I Don’t Want to Be Eaten By a Saber-tooth Tiger

I don’t know how to describe this. It’s one of those things that is a mix of emotion, color, and a couple random words.

Forgive me if I ramble. I don’t know how to put this in simple words. This is me processing this and allowing you to read my brain.

You’re welcome, Darling Creepers.

There’s an experiment where scientists put a group of people in a room with music playing softly. They encouraged them to talk among themselves and do whatever. Then they turned the music up really gradually. The people in the room never noticed the music turning up. It got so loud, during the experiment, the people were shouting to be heard, but they didn’t notice they were shouting and they didn’t notice that the music was louder. Finally, someone realized it was super loud, and they all found themselves in agony over how loud it was in the room.

That’s kind of how my life is right now. In this exact moment. I think.

Almost two years ago, my life was overshadowed by black. It was a black like what you get when you’re in the deepest parts of a cave.

That kind of black is scary. There is absolutely no light for your eyes to see, so your brain freaks out and starts imagining you can actually see things.

If you hold your hand in front of your face, your brain will say you can see it. But you can’t. If you touch the outline of a jagged point on a rock, your brain will paint a faint picture of it for you, but it really has no clue what it looks like. It could be that a saber-tooth tiger has crawled in the cave and yawned, and you’re really petting its tooth. You think you’re touching a rock because that’s what your freaked out brain is telling you, but you don’t really know if it’s a rock or a saber-tooth tiger tooth because you can’t actually see, no matter how much you think you can.

This is one of the reasons people go insane if they’re left in that kind of darkness too long. It’s also why they fall into deep, dark holes even though they thought they saw a safe way.

The point is, in a darkness that deep, you can’t trust what your brain is telling you you’re seeing. It’s too dark for your brain to really know what’s going on.

When your life is in a darkness that deep, your brain lies to you again.

“You can’t tell anyone how you feel; they won’t understand.”

Lie.

“It would probably be better if you just stopped breathing. Whatever way you could come up with to manage that would be fine with me.”

Lie.

“Maybe if you cut a little deeper next time, everything will feel normal again.”

Lie.

It’s so dark, your brain is making things up because it’s freaking out, and, it all sounds so convincing, you want to believe it. Bad idea. A lie is a lie, no matter how cleverly it’s dressed up. Even if it’s coming from the brain you trust.

The safe, hard, steady rock you think you’re touching is really a yawning saber-tooth tiger and, as soon as it closes its mouth, it’s going to bite your face off.

So, who do you trust when your brain is a freaked out, lying, traitorous organ?

Well, purely by accident, someone came along and reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my darkness. They brought me a flashlight.

I refused to use it for a really long time, but I looked up today and discovered something.

My world’s not black anymore.

Like the people in the experiment, my discovery of this change was sudden, shocking, and strange. And it happened without my consent or overt desire for change.

Looking back, I can see where my world has lightened. I can pinpoint moments where my world changed colors, ever so slightly, and I never noticed.

I can also pinpoint the moment it started changing. It was when someone brought me my flashlight.

It wasn’t that I turned it on, and I could see again. I didn’t do that. Remember, I refused to use it.

In that moment, I learned I wasn’t alone. And I learned there were other things I could trust.

My eyes were lying. My brain was freaking out. I was hearing things that wanted me dead.

But I still had all my other senses.

They say that, when you go blind, all your other senses enhance. I think they’re right.

My brain was telling me the tooth was a rock, but my nose knows what stinky, saber-tooth tiger breath smells like. I trusted my nose and learned to walk away.

My brain said there was no one there in my darkness, but my hands met other hands around me, reminding me I wasn’t alone.

My brain was telling me lies about what I should do to myself, but my ears heard quiet whispers of love that grew as I listened harder.

And I took a step.

I think that, with every step I took, my life got a little brighter, but I was so busy being distracted by everything else going on in my life, I never noticed the change.

It was gradual, and I don’t think I’m completely out of the cave yet. I may never be, but now I remember that the sky is brilliantly blue and leaves are full of seventy million shades of green. I remember that darkness doesn’t always win, and I can trust my life to Something much larger than me.

