things I’ve learned during a global pandemic

People are incredibly stupid and selfish.

They can also restore my faith in humanity.

The amount of love and support sent to me and my coworkers in the healthcare system has been overwhelming.

My life didn’t change all that much. #introvert

Chick-fil-A is still the GOAT.

Quarantine makes weird things happen.

Life is short. Tell people you love them.

Health is important.

Toilet paper is important.

Grocery store workers are hero’s.

I can actually cook.

The world can truly change overnight.

I like to bake.

My husband and I have vastly different opinions on things.

Books will forever be my escape.

I will never again take my nail salon, hair salon, esthetician’s, etc for granted.

I can’t paint nails.

Music is healing.

Workouts are therapy.

The power of Jesus even when churches are physically closed.

There is a reason I don’t buy junk food.

The amount of Pringle’s my household can consume is embarrassing.

The things I’m possessive over.

I can and will cry if someone eats my Pringle’s.

Learning a new instrument is humbling.

How to channel my little brother’s worst case scenario question asking.

I’m angry. About a lot of things.

How important hugs are.

The controversy masks cause.

I love being an aunt.

Social media and news outlets lie.

The world is a scary place. I already knew this, but this global pandemic has reignited my apocalyptic survivor obsession. If I had my choice though- I pray I get taken out in the first wave. 2020 was supposed to be a huge year. I guess in some ways it still has been. Fear and unanswered questions has plagued my friends and family. Tragedies and unimaginable things have happened. Uncertainty, loss of jobs and income, social distancing and masks are the new normal. Even though my day to day life didn’t change all that much, I learned how much I took for granted. Quarantine changed how I envisioned the year, but it also brought me things I never would have had without this new normal. It’s challenging because there isn’t a clear end in sight. Things seem to be getting worse, not better (at least in my pessimistic outlook). I do, however, believe that there will be light at the end of the tunnel soon. I hope I can remember to stay flexible and be molded with the lessons I learned during Covid once I find the light again. To be brave. Selfless. Resilient.

And always buy wavy Pringle’s each grocery trip.



2019 and a few less sucky things

January: had terrible insomnia all month. Finger knitted A LOT of beanies. Read The Uninvited and highlighted every word. Rewatched Vampire Diaries and decided how I wanted my anti funeral to be. Started my genetic counseling for my genetic testing for Huntington’s Disease.
February: fought with my mom because she was worried my eating disorder was back. Really struggled with self worth this month. My husband agreed to come to therapy with me. First and only time. It didn’t go well. Terrible insomnia most of February too.
March: Had my first neurology appointment. Went to an awesome Ron Pope concert. Lost a patient. What do you know? Insomnia was bad in March too. Started taking ambien again: update- still didn’t help. Started to lose trust in a lot of things. Had a melt down in my last therapy session of the month. My therapist just let me lay on the floor until I could breathe again. She asked if I’d start coming twice a week.
April: Wild Reeds concert. On April 15 after six months of tests and genetic counseling, finally got the news I don’t have Huntington’s disease. My brother and the girl I thought he was going to marry broke up.
May: My small group babes graduated highschool! VEGAS! Rj and I went to a Celine Dion concert and got in a huge fight before leaving.
“Takes an army of my friends to fill my cup
One word from you to make me shut up”
My cousin started her summer at our house.  Did my first pediatric sexual assault case- on a 2 year old.
June: cried ugly tears to 5 feet apart. Felt unloved and lonely. Did three rounds of chest compressions on a patient- patient survived and I learned I am not in the great shape I thought I was. My mom sold her house.
July: went back to Orange Beach. Our first trip ever 6 years ago. Went to Rascal Flats concert, I sweat out half my body weight.  Bought a new couch. Got robbed.
August: returned to my favorite place ever for my birthday. Had a “chat” with my husband. I spent the next month praying all night every night for healing, but feared separation. Family drama. Bought a pregnancy test for my 14 year old cousin. Started Red Sea Rules, a book that was preparing me for what was to come. Started going back blonde.
September: lots of football games in Tuscaloosa. Made it on jumbotron at Bryant Denny.
Found out my brother is going to be a dad with a girl he met off Tinder.  Did a 7 graft CABG on my patient and was once again amazed my cardiac surgery. Went to a prayer revival at church with my husband and I’ve never been a part of something like that. Had a huge meltdown at work and had to talk to my manager about it.  Found my new favorite worship song: Waymaker. Cried every single day in September.  Learned a new way to pray.
October:  Really wanted to love October again. But I cried ALMOST everyday in October too.
I’ve never prayed, worshiped, read my Bible/devotions/ etc more than I did in this season. In October, I started to lose my trust in God. Lex died.
Messed up my shoulder. MRI’s and acupuncture.
Went to Texas for the first time. It was awesome. Had another meltdown at work. Football games and Tuscaloosa. My sweet aunt beat her stage 4 breast cancer and got to ring the bell. First full blown panic attack in a long time. Too much time spent in bathroom (but lost a few pounds so won’t complain), cried at work and then cried in my closet because I couldn’t unzip a dress. Fun month.
November: RJ had hair surgery. Actually started communicating with my dad. Saw Scarypoolparty in concert. Football games and Tuscaloosa. Sat 20 feet from Trump and Melania and she waved at me. Finished my good reads challenge of 75 books. Met my best friend’s baby for the first time. Went to see Wicked. Read some really great books with fantastic dedications.
December: I spent more time in the ER than actual payable hours. Rj had two more surgeries. Passed my century ride on Peleton. Posted a short story on Instagram of me playing piano. Decided to start a war with my family. Third wedding anniversary. Terrible GSAC case.
So 2019 really sucked for the most part. But here are a few things that didn’t suck:
Songs: This is a Move- Brandon Lake, Waymaker- Leeland.  If we were Vampires- Jason Isbell.  Out of Love- Alessia Cara. Be Still- The Fray. Say Something- Great Big World.  Start a War- Klergy. My Name- Wild Reeds. Out loud- ScaryPoolParty. Leave the City- twenty one pilots.
Books: The Uninvited. Red Sea Rules. Girl in Pieces. Ryan’s Bed. Teardrop Shot. Kill Switch. Verity. F*ck Love, Dare Me.
And as always, FRIG.
2019 was a really challenging year. I learned some things I need to work on individually and as a couple. Communication, intentionality, kindness, romance. And lots of dancing. 2019 forced me to grow. I’m learning I don’t need validation from anyone but myself. My music is changing. I am changing.
It’s been real, 2019.

