Reflecting on Gratitude

Sometimes we allow ourselves to become caught up in the day to day of our lives that we take for granted the simplest tasks. Eating, bathing, access to decent medical care… There are people in this world who do not have access to those things. Sitting back and thinking about it, letting it sink deeply into my thoughts just messes with me.

Credit: Faye Cornish

Someone out there in the world, having some sort of unimaginable grief in their life could be praying right now to have a life that is similar to mine. I’m over here shouting phrases like “fuck my life” or “fucking kill me now” over something ridiculous and someone could be experiencing immense suffering.

I’ll be the first to admit I forget the fact that my situations could be much worse. They were awful at one point yet most of those obstacles were defeated. I don’t have a perfect life, I’ve experienced more than enough pain and trauma and I’m not where I want to be in my life right now, but I should be grateful for the things I have and have access to.

I have my loving, chaotic family, great friends, an amazing boyfriend, a roof over my head, my beautiful Pitty, food to eat, clothes to wear and clean running water. That alone is plenty to be grateful for.

I hope this helps someone out there if they needed to read this as a reminder. I have to post it as a reminder for myself.

We’re not perfect, but acknowledgement–being aware–it’s a powerful thing.

Depression took charge

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Credit: Dmitry Schemelev

There were many aspects of my life that were in need of change in order to better myself and my future. I began to make said changes by eating healthier, going to therapy, exercising, and taking anti-depressants. Barely two months in and my depression charged back into my life with fury and resolve. It was as if it knew I was attempting to do things for the better and it was determined to keep me in the dark, where it thrives.
I stopped going to the gym, bad eating habits came back, I stopped communicating with my online therapist, my medication wasn’t being taken daily… I wanted to do nothing. In the back of my thoughts I would tell myself how unhealthy it was to revert back to my familiar habits, but my depression took charge once again. Things got so bad mentally that it was beginning to terrify me.
This week I hit that place (again) where I need to get this crap situated in my life. I’m in my late twenties and I need to look forward, even when I’m being dragged back in the waters of hopelessness. I have an appointment, face to face, with a therapist today that I met with about a year ago. I liked speaking with her, but she was too far away at the time and has since relocated. Here’s to hoping I can get back to where I was and stay on course because I’m really starting to feel like there’s no real way out of this dance with depression.

[The Underground]

This is only a rough draft of something I’ve been working on. I still have a lot of editing and re-writing to do. I’m proud that I wrote something vs nothing. (I was inspired by an organized crime book I read).

From a safe distance, I observed a number of people entering the cathedral to say their final goodbyes to Uncle Mickey. The official report stated it was a heart attack that claimed him, but that had to be a lie. He was probably killed for helping me, which was something that tore me apart beyond recognition. I told the stubborn, old man that this could be the possible outcome, but he didn’t care. In all likelihood, his killer could be among the mourners; it was hard to believe I ever considered these people my family.

I didn’t realize a tear escaped me until I felt it roll down my face, leaving behind a cool streak that tickled against my skin as a gentle breeze made contact.

“It’ll be okay, Mia. I promise.” Jillian reached over to take hold of my hand in an attempt to offer reassurance.

I appreciated the sentiment, but the promise was going to be broken one way or another. Nothing was ever okay. I hoped I was wrong, though I knew better. The Morelli family wanted me dead. Five years in hiding wasn’t going to change that.

I glanced over at Jillian as I felt my eyes stinging with hot tears, silently praying to whatever God is out there that I was wrong.

“Why don’t you stay here,” she pulled down the passenger sun visor to reveal the mirror, “touch up your makeup, and I’ll meet you inside.”

I didn’t want her to go. There was a chance this could go sideways, but the purpose of bringing her was to find out if I was being lied to by a supposed ally. Her going ahead first was the window of opportunity I needed, that couldn’t be passed up.

After swallowing down my nerves and hesitation, I nodded in agreement.

Jillian smiled. “After the service, I’m gonna take you out for some drinks. We’ll meet some yummy guys and have fun. My treat!”

I grabbed her wrist as she opened her car door to leave. “Wait, Jill.”

“Yeah?”

I remained frozen. My lips parted, but there were no words forming.

“Do you want me to choose a spot for us to sit somewhere in the back away from everyone else?”

I nodded while attempting to ignore the pounding anxiety deep within my chest. “Thank you…”

“Thank me later when we’re knee deep in alcohol and men,” she winked as she exited the car.

The closer she approached the church, the more nauseous I began to feel. Sour saliva began to build up in my mouth.

Please, please, please, please, I whispered. Please let me be wrong.

As she walked the steps toward the arched, wooden doors, I noticed Big Lenny exiting as his bushy brows tightly pulled together above the sunglasses that were always too small for his face. Clearly, he was pissed about something.

Suddenly there was a loud bang echoing through the semi-busy street of mourners and bystanders. I looked around in a panic to see where the noise came from, but that didn’t matter the second I witnessed Jillian tumble down the steps she had just climbed. Her body slammed onto the sidewalk with blood already staining the concrete beneath her.

Her deep auburn red hair messily draped over her face after the fall; people either darted off in opposite directions or began to swarm around panicked and concerned, checking to see if she was alive.

