On Friendship and Losing Them

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship.

     A friend recently decided that they no longer wanted me to be a part of their life. We had lost touch in the last year or two–mostly because I have moved three times in two years and been a carnival of stress. I am a terrible friend by nature; I don’t reach out, I don’t call, I don’t text, I don’t message, I don’t even write snail mail. I will occasionally ‘like’ a photograph of your dog or a witty status you’ve written about politics, and even rarer, I will actually remember to wish you a Happy Birthday. Sometimes, I’m on time about it.
     Worst of all, this person removed me from their life and they didn’t tell me why.
     I don’t mean to be this bad at friendship, but you have to know three things about me:
     I want to feel wanted.
     I want to feel understood.
     I could give the Professor from Flubber a lesson in absent-mindedness.*
*Also I make extremely outdated pop-culture references.
     My enduring best friends are long-distance. My best friendships have developed from years of understanding that physical presence isn’t the only thing that binds us. Those people still reach for me even when I haven’t reached lately. Those people want contact, and they understand that I still care. I have a theory why this is the case:
     My closest friends growing up all moved away. Preschool? I was enchanted by a girl named Caitlin. She moved away. Then Brett–she moved away. Then Liz. Then Meagan. Then Talia. Then Megan. Then I couldn’t remember how to have friends when I went to high school–luckily, I joined theatre, where the friends were numerous and only moved away because they graduated. Then a new Katelyn found me. And I moved away to college (but we still cling and check in when we both remember to breathe, even though I couldn’t make it to her wedding–I’ll never not be sad about it). Then Tyler, my first college best friend, moved away after only one semester of friendship (but we still talk for hours on the phone every few months). Then I got depressed and clung to a series of new BFFs–and they understandably decided I was needy, clingy, and too much work. (I was.) Then I moved away again and that was okay. Those people from my first college will always have an inaccurate, incomplete vision of who I am, or was, but that’s okay.
     Then I met a group of people at my new college who were a little more my speed; all of us the same age, same angst–all of us trying really hard to be adults without drinking problems, despite developing a reputation and a Spot that we’d go to habitually to chat and solve the problems of the world. I’m still friends with most of them. One of them keeps a journal with me, which I promise I will send back to you soon, Jo. One sends me beautiful gifts and is still the only person I’ve successfully met up with every time I’ve been back home to visit. She’s my Patronus, she knows this.
     Regardless, the only friendship pattern I have ever know is Meet. Friend. Best Friend. Part.
     You can imagine what that does to a person over nearly three decades of life.
     To be clear: I think it’s okay that we separate ourselves from people who once mattered to us, even if it happens for no reason at all, or if the reason is only known to one person. I think that’s okay, because we have to protect our own hearts.
     But I can’t figure out why I still feel guilty for cutting out toxic people in my own life. It probably has something to do with knowing what it feels like to realize that you’ve been… dropped as a friend. It really sucks. I don’t want to put that on anyone–who would? I don’t believe this person wishes me ill. They probably think I don’t care, which is not the case. They might think I’m obnoxious, vain, full of myself, addicted to Facebook, any number of things that could be gleaned by taking my voracious social media habits at face value. I have to be okay with that person thinking those things about me, because if they don’t want to connect, there’s nothing I can do to change their mind. They are allowed to curate their own friendships.
     Here’s the thing:
     I have to tell you that when I was a younger person, at least in grade school, you would’ve had to murder me before I’d consider cutting you out of my life, let alone de-friend you on Facebook, which would not have mattered at that point. It’s impossible to imagine a scenario in which I would have stood up for myself to a friend when I was a teenager, and even into my early twenties. I didn’t have a bad childhood by any means–I just was petrified of other people, especially of confrontation, and even more scared that if I made friends, they would surely leave. I have not had an easy time becoming an adult as a result, and people who are insecure are often magnetic for energy leeches. I entered into my first ever romantic relationship, outside of a two week tryst in 8th grade, at the age of twenty-one. I have had a very short period of time to understand the intimacy of friendship, let alone a relationship. So you must understand: to me, there is nothing more delicate or tenuous than a real, true friendship.
     And yet, I have cut out a sizable portion of people from my life in the few years, many of whom are still close with people I still speak to. I deliberately removed myself from their life and them from mine. It was a very definite break and I can say for certainty that these people are aware that I severed ties. But the people who I cut all ties with deliberately hurt people that I love, hurt me, and continue to conduct their lives with little regard for anyone else. I haven’t slandered their names, I don’t want to destroy them or the work we did together, but those people walked all over me, made me believe I was worthless–and then they made me feel guilty about it.
     Do you know who doesn’t deserve to be a part of your life?
     People who make you feel unwanted, misunderstood, and absolutely worthless.
     We’re all human, we make mistakes, I believe humans are inherently good (that’s a cute little phrase I like to say before telling you that some people are garbage), but also it’s okay that sometimes I am not the person that someone wants to be friends with.
     It’s even harder to be my friend now that I’ve found some backbone, let me tell you. My closest, greatest friends are the ones who built me that way. Your people should bolster you. Your people should make you feel like you’ll always have someone to call when your heart breaks. It’s okay to have different friends for different types of friendships. Sometimes we grow out of a phase, but I hope you remember that your real friends will tell you that you’re being an idiot and hold your hand while you de-idiotify yourself. Real friends tell the truth.
     Luckily, friendship gets better as you get older and find people with your same passions. My best, dearest friends (some of whom are relatively new in my life) are Friends Out Loud–they do not let me forget that they’re here for me. I hope the people who mean a lot to me know this… but it’s clear to me that I haven’t done a very good job.
     I want to tell you a secret: I don’t believe that “people come into your life for a reason.” We create our communities by building relationships based on the strengths of the people around us. We control our own lives. Every friend in your life should be a knight at your roundtable. There are no exquisitely carved chairs for fickle, fair-weather pretenders. There are no seats at the table for ex-boyfriends who cheated on you, ex-besties who told your deepest secrets, ex-family who ostracize you. You decide.
     On the other side of that very angry-sounding coin: If you want friends, you have to be willing to be a friend. Remember to give. Your listening ear is enough. Your hand to squeeze is enough. Your shoulder to cry on is enough. Your laughter to bolster is enough. Your words of wisdom are enough. Give back to your friends… but first, reach out to them. If you want people to stay in your life, you have to make them feel wanted. You have to make them feel understood. Do it now, before it’s too late.
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The Holy Grail of my brain

