Continuing.

I once wrote a letter. It contained my deepest thoughts and feelings about you… and I never sent it. I wanted to, trust me, but ultimately, it’s now tucked into my journal—the pages torn from being carried around for so long—and it’s going to stay there, invisibly so.

I think I wrote it wrong. I think I was right to leave you be, but again, I was wrong to believe that letter could change something. I’m not sure what it was; that you’d finally understand why I was so hurt, that you’d empathize and feel for me, or that I’d convince you to love me.

But I couldn’t do that to you. Deep down I knew the truth—even if I couldn’t live with it. Even if they were the most powerful words I’ve written, I knew they wouldn’t move you. Maybe that’s why I stopped writing—if I couldn’t make you feel, I couldn’t make anyone feel.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for people to not talk after a breakup. We rely so heavily on a partner to be there, and then one day they’re not. Even when we are restricted from communication we seek that rush from our ex’s name popping up on our phones—even when we claim we don’t. We want their attention, their love, and we want their time to be our time once again, but with one slip up, we crave more.

That’s the tip of the iceberg of my fears in reaching out to you. If I told you I didn’t spend hours upon hours thinking of the right words to say leading up to that day, I’d be lying. However, that day, somehow, the words poured out of my fingertips. Completely different ones than you’d find in that letter, but ones that felt right. As always, things were so easy when it came to you.

They weren’t romantic and they didn’t plead or explain more than you needed to know, but they were honest. They told you what was going on, explaining that it wasn’t an option for me to reach out—that I couldn’t be more grateful for you to exist because of who you are and what you did for me.

I had no fear in your response—unknowing that I’d ever get one. I didn’t need one because I knew the words did nothing but good for you and me. I felt good, but I have never felt so great to read the reply. I felt pardoned of a crime I spent sentenced to for one year; a crime you now wrote that I never committed.

I tortured myself for that year. Countless time was spent wondering what I did, how things ended in that way, and how imperfect I really was, but you said it wasn’t me or anything I did. Things just had to be that way because they did and I believe you now because I’m unable to write a different reality.

On the phone we once talked for hours about space as a metaphor for relationships. I told you how gravity is my favorite force because it’s infinite. Everything is pulled towards everything, but sometimes other variables get in the way of two objects meeting.

I told you then that if you were a shooting star (which you are), that all of the objects you pass are attracted to you, as you are of them. Sometimes you’ll pass an object and feel such a strong pull that you’ll loop into it’s orbit. Sometimes you’ll pass an object and never see it again.

Life has moments that must be appreciated in the now because we’re unaware of so many of our orbits. If they’re lasting, then we must appreciate the objects that pull us so. If they’re fleeting, then that short time was an infinity among itself.

You thanked me for being who I am and helping you to see who you are. Our two-text interaction was the capstone to everything we lived—the months of sleepless excitement, the days of butterflies throughout our bodies, the hours of video chat dates—all timing down to two texts.

Just as you and I continue on, so will the words you find here. They’ll describe new eyes, serendipitous moments, and other adventures of the heart, but our gravity will always be there, shaping and moving us, even invisibly so.

Update.

I write, but here is the complete background as to why I write. The following is an honest reflection from the most major turning point in my life. It’s longer than I wish it was, but I believe many people will be able to relate, and nobody talks about this stuff, and that should change.

In college, I experienced a stage of depression that was only seen by me, alone, when my friends, professors, coaches, staff, anyone, was not around. I created a lonely world to carry in my shell of a body behind a smiling mask. It was caused by years of neglect to my mental health from loss and less than great luck, all out of my control.

What was in my control was the way I acted in response to all of these terrible things. I believed that if I pushed through with a happy outlook that they would just go away. I didn’t know what to do otherwise and it worked for years—until it didn’t.

Fast forward to the summer before my junior year of college. I was home in upstate New York. It was beautiful out every day, but a voice in my head told me to stay in my room, all the time, so I did. I avoided responsibilities I should not have, but that voice told me I didn’t deserve the things I once earned: a scholarship, social life, happiness. In my head, I was living the life someone else should have, so I drove around aimlessly or stuck to the couch.

