It Will Be Us

NOTE: For any of this to make sense, please see the first post linked here.

The Pregnancy

When I found out I was pregnant, it wasn’t pretty. I stood in the bathroom looking at those two small pink lines and I was freaking out. I wanted to get pregnant, obviously, but I had this feeling of guilt, like in some way Chris is going to think that I tricked him. He’s going to kill me. He was right. What am I going to do?

I walked back out to the living room visibly shaken. Chris was laying on the couch. I said “Hey, I’ll be right back I need to go to Walgreen’s.” He sat up and said “What? Now? Why?”  It was about 6:30 pm. We’d been out all day. I’m pretty sure we’d gone to Walgreen’s earlier, too. I didn’t know what to say but it was obvious I didn’t think the lie through. “I just need something, I’ll be back.” He was confused. He could tell something was off. I threw on some flip flops and ran out to the car. I sped down to Walgreen’s for a digital test. Two lines on a measly strip of paper weren’t enough. Maybe they were lying. Maybe I’d left the strip alone for too long without looking at it. I needed the little window on a long plastic stick to say either “pregnant” or “not pregnant”

When I got home, I was so sweaty from the adrenaline rush and the panic of explaining everything to Chris. I knew what his reaction was going to be. This was not going to be the Instagram Story viral sensation of 2017. This was not going to get us a surprise guest spot on Ellen for the cutest pregnancy announcement of the year.  

Chris was suspicious from the second I walked in the door. Like, what the fuck is wrong with you. I went to the bathroom without saying anything to him; I peed on the stick. It said “pregnant” in under a minute. I nervously walked out to him and started to cry. I showed him the test and I could immediately see his frustration. He smiled, but not a happy smile. It was definitely a you have to be fucking kidding me smile. He sat up, and still didn’t say anything. I went over to him and sat on the floor at his feet, almost as if pleading with him to understand. I just start rambling on about how I didn’t know I was ovulating when we had sex and that this wasn’t planned and I didn’t know, but also highlighting the whole it takes two to tango concept.

While I’m blabbering through intermittent tears he gets up and starts wandering around the house looking for something; he finally finds them – his shoes. He was getting ready to leave. I say “What are you doing?! Where are you going?!” Just as I had not explained my abrupt leaving, he was not explaining his. And that was it. He left. The only thing he said before he left the house was “If you need to talk you can call your mom.” Which, goes without saying, I had called her on the way to Walgreen’s and told her everything while freaking out and trying not to get in an accident. She was thrilled, this baby is gonna be so cute! But she too sort of knew Chris would not be as excited.  

Chris was gone for four hours. He didn’t answer my phone calls and eventually turned off his phone. He didn’t respond to any of my 30ish text messages which ranged from “I’m sorry” to “Are you fucking kidding me?” to “I love you, we will figure this out” to “Are you joking? Is this a joke?” I eventually had exhausted myself with tears and panic and went and laid in bed waiting for him to get home.

For the last four hours every thought possible ran through my head. We just signed paperwork to build our house. How are we going to pay for a baby? We have to furnish said house. We’re getting out of debt. How much are diapers? We just got married. He was right; we should have waited. We’ll never go on a vacation again. I need to start taking vitamins. I’m going to get fat. I’m already fat. So i’m just going to get fatter! I need to cut out sugar. Should I cut out coffee? All caffeine? Can I still have cheese? When is Chris coming home? Is he going to resent me? He’s going to think I tricked him. He’s going to think that I knew I was ovulating that day. Is he going to love this baby? Is it going to still love me? But really, can I still have cheese? I’m going to get so fat.

He finally came home. He came in the room and laid down. Even in the dark while we laid there together quietly, I could tell he was exhausted, too. He was mad, but still calm. Something that I appreciate about him. He has an unearthly strength in his ability to be composed at all times.  I find frustration with this sometimes. Sometimes I want to see some fire in him, ya know? He said he wasn’t mad at me. That this was unexpected and he just needed time to process it. That we will figure it out and it will be okay. I told him he can’t just leave like that again and not communicate. He apologized. I remember feeling like he maybe didn’t fully mean it. But just as I refuse to apologize for my feelings and emotions, he doesn’t need to apologize for his. We went to sleep and we didn’t talk about how that night went ever again. But his reaction broke my heart. We will not be invited on Ellen.

The Miscarriage

Being pregnant was fine. I was mostly just always tired. And I always had cramps. I always felt like I was on the verge of getting my period. It made me nervous that something was wrong. Everyday up until our ultrasound I took a pregnancy test just to make sure it still said positive. Don’t worry, I just used the little strips that came with the ovulation kit. I wasn’t throwing away money on digitals. In sum, my boobs were sore, my ovaries ached, and I wanted to sleep all day.

And yes, Chris totally warmed up to the idea of our little family. We picked out potential names. We started an Amazon wish list. We told our parents, siblings and best friends. We started eating right. I started sleeping – all the time.

At what would have been 6 weeks 4 day  we went to the doctor. We thought he’d confirm the pregnancy but told us it was too soon for anything. “Walgreens tests are accurate,” he said. “Start taking some prenatal vitamins. Get sleep. Don’t eat soft cheese. Don’t eat processed meats. Blah. Blah. Blah.” He basically said a lot of “you can’t” and ordered a truly expensive round of blood work. On the way home from Quest Diagnostic I started to cry. I’m sure Chris thought it was my hormones. It probably was. But, I was thinking I can’t have any of the good cheese. 

