A Lot of Food, A Lot of Thoughts

My Boyfriend is Catholic.

I don’t mean that in the way that I say I’m “technically Catholic” when people ask if I’m religious, or in the way that I explain my religious identity as “Catholic, if you squint.” Which is to say I was baptized Catholic as a baby, and only step in churches for funerals–and am very, very areligious. In fact, I’m borderline anti-religion. That’s a discussion for a different post, however.

When I say my Boyfriend is Catholic, I mean he’s Catholic. Went to private Catholic school, prays before he goes to bed every night, says grace, knows all kinds of Bible related shit that I don’t. He comes from a big family (he’s one of eight), and wants a big one of his own. He’s pretty politically apathetic. He loves Chemistry.

We’re very different, he and I.

In terms of people I ever thought I would date, he’s actually the polar opposite of everything I thought I wanted in a significant other.

But still, in the words of my Brother-In-Law, I’m Sprung.

For all of my adventurous drive, stubborn personality, inclination to argue–I’m a Settle Down kind of girl. I don’t want a chase, or a game, or to Find Myself First.

I have always Known Myself.  I don’t like games, and I hate running. I like stability. I like having someone to come home to, someone who looks after me. Not because I am incapable of looking after myself, but because that’s how I build trust with someone–by letting them be the person who cares for me, by letting them see all my Broken.

I thought having so many differences would cause problems. And even though we’re only a month into the relationship, I sat him down for a serious conversation (on a park swing, because I can never be too serious) a few nights ago.

“I don’t want to get invested in this relationship just for us to break up three years down the road because you love Jesus and I don’t.” I expected him to laugh, or at least look uncomfortable (he usually does when I bring up religion), but I felt listened to. As I always do with him.

So we sat, and swung, for an hour, and talked. About our hypothetical children, and how we wanted them raised. About why I’m not religious. About why he chooses to believe which things within his religion.

I could tell he hadn’t thought about this–religion as a whole–nearly as much as I had.

“People use religion as a crutch, or for hope, or for a light when they feel lost. I never felt like I needed that–not from religion, at least. I always got it from my faith in people. I don’t think it’s wrong to believe in a God,” I told him. “I think it’s wrong to not want to be Good just for the sake of Being Good–and instead being such just because God said so.

“Just some food for thought.” I finished.

“That’s a lot of food,” he responded.

“Well I have a lot of thoughts.”

I thought the conversation would’ve made things worse for us–more tense, or awkward. But I felt closer to him. I think it was good for us. And maybe it was weird to have such a conversation so early in the relationship, but I felt it was necessary.

Later that night we were at a restaurant.

“Do you believe in fate?” And he nodded. “Meant to be’s?” And again. “Forever?” And still.

Of course he does, I thought. God Bless the Broken Road, and all that jazz.

“I do too,” I admitted. “I don’t like to admit it, because I’ve got a pretty cynical reputation to protect.” And he laughed, which was the goal, but I continued. “But also I’m secretly a romantic. I love the idea that there was someone on this Earth made to be your other half.”

I realized that maybe being with someone who runs parallel to you (i.e. what I used to think I wanted in a significant other) is a lot less fun than someone who runs perpendicular. That maybe Balance is also about Exposure, and Compromise, and Forgiveness.

That maybe Forever isn’t a cliche if you take your time and use your words and Love until you can’t anymore.

-HH

Failing and Flailing

I fell asleep thinking about writing this post and, as a result, had a really shitty dream. So I have to write it out now–when I smell like an Almond Joy (because of a coconut oil treatment to my hair) and I still haven’t picked out an outfit for my date with Boyfriend and am overall just stressed–or else it’s going to haunt me all day.

In tenth grade I failed my Chemistry final, but I got a C in the class. That was the closest to school-related failure I’ve ever reached.

This semester I received a 54 F in a class. I will have to retake it.

Here’s the thing. I can blame the Professor–because, well, he was awful. I can blame the material–because, well, it was difficult for me. But the fact of the matter is that I have to blame myself.

