I Didn’t Think It Would Be This Way.

“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers.” – Kathy Kinney

 

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought life could get so messy, so confusing, so out of control. I’d done everything in my power to live the “perfect” life. I’d gone to school, gotten straight A’s, participated in activities, went to church and tried to be a good human.

Yet it never felt like enough.

I thought all of my good deeds and careful choices would spare me of the heartache and pain that seemed to fill this ugly world. I thought my kind heart and gentle soul could keep me from sorrow, but I was wrong.

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought I’d lose my best friend at such a tender age or experience a gut wrenching break up with an ex that would leave me feeling paralyzed. However, I intimately learned the saying “love hurts.”

I never thought I’d hang out with the wrong crowd or do things behind my parents’ backs like some typical rebellious teen. I thought I was better than that. Yet I partied and made bad decisions sometimes for no good reason at all.

I never thought I’d struggle so heavily with anxiety and depression as a teenager. I didn’t think I’d battle with self confidence or self love either. On the outside I appeared so confident, so in control, but on the inside I was drowning.

I could’ve never imagined the struggles I’d face in college. The sleepless nights, the drunken disagreements and feeling like I might not make it through nursing school. I remember asking myself what the hell I was doing putting myself in these risky predicaments…

Yet I could never bear to hear the truthful answer to those questions.

I never thought I’d be so cruel to myself. I truly was my own worst enemy. I never thought I’d look in the mirror and be hateful to the reflection staring back at me. Despite all the good things I’d done in the world, I was never good enough in my own mind.

I never knew I’d be single into my latter 20’s. I figured I’d follow the pattern of my hometown and be married with children by 24 years old. I thought I’d grow old in my tiny Texas town and never leave. I thought that was the only life I could live.

I never knew I’d be given such opportunities by simply moving away from home. I didn’t know I would find so much happiness in recreating myself…new town, new me. I had never realized just how claustrophobic I felt in that place.

I never realized realize how much I missed out on by giving in to my fears. I was terrified to start over away from my family, and with this fear came tons of missed opportunities. I’d never comprehended how much my wings were bound until I broke away and flew.

I didn’t think life would be this way. I never thought I’d have moments of complete emptiness, moments when breathing seemed like an unimaginable task. I didn’t know that anxiety would be something I’d deal with my entire life, a problem that I could never permanently fix.

I didn’t think it would be this way. I thought I could get through life without ever losing a family member. I thought they’d all meet my future spouse, attend my wedding, and hold my future children while we shared stories around the table…and then my Grandpa passed away.

Yet another dream crushed.

I never thought I’d experience the rollercoaster effect of feeling so lonely while also feeling happiness. I never thought it was possible to find joy in the pain and light in the sorrow. I never thought I’d be one to feel weak and alone.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m extremely pleased and grateful at how my life has played out. While I didn’t understand the struggles and grief in the past, I’m beginning to understand them now.

I now see that through pain and heartache comes growth. I realize that losing someone makes you hold onto others a little tighter. It forces you to realize the amazing people you have in your life and reminds you to never take them for granted.

Through heartache we learn to love again. We find that our heart can repair itself and become even stronger than before. We may put up a wall, but it allows us to see who is willing to break it down to be in our lives. It teaches us that our hearts are indestructible.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, each and every experience has made me who I am today. Each trail and tribulation has shaped me into the kind yet wise soul that I am now. While I still try to find the best in others, I’m no longer naive to those who try to hurt me.

I’m stronger than ever before, full of scars but also full of wisdom.

Life really does have a funny way of working out. While things that try to break us may hurt like hell in the moment, their meaning ultimately comes full circle in God’s timing. We don’t understand the pain we initially feel, but later on we often see its purpose.

And while I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m forever grateful for this crazy life I’ve been given. I’m truly thankful for every high and every low, every victory and every defeat. Now I know that although life’s struggles might knock me down, they will not keep me there.