You know that place you find yourself in–the one you don’t know how to escape, and can’t remember how you arrived in, but feel the need to retrace? When you’ve completely lost your direction, your “purpose”.

I’ve been… waiting on the “answer” to my problems; the cure for near-constant anxiety and oncoming depression feels unreachable. I used to feel like I got a good emotional cleansing when I danced, when I was performing, but I don’t have that kind of emotional purge available to me right now. I don’t know where to find the outlet I need for catharsis anymore, now that I’m not in high school.

But I’m doing research.

I’ve been watching a lot of interviews with actors that I admire. I miss performing the most; there is a great big theatre-shaped hole in my heart, which I’ve tried to fill up with other artistic outlets. I’ve been delving more into illustration, but I don’t remember how to be a writer anymore… my old bag of tricks has a hole in the bottom where some art fell out. Now my arsenal is small, and mostly full of yarn crafts.

Sometimes it feels, not like I’ve got a whole universe of creativity available to me, but like I’m waiting to feel okay enough to be an adult, and maybe then I’ll be able to make art that feels fulfilling. I can’t emote as quickly as emotions can build up in my brain–it’s why I’m often short of breath, or why my mood swings from positive to pissy–and it makes me anxious. It feels like I just am feeling too much for my body to handle. My outlets don’t let it out anymore, so I’m always scrambling for the next new project that could help me get all of this raw energy out that is building up behind my ribs. I haven’t felt like this since I was in Middle School and they thought I had asthma because I couldn’t breathe deeply. Panic breathing is the actual worst. I wanted to be involved in theatre in Middle School, and the teacher wouldn’t cast me.