I went to class once a week, instead of the three times a week I should’ve been going. I didn’t read the chapters I should’ve read. I didn’t do the project worth 15% of my grade. I didn’t study for the final the way I should’ve. I dropped the ball this semester, and I couldn’t bring myself to care until I saw that big, fat F show up on my Final Grades Report.

Now I’m dealing with those consequences.

There are a lot of factors outside of school that affected my ability to do well this semester–and not just in the class I failed. Before this semester, my collegiate GPA was a 3.75; after this semester I will have a 3.2. Overall, I just did worse academically.

Frat life got in the way, big time. This is my first semester as an active Brother, meaning I let myself get wrapped up in events and sucked into late night dinners when I needed to be studying, doing homework, going to class. I didn’t bother to find a balance; I just prioritized one over the other.

I had a lot going on with my family, and a lot going on with N.A.U.L. I lost a lot of sleep. I didn’t let myself develop good study habits. I prioritized other people’s happiness over my own well-being–which, normally, is how I roll. But I guess I’m learning that I have to find a balance there, too.

Also, my anxiety has never been worse. There were days I couldn’t leave my room without feeling on the verge of crying because someone looked at me. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until it started to calm down and I realized I had been missing out on a lot of stuff-academically and socially. I’ve been thinking about going to therapy to deal with my anxiety. I just don’t know how to have that conversation with my mother.

Internal and external conflicts manifested itself into a lot of nights filled with “I have to take care of me” instead of “I need to finish this assignment.” I’m discovering it’s about balance. I had forgotten about that balance–had forgotten what it’s like to need it, because it’s been so long since I had socialization and friendship and my mental health to prioritize.

I’m figuring it out. Next semester will be better, and I’ve got a month to figure it out before it has to be.

-HH

Phase 10: 4 Sets of Finals and 1 Week-Long Panic

I knew I was going to write today–and, around 6 o’clock this evening, I thought I knew what I was going to write about.

I wanted to talk about dating someone who’s your polar opposite. About finding balance, if you can, or if you’re doomed. About when is too early to start talking about things if you know they’re going to be problematic later?

And then the rest of my night happened. And now I want to talk about dating while having anxiety. Actually–I kind of just want to talk about existing with anxiety.

The thing about anxiety is that once one thing sends you into a tizzy–once those cyclic, obsessive, negative thoughts start–it’s really hard to get out of it. Which is to say everything triggers those thoughts.

Last time I was in a relationship while having anxiety, I wasn’t fully immersed in it yet. I didn’t know what was going on, just that sometimes I needed to cry and hyperventilate and pick at my skin because I felt like I was going to crawl out of it anyway. I’ve spent the past year being single and discovering all of my anxiety on my own.

“My own” being operative words here. See, this semester I have people. I have more people than I know what to do with. People who snapchat me, who ask me to lunch, who invite me over, or to hangout, who call me, who walk me back to my dorm, who ask me (before they ask anyone else) to study with them. I didn’t have people before. I had me, my anxiety, Cameron, and my Roommate. And the only person who actually dealt with my anxiety was my anxiety.

I thought that having people would make me feel amazing, wanted, assured. And it does, to an extent.

But I’m discovering recently that there is such a thing as having Too Many People. Especially when you’re just getting into a relationship.

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why ‘normal’ people date people like me. Why they find joy in being with someone who second guesses everything about the relationship, who misreads (and over analyzes) every conversation or glance, who goes down one road assuming they’re being followed–when, really, it turns out you’re not even in the same neighborhood. It’s exhausting, I’d imagine. I’m exhausting.

So I’m overwhelmed a lot, recently, because I’m trying to figure out what’s worth bringing up, what’s not crazy to analyze or question. It doesn’t help that my Boyfriend and I got together two weeks before Finals.

I will (probably) receive my first ever F in a class this semester. I’ve been secretly harboring a lot of feelings over it: shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, disappointment, and anxiety.

On top of all that, because it was Finals Week, all my People wanted to study with me, or take lunch breaks to eat with me. And I love my People. I do. But even Not-Exhausting People get Exhausting when you stress the way I stress while having anxiety the way I have anxiety.

