I realize I’ve blown social media up in the last few days asking for prayers and support and sometimes donations for the flood victims in Johnson County.  But, today, I feel really compelled to share with you the story of a family that I am acquainted with and ask you to open your hearts to them during this time.

I went to high school with Tracy Thompson but we didn’t know each other well.  It wasn’t until the last couple of years of interacting on social media that I became more acquainted with her and her family through pictures of her adventures with them or with her husband, Dustin.  Tracy was a nurse at Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center during several of the sometimes week long stays that my Granny Rusha endured during the last few years of her life.  My Granny loved her, and we loved her, because she was always so incredibly sweet and helpful.  I know that she would say that she was just ‘doing her job’ but when a family member is sick, and you’re physically and emotionally exhausted, having someone who seems to genuinely care goes a long way in terms of comfort. Tracy’s husband, Dustin, is a Kentucky State Trooper and while I don’t know him, I think the fact they both have chosen to give their lives to service based jobs tells you what kind of people they truly are.

Tracy’s Dad, Terry Dean, is a Flat Gap fixture.  Stapleton’s Garage has existed on 172 since I can remember and we have always given them our business.  We knew if we took our vehicles to Stapleton’s that the job would be done right and we’d be treated fair.  During the summer, I can’t tell you how many times I have driven home to my Mom’s from work and they’d be closing up shop, and then on my way back through town, Terry Dean and his brother would be out mowing off their own lawns and every house around them (I believe the whole Stapleton clan lives very close together), and I always thought — do they ever sleep?  During the school year, Terry Dean drives a bus for the county.  What I’m telling you is — these people are some of the hardest working, honest, service oriented people I have ever seen in my life, and they need your help.

On Monday, July 13, an unimaginable flash flood came through Flat Gap, Ky and destroyed Tracy’s house, washed Terry and his wife’s away completely, and moved Tracy’s sister’s home several feet off the foundation so it was at an angle with the road.  Terry and Bev’s house was picked up, broken up, and literally carried away, all that’s left is the foundation.

If you can, today, please donate whatever you can spare to the rebuilding fund for the Thompson/Stapleton family.  They lost their homes, their cars, their clothes, family pets, and every personal belonging they ever had.

Please click in the link the subject line or click HERE. Thank you.

Tracy and Dustin’s Home. I believe water got as high as 6 feet or better. Everything was destroyed.
Tracy’s sister’s home
Around the middle is where Terry Dean and Bev’s home use to be.
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it’s me & you; come on, would it really be so bad?

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Timehop hit me with the relevance this morning. I sent this screen cap in an iMessage to Chad and said, “The time we were in the same room for hours and didn’t even know each other”. Recently, while discussing the Paintsville Country Club, Chad described a wedding he’d attended there a few years ago. The more he talked, the more I realized — I was at the same wedding. Chad and I didn’t meet until September 2012, so the fact that we were so close in proximity almost 2 years prior to that made both of us laugh. I mean, it wouldn’t have been all that pertinent for us to meet at that time anyway considering Chad was attending said wedding with his ex wife, but nevertheless, we find this coincidence amusing.

Instances like that always make me think about how funny life can be. In May of 2011, I was 24 years old and when I think about that time in my life, I remember how I lamented being the perpetually single friend. I never minded being alone so much as I minded the constant reminder that I was alone — does that make sense? I attended that wedding with one of my closest friends and her husband, sans any sort of date. I knew a lot of people that would be there and I just wanted to get dressed up and have a good time, so I did. I have a really vivid memory and I can remember seeing several people there that are part of my life now because of Chad (who was at a completely different point in life than I was at the time), but I really had no idea who they were then. I don’t know why that’s so funny to me, honestly, but it just is. I think it’s so fascinating how things have a way of circling around to where they’re supposed to be.

Have I ever told you all about the first time I met Chad? I know several of you reading this know the story, but I can’t remember if I have ever blogged about it — so, if I have, I’m sorry! Anyway, a close friend of mine and her sister in law insisted that I meet one of their friends, a semi-recently divorced fella who’s reputation for hilarity and hi jinx preceded him, to say the very least. I was not interested or impressed. Anyone that knows me knows that I was staunch about not dating guys who had previously been married, so I figured there was absolutely no point. I had all these boxes that needed to be checked off, you know? Being alone for nearly a decade, a person has plenty of time to fabricate what they think ‘the one’ is supposed to be like and how everything is supposed to be. Anyway, said friend finally broke me down and I agreed to come to a party knowing Chad would be there. This is stupid, and you don’t have to believe me, but know that I wouldn’t say something like this because I am so not this person — when he walked in the door and looked at me, I can remember everything about how his face looked, I noticed how blue his eyes were, and I knew that no one had ever (and I, in turn) looked at me like that before. It was instant, and I hated it, and I ran like the wind. Like the wind, people! We hit it off from the jump, and I spent every second making a list of why it wouldn’t work and why it was a waste of both our time. Though I would have never admitted it and did not for years, at one point, I got straight up bubble guts and thought — “This is the man I’m going to marry.” and then HYSTERICALLY laughed to myself, tucked that thought far, far, far, away and never thought of it until a year and a half later.