Now, who’s keeping me out? What’s my obstacle? Why do I believe that those opportunities aren’t available to me anymore–why am I keeping myself away, and instead, searching for the perfect artistic life, a thing that all art has told me doesn’t exist?

Why am I looking for something I know doesn’t exist?

And even then, what if I found it? What if I find The Thing that helps scrub out the intrusive thoughts and emotions–what, then? Why am I looking for a destination, a magical Thing that is going to make me feel better?

Will I be cured of Anxiety if I publish a book?

Will I be cured of Depression if I get cast in a play?

Will I be cured of Panic Disorder if I get paid to paint?

I’m searching for “feeling better”,  as if it’s a destination, and not a journey of building a healthier life. In my yen to feel in control, I’ve lost the ability to think clearly. I’ve lost control merely by seeking control.

I have to let go of the idea that I will finally feel good again when my number is called. What comes next?

More importantly: how do I find my way out of this pattern? I must stop searching for a “perfect” solution and create my own. I have so much inside of me that wants to be expressed and shared; why am I waiting for someone else to validate that?

WHY AM I NOT JUST DOING IT?

I started looking into going back to college to finish my degree, but even just talking about how miserable I was at my last school made me remember that I left to seek a better way of life. I left because I felt like I could be out there making art right that moment, instead of paying professors to tell me how I should be doing it. I didn’t like that. I wanted to be a Maker, and that wasn’t going to change, no matter whether or not I took a science credit with a lab, or left college all together and did it on my own terms.

I wanted this.

I wanted to be free from conformity to other people’s ideas of who I should be and how I should do this. I wanted the freedom to carve my own path. I wanted to lean into the work.

Now, even though my head is killing me, and I have more emotions built up inside than I feel like I can handle, I must lean into my path, and stop searching for the Holy Grail of art projects. I have to say yes when opportunity knocks as a means of building a body of work long-term, and not as a treatment for anxiety. I have to stop waiting to feel good. If I wait, it will never come.

Picking Your Battles

Dear sweet, sweet, easily-angered, former push-over (Me… yeah.),

I am so proud of you. Do you remember what it felt like when you slapped that boy in sixth grade because he cut ahead of you in the lunch line and then taunted you? You learned how to do that with your words, eventually… except now, you don’t cry after you’ve stood up for yourself. Well… most of the time, you don’t. You’ve stopped feeling guilty about asking for what you deserve. Imagine if you could tell your young self, “don’t worry! Someday, you won’t suffer the assholes. You’ll bury them in your words.”

But, like, sometimes you’re too harsh. On everyone. About nothing, or almost nothing. You’re a little stabby, lately.

I realize, being You, that it’s a defense mechanism. People who are inconsiderate often take advantage of people who are deemed ‘malleable’, and since you’re super tired of being putty, it’s completely understandable that you’ve got your daggers drawn all the time. But you work with coffee for your job… and you’re not in danger, in your life. Maybe it’s time to lower your hackles.

I’ve noticed–you don’t really allow weakness in others, now–which is ironic, considering that you demand people give you space and respect for your mental health. You have trouble remembering that there is more than one way to approach the world, and that your particular way won’t be the right way for everyone.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there are people in your life who absolutely deserve to be told where they can stick their criticism and negativity. There will always be those kinds of people in your life. You will never live in a perfect Utopian bubble full of people who only praise you.

Which is great, because a life without critique is dangerous. You need other opinions, or viewpoints, or methodology in your life because it gives you perspective. Differences of opinion are the foundation of creative teamwork–which is awesome, by the way, especially when it’s used in your work.