only the good die young

My best friend from high school, Alexis, died last night. Tonight at midnight, the hospital I work for is performing her organ procurement. Walking those halls may haunt me forever.

I don’t know what kind of world it’s going to be without her in it. Which is weird if you think about it, because I can’t tell you the last time I saw her. Or our last conversation. We drifted apart after high school and I actually got closer to her younger sister- which made her slightly jealous.

I’m devastated and in shock. I am furious at myself for not being there for her and allowing distance to come between us. I’m furious I can’t be there to honor her before her donation tonight.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Lazy excuses. Time I’ll never be able to get back. I’ll never get to tell her I love her or that she is my best friend again. The guilt is eating me alive.

Throughout the day, I think I’ve felt every emotion I could feel. My brother just called me to check in on me. He told me instead of looking and reading sad things tonight to write down favorite memories of Lex. So that is what I’m going to do…

The first time I met Lex was summer before freshman year of high school. We were trying out for Mill Creek softball. I was a pitcher and she was a catcher. We got paired off together that first day, and that was our beginning. The team called her X, and I didn’t know her name was even Alexis until after that first season at our party.

We had math class in classes right next to each other so we were able to walk to lunch together everyday over freshman year. The lunch room can be intimidating, especially as a freshman, but I had Lex by my side, so I was okay.

My mom used to make these delicious chicken tacos. She knew Lex loved them so she started packing two tacos so I can give one to Lex.

Sophomore year, we added a third member to our group: the three musketeers. We made shirts and bandanas every weekend. We dated friends so we could go on double dates.

Went to as many UGA games as possible to try to meet college guys.

We wrote each other thousands of notes.

We laughed, we cried, we fought.

We went on a snowboarding trip and met a dream boat of a guy. We both liked him. But instead of fighting, she let us date. She was a terrible snowboarder, but an amazing friend.

We went to homecomings and proms together. We shared clothes and lived at each other’s houses.

She taught me about boys. She introduced me to Fergie and Afroman. (Lol)

She was the first one of us that could drive and introduced me to freedom that driving could bring.

She made fun of my boyfriend’s head shape.

We had nicknames for each other: seester, jdub, sissy, dsl, X and too many more to list.

Wrestling team junior year, mainly to get prom dates and cool sweats. We both ended up dating wrestlers for a while.

Beach trips.

Break ups.

Family drama.

When my boyfriend forgot my birthday on my sixteenth birthday, she called him and chewed him out, then went to store and got me roses and said they were from him.

Alexis was the type of friend that irrevocably changes you for the better. The world will be a little less bright without her in it. There are no words for my guilt over the last few years of growing apart. I guess I always assumed we’d have time to reconnect. But there isn’t, because she died from a bloody asthma attack at 28 years old. In 4 hours, her organs will be donated and her legacy will continue. My heart is so damn heavy.

Life is short. Don’t wait. You be the friend that reaches out. Be the first to tell someone you love them. Be an organ donor. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive. Love fiercely.

I love you forever, my Lex.

Three musketeers.

My seester.



I like to cry on floors.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

It’s past 2AM and I gave up trying to will my self to sleep hours ago. I’m the sleepiest person you’ll ever meet, but I never actually sleep. I decided to finishing reading Ryan’s Bed by Tijan. Well, I finished it and I had to flee my bed so my tears and snotty nose wouldn’t wake my husband.

I should have been warned by the dedication how deeply this book would resonate with me. The story line was obviously great or else I would have continued to binge watch Vampire Diaries for the fourth time. But as the book unfolded I couldn’t read fast enough. And the last three words will stay will me forever. (I’m already planning to reread with this new insight).

Anyways, this blog isn’t about Tijan or her books; although, if you are looking for a new author check her out. It’s about moving forward and healing. It’s about transformation and change.

The character in the book (Mac) lost her sister to suicide. She is lost and feels like she has lost her identity. She doesn’t know who she is anymore. She feels like she is going crazy. She is lonely and broken and misunderstood. She doesn’t have words to express all the little pieces left of her. And I haven’t related more to anything in a long time. [except maybe Lysa Terkeurst’s The Uninvited].