When August came around I understood that I couldn’t go back to school in the physical shape I was in and pass as a runner for (one of) the best collegiate running programs in the country. The only apparent solution to keep the life I was living was to put myself in harms way and hope an injury would prolong facing the reality that I could no longer compete as a Division I athlete.

(Side note: If this was a movie, like so many others who have gone through much worse than I did, this moment would be the one where I find someone to confide in who tells me it’s all okay, so I lace up my shoes, dig deep, and make the Olympic Trials. However, my life is not a movie.)

That was the summer I hit my lifetime-low. I can’t go into details, but I did the most stupid stuff all to avoid my actual illness. I screamed at the top of my lungs and broke down when I failed at… failing. I couldn’t do anything to avoid my mental state anymore.

My family couldn’t afford the university I still had two full years to complete, but this was the one thing I could not give up. I am ashamed to say I put on my mask for one more grueling week and buckled up on the long drive to PA.

After my parents and I moved everything into my dorm we went to lunch. They originally planned to leave after, but instead, I broke down in the diner not too far from campus and told them I couldn’t run. The looks I received as I said for the first time how depressed I was were not of embarrassment or disappointment, but complete and utter understanding. Instead of scolding me, we sat for hours in the car outside the diner brainstorming ideas. The first was to talk to my coach.

I have always known that my parents love me. I knew they would do anything for me, but this was the first time I understood it. It was the first time I felt like I had people on my team in my world of lonely.

I talked to my coach and explained how I felt. I explained how I tried to be the mentally tough athlete she thought she recruited, but how I failed. I explained how much I love the team and how I would do anything to help in any way I actually could, and she… understood.

In any of the ways I imagined the conversation, I never thought this actual outcome would happen. I know she was upset, but she didn’t say anything that would hurt me when I was at my most vulnerable. She set aside her frustrations to help me, told me I was not the first athlete this has happened to, and together, we figured out what we could do to keep me around.

The woman is one of the best coaches in the running world. Point blank. She is a huge reason why I went to Villanova in the first place. However, I’ve been on her chopping block before. It’s not a great place to be, especially when I felt like most misunderstandings were miscommunications. But humans are emotional creatures and she did everything to protect her team in the way she believed best. Knowing how truly understanding she is when someone’s life is breaking down in front of her, and coming up with a solution to help, just shows how good of a person she is as well.

I became the cross country and track team manager for my remaining time at Villanova and I loved it. Despite being offered to keep my scholarship through senior year, I couldn’t. The guilt of taking money from an athlete who put in the effort was too much. Instead, my parents and I figured out how to pay for my degree after giving up my scholarship (hello student loans). Giving up the scholarship was a big blow to the younger Amanda inside, who worked every day of high school for that opportunity, but it was what present day Amanda needed. And those efforts brought me to where I was in the first place, so it was not a complete loss.

Despite all of this track talk, I still had real demons to take on. They were the voices that kept me shut in, even though my academic future was secured. I had one person at school who I wasn’t afraid to be me in front of. She was my professor from second semester sophomore year, and somehow, unexplainably, I slowly opened up to her about everything. Her name, for the sake of her privacy, is Anna.

Anna was young and cool, but brilliant and had herself together. She accidentally swore once in class, then laughed about it, and I felt how real she was. I don’t remember how I began to open up to her, but over time, I could be crying in Anna’s office one minute and laughing in the next. She never judged me, but told me when my head was lying to me. She also suggested therapy.

I had been to two therapy sessions before, and they didn’t do much for me. I was skeptical and really concerned that the listener would judge me or tell someone a dark secret to ruin my life. But when Anna suggested it, she was more or less saying, “No, you’re doing this,” so I signed up for counseling at my college’s health center.

When I had my first session I walked into (let’s call her) Nicole’s office, sat down, and bawled. I cried for 10 minutes before we properly introduced ourselves. She was young and adorable and I couldn’t help but to feel as if she didn’t know what she signed up for. I felt as if I was going to ruin every one of her Wednesdays with whatever baggage I’d unload in that room.

However, that was a voice in my head. That was the illness trying to hold on to the things that would keep it alive. Nicole told me that. She went through all of my concerns, even about being in therapy, and over time, we went through more issues that I even knew I had.