Our lives are our own, and the choice is always ours. Will you choose to dwell on your shortcomings and grieve what you thought life would be, or will you choose to rise each morning with a grateful heart and a fierce perseverance? The choice is ultimately yours…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

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Your Death Gave Me Life.

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this…” – Unknown

 

It amazes me that 12 years have passed since that tragic day. I still remember every single detail in my mind. I remember spending that hot Summer day with my (then) boyfriend, simply enjoying the beautiful weather.

I remember my Mother answering the phone and the look of sheer terror in her eyes as she approached me. I remember feeling like something was horribly wrong but not being able to figure out what it was.

I remember hearing those words, “Jacob has passed away in an accident” and immediately falling to the floor. I remember feeling completely numb and overcome with grief. How was a 14 year old teenager suppose to understand the magnitude of what had happened?

I kept telling myself “get it together,” but all I could manage to do was crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees. I couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t function. I was in such shock at what I’d been told. We were kids. We were suppose to live forever not die a few weeks before our Freshman year of High School.

I remember laying on the bathroom floor for what seemed like eternity. My family continuously tried to comfort me, but nothing could take away the immense pain I felt. My best friend was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

I remember picking up the phone and calling all of my friends. Each phone call ended the same, in heartache and grief. None of us could understand why God chose you, why you had to be the one to leave us.

I remember bits and pieces of the following days. Our school was encouraging everyone to see the counselors they provided to help us “process our grief,” but I refused. Instead, I decided to work through things on my own, a process that I’m still working on to this day.

I remember going to the funeral home to visit you one last time. Walking through that door is an image forever burned in my mind. I remember seeing your hat, the one you always wore, sticking up a little bit as I walked down the isle to you. It was a strange relief to know you’d be buried wearing something you loved so much.

I remember seeing your face, so peaceful, as if you were merely sleeping. I kept praying I’d wake up from this terrible nightmare, but I never did. I took a moment and placed your “friends” necklace in your hand. To this day I still have the matching “best” necklace that I wear to remember you.

I remember writing a poem for your funeral, determined to write the best poem ever. I remember walking in to the auditorium, my final chance to say goodbye to you. There were so many people there because you were so incredibly loved.

Each of us took an orange rose (our school color), and one by one we placed the roses in your casket. I stayed strong the entire time until I got up to read your poem. Suddenly, the fact that I’d never see you again hit me like a ton of bricks. Somehow I managed to get through it.

We placed you gently in the ground at your burial and took a moment to grieve together. I never knew that walking away from that cemetery would change everything. I never knew that your death would ultimately give me life.

I’m sure many of you are confused by that statement, but hear me out. Losing Jacob truly showed me how precious life is. It taught me that our teenage thoughts were completely wrong, we weren’t invincible after all.

Experiencing the death of a best friend at such a vulnerable, tender age made me appreciate the small things. I took my time and friendship with you for granted in so many ways. To this day, I try my hardest to be a good friend and value those around me.

Your death encouraged me to fiercely pursue music. The last time we were together you were teaching me the guitar so I vowed to continue on that path. I went on to write many songs about you and how you changed my life.

Your death increased my desire to take care of others and lead me to care for the sick and dying as a nurse. It gave me the courage to hold the hand of someone passing into the afterlife. It gave me the strength to support their family in such a trying time because I knew what it felt like to lose a loved one.

Your death put my faith to the test, but it ultimately strengthened my relationship with God. In the months following, I was so angry that He took you from me too soon. Yet, over the years I began to realize that we each have a purpose, and I guess you had already completed yours in a short time.

Your death made me create closer bonds to the people in my life. I learned that no one lives forever and tomorrow may never come. I learned to love hard in all relationships. I learned to move forward in life with an open heart and to accept people for who they are.

I learned that although being a good person doesn’t make you invincible, it does make you memorable. Not only were you incredibly good at everything you did, but you always had a smile on your face…a smile that was contagious and unforgettable.

Your death taught me to be the light that this world so desperately needs. It taught me to count my blessings instead of my shortcomings. It taught me to give back to others and expect nothing in return. It encouraged me to carry on your legacy of making the world a better place.

