On True Love

“True love takes you by surprise… and if it’s really worth something, it continues to take you by surprise. the last thing lovers should do, despite what I had imagined, is agree about everything and share all of each other’s tastes. True Love…means a never-ending clash of opinions and perspectives. If your lover’s already just like you, then neither one of you has anywhere to go. Their character matters not only because you’re going to have to live with it, but because it’s going to shape the person you become.”

– William Deresiewicz, “A Jane Austen Education”

 

On Manipulation: Skillfully Managed

They define Manipulation as “skillful or artful management”.

But we know, it is so much more than that.

Manipulation, Emotional Abuse, Controlling Behavior: Played, Duped, Destroyed. There should be more words to describe what it is to be made the object of another person’s machinations.

They find you, dissect you, categorize and label you. They identify what it is that will draw you in. They create their identity to make you believe that they are far grander than they seem. They entangle themselves in your life. They weed out the extraneous. Isolated and diminished, they define your parameters.

I needed a puzzle so he became deeply complex, a multilayered enigma.

I needed to play the heroine, so he became a troubled soul in peril.

I needed to escape impact and he became my fallout shelter.

I needed to recover from the storm and he became my safe harbor.

I needed more friends and he became jealous.

I needed a girls’ night and he mocked me.

I refused him their secrets while he wheedled and pleaded till falling silent and ignoring me. Stunned, hurt by his silence, I would tease and cajole him till he lashed out with bitter, calculated remarks.

I would stand my ground and he would make me feel like an ant beneath his shoe, the scum of the earth, the Pity Friend. By his displeasure, I was Bitch Personified. I was my Alcoholic Uncle, greedy and cruel; I was my Cold-Blooded Cousin, narcissistic and mean; I was my Father, thoughtless and absent.

I never questioned his motives. I never analyzed his treatment. I failed to evaluate the data because by all estimations this was no game — there was no playing field, no score or tallies kept. If I was everything I dreaded and despised well, at best, I must have been on my period. At worst, I must have gone off my anti-depressants. How could someone who made me laugh, who cared so fervently for my well being, have anything but my best interests at heart?

After all, I was the center of his world, the most important person in his phone. His first text every morning, last IM every night.  The face he looked for in the halls, the automatic partner in every assignment. By his approval, I was brilliant, funny, lovely.  I was worth something. I was Someone.

That was my truth for five years. He validated me; he made me better (stronger).

They make you think that Manipulators all look like greasy boys wearing leather jackets and leering smiles. My manipulator was a short Nerd with a funny voice and close-set eyes.

They make you think that Abuse looks like cuts and bruises. My abuse was shattered confidence and perpetual self-doubt.

They make you think that Freedom looks like Prince Charming atop a White Horse. My freedom was watching him destroy someone that I loved (who he had claimed to love, but Love is Never Defined by Lies and Devastation). From finally realizing that, if I would not allow him to treat our friend with that behavior – why was I allowing him to treat me with that behavior? My freedom was my best friend analyzing interactions with me, identifying destructive patterns, giving me the strength and the courage to walk away.

I was lucky. I escaped him. I found supportive, passionate and loving friends. I moved on with my life.

I still see his ghost in every person I meet. In every boy who texts me. In every compliment paid me, I analyze it for ulterior motives. I am skittish and skeptical and wary.

Skillfully Managed, they say.

I know, it is infinitely more than that.

On Being Vulnerable

“I was beginning to see, though, that the unknown wasn’t always the greatest thing to fear. The people who know you best can be riskier, because the words they say and things they think have the potential to be not only scary but true, as well.”

-Sarah Dessen,  Just Listen


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On Being Alone

“He didn’t know why he was running away.
Maybe because being close to someone took a hell of a lot more guts than being alone.”
— Linda Castillo

I think I can identify with this quote far more than I’m comfortable with. It feels to me that a lot of single people my age (early twenties) seem to fall into two categories: either they desperately want to be in a committed relationship with a significant other, planning a future and a life together; or they’re flitting from one meaningless fling to another. And then there’s me. Content with being alone, determined to figure out my own identity and values before I entangle myself with another person.