At 7 weeks 4 days we went back to the doctor for our first ultrasound. It had been about three and a half weeks since we found out.  We sat in the lobby for about an hour before they called me back to the exam room. It was just Chris and I and the ultrasound tech. She was really pretty and I wondered how much money she made. I laid down on the table, Chris sat next to me and got out his phone. The tech told him not to start filming yet until we hear a heartbeat. She started the ultrasound. That early, it’s a transvaginal ultrasound.  It was rather uncomfortable. Chris was really uncomfortable, which was amusing. She took whatever measurements she needed and then turned on what sounded like white nose. And that’s all it was. She said “hmm” and I said “what’s wrong?” She turned the machine off. Removed the speculum, and said “Well, nothing is wrong, we just need to talk to the doctor. You can get dressed and we’ll take you over to another exam room.” I sat up and sighed. I knew. No heartbeat. I looked at the floor and the corners of my mouth turned down. My eyes started to water. The tech said… “okay…” but in a tone that made me want to gouge her eyes out. Like, okay well I’m not going to deal with your tears.  She left the room. I didn’t cry. I got dressed and we went into another exam room.

We waited for the doctor for about 10 minutes. When he finally came in he got right to it. He shook hands with Chris and sat down; photos of the ultrasound in hand. He didn’t want to show them to us. He wouldn’t let us keep them. He said “well we’re looking at a possible twin miscarriage.” There were two sacs. “We should hear heartbeats at this point, but just to be sure we can do another ultrasound next week to see if one of the sacs absorbs the other and we could maybe still get a heartbeat. If not, we can go ahead and schedule a D and C.”

We had so many questions. “Twins?” “Could it still just be too early?” “What’s a D and C?” “Is there still hope?” “When can we try again?” “How far along was I?” “Twins? As in two?” “Why did this happen?” “Did I do something wrong?” “What could I have done better” “What did my blood work say?”

The measurements of both sacs were at 6 weeks 4 days; so a week behind. My progesterone levels were very low from the prior week’s blood work. Everything else on the blood work was completely fine. He just said “these things happen” and “there’s a 5% chance you’ll have a second miscarriage” He doubted it would happen again. He wanted to give us hope. I felt defeated.

As soon as we walked out of the exam room and walked up to the counter to pay I started to cry. I mean more like, sob, sort of loudly. I was embarrassed, but also had so many other emotions I was not expecting or prepared to experience. The lady behind the counter said “If you need to cry you can go into that exam room until you’re done.” I wanted to punch her. I said “No, I’m fine” and told Chris to pay. I left him there and went out to my car. Chris had taken a separate car that day but came over to mine and sat in the passenger seat when he was done paying. He put his arm around me. I ask him, “Are you sad?” and he said he was, too. I cried for a few more minutes. When I stopped I said,  “Of course this happened. Of course we lost it. I knew it. Those fucking cramps. I knew something was wrong.” We sat there for a few more minutes in silence and then we both headed home.

At 8 weeks 4 days we had our second ultrasound. We had the same tech. This time my mom came. It lasted all of 30 seconds. No heartbeats. No sacs this time. We scheduled the D and C for August 8th.

And that was that.

It just wasn’t meant to be. Those weren’t our babies.  I got really depressed for a while — like, a good four-ish months. I do still cry sometimes. I’m tearing just writing “those weren’t our babies.” I had wanted this so badly. Even through the fear and doubt, I wanted this. I want this; motherhood. I want a relationship with our little boy or girl who is going to challenge me every day to be a better person. Who will love me no matter what, just the way I know my parents love me. I want our own little family. One that is made up of all of the good parts of both Chris and myself. But everything about that pregnancy wasn’t right. Not the way it happened, or how we reacted to it, or how it felt, or how I told my mom. None of it was ever right.

But what caused this? And that’s what I can’t stop thinking about every single day since. It’s what fuels me to write again. To hash all of this out. What did I do wrong? Were those cramps normal? Is it because I’m obese? Did we wait too long to go to the doctor? Should I have started my vitamins sooner? Is it because I was stressed out about how we were going to pay for it? Was it because I ate a McFlurry and got listeria? Was it because we responded badly? And also, why not me? We did everything right. We dated for years before we moved in together and got married, we have great jobs, a house, nice cars, loving families. Why not us? Chris will be the best dad. I’ll be an okay mom, but Chris! Will be the best dad. Why not us?

It will be us. Somehow. Someway. Someday. It will be us.

My Next Post: PCOS

NOTE II: Chris is fully aware of this blog and all details there within. I would not post without his approval.

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Being A Woman is A Messy Business

So, I had a miscarriage last year. I don’t really talk about it with anyone. Which is difficult because there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. As much as I love talking about myself (#selfawareness), I don’t want to bombard people with how sad I feel sometimes. I don’t even talk to Chris about everything I think in one day. It’s no one’s problem but my own. Some days are better than others. But some days I cry even if I seem fine, and some days I’m more optimistic that we’ll one day be blessed with our own sweet little baby.