So while you were taken from this world 12 years ago, your legacy remains alive and well. On this day each year, I hear stories and see posts about you. Even after all this time we still miss you, we still think about you, and we still remember the beautiful person you were.

While this day never gets easier, it does continue to enlighten me. Each year I’m amazed at the discovery of another emotion, another layer of my feelings towards your death. I’m amazed by the fact that time continues to pass so quickly. I guess the process of healing is truly never ending.

I’ll never fully understand why you had to leave us, and although I can’t comprehend your passing, I’ll forever cherish your life. I’ll cherish all of the many wonderful memories we made and the best friend I was fortunate to have, if only for 14 years.

I know there will still be days ahead full of sadness, tears and pain because true heartache never fully goes away. However, I want to say “thank you” for inspiring me to be the person I am today. Your death gave me life. Keep watching over me my guardian angel…until we meet again.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

*RIP – Jacob Aaron Skinner
(September 21, 1990 – July 25, 2005)

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5 Traits An Anxious Mind Needs In A Friend.

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” – Bessel Van Der Kolk
If you’ve ever been a good friend to someone that suffers from anxiety, you probably know that it’s a lot of work. You have to deal with their constant mood swings, fears, emotions and insecurities all while being their rock. It really is a tough gig.

There are probably an enormous amount of times that you want to scream, pull out your hair and simply tell your friend that they’re being irrational. You may get insanely frustrated that they can’t just shut off their anxiety. Yet, you often sit there quietly and listen to every word.

Sometimes you give them words of encouragement while holding them in a tight knit hug, merely letting them know that they’re safe. Other times you may yell and give them tough love because you don’t fully understand their disease which frustrates you even more.

You may sit and cry together in silence when the world just seems too overwhelming for your anxious minded friend. You cry because you’ve never dealt with such pain and aren’t sure what to do or say. Sometimes you may even cry tears of joy when they’re having a good day because you’re ecstatic to see them happy.

Despite all of the craziness that comes along with loving an anxious mind, you stick around, and your mere presence means more to us than you could ever know.

While being a friend to someone that struggles with anxiety can be quite overwhelming, I imagine it’s a love-hate relationship. There are a ton of positives and negatives that come along with loving us, things that we rarely control.

However, I hope you know that if an anxious mind chooses you as a friend you should take it as an extreme compliment. We are extremely selective in who we allow into our lives. Our anxiety tries to isolate us from everyone and tell us that we are unworthy of love.

If you are chosen to become a part of our inner circle, know that it is a big decision for us. It takes everything in our being to truly let people in and see the real, flawed, messy us…the sides we often hide.

We have to silence the constant ruckus going on in our heads in order to focus on another person. We not only have to learn to let our walls down, but we also have to stand up to our anxiety and tell it that we refuse to be alone. That, my dear, is no small feat.

So while your friendship means the world to us, know that there were certain traits we found in you that let us tear our walls down and silence our anxious minds. There was something we saw in you that made us feel safe and willing to open ourselves up with the risk of being hurt.

There are a few things that we saw in you, a few things that the friend of an anxious mind must possess:

1.) Trustworthy

We need to know that no matter what we can trust you with our deepest, darkest secrets. We need to feel like we can trust you with our feelings and that you will never do us wrong. Trust is crucial in any relationship, but we value it more than most.

2.) Patience

We know we’re not the easiest people to be friends with. We have so many mood swings and “irrational fears” that many people don’t understand. When we’re having an anxiety attack, you won’t be able to relate to us. Yet we need to know that you will be patient with us as we work through things.

3.) Loyalty

As our friend, it’s imperative that we know you’re loyal to us. Insecurities go hand-in-hand with anxiety, and a disloyal friend makes our insecurities unbearable. Constantly worrying about where you stand will only make our anxiety worse and ultimately end our friendship.

4.) Understanding

We need you to understand that we aren’t making things up. What we are telling you is really how we feel, even when you can’t relate. While you may have never dealt with anxiety in your personal life, we need you to understand that everything we feel and say is very real to us.

