I Drifted But Now I'm Reaching Out

I Drifted But Now I'm Reaching Out

I'm not going to isolate myself anymore.

I’ve noticed that since I started college, I dropped a lot of habits. Some were habits that I really needed to get rid of, such as picking at my nails and snacking way too much. Other habits, though, I really shouldn’t have dropped. Maybe I just got too busy or lazy, or maybe it was just something for the high school me. Yeah, I’ve changed a lot in college but I’m going to try and get back into the good habits I had.

College gave me a lot of time. Suddenly I had all this free time and I realized that it was entirely up to me what I wanted to do with it. The freedom is really great, I won’t deny that, but what I noticed was that I found myself alone a lot.

Maybe it was my intention that some days I just wanted some alone time, but more often than not I found myself realizing that I hadn’t seen or talked to friends in a while. I realized I wasn’t hanging out with people anymore. I was alone.

Now, I know the importance of myself reaching out. Before I always worried that there was a reason I wasn’t seeing or talking to people as often, I mean, there was school so maybe everyone was just busy.

But I feared that I was missing out on so much was because I was unwanted in those moments. After gaining confidence, I've decided won’t isolate myself anymore. I’m an outgoing person, but I won’t be selectively outgoing anymore.

In high school, I could barely go two classrooms down without seeing someone and stopping to talk to them, and I want college to be the same way. It’s really impossible to know everyone at your college but reaching out isn’t that hard for me to do, I’ve just been lazy. I haven’t put in as much effort as I should be putting in and I know that if I want to keep some of the amazing friendships that I currently have, I need to not be distant.

It’s easy to drift away when emotions and events start piling up. Sometimes, the only thing I want to do is just lay in bed and not think about my to-do lists and schedules and problems that I have.

Once I start doing that though, I get sucked in and it becomes so hard to get the energy to get up and move. I don’t want that to be the case anymore. I don’t want to hide away with the “what ifs” and speculation as to why I didn’t go or get invited. From now on, I’m just going to go, and then see what happens.

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This morning, I did the same thing I do every single morning when I wake up. Before my feet hit the floor, I say a prayer. I thank God for waking me up, blessing me with such a good life, and pray for any specific thing that is laying on my heart. Lately, I have been praying a lot for the same person many people in my community have been praying for- Matt McGregor. I have prayed for healing, comfort, strength, and many other things to happen in Matt's journey, but I also prayed that God's will be done in his life above all else. Little did I know yet that His will had been done.

I remember Matt from school. Every time I saw him, everyone around him was laughing. And I am not exaggerating. He was one of those special people who can literally make anyone and everyone laugh no matter the situation. He was one of those people that the world needs around to make life more bearable and just down right better.

Death sucks. Cancer sucks. Yes, I am glad that Matt is no longer suffering, but that does not really give me a sense of relief because I know his family and friends are suffering. I think about Matt's sisters, and cannot fathom the pain that they're feeling. I could not imagine life without my brothers, my kids not getting to grow up and hang out with their cool uncles, and telling on each other to our parents when we all come home for Christmas when we're 40. I think about his parents, who are having to do the hardest thing anyone could have to do, say goodbye to their son. I think about his friends, who's lives will never be the same every time they do something that reminds them that he's no longer here to share life with. He was too young, too full of life. The worst death are the ones that can't be explained, and this one of them.

That's the thing about life, you never know when it's going to end and that is what makes it so fragile. Someone you know passes away, and you suddenly start to contemplate whether you are living your life "good" enough. You wish you'd spent more time with the one who passed, hold on a little tighter to the ones who are still here, and make sure you remind them you love them. But to show someone you love them is much more powerful than telling them, and that is exactly how Matt lived his life. His life light was beaming all the time and he was constantly sharing that with everyone around him. That is part of why he was so special.

When someone dies, they leave their own legacy that is different from every single other person on the planet. Your legacy depends on the amount of light that you have shed on others. Looking through Facebook today, it is so obvious that his light touched so many people. Matt's death has reminded me of those that I have and will continue to lose throughout life... there is no better way to say it than death sucks. But even though death sucks, it reminds us to live our life to the fullest, and continue the legacy of those we've lost.

On a side note, I found it interesting that Matt was barefoot all the time, so I googled being barefoot in biblical times. Moses and Joshua was commanded to take off his shoes as he was standing on holy ground, and poor people did not have shoes so they went barefoot. But this is my favorite: priests in Israel went barefoot while ministering. They would take their shoes off before blessing their people. It is evident that Matt blessed so many people's lives in his short time on this Earth. Coincidence that he was known for always being barefoot? I think not.

Let your life light shine brightly like Matt's, and always live life to the fullest.

