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Ever feel like there is something holding your back every time you make a decision on your own? Others believe that, if there is something holding your back, it may be a sign that it will not have a good outcome, some believe that if there is something holding your back, it means you are currently holding on to something that is not allowed to carry while pursuing the decision, and there are some who believe that, it may be a fear that holds them back.

Love, a four letter word that drives out fear, but how come love gives us fears sometimes? Why do we fear love?

1. You fear love because you overlook the outcome.

You keep overthinking about what will happen in the future. You are always worried about it that could come to a point where it consumes you until you are no longer decided. Keep in mind that fear is a voice of your own demons. It controls you. It holds you back. It crushes you.

Relax your thoughts. Some of these thoughts are false and product of your imagination. Truly you may not easily control it, but remind yourself about the truth, remind yourself of the present situation and not overlook about the future.

It is good to be futuristic but not to the point that it drowns you to negativity.

2. You fear love because you got hurt before.

Pretty normal, give yourself the time it needs to mend its own wounds. Do not rush but do not punish yourself, do not close doors to someone who is willing to be better for you and to love you dearly. The pain of the past should not be carried to the future. Do not let it control you. Do not let it stop you from growing. Do not let it stop you from having a loving soul.

Not everyone will hurt you, I assure you that. There is someone out there who will love you with the love you deserve. Make sure that the past no longer hold you back because you may end up damaging others. Be patient with yourself.

Do not let your past experience hold you, let it be a lesson to you and create a better version of you. Do not be afraid of trying again.

3. You fear love because you think you are hard to love.

You do not want any commitment because you think people will leave you in an instant because you are hard to love. Yes, people who are hard to love exist in this world, not everyone has that soft personality.

Erase the thought. You will meet someone who is patient enough to understand what you feel and to understand your love language. You are worthy. Despite having a changing pattern, someone will love you for who you are.

4. You are not ready.

It is okay not to be ready, we do not need to rush because there are other priorities. Give yourself time.

It is better to be ready than to be reckless. Take your time. Do not rush. Love when you are ready, not when you just feel like it is fun.

5. It is just that… the past.

It is okay to admit that you are still into your past partner, it is okay to not be over it. What is not okay is loving another while holding someone from the past. It is okay to live in the past for awhile, it is okay to hope for the chapter to continue, while living in it, never forget the lessons it left you because these lessons are like materials in building a better you.

These are only part of the whole.

Give yourself time. Love is not something you rush, it is something that requires preparation. Above all, love yourself. Self comes first.

<Photo from>

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“It can’t be…! We saw Whumper die, we saw it! T-They can’t be back! You t-told me they were never coming back, you said–! No, no, no! They’re going to find me! They won’t stop, they’ll come for me again, take me back–!”

“Whumpee! Breathe. Shhh, I’ve got you. Shh. I won’t let them hurt you again, I swear it. This time, I’m going to make sure they stay dead. Personally.”

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If the mind is a cacophony, the subconscious is silent theatre; here are the players from the conscious mind, the fears, the desires, the ought and ought-not, but they are whittled down to a core cast and they re-emerge in costume. They come with colour, substance, emotion, tone and musculature; they come as ciphers, symbols and distortions all pointing towards the essence of what I am, whatever that is. Whatever that is.

— Samantha Harvey, The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020) 

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MmhMMMMMMHGH YES PLS!!! YES I WILL TAKE TWENTY! Can you just imagine tho?? 

Vampire whumpee knows they’d better be properly grateful, or they’ll face the consequences. Besides, isn’t Caretaker so kind to give them any blood at all? They’re a monstrosity, after all, an abomination. They don’t deserve to be fed, not until they’ve suffered for it. 

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Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji: The Great Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai, Edo period, 19th century

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela

Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art that became popular in the 17th century through to the 19th century. The word roughly translates as “pictures of the floating world” and artists belonging to the movement produced woodblock prints and paintings of scenes from history and folktales, sumo wrestlers, landscapes of flora and fauna, and a touch of erotica.

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I feal so guilty being afraid of my father, I love him and hes usually nice enough, or just not there. The only times hes ever hit me have been the times I’ve deserved it. But he throws things when hes drunk. He crashes dishes as loud as he can when he has to clean. He yells at me for things outside of my control.

Any time he dose any of these three things, or a combination of them, I get scared. I think hes going to hit me, and hes strong enough I couldent fight back. I hide in my room, on those nights, I sleep infront of the door beacuse it has no lock. He will threten to take the door off the hinges. I think the only reason he dosen’t is beacuse my mom dosent like the look of my room.

When he found out I was suicidal the first time he told me it wouldent matter to anyone but him and my mom if I killed myself, that he wouldn’t even cere if I did, so I should get it over with. He gets angry whenever he cacthes a glimps of my cuts and scars.

