if it might mean doing something unconventional to get me there.  And when he feels that I am in the place I need to be, he compliments me, not because I need it, but because he feels it, and he feels the need to say it to me and because he knows that I am strong enough to hear it and feel proud.

It’s odd, I know, but it’s amazing to me.

Most might disagree, but I’m thankful for it, because had it not been for him, I probably would still be the anorexic girl who saw herself as this ugly troll when the truth was, I was far from it.

Sometimes people come into our lives and they change it for the better, and I’m one of those lucky people that has a husband that has changed my life for the best.

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The story of us. A post for my husband on our anniversary.

It started with a kiss at the top of Tower of Terror.

It started with a whirlwind.

It started a power, a force, bigger than anyone could understand.

It started from the moment our lips collided.

The rest was history.

There’s something to be said about two people finding each other and instantly knowing that it’s right.  It doesn’t happen often, in fact, it rarely happens at all.  The first time I met Kirby, I was attracted to him, but not just his looks, it was his sarcastic attitude, the way he so easily made everyone around him laugh, the way he looked so at ease; something that I so desperately wanted to feel within myself.  In a way, Kirby was everything I wanted to be myself.  He was happy, laid back, the type of guy that went with the flow, the type of guy who dealt with things head on and didn’t let them hold him back.  That’s what kept him in my mind after the first and only day we had hung out.  It wasn’t until a couple of months later that we had our first date.

To this day, we still debate on who picked who up, but for the sake of the story, I’ll say I did, because I totally did.  I shot him a message on Facebook being the modern dating woman that I was, and he responded almost instantly.  We talked and talked and talked about things I can’t remember, but it was easy conversation. He was witty and I had a permanent smile on my face after each message came to my phone and when he asked me out on a date for the next day, I about died.  I remember being in my mom’s office in her house, squealing and doing a happy dance.  The embarrassing kind of happy dance, the one that I hope no one saw through the window.

I had butterflies and I had that kind of near explosion feeling in my chest.  I was out of my mind excited.  I spent the entire day leading up to our date prepping.  I went into full girl mode, something I don’t often do.  I tried on a ridiculous amount of outfits, and I did my makeup and hair a thousand times to makes sure they were perfect.

I counted down the hours.

I counted down the minutes.

And I’m pretty sure I annoyed the hell out of my cousin that day because I was gushing so much.

I remember I was getting ready when he sent me a picture of himself.  Before you get your minds in the gutter, it wasn’t like that.  He sent me a picture of him making a super goofy face.  It was what I loved about him, even then, that he was willing to just be goofy with no false pretenses of who he was, he wasn’t trying to impress me with fronts, he didn’t pretty himself up for a selfie, he took one and it represented him.  It was a lot different from what I was used to.  I sent him a picture back, one of me smiling so big it hurt, and he responded with how damn beautiful he thought I was.  I swooned.  I actually swooned.

So you can imagine when the time came for the date to start, I was anxious, excited, thrilled.  We met up at a park down the street from my cousin’s house, one that my cousin and I frequented on a daily basis.  My cousin and Kirby knew each other, so we hung out for a few before deciding to go on our date.

I don’t remember a lot of what we talked about that night, I don’t remember every single detail of our date, but I do remember this part.  I remember standing there in the parking lot, tucked underneath his arm, staring up at those vibrantly blue eyes, thinking that this felt different to me.  We clicked.  It wasn’t something that I had experienced before.  Usually, you meet someone, you find yourself attracted to them, and then after time goes by, you discover whether or not you vibe together.  It happened at warped speed for us.  So much so that I reached up on my tip toes, and kissed him.  This is always an argument between us because he remembers kissing me, and I remember kissing him first.  It doesn’t matter how it happened, it only matters that it did happen and it will forever be burned into my memory.

We went to our date, going through all the rides at Disneyland, hand in hand, smiles all around.  He took me to California Adventure, and we got in line for Tower of Terror.  If anyone knows me, they know that I am not a thrill seeker.  I’m a rule follower.  I’m afraid of life.  I’m definitely not a roller coaster person, let alone a free fall ride type of person, but he asked, so I figured, why the hell not.

