Friday, June 22, 2012

You and Me

A few days ago, Adam and I celebrated our three year anniversary. I was thinking about writing a sappy blog about how much we love each other, but I decided I would just share some of our favorite photos along with our favorite song. (We'll be dancing to it at our wedding- and if you steal it for yours and you're a friend- I'll kill you.) :)

 If the stars don’t shine, if the moon won’t rise,
if I never see the setting sun again,
You won’t hear me cry, this I testify;
please believe me, boy, you know I wouldn’t lie.

As long as there is

Chiefs Game, October 2009 (the coldest day ever!)

You and Me...
Weekend Getaway- September 2009

 If you love a soul more than fame and gold, and that soul feels the same about you,
It’s a natural fact, there’s no turning back, and here’s some advice to you:
You’ve got to say it’s

You and Me... 

January 2012

June 2012

One of our first photos together, taken by a friend.
(July 2009)

2011 Christmas Photo

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thanks, Dad.

Father's Day is tomorrow and I feel I really need to thank my Dad for some of the things in my life.

Thanks for supporting me, always. He's always there when I need to talk, vent, cry. He's my biggest fan, bragging about me to his friends and coworkers. His face lights up when he sees me. He never says, "Hey that was a really dumb decision", but instead, offers advice and gentle guidance when needed.

Thanks for letting me make my own decisions. He's always encouraged me to be a free thinker, to know what I believe and never waver for it. He didn't kill me when I flipped my car into a ditch three weeks after I got my license. He let me form all of my own opinions about politics, the way the world works, and people. Sometimes I see kids that are 10 or so that are so judgmental of anyone who's different. It breaks my heart. I vow to raise my kids to be accepting of everyone, no matter race, religion or reputation- give everyone a chance. They might surprise you.

Thanks for showing me what true love really is. My parents were married for over 20 years. I still struggle with their divorce sometimes, but when they were together, they were a power couple. They always had each other's backs- they kissed each other like teenagers (which was totally gross). They seemed like puzzle pieces that fit into each other- never interdependent on each other, but loved being with each other. Seeing that kind of love growing up set the stage for my relationships later on. I expect nothing less than a relationship that is still full of love after so long. And no matter what happened in the end, they both still refer to me as their "love child".

Thanks for loving Adam. This one is so important to me because I always silently held my breath when my dad met my boyfriends. I have been so delighted to see that Adam and my dad have become so close. The two most important men in my life loving each other is the absolute best thing that could happen. They talk about music, movies, and whatever else comes up. They hug each other when my dad leaves, which is something I've rarely seen my dad do- to anyone other than family. I see a lot of my dad in Adam- the rebellious spirit, the cravings for culture, the witty responses, the intelligence.

On this Father's Day, thank you for being a great dad- from the moment I was born, throughout my rebellious teenage years, through heartbreaks and job loss. Thanks for always being there.

This painting is of a photo of us when I was a baby.
I had it painted last year for Father's Day.
Dad likes it so much that he had it framed and shows everyone
who walks into his house.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Be Kind. No Exceptions.

As we pulled into Wal-Mart today, I saw a man sitting on the curb. He was unkempt; his hair long, his clothes dirty, with a baseball cap on and a small backpack at his side. I said nothing to Adam about this, and we went about our shopping. As we were leaving, he was still there. I had my blinker on to leave the parking lot when Adam said, "I want to give that guy some money." Without a pause, I quietly agreed and pulled to the side. I pulled a couple of dollars out of my wallet and handed it to him.

I watched in my rearview mirror as Adam walked over to the man, extended and shook his hand, and handed him the money. I saw the man smile, nod, and say thank you, and Adam turned around and walked back to the car. I asked him what else the man said, and Adam replied, "He said thank you, God Bless You, and have a gorgeous day."

I told Adam that I didn't think that all people who ended up homeless were there because of drugs or alcohol, but sometimes just bad decisions. He agreed. There was a time in Adam's life that he didn't have enough money at the end of the month for his medication, he walked everywhere, and at times, even couch surfed when his apartment caught fire.

I was humbled by Adam's simple decision to give this man a few dollars. It reminds me to be kind, to accept everyone and support people when they're down, even if you don't know them. Love and kindness is universal, and it goes a long way.