5.) Strength

Lastly, we need you to be a strong person. We understand that everyone has moments in life where they get broken down. However, we need you to be our rock. Many times in our anxiety filled lives we need someone to be strong for us. We need someone that can help us through the really dark times and tell us that everything will be okay.
While each person has something different they look for in a friendship or relationship, these tend to be at the top of our list. It may take us a while to let you in, but once we do you’ll be happy you stuck around.

Although we seem to have a lot of baggage that comes along with us, we are the most loyal people you will ever meet. A friend with anxiety may take a while to warm up to you, but once they do you’ll see the amazing soul they possess.

While anxiety is a part of us, it’s not all of us. We still have so many traits that you’ll fall in love with like being extremely clean, always on time and super organized (to name a few). You’ll start to realize not to judge a book by its cover and that life with anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.

I must say although my circle is extremely small, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They’ve seen me experience my highest highs and my lowest lows, and they’ve loved me through them all. They each possess the 5 qualities I listed above and so much more.

So if you befriend an anxious mind just be ready to commit for the long hall, because once we let you in there’s no turning back…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

The Unfortunate Ones.

“It’s time to distance yourself from the people who let you down, the inconsistent ones. it’s time to start loving yourself.” – Billy Chapata

 
I hate to tell you this, but you are the unfortunate ones. If you play any part in my life, I must apologize in advance. I apologize for the person you will be dealing with, the person who has changed so much over the last few years.

I apologize because you will no longer see the weak and innocent soul that once consumed this body, the girl who would do anything for anyone without a second thought.

Now, I’m not saying this generosity has been permanently removed from my DNA. I’m merely no longer naive to the ulterior motives that now seem to drive the human race. I no longer turn a blind eye to the harshness and cruelty in the world.

There was a point in my life where I would turn away from things that broke my soul…child abuse, animal torture, violence, broken hearts, etc. Yet, I discovered that those terrible things happen whether I like it or not.

Leaning to accept this uncomfortable fact allowed me to accept many things about myself as well. I learned to stop making excuses for people who hurt me time and time again. I learned to cut people out of my life that wanted to use me for what I had to offer.

Ultimately, I learned to accept the fact that the world is a cruel place filled with a human population that is overrun with sin, abuse, manipulation and negativity. I hated giving in to this reality, but as I looked back on my life I realized it too was full of unpleasant moments and memories.

Upon this realization I decided to make multiple changes in my life. I started cutting out those who had done me wrong (on numerous occasions). I started separating myself from things that didn’t bring me joy or positivity. I ran from people and things that caused me heartache.

Now, I am by no means a perfect person (I’m far from it to be honest), but I try to live a positive life by being the best person I can be. I pride myself on being a Nurse and Humanitarian, giving back to those who need it most. I try my hardest to make a positive impact in the world.

Yet, I’ve found too often that many people seem to only be looking out for themselves. Their selfish nature not only feeds their ego, but it causes them to hurt others emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically.

I’m grateful to have never experienced the latter, but mental and emotional trauma can sometimes be just as damaging.

Going back to the beginning, I must say “sorry” to everyone in my life. Unfortunately from now on you will have the realistic me, the one who doesn’t fantasize about fairytale happy endings and white picket fences.

You no longer have the girl who is willing to give and give and give with nothing in return, to be trampled on without saying a word. There is no longer a quiet soul who finds an excuse for every bad thing that happens in life. Screw that.

There will always be good and bad people in this world. There will always be heartbreak, cruelty, disappointments and sadness. I’m completely aware of this. However, in this day and age we are able to decide what kind of life we want to live.

We are in control of our own destinies, living in a world full of endless possibility. We have the freedom to move to a new city, start a new job, create our own company and include people who truly matter to us in our lives. We are no longer pinned down by our pasts or backgrounds.

In 2017, we are able to be whoever we want to be, to create a fulfilling life full of love and happiness. We are able to choose our friends, our spouse and ultimately our futures. Unfortunately, so many people will never take advantage of this fact.