Last year was a demanding year to say the least. Some of it was fantastic; however, most of the year was some of the darkest times I’ve ever had. A multitude of things challenged my marriage. There was a devastating cancer diagnosis in the family. My dad was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. And that same disease also ripples down to my brother and me.

2018 was full of tears. Tears streaming down my face in the shower. Laying on my bathroom floor crying in confusion. Screaming snotty tears in my bedroom rug. Looking up at the Christmas tree lights crying is desperation. Drunken tears. Silent tears. Terrified tears. Lonely tears. Maybe one irrational tear. Or the very worst- tears of rejection.

I told my therapist in December, I couldn’t remember a time in my life that I’ve ever felt so lonely. I was surrounded by my Christmas candles, married to the love of my life, in the house of my dreams decorated in Christmas magic. Yet, I sat in my floor and wept. I’m a floor cryer, if you hadn’t noticed by now. And then I cried that I was feeling that way.

Since 2014, I’ve been putting in the work. I’ve been fighting, clawing my way to get to this place. I’d been healing. Especially the last five months with my new therapist. But something happened, and in just a few days, I felt like I was relapsing and back to square one. I couldn’t see the progress I was making anymore. My little head was consumed once again with all of my demons. I felt stuck. I felt rejected. I felt inadequate. I felt hopeless.

Through all of the haze and heaviness I felt in my heart, I had an epiphany on New Years Eve. It’s a big date, so I guess appropriate to have a genuine eye opening moment. RJ and I went to an early dinner at my favorite restaurant. We came home and danced to our first dance song and read our vows to each other in candle light. Then we snuggled up on the couch holding our sweet pup. The boys were both passed out and softly snoring by 10:30. I tried waking RJ to move to bed and he simply replied, “This is so nice and peaceful. Let’s sit here a while longer.” Before I knew it I had tears streaming down my face. I thought it was because I was disappointed at the way our New Year’s Eve had turned out. I was bummed we had two trips planned and both fell through. I was annoyed that I planned to do sweet, romantic anniversary things that we weren’t doing. I was bummed the expensive champagne I bought wouldn’t be toasted at midnight. But I was wrong. I was crying happy tears. Peaceful tears.

I was crying because I was so overwhelmed with joy in that moment that I was alive. That I didn’t die on NYE2014. I was cuddled up to my sweet husband and perfect boy, and I was more content in that moment that I’ve ever been. I hadn’t relapsed. I realized I’m finally, finally truly healing. I’m becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be. I’m transforming. I’m changing. I’m hurting so badly because I’m digging into the root of the pain and rejection to free myself. And for the first time, I’m embracing the pain.

We must feel the pain the heal the pain. Remember: the pain isn’t the enemy. Pain is the indicator that brokenness exists. Pain is a reminder that the real enemy is trying to take us out and bring us down by keeping us stuck in broken places. Pain the the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination knowing there’s healing on the other side.

The new year may not have started how I envisioned it in my head. But that’s okay. Because even if I’m the only one seeing my transformation (and my therapist), I’m still growing. I’m healing. I’m letting the past refine me, not define me. Im finally allowing myself a future.

PS- seriously, read Tijan. I recommend the Fallen Crest Series and Ryan’s Bed. And Lysa Terkeurst’s The Uninvited.



I thought about cutting Sunday night

I thought about cutting Sunday night.

I was laying in bed alone Sunday night around midnight and I was thinking about cutting. I was merely curious. Obviously, I didn’t do it. I was just curious. I was curious if it would have still felt the same. If my shaking hands would have been stilled. If my pounding heart would have slowed. Would I have felt like I could take a deep breathe? Even for just one fleeting moment. Or was that all things I left in the past.

I thought about cutting Sunday night. It’s not the first time I’ve thought about it over the last few years. It doesn’t consume my thoughts like it used to. But there are moments that I have a few weak minutes. Or like Sunday, a few hours of weak moments. It’s been 3 years, 8 months and 27 days since the last time I cut, or played with my eating disorder. Some days it feels like a lifetime ago. Some days I wake up and it feels like yesterday. Some mornings I have such vivid dreams I wake up in a cold sweat and have to run to the bathroom and check my arms.

I feel like people that are (because once a cutter, always a cutter) self harmers should get chips like in AA. I think I’d carry that chip around with me. To feel accomplished. To maybe have recognition. To remind myself not matter how hard the days have been, I haven’t slipped. To have a tangible object to illustrate my strength. But there isn’t a support group offered for self harm. There isn’t a church on every corner that will have receptions to congratulate 1 month clean.

The thing is, even in 2018, people still don’t know how to react to self harm. I can’t openly talk about how I’m feeling. I mean, if I really wanted to, I could confide that the dark thoughts in my head still haunt me. That I have demons that scream at me and it’s getting harder to silence them. But I can’t tell anyone I thought about cutting. Even when I didn’t do it and never intended to actually do it again. I can’t explain i was just curious.