I have this tendency to throw myself into relationships with others wholeheartedly — I have acquaintances and then I have close friendships that I focus a good deal of energy on, to be a good friend, to stay in contact with them when they move away. Once I’m in, I’m emotionally invested and it takes a lot to make me walk away from someone. Knowing this, understanding this aspect of myself, I’m hesitant to find a significant other. I feel that the most I can give people right now, is the sort of focus and investment which I give my close friends. I’m not ready to make that sort of all-encompassing commitment to someone when I don’t know where my future is taking me, when I am still forming my identity and focusing my beliefs.

Occasionally, though, I find myself wondering if I’m alone not because I don’t feel capable of fully committing to another person, but because I’m safe being alone and I’m just not brave enough to be that vulnerable with someone else.

In Which I Confess to That Time I Was An Idiot For Years…

Blog Challenge Day 12: Regrets

Four years ago, I was leaving a lecture hall and saw this boy and in an instant, I found myself believing in Soul Mates and Love-at-First-Sight and Forevers. I drove home from class and found myself pleading with whatever higher power there was, “please…please let him like me back.” And then? And then I did nothing.

Oh, I spent the rest of the semester subtly (or not so subtly) checking him out. Gushing about how incredibly good looking he was to all of my friends. Looking for him all over campus…but as for taking some sort of proactive stance in my life and actually asking him out? Nope. Not this girl. To be fair, I did introduce myself and surreptitiously discovered we had mutual friends then found him on Facebook and friended him over that summer.(Not creepy, Laura. Not creepy at all.)

But then it took a couple of parties, an exchange of Facebook messages, an unfortunate number of Awkward-Laura-Moments and three years for me to work up the courage to ask him to coffee (more like I reached the end of my rope with this crazy fangirl-like infatuation).

I was always aware that he wasn’t interested in me- not romantically anyway- but I was so tightly ensconced in the grip of that crush, I couldn’t get over him without some sort of closure. Luckily, this guy was actually a pretty decent fellow and he agreed to meet up. We talked for about an hour, swapping stories about studying abroad and music recommendations and then we parted and by the end of that day — I was pretty effectively over him. Mostly because I was able to finally accept that he was not interested in me and I deserved a guy who would pursue me, who thought I was amazing and funny and beautiful. 

My one regret through that entire experience? All of the heartache and questions I could have saved myself (and my best friends) if I had simply approached him and asked him to coffee that first semester I noticed him. I’m certainly glad that I finally did something about it, and I can still pull some valuable life lessons from the entire experience but if I could go back, I would have walked right up to him that first (okay, maybe the second) day of class and said, “Hi, my name is Laura. Wanna go grab coffee sometime?”

Hindsight, man. It’ll get you every time.

“My father said that love at first sight should send you running, if you know what’s good for you. It’s your dark pieces having instant recognition with their dark pieces, he says. You’re an idiot if you think it means you’ve met your soul mate. So I was an idiot.”

Deb Caletti (Stay)

Serendipity

Soulmates

Marry someone who lets you have a bite of their brownie, even when you said you weren’t hungry. Marry someone who laughs at the same things you do. Marry someone who kisses your nose on a cold day. Marry someone who you can watch Disney movies with. Marry someone who is proud of you whether you earn £5 a week or £5,000 a week. Marry someone who you can tell everything to. Marry someone who isn’t afraid or embarrassed to hold your hand in public. Marry someone who lets you take over when decorating a cake. Marry someone who you can spend the day in Ikea with without feeling stressed. Marry someone who wraps you up inside their coat in the winter. Marry someone who accepts your fears and phobias. Marry someone who gives you butterflies every time you hear their key in the door. Marry someone who you don’t always have to shave your legs for. Marry someone who accepts you all day every day, even when you don’t look or feel your best. Marry someone who puts three sugars in your tea, despite telling them “just the two”. Marry someone who doesn’t judge you when you eat your body weight in cookies. Marry someone who doesn’t make you want to check your phone, because you know they will reply. Marry someone who waits with you to get on the train. Marry someone who understands that you need to be alone sometimes. Marry someone who gets on well with your parents and isn’t uptight about family events. Marry someone who calms you down when you get mad about stupid stuff, and never tells you it’s “only stupid stuff”. Marry someone who makes you want to be a better person. Marry someone who makes you laugh. Marry someone who you love. Marry your soulmate, your lover, your best friend.