I had days in Nicole’s office that were solely dedicated to happy things. Real happy things. Days when I didn’t cry. I looked forward to every Wednesday because Nicole allowed me the space to say what those voices told me, and break them apart to their figmented reality. Some days were harder than I ever thought possible, but possible they were, and I’d dash to Anna to tell her about my progress and thank her for suggesting this in the first place.

It couldn’t have lasted. Nothing does. But I was in such better shape when Nicole told me that she and her husband were moving to Texas. I was happy for her—it’s where she was from and where she wanted to settle down. I took the following semester off from therapy, which is also when I took screenwriting.

I loved screenwriting. The quirky formatting came naturally to me and I could place little parts of myself in these stories with any outcome I wanted. In this class, I was creating a reality of any shape I liked. The idea of being a writer never occurred to me before this class. Stories and communicating were abstract concepts before I studied Communication, which is part of why I loved it.

I went to the bookstore and got a journal that felt like it’d always been mine. I could finally give purpose to my insomnia and write in the middle of the night when I’d normally stare at my ceiling. I could whip my phone out any time of the day and jot down something short just because it came to me. Writing opened a door where my demons could leave their footsteps in ink on a paper in front of me, then trot off and never return to my brain again.

I don’t know if I was really good because I never wrote before. If I received a compliment I thought about a quote I heard about good writers being mentally unstable people. I loved writing, but I didn’t want to reveal to the world how injured I was. So I kept it to myself, until I finally let it free.

During my last semester of undergrad I took a Voice & Diction class. We practiced the way we speak to articulate better in the case we were ever to perform or speak publicly. For one assignment we could write our own speech or story. My heart started glowing for the first time in years.

I performed a piece I wrote based on a modern day “Catcher in the Rye.” Before that class, the story was never going to leave my laptop, and suddenly it was in the minds of every person in that classroom. Their applause felt more real than any crowds’ while standing atop a podium after Track and Field Nationals.

During dinner at the cafeteria that night, one girl from that class came up to me and told me how much the piece meant to her. She told me I had to share it, and to keep writing. It was one girl. One girl who didn’t know me changed me forever.

Later, I posted the piece to Facebook. I received notes from the most random people I never believed would care, but did. I realized there was something there, so I kept writing. Some pieces felt better than others, and most stayed saved as drafts, rather than free for the world to read. I was just happy to have found something that makes me happy.

So I write. I write about things that are hard to write about. I write about private things, fictional things, and things that are such small details of life and all I care about is telling a story that relates to others.

You might be asking, “So why did I read this?”

Good question. I didn’t expect to wake up and bust out this piece for three hours on this Sunday morning, but if you have noticed (or haven’t), my blog has been down for months. Voluntarily (sort of).

This piece exists to remind myself, and to remind you, that you should never give something up that means the world to you. Even if I don’t make a profession out of writing, doing this makes me feel good. It alleviates my anxieties, it grounds me, and it makes me feel connected to other people who live similar lives.

We don’t talk about things like mental health as much as we should, but that’s only part of why I’ve written this. I’ve written this because nobody should make you feel like something so (truly) healthy for you is not. I’m writing this to say that I gave up writing because it was misunderstood by my partner. That it was easier to shut this blog down than to fight about why I needed it.

I write about personal things—things from my past—but I am a human that is so much more complex than the words you’ll find on this page. I’m different than these words. They are stories. At times they are my platform to vent, but only venting after I let a story sit in my draft box for months, ensuring I want that to be available to anyone.

I write about love, but writing about love does not mean that I still live in those feelings. Sometimes I do, but in a weird way, like I have digested the story and it is now just a part of my past.

If I am romantically with someone, I am wholly with that person. I am grossly loyal and believed doing anything for my partner would help me feel loved. It didn’t. It’s one of so many little things I now know, but this is who I am, and sacrificing myself to secure ~less than myself~ in a relationship is something I will never be able to do again.

So I write, and now I’ll be around a little longer.

Orbits.

I wanted you to contact me. I wanted us to cave again, even if it meant distance and heartbreak and confusion again. That was better than longing for something I cannot see.