So, I’m here to vent about what I’ve been struggling with this last year and a half. My long, heavy periods, then nonexistent periods, then a surprise pregnancy, followed by a surprise miscarriage, followed up with deep depression, a PCOS diagnosis, weight gain, nine months of infertility issues, monthly trips to my OB for Clomid, strips upon strips of ovulation tests, and let’s not forget: LOTS of “we’re having sex tonight, I don’t want to miss my window.” Note: Do NOT feel bad for Chris. He’s never had this much consistent sex in his life.

So, here’s my story. Few people know all the details. Some of you may judge me. Some of you may think it’s “TMI.”  Some of you may find comfort in my honesty. But ultimately, this is my truth and its therapeutic for me to share it.  You’re more than welcome to hit the “x” in the top right corner of your screen. But, I do promise a few laughs along the way.


On December 11, 2016 after no period for 63 days, I got my period. I remember this exact date because it was the day of my bridal shower. I got my period that day, and I had it for the next 65 days. And this wasn’t just any period. It was heavy; it was laborious; it was painful. I had it though Christmas. I had it through New Years. I had it right on up through my wedding day – February 3rd, 2017. Ten minutes before I was set to walk down the aisle I could feel a little stream beginning to run down my leg. My mother, sister, and I tracked down a server and asked her to contact our wedding coordinator for a tampon. Silly me, I should have known to stuff one down my corset! We then huddled in the handicap stall while my mom and sister threw my beautiful, white, princess dress over my head like a graceful lily in bloom and I somehow managed to avoid my own rendition of the Red Wedding.

I had my period all throughout our honeymoon in NYC where, much to my dismay, there are NO public restrooms. At one point on a cold, raining day, I stood in the back of a CVS with tears streaming down my face exhausted from the constant flow.  I’d gone through my fifth tampon by noon, cramping and in pain. I knew nothing could be done from New York but I called my OB in Florida to beg for an appointment the day I was to return home. This had to stop.

The day we got back we went up to Jacksonville for my OB appointment. She prescribed some progesterone and sent me on my way. Within days it was finally gone.

That month I started birth control. My doctor said this was the easiest way for me to regulate my periods, and so I went on the pill.  We’d just gotten married so I wasn’t necessarily thinking about getting pregnant. However, the internet exists. And I am prone to go down long rambling rabbit holes that lead to a hypochondriacs worse nightmare.  After reading up on irregular periods, I got it in my head that it would be difficult for me to get pregnant. After all, before my long 65 day period, my periods were approximately every 60 days and when I would get one, they were very light.

Years before, when I’d notice the long cycles and addressed this issue with my OB she said “well you’re probably not ovulating.” I can still remember her saying it while leaning up against the cabinets in the small exam room. Her arms crossed over her white lab coat and her french tipped pedicured toes sticking out from her flip flops and peaking below the hem of her wide leg linen pants. I remember hearing that statement and thinking why is she dressed like she’s going to the beach. I was not thinking well that’s a problem. I wasn’t concerned with her statement. She didn’t seem concerned, why should I? But now, the internet says it’s an issue so is IS an issue. I’m 31, overweight, and it doesn’t look good from here on out…I was driving myself crazy thinking we need to start figuring this out, and trying to get pregnant! STAT!

On June 1st, 2017, after 4 months, I stopped taking the pill and I bought a pack of ovulation strips via Amazon. Eighteen days later, Chris and I had an impromptu practice session. On day 19, I took my first ovulation test.  I texted a picture of the results to my bestie who was suffering from a severe bout of baby fever and versed in the art of positive ovulation lines. She confirmed that it was, in fact, a positive test. She then informed me that the day before you get the positive test is the best day to “practice” when hoping for a positive pregnancy test. My first thought: FUCK!

A little backstory: Chris and I have talked about children. We both want them. I want three; he wants two. So, we’ll have three. When I said I wanted to go off birth control, we got in a mini fight about it. My stance was “I think it will be hard for me to get pregnant because I have horrible periods and I don’t think I’m ovulating. You have to ovulate to get pregnant. I’m probably NOT going to get pregnant, but we have to try!” His stance was, “You’ll so full of it. Watch, you’ll get pregnant on the first try.”

So, three weeks later on a Sunday afternoon, Chris and I get home from a long day date. We’re watching a movie on the couch and I get up to use the bathroom. The ovulation strips I bought come with a few pregnancy tests. I take one. Put it on the counter. Forget about it for about two hours. I go back into the bathroom for something. See the strip and think Oh yeah… I forgot about that. Look closely, and there are two dark pink lines. My heart stops. My first thought: FUCK! Text photo of strip to baby-fever-bestie she said “Um, you’re pregnant.” My first words: “FUUUCK.”

My next post: The Pregnancy 

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To Marry?


About a month after Chris and I moved in together we went on a long drive. A few days before, he’d accidentally run over a Christmas tree that was laying in the middle of the road. It was dark out that night. Before he noticed it, it was too late to get over to another lane. So he got a really awesome, brand new, Dodge 2500 to borrow while his Charger was in the body shop. We took this opportunity to go on a nice drive.