I, however, will take full advantage of my choices from now on. I will be extremely selective about who is allowed in my inner circle. I will keep the thick walls up around my heart until I find the right one who is willing to patiently break them down.

I will look for people who have similar goals and aspirations, who long to make the world a better place. I will cut people out of my life without remorse if they continue to do me wrong. I’m not playing games anymore, and neither should you.

This world is full of people (7,500,000,000 to be exact) so why let a mere few take away your joy? Why let one pesky person bring you down? If someone doesn’t love you for who you are then let them go. If someone can’t understand or accept your anxiety or issues then say goodbye.

Gone are the days of compromising ourselves for those who don’t care and the times of giving ourselves to others who won’t do the same in return. We all deserve love, understanding, happiness and a fulfilling life so why let others hold us back from that?

So again, I say “sorry” to the unfortunate ones, the ones who have recently come into my life or those who have stuck by me since day one. My core values remain unchanged, but my mind has a whole new outlook.

There is heartache from the past, but the future seems so bright. I’ll no longer simply allow things to happen to me. I understand that we cannot predict the future, but I’ll now control the impact I allow those events to have in my life…and I hope you’ll do the same.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Always Remember.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

 

Some days you’re going to feel like giving up, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You’ll feel like that weight is crushing you and that you no longer have the strength to stand tall.

You’ll have moments where you doubt every single decision you make, constantly wondering if you made the right choice. You’ll doubt your self-worth, abilities and who you are as a person.

No matter how great life is going there will always be moments of darkness, moments when the storm seems like it’ll never pass. The winds will howl, the rain will beat down and you’ll begin to wonder, “Why me?”

You’ll have days when you view the world as a blank canvas full of opportunities. You’ll set out for adventures and begin to learn that this enormous planet is full of more beauty than you ever imagined.

You’ll find a refreshing sense of peace while escaping the every day routine of life. You’ll explore places you’ve only read about in books, and while you’re gone you’ll feel on top of the world. Yet, when you return you may feel a sense of sadness, for the joy of adventure has faded and the mundane routine has returned.

You may fall in love, a love that turns your world into rainbows and sunshine. Eventually, however, you may find that love can quickly turn to heartbreak, and that pain may flip your world upside down.

You may start to once again doubt yourself. You may question why you were even put on this Earth if only to experience heartache and pain. You may question your relationship with God, wondering why He chose you to walk such a tough path.

You may lose a friend or loved one tragically and begin to question life itself. You may feel like you’ll never be able to overcome the grief and pain you feel. Death is such a permanent thing, and you’ll never know why they had to leave.

In this life, you’ll undoubtably experience heartache and happiness. You’ll have moments of debilitating weakness and tremendous strength. At moments, you’ll question the purpose of life, but other times you’ll admire its unfailing beauty.

There will be times when you may cry yourself to sleep, unsure of what the future holds and anxious about the times ahead. There will be moments of unexplainable joy, happiness and accomplishments. Life may start to feel like a rollercoaster of emotions with alternating highs and lows.

Yet in those moments of doubt, fear and pain I hope you always remember this…

Always remember that your mistakes do not define you, and your past does not dictate your future. Remember that in times of struggle you are never alone and that the pain won’t last forever.

When you’re feeling broken, wounded and unsure remember to reach out to those around you. Look for guidance and reassurance from those who love you most. Never stop relying on your friends and family because they will help you through even the toughest of times.

Remember to cherish your time with loved ones because nothing is guaranteed. Tell them and show them how much you love them. We never realize how much someone means until they’re gone, and regret is a horrible thing to live with.

Always remember that this life is what you make it. If you don’t like how your life is you ALWAYS have the capability to change it. Change is scary but so is living an unfulfilled life. Don’t wait until it’s too late to live the life you deserve.

Always remember to give love another chance. Our hearts have this amazing way of healing themselves even after they’ve been torn to shreds. Don’t let the wrong person from your past defer you from the right person in your present. Give love a second chance.