Funny story, you guys. I’m gonna marry that man. How dumb is that? How great is that? What I’m trying to say is — screw your boxes! Get outside of those boxes, that checklist, those ideas that everything has to be this way or that way or perfect. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Chad and I are not perfect now and we never will be. There are things — big things — that we don’t see eye to eye on, things that we may never fully agree on, and things that we struggle with on a regular basis. I would’ve put my hand on a Bible and swore to you (not saying that’s a good idea or something you should do…) that there was literally NO ONE that I could possibly end up with out of all of my friends and their friends and so on and so forth. Then, when all of those feels were staring me in the face, I was like BYE GIRL and wouldn’t even go out with the guy for almost an entire year. What the crap? Dude went and got a girlfriend, I went on dates, I whined around and pined after something that was absolutely wrong for me, and all the while I kept coming back to that night when I saw him for the first time and I couldn’t shake that we needed to at least try.

When I look back and see all of the steps that got me here, I’m really glad. I had awesome experiences, and I keep having them. Going to new places, meeting new people, not being tied to anything — it was amazing and I don’t regret one minute of it. I don’t regret not getting married out of high school or out of college, and I’m not poopooing anyone reading this that did those things. Everyone’s story is different, it’s unique, and it’s absolutely beautiful if you allow it do be. You don’t have to believe me, because now I’m just the ahole on the other side of it saying that things have a way of working out. I get that. Trust me, I get that more than anyone has ever gotten anything. I’m not giving you the *hand to forehead* everything happens for a reason schtick. I’m telling you, please enjoy what’s happening in the now, and you’ll see how things piece together in the future. Your story is not going to be the same as another persons, so don’t let comparison steal the joy in your every day. Four years ago today, I was attending a wedding and the person I am going to marry was there and I had no idea. Two years ago this time, this person and I started crossing paths again after not speaking for a period of time, and 2 years later, we’re engaged and might pop up married anytime.

Just silly.

There’s a level of pain that human beings should not have to endure.  Death, I know, is a certain part of life and giving up loved ones is something everyone goes through at some point.  But, giving up a child, a sweet innocent child, is something I can’t wrap my head around.  When I hear of the death of a child it’s typically far away, in a family that I may know in passing but never one that’s incredibly close to me.  That changed on Saturday, April 4.

I barely remember my life before the Preston/McCarty family were actively in it.  I was 8 years old when my sister started dating Guthrey, and man, I loved him but he drove me nuts.  I’ve never been the best with male authority figures, and he has always been a mix of big brother and Dad to me.  I love and adore his parents, I’ve watched his nieces and nephews grow up (some of them even call me Aunt Lena), I call his Grandparents Granny and Pap, and I have never been made to feel like I didn’t belong in that family even though I’m just Andi’s sister.  Every person in that family is a straight shooter, what you see is definitely what you get, and there are no better people on this Earth.  I’ve always considered myself very blessed to be included with them.  Longest story short — I consider all of them family and love them dearly.

Even though I haven’t been around Ryan (Guthrey’s niece’s youngest son) a lot, I know what a precious miracle he is.  Born with Heterotaxy Syndrome, Ryan’s heart developed on the right side of his body instead of the left.  Since birth, he has had numerous heart surgeries and pulled through like a champ.  Watching that little life, if even from afar, has been a great joy.  When my sister called me on Saturday morning and gave me the news, I couldn’t believe it.  That little fighter, that sweet little life, had slipped right away leaving his Mother, Father, Grandparents, and hosts of Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins grief stricken and broken.  I know since Ryan had always pulled through and fought, they hoped and prayed they had more time.

Funerals are expensive and when you’re a young couple still trying to get your footing, money doesn’t come easy.  If you can spare it, please considering donating to cover the funeral costs here: http://www.gofundme.com/qyxcn4m and if you can’t, please stop and say a prayer for this family as they put Ryan to rest today.  There is no pain or grief that I have ever heard that touches the sounds of a Mother crying over her 3 year old son.  Please help in any way you can.

well, this is gross.

