What Happened to Me

I have not posted anything in a long time. I know this seems to be a recurring thing for me – I disappear, then reappear with explanations and apologies. I suppose this post is no exception to the pattern. I’m going to explain what happened to me.

When I started this blog, I was what I would call a wide eyed innocent. I had achieved my goal of moving to Wilmington, NC to start what I thought would become an extremely rewarding career with a man I had been dating for quite a few years. As I moved forward, things began to fall apart in my relationship. I was sad but I knew it was for the best and once again, moved forward. Moving forward is the only option, no matter what. I was still making a living, I had a roof over my head, I had an income. I could create a new life for myself.

Then, I lost my career after three years. The reason was unfair, but I could not fight it. So, I launched myself into finding work again, hoping and praying that I could continue living in Wilmington where I had carved a niche for myself. I was performing music at a bar every Thursday and loved the life I lived.

I did not find work. Not even something part time. I was forced to move back to Charlotte, a city I had no love for in the slightest. But I tried to make the best of it, I had a pretty good living situation and got a part time job at a little cafe while I looked for something more sustainable.

I met a man I fell fast and hard for. Our relationship started out wonderfully, we laughed constantly, went out and tried new things. It became apparent though, that he had an issue with anger and rage. I never thought it would escalate to anything physical. I loved him deeply so I stayed, despite the awful words and insults he would hurl at me during his episodes. I stayed because I thought he would work through it, until one night when it did become physical.

I became scared. We broke up but he remained in control of me.

My grandmother died on Thanksgiving of 2017. I drove with my dad up to Connecticut for the funeral. My sister and brother flew up from Tampa as well. It was a heartwarming funeral; I saw a lot of family members I hadn’t seen in over a decade. There was much love to be had, and I hadn’t even been to Connecticut since I was probably 12 (I’m 28 now, 29 this year in October).

On the drive back from Connecticut, the man who laid hands on me literally blew up my phone. He didn’t care that I was with my dad. He didn’t care I was involved in a fourteen hour drive. Text after text after phone call after phone call after insult after insult.

My dad reacted as a father would. He told me to find a new place to live, to protect myself. I wracked my brain. Who would let me in? I remembered, I had reached out to a friend from high school after the incident. He had told me that if I ever needed a safe place, to reach out to him.

That’s what I did.

The following Sunday, I pulled into his driveway. The house is small, brick, and on a half acre of land. He wasn’t home but told me to let myself in. I did.

It instantly felt like home. In fact, I almost immediately fell asleep on the blue couch. I didn’t wake until he came home and opened the door. I hadn’t seen him in about ten years. He said to me, “Welcome home,” and we hugged for a long, long time.

Slowly but surly we moved my things into the spare room. I had to sacrifice quite a bit, like the entire box of cross stitch supplies that flew off the back of his truck and exploded all over the highway. He gave me sanctuary, and I gave him a whole new outlook on cooking.

I developed feelings. So did he. But certain things kept us from being together, even though we share the same roof.

I found myself a part time waitress job down the road at a local Asian bistro. I made friends with everyone immediately. They are my second family, I can turn to them for anything. I’m not the best waitress in the world, but it’s something I had never done before and I find it fun, challenging, and definitely interesting. I threw myself into poetry, using words to work through my past, my present, and my future.

One day I logged into Facebook and saw a post about a dear, dear friend from Wilmington going missing. For six days I watched the progress for his search. I listened to his music and looked at his photos. On the sixth day, I was in my car in a parking lot drinking a coffee. I logged into Facebook to find that they had found him in the Cape Fear River.

Working through those emotions were difficult, but unfortunately not the first time I’ve had to grieve over a close friend. Everyone was there for me. My friend from high school, my work family, my family, even my poetry community on Instagram. I worked through everything, my grief, my pain, my everything.

Eventually I healed. Not completely, but enough to take a deep breath and step forward.

My friend from high school and I are together now, a strong team with bonds of steel. There is a small garden on the back porch. We’re fencing in the backyard, and have plans to build a chicken coop.

I’m sitting in a local cafe right now, with green tea and a beautiful armband he made for me (he’s a welder).