I think I am so intrigued with the thought again because of how my recovery was shaped. I often think that my recovery started the day I was in the emergency room and I was 1013’d. When I was stripped of my humanity and forced to believe there was something genuinely wrong with me. When I FINALLY got out of inpatient and graduated from my intensive outpatient program, I was so broken and angry and drugged. Part of me wanted to cut just to show everyone I could. But I didn’t. My wonderful therapist that I had been seeing for months before my hospital stent reminded my recovery started much earlier than on New Years Eve. It started the day I talked in therapy- after multiple sessions of silence. I was starting to dig into the roots of my feelings. I was learning that the self destructive things weren’t helping me anymore. The hospital and IOP and all the people involved did the single worst thing they could have done at the time. They took away my will. My progress. My coping skills. My hope. My therapist reminded me of how far I’d already come and that no one could take away my recovery unless I allowed them.

It has been the longest journey of my life, but I haven’t once faltered. Self harm and depression and anxiety are a slippery slope. I am afraid it always will be. I have grown an immeasurable amount since 2014 and I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. Even though sometimes I think about cutting, it is from a totally different mindset. I want to see if it is the same release as it used to be. I want to be the one to make the decision for myself to whisper goodbye to the old me. I will forever wonder many questions about cutting that I believe would give me closure and a peace, but those things were taken away from me. Most days, I am fine with this, but nights like Sunday I lay in bed thinking of them.

I’m not the only one going through things. My family isn’t the first with a devastating caner diagnosis. I’ve been through enough therapy and read enough books to know I’m not the only one struggling. I’m not the only girl that has ever have anxiety or depression or had an eating disorder or was a cutter. I know I’m not the only one, but why do I feel so alone? I have a fake twitter name so I can express how I am feeling without worrying about being “judged.” I don’t link or tell anyone about my blog because I don’t want people walking on egg shells around me. I don’t tell my family or my husband because how do I explain something I can’t even explain myself?

“I’m not fine as in fine, but fine as in you don’t have to worry about me.”

I thought about cutting Sunday, just because I was curious. If you are reading this and actually know me (sneaky sneaky)- DO NOT FRET! I know I will never cut again, for many reasons:
1). Once you start the shit, it’s hard as hell to stop. So I just won’t do it.
2). I would never want to worry or disappoint my family again. I can’t imagine the hell I put them through. For that, I will always be sorry.
3). I would never risk getting sent back to ANY hospital. It is just not worth it. Trust me.
4). I have a tattoo surrounding my ‘sobriety” date. And getting a tattoo removed would suck.
5). I’m stronger than I was. I’m still discovering myself without being labeled a self harmer and everything that entails. I know my triggers and warning signs. I ask for help when I need it.

I thought about cutting Sunday, just because I was curious.



Unpopular Opinion: I’m proud to be an American

Never forget” at least that is what we said.

Seventeen years ago today, history changed forever. September 11, 2001. It started just like every other day for my brother and me. We woke up and went to the elementary school a mile from our house. My brother was excited about his birthday the next day. It was a normal day, until it wasn’t.

I was in fifth grade. I was ten years old. I didn’t know that my life was about to change forever. That America was about to change forever. I vividly remember being SO upset because the school announced recess would not be allowed because ‘it was too hot outside.’ Shortly after that announcement my mom checked Ben and me out of school. We thought she was doing it as a birthday surprise. I remember reaching the front office and seeing tears streaming down my mom’s face. There was a multitude of parents checking their kids out of school that day. I was confused because it didn’t feel that hot to me so I didn’t understand why so many kids were getting sent home early. Once we got home my mom tried explaining what was happening and let us watch the news. Obviously, my ten year old self didn’t grasp what was unfolding on the television. There was no way this could be real! It was just supposed to be hot outside! Ben tried to stop my panic by calmly explaining that if what we were seeing WAS real that the power rangers would swoop in and save the day. He said we had nothing to worry about. (except making sure his birthday party was still happening.)

In the weeks to come, I felt like everyone was living in constant fear. I was still not fully understanding what happened on 9/11. I was still only ten. I saw the news, I listened to President George W. Bush address the nation, I saw the flags appear on every window front and house around town.

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.” former President George W. Bush.

September 11th caused a transformation to sweep the nation. Americans were proud of the flag. Singers were writing songs about freedom. Neighbors helped each other. We supported our troops. We stood together.

“Remember the hours after September 11th when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran upstairs and risked their lives so that others may live; when rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon; when the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s capitol; when flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.” Senator John Kerry.

Over the years, as I got older, I slowly realized the gravity of the acts of terrorism against America that day. You see, in school, children are taught about history. My whole life I was reading these history books with huge accomplishments for mankind but also about horrendous tragedies from the past. But now, September 11th is written down in American history. I was alive for something that changed my country forever. It is something I was a witness to. It blows my mind that there are people in high school now that were not alive that day in September. I guess that is the funny thing about history.

Growing up, I was always taught that we had history lessons so history wouldn’t repeat itself. We learned about WWI and WWII to prevent another world war. We were taught about the fall of dictatorships and communism to prevent future governments from failing. We were taught about the division of America in the Civil War to prevent this nation from becoming so divided again. We were taught to NEVER FORGET. So let me ask you this: How did we get here? Seventeen years later? Our country is divided- and not just between democrats and republicans. We don’t support our troops. We idolize cowards who “sacrifice everything” by NOT standing for the National Anthem. Our veterans don’t get the healthcare and opportunities they should. We are making movies about monumental moments in American history, but removing the flag.

When did it become an UNPOPULAR opinion to be proud to be an American? When did we stop letting our enemies be foreign and start attacking each other? When did we remove the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance from schools? How did America let so much hatred and fear cover our history? How could we forget?