I have a really hard time accepting that someone loves me and I’m trying to understand why.  The joke among friends and family used to always be how I was such a ‘treat’ and some poor schmuck would spend the rest of his life trying to figure out my nuances and constant quirks.  Only it’s not a joke, it’s incredibly true, and the further I get into this love – real love, not the get to know you phase where everything is awesome and light – the more I am faced with the ugliest parts of myself.   It’s scary, and sometimes I feel incredibly hopeless, undeserving, and not good enough.

What I feel for Chad is not scary and how much I love him is not hopeless.  It is my hope that someday I’ll be able to shed these thick, impenetrable layers of insecurity and self loathing and allow myself to believe that someone could really love me and that they will stay.  Because I don’t know how (or why) anyone could love me (and I tell him as much), because I really don’t love me.  I am embarrassed of me, of my paranoia, my fears of abandonment, my complex and constant anxiety, and the dark depression spiral that comes with it.  I’m not always okay.

I can only imagine that the root of such issues starts and ends with my Dad leaving when I was 3 and subsequently our horrible relationship in my teenage/adult years.  It’s not so much awful now, but it is what it is, and it often leaves me empty.  My heart aches as I watch classmates I follow on Facebook post pictures of their daughters and gush about how beautiful and amazing they are, but I love seeing that good Fathers exist.  I was never told I was beautiful, or special, or sometimes even acknowledged by my Dad in the most important, formative years of my life.  So, in the most inconvenient ways, I seek that attention in my relationship, I act out and I beg Chad to notice me, because I’ve spent my entire life throwing fits to get my Dad’s attention in situations where I felt like I wasn’t important to him.  I am not so much selfish as I am incredibly broken and still learning what a healthy relationship looks like.

But, I’m still learning and I’m still trying.  It’s certainly no one else’s job to mend what is broken inside of me, and no one else should have to pay for the decisions my Dad made 25 years ago.  The world is not against me, everything is not a conspiracy to leave me out, and I am not undeserving or unworthy of anything.  Logically, I can type that.  Logically, I know these things.  It’s when logic no longer prevails and the anxiety and depression spiral take over that I can’t feel that certainty anymore.   And in those moments, I show my ass and create a mess bigger than I ever intended.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to love someone with depression (and anxiety) and I always feel like he deserves so much better than me.  And I guess part of me just waits for him to figure out that he does (deserve better) because it’s a heck of a lot easier to be right than to accept that someone might really love me enough to wade through all of this while holding my hand.

Depression is like a heavy, ill fitting coat. The kind of coat that encompasses you, hangs off your arms, comes down over your hands, and feels too heavy on your shoulders. It’s not comfortable, it doesn’t provide warmth, it doesn’t do the things that a coat should do, but it’s there anyway, pressing down, smothering, forcing itself into your personal space without any sort of permission. Depression is the kind of coat that never matches the weather and it takes your entire life force to take it off, if you can at all. Even when it’s warm outside, even when it’s not raining. Depression says it’s always raining.

But, what do you have to be so sad about?
Why aren’t you happy?
Look at how much you have!
You don’t know real struggle.
You should just be grateful.
Just get over it.
Make yourself be happy.
Stop thinking about it.
I don’t see that there’s even that much of a problem with you.
Just chill out.
Stop being such a baby.
Your life is so good, it doesn’t make sense!

That’s the thing. Depression doesn’t make sense. Depression doesn’t respect the fact that I have a wonderful life, a great family, supportive friends, an amazing boyfriend, or a secure job. And if that’s frustrating to you and you think YOU don’t understand, imagine feeling it. Imagine living it. Imagine knowing all of the great things about your life and still not wanting to get out of bed, not wanting to interact, unending restlessness, irritability for little reason, and just general unhappiness. Imagine the spiral of feeling ashamed and ungrateful, inarticulate and closed off, and knowing with any shred of logic you possess that you have reasons you shouldn’t feel the way you do, but you feel it anyway. You feel it anyway, and you feel it deep, you feel it permeate through your bones and you ache in your very core, in places you’re not sure you’ll ever be able to reach.

I can write about this today because I feel relatively clear and honest. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the way to work and I smiled. I liked the way my hair looked and the shirt I’m wearing today. Today doesn’t feel enormous and insurmountable. That doesn’t mean that it won’t, but at this moment, I’m okay. I prayed on the way to work and asked God to give me patience and grace, and sometimes I just simply pray for God to help me be happy. Help me find the positives, help me see the good, help me smile, and help me get through the day. Sometimes, that’s really all you can ask for anyway.