Somewhere along the way though, we got into an argument. I don’t know how it started, but this argument turned into one of our biggest fights. Not like the kind of fight where you realize 10 minutes in that you’re both being ridiculous. The kind of fight where you’re like “what are we doing together?” What was supposed to be a nice drive turned into a terrible evening full of tears.

I said I didn’t want him to keep anything from me. And somehow, I don’t remember how, but he said “you have a lot of things to work on” and that spiraled out. The word “marriage” came up, my past relationships became a huge factor, and the word “regret” was used in many contexts. I don’t know. I don’t remember all of it. Which, I think is good, because what was awful then, made us stronger and it’s over now.

What was important about this night is that there was a really long bubble of silence between us. Once he said what he said, we both got quiet. When we got home, it stayed quiet. I think we were both worried about us. I think he was thinking “why am I with her” and I was definitely thinking “why is he with me.” I knew I wanted him. Him. Chris Smith–exactly how he was. And I’d done so much work on myself. I didn’t have any regrets regarding my past, because there was no point. I couldn’t change any of it. I also loved the person I’d become. All the decisions I’d made leading up to that point, made me me. Didn’t he love me? Yes, my choices weren’t always the best. Most of them were really awful decisions. But ultimately, I liked the person I’d grown into and I didn’t want to change for him. The fact that he said “you have a lot of things to work on” really pissed me off. Yes, it’s true… I need to work on things, I’m human, but I wasn’t going to change. I thought I’d made that clear.

Before Chris, I’d done a lot of shape-shifting with every prior relationship. I’d compromised my morals, values, and my character to please the men I gave my heart to, and every time they handed it back to me broken. It went on for years. Boy after boy. I completely broke down who I really was to become the woman that I thought they wanted me to be. Chris knew that.  We’d talked about it. So, now I felt like he was telling me that I needed to change for him and I was not about to do that. He even said, “you did it for them, so why can’t you do it for me?” But, I was done with all of that. He was supposed to be my person. You shouldn’t have to change for your person. So, I was heartbroken that this is what he was asking.

After a long while of not talking, he came to me to talk it out. He said he didn’t want to lose me and that he wanted to fight for me; that the silence was really bad. So we talked. We admitted our faults. We listened to one another’s needs and concerns. We apologized. We made up.

At the very end of our conversation, I asked him an important question. He was standing at the kitchen sink, filling up our Brita water pitcher. I was sitting on the couch on the other side of the room. I very seriously asked him, “Do you see yourself marrying me?” He thought about it for a second and then he looked over and said, “Yes, I do.” The mood in the air changed in a way I didn’t think it could after a night like that. With a huge grin on my lips, I asked almost (almost) jokingly, “Oh yeah, like we could get engaged this year? Like in 2015?” and he said matter-of-factly, “Yeah. I don’t see why not.”

A few weeks later he told me to start looking at engagement rings.

A few weeks after that, what clearly looked like a bill from a diamond company, showed up in our mailbox. I tucked the envelope back in the box with the rest of the mail so he wouldn’t know that I saw it when he came to pick it up.

This was February 2015.
He proposed December 31, 2015.



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Work It Out!

Something clicked in me and so I’ve proactively begun to better myself. I’ve diligently exercised every day for two weeks and last night, for the first time in over a year, I ran two miles in 27 minutes and 30 minutes straight without stopping. The walk/run was my go-to workout but honestly; it was usually the walk/run/walk-most-of-it, so I’m very proud of myself for this feat. I’ve been working hard to try and actually run for an extended period of time every day, even if it’s only for a mile without stopping and then walk/run for 45 minutes. So, last night I kept thinking I think I can, I think I can! And two miles were out of the way in no time!

So, I came home and made the lofty decision, that since this weekend is to be the first weekend of no rain; all sunshine, 80-degree, perfect weather, I should pull out my favorite pair of cut off jean shorts from the infamous “Someday These Will Fit Me Again Pile” so perfectly tucked away, out of sight and mind, in the top corner of my closet. Like somehow a 30-minute run magically transformed me into a slender version of myself again. I thought Oh, why not! They might fit! Yeah, hell no. They did not fit. I mean, I can get them up over my thighs but to button them would be a joke. I can’t even cinch them closed. I used to be able to slide them on and off without unbuttoning them. I’m not only embarrassed but I’m devastated. I feel like I’ve totally just left myself go. 

At the beginning of the month I finally gave into Chris’s incessant plea for me to attempt weight training, an offer I’ve refused for almost two years now. Weight training is quite different than my usual workout, which mainly consists of cardio until I’m bored. So, over the last few weeks I’ve allowed Chris to impress upon me his knowledge of iron and brawn. I’ll admit, I was, and maybe still am, a bit reluctant. I’m already a big girl and I’m terrified that the fat I have will turn into bulky muscle and I’ll look like a big, red curly-haired, lesbian bodybuilder. I’m hoping this theory comes to no fruition and my experiment with free weights will work in my favor.