I did not know anyone personally who lost their life that day, nor know anyone who lost someone. And I can’t imagine what this day is like for the ones that did. The heroes that sacrificed everything.The heroes that have sacrificed themselves in all the events stemming from 9/11. The men and women who are still fighting and risking everything today. It has been seventeen years since 9/11, but with heavy hearts we WILL remember the sacrifice. It was not in vain. We will stand together under God and make America the greatest country again.

a PROUD American

Tell me a secret

Tell me a secret you’ve never told anyone. Tell me a secret you thought you’d go to the grave with.

Tell me what your greatest fear is.

Tell me how you choose to suffer.

I am not one for small talk. If I’m being honest, I’m not one for much of any talk. I don’t believe in wasting time talking about the weather or how Alabama is still number one (Nick Saban will always be number one). I want to get past the superficial fake things. I want to know what makes you who you are.

I’ve learned over the years there are a few ways to REALLY get to know someone. Get a person to tell you a secret. Learn a new secret every week. It’s such an intense experience when you know the things that matter, that most people don’t get the privilege to learn.

Ask someone what their biggest fear is. Not the normal spider, snakes, playing against the undefeated Alabama football team, etc. I’ve learned people’s greatest fears have prevented them from their passions and dreams. Some people let their fears paralyze them while other accomplish so much despite their fear. People often lie when asked this question because they are afraid to be judged or being vulnerable.

Ask someone how they choose to suffer. Odd request, yeah? This may be the best way to truly get to know someone though. It’s easy to ask people what makes them happy, what they want. Most people essentially want the same things out of life. Love, happiness, success, good health. In order to get these things though, you have to suffer. You have to have pain. What pain are you willing to endure? What suffering do you choose because whatever/whoever on the other side is worth it? This question will tell you who a person is.

I have a horribly ugly teddy bear named ‘Purp’ that I still sleep with on really bad nights. (I’m 27 and married). I’ve been sleeping with him a lot lately.

My biggest fear is being inadequate. I’ve never been enough for someone to stay. To be someone’s number one. The racing thoughts in my head daily tell me I’m not good enough. I’m not a good enough wife. I’m not a good enough sister and daughter. I’m not a good enough nurse or friend. Eventually, one day I’ll be all alone. The internal dialogue in my head is constantly on repeat. Bonus secret: I shake my head or close my eyes really tight to try to stop the thoughts. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I choose to suffer for my marriage. I choose to have to painfully long silences, the awkward conversations, the nights I cry myself to sleep. I choose to let people make judgements on what they think my relationship is like because of our age difference. I choose to be a step mom of three kids that despise me. I choose to battle the bloody monster in my head telling me that I’m failing as a wife. I choose to do all of these things. I choose to go to therapy. I choose to suffer because at the end of the day, I have a marriage worth fighting for. I have a man that loves me. That’s how I choose to suffer.

So don’t waste my time. I’d rather read a book.

I don’t want to know what your favorite color is. Even though mine is black. I don’t want to know what college team you root for. Because Roll Tide.

I want to know your secrets. I want to know your greatest fear. Tell me how you choose to suffer.



February 28- YEAR 2

Another year has come and gone. I can’t believe it’s February 28th tomorrow. And that it’s such a significant day for me and I’m apart from Rj for the second year in a row. I’m not digging this trend. February 28, 2016 is when I made biggest decision I’d made in my life (at the time) and decided to move back home for good.

I’m currently in my hotel room in Augusta for SANE training.I’ve been in Augusta for three days now and it’s crazy how distance can change how a person sees things. I went to nursing school in Augusta and couldn’t wait to get the heck out while I was here. It took me until a month before graduation to realize how much I was truly going to miss this place. Ironically, I had similar feelings toward Savannah. Driving on I-20 and coming into Augusta city limits felt like a tiny piece of my heart was home. I even creeped by my old town house and snapped a picture.

Just like Savannah though, this place holds countless memories. Bad and good. It’s where I cried countless times because I was so homesick I couldn’t breathe. It’s where I constantly felt I was going to fail nursing school because I made a ‘B’ on a test. It’s the place I learned my ex boyfriend first cheated on me. It’s where I escaped when my mom finally served my dad divorce papers. I lived with three complete strangers; one of which I now consider family. It’s the place I experienced my first heart surgery and fell completely in love with the human heart. The place I reached one of my dreams and the place I had my first ‘date’ with my husband.

As hard as it was to leave Augusta, it was one million times harder to leave Savannah two years ago. Last year, I was really emotional. I wrote how I longed for this day to not be such a big deal. I wish I could say that it’s not, I still have it circled in my calendar. I wish I could say I haven’t looked at all my time hop pictures and gotten emotional, but I did. (And I’m not prepared to see all the time hops for tomorrow- the actual day…)

Last year, I think I was so distraught because the ‘new’ chapter I envisioned when I moved home wasn’t the case. Naked truth- it’s still not. But that’s okay.

In Savannah, I had this big important job. I was in charge and had power. I found worth in the title I had.

I was in the best small group ever and involved in some pretty great ministries.

I had a condo that felt like the ‘home’ I had always longed for. I had a best friend that saved my life. I had a group of friends that were incredible. I found myself- the real me in Savannah. I finally started to love myself in Savannah. When I moved home, I essentially felt like I lost all of that. And a lot of the things I worked so hard to rebuild in my life crumbled. I started drowning again. I had this timeline and vision in my head of where I should be a year out and when I wasn’t there, it was hard.