I was nervous as hell throughout the entire line and nearly backed out as we shuffled into the ride.  But, Kirby being Kirby, he held my hand, told me to relax and said something funny.  He distracted me as we rode up and up and up on this damn ride.  I was shaking and got the nervous giggles.  He held me close, and as we neared the top, he looked me in the eye, smiled, and leaned in for a kiss.  And as we kissed, we fell down, down, down, towards the ground, the ride bouncing up and down before letting us free fall some more.  He timed it perfectly.  He kissed me with the intention of distracting me from being afraid, he kissed me with passion, and he kissed me with a smile on his face while I dug my nails into his hand because i was terrified.  I don’t think he knows how much that meant to me to this day, but one day, I hope he will.

I think it was that moment that I actually fell for him.  We were physically falling down the stories of his ride, my stomach was in my throat, but my heart was beating fast, hard, and it wasn’t just from the ride.  It was from him.

Our romance was anything but conventional.  December 2nd 2010 marked the day of our first date and the day he asked me to be his girlfriend.  A week from then, I told him that I loved him for the first time.  I wrote it with my finger, across his forearm, half of me hoping he didn’t know what I was doing, and the other part hoping he caught on.  He definitely caught on, because it was no longer than a minute or two later that he responded, saying that he loved me too.  And from that moment, things sky rocketed.

The following week, we were driving around in his 1998 suburban, listening to Marry You by Bruno Mars.  He was singing out loud, something he didn’t do often, or nearly loud enough, but I loved when he did because he had a great voice.  We had planned on going to Vegas for my birthday, and while listening to this song, we made a joke about how funny it would be if  we got married in Vegas.  I laughed, he laughed, and then we got quiet as it started to sink in that the joke didn’t sound all that bad.

It started as a joke and it turned into something bigger.  The joke turned into a discussion about our futures, and what we saw for them.  And that discussion turned into what we saw in our futures with each other.  And that discussion turned into a talk of what if’s.  What if we got married? We loved each other, so although it was crazy, it could work, right? What would people think?

Well, Kirby was never one to care about what people thought, and I wanted to be that kind of person for once.  I wanted to put other people’s needs and opinions aside, and do things for myself.  So a week from the day we told each other “I love you”, we were engaged.  Most people don’t know that we got engaged twice.  Once, in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, where Kirby slipped on my first engagement ring, and told me “I’m going to do this right one day, and it’ll be a surprise when it happens again but I don’t want to wait to ask you to marry me.” To most people, that probably seemed dumb and impulsive, but to me, my heart still thunders away in my chest over it.  I remember how he looked, and how his hands shook, and I remember what it felt like to have that ring slide onto my finger.  I remember it all, and I cherished it.

No one really approved of us and I don’t really blame them.  How could anyone know what we felt for each other, that it was real, without being us.  We held strong through it though, while we lost friends, and lost respect from family.  We held strong because we knew that the love we had for each other was the forever kind.  We didn’t need to wait, we knew.  That’s all that mattered.  And in the end, everyone was glad that we were right in the long run.

When things settled down about our relationship, Kirby took us to Disneyland again, and we spent the day riding the rides and smiling just the way we had on our first date.  As we stood in front of the princess castle, watching the fireworks go off above us, I felt Kirby wrap his hands around me from behind and bring his lips to my ear.  He told me a lot of things that night, the things he loved about me, and what he wanted from us and our future, but the thing I’ll remember the most was the words “Will you marry me?”  I remember feeling like things were finally going right for me and that I was complete.  We kissed, under those fireworks, around a thousand other people huddled around, and I felt alive.

It was less than a year later that we actually married.  We wanted to get married in Vegas, but after some negotiating and compromising with our families, we settled on doing a traditional wedding.  It was gorgeous.  It was everything we wanted.  And if I’m being totally honest, I only remember the highlights because the day was over in a blink of an eye.  We danced.  We laughed.  We spoke our vows in front of the important people in our lives.  We were finally married, and it was everything I could have imagined.  I loved it all.

We went to Disneyland for our honeymoon.  It was our place, the place I fell for him, the place he asked me to spend my life with him, the place we celebrated the start of our lives together.  And one day, it’ll be the place we take our kids, too.