Remember to guard your heart, for from it everything flows. Be willing to allow someone to break down the walls you built from previous heartache, but don’t give your love too freely. The right person will be patient and willing to remove the bricks one by one.

Always remember to learn from your mistakes and to take a leap of faith. Nothing good comes from playing it safe. Even if you fail, you tried…and in the end that’s what matters. If you fall, always get back up. Nothing in this world can keep us down unless we let it.

Always remember to put yourself first. It may seem selfish, but you should always be your first priority. You deserve the love and attention you so freely give. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. You can’t pour from an empty glass.

When anxiety begins to consume you and the darkness closes in, always remember to fight. You deserve to be here, to take up space on this Earth. If you have trouble staying strong for yourself, remember those who love you. They need you more than you know.

Always remember to allow room for change. You may not see the purpose in it right away, but God has a much bigger plan for our lives than we can even imagine. Sometimes change leads us to the things we always wanted but were too afraid to try.

Always remember to chase your dreams. Nothing in this world is impossible, it’s all about mind over matter. If you really want something you will make it happen. Even if it takes a while, continue to fight for your goals. With fierce determination comes success.

Remember to do what you can to help others because you never know when the roles may be reversed. This world is full of people seeking love, acceptance and support…be the person willing to freely give those things. The small act of giving goes such a long way.

Lastly, always remember to be yourself. There is only one of you in the world, and that is your super power. We were each put on this Earth for a reason so never stop searching for your purpose. Make your mark on the world, and it may just leave an everlasting impression on others.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Dear Anxiety: An Intimate Letter

“And sometimes it hits me out of nowhere, all of the sudden, this overwhelming sadness rushes over me. And I get discouraged and I get upset and I feel hopeless, sad, and hurt. And once again I feel numb to the world.” – Anonymous

 

Dear Anxiety,

I thought I had you under control. I thought I’d found the magic potion that made you disappear forever. I always knew you’d be lurking in the shadows just waiting for your opportunity to consume me again, but I thought I’d found the shield to defend myself against your unwanted presence…I was wrong.

I woke up Friday morning and automatically knew something felt off. I’d had this uneasy feeling before, but I thought it was just a fluke so I went about my day. The day was okay, nothing special, but I could feel your presence stalking me from a distance. I thought that by ignoring you I could make you disappear.

I continued on into the night trying to hold it together, trying to act like you weren’t there. I started to feel you drain my soul and emotions out of me a little at a time like a leach. I tried to stop it, I tried to keep your darkness from creeping in and taking over, but my efforts were futile.

I went to bed at a decent time that night, merely trying to fall asleep before you could tear me apart. In that I succeeded.

However, Saturday morning when I woke I found you to be in control. From the moment I woke up I knew I didn’t stand a chance. I tried to complete my morning routine of gratitude, meditation and prayer, but everything I did only made things worse.

I told myself I wouldn’t shed a tear, that I wouldn’t give you that satisfaction of seeing me broken. I tried with all my might to keep my emotions buried deep down, someplace that you wouldn’t find them. Yet, once again you won.

I spent half of the day crying for no reason, and I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so depressed. It’d been a long time since I’d felt these overwhelming emotions. I hated feeling so vulnerable, but I knew you were loving the sight of me in pieces. I hate you beyond words for that.

I cried nonstop for hours  for no reason at all. For feeling so empty, I was full of so many tears. After a while my sadness turned to frustration, and I lost my cool. I was literally having an inner battle all because of you. You lit the match and watched the fire burn.

I was struggling to turn off my anxious mind. All I wanted was a minute of silence from the continuous irrational fight going on in my brain. It was like having an angel and devil on my shoulders that wouldn’t shut up. I just wanted peace and quiet, but you wouldn’t give me that.

I tried to continue on with my daily routine, but my frustration started boiling over and before I knew it I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think (rationally) and couldn’t function. I sat there in a daze, afraid to breath. That was the worst feeling in the world, losing control to you.

An hour went by before I was able to move, but it felt like forever. When I finally stood, my body felt so heavy that I found it hard to walk. That was the weight of you and all of your misery on my shoulders. You felt like a ton of bricks.