Now I’m two years out, and I’m slowly starting to see my plan wasn’t big enough. I don’t have this power job title anymore, but I’m still able to do what I love to do. I get to do heart surgery, and bonus- I actually get to sleep and have a life now.

I am also allowed this extraordinary opportunity to become a SANE nurse (more on this to come). Something I would have never had the chance to do if I stayed where I was. I haven’t found a small group that has been a good fit for me at home, so I started my own. A group for high school girls struggling with anxiety, depression and self harm. I love every second of this group and even gained a ‘little sister’. I now don’t have to include quotations when I say ‘home’ because the house I shared with my husband IS my home. Including the red front door. Friends, now that’s a tough one. The best friend I had in Savannah is no longer in my life and that was a bitter pill to swallow. It broke my heart, but I will forever be grateful for her and laugh at all our stupid memories together. [the blog “when you lose your best friend” isn’t about her though, FYI. It’s about my other bff. It’s been a tough year in the friends category.]

Fun fact of the day: I was at dinner with my brother and Rj the other night and my fortune cookie said, “you are surrounded by great friends.” Ben laughed and commented that my only friends were at the table. And even if it’s a little sad because it’s mostly true, I’m okay with that.

I lost myself in Savannah, then found myself. I moved home and essentially lost myself again. But two years out, I’m still growing. I’m loving myself more everyday. And that’s not selfish. I’m finding myself each day. I even played the piano and SANG our first dance song to Rj last week. Y’all, that’s HUGE! Last year, I wrote about being excited about February 28th one day not holding any significance. This year, I’ve changed my mind. I love the date. It’s the day I got one step closer to living the life I always wanted without fear anchoring me down. I wish I could be with Rj and celebrate this anniversary, but tomorrow, I will celebrate alone. And in its own way, it’s the perfect way to honor the day.



Becoming the girl behind the red door

Growing up I never dreamed of the typical things I believe most little girls do. I didn’t grow up dreaming about a princess wedding or being a mom. I didn’t dream of being a prima ballerina or becoming a rock star. I didn’t really allow myself to dream at all. I was a realist- even from a young age. Instead, I set goals. I set big goals and small goals. Make straight A’s. Make the softball team. Get into nursing school at Medical College of Ga. Save money for my 401k.

The one thing I allowed myself to wish for was having a home one day- all brick, all hardwood floors and a red front door. I think all I really wanted was to feel safe and secure. These things might sounds weird or insignificant, but to me they were the only things I felt important. I wanted all brick because the house I grew up in was fake stucco. It was falling apart and molded, but we couldn’t afford to fix it. We had carpet with stains, and with each stain came a bad memory. The most crucial piece of my future home was a red front door. When I was a little girl, growing up in the south, a red front door meant your mortgage was paid off. I wanted a life where I could have a home and not be living pay check to pay check. I didn’t want to stay in the cycle of cleaning houses to keep the power on (which nothing is wrong with this at all. My mother with the help of my brother and me kept our bills paid and food in our bellies for many many years by cleaning houses). A red front door can also symbolize obedience and protection to God that dates back to Bible times. Some countries paint their doors red for good luck. Brooke Davis from One Tree Hill had a red front door. Bet you want to paint your front door red now, huh?

As I got older I kept a running list of goals for my life. (Of course I have my weekly and monthly goals too). But this list has transformed into my Bucket List. I have a wide range of things on this list. Things from learning how to drive stick shift to vacation places to saving a certain amount of money. If you know me well, you know about this bucket list- even if I won’t show you. Sorry not sorry. I’m always adding things and trying to check things off.

A few month ago my mom gave me an assignment I did in 2nd grade.

I was eight when I decided to be a nurse when I grew up. I made a goal at the age of eight and I worked hard until it was met. I made the varsity softball team. I made straight A’s. I got into MCG’s nursing program and graduated.

And from my first big girl paycheck I’ve saved 10% into my 401k. I reached a lot of the goals I’ve set for myself when I was younger, but I think I was missing the bigger picture all along. Being a realist at such a young age because of everything that happened in my past made me think having dreams were dumb. Yes, most little girls don’t grow up to be mermaids or have the wedding they planned when they were five. Their dreams just evolve. I’ve come to realize that all anybody really wants is to be happy. To be safe and secure. To really experience life. The goals I made were to set myself up to be happy. And for the most part they did; that is why I continue my epic bucket list.

I didn’t dream of a princess wedding because I thought marriage was bad, like my parents. I didn’t think I was worthy of love. I didn’t dream of becoming a mom because I didn’t want to pass on my genes. I didn’t want to be a prima ballerina or a musician because I needed a steady and reliable job (like a nurse with health insurance). I wanted a strong house with no rot or ugliness because I never had that. I became what I wanted when I was eight years old. I have the all brick house with a red front door. But now, I have things I never allowed myself to dream. I have a wonderful husband that reminds me everyday how worthy of love I am. I finally have a partner to help me finish my bucket list. NYE17 we had a vow renewal and I got that princess wedding I never knew I wanted.

I have the most perfect fur baby. My brother just got his dream job after graduating less than a month ago from the University of GA- and is also in the process of teaching me to drive stick.