But he loves me. He dosent mean to hurt me. He just wants whats best for me. Or thats what my mom tells me as I lay on my floor shakeing in fear. Why do I keep beliveing her? Why do I keep accepting his empty apologys when I know he never changes?

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I’m tired. The constant refrain in my head over the last 11 weeks.

Not tired in the sense of “Oh god I need to get more sleep I need more coffee”

But the kind of deep exhaustion that sinks down into your bones. That fills your heart with sadness and your mind with confusion. Exhausted by the state of the world and the confusion of my life and the constant feel of how hard it is to live in the kind of world we all have right now. Exhausted by the pain I see around me, and far away from me, daily. Exhausted by my own pain, and then exhausted by the guilt I feel for feeling any pain at all.

I’m so tired.

I don’t think anyone out there has had an easy time these last 11 weeks. Maybe Jeff Bezos. The state of the world is insane and hard and sad. I know this, and I know it’s normal to be having a tough time.

But on the other hand, I find myself saying “Well, nothing bad has happened to you. You’re fine.” I haven’t lost anyone close to me from this disease. I’ve not only kept my job, but I’ve been able to keep going in to work every day. My day to day life has barely changed. I haven’t really missed out or had to cancel anything I had planned, other than a visit to Florida from my dad and sister. I’m fine, right? I’m not struggling in any obvious or really tangible ways.

And yet I am. Struggling.

My mental health had already been low before all of this shit happened, as I discussed in my end-of-2019 writing. 2019 was an immensely difficult year for me, filled with loss and change and growing pains. 

I wasn’t expecting how hard this quarantine/isolation/whatever would hit me.

The biggest surprise for me is how much I miss people. I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m an introvert, and that I do like being alone. I’m not super talkative or openly affectionate. 

But I miss people. I miss physical, in person, tangible connection. I miss being able to pop into my friend’s office at work just to chat. I miss my students, their curiosity and interest and questions (as frustrating as they could occasionally be). I miss being able to just text a friend and pop over to her house to watch a movie or play a game or just chat. I’m grateful for texting and phone calls and video chats, but it’s not the same. When I look up or turn off the video, it’s still just me.

While I have largely enjoyed living alone the last year (though it has been occasionally financially stressful, though manageable), living by yourself through quarantine is painful. The majority of the time over the last 11 weeks I have gone from home to work to home without speaking out loud to anyone (other than my cat, who wonderfully meows back). 

I am so jealous of everyone who has someone, a partner, a spouse, a friend, to weather this pandemic with. A face to see daily, a hand to hold, a hug to give or receive. And yes, I’m sure that quarantining with someone and not being able to get away comes with its own set of difficulties. 

But right now I’m craving connection. Someone to just sit with while I drink my coffee or read my book. 

One thing this whole situation has really taught me is that I do love people. I do crave connection. I’ve been alone for so long that I forgot or didn’t appreciate how much I do love people, as much as I enjoy my own personal time and space. 

And so this situation has also brought forth a lot of deep seated fears and anxieties. At 27 and perpetually lonely, I often find myself wondering if that will ever change, if I will ever have someone to travel through this labyrinth with, or if it really is just me. I wonder if there’s something about me that pushes people away. And at the times I find myself feeling brave enough to start trying to seek out companionship, my orientation frightens me. I don’t know what my asexuality means or could mean or could hurt in all of this. I still struggle with what my romantic orientation is. I don’t know how to share myself with someone, though I so desperately want to. I want, but I’m scared.

I’m so scared all the time. Of myself. Of other people. Of love, and of loss. Of not knowing. Of change. Of nothing ever changing. Of standing still.

At the beginning of April, I got sick. Or, I think I did. My brain constantly felt foggy, I had lost my appetite, I was nauseated. And then my chest started to hurt, and I got short of breath just walking across a room. For several days I told myself I was probably fine, and tried to “rationalize” that I didn’t need a covid test. Thankfully, my boss and my family told me that I did need a test, and I wasn’t taking anything away from anyone by getting one.

So I did get tested. And waited four days, as the coughing came and went, as my sore throat developed and went away, as I slept a lot and finished a puzzle and worried constantly, not leaving my apartment at all. 

I tested negative. I (probably) didn’t have the coronavirus. I got better.

And then about two weeks later the trouble breathing came back. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I spent a whole Saturday anxious and nauseated and short of breath before finally being convinced to go to the ER in the evening. I got blood work and a chest X-ray, and, physically, everything was fine. I was, the very kind and understanding ER doctor told me, having a panic attack. I had never had one before, and while I knew about them, I truly did not understand how terrifying panic attacks are. It felt (and still feels) like a stupid reason to go to the ER, but I genuinely was terrified, feeling like I couldn’t breathe and like my heart was going to beat out of my chest.

I don’t know specifically all of the things that directly led to that panic attack, but, I mean. You know. The world right now.