Chris has explained to me that if I lift lower weights with higher repetitions I’ll build lean muscle and burn more calories than I normally do during my walk/run routine. I’ve heard this before, but I’m still skeptical. I used to run four miles every day and I lost 18 pounds in eight weeks. So, I know that works. Then again, I was a server, standing on my feet 40 hours a week, perspiring quite generously all over tourists’ Migas and Pork Asada before heading for my daily run outside in 98-degree weather, in the summertime in Texas. The only benefit my 8-5 counseling gig has afforded my body is a larger bra size, and let’s be honest, that really only benefits my boyfriend. A 45-minute walk/run isn’t going to cut it so, I figured why not? I gave into his advice and hope for the best.

I’ve honestly learned quiet a bit and look forward to challenging myself everyday. So far in my routines, I’ve focused on a new area for five days a week, rotating between back, shoulders, legs, arms and chest; a different area each day. On the 6th day I just do cardio. I take one day off to rest. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve learned a lot about what my body can and can’t do and I’ve completed workouts that I never thought in a million years I would ever attempt. My least favorite thing so far is when Chris says, “burn it out.” Which means, “do it until it hurts and then do it until it really hurts.” I assume I look like I totally know what I’m doing when I’m there and everyone is impressed with my abilities.

Aside from the workout, I know I need to start focusing on what I put into my body, too. Most of the time I’m pretty good about it. Greek yogurt for breakfast, hummus and carrots for lunch, fresh Salmon once a week like clockwork. I also take pride in the fact that I don’t eat fast food, unless Chipotle is factored into that equation, which I have maybe once a month. A veggie burrito with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, corn salsa and Pico de gallo with guacamole and sour cream is my jam. Eff getting a burrito bowl, give me a wrap of floury deliciousness. I’m yours Chipotle. You had me at burrito.

But, I hang my head in shame. My belly is my fault. As I’ve said before, the Publix bakery is my best friend, and a major contributor to the increase in numbers on the scale. Breaking-down everything I’ve put in my body in the last few weeks, the things that stick out to me most are definitely the BOGO’s pints of ice cream, the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese from a local restaurant on date night, and the more than a few alcoholic beverages at Blues Festival last weekend that had me passed out on the couch at 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday night.  Oh, and I ate a piece of cake at work from a going-away party for a coworker. And all the crap I ate totally canceled out my awesome workouts.

After the shorts fiasco, I made Chris take pictures of me in my sports bra and a pair of shorts, like the before versions on the Hydroxycut commercials. I didn’t know what I was going to see but after he took them I sat on the side of the bed disgusted with myself and really sad that I’ve gotten this big. I immediately wanted to delete the pictures but, they’re part of this challenge; they’re my reinforcement when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to go to the gym. It also helps that Chris is so supportive. When he saw how sad I was he came over, kissed me and said, “I think you’re beautiful. We’ll do this together.” #bestboyfriendever

The jean shorts got me down but this just the beginning. I started something new and I already feel so much healthier, stronger even. I’m getting better sleep, I’m in a better mood than I have been in a long time and I actually look forward to heading to the gym. I’m focused and determined.  The jean shorts will sit on the top of my dresser in plain view as a reminder of my goals. Oh, Ben and Jerry’s is Buy One Get One? Not for this lady! Wine and pizza is only a dollar at the pizza place tonight? Not for me!  It’s a battle, but I’m determined not to get bigger and get back into those shorts for the summertime! Ready. Set. Keep on going! 

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Adventures in Pryor Family Camping Trips

We went camping a lot when I was a kid. Most summer vacations were weeklong trips to a KOA or a state park. There were several weekends throughout my childhood where mom had to work and since dad was a teacher with weekends off, he would throw all the gear in the back of his Suzuki Trooper and we’d head for the campground. What are you supposed to do with small children, anyway? You take them to the woods, teach them how to put up a tent, build a fire and let them run around until they’re exhausted.

As a child I loathed camping. We went a lot. I mean, a lot. And camping in Florida is maybe, a little bit, just like being in hell for an overweight child. It’s always 100 degrees in the summertime. Also, fat girls are not prone to any type of strenuous activity or really, movement of any kind. Exercise is directly correlated with sweating and fat children already sweat more than normal children just by simply standing in one spot. So, I always dreaded having to put the camp gear together because I knew it was going to be a long weekend of profuse perspiration while having to perform manual labor.

Camping is not all rainbows and sunshine, swimming in the lake, and singing Kumbaya in front of the fire while you roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories. For our family it included but was not limited to: having to stop 15 times on the way there for one of the kids to pee or dad pulling off the side of I-95 to reprimand us for pinching or kicking each other–Dad she won’t stop looking at me! Standing in the hot sun, puzzle-piecing together tent poles that are bent or missing altogether. Dad screaming: “GOD BLESS AMERICA! WHERE ARE THE STAKES! WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THEM!” for the whole campground to hear, then pulls everything out of the back of the SUV only to realize they were left on the front porch. Ants getting in the food, ticks behind your ears. Raccoons digging through the trash and having to clean it up the next morning. Discovering there are holes in the tarp during a rainstorm. Discovering there are holes in the air mattress when you wake up on the cold, hard ground. Spiders in the tent, dirt in your shoes, and dirty underwear from the previous user left on the shower floor. Roaches the size of your hand in the bathroom stall. Oh, and never forget to bring your own toilet paper. Always such a good time!