My mom is engaged to a fantastic man who treats her the way she should be treated. None of the above are cleaning houses to survive anymore.

My life isn’t perfect. I still haven’t reached all my goals and I constantly add things to the list. But for the first time in my life, I dream. I am so unbelievably happy. I am finally the girl behind the red door.



How We Broke Up- Part 2

Picking right up from part one…

June 2013 I officially became a licensed RN and told Rj I loved him. It was one of the best days of my life. Unfortunately, it also meant my moving to Savannah was one step closer. We spent every day until I moved squeezing in as much time together as we could. We drove over an hour to go to dinners. We wore hats and sunglasses. I got a burner phone. We went to hole in the walls concerts. We danced to no music. We stayed up all night laughing and talking. Every day we fell more in love.

The last week before I moved we went on our first vacation together (and two friends for my alibi). We went to Orange Beach and it rained EVERY SINGLE DAY. We loved every second of the trip. We knew we had to enjoy our limited time together, so we did. The better things got with Rj the worse things got with my family.

The day I moved to Savannah, my mom wasn’t even home. It was a harsh realization. I met Rj in Atlanta so we could spend our last few hours together. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry in front of him, that I would be strong. YEAH RIGHT. I sobbed the whole morning. I was terrified of moving and not knowing a single person (except my controlling cousin I was temporarily living with). I was terrified to start a new and first nursing job and signed away a three-year contract. I was devastated over my family. And broken-hearted over leaving Rj. Now I know what you are thinking- if you truly felt this way, why don’t you just tell everyone about your relationship? And if it would have been that simple, we would have. Looking back, would we do things differently? Of course. But then I wouldn’t be writing this story.

I think I cried the entire 5 hours to Savannah. I had two days to get settled before my first day at work. I Skyped with Rj and wrote letters and emails. (I am terrible with communicating, so I write. Letters, notes, emails. You’ll learn the importance soon enough.) We started a count down to the minute of when he would come visit me in Savannah. We only had 6 days. We could survive 6 days. We did. My new job was overwhelming. I started doubting I would make it as an open heart surgery nurse. The first week actually flew by.

Before we knew it, it was Friday. I told my cousin I was hanging out with I friend I reconnected with from high school for the weekend. Rj was finally in Savannah and while I was on my way to meet him downtown, I got in a hit and run. I’d never been in a car accident when I driving. And of course, the car that hits me takes off! Who does that? Should that have been some ominous premonition of what was to come? Probably. We ended up having a great night exploring River Street together. I felt like my heart could beat for the first time in over a week. Saturday morning we woke up and started apartment shopping. We spent all day driving around figuring out where the best place to stay in relation to the hospital. I think we toured 20 different places. Saturday night we went to this cool little place downtown with live music (let’s be real, everywhere in Savannah is cool.) We were finding a place for us together. We could do three years of just weekends if it meant forever together. We had some cocktails and danced. It was going to be the best night. Savannah was going to be okay. Maybe I didn’t make a mistake….

And then my mom started calling. She had tracked my phone. With my cousin’s help. She said she knew I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing. She asked me who I was with. Side note- I’m aware at this point I was almost 22, a nurse with this bad ass job, etc and my mom was tracking me. Psycho? Yes. But to be fair, I had never done anything like this in my life and she was worried. Did she only make things worse, yes. Again, why didn’t I just confess? Because when I told her I was dating a guy 10 years older she almost fainted, I didn’t think she could handle this 25 year age gap. Obviously, I was so flustered, we left the restaurant and went back to our hotel. I didn’t know if I should go back to my cousin’s or what I should do. I was stuck in a horrible place. That was one of the longest nights of my life.

Sunday morning I decided I needed to get back to my cousins.’ My cousin wasn’t talking to me, my mom wasn’t talking to me. I was a wreck. With puffy eyes and a snotty nose, Rj kissed me briefly in the rain in front of the Bohemian Hotel. If either of us would have known that was our last kiss, we would have done it differently. We would have done a lot of things differently. That was our last kiss for over a year. The last time we saw each other was standing in the rain in July 2013.

I got back and faced the music. I didn’t really talk to Rj the next week. The following week my mom came to Savannah. She asked me how I got so lost. To just tell her the truth. Another opportunity to come clean wasted. I saw how damaging my behavior was. Not only to everyone I loved, but to myself and Rj. That was when I began to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. To walk away from Rj. To walk away from this unconditional love and peace I’d never known. I KNEW my family would never be okay with our relationship, and at that point, I had to choose them. Who could choose someone they’ve only really known 4 months over their entire family? What kind of person could love that way at 21?

The answer to that should have been me. But it wasn’t. I walked away from the best man I’ve ever known without so much as a fight.

This is part of the goodbye email I wrote to Rj. I knew if we talked or I saw him in person, I would break down. I was a coward…

“Sent: Monday, July 29, 2013 9:59 PM


I don’t know how many times I have been failed by words. Because there aren’t enough words that can illustrate and describe all the things I need to say. So I am sitting here, at a loss for words. I am crying because my heart is breaking as I write this. But I don’t know any other way. I know that if I skype you or even talk to you right now, you will be able to change my mind. And I can’t change my mind. I need you to understand and I am asking the impossible from you. I try to not ask much, so know that this is something that I need. I am asking you to let me walk away. 