I just want to remind you that there is a fine line between an honest difference of opinion and valid critique, and a straight-up attack on you.

If someone decides they need to speak to you like you are an idiot: don’t stand for that. Squash that real quick. You deserve to be spoken to in a manner that reflects your work ethic and attitude. Demand respect from everyone in your life, especially if you feel hurt by someone. If need be, demand it LOUDLY. Burn them on the pyre of judgment, Khaleesi! Figuratively, of course. Ahem.

But note the source of the criticism:

If someone communicates in a different way than you do–if they learn differently, grok different specs of existence than you do, if they just have a hard time speaking up like you do, that is not an attack on who you are as a person or how you operate.

Different doesn’t mean bad. Brash tone doesn’t mean they’re hateful. And honest, constructive critique is not an arrow aimed at your identity.

It’s okay to stand up for yourself if it isn’t at the cost of other people’s self-worth. You can only control how you react to other people. It is absolutely not okay to bite someone’s head off for questioning your methods; people should be able to trust that they’ll get a thoughtful and honest answer from you. The last thing that you want is for people to think of you as a ticking bomb.

If something triggers you, but it’s not an outright verbal or physical attack on you, here’s what I want you to do:

Instead of burning bridges in the name of your self-worth, put that easily insulted ego into a bell jar. Sit with it for a breath. Think about how you’re going to advocate for your needs in a manner that the situation requires.

There is a time and a place to get out your big voice and advocate for your needs, but it’s not worth the energy to hulk-out over the little things. I’m so glad that you don’t let people walk all over you anymore; now it’s time for you to find the balance between passivity and aggression.

You deserve to feel respected, loved, and cared for. You deserve recognition for quality work, and to not feel ashamed of who you are. You deserve to be supported.

But you’ve been choosing the wrong battles, lately, warrior princess. Let me tell you something, very clearly:

This is not the hill you die on.

Maturity will teach you how to stop caring so much about what people think of you. Age will help remind you of what’s important. But until you’ve reached that point where its all instinctual, you must put in the work to treat people the way that you want to be treated.

Build people up. Build yourself up, too. Don’t build a wall to keep them all out… and don’t attack them for handling things differently than you would.

Love,

Me, the person who fields your terror-fueled stress dreams.

Building Self-Awareness

I’ve been on the struggle train lately. I just closed a beautiful chapter in my life, and my brain does not know what to do with me. I’ve been reaching out for gentle support from my friends and loved ones, but I’ve also recognized that perhaps I need to see a mental health professional to help give me perspective. Maybe I need medication. Maybe I need another dog. What I know is that I’ve been working really hard to be aware of my own needs.

How good are you at recognizing that you need mental backup?

It’s not easy; everyone deals with a certain amount of stress. We all have jobs that drain us, we all need days of rest.

But, when does that stress start to wear on our mental health? How do we recognize what we really need when it gets to the point where we can’t manage alone?

I think it has a lot to do with building self-awareness. Truly, I believe the key to performing triage on your brain is becoming aware of your body’s needs and impulses. I’m an introvert, which means that I am, generally, hyper-aware of how I’m affected by others; I feel a surge of Anxiety when I believe someone might be upset with me, Guilt when I’ve hurt someone, etc. I’m relatively certain that that awareness developed with maturity. I’ve only become more aware of such things as I’ve gotten older. BUT. I’ve also chosen to become more isolated from large groups of people as I’ve gotten older, which tells me that my level of Introversion is directly related to my evaluation of needs.

How do you build that awareness?

Well, we try to teach children to understand how their actions affect others. We teach boundaries, consent, and consequences, all in the name of building self-awareness. That doesn’t always build awareness, so much as a conflated sense of ownership, or something being “owed” to you. I’ve shared with you, so now you owe me something in return. It doesn’t help that we live in a culture that measures the value of humans against their model of cell phone. That doesn’t work as we mature because our needs become more complex, and our boundaries more heavily differentiated from those around us. How do we reconcile a ‘gimme’ culture with self-awareness about our mental health needs?