We started out tent camping but then dad got smart and we eventually upgraded to a popup camper, which wasn’t necessarily less work but it cut the set-up and breakdown time in half. We got more time to run around making friends with the other kids in the neighborhood and we definitely got to sleep in more comfortable beds. As we got older we got to invite friends to our weekend trips when mom couldn’t come and my dad had his camping buddy, Mr. Rick, who would also had a popup camper and two young kids our age.

I will admit that I have some pretty great memories from our camping trips. I learned how to ride a bicycle at Manatee Springs State Park. I saw a pelican for the first time at a campground in Key West when I was in the 3rd grade. I discovered my love for hot air balloons at Spirit of the Suwanee State Park when I was in middle school. I will never forget the hundreds of Daddy Long-Leg spiders inside the screened-in room attached to the side of the camper, during our trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. We were there for a week and I spent most of the week freaking out and crying because I refused to go in there until dad killed them all and could prove to me that they were dead. The first time I ever held a boy’s hand was at Anastasia State Park. As we walked down to the communal fire pit he grabbed my hand and asked me to be his girlfriend. I was 10. I loved going to see the Hoop-Dee-Doo Review when we stayed at the Fort Wilderness Campground at Disney World and we always got brunch our last morning there at the restaurant on site. The mini waffles in the shape of Mickey Mouse were a must.

Our enthusiasm for camping eventually died out. Mom became a store manager and dad went back to school to get his PhD. My sister, brother and I also grew up and became more involved in school and our lives. My parents sold the camper and family vacations became few and far between. But when we did go they were cruises to Mexico and Alaska, cabin rentals in the mountains and resorts on the beach. No complains from the kids and there was significantly less sweat involved for me unless I was in a bathing suit on the sand or by the pool.

There has recently been lot of talk of reliving the glory days and purchasing a new camper. One for my parents, obviously, but to be used for family excursions, as well. My parents fond memories of our camping trips consist of the kids doing all the work while they sat in their lawn chairs with their feet propped up on the icebox, reading the latest Faye Kellerman novel while slurping on a diet coke and snacking on Pringles. They forget pulling over on the side of the road, no hot water or power half the time, it being either extremely hot or extremely cold and the infamous screaming at each other to shut up, its not my fault! I didn’t do it, she did! Dad!

Alas, they’ve decided they’re getting to the age where planning for retirement is a necessity and feel the need to invest in a vehicle to fulfill their desire for adventure and relaxation. My siblings and I were hoping for a three-story vacation home on the side of a lake somewhere along the Appalachian Trail. One we could borrow for romantic getaways with our significant others. One that didn’t require assembly. But each visit home there is a new brochure laying on the coffee table for different brand of travel trailers. Now it seems their decision is set in stone and they’re just deciding between an AirStream or a Coachman.

I think they stole the idea from our neighbors who traveled to a different state each summer when they retired and became empty nesters. They would ask my sister and I to babysit their cats for them when they would go away on trips. They had magnets on their refrigerator for each state they visited. This was probably twenty years ago, and even then they were only missing a few states, which I thought was amazing. How do people have so much time to go to all the states!? One day after we fed the cats we gave ourselves a self-guided tour through their two-story house. I have never admitted that and to this day I still feel terrible to being such a sneak. We didn’t take anything, I swear.

I have to admit though; the idea of getting to go camping with the family again excites me! Yeah, my parents have their luxury suite on wheels and my siblings and I will probably be stuck putting together another tent riddled with holes but, they’re new memories that we get to build with my nieces and Chris who has never been camping a day in his life and said “your parent’s know I’m a black man, right” when he heard that the family vacation this summer was a camping trip.

A Pryor Family Vacation is never without screams of frustration and at least one: “God Bless America! Where the heck are the ______ (fill in the blank).” But, there will be memories made and hopefully funny stories to be told for many years to come. I hope my parents get to have 50 magnets to put on their fridge in the shape of the US and that we get to be along for the ride to a few of them.

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I worry obsessively about things that should really not bother me and probably wouldn’t bother most people. I allow them to snowball into something much bigger than they actually are. I get overly emotional sometimes even a bit hysterical. I know, ridiculous. But it’s true.

My parents have told me that I am the child they worry about the most. I have put them through hell. They’ve told me that they’ve laid in bed many nights worrying about what bad decision I’m going to make next or when the next bout of depression or panic attack will be. They worry about me worrying, I think.

I remember when I decided to move home to Florida I would stay up for days straight trying to figure out how I would pack everything, how many hours it would take for me to get home, how much money it would cost, if I would still be able to keep my old room. If I’m going to keep my old room where would my bed go? Would it fit? Were mom and dad going to clean out the closet before I got there? Would I get a job? If I don’t get a job what am I going to do for money? I hope I don’t run into anyone I know. If I run into people I know what will they think of me? They’ll probably judge me because of my tattoos. No, they’ll judge me because I had to moved home. I’ve gained so much weight since high school. I’m a fat, tattooed slob that gave up.  I worried myself sick, literally. I threw up almost every day before I made it back to Florida. I exhausted myself. I cried a lot. I called home a lot. My dad said: “Kim, you do not need to be worrying about this,” a lot. Yeah, I’m 27.