. . .

In loving memory of Matt McGregor Jr.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." Revelation 14:13

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2 Years Ago You Raped Me, But Now I'm Stronger Than Ever

"But still, like dust, I'll rise." - Maya Angelou


December 17, 2016.

This will be a day forever etched into my memory, a day that will no longer be just another day in my history books. This is the day you tried to take everything from me, the day you tried to break me, but you did not succeed.

I was your perfect prey. A naive, young 18-year-old who wanted nothing more in the world than to be loved, having had her heart broken so many times before. Your sweet words of affection, like music to my ears, lured me in and made me believe that you were safe, that you could be trusted. You had mastered the skills of predation, and you knew it was only a matter of time before I took the bait.

I was at my best friend's house, enjoying his annual Christmas party, when you texted me. We had been talking in the days prior, but you were growing impatient, eager to see me. You would not be taking no for answer. I originally said that I was busy, but you pressed on with fierce determination and a few coercive lines telling me how beautiful I was and that you didn't want to do anything sexual with me that night, you just couldn't wait any longer.

Eventually, I caved. I had taken the bait and I could imagine you were very pleased with skills of persuasion. You sent the location at which I was to pick you up, because, as I would come to find out, you were too intoxicated to drive.

I made up some bullshit excuse as to why I had to leave the party immediately, but I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew that my friends were the best people in the world and that I should not be abandoning them and their company to go see someone I had known for only a few months, but I was all too vulnerable to attractive men saying all the right things.

As I drove to you, a voice in the back of my head told me to stop, to turn around, to go back to the party, and to leave you in the dust. To this day, I don't know why I didn't listen.

After driving for upwards of 30 minutes and around a neighborhood I had never seen before in my life, I found you, standing outside of a random house holding a bag of weed and a water bottle that I assumed didn't have water in it. You hopped into the passenger seat of my car, reeking of alcohol and weed, so much so that I was almost repulsed by your odor. We began talking, as you had promised, but I knew that was not all you had in store for the evening. You kissed me, and I, not refusing your advances, kissed you back, but that is where my consent would end and your abuse would begin.

Your kisses became more aggressive, your grip became tighter around my neck, and your other hand began moving places I had not allowed it to go. I told you to stop, but as I looked into your beady eyes, I knew you would not listen. I began to panic, repeatedly saying "stop," "no," and "please don't," but it was like talking to a rabid dog - those words meant nothing to you. You tightened your grip around my body, using all of your strength, like a snake suffocating its prey. I thrashed and tried to fight you off, but you were far stronger than I was. As I began gasping for air with your grip clasped tightly around me, I eventually gave up. I figured there was no use fighting anymore - there was no way I could win.

When you were satisfied, you got out of my car and left me lying in the back seat wearing a ripped dress with tears streaming down my face. You did not care about whether or not I got home safely since you had already taken what you desired.

The next day, my mom came to me asking me about my night, and I told her everything I could remember. I knew something horrible had happened, but she was the first to realize that I had been raped.

This happened at the worst possible time in my life. I was halfway through my senior year of high school and in the midst of applying to 13 colleges. I had 24 essays to write by January 1st and less than half a month to do it. My mom knew that too, but she also knew I was extremely damaged. She told me that I didn't have to do this, that I could take a gap year and recover from the intense trauma I just went through. But, that last bit of flame in me that you had not managed to burn out immediately said no. I declared, only about 12 hours after you raped me, that I was not going to let you ruin my life.

I had plans for myself, plans that there was no way in hell I was going to let you interfere with. I wanted to have a full life. I wanted to go to college, learn new things, and ultimately discover who I was meant to be, and I was not going to let anything or anyone put those plans on hold.

In those two weeks that followed, I discovered a whole new level of resilience in myself that I didn't even think possible. I fought back against you and your horrible deeds and found the strength to not just go on, but to thrive.

So, despite your efforts to break me, you did not succeed. In those weeks and months that followed, I discovered how strong I truly was and now, two years later, I do not deny that you changed me, but it was not for the worse, it was for the better. I left that vulnerable and scared girl behind and I rose up out of the ashes you had spread in my life 100 times stronger and as a whole new powerful woman.

Now, I am an advocate for other survivors, because of you. Now, I am not afraid to speak out, because of you. Now, I know who I was truly meant to be, because of you. Now, I love myself, because of you. I went to hell and back and found myself along the way, and although I would have preferred a different journey of self-discovery, I'm happy that I unlocked this version of myself early. Now, this strong and resilient woman can handle anything life throws at her. So, in the words of Maya Angelou, "You may trod me in the very dirt/But still, like dust, I'll rise."

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