I finally walked over to my purse and grabbed my medication. At that point I was desperate to get away from you, if only for a little while. I took my pill and a few minutes later all of your stupid, ridiculous, pointless, annoying noise went away. I finally found my moment of silence.

I knew your absence would be short lived so I took advantage of the quiet while I could. I made a few calls to my family, unsure if I’d have another opportunity once you returned. You knew I couldn’t function with you around, and you relished in that fact.

I managed to somehow fall asleep that night, and I promised myself tomorrow would be better…it had to be. I couldn’t take another day of you and your misery.

Sunday morning I woke up with a whole new mindset, determined to keep you away. I’d been invited to church by a friend, and I was so excited to have some distraction from your tightening grip.

I went to church and heard the most perfect message. The sermon seemed like it had been written just for me. I was so thankful that God heard my struggles and gave me a sign that He was listening. I started feeling hopeful, and man was it refreshing.

My friend and I went to brunch and had a great time. We talked and laughed for about an hour, and then I headed home. Little did I know you were waiting patiently for my return.

As soon as I walked in my door, your heavy cloud started to dampen my uplifted spirit. I felt you slowly dragging me back into your darkness. I resisted your pull the best that I could. I didn’t let you knock me all the way back down, but my day was definitely ruined.

I once again sat in my living room crying for some unknown reason. My willpower and strength wasn’t enough to keep you away, and I hated myself for that. How could you so easily break my soul? Why was I so defenseless against you?

I decided I’d had enough of you and that I was done letting you control me. I stopped the tears, stood up off my couch, closed my eyes and told you to go away. I had nothing left to give you, nothing left to feel. You’d drained me of everything I had.

Sunday faded into Monday which faded into Tuesday, and eventually I started feeling better. I’d somehow made you crawl back into your eerie cave, at least for now. I prayed you’d never come back out, but I knew that was unlikely.

In those few days you threw every trick in the book at me, and I fell for them all. I tried to stay strong, but you beat me down until I had nothing left. Why did you have to do this to me? Why am I plagued with your darkness?

I know you’re gone, but I also know you’ll be back. Lucky for me your attacks only happen every now and then, but I’m already dreading the next one. No one would even know of your torture if it wasn’t for my willingness to share.

So until our next unfortunate meeting I’ll continue living my life like you don’t exist. I know you’re patiently waiting for me in the shadows, but for now I’ll act like I don’t know you’re there. That’s the only way I’ll be able to live the happy life I deserve. Thanks for the reminder though, I haven’t forgotten your everlasting presence.

With Hate,
Myka Shantell 

 

The thing is we all put on a smile, but you never know what that smile is hiding. We all have pain and struggles, and even those who seem happy have demons they fight. I live a beautiful, happy life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments (or even days) of weakness and vulnerability.

My point in writing this is to show everyone what anxiety looks like at its worst. I decided to snap the pictures of myself above so that people could SEE what it does to a person, even one who has a wonderful life.

Sometimes we can feel its eerie presence among us, and other times it’s sprung on us out of the blue. I feel fortunate that I only have to deal with this from time to time, but other people out there aren’t as lucky. 

If you know someone who struggles with anxiety, please be supportive of them. Don’t turn your back or tell them they’re irrational, that only makes things worse. All they need from you is comfort and encouragement. They need to know they aren’t alone.

You don’t have to understand anxiety to be a good friend, we don’t expect you to. However, I hope writing this has given you a brief look into our reality. This is what we deal with, this is what we fear, and unfortunately this fear is permanent. For we always know anxiety is lurking in the shadows, just waiting to strike again.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Residual Feelings. 

“I plant roots so deeply in the people I love that I always lose a piece of myself when they go.” – Beau Taplin

Residual feelings…those pesky little pieces of the ones we loved that are left inside of us after they break our hearts. You’d think someone completely ripping your heart out and stomping on it would be enough to get rid of any feelings you once felt for them, but unfortunately that’s not how we humans operate.

