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Last night, before Trump’s particularly colorful speech, he tweeted “they are trying to STEAL the Election.”

Let me tell you who “they” are, because it’s NOT the Democratic party. It’s not Biden, it wasn’t Obama, and it is NOT Trump. The idea behind the word “they” is that you will jump to your own conclusions about who they are.

By ambiguously using the term “they” repeatedly, Trump has managed to conjure an invisible enemy who takes the form of your worst fears. “They” are trying to take something away from you. …

This week marks one year since the 3 strokes that landed me in the hospital at the age of 30 — confused, jolted, and unable to function the way I could the week before.

It’s funny how time slows when you’re unable to process it. A year passes and you wake up one morning and realize that time slowing was just an illusion, a trick of your shattered mind.

“Even my identity ceased to be a sacred thing to me.”

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When your well-being is at stake, everything else just fades into the background. How you made a living ceases to matter anymore (I was a caregiver, as I repeatedly told the people who cared for me that first week). Where you lived doesn’t matter, especially if you lived in a 3rd story apartment by yourself. …

Alright, we all know the song, but what IS love, really?

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Recently I wrote about how love is an action, and I want to clarify what love means to me as an emotion, because I do believe it can be both. I view love as a space we can act from regardless of whether we feel that emotion, but feeling that emotion makes it much more likely we’ll actually act from that space, although it certainly doesn’t guarantee it.

I want to re-state how many feelings I believe can be misconstrued as love. Passion, lust, infatuation, admiration… I feel like love has become a blanket statement for feelings we don’t know how to express, and so often people jump to the conclusion that they’re “in love” when really, they’re just experiencing the rush of a new relationship or any number of other powerful emotions. …

I think we tend to get hung up on the idea of a fairy tale romance. I know I did, for a greater portion of my life than I care to admit. I feel like the media greatly skews our perspective of love. As a child I watched a movie where a mermaid traded in her voice for a pair of legs after locking eyes with a prince, obviously falling in love at first sight, and decided to risk life (and dare I say limb) to pursue a relationship with him. …

It’s not uncommon to go scouring the internet for clues that your partner is exhibiting toxic behaviors when a relationship starts to go sour. Hell, you might even find your partner exhibits many toxic traits. What then? Do you listen to the internet, or do you listen to your heart? Nine times out of ten, regardless of what that article says, you’re going to listen to your heart. That article isn’t talking about your partner specifically. The writer doesn’t know your situation. Maybe he really is working on improving. Maybe you have some things to work on too. Maybe he was responding to a situation which you could easily take credit for. Maybe he was just having a bad day when he went off on you like that. That article doesn’t know you and it doesn’t know the person you love. On the flipside, you might be reading into something that simply isn’t there. You might legitimately be working it up in your own head. Perhaps you’re afraid of being happy, and you’re looking for a sign that you should end it. …

I’ve hit rock bottom more times than I can count over the course of my life. I always prided myself on my resolve to take each of these moments as a lesson and push forward to become bigger, better, and brighter than ever. At times it’s been incredibly difficult and sometimes damn near impossible to pick myself and keep going. But I did it, time and time again, each time feeling more confident than the last that I’d be ready for the next speed bump I hit.

Unfortunately you never can quite prepare for what life is going to throw at you. My psychologist told me yesterday that anxiety is an evolutionary adaptation — that it’s our body’s backwards way of alerting us to potential threats. In the wild, animals have to stay alert to any potential threat to their survival. As humans, when we experience a threatening situation, we develop defense mechanisms to prevent that situation from occurring again. Subconsciously, we often wind up perceiving an attack where there isn’t one in order to protect ourselves from reliving past trauma. I’ve found that many people who experience major hardships throughout their lives inadvertently end up letting those trials harden them, building up walls to prevent recurrence of a situation they never want to be in again. …

No one tells you that after a brain injury there are ‘blank spots’ left in your brain that need refilling. Imagine if your brain was a sketch and someone took an eraser to it. Suddenly parts of your brain that knew how to do very important things no longer function the way they did before. Some of them are smudged and require a complete rework in order to move forward. When you rework these smudges, however, things aren’t the same as they were before. Nothing is ever filled in quite the same as it was.

This is evidenced by my physical body. As far as other people can tell, from the outside, I don’t look all that different. I walk faster than I used to (because it helps me maintain balance) and I grip things differently. It actually requires a great deal of concentration for me to do simple things anymore but there’s no physical evidence to show people what that’s like. …

There’s a certain allure to it. Someone who isn’t easy to pin down. You have to work to figure him out. It’s like a puzzle. And as you lay each piece down, you give away a piece of your heart in the process.

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At first it seems harmless. You’re just friends, after all. You just want to understand where he’s coming from. He intrigues you, and you’re not really sure why. He’s not like other people you’ve met. He has a certain substance to him you can’t really describe. A je ne sais quoi. He’s been places. He’s seen things. He has an attitude that suggests he knows something other people don’t. You want to know what that something is. It’s like an itch you can’t help but scratch. …

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Last night I had a dream about a ship that had capsized.

Naturally, all hell broke loose. Some people were making mad grabs for their things, which were still floating around in the water but sinking quickly, soon to be out of reach. Some of them were simply dumbfounded as to what to do next. Some fervently started swimming to shore.

In the meantime, unbeknownst to the rest of the group, someone had strapped a bomb to their chest and was swimming into the depths of the ocean, as far as they could go. From what I can gather, they had found a bomb on the ship that couldn’t be defused, and so they had strapped it to themselves and were taking it someplace where it couldn’t do permanent harm to anyone on the ship. …

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I loved him fiercely, as broken as he was. Maybe I loved him in part because he was broken. I certainly found comfort in it. It was easier to be my authentically broken self with someone who was arguably more broken than I was.

I won’t get into the finer points of how we fell in love. For as much as I’ve contemplated sharing it, it was personal and I would prefer to keep it to myself. All anyone reading this needs to know is that I loved him. I loved him with all my heart and all my soul. When things weren’t right with us, my entire world crumbled to the ground. Loving him was like loving a thunder storm — beautiful and terrifying. Our song was Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains” and in many ways that’s how our relationship felt. When it rained, it poured, but during the dry spells I just found myself wishing it would rain again. The sun and the moon are consistent, but the rain comes and goes as it pleases. And we both did. We made our fair share of mistakes but no one can say we didn’t love each other. …

About

Ren’s Reality

A stroke of inspiration (pun intended) based on personal experience, helping lift people up by understanding they’re not alone and their experience is valid.

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