It’s a 4-tiered system, essentially:

  1. Identify an issue/abnormality/deficiency of some kind. Examples might be mood swings, headaches, tremors, insomnia, hopelessness, intrusive thoughts, depression, anxiety, fear, nervousness.
  2. Locate why it’s an issue–maybe you’re unable to perform your job because of intense headaches, or unable to answer the phone because you’re feeling fearful.
  3. Evaluate what you perceive will sooth or cure or aid you in dealing with it. Talk therapy, medication, yoga, exercise, meditation, other forms of therapy–or maybe just a good night’s sleep.
  4. Advocate for yourself. This might mean reaching out to someone else to help you find the help you need, calling your doctor, calling a friend. It might mean going to your boss and letting them know that you’re not operating on all cylinders.

What is your obstacle? Why is it a challenge to you? What do you need to overcome it? Go and get it.

By building active self-awareness and asking for what you need, you’ll also be able to be present for those around you in their time of need.

I will admit that it makes me wonder: are inconsiderate people less aware of their own mental needs? Is there a correlation between an outward awareness and an ability to self-evaluate? I think so. I’m not a licensed medical professional, but it seems to me that those with compassion for themselves have more compassion for others. Once you can identify and advocate for you own needs, you’ll be able to be an even better ally for others.

 

*

Hi, babes. I’ve missed you. I’ll hopefully be back with posts here and there, at least on a trial basis. Be well.

Love,

The Editor

don’t call it a comeback

Dear Me of 2015,

Hi. You’ve been quiet. And you’re probably wondering how we met here, at a place that you declared never to go again. You bled for this place, you reopened old wounds for the sake of others, and then you left. You got the fuck out, and you haven’t looked back until now.

You didn’t leave on such a good note; when stress gave way to struggle, you buckled. You waved the banner for mental health issues and tried to own your challenges. But always, at the back of your head, thinking about all the ways you’re controlled by your sickness.

But sweet girl, you got a few things wrong about that this year.

There is nothing wrong with you. You’ve been through a lot, and you have a lot of trauma, but you didn’t ask for this. You’ve never been taught how to work through it; every specialist you’ve ever seen looked at you like damaged goods. But you feel things so deeply that your intelligence is rooted in intuition. Do you ever remember a time when you wanted to feel numb? No. You like to feel. Do you remember wanting it all to go away? Of course you don’t. Because you want to feel so acutely that inspiration comes bursting from your fingertips, because you are on fire with passion for living. The therapist who refused to listen to what you asked for? Fuck her. You speak so clearly that your intent is magnified by the knowledge that you deserve to be heard. This will only strengthen as you get older. You’re worth fighting for.

You jump into life, darling. You may be terrified, but you are resilient, and your ability to take risks is legendary. You love deep. You create worlds out of white paper. You have a universe of power inside of you. How could that ever be wrong? How could that ever mean that you’re broken? You have so much energy bursting from your pores that your body struggles to contain it, but that ain’t a problem. That’s a painting. It’s the love you give to others. It’s the love you show your own heart.

What did you get wrong as a blogger?

You looked at yourself through the mirror of the media; you saw celebrities vilified for seeking help to care for their brain health, so you thought you had to wear your scars for all to see and scrutinize. You criticized yourself, even as you fought to end stigma with mental health.

Dear girl, there is NOTHING wrong with you. You don’t have to introduce yourself with ‘Anxious is my middle name’. You don’t have to plead Depressed to get sympathy. You are an artist. Sometimes your body gets a bit overloaded, and sometimes your vessel can’t contain your pure potential. You’re not an anxious mess, baby. You’re in artistic flux. You’re a borealis. Your energy is alien to your social landscape, that’s all. You’re not broken.