Our marriage started off differently than most people.  We were young, barely twenty-one.  And Kirby had enlisted in the Army a couple of months before our wedding.  He was set to go to basic training in January, so we only had a limited amount of time to really bask in the newly wed bliss.  We spent it well, though.  And when the time came that he had to leave, it was heartbreaking.  But, I felt good knowing that when I fell asleep at night, I had memories of him to think about.

It wasn’t easy for us.  It hadn’t been since day one.  Because I had mental health issues and Kirby hadn’t had to deal with them on my kind of level before.  He learned, and he was my rock through it all.  But, it wasn’t easy when he left either, because we hadn’t spent a day apart before that.  We made it through, and somehow we became stronger as a couple.  When he graduated and went to AIT, he was set to be in AZ for a couple of months.  I decided to move out there just so I could be close to him.  We had our first apartment there, and although I lived there alone, it was worth it.

We’ve been through ups and downs.  We’ve lived in five states, six cities, and seven houses over the last four years.  But each year rolls around, and each year I’m so taken back as to how strong we are.  Even when I think we’ve hit the max amount of closeness, of strength in our relationship, that we’re just too awesome, it all grows, we grow as a couple.

In the years spent in Texas, Kirby helped me through my mental health situation.  I was bipolar, and completely unstable.  I was on seven medications a day, I was sick, and I was tired.  He helped me when I decided to wean myself off of my medications.  He helped me when I decided to take a break from all of the doctors.  He supported me when I did it all, because he had faith in my that I could do it.  And on the days I needed him to baby me, he did without question.  And on the days where I needed him to take the kids gloves off, he did it.  And it was in those moments that I made the biggest strides.  I had him to keep me motivated, determined, because he was always there with the right words keeping me in check.

I’m convinced that had I not met Kirby, my life would still be in shambles.  I would still be unstable and sick and burning bridges.  I would still be making awful life choices, hanging out with the wrong people, and still stuck on medications.  I would still be the girl who gets told that she can’t have the life she dreamt of; that I would never had a family, that I would be in and out of a hospital for the majority of my life, that my life would never be good.  Without him, i would still be broken, but because of him, I am now whole.  Because of Kirby, my dreams are my reality.  Because of Kirby, I have a beautiful family, in a beautiful house, and I’ve experienced more than I ever imagines.  Because of Kirby, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how strong I am, and what it means to be apart of a couple.  Because of Kirby, I’ve learned what the definition of home is, and let me let you in on a secret, it has nothing to do with the walls holding up the roof over your head and everything to do with the people in your heart. Because Kirby is my home.  We don’t have the most conventional relationship; most people think they wouldn’t be able to handle Kirby, and most people wouldn’t be able to handle neurotic behaviors, bu hat’s what makes us work; we handle each other perfectly. I’m not a religious person, I lean too much on the what if’s of life to be one, but I do think that everything that happens in this life is purposeful. And I’m pretty sure Kirby and I were meant to be together.  We were meant to come together in a time where we were young and in need of some life guidance.  We were meant to come together with intensity, with a sort of power, with an overwhelming amount of love.  And we were meant to go through hell, only to come back on top with our dreams within reach.  Because now, I’m nearing twenty-six, and we have these two amazing children together.  Kirby is following his dream in his new career with the Army, and I’m following mine with books and hopefully school.  We’re following our dreams together as a couple, and I couldn’t be more blessed.

By reading this, you would never know that I”m not the lovey dovey romantic type.  In fact, neither Kirby nor I really believe in romance.  We believe in what’s real.  Flowers and chocolates only last so long, but the connection you have with someone, being able to show the person you love how you feel on a daily basis without all the false pretenses, is what is important.  We believe in speaking the truth, and that truth is that I love him, he loves me, and our story is hardly done.  It’s just beginning.  Here’s to the best four years of marriage, and the best almost five years of my life.  Here’s to many more.  Here’s to loving you with my entire being.  And here’s to you for changing my life, for being my reason for life, for being mine.

National Writing Day Excerpt

Things have been rather busy here on this side of the computer.  I totally and completely missed the fact that it was National Writing Day yesterday.  I suck, I know.  But, I felt like I wanted to share a little bit of Unconventional to celebrate that day, even though it’s late.  So, here’s the prologue! Enjoy!