Loving me isn’t easy. Depression, for me, manifests in some of the most unfortunate ways. I withdraw, I shut down, my emotions and reactions default to anger, or I’m either completely indifferent. Sometimes, I don’t care if it snows oats. Other times, I would like to watch the world burn. My mood swings are debilitating, my irritability more than any one person should bear. My Mom has dealt with it for years, my brother and sister understand it, so do my closest friends, and now Chad knows. They know not to take me to heart when I say I hate everything, when I sleep for what seems like days, when I’m cranky about living, and when I push so hard that they can barely hang on. I make myself sad when I think about it, because I can’t imagine how much these people must really love me to put up with me like this. I don’t feel worthy. I’m probably not worthy. I just tell myself that my good days must be incredibly rewarding and hope that I’m not always miserable to be around.

Some days are worse than others. Giving up my Grandmother has obviously been a trigger. The change of seasons and colder weather kills me. Working in customer service is a cornucopia of anxiety. Honestly, I have more good days than bad anymore, but I still wanted to write about this. I’ve wanted to write about it for a long time and the words were never there. Because even though I have more good than bad, the bad is still there and it’s still a tremendous struggle. I thought maybe someone could read this and find comfort in knowing it’s not just them going through the motions, it’s not just them smiling and cracking jokes and trying to get through the day.

It’s not just you with the unfortunate, too big, cumbersome coat.

It’s me, too.

Dusting this thing off.

So, we’ve taken on a new title and a new look here on the ol’ blog.  Don’t fret, I am still a mess, and this is still my blog about it, but I have chosen to change the name for a number of reasons.  Mostly because that title was silly (well, this one is as well) and I couldn’t think of anything better, so I gave up.  But also, because under that name, this blog was very much about the ins and outs of my single life.  While I am still technically single in terms of marriage, I am (and have been) in a relationship.  Some poor fella finally took the bait, you guys.  I like him a little bit.  It’s kinda gross.

As I suspected, life and it’s purpose did not magically come to fruition when I started dating Chad.  Previously, it was always my goal to give you something funny (always at my own expense) to read, and an opportunity to get to know me on a more personal level.  That goal remains the same.  I love writing, it is the most honest and expressive I can ever be, and that isn’t something I should take for granted.  I realize that I go MONTHS between posts, and I always say that I hope to change that, but I really do.  My intentions are always good.  Anyway, so no, the clouds did not part and a scroll did not float from Heaven revealing life’s true meaning now that I am in a relationship.  I knew myself before this, I was confident in the person I was, in my choices, in my faith, in my life.  A man didn’t validate any of that, because it wasn’t necessary.  That being said, he is really awesome and I am ridiculously excited about our relationship and where it is right now.  It’s a whole lot fun.  Spoiler alert:  I’m still not romantic, I’m still not good at feelings, and I am actually worse at being in a relationship than I thought I would be, so I really have no idea if he thinks it is ‘a whole lot of fun’.  I can be a real turd, man.  But, I’m working on it.

The last 6 months have been some of the most challenging of my life in terms of learning, growing up, and facing myself.  A few days before I turned 27, I moved out of my Mama’s house for the first time.  Sure, I’d gone to college, but I came home every single weekend, even when I lived in a townhouse with several good friends.  Also, I had never lived completely alone, being the only person responsible for rent, food, utilities, gas, car payment, you know, being completely self sufficient.  It was terrifying.  The Saturday I left Mom’s, I cried semi-hysterically for the duration of my 30 minute drive to my new apartment.  See, I’ve been all but surgically attached to my Mother since birth, and the thought of not living with her destroyed me emotionally, but I knew it was something good and something I needed.  Now, almost 4 months later, I have this really cute one bedroom apartment, and I love living alone.  I miss my Mommy, you guys.  I can’t even lie.  I miss my brother (I haven’t lived with my sister for almost 18 years, but I love you, Andi!).  There’s something to be said of having something of your own and all of your own space.  It’s really nice.  Plus, texting allows me to check in and talk to them every single day.  So, that’s pretty awesome.