I survived. And you can too. When things get rough, even when it seems like you won’t make it through, that you won’t see tomorrow, you will. I promise you, whatever you’re going through, stay strong. You will make it.

I’m going to try and post more. We don’t have internet so it’s difficult, but I miss my little blog, and all of you. Stay well, focus on the good, and don’t lose your spirit.

Much, much love,

Stephanie

 

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The Importance of Friendship

This weekend was a blast.

We had our neighbors over, and we made our own pizzas, and we drank some good wine, and we played Clue. It was amazing and I want to do it all the time.

I made a pizza using Udi’s gluten free pizza crust, and while I did not like their frozen pizza, their crust with my own ingredients was a-maz-ing!!!!

I used a ton of toppings – garlic oil, mozzarella, asiago, romano, parmesan, mushrooms, spinach, bacon and and prosciutto, jalapeno, and truffle salt on top. Oh my lord I ate the whole damn thing and did not feel bad one bit.

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It was just so much fun and Justin and I usually have kind of a hard time making real friends…we both have our own separate besties, but our neighbors here in Wilmington are the first people we both met and just instantly we all became friends. But with friendship comes community: We make large batches of soup and share, they went away for two weeks and gave us their produce, we looked after their dog, they helped us out during the painful car accident, we returned the favor with a little bit of money, and it’s just a legitimate constant back and forth born from a real, true liking of one another.

It’s a new thing for us. We’re not unlikable people or anything (I’m pretty sure…) but it’s always been kind of separate. While I am going through some personal issues that I cannot post here, having close friends that are also literally right next to us is absolutely amazing. It makes me feel like I have a mini family, a mini community, that I can truly trust.

Community is important. It can catch you when nothing else can. It can make you feel important, loved, and appreciated. Reach beyond and grasp what is there – the true kindness and love that other people really do possess, despite the horrible things that happen in the world every day.

No 50 Shades of Me this week. It’s been way too good to dwell on problems of the past.

Cape Fear River Watch and Farmer’s Market

Now that I live in Wilmington, I’m really excited to get involved with the volunteer opportunities here. And, in light of my determination to go green, reduce my carbon footprint, and help save the planet, Justin and I sacrificed sleeping in this Saturday to help with the Cape Fear River Watch.

Wilmington natives are most likely familiar with this awesome opportunity, but for anyone who isn’t in Wilmington, River Watch is an organization that helps with water and river quality. This particular volunteer program cleans trash out of rivers and riverbanks. I was really excited to see quite a few people there, including my coworker/good friend Allie and her boyfriend Nick! Sticks, bags, and gloves were provided for us. Below are some photos from the morning, taken by Bernie, our motivated and awesome organizer, and Allie! Clicking on the photos will take you to the Cape Fear River Watch Website.

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Allie climbed out first and I followed – My shoe untied and I almost fell in -_-

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I’m particularly happy with my heroic pipeline pose >_>

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We got what we could! There’s still more trash that we couldn’t reach even with the long grabber sticks. This photo unfortunately doesn’t showcase every awesome person who came out. We all kind of got separated and cleaned different spots.

I felt really, really good after this morning! My soul felt good, my body felt good…all was good. After, even though we were wet and soggy, Justin and I hauled over to the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market and we picked up some homemade goat cheese, organic cat nip, corn, okra, rosemary and thyme to plant in pots on the porch, and organic ground goat.

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IMG_4375 The vendors were drool-worthy. I wanted some of the homemade bread but I’m still on a bit of a budget (haven’t gotten my first paycheck yet) so I’ll have to wait, it was a wee bit pricey. But when I have the money, I’ll be purchasing a hand-woven basket, some beeswax candles, and other goodies I can’t wait to get my hands on!

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This is my French thyme and pink rosemary! I wanted to buy out the whole herb vendor. The lady’s prices were amazing and she was so kind and very helpful in giving me advice to start my porch garden. Since taking this photo I have potted the herbs, thanks to my awesome neighbor Angie who has a thriving porch garden!

I actually may have a few more posts born of this weekend. Since our apartment is lined by a bamboo forest, Justin went and foraged some fallen stalks and is currently making them into some sunshades for the porch a gate for the porch! And I’m hoping to experiment with some lip balm making supplies I have but never used!

That’s it for now. I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!