I’ve never been a believer in love. Okay, I guess that’s not true–I believe it exist, I
just think it’s bullshit. I know, I know, how can I say that when the proof of its amazingness
is all around. I guess because I’ve witnessed how double-sided it can be. Sure, on the
outside it’s beautiful and exciting, but have you ever taken a closer look? I’m talking about
being an outside spectator to what happens when love fails, when it rips you to shreds. It’s
heart breaking.
I watched as my father internally shattered every time he witnessed the woman he
loved being physically and emotionally beaten by her husband. Throw in the fact that the
woman he was in love with was my best friend’s, Emery Jane’s, late mother and we’ve
officially become a Jerry Springer episode.
I’ve often asked myself why I would let one example ruin me for life, and I’ve always
come up blank. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve toyed with the idea of dating to experience what
everyone claims is such an indescribable feeling while falling in love, but as soon as I get
close, I freeze, clam up, and shut down. Fear is stronger than I ever imagined, and my fear
of getting hurt seems to overpower the need to connect.
Of course, I’m no stranger to the physical connection part of a relationship; it’s easy,
less messy, no drama. Your eyes glance upon someone across the room, you find them
attractive, make your way over to their corner, flirt a bit, give them the “fuck me” eyes,
take them back to your place, get down to business, and never have to see them again.
There’s no heartbreak involved. There’s no life altering, earth shattering, heart obliterating
drama to change it all, to make you a hollow version of the person you used to be. It’s
physical, primal, easy. That’s how I’ve always done it, and honestly, I never planned on
changing that. Well, that was until I met Hunter.
This man blindsided me. He wiggled his way into my world with his award-winning
smile and sarcastic humor. He was merciless in the way he pushed me to open up to life, to
open up to possibilities, to open up to him. And he won, over and over again. But, it’s never
really that easy, is it?
Life is kind of a bitch at times. You wade through the hellish problems thrown your
way with the ever-optimistic outlook that at some point things will go your way. And when
they do? It’s amazing, and you feel light and happy; but it doesn’t stay, it never does, and
just when you think life is in your favor, everything changes. The rug gets pulled out from
underneath you, leaving you grasping for anything to keep you upright in this world. And
when you come up empty, it’s more devastating than you could imagine.
So do I believe in love? Yes, I do. Do I believe it’s worth it? That’s something I’m
trying to figure out.

Remember, you are not perfect, but that is okay.

Everyday cannot be perfect. You cannot be perfect. And that’s okay.

There is no such thing as perfect.

There is no such thing as truly normal.