I knew she wasn’t. That was the sound of a bullet and it was meant for me. I had to move fast before someone noticed that the lifeless body wasn’t mine.

No amount of rationalizing the situation could make up for the guilt that consumed me. I had begun to see Jillian as a real friend; instead I led her to my fate.

As approaching sirens echoed in the distance, I took that as indication to get the hell out of Valdren while I still had the chance or her death would’ve been for nothing.

I pressed the power button and the car turned on with ease. Thankfully the smart key fob was in the cup holder of the center console. In an instant I climbed over the console to enter the driver seat as casually as it could.  It took everything in my control to not speed off and draw attention to myself.

I pulled out of the parallel spot and I began driving in the opposite direction of the church. Police vehicles and ambulances sped passed me while my bloodshot hazel eyes stole glances of the chaotic scene in the rearview.

At least I knew there was one less person out there I couldn’t trust, even though the way I found out was repulsive.

Only two people I trusted remained. The downside was Mason wanted nothing to do with me. At least Yvette helped out when she could. I understood Mason’s standpoint, but with his skill set, he’s the only one that could help keep me breathing in order to take down the Morelli’s for good. But trying to get him to help me was out of the question.

When I drove a safe enough distance away from Valdren city, I pulled the car over to the side of the highway road.

There was tightness in my chest growing harsher by the second and my knuckles became whiter the harder I gripped the steering wheel. I let out a scream that was hidden in the void of what remained of my soul. Releasing the scream was only temporary relief which was more than I deserved.

Once I collected myself to the best of my ability, I reached into the backseat to grab my purse and took out my burner to call the only person I knew I could.

“Word is already spreading through the underground about the funeral. You okay?”

I sighed as tears began to blur my vision, “I wanted to be wrong, Evie. ”

“I know, but you have to remember that most people forget about loyalty when the money’s right.”

Her words froze me. She had a point. “And what would be the right price for you?”

“Don’t be a dumbass, Amelia. No amount of money would be enough for me to turn you in. Plus, if I need to disappear you’re the only one I know who can make it happen flawlessly on paper. I’m not fucking that up.”

“Wow. Glad to know you’re a real friend.”

“What? You want me to start lying to you?”

I scoffed, “That’s beside the point!”

“Look, when it comes to the businesses we’re involved in, you need to watch your ass before someone rolls up on you. And just because everyone else wants you dead for the cash prize, doesn’t mean I don’t see your worth. Plus…I’d actually, sort of, miss you if somebody took you out.”

“That really didn’t help all that much.”

“That sounds like a personal problem.”

“Damn it, Yvette. Could you please stop being so blunt and just be my friend right now?”

I heard her frustrated sigh and immediately pictured her rolling her soft brown eyes. “I am being your friend right now by keeping it real with you. The last friend you had, knowingly, led you into a trap that could’ve killed you. If that’s the kind of friendship you want from me, just let me know.”

I rested my forehead against the steering wheel and blew out a breath of defeat, “I’m tired of running. I just want this to stop.”

“Then you know what you need to do.”

I shot back up in my seat, “Evie, you know I can’t.”

“If you want to live and take down Conrad Morelli, Mason is your last resort.”

“Mason won’t help me. Why should I bother asking?”

“Will you act like you want to fucking live? A girl died for you today because you looked alike, so be grateful. If you want your life back, and to make sure that girls’ death was for a reason, then Mason is your last shot.” Her aggravated tone wasn’t masked, “If you want to give up, go back to Valdren to face Conrad and see what he does with you.” I opened my mouth to respond, but she quickly cut me off. “Call me when you make a decision.”

I tossed the phone aside onto the passenger seat and pounded fists against the wheel repeatedly, causing the horn to honk each time contact was made. All I could think of was my life over the last five years and how lonely it had been, along with the uncertainty of who to trust. The constant need to look over my shoulder was exhausting, and now people, good people, were dead because of me. The bullshit had to end, but it wouldn’t without help.

After a few minutes of assaulting the car, I was breathless, but it helped to clear my thoughts to accept what it was I needed to do. I ignored the throbbing pains in my knuckles and grabbed my phone, the line rang longer than I anticipated. She was definitely punishing me.

“Did you finally decide to put on your big girl panties?”

I swallowed hard, struggling to slow my breathing, “Do you know where he is?”

I heard vigorous typing on the line, the distinctive sound of Yvette working her magic. “He’s in good ol’ Paris.”

“Paris means he’s probably doing a job, Evie.”

“Which also means you can drop in on him and ask for help without giving him a chance to say no.”

Second thoughts began to invade my mind and she was being too optimistic. “He’s going to say no, regardless of how I ask. I can feel it.”

“Don’t make me hang up on you, again.”

I groaned as I hit my head against the headrest, “Fine…I guess I’m heading to Paris.”

“Good. Now, what identity are you using this time? Abigail, Caroline or Juliette?”

“I’m thinking Caroline. I haven’t used that one in over a year.”

“Okay, Caroline Burke. I’ll send your itinerary in a few minutes.”

“Thank you, Evie… I mean that.”

