Falling Apart with Falling Leaves

This past week, I became very overwhelmed every time I walked through the grassy meadow in front of my condo. There was something so beautiful and enchanting and so humbling about seeing so many beautiful leaves sitting on the floor. Some of them had the most perfect shape. Some had the most perfect color. Other individual leaves were scattered and in pieces. Holes around their edges. Holes in the middle. Missing outer pieces. They would never be perfect again, but they were so damn beautiful just the way that they were. The most brilliant part of it all was that each leaf was unassuming and it wasn’t trying to be anything other than what it was meant to be – a leaf.

Every single time I walked by a bundle of leaves, I lost my breath. And my heart began to ache a little bit. It finally hit me on Tuesday afternoon, we are the leaves of this world.

Ever since last year, when we lost JB I have had this weird fascination with leaves. Not before I was 21 did I truly ever notice and marvel in the beauty of leaves. As I walked up to my apartment I began to wonder, “if I was a leaf how would I show up?” Desperately I wish my answer that I would be one of the perfect shaped and colored ones. The leaf that designers use as inspiration. The original copy of the fake leaves a craft store would carry. The leaf that everyone would choose. The perfect leaf. 

I am starting to realize how desperate and terrifying perfection is. 

If the real, authentic me was a replica of a leaf, it would be a small leaf – because sometimes I feel so incredibly small in this world. There would be holes around the outside it, because I wound so easily but I try not to let it get to the center of who I am. The edges would be jagged. And it would be an imperfect shape; if you were the fold it in half in geometry class, it wouldn’t be symmetrical at all. And I am terrified that because of those things, I will never get chosen. 

Maybe this leaf metaphor is only making sense to me. That happens a lot you know, I try to make ordinary things relatable and beautiful and most of the time I am the only one who sees it. And most of the time someone tries to see it with me out of pity, “oh the imagination on that girl.” “Oh how her heart just wants to do good for other people, one day she will learn.”  

Here is what is at the heart of the matter, whether we are in the middle of a huge leaf pile jumping in trying to be surrounded by them, or if we choose just to walk by the individual leaves …

I owe an apology to everyone who has ever looked at me and thought, “damn, she has it together.” There have been so many times when people have expressed this to me. The identity that I felt comfortable in, was the identity that was labeled “the girl who has it all together.” That is a fraudulent statement. 

I owe an apology to myself, for constantly allowing myself to think that the only acceptable way to allow for people to see you is having it all together. There have been so many times when I have yelled in my own head, “Do NOT let them see you cry Cori,” on occasions where it was most important that they saw me cry.

Lastly, I apologize for those who I only held at a distance because I was so worried you didn’t cared enough to see the not-put-together-twenty-fucking-four-seven version of myself.

There is a difference between pretending to have it together all the time and what we choose to post on our social media. Strategically I have chosen to post messages on my Facebook that are purposeful, uplifting { hopefully }, and encouraging. That is not to say that I am not above posting sad things too. If you archive my posts it has all been there: sad poetry, a call to awareness about mental illness { I too suffer }, heartache, and links to Adele’s music. Over the years however, I began to realize that the “friends” on my social media weren’t actually my inner circle, so most of them didn’t care. As humans we want people to care. Facebook is also notorious for having timelines be filled with shitty stories, disheartening headlines and ill-sought out attention. My corner of the social media world, I have chosen to display only the happy and sincere things.

Later tonight, I am going to be sitting in a circle with other girls and we are going to talk about our truth.

The truth is, right now I am a fucking mess. I have been suffering from pretty severe anxiety the past two months. For the past four weeks, I have had about three to six anxiety or panic attacks a week. I am terrified of being alone, but I am also too scared to hold a single conversation with one person. 

Right now, I am in the middle of being someone I am so unfamiliar with. I have always operated on a level of anxiety, we all do, but lately it has been debilitating. I love my work, but getting out of bed is a struggle. Before I allow { there is a level of permissions that need to be granted with this anxiety I am suffering } myself to go to sleep I have to give myself a verbal pep-talk/confirmation that everything is okay. That I am okay. This little talk takes about an hour, because usually halfway through I will have a panic attack. 

It sucks all of the energy out of you. It creates this sadness that is difficult to convey. I cry all the time. 

Up until this point, I was always the girl with boundless energy. Someone who was excited to bring groups of people together. Maybe she is just resting right now. But I have to believe that she will be back soon and it terrifies me that maybe she won’t come back. Every day, I put in a vigilant effort to find those brighter pieces of myself though. 

The truth is, it is time to start speaking our truth.

I hold myself back from showing people the empty sides. The unraveling sides. The not put together sides of me because I am deeply terrified that no one will remember me for my successes or accomplishments if I do. That isn’t to say that I do things to get recognized, but when it is all said and done, I want my name to be a brilliant source of light for many. I don’t want people to think, “wow, her life was sad, and she tried to make it unsad,” because who the fuck wants to be remembered like that? So instead, I choose not to trust other people to show up for me. I take away the choice for people to give me the best versions of themselves when I don’t pick up the phone and ask for a friend to come hold me.

Most importantly, when I don’t allow myself to share my truth, I am telling myself I am not worthy of the experiences and the emotions of this life that has been deemed mine.

Now I want to challenge you to say that statement to yourself over and over until you understand the weight of what I am talking about.

Just last week I was crying on my couch with one of my greatest warriors, Tara, and in between sips of wine I muttered, “This is not the 22 that Taylor Swift sang about. She didn’t say it was going to be like this.” And in the most perfect response Tara encouraged me, “then you write it. Taylor didn’t have your story, but you do.”

I want to encourage you to live your truth. To not be afraid to tell people you need help when you are in the mud of it. Trust me, I get it more than anyone else, it sucks! It is so goddanged difficult to express that you need help. But we owe it to ourselves. We owe it to those who love us, to give them the chance to show up with the best version of themselves for us.

 The truth is, everything feels like it has fallen apart for me. The truth is, you may be reading this and you are feeling the same way. Maybe our stories are similar or maybe they are completely different. But just know this, I am here and I am listening. The universe is here, and it is listening.

Our truths are what bring us together. It is what allows us to be more free, even if it is in small amounts.

Our truths are what allow us to come home to ourselves.