I spend a large amount of time stressing about work. Not about the amount of work I have to do or the difficulty but I’m always on edge about getting fired. I have never been fired from a job and I take pride in having a strong work ethic. But, I’m scared that I’m not informative enough, or I lack excitement and enthusiasm with new admits or I’m just throwing around all the wrong information. Or, that I might mess up someone’s financial aid or degree plan by giving them bad advice. I worry that I’m not professional, that my jokes are inappropriate, that my sweaters are too faded or my shoes are scuffed. I worry that they think I’m lying when I have a cold and use my leave. I worry that they’ll find out about my blog and fire me. I worry that if I’m not 10 minutes early then I’m late. I worry that they don’t think I’m smart enough.

Three of my superiors wrote recommendation letters for me for my graduate school application and I’m just today giving them Thank You cards. I’m worried they think I’m ungrateful. I mean, I felt sick to my stomach over this. Because I was admitted weeks ago and never gave them a formal thank you note.

I spent a good two weeks going over and over a financial aid presentation I was supposed to give to 200 prospective students and their parents. The night before my presentation I didn’t sleep. I went over it twice and timed it with the stopwatch on my phone. The next morning 35 people showed up and I nailed the presentation. I was so excited about it when it was over because it was a piece of cake. NBD. But, I worried about it for two weeks and almost cried I was so nervous about it.

So, this last week I’ve had high stress and anxiety. Over things that don’t really matter but I think it might make me feel a little bit better if I put it out there. So here is my list of just things that have been bothering me.

First, Chris and I are going to Disney World for Spring Break. I do not get on roller coasters.  I’m terrified of having a brain aneurysm or the jolt from the take-off or the stop will dislocate my spine and I’ll be paralyzed. I cried hysterically the first time I went on Splash Mountain. We purchased the family picture from the ride. The one they take when the flume drops. Everyone in the photo has their hands in the air, beaming with excitement. I, on the other hand, am the only person in the photograph gripping the rails in front of me, mid-blood curdling scream, if you look up close, you can see tears of fear streaming down my face. So, no, I’m not into anything that has “Mountain” in the name or could potentially end your life. That being said, I’m mostly worried about frustrating Chris by not getting on anything other than like It’s A Small World and Peter Pan.

I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday. I haven’t taken my cholesterol medicine in a few weeks and I just had blood work done. I know the numbers will be high again and my doctor will be disappointed in me and tell me that I need to lose weight. Therefore, I worry that I’ll die of heart disease at an early age because I love bacon and avoid the gym to eat Chipotle.

I’m worried that I have no eggs left and I won’t be able to bear children. If I am fortunate enough to have children I’m afraid I’ll be an old mom because Chris wants to wait until we’re established, responsible adults, which, Hi, is a long way off for me.

I’m scared that I’ll die in a car accident because my car will run off the road into a lake or a ditch and I won’t be able to get out. Chris recently bought me one of those knives that cuts your seat belt and breaks your window, just for my peace of mind. I will take several alternative routes if I know there is going to be traffic over a body of water and I’m stuck on a bridge for an extended period of time. I don’t care if it’s longer.

I also have pretty terrible social anxiety. This has been an ongoing issue for me. My friends make me feel guilty about not going out with them and only seeing me once or twice a month. Chris hates that we only ever go out to eat and I have lived here almost two years and still don’t know where the best bars in town are located. I don’t like large groups of people. I don’t like parties or clubs. I rarely go to bars. I’m not big on chit-chat. I leave places early. I avoid goodbyes. Mostly because I worry about what other people think of me. How I look. The things I say; whether I’m funny or not. That people think my humor and sarcasm is heartless or that I’m too negative; that I really am a mean-spirited and selfish girl. I’m worried that that’s true. I’m trying to establish compromise in my relationships. This is very hard for me because I’m not open to new things.

On top of all that I feel like I really hurt a friend’s feelings by not offering her a place to stay in a time of need. I probably should have but Mark was not interested in another person sleeping on our couch, which I understand. But, I still feel like a terrible person. And she probably thinks I am one because we just danced around the subject with passive aggressive comments over social media about how I’m a bad friend for not offering up a pallet on my floor. “Haha Kim, You’re such a bitch, I would let you stay with me…Just sayin’!” That kind of thing. But honestly, I worried for a good three days about whether or not this was something I should really worry about and then worried about the kind of person I am and how I portray myself to other people, especially people I care about. I worried about how much I cared or didn’t care about her situation and finally had to talk myself into letting it go. Adele Dazeem, Idina Menzel (?) would tell me to let it go.  Let it goooo, Let it goooo! She seemed to not be too upset about it when I told her I asked Mark and it was a no go for her sleeping at our place. So I feel like I stressed for no reason.

I know that this is utterly ridiculous and it may even sound made up but this is a very real and serious issue for me. I feel like my heart is going to explode in my chest and I have no control over my emotions or my feelings, I get clammy and break out in cold sweats. I lose sleep, I make myself sick, I cry a lot. If only it allowed me to stop eating, if anything I’m confronted by food, it calms me down a bit, I suppose.

Thankfully, it hasn’t gotten that bad in a while but this last week was a rough one for me. I’m always on the edge of a panic attack about one thing or the next. So, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do moving forward. Other than suck it up and try not to freak out and take more naps. And no, I’m not interested in Xanex or Prozac.