There’s this thing that all people do; they try to fit themselves into this tiny, perfectly shaped box when, by nature, human beings are too unique to do so. We all try to fit into this mold of perfect and normal when those two words are nearly impossible to define. My sense of perfect, my idea of normal, will not be the same as most people. And most people’s normal, their idea of perfect, will not match mine. That’s just it. That’s how it goes.
I spend so much of my time trying so hard to be perfect. Trying to paint this picture of what I want to be, but sometimes missing the mark.
I try to be the perfect mom. The one who never loses patience, or the one who never feels overwhelmed. Or even the one who can some how manage to keep the house clean, despite the fact that I have a twin-ado that strikes everyday, multiple times a day.
And I try to be the perfect wife. The wife who has it all together. The one who can keep the house spotless and have food made without burning it on the new (and in my opinion, evil and useless) flat top electric stove. The wife who never carries attitude in her tone for no reason other than because the day has been stressful and overwhelming and is taking it out on the wrong person.
And I try so hard to be the perfect version of who I want to be. The one who doesn’t have slip ups, every once in awhile, in the mental health department. The woman who takes on the world and handles it with ease. The one who tackles writing books, taking care of tiny humans, cooking, cleaning, and spending quality time with her husband, with her family, without dropping the ball on one of those on her list. The woman who takes the extra time to do her hair and makeup just to give herself a little confidence booster. The one who never makes a mistake. The woman who plans on going to school, until she’s in her thirties, with no sense of fear that she might fail despite every time she’s tried to follow her dream, where school is involved, she has fallen straight on her face.
I write that and I’m reading the words and laughing at myself. In my mind, it seems so black and white. Be perfect. Do everything right. When its not how life works. And that’s okay.
As much as I try to fit myself into this box of what my definition of perfect is for myself, for my life, I see that it is impossible.
It’s impossible because perfect does not exist. It’s impossible because in life, there are bound to be bumps in the road. It’s impossible because those expectations are just ridiculous.
I need to remember that just because I want to be able to achieve all of these things for myself, doesn’t mean that when I don’t, that I’m failing because in reality, it just makes me human.
I need to remember to take pride in what I do accomplish every. Single. Day.
Like being able to make my kids laugh so hard they snort, making me laugh so hard my face hurts.
Or being able to provide a healthy and stable home life, filled with smiles, laughter, support, and tons of cuddles because they deserve it.
Or the fact that in less than a year I’ve written two full books and I’m now working on the third. And not only that, these books are being published. I followed a dream I never had the balls to follow before.
And being able to say that I have the most solid and stable marriage with the most love and happiness I could ever imagine. And we achieved this by being the most Unconventional couple around , treating each other with nothing but respect, and being able to talk things out before the turn into an argument. Because I married my best friend, and that’s the truth.
And the not so little fact that I changed my entire life in what seemed like an overnight event and I work hard at it every single day. Some days are harder than others, but I still fight and I fight hard for this life.
Sometimes I need to take a step back and see this. Because I am human. I am not perfect. And most days, I take pride in what I do. But there are other days where I sit and think about every flaw, every tiny detail that I don’t like, and feel as if I’m not good enough. But its times like those, like tonight, where a good cold slap of reality is needed.
So here it is.
I am not perfect.
I am not normal.
But here’s what I am…
I am loved.
I am happy.
I am living a life I never thought I would be able to have.
I am a good mother.
I am a good wife.
I am alive.
I am breathing.
And I am flawed but those flaws are what make me, me.
Flaws are beautiful anyway.
So remember this on the days where you feel run down, incompetent, not pretty enough, not smart enough, or on the days where too many bad things have happened and you just can’t manage to sift through the gloom to see the light. Because you are worth it.

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out day! And in celebration of that, I wanted to share the prologue and part of Chapter One of Becoming.  It’s completely unedited and subject to change.

But before I let you read it, I wanted to say something.  Just a little something, since I’m tired, and I keep mixing up all of my words.

Remember to love who you are.  It doesn’t matter who your heart draws you to, you deserve happiness.  You deserve the life altering, heart stopping, I feel like I’m flying, kind of happiness and love.  You are worthy of it.  You are worthy of having a happy life, free of the chains that keeps you hiding.  You are worth every second of it.  Gay, straight, or a freaking alien, you deserve to wear a smile every single day. 

This is unedited and subject to change. 

© 2015 Danielle Ione


Prologue

Lily

Gay.  Bisexual.  Lesbian.  These words were never apart of my vocabulary growing up.  In fact, those words were something of a sin in my household.  My parents were the stereotypical overly religious types.  Not that it’s bad to have faith, it’s just they seemed to have this weird outlook on the way I, and the rest of the world, should live their lives.  And although I grew up with that kind of influence, I didn’t have the same beliefs.  I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around everyone being destined to be the same.  

I mean, look around you, no one looks the same, we don’t all act the same, hell, we don’t even think the same, so how could we all be expected to live up to the same standards? It just didn’t make any sense.  Not then, and it still didn’t now as a new adult in this world.  

I was homeschooled and I know that it affected the way I interacted with people, making me painfully awkward and shy but it didn’t mean that I was sheltered.  I knew there was such a thing as an LGBTQ community, I knew that you didn’t have to be gay to hook up with someone of the opposite sex, I also knew that you could be attracted to both sexes, I knew this, however I didn’t think it could ever apply to me.  

It’s not like being a homeschooled kid allowed me to have the most healthy social life, especially not with overprotective parents like mine.  In fact, I had never been in a situation where I could actually explore the feelings I had in a healthy way.  All I knew was that when it came to the idea of love and my future, it didn’t seem like it was all black and white.  And in reality, it wasn’t.  Not for me, and not for thousands of other people out there either.  But it didn’t really click until I moved out on my own, far away from my family and my sheltered life, and close to an environment where I could spread my wings and just discover me.  