My Boyfriend doesn’t get my anxiety in that he doesn’t personally understand it. He listens, and does what I ask him to in order to help me calm down. He’s perspicacious, and attentive–he knows I’m tired before I know I’m tired, knows I’m hungry before I voice it, knows when I’m asleep or just pretending, knows why I’m giggling at nothing. He’s known since I arrived at his apartment that my anxiety levels were high.

“If you don’t want to go, tell me now,” he said as he pulled on a hoodie. We were going to play a card game at a friend’s. I knew everyone that would be there, but I was already dreading walking into the house. He’s the type that can go all night, though. He loves people. And we’ve both been so stressed with Finals. I wanted him to have fun.

So we went. And I did have fun! We played Phase 10, and I lost (terribly) but it was okay.

My Big texted (and Snapchatted) me while I was there. She kept asking if I was okay (because of my F) and how I was feeling (because I was socializing) and what was I going to do about the fraternity camping trip this weekend and she loved me and was I sure I was okay? And I felt bombarded. Too cared for. I thought I wanted to be coddled, but I really wanted to be left alone.

Then we arrived back at his apartment, and as I started doing a coconut oil treatment in my hair, my Boyfriend offered Taco Bell. We bickered as we discussed what I wanted.

“You’re really complicated,” he grumbled as he sat down. “Has anyone ever told you that?”

And, no, they hadn’t. But I have. Plenty of times.

I worry that my complicated will be too much. That he thinks the anxiety is endearing now, but will get sick of it soon. That he can leave the anxiety and me without thought–which, he can. It’s just frustrating because I can’t.

I don’t like being anxious like this. I wish I could stop apologizing every time I think I’ve done something wrong. I wish I stopped thinking everything I did was bothersome. I wish I didn’t feel like the world is ending because of an F. I wish I wasn’t thinking about skipping out on something I have been buzzing for because the thought of three days of socializing with no breaks is absolutely terrifying.

I wish I wasn’t like this.

I wish I knew what I wanted. From my Big I wanted Space. From my Mom I wanted Space. From my Friends I wanted Space. From my Boyfriend I wanted to be reassured. There is no consistency.

No method to the madness.

But Finals Week is over. I just took a hot shower. I don’t have to decide to go camping until noon tomorrow, and I had nachos for dinner.

I’m hiding in the back room while he watches a movie with friends. The bed is warm, and the outside is cold. It’s almost Christmas.

There is still good. I still have good left.

-HH

Finals

It’s Finals Week. My third Finals Week, to be exact.

This semester, academically, has been a struggle. I’m a Humanities major for a reason; I’m terrible at science. I decided to knock out my last two Gen Eds this semester, and I’m worried about the way my GPA will suffer because of it.

I never wanted to go to college. My entire life I wanted to write books, and I always thought that my books would be most good, authentic, influential, what have you, if I graduated high school and jumped into real life. Real life, after all, was what I wanted to write about.

But I have always been the Smart One, in my family. I come from working class, uneducated parents. I was denoted as Gifted when I was eight years old. I attended an Academic Academy my entire middle/high school career. In my family, I had the brains. And that’s really all I ever had–besides my voice, but that’s for another time.

So when Senior Year came around, and everyone was applying to schools and picking majors and Finding Their Way–well, that’s what I did.

I don’t regret it, not for a second. My mom would never admit this to me, but I always felt like if I didn’t go to college she would’ve taken it like a slap in face. She worked hard to provide for me so that I could dedicate all my time to my studies. And she may not be putting me through college now, but she’s part of the reason I made it this far. I owe it to her to be the first person in my family with a Bachelor’s–the second ever to graduate from college.

In the light of Finals Week, it’s hard to find that same justification.

I have disappointing grades and low motivation to improve them.

I probably need to see a doctor about my anxiety.

I probably need to recognize my unhealthy relationship with food.

There are a lot of things I probably need to do.

Instead I will go to my history final exam review. I will chug this mocha from Starbucks. I will read three Chapters of my Astronomy textbook, study the Quizlet for German, fill out the study guide for Women and Gender Studies. I will try to go to bed at a decent hour.

I will do it all again tomorrow, and breathe when the air doesn’t taste like stress anymore.

-HH