Needless to say, a lot happened since your last visit here. Here’s a quick rundown; The day that I wrote my last blog about how I would never change for anyone to make them want to be with me, Chad asked me on a date.  We went out for the first time after knowing each other for nearly a year, and it was the kind of first date that you leave knowing there will be a second, and a third, and fourth, and eventually you’ll lose count.  I lost count.  I became a Kentucky Basketball season ticket holder (SO AWESOME!!).  I moved out and into my own apartment and turned 27 five days later.  I started cooking!  I didn’t suck at it.  I went on a great trip.  Thanksgiving and Christmas.  A New Year.  I adopted a little sister for Sophie named Sadie.  I finally watched Back To The Future (I and II, at least).  Alex Poythress became a monster!  I spent a lot of time with my Grandmother and I’m incredibly grateful for that.  A million and one things happened since July 24, 2013.  A whole lot of good things, very little downright bad, and some difficult things.

So, here I am, asking you to have me back.  Scan my words, crack a smile, and keep reading.  I’ve spent a lot of time going through blogs that I really like and it is my goal to remain inspired to share my thoughts and life with you.

You know, so says me.  I’m sure my next blog will be written June 7, 2014 and the first line will be, “Lolz sorry I haven’t written anything in so long….” because me.

Edited: 744 words about absolutely nothing.

I’ve never been a relationship girl.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I’ve had one serious boyfriend and a gaggle of first and second dates, but rarely thirds.  I’m picky (I can say that, you can’t), I’m hard to please, I’m stubborn, and I can only assume that it’s all a defense mechanism to prevent people from getting too close.  Truth is, I don’t love relationships and I’m not great at them.  I like doing my own thing, I like my own time, and getting older only seems to exacerbate those feelings.  I’m not particularly romantic, I find most everything cheesy, and sometimes I get really sad when I think about any guy trying to get around all of my neuroses and quirks.  I’m not really looking for sympathy or ways to fix it, I happen to really like myself.  I’m just talking.  Or blogging.  Or whatever.

I fancy myself an intelligent woman.  I enjoy reading, I like to write, I’m fairly well spoken (specifically in text), and I usually have a pretty good grasp on current events.  That being said, I have the mental capacity of a 3 year old when it comes to men.  I have a penchant for gravitating toward the most emotionally unavailable human beings that have ever existed.  The guys that are actually interested in me (God bless your sweet, unassuming soul(s?)), I’m rarely ever interested  in (not always :/) because they’re probably decent guys and I am subconsciously (and perhaps consciously) an absolute idiot.  It’s not like I do it on purpose, but still, it has to be something I can control, right?  Can you control who you’re interested in, who you’re attracted to, who you ‘click’ with?  Absolutely not, but one could probably be smarter.  I could probably be smarter.  Please, Lord, tell me I can start being smarter.

If we’re sitting here digging into stuff and things, I re-read that first paragraph and kind of laughed.  It’s funny because in talking about defense mechanisms, it kind of hit me as to why I do what I do.  It’s not even because it’s so big and scary to get close to someone, because it isn’t, it’s big and scary to get close to someone and have them choose someone else.  That’s consistent, man.  I can name so many guys off the top of my head that I’ve had a couple of dates with, or talked to for a bit, who have moved on to super serious relationships and even marriage after me.   Heck, it doesn’t even have to be serious, but it always doesn’t involve me.  I’ve been dating for about ten years now, and it’s pretty hard to not start blaming yourself with that sort of track record.  If you’re reading this and we’ve casually dated or gone out a few times and you’re saying, “Good Lord, Alena, sometimes it just doesn’t work out..” I agree with you.  However, there’s only one common denominator in all 3493724723947239423 of those situations.  Don’t feel bad, because it’s really not you.  It’s me.  Oh well.

Earlier today I asked a good guy friend of mine if I could complain about something to him and he said, “You can always complain to me. Unless it’s a complaint about how it sucks to be a young, attractive woman.” and it made me think about this whole thing that I’ve written.  I started this several days ago and completed a few lines here and there across an array of interesting moods and feelings.  Most of you will read this and think ‘boo hoo’ and then some of you will actually get my humor and know that I’m really just poking fun at myself.  I can’t say my feelings don’t get hurt and my self esteem doesn’t take a blow from time to time, I won’t tell you that I don’t feel inferior to other women for a myriad of reasons that all start and end with the same thing, but hey.  I can’t change who and what I am and I wouldn’t anyway.

So, maybe it is me.  Maybe I’m a big ol’ intimidating monster, maybe I’m too loud, maybe I’m too smart, maybe I’m too independent, maybe I don’t fit the social norms around here, maybe my sense of humor is too weird, maybe I’m too complicated, and maybe I just scare you to death.  That’s fine.  I’ll stay all of those things, because a few things I’ll never be are simple, easy, and available.