Who was I? What was I about? Where was my life going?

I didn’t know the answer to any of those questions, but I wanted to find out.  I wanted to be able to look someone in the eye, shake their hand, and say “I’m Lily and this is who I am.” But, I couldn’t.  And it took falling for a straight woman and forming an unexpected bond with the girl from school to put me on my path to discovery.  It wasn’t an easy road, trying to find yourself when you don’t even know where to start, but having someone like Cambria in my life to hold my hand and show me the way made it a little easier, and a lot more exciting.  

Chapter One

Lily

When you look into a mirror, you’re supposed to see the person you are.  Your reflection is supposed to match up with the way you feel inside, but as I stood in front of the looking glass, all I could see is the face of a woman who had no idea who she was.  A woman who had more questions than answers when it came to her true identity.  

I tucked my long dark hair behind my ears, and inspected my face, as if it might be able to clue me in to the answers to my mental inquisition.  But, as always, I came up blank.

No new responses.  

No epiphanies.  

Just the same uncertainty hiding behind my hazel eyes.  

I wanted nothing more for it to be easy.  For me to see myself, and know with complete confidence, who I am.  But, it wasn’t as simple as asking the mirror for all the answers to my life’s most complicated questions.  I wish all I had to do was look at the glass and say “Mirror, Mirror on the wall who’s the girl in front of you after all?” And for it to answer me with the utmost clarity that I, Lily Chambers, was the girl with her life on track, her future bright, and her love life, her sexual identity, within reach.  

But, this wasn’t a fairy tale.

I sighed, as I brushed my bone straight hair, letting the way the bristles trailing across my scalp relax me.  

Every day when I looked at my reflection, every day that I left the house, I became a giant ball of stress, and today was no exception.  Having to make appearances in public was exhausting and only perpetuated the confusion that rushed through me.  It only made it more difficult to lie, to pretend, to avoid the truth.  

I wasn’t unaware.  I knew it.  I knew who I was attracted to, but I avoided it like the plague and I kind of figured that eventually, being blissfully oblivious, would work out in my favor.  What you don’t acknowledge can’t touch you, right?

As I swiped the round brush of black across my thick lashes, I tried to push it all out of my head.  You would think it would be easy, out of sight, out of mind, I mean, I’ve done that daily since the pesky thoughts started infiltrating my mind during my childhood, but it’s not.  When the truth demands to be told, it’s like fighting a war to keep in held in.

Guilt

I woke up this morning with an immense amount of guilt sitting on my shoulders.  I’m stable, or at least as stable as anyone can truly be in this life, but I’m not perfect.  Most days, my mind is solely focused on my present with my kids, my husband, my writing, and on our future as a family.  Normally, my mind stays in the present, but sometimes it takes a little walk down the treacherous path of memory lane.

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s usually because of a nightmare.  I used to get nightmares a lot, some of them flash backs, most of them just my subconscious playing tricks on me, hiding these tiny little hidden messages telling me how dumb I was in my past.  Last night it was the face of the person I spent the most time with during my most unstable, during my most manic, during the scariest of times.  And this nightmare was dropping these subtle hints of how childish I had been, and how far I had come, at least I think.

But, none the less, I woke up in a weird head space and I woke up with a lot of guilt.

I hate it, you know, having this guilt still around even though it’s been six or seven years.  But, hating it doesn’t make it go away, and letting go of those memories doesn’t make it go away either.

I feel guilt over my past because I was not a good person.  I was not a healthy person.  I burned bridges, I made the most ridiculous decisions that could have ended my life, I lied, I embellished, I lived on a high of mania that screwed with me for years after it happened.  But mainly I feel guilt because I involved so many people in my mental issues.  My issues were the worlds issues, and I shouted them from the rooftops, which makes me cringe as I think about it.

The reality is, most days, if I even start to think about my past, I’m happily met with a blur, because that’s what happens when you’re too high up on the mania scale to slow yourself down.  I like when it’s a blur because, as much as I’d like to remember some things, I’d like to forget most of it.

But, today is not one of those days where the blurriness of my memories is what I’m met with.  No, instead I’m carrying around this guilt, this chest tightening, head throbbing, guilt and this sense of wanting to close my eyes and forget it ever happened.