Your inferiority can only be ranked by you, so don’t rate yourself. You’re giving everything you have, every moment. Who cares if that looks different than ‘normal’? What the hell is ‘normal’, anyway? Let he or she amongst us who has never internalized fear, self-doubt, or shame skip stones across the placid lake of your absolute loveliness.

Don’t kiss your own ass. Reach down to help people whose lot is worse than yours. But never forget that you are a celestial body. Your flares are pure light.

Heal, sweet girl.

Love, Me

closing this chapter.

Hi friends.

I’m writing this with 4% battery left on my computer, which has a broken charge port and therefore requires insane positioning of the charge cord in order to spend two days charging just enough for me to use it.

It’s a pretty good metaphor for what kind of headspace I’m in when it comes to blogging.

I don’t currently feel like I can bare my brain, while safely caring for it. My vulnerability has come at a great cost to my personal image, something that I could not have foreseen when I began this process a yearish ago. That’s not to say that I regret it at all; The Honest Brain has completely shaped my ability to talk about mental health with ferocity.

But I’m tired, and I’m worn so thin that I feel that I’m endangering myself by continuously dwelling on (and blogging about) the hard shit.

For now, I will not post to this page. For those of you who are fans of my Facebook page, I may repost old blogs for the benefit of new followers.

Thank you for your faithful readership, for your love. I will humbly pass the torch of mental health advocacy on to louder voices.

With HUGE amounts of love,

Kate

The Honest Brain

self-care when the body becomes the vessel

And just so we’re clear, I have stretch marks in the crease of my thighs, where torso meets leg, and down my sides, so when I sit cross-legged, my skin looks like crepe-paper. There’s no way to get rid of them, and I’ve probably had them since I was an athlete as a kid, but I don’t mind them. I’ve never minded them. One day I’ll have babies and I’ll have more of them. It’s just skin.

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I like how I look naked.

This is new in my life. I am petite with curvy hips, I have poor circulation, bad hips and knees, and perpetually popping joints. I have a receding chin, a big nose. These aren’t ‘flaws’, these are truths, things that I’m always fighting against in some way; I’m always adjusting the way I move to accommodate my body’s deficiencies. And when I say that they’re deficient, I mean it; I have a lot of former athletic injuries that plague my body, as well as upper respiratory thangs. ‘Thangs’ is a sciency word meaning ‘stuff’.

And just so we’re clear, I have stretch marks in the crease of my thighs, where torso meets leg, and down my sides, so when I sit cross-legged, my skin looks like crepe-paper. There’s no way to get rid of them, and I’ve probably had them since I was an athlete as a kid, but I don’t mind them. I’ve never minded them. One day I’ll have babies and I’ll have more of them. It’s just skin.

Continue reading “self-care when the body becomes the vessel”

capacities and deficiencies: how to adult

How do I reconcile the fearful, absent-minded runner with the passionate, emotional creator? How do I do all the things I love to do and make money? How do I make time for what I love, when the society I live in looks down its nose at artists? How do I become an Amanda-Palmeresque artistic pioneer with the balls to be a full-time artist? How do I adult?

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I don’t “know” what to “do” when I “grow up”.

Continue reading “capacities and deficiencies: how to adult”

check in: finishing the sentence

It’s literally a trophy.

You made it to this moment, to the middle of this sentence, and you pushed past that moment where you had to decide between righteous and persistent self-care… and giving up.

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I remember the exact moment that I first became aware that there was more going on inside my body than just “sadness.”