I can’t always see. I can’t always trust my brain. I can’t always believe the terrible words in my head.

Yeah, sometimes I walk back into the darkness because the light hurts and, quite frankly, I don’t always like touching people.

I do know, however, that there is no darkness where Light comes in. I know that, when the depths of the cave steal my voice, the Spirit inside me intercedes and interprets my senseless groans into cries for help. And I know the Light comes. Not all at once, but slowly, as I let Him come, as I walk toward Him.

The Light always beats the darkness.

In this moment, I’m in The Dark Place. I define myself by how smart I am, and I just did terribly on a final. It drastically affected my final grade in the class, and I’m beating myself up over it.

I also know I won’t be here long. Right now, The Dark Place I’m in is so much lighter than The Dark Place I was in a month ago.

All that to say, I’m constantly moving. My life is a mix of forward and backward steps. I’m not always headed in the right direction in the fastest way possible, but I am always headed somewhere.

Ultimately, I’m making my slow trek back out in the sunshine. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to have really bad days, but I think that’s okay. Ultimately, I’m going in the direction I need to go, and I’m learning coping mechanisms and how to hand things over to God and better ways to communicate with people while I’m going.

I think, even though I’m in The Dark Place this evening, I’m still headed in the right direction. I’m not walking by myself, and I’m not about to get my face eaten off by a saber-tooth tiger. That’s progress.

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Hugs Explained

I keep wanting to write a post about all these Deep Thoughts I have rolling around in my head. The problem is, every time I sit down to tackle them, they roll just barely out of reach and sit there taunting me.

So, I’m going to keep getting mocked by my thoughts and mention one of my favorite things in the world – hugs.

Now, I’m not talking about side-hugs. Those are poop. And awkward. And weird. And I never know what to do with my other arm.

Side hugs are the kind of hug I grew up receiving from guys who were determined that they had to have as little contact with my body as possible. In their minds, it was respectful. In my mind, it was endlessly frustrating because I just wanted a real, legit hug, and I felt like I was getting shorted.

I’ve got nothing against the guys who believe in side-hugs. I’ve had it rationalized for me so many times. Sometimes, I understand where they’re coming from. Other times, I’m desperate for a hug, and I get really irrationally angry at them because I don’t feel loved.

And I don’t mean, “Aw, bummer. Another side hug. Oh well.” angry. I mean, “IF I EVER GET ANOTHER SIDE HUG I’M GOING TO EAT YOUR SOUL AND MURDER YOUR GOLDFISH” angry. It’s a problem.

I understand side hugs when you’re doing a quick hug and then running on your way. That is justifiable. That is the¬†only time a side-hug is justifiable.

When I’m about to not see someone for a million years because I’m going on a trip for a week, and I’m going to miss seeing their face, a side-hug just doesn’t cut it. Ever.

When I become the benevolent dictator of the world (that’s a whole different story), I am going to destroy side-hugs. I’m going to explode them, and gather the pieces, and burn them, and feed the ashes to hordes of hungry jungle animals, and gather the feces, and bury it five thousand feet under ground, and dig up that whole chunk of land, and throw it into a volcano, and erupt the volcano, and gather all the lava, and cool it into awesome lava rocks, and give them to people living in tourist places, and have them sell the rocks to tourists, which will give them a viable source of income, which will make the world a better place.

That will be the end of the side-hug. Thank goodness.

I’m also not talking about leans. Those are also pretty dumb. They’re half-hearted and lazy, and I don’t like them.

They’re those hugs where, you feel like something magical is about to happen, but then…eh.

You think you’re about to get a wonderful hug – the hugger has opened their arms, and you just know you’re about to get a legit hug, and that excites you because you’ve been stuck with terrible side-hugs for quite a while, and you’re ready for something real. They walk up to you….

And then their arms and torso go limp, and you are enveloped in person.

And most of their weight is resting on your shoulders, and you think you’re about to fall over, but there’s no where to go because everywhere around you is limp person, and it’s just really awkward because they think they’ve bestowed this great gift upon you, and you’re just left wanting to cry because you just wanted a real hug and now you just feel like a coat rack.