No, it’s not fair, and yes, everything would have to change, but it’d be worth every ounce of trouble for me to have you.

The way I felt about you made me question if I ever loved before. And living beyond my time with you was like watching a shooting star blaze by in the night sky and then watching the void just for a glimpse of something more miraculous to come.

I don’t know how to handle my life without the light you gave me. As my life screams signs pointing to you, I wonder if your life returns arrows in my direction.

I closed this chapter with you. I thought it was over and my lesson learned, but what if your orbit centers near me? What would we do if our star illuminated the world? What if we could see and it was all clear?

Aches.

It was an old ache. An old, rumbling, roaring noise of an ache. The kind of war-wound type of ache you only know exists if you live through the pain and it’s slight recovery from the living hell of your life to the feeling that lingers and acts up when the weather does.

You were that ache. You left me different and there’s no denying it, and I wish you hadn’t, but you did.

Like the thunder of a summer storm, I felt the pain shuttering throughout my body. It started in the cavity of my chest and burned slowly to my throat, to my knees, and out to my extremities.

I watched my body decay to my feelings for you and acknowledged my embarrassment to myself when I admitted it resurfaced. I missed you, and there was nothing I could do to fix this old wound without gashing it wide open.

And that’s where I stand now. Wounded, but living. Living, but aching.

Green.

Green are the eyes cast back at me
like ones in my reflection,
but lighter,
and darker
around the center.

Brunette is the hair I grasp
just as before,
but not any as soft,
nor any I palm and lift with her head
so gracefully

As I do,
a smile so contagious
comes across your face,
and a farce remains on mine
until you break me

With those eyes
and that hair
and that smile,
I smile.

The Letter.

Possibly one of the most paramount realizations a person can make is to continually recognize who they have been in life. For you and me, this might mean acknowledging your faults and merits, what experiences forged you, understanding why you liked, loved, tolerated, or hated another. We become who we are because of who we have been.

None of us live easy lives. I have stresses that keep me up at night, but I am cursed, and fortunate as hell, that the greatest in the forefront of my head is love.

This sounds stupid, and that’s because life is often stupid. Similar to some who concern themselves with making money, or experiencing as much of the world as possible, I find myself searching for that once in a lifetime, makes you weak all over, endless love. The trouble is, if I think it’s in one place, I’ll tirelessly see it through. Love is a learning experience.

I am fortunate to have loved. Hindsight can grant anyone the ability to comment on their past with, “Well, that was stupid…” but as long as that progressed you along, it couldn’t have been too stupid.

This leads to the interesting part. A glimpse into the deepest part of me; the letter I sent to a woman I loved. I don’t feel the same now, but I had never accurately described my feelings so fittingly in a given moment before. My ex granted me permission to share this. I think I appreciate most that despite not being in each other’s lives anymore, we continue to respect how much we grew in our time together.

Nevertheless, this is what I felt and this is what helped me become who I am.

“To that woman, 14 months ago-

I’ve been told at first impression I’m hard to read. I believe it, not because my book is closed—it’s wide open. It’s the small font that deceives. I don’t display my thoughts on billboards, however, the more a person reads in, the more massive the details on my pages grow. Larger and larger, until I burst from the ink and into the sky. All things I know and feel, written by six Angels sweeping clouded calligraphy in their wakes above.

See, I was that high in love. A book on the brink of the stratosphere. You depleted my fuel and now I am in mayday. No parachute you bestow may grace my fall. I must plunge to Earth and shatter; shedding my chapters across the land. I can only hope those who love me are those who collect me, for I cannot do it alone, but must not do it with you.

It was easier to let go when you weren’t here, and I write this when you are still an ocean away. I can’t be your friend right now. If you recall, when we moved to “friends” from “whatever more we were” the first time, I was upset, you were upset, I got jealous when you dated, and you got jealous when I did. I don’t know how your brain works; how you love me, but won’t love me enough to be with me. However, I know we’re creatures of habit, and I will shatter more than I can fathom when you choose to date other people. Maybe you will when I do too, but mine will be worse, and I know this because despite the hell you’ve placed me in, I would choose you at any time of my life because I love you. It’s that easy for me. But I need to be wanted as more than how you want me, despite whatever love you offer. To me, love is simple because it’s love. It’s not meant to be overthought, nor does it have to make sense. You fall into it, and you feel it, and that’s what you give each other. It’s not a phase, it’s almost never perfect, and sometimes it’s fucking hard, but if at the end you can say you love and were loved back… that’s worth the pain existence has to offer.