Source

7 Things That I’m Loving About Autumn

Life in the Fall

I feel like my life lately has been this crazy whirlwind of activity. Work, French, lunch with my sister, family nights on sunday, yoga with A, skype chats with M, counseling, Coffee Shop Thursday…I’m not sure where all my time is going but I’m not surprised I haven’t kept up with posting more and now that I’ve got myself in a somewhat quiet moment, I can’t seem to think of a particular topic. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of things that I’m really loving right now.

1) Austenland

I saw this last night with my friends, Anne and Popstar, and as a Die-Hard Darcy fangirl, I was swooning (yes, swooning) when I left the theatre. To my credit, so was Anne. This movie…I just love it. I discovered Jane Austen with the release of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, (you know the one, with Keira Knightley, and Matthew Macfayden and that first proposal in the rain?)

…Yeah. That one.

…And I’ve been an Austen fanatic ever since. How could I not see a movie inspired by the very fanaticism which I subscribe to? I even own a tote bag ridiculously similar to the one featured in the move poster! (I don’t know if I’m proud of that fact or not).

So Austenland, this movie was wonderful. The casting was perfect, the acting was flawless and for the record, I typically kind of loathe “rom-coms” but this one was an exception. Or maybe I just always make an exception for Austen-inspired things. Either way, this movie is excellent: 5 stars. Go see it.

2) Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown

My friend, Anne, happens to own this dvd and it’s incredible. There’s two levels, with the intention that one is supposed to be more difficult than the other but honestly they’re both pretty damn difficult- but they feel great. I’ve had other Jillian Michaels dvds but this one is one that I wouldn’t really mind doing everyday.

3) Halloween DIY Costumes

Guys, I thought I was poor as a college student and I’m not totally sure how I was wrong but I feel even more poor now. So naturally, any thing to help me save money? I’m all over it. Pinterest has been wonderful for this. After a certain amount of indecision, I decided to go as Hipster Disney Princess Belle.

What are you going as?

4) JJ Fields

Guys, I don’t know where this handsome brit has been all my life but he was in Austenland and I died from fangirl feels. He pulled off the Regency Era garb just as smoothly as he rocks this leather jacket. Also I’m convinced he’s secretly (or distantly) related to Tom Hiddleston. I just see it.

Bonus fact: JJ Fields also played Henry Tilney, the dashing hero to Catherine Morland in Austen’s Northanger Abbey, so that’s pretty fantastic.

5) American Horror Story: Coven

Anne has been forcing me to watch this, and I really didn’t want to. I hate scary movies and the first two seasons? They looked so freaky! No way did I think I could do it, but I’ve seen the first two episodes and I have to admit, this season looks pretty intense…I think I’m hooked.

6) Change

This season, the last several months, have been reinforcing for me how vital Change is to our lives. I’ve had some really wonderful experiences (like a year spent with incredible roommates) which I never wanted to end, but- and I hate to say it, because it’s so cliche- everything has to end so that you can embark on something new, something exciting, something to wake up your senses and shake down your soul. The best things in life are the ones that you savor while they’re fresh, but the most decadent cake won’t make your mouth water once it has turned stale.

My family has been going through some pretty big adjustments recently, and I thought that the determined solution was such a shame, that it was giving up. I’m beginning to see that I might have been wrong. There’s so much more optimism and positivity in our conversations now, the house feels cleaner and livelier. It takes change to realize you’ve been stuck in a rut, without direction or challenge, and really, that kind of stagnation can be absolutely detrimental to happiness. Interactions in my family have been far more copacetic lately, and that’s something that I can’t seem to get enough of.

DF Event with Taylor

And Finally…

7) My Geometric Cream and Black Boyfriend Cardigan

This cardigan has been one of the best investments ever. It goes with everything and I can wear brown OR black boots with it! Astonishing.

Geometric Cardigan and Sammy