But, as terrifying as that panic attack was, it was probably a good thing. It pushed me back into therapy, which I had been out of for a year and a half and desperately needed. I have only had 4 (virtual) sessions so far, but already it has been remarkably helpful. The therapist I found has been kind and supportive, and I already feel like I have finally found the kind of therapist I need, which I haven’t really felt with anyone I’ve met with since my therapist when I was in eating disorder treatment. I also finally upped the dosage for my anxiety medication. Which, again, is really probably something I needed last year, as I was sinking into depression and my anxiety was spiking. But better late than never, I suppose. Better to go to the ER and find out that physically I am fine, and remind myself that I need to take care of my brain too. 

It’s always been hard for me to do that. 

Take care of myself. 

Another thing that has been remarkably helpful in this time is an online “empowerment in the modern movement” class, led by a dear friend from years and years ago who helped me to find love for my body and my journey and who brought me a group of sincere friends at a time when I really needed it. Other than that friend, this was a class of strangers, but getting to talk about deep questions with these strangers was amazing. Meeting with people who crave connection and who want to make a better world. Having the chance to speak what I was feeling and struggling with and feeling truly like doing so was welcomed and listened to and understood. I’m sad that class is over, but I am so grateful for it.

Anyway, that’s a big way of coming to this: The last question we were asked in our final meeting last week was “What are you having a tough time loving right now?”

Immediately, the answer came: Myself

Those of you who have known me for a long time know that this isn’t a recent struggle for me. Loving myself has always been hard for me. I’ve made big strides in different ways.

But lately, I’ve had a really hard time loving myself.

Loving my anxiety. Loving my sadness. 

It’s so much easier for me to tell myself “Well, you’re fine. Your life has barely changed.”

It’s so much harder to recognize that my heart hurts. That I am in pain. That, yes, other people have it so so so much harder right now, but this is still hard for me. It hurts, and I’m scared, and I’m sad, and I’m lonely.

Harder still, then, to love and recognize those things, and then to take care of myself. To reach out and ask for help. To be gentle with myself on the hard days.

Is it okay, to just get through each day? To offer what I can of myself to the world, knowing that that will be different? Is it okay, to just be here? What am I trying to prove by doing anything more than what I really can? And to who?

One thing I do find myself very selfishly grateful for is the fact that this pandemic didn’t happen last year. This past weekend in particular I found myself wondering how it would’ve felt to not have been able to fly back to Colorado for my stepmom’s memorial celebration. I needed that so much last year, and I am so grateful I was able to travel home when I could.

My heart hurts so much for the innumerable people who don’t have that opportunity right now to say goodbye to their loved ones. I know some of that pain, because I also didn’t truly get a chance to say goodbye. I don’t know what pain or fear or loneliness my stepmom might have been feeling in her last moments, which haunts me every day. But I did still get a chance to say goodbye and celebrate her life and all that she was with my dad, my sister, family, and friends. I can’t imagine how painful it would be if I didn’t get that chance, and I am so sorry for everyone out there who is going through that right now. Unable to grieve in person, together, to feel connection and receive hugs, to cry on someone’s shoulder. To celebrate and mourn at the same time someone’s life.

It’s hard. But it’s going to be okay. I hope for all those people they do get a chance soon to gather and cry and celebrate and grieve in whatever way they need. I see you, I ache for you, and I understand.

So here we are. 11 weeks into this, and I’m fine. I still have my job, I still go to work everyday. Everyone in my family is still here, though physically distant. 

But I’m also scared. I’m sad. I’m lonely. Some days my heart physically hurts from the sadness. Other days it feels like my brain is screaming and I’m scared and I can’t focus. And then some days I am okay.

I don’t know what the world will look like on the other side of this, or what I will look like or feel or be on the other side. I want to hope for something better for all of us, but I don’t know if I can. Some days I do believe that. Other days I’m more cynical and realistic.

I do know that we’re all going to be different. We’re all changing right now, and this hurts. In so many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally.

But I want to give you the message I try to give myself every day, even if I know I won’t believe it that day. The words are still important.

You are okay. Even if you’re not, you are. If you are angry, you are okay. If you are scared, you are okay. If you can’t get out of bed, you are okay. If you are sad, you are okay. If you don’t know what to do or to offer to the world, you are okay. You are. You are. You are.

Feel what you are feeling. Try not to compare your pain to that of others. Recognize your privilege, yes, empathize with others, give what you can to those who need it. But also recognize what you are and what you need. 

Try to love yourself. Every last part of yourself. Even the parts you don’t like.

I love you.

Reach out. You are okay.

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Yellow and pink flowers. Lined at the handle of the stairs. Pinned at the hair of the bridesmaids. Bloomed at the hands of the bride.

The scene before me was mesmerizing. The urge to take up my camera and capture the moment itched my fingertips.

Especially how they were climbing up the stairs with their faces filled with fear and horror.

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