Some pessimists may say that the man might use the money for alcohol or drugs. Well, that may be. Frankly, we don't really care. He's down on his luck, and he needed a helping hand. You can't judge someone you don't know, but you can have an impact on their lives, even if it's just a moment and a few dollars. We won't miss those dollars, but it may make all the difference in the world to him.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How Therapy Has Changed My Life

Some of my longtime readers may remember a disastrous therapy session I had in February 2011. I never thought I'd return to a therapist's office, until I faced a devastating job loss in February 2012. I had visited my regular doctor and told her that I was experiencing extreme anxiety. I asked if she could refer someone who didn't charge a lot, as I was unemployed and soon to be without health insurance. She gave me a cell phone number for Mike on a Yellow Post-it. "I've heard he's great," she said. I called him as soon as I got home and left a teary message on his voicemail.

"My name is Laylan. I just lost my job and I'm feeling very lost. I really need to talk to someone about how to deal with this. I don't have a lot of money to pay. Please call me back." It was a vulnerable moment and I remember crying just leaving the message.

He called me back awhile later and we set up an appointment. And before we got off the phone, he said, "We're going to get through this together." I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of peace at that moment. I didn't know him, he didn't know me, but he was promising to help me- and I wouldn't have to carry this burden alone.

I'm sharing my therapy story because there is such a negative social stigma associated with therapy, and I'd like to dispel that. By all accounts, I am a normal, healthy, happy, 25 year old. I didn't have a bad childhood or a bad adulthood (so far). What I stand to show is that therapy isn't something to be ashamed of, but rather something that you can be proud of: working on yourself from the inside out.

There are several things I've learned from Mike that I'd like to share.

#1: It's okay to have doubts in your life.
When I met Mike and he asked me about Adam, I was so defensive. I'd adopted such a "Me and Adam against the world" mentality, because so many people had discouraged Adam and I from dating, saying that Adam was incapable of doing anything with his life. What I learned very quickly was that it's okay to have doubts, and I do have doubts. Part of my issue is anxiety- I worry about things that are likely not going to happen, and things that likely will never be a big issue in our lives. But it's okay to have questions and work through them early. It's all about facing what ails you.

#2: "I need to be selfish for once in my life."
I've been taking care of everyone in my life since I was a preteen making dinner from my grandmothers cookbook. Recently, I shared something with Mike and I thought he'd judge me. He didn't. I told him that I needed to be selfish, think about myself, and do what makes me happy right now. I expected him to chastize me for the decision. Because selfishness is never encouraged! And he said, "Do it. You're young. The sun is shining. In fact, I condone it. My job here is to help you be the happiest you can be. So if that makes you happy, do it." I was a bit taken aback. I've always done what was expected of me, following the course of what was laid in front of me. Be selfish was never in the cards. But now it is, and I feel so free to do it.

#3: Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.
As I sat in his office in February and cried about my loss of identity, he didn't assure me I'd find a job soon like everyone else did. He validated my reasons for feeling lost and cared about how I was processing such a huge gap in my life. There were days that I would walk in and cry the moment I sat down. By the end of the session, even if I had sobbed all the way through it, I felt so much more confident walking out than I did walking in. There have been a select few times that I've even called him after hours, having panic attacks. He always answers and we work through it together.

#4: Therapy doesn't last forever, unless you want it to.
When I met Mike I thought as soon as I got a new job, I wouldn't need him anymore. But as we started peeling back the layers of my life, I realized that this was only a piece of my anxiety, which I've had since I was a teenager. We would sidetrack on other topics, the loss of friendships, a breakup that impacted my life, Adam, my family, how I was feeling that week. We'd work on things together and talk them out, and as we continued to do that I just opened up and started owning my feelings. I accept my doubts, my confidences, my talents, my skills, my past.

Lately, as I leave, Mike tells me how proud he is of me. He tells me that I've come a long way. I know he's right. I feel an overwhelming sense of happiness some days. Some days I still have my crying fits, I sink into the depression that caught hold of me for three months while I desperately searched for a job. But for the most part, I'm confident and enjoying the new clarity I have in my life. I don't know where I'd be without Mike right now. As I think that our time together comes to a close, I look back and thank him for being there for me, for letting me be selfish when I needed to, for validating my concerns and reassuring me when I felt like I was the worst person in the world.

I wrote this because as I've opened up about my therapy sessions with Mike, people have told me that they've considered meeting with a counselor but haven't because they didn't know what to expect. I would encourage anyone thinking about therapy to go to a session and talk about what's bothering you. We could all benefit from an objective, human sounding board!