I love you, in every way that I can. That will never change, no matter what or who I become. And I hope that one day I will make a difference and leave a positive impact on this world and walking away from you will have been for something. 

“This above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night and the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” I have to really believe in this quote. I have to be true to myself. I have to be able to look in the mirror and be the person I want to be, to be the person I am meant to be. That is one of the things you are always saying to me. “What do YOU want?” “Be true to yourself.” After this weekend, I took a long look in the mirror and I didn’t recognize the person I saw looking back at me. I am not blaming that on you, by any means. I am just telling you the truth. I have never felt so lonely or isolated or miserable. I felt like I was hurting everyone in my life that was important to me, including you, and I didn’t know how to stop. So I had to take a step back. 

I had to think about my priorities and how to get back on the right path. And the only way to get back on track with my family, is to walk away from you. Like I told you the other day, I didn’t want that option. I still don’t want to pick.I started thinking about the future. I knew, down deep in my heart that there would come a day when I would have to choose. I think that I may have subconsciously always known… I know you may not understand, but I can’t not have my whole family in my life. I know that they may be a little crazy and a lot dysfunctional, but I love them more than anything and I just can’t live without them. I also don’t want you to think that I am choosing them over my own happiness, because I am not. I truly can’t be happy without them being a part of my life. This past week was one of the hardest of my life. I was miserable and honestly was tempted to do self-destructive things. I haven’t felt that way in many years, and I got to a place so low that I was almost at that point. I am not telling you this to make you feel guilty or sad or worry, but I am trying to just help describe where I am coming from. This whole thing with my family has hurt you too. Everyone I love is being impacted by my decisions, and it isn’t fair to anyone. It goes without saying that when I am with you, I am such a happy version of myself. I am at so much peace and even from that first day, we just fit together. I can say without a doubt I was swept away by you and fell in love with you. When you are with me, everything is okay, but when you aren’t, it is too much to bear. Sometimes you lose sight of what matters the most, and I think that is what I did.

Some days, you may not be able to stand back up when you fall down. And that’s okay. Sometimes, it’s okay to be broken. Because someday, someone will help you back on your feet. You won’t be alone forever, it just feels like it sometimes. You can into my life at a very pivotal moment. And while it may not have been the best timing and I absolutely hate the way that Danny and I ended things, but you came into my life when I was more than a little bit broken. I was in a relationship that wasn’t where it should be, I was finishing school, moving back home, finding a new job to start a career, studying for boards and so many other things. You held me together and gave me a peace that I’ve never experienced before.

‘Just don’t give up because times are hard, especially if that person means so much to you. Keep fighting for what you want until you can’t fight anymore, until giving up is the only option left.’ I know you may not believe it is the only option, but for me, right now it IS my only option. I have stayed up countless nights and cried myself to sleep over this. I honestly hate the term ‘heart broken’ because it isn’t just my heart. My whole body aches and is breaking. And I don’t want you to think that I am being weak and giving up, I have to think that I am strong enough to let go. You taught me what it feels like to love deeply and be so consumed it’s a little crazy. You gave me confidence and taught me so much about myself and life.

I have to let go, because we can’t keep doing this. It is taking a toll on both of us and our family. As much as we fit so naturally together and is the easiest thing in the world being with you, our families could never blend. And I thought about maybe it would be easier when I moved out (whenever that would be), but even then, I would know people here so we couldn’t even go out here. I don’t want to be this way. We don’t deserve to have to hide out and sneak around, but unfortunately that would be the only way for us. You deserve better than that and so do I. 

Sometimes I wonder if anything is absolute anymore. Is there still a right or wrong? Good and bad? Truth and lies? Or is everything negotiable, left to interpretation, grey. Sometimes we are forced to bend the truth, transform it, cause we are faced with things that are not our own making. Things that simply catch up to us. And while the challenges that we have dealt with were not of us, but of our situation, we are the ones that are being held responsible. And as much as it kills me, I have to change my situation.

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to change your life? What measure of time is enough to be life altering? Is it four years, like high school? One year? Sixteen weeks? Can your life change in a month, a week, or a single day? I feel like I’m always in a hurry to grow up, to go places, to get ahead. But I’ve come to realize one moment can irrevocably change your life. There have been many of those moments I have shared with you. 

You’ll get over it. It’s the cliques that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever. You don’t get over it because ‘it’ is the person you loved. The pain stops, there is new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The hole in your heart is in the shape of that person and no-one else can fit it. And I’ll miss you, I already do. So much it hurts to breathe. I miss the times we’ve shared together, I miss not being able to talk about them to anyone. I’ll miss what our future could have been. I hate more than anything that it is going to have to be like we never existed.

I know that this is the worst thing, and I am so sorry that it has to be like this, but I just don’t see any other way. This is one hundred times harder than I ever could have imagined, so much harder than leaving Atlanta that Saturday. It kills me that I don’t know how to say goodbye. And I am sorry that I am not calling you or skyping you, but I know I would have just cried and I could have probably been wavered. You said in your email that if it was what I needed and it came to a point that it was too much, you would let me walk away. So I am asking that of you right now. I am begging you actually to let me go, I need you to be the strong one and understand this is what I need,

You have changed my life forever and I will always love you.

I am so sorry


Bloody hell, just typing this and reliving this is hard. Stay tuned for Part 3.