As I think of them now, this is not a letter to remind you of all the things we’d planned to do and state how terrible you are for abandoning me with empty promises. They were all the things that would have thrown us deeper into life together, and if we were not meant to be, I’m happy to think of them as reserves in my system. The last remaining parts of me and memories I did not give to you.

I’ve always thought that love and kindness are things you can infinitely give. I have with you. I listened, I cared, and with that, I reminded you what it means to live. Like a fledgling, I’ve pushed you out of the nest so you may fly and now with your wings spread you no longer need me to live. Only, I’m drained and without you there is no way for me to feel full, and that’s my lesson in all of this: loving does not guarantee the love you desire in return.

My brain is still playing every move over again, wondering if there is a way to resolve all this, but you can’t be soft with me. You can’t let me hold on to something that’ll only hurt me. I hate wanting you, but someone out there can love me, and you have to let me find her. As much as I don’t want to give you this letter, as much as I want to wake up with you every morning for every foreseeable morning there is… I must.

I’m sorry you can’t love me the way I need you to. It would have been too good. Better than I’ve ever experienced. I will always have a place for you in my heart.

Endlessly,

Amanda”

This letter remains the most fluid description of my head onto paper. I remember the strokes of pen to paper writing this. I also remember growing past the pain. I moved on, then fell back, got stuck in a few places, but persisted. I’m stronger for sending this letter and living through the consequences of its wake. This is all a journey, and even if something feels childish, maybe it was. Maybe that’s what you needed to feel for a better you tomorrow.

One week in…

I’m the type of person who will find a lesson in every situation. Some things suck, yes, but what would suck even more is if ~whatever~ existed only to hinder your growth forward from that event, person, situation… whatever. I think resolutions are stupid and that you can change your actions at any time for yourself, however, what I love about “New Years” is the chance to reflect, as if the year is a chapter in your book. These are my brief lessons of my chapters.

2016 (I know, not last year, the previous one) was the greatest year of self-discovery for me. I fully acknowledged my sexuality for myself and learned so many other things that helped me narrow down who I am. Not that it comes down to the romantic ones, but when I look back on my life I know my relationships to those important to me will be the things I remember most. 2016 was my year of relationship building; one in which I know I cemented lifelong friendships and learned what love means to me.

So I was a 2017 hopeful, but never expected it to rock me in the way it did. Days after THE year of growth I was crushed in a breakup. I acted immaturely, refusing to let go of something far gone, and also in a way that would fill the growing void in my heart. What saved me from random hookups and acting out of character is where my feet are grounded. My friends kept me hopeful and I saw that I never would have recovered if I succumbed to immediate gratification. A few months later I was healthy and living out memories I’ll never forget with people I hope to never lose, but that couldn’t have lasted forever.

A wrench is a tool used to turn bolts and pipes and do all kinds of carpenter-y things. When a wrench was tossed into my 2017, it led to the rekindled love I’d lost and my most serious relationship to date. This wrench took the form of a woman who challenged my skepticisms and increased my ability to trust, forgive, and accept. She allowed me to grow a lot and become comfortable being myself almost everywhere. She is someone I have an immense amount of respect and love for, however, tools are designed to build or fix for a specific purpose. I learned I am not a bolt, or pipe, or any carpenter-y thing a wrench is used for.

After trying for so long we weren’t healthy for each other. It was mutual. I think my brain is wired to stubbornly hold on and I had to let go. This was my best friend. It hurt. And it was the greatest lesson I learned in 2017 because still, I am happy and I am SO hopeful.

There’s more out there. I’ve filled my time with good friends, got a new job, and put myself in a space where I know I’ll be happy to try new things, meet new people, and continue to live a serendipitous life. 2018 is the year of new.