A Letter of Gratitude to the Most Important Man in My Life

A little over a year ago, I wrote a birthday letter to my then-husband on his birthday. While (at the time), I meant everything I wrote in said letter, it now feels very strange to me that I took so much time to write such a heartfelt piece to a man that had only known me a few short months, rather than to the man who has truly loved me all of my 27 years.

I vividly remember being a very angsty preteen and screaming “I HATE YOU!!” in my dad’s face, to which he responded “I DON’T CARE! YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE ME- YOU JUST HAVE TO RESPECT ME!”

So, in honor of those very profound words, which I have never forgotten, I wanted to write a thank you letter to my favorite man in the whole world, and not just because I respect him (and love him). A letter not to the person who said he would love and cherish me no matter what, but to the person who actually did: my dad.

Dear Dad,

Can I have some money? Just kidding.

Thank you so much for all that you’ve done for me. I don’t know how you’ve found the strength each day to still tolerate a child who would aggressively yell at you about her menstrual cramps and walked off the soccer field because she just didn’t like your coaching style. I know it took us a while to get here, but I’m really happy we made it.

Thank you for reminding me how important family is. Thank you for being a young, scared, soon-to-be dad who decided to get a paper route because you wanted to take care of me. You didn’t even know me yet, but you wanted to protect me. Thanks for not getting mad at me for bossing all the boys on the playground around, and for teaching me how to fight. You knew that I’d be short, so you told me to go for their knees and not to tuck my thumb in when I needed to punch someone in the face.

Thank you for never telling me I’m a “princess”, but rather reminding me that I could be a “handful”, and that any guy who wanted to be with me was going to have a lot on their plate. Thank you for always adding that I was worth the work.

It pains me to say it, but I have a list of friends who have never even met their fathers, whose dads decided to skip town, and whose dads don’t even care to know what’s going on in their kid’s life. You have always showed up for me, coached me, and even got teary-eyed when I sang a stupid song from “Oliver” only to become a tap-dancing fork who only had one scene in her first play. Thanks for getting excited at my cheer competitions and telling me that is IS exactly just like “Bring It On”.

Thank you for letting me know that it’s okay sometimes to cry, to be sad, and to be afraid. For someone who spent so much time feeling so alone, it made me feel really good to know that it didn’t bother you when I was sad, and that you understood me. Even when you would tell me to go wash my face and stop crying, I know now that it was because you were worried about me. Because unlike a broken bone or a broken fence, I had wounds that you were unsure how to heal, and keeping me safe was important to you.

Thank you, Dad, for somehow still being able to see the value in me when I can’t find it on my own. It would make me so much happier to bring you over to my house, and introduce you to my kids, but instead I’m sending you screen shots of my over drafted bank account and pictures of my cats. I don’t know if this is the life you envisioned for me, but you’ve never made me feel like you’re not proud.

Thank you so much for always talking about Grandma. I’ve never been able to feel her the way that you do, but when you stay on the phone with me for an hour, and you remind me that I’m not alone, and you ask me about my day, I know that she’s there, in you, and that she’d be really proud of us. Thank you for honoring her everyday and being as amazing of a person as we know she was.

Thank you for taking care of the dogs. If that “Tucker Everlasting” river thing was real, I’d totally make you and Charlie drink from it so I could keep you around forever.

I’ll never be able to thank you enough for what you’ve done for me in the past year. You’ve taught me that life has “mulligans”- that there are do-overs and mistakes, and that it’s ok to make them. You’ve taught me that even though people may seem like they completely have their shit together, they were probably once scared shitless, just like me, wondering when the fuck their life was going to be less hectic.

Thank you for holding me when I was scared on the Haunted Mansion, thank you for pouring hydrogen peroxide in my ears when they would get clogged on the plane, thank you for making me laugh with your Christian Bale Batman voice, and thank you for being my friend- for loving me instead of judging me, for letting me talk about female adversity at the dinner table, and for always secretly whispering that I’m your “favorite” every time we were at a family gathering.

I know that a stupid blog post will never be enough to counteract the countless amounts of dollars and years of your youth you’ve spent taking care of me. I know you’ll never sleep as well as you did before you found out you were having a daughter, but I hope you do know that when you are an old senile potato I will put you in the best nursing home I can find. And I’ll visit you like, twice a month. Just kidding, I love you, Dad.

Thank you for everything, thank you for being my Dad.

I love you crazy and I will forever and ever.

-Kaleena Raye

 

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A Non-Funny Post About Codependency, Marriage, and Feeling Invisible

Even though I’m not a mom and have no desire to be, my freelance work often requires me to bend the rules a bit and write about topics on which I am no expert. This, on my end, requires a decent amount of “mommy blog” reading. Honestly, most of them