No matter what kind of messy breakup we go through or how hurt we’ve been, we’ll always have that tiny, microscopic part of us that cares…even though we probably won’t admit it.

We like to pretend that once a relationship is over we can just move on without a second thought. We go out with our friends, throw ourselves on a dating app and search for the next one, all the while pretending that we no longer care.

Sure we may think we’re fooling our family or friends with the masks we put on each morning, the ones that make the world think we’re totally fine, but we’re so wrong. People, especially those close to us, recognize this behavior and know that it’s all just an act.

Why do we try to pretend like we’re indestructible, like our feelings are made of stone? We put all this pressure on ourselves to immediately get over the gut-wrenching pain we feel. We punish ourselves for having emotions, for feeling the loss of someone we thought we had a future with. Why?

What we often don’t tell ourselves is that it is okay to cry, to lash out, to feel pain. It’s okay to scream into our pillows or burn pictures of memories we once cherished. It’s okay to to be vulnerable, lost and sad.

Some days we may lay on the bedroom floor, unable to move or think. We may live on auto-pilot for a while or even cut ourselves off from the world. We may wallow in self-pity and overanalyze the situation, wondering what went wrong and how we failed.

However, eventually the days begin to turn into weeks, and it starts getting a little more tolerable to wake up each morning. It get’s a little easier to climb out of bed and face the world, if only for a few hours. We start to remember how we were before our world came tumbling down, before our lives were completely shaken.

After a while, the weeks become months, and we turn off our auto-pilot mode. We start to reach out to family and friends, the ones we cut off during that devastating time. We begin to genuinely smile and venture out of our cave that we kept ourselves in.

We begin to see that the sun still shines and that, while time seemed to be standing still the past few months, the world has kept on moving. We start to feel hopeful and optimistic about life, and we realize that we now have a chance to start brand new.

At some point, maybe months or even years, we find the walls around our heart starting to slowly come down. We feel the ice start to melt from our wounded soul, and we notice the pieces have magically been put back together. We find that our heartbreak was only temporary, and the pain we once felt so deeply has slowly faded.

In this process we learn to heal, we learn that not even the toughest heartaches can break us. We feel empowered, invincible and ready to take on the world. If we can get through this, nothing can stand in our way.

And then one day we meet someone new. We start to have feelings we weren’t sure we’d ever experience again. Those butterflies that were dead and gone have suddenly reappeared. After years of being dormant, our cheeks become flushed and our hearts begin to race.

We start the process of falling in love all over again, but this time is different. This time we know the signs to look for, we know what we deserve and what we will and will not tolerate. We know our worth and that our happiness is a priority. No more putting our needs on the back burner for someone else. This is our chance to get it right.

Throughout the process of exploring new love, we think about the heartache we encountered last time. We think about that person that once made us so happy yet broke us at the same time. We begin to feel things that we’d buried deep inside, things that we thought we were over.

We once again start to punish ourselves for having residual feelings, but the truth is those feelings are completely normal. When we truly love someone, a piece of them stays with us forever. At some point in our lives we’d put our hearts and souls into another. Love that deep never fully goes away.

Honestly, residual feelings can be a good thing. Through all the tears and hurt and devastation, we learned a lesson. We learned that we can fully love another. We learned our self worth and how resilient we truly are. We learned that we’re human and that even the strongest people break down.

This is all part of the process, even the lingering feelings. We must first grieve before we can ever even think of moving on, and even after moving on we can’t expect ourselves to act like it never happened. It did happen. The smiles, the tears, the happiness, the pain…it was all real.

As time goes by, the memories and pain fade into the distance. They become a mere blur of the past, and we learn to move forward in life. We learn to love again. We learn to forgive ourselves and others for the pain we’ve endured. We start to accept that those leftover feelings are okay, that we’re allowed to have them.

And in this moment of acceptance, we are truly freed from the pain and heartache of the past. Our residual feelings blend into our souls, and with our new love by our side we learn that this is the new us…the capable, loving, strong, deserving person we were always meant to be.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