I wear more than my heart on my sleeve

I'm a bit of a packrat. I have a tendency, despite how much I've moved, to hang on to things. At the same time, I can cavalierly say, "throw it out!" My sentimentality is unpredictable. Perhaps that's the thing about being sentimental; you never know what you are going to feel connected to nor why. 

When you have been writing stories, plays, poems, half-finished fiction pieces since you were 6, and used countless journals, scrap pieces of papers, not to mention the various computers both desktop and laptop you've gone through, it can be difficult to track a piece down or to hang on to all of it. Many CDs full of my writing from grad school are missing, stuffed in a box or bin somewhere. I periodically search for it, expecting that one day when I'm not really looking, I will find it. That's what happened with the writing I came across from when I was 20 and living in Orlando.

It can be painful to read things from your past, to see in your own words the angst, the misery, the terrible loneliness. I wish I could offer that past self some of the peace I have found. I have written to my 20 year old self before, almost 5 years ago. And I've written a great deal about my twenties, the confusion and fear, the muchness and bravado. There is a certain kind of affinity and nostalgia for some of those moments, and of course, I can see now how they shaped me. But there is so much sadness in the things I read from this specific time, so much trying and feeling like I'm not getting it right. I felt everything so deeply, with such raw emotion that it makes sense I would seek ways to numb it. Sometimes that meant really loud music, and driving to the beach with my windows down. Other times it meant, well, something else. The fact that I was able to connect to people, despite being afraid of being hurt by them on a constant basis, is staggering to me. 

I fell in love easily then, maybe I always have. In my 20's I had a penchant for falling in hopeless love with people who gave me just enough attention, to let me feel part of their lives, to let me feel like they depended on me. I was the one they called at 3 a.m. to talk because no one else would listen, the girl who would drive across town after a few hours of sleep to pick them (and some random girl or guy) up from a party. I was the one who didn't ask anything from them, who wasn't angry when they forgot plans we'd made, at least not on the surface. Alone, in my room, I was sobbing.

I wasn't delusional and I wasn't romantically lead on, but rather the caretaker in me, the one who has a tendency to overdo to show my affection, is easily swayed. It's not a great pattern, and it's one I've spent years in therapy trying to break. It's a very old story, and a heartbreaking one, just the same. 

I suppose that's what happened when I found my old writing. My heart broke for my 20-year-old self, even knowing that I had to go through all that bullshit (really, did I?) to get here. Here is good. I still wear more than my heart on my sleeve. I'm awful at any kind of "think fast" game. But, I still cycle through emotions more quickly than anyone I know. I can go from self-righteous indignation to hysterical laughter, from pity to bravado, in no time at all. I'm no good at hiding my true feelings; I'm a terrible liar but a very good secret keeper. I'm messy and disorganized and full of big ideas. I'm getting better at kindness, empathy, gratitude. I smile a lot. But most of all, I have fantastic relationships. I have a great love, a big, all-encompassing, even after 10 years I cannot breathe from how deeply I am enamored with her love. It's not something I ever thought possible. I have amazing friends. I'm doing work I really dig, and feel supported and encouraged by colleagues near and far. There's just no possible way I could have imagined it, the richness, or brightness of this life. 

I suppose we never can.