When I think about the things I did in my past life, all I can think of is the ache it causes in my chest to remember the things I did that could have ruined my life.  And all I can think about is how I wish I could erase it.  Take a giant eraser, and make a hole where that time of my life was.  Mainly because it hurt a lot of people, and also because I let that part of my life define me for so long.  Even while I was with my husband, the effects of those times haunted me, and he had to deal with it along side of me until I got better, until I had the good sense to let go and free myself from those memories.

I don’t talk about them very often.  And normally when I think about them, I’m happily met with no emotional attachments.  It’s just a memory that I have and it happened and it’s done.  But there’s a difference in feeling sorrow over the mistakes I made, and feeling guilty about them.  The drowning myself in sorrow has ceased, the mourning, the depression over it is long gone, but every once in awhile, I think about the days my children will be old enough to ask me what I was like after high school, and I’m not going to have an idea of  how to handle it.

I feel guilty that I dragged everyone I loved through this giant mess that I had going.  I feel guilty that I even was that person to begin with, I just feel guilty that I continued with those memories for as long as I did, letting them define me as a person, when I should have let them go the moment it happened.

It’s not a healthy way of thinking, I know, but I had to get it out.  I had to write it down, in order to move past and go towards that positive way of thinking that has gotten me to the stable mind I’ve been in.

Because nothing is ever as simple as just being stable, being sane.

It takes work.  Hard, excruciating, heart wrenching work, that never stops.  It’s worth it, but in order to get to that place of peace, it takes running through memory lane, feeling the things you need to get out of your system, and working your way through them, thinking your way through them.

Yes, I feel guilt.  But, should I? All the people I have in my life now don’t hold me accountable.  They don’t push it in my face that years ago, I was fucked up.  So why should I be doing it to myself? The answer is, I shouldn’t be.  What happened, happened.  I can’t take it away, no matter how many times I day-dream of doing so, of changing it all.  So why take the time and energy.  I have to come to peace with what I did, who I was, and realize that I turned it all around.  Most days, I know all of this, but after a nightmare, it tends to take me back a few steps.  Maybe that’s good, maybe it’s humbling, to remind me that I’m not perfect, to remind me that I came along way, that I’m a fighter, and not to take anything for granted.  Maybe it’s good because sometimes in the daily life, we become so focused on the tiny things that might bother us, like the house being a mess two seconds after we clean (by we, I totally mean me, and my insanity that is cleaning up after twin toddlers, lol) when my focus should be on the fact that I have a house and a mess to clean up, that I am alive, that I am living my dream life with my dream kids and my dream husband.  My focus has to be on the fact that I changed, that instead of following down the road I was taking, I changed paths.  Or else, I’ll be stuck in this perpetual cycle of guilt and shame.  That’s not how I want my children to see me.  That’s not how I want to show them a person should act.  That’s not how I ever want them to be if they make mistakes in their lives that they regret.  No, I want them to move past it with their head held high, knowing they screwed up, but knowing that they can be better, do better, and move on.
So, I let myself feel it all.  I sift through it.  I watch the memories go by on a fast cycle, and I let myself feel all the guilt, the shame, the regret.  Then, I make myself realize that, although those times were awful, that there’s no sense in bringing it up, digging up the past, just to make myself feel horrible about something I can’t change.  I moved on.  I did better.  And I continue to try and make up for what I did with karma, good deeds, and being a good person.  That’s all that I can try to do, right? To be a good person now, make good memories now, be the person I always wanted to be but was too sick to be now. Live in the now, be in the now, and focus on the important things, like my kids, my husband, my writing, my beautiful life.
I don’t know if this will ever make it out of the pile of drafts I have saved in this site, or if I’ll actually publish it, but sometimes thinking isn’t enough.  Sometimes I have to write it all down to make sense of it all.  Because writing is more powerful than I continue to give it credit for.  It brings out the epiphanies and the good feelings that take away the bad.  So when I woke up, my head in this weird head space, I worked it out, I thought it out, and then I wrote it out to make it stick.
I’m sane, I’m stable, but I’m not perfect.  I will have these days, but I’m just glad I know how to deal with them.

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