She laughed softly, “No problem. Call me when you land and we’ll take it from there.”

“One more thing before you go. If he says n—”

“Au revoir, chienne!” Yvette shouted into the phone, cutting me off before she hung up, again.

Bitch.

 

 

 

 

Reverting back does not prevail

Yesterday was a rough one for me. I hadn’t slept well the night prior and my mood was beyond foul. My depression had returned with a vengeance. On top of that, work was full of annoying, trivial issues that wouldn’t have gotten to me on a normal day but I was experiencing unnecessary anger. I tried to keep myself focused on positive thoughts to ease the irritation that continued to build.

As the day carried on I was craving a cigarette badly. I couldn’t stand that familiar feeling of hovering gloom; my skin felt like it was crawling. The desperation for relief was real and I was determined to get that cigarette to help calm me down.

I felt the same the rest of the day until I made my way home.

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Credit: Ehimetalor Unuabona

I made a mental note as I drove by the bodega near my house that I could buy a loosey, since I only wanted one cigarette versus a pack. The downside was the price went up from $.50 to $1, per loosey. I was genuinely contemplating it.

Once I made it home and thought it over, I told myself to wait before walking to the bodega. I had cooking and cleaning to do, so with my mind made up, I opted to do those things before heading out. I was determined to get everything done in order to leave. That was the deal I made with myself.

After completing my tasks I immediately jumped into my workouts.

By the time I finished, I made my honey lavender tea and felt a hell of a lot better. It was the best I felt that entire day.

After taking my shower, I settled in and got into bed. It was then that I realized I never went out to get my cigarette. Instead of reverting back to my old habits of smoking to escape, I went along with my new, healthier methods and they prevailed.

I need to remember for future matters that just because I was feeling desperate to ease the frustration doesn’t mean I have to throw myself back into old practices. I am moving forward with healthier approaches that are clearly proving to be helpful. Why subject myself to going backward? That’s pretty thoughtless.

Today I can say I am almost two weeks cigarette free.

Oh, and I didn’t waste a dollar!

 

Gratitude for the past

I have a lot of personal issues I am working through with a therapist due to an abundance of factors in my past. I try to tell myself to leave the negative portions of my

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Credit: Júnior Ferreira

past where it belongs, then thoughts of said moments make me slip into a downward spiral of depression and terrible choices. It wasn’t until recently that I made the decision

to put my foot down and not allow these things to control me. I had to remind myself whether the moments of my past were good or bad, it still led me to where I am in this moment and I should feel some gratitude for that.

Sure, I can feel a certain way about things and get help from my therapist on how to address my feelings in a healthier manner, but I can’t disregard those damaging moments altogether either. Instead of burying the bad, or hiding from it, I can use those moments as learning experiences for how to handle difficult situations in the future.

Why be a victim of the past when the future can be dominated?

 

 

Almost a Week

It has been almost a week since I’ve had a cigarette and I haven’t thought much about it. I haven’t had any cravings or withdrawals, I haven’t experienced any restlessness or mood swings (no more than usual), it has been pretty simple.

What’s been different this time around is I have been keeping myself distracted. Whether it’s doing additional cleaning, keeping my focus on writing/reading, or getting lost in the many ‘worlds’ of Instagram, the distractions have been an immense help. Another difference is I really wanted to stop this time. Before, I knew I had to let go, but I wasn’t ready to give it up, emotionally.

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Credit: Sara Kurfeß

In the past, I would tell myself I needed to stop smoking due to my declining health, to avoid the strong, lingering smell of tobacco on my hands or clothes, and the countless stories (and statistics) of the lives lost to this awful addiction. All of that should have been enough to get me to kick the habit, but it wasn’t.  Now that I’m in a better place and getting the critical help I need, I don’t have desires to use cigarettes as a crutch.

Is this me saying I have quit forever? I’m not sure. I can’t see into the future so I can’t say if I will or won’t relapse again (damn addictions), but I have a handle on it right now and all I can do is live in the present.

 

 

(PLUS, THEY ARE EXPENSIVE AF)

 

Back on Instagram

A few weeks ago I made an Instagram account that was deleted by them after two, or three, days. Somehow, I violated the terms and conditions, but it wasn’t explained as to what I did to warrant the termination. I had emailed them stating I felt it was a mistake and let them know I had done nothing wrong. I still haven’t heard back from them. I was beyond agitated. I was done with them all together at that point, but I felt I should try it out one more time. It was my past experiences with the app that helped me with weight loss, become more mindful of my mental health, and helped me to stay accountable. If it wasn’t for those reasons I would have definitely given up.

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Credit: Mink Mingle

What I can say is, so far, so good. I’ve already ‘met’ a few people and have witnessed many inspiring personalities. I feel this will be helpful to my lifestyle changes. As long as I stay focused, that is. I have a tendency of focusing on one particular thing, then lose track of what I was previously working on. I’m awful at multitasking in my life, basically.

That’s all I have for now. Due to my anxiety attacks last night and lovely insomnia, I barely slept. I’m at work feeling like I am going to slam my face on the keyboard at any second. The last thing I need is to potentially break my nose and have keyboard keys embedded in my face.