What I really am talking about are those hugs that wrap you up and make you feel absolutely wonderful.

I’m talking about two-arm hugs that swallow your soul, make sure it feels loved, and spit it back up. Those hugs are the ones that make terrible days better, turn frowns into smiles, and make the whole world a sunnier place.

Those are the ones that connect you to another person. They’re the ones that surround you with strength and protection.

They are firm hugs. There’s no limp-ness about them. They grab hold of you, and don’t let go until both parties have said everything the hug needs to say.

There is no awkwardness about these hugs. They don’t last long enough to make anyone feel like a sloth, but they’re also not so short anyone feels ripped-off.¬†These hugs can last for a couple minutes (at this point it’s an excruciatingly fine line between hugging and cuddling), or a couple seconds. The hugger and huggee somehow instinctively know what needs to happen.

These are the hugs I adore. These are my favorites. Sadly, these hugs are an endangered species. They require effort, and very few people are willing to put effort into a hug. Even when that hug is vitally important to some else’s survival.

Thankfully, I know who to go to for these hugs. I live in an area that has a lot of people who understand the importance of hugs and are willing to put effort into them. You have no idea how joyful that is.

This is also another reason why people think I’m crazy and run away from me.

Was I Ever That Clueless?

So, because the school paid for so much of my recent trip to Cuba, they’re forcing me to do slave labor for them.

Basically, everyone with half a brain realizes that freshman orientation is terrible and terrifying, and no one volunteers for it. They have to pay people to get them to come work.

Or lure them in with innocent-sounding contracts that require a certain number of hours of work in exchange for the trip of a lifetime.

If I had known this was what I had signed up for, I would never have signed my name so carelessly at the bottom of the page.

And the smiley face in the “o” would not have happened.

Really, it’s not so bad. I only have to deal with the tiny creatures six times this summer, and it’s only two-three hours each time. I also only have to deal with the nursing students.

My job is to stand in front of them, answer all their random questions, give them sage words of advise for their nursing futures, and silently mock them because most of them will never make it into upper division.

A few of them escape the mocking because they’re smart and nice.

And then there was the child who called me “Ma’am” tonight.

He almost died.

Painfully.

The only thing that stopped me was the thought of the mess that would make. And they had just waxed the floors…

But, seriously. (See, I’m implying that the above comments weren’t serious so you won’t think I’m a psychopath.) (I’m not a psychopath.) (I think.) These children ask some of the most random questions. And I have to take them all seriously!

My first day of doing this, I made the mistake of assuming one of them was joking, but when I laughed, they just kept staring at me, awaiting an answer.

I’ve since learned to contain my laughter, but I will now include a sampling of questions just so you understand:

“Sooooo, do I have to, like, sign up for lunch? Like, is that a class? Or do you just, like, show up and say, ‘I’m here!'”

“I live two hours away. Would you recommend commuting?”

“Were they serious when they said we couldn’t bring our dogs to school?”

“Have you ever gone to jail?”

“Are showers mandatory?”

“What are my chances of getting married in college?”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Who cuts your hair? Are they here in Cookeville?”

“Can you tell me how to get here from my apartment?”
“Where’s your apartment?”
“Well, if you turn down that road over there, turn left, go down that other road with the curve in it, turn right at the stop light (or is it a stop sign?), drive for, like, forever, turn right again, and go to those white apartments, you’re there!”
“And…that’s how you get here.”
“No, like, how would you get here?”
“I walk.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks.”

“Is my mom allowed to come here every day and bring me breakfast?”

“Are we allowed to leave? Ever?”

“Can you help me with my schedule? I can’t find a class to fit around nap time.”

“Do I have to take the classes in this list?”
“Yeah, those are your prerequisites.”
“Well, I mean, what if I just take these classes instead?”
“Do you want to earn your degree?”
“Well, no. Not really. I’d just like to stay in school until I can get married.”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No, I need to find one of those. Do you have any friends?”

“My dad told me, if I stayed in nursing, because I’m a guy, I had a higher chance of getting laid. Would you know anything about that?”

What are the little minions thinking? I don’t know what’s wrong with them. I don’t take mental health until next semester.