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Box Full of Bad Memories

I have always kept a shoebox full of junk. There are small trinkets of things I can’t let go of. Old pairs of sunglasses, buttons with funny sayings on them, comment cards given to me from former guests I had the pleasure of serving, old notes passed between friends in middle school. I keep my box underneath my bed. I very rarely pull it out and look through these items and I’m only reminded of their presence when I’m searching for a missing sock or earring and pull up the bed skirt and see that it’s still tucked away, between old books and picture frames.

They are memories from different times and places that I like to be reminded of from time to time. Like a certain scent that reminds you of your grandmother’s house in the summertime or a song that reminds you of the day you got your first car and you drove around town with the windows down and the radio up.

About a month ago, out of the blue, mid conversation about something unimportant Chris says to me: “How long are you planning on keeping those letters that you have under your bed?” I know exactly what letters he’s talking about. I was taken aback by the fact that he even knows I have letters under my bed and I felt a bit disappointed in him for going through my things. He told me he saw them when we we’re fixing the box spring last fall. He said he took note of the name scribbled on the top of the envelopes. I said: “I don’t know, I never thought about it before. But I’ve never had any plans to dispose of them.”

The letters are from my ex boyfriend from when he was in jail in 2006. There are probably two-dozen or so. I’ve never re-read them since that time; I just keep them in my junk box. I would say for no reason but I’m sure there are numerous deep in my subconscious for why I haven’t disposed of them yet.

Last night I was laying in bed, thinking about these old pins that I have kept since high school. They too are in my box of junk. I crawled down onto the floor and dug around for the box beneath my bed. I pulled it out and placed it on my lap. As soon as I lifted the top of the box the letters popped out at me. I hadn’t forgotten that they were there; I just never have any desire to look through them again. I haven’t even opened the box since I moved into this apartment over a year ago. Although, last night, for the first time in eight years, I picked the first letter off the pile and opened it.

The glue had resealed the letter so it was like opening it for the first time. I felt like I was doing something very wrong. Like I was sneakily listening in on someone else’s conversation. I felt really dirty and then, as I read, I felt really sad. Sad for so many different reasons. The letter took me back to the reason I got the letters in the first place, where I was living, the color of my sheets on the bed where I sat when I first read them, the old beat up Nissan Sentra I drove, the College Algebra course I was taking at the time. It was winter, February 2006.

It was the year that I decided to stay in a relationship that intricately stripped back the layers of who I was and left me with nothing but a broken heart and a shattered spirit. I have never cried more or felt more stress, anxiety and loneliness than that period of my life. I was with him for about a year and a half before he picked up and moved to Asheville. I soon followed him to the mountains upon my graduation from college in 2008. But our first year together in 2006 was a turbulent one.

Over the course of our relationship, I ruined friendships and built a very thick wall between my family and myself. I did all but listen to their plea to get my act together and ultimately I chose a path for myself that forced me to learn lessons you never want someone you love to have to learn. Because of my decisions, I am now versed in desperate love, devastating loss and unending defeat. I now know that If you give someone else power over you, they can use that power to break you down and manipulate you into doing things that riddle you with crippling sadness, shame and regret for a very long time to come.

I was so young at the time; ripe for the picking, craving for the skin to be broken. Before I met him I thought that I was a good, strong, smart, funny, attractive person and I was exactly what he needed to get clean and sober and on the right track. In the end, my unconditional, obsessive love for him allowed him to take advantage of me. He allowed me to believe that I had no self-worth and it’s taken me almost 7 years now to realize, once again…I am amazing, smart, beautiful, and most of all, loved.

So, as I read the letter I wondered why I was still holding on to the stack of sad memories. Now that I’ve read only one, I realize that they don’t bring up any happy times for me. I’m reminded of who I used to be. I feel so sorry for that girl. She was so pathetically in love and oblivious. Blinded by desire for a change in someone. Needy.

I also felt like I was hurting Chris’s feelings. That in some way I was betraying him by reminding myself of all those old feelings and how I used to be in love with someone who belittled and stunted me for a period of time. I do not talk about that life or my experiences with Chris. I cannot explain to him the decisions I made and the people I chose to surround myself with. It does not translate to the life I have now. I am so infinitely distant from that girl. I understand her but I cannot make him understand her.

I do think that I am a better person because of everything I went through then. I do still speak to him from time to time and I’m actually quite proud of the man he has become. He has grown up too and from what I can tell from our brief conversations, he is in a good place. He has become a happy and healthy individual, or at least that is what I picture in my head. That is what I hope for him. I have no hard feelings. We were both young, naive kids from two separate worlds. I honestly believe, despite how much hurt there was, he helped form the woman I am today.

So, maybe it’s okay that I’ve held onto the letters. I put them back in the box and pushed it back under my bed. I didn’t read any more than the first letter on the stack. I don’t feel like I needed to. Maybe sometime I’ll come around to throwing them out. But, I’m not ready to let them go. I’m not sure why but the idea of chucking them in the trash gives me an unpleasant feeling. For now I will keep them tucked away in my junk box under the bed between the old books and the picture frames.

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