I was sitting in my apartment, sophomore year in college, in a crappy college cow town, locked in my room in a tiny attic apartment I shared with my lovely but mostly absent roommate, in the house we found in haste, on the most violent street in town. I was sitting at a square table loaned to me by my elementary school principal, a table that was too large for the room (the room that I had painted a tranquil shade of lavender, but not before taping out the shape of a tree in the corner. It took four coats of white paint to cover the blue when I moved out.), upon which lay every piece of everything that I owned. I was knee-deep in my belongings. I have been a messy person for my entire life, to the chagrin of my parents, and roommates, and ex-boyfriend. I loathe cleaning my room, resist and procrastinate picking up my things as if there are land mines beneath them, waiting for a finger to set off a chain explosion. And, as I sat in that room nearly 5 years ago, at the table, surrounded by clothes and papers, with the lock clicked on both my bedroom door and our front door… I thought thus:

I cannot possibly go on like this any longer. I have had it with feeling lonely. I have no friends who truly care about me. I hate where I live. I hate my college. I don’t remember what it’s like to feel things. I am not worthy of love. He will never like me. I will never be good with my money. What the fuck am I doing here?

Continue reading “check in: finishing the sentence”

letter from the editor: The Honest Brain turns 1!

Dear readers, old and new–

Wow! The Honest Brain is officially 1 year old. Give or take a few weeks. I noticed too late, because I’ve been so heavily absorbed in just getting through each day with my brain still in tact. When I think about how far I’ve come in a year…

I’ll be honest. I don’t feel as if I’ve come very far. It still feels like I handle everything poorly, that I spend every single day wracked with the terror of Anxiety, and every night crushed beneath Depression’s haze. I still overreact to everything, I still haven’t quite figured out how to manage all of my adult things. And yet.

I’m in a relationship with someone quite extraordinary. I feel heard, I feel seen, I feel held. I feel wanted, cared for… supported. I have a partner. Despite the fact that being long distance is stressful, I’m not jealous, worried, or fearful about where we stand. He does not leave me in doubt. Love: WINNING. I have the lion’s share.

And, I’m outspoken, lately–about everything, from minor irritations to major concerns. I keep nothing bottled, waiting to wreck me and every single bridge I’ve built in a fiery blast. No, I’m present with my worries so constantly that I’ve developed a new physical side effect of social anxiety: the near-constant blush. I’m so embarrassed, all the time. But I like to think that the fire in my cheeks is the false shame of doubt, burning my fear in effigy. I’m being honest, I’m building respect, I’m building my reputation as someone who will never bullshit you. The compulsive lies of my youth have been relegated to innocuous and incidental moments; fleeting in their scarcity, I just don’t have room in my mouth for lies.

But this blog? Strangely quiet, lately. I have a guest post in my email that’s been sitting there for several weeks. I have blog topics in the back of my mind that are worth saying, but haven’t presented themselves for contemplation yet. I’m struggling with how to best serve my readers, while equally serving my ever-evolving psyche. I would like to address more topics on relationships, friend and romantic alike; I would like to discuss sexuality and mental health, too. I would like to talk about retraining my brain to fight against my knee-jerk predisposition to racist thoughts and reactions, and why that ties into my overall mental well-being… without sounding like a privileged, whiny white person. I’d like to talk about why my childhood set me up for my fight-or-flight instincts, and why I don’t remember a lot of things from before I was a teenager. I have a lot to talk about… but so often I feel shame creeping into my world, and it’s convinced me very frequently that I need to shut up and listen more than I preach and direct.

I have a lot more to write on shame, too. I’ll get around to it… once I figure out how to quell the shame about Shame. I cannot be frank enough about it; shame is potent in me right now. I have gotten quite holier-than-thou about things that I have actual factual evidence to support, and I think it’s because I’m experiencing so much personal doubt over my thoughts and impulses. I’m defending what I know to be true, and I’m having a hard time accepting weakness in others. I suppose it’s good that I know that about myself… but it’s only so good as I handle it. I’m making too many demands, and giving compassion too sparingly. I have work to do.

A year is a gift. A year of healing the shame of struggling with my mental health, a year of growing into a woman who sees beyond the everyday life and imagines what could be possible. A year of reaching out tendrils of hope and seeing what takes root.

I know I’m on the cusp of something huge. I hope you’ll be with me through the next year of adventure. I promise to be honest… as always.

Love,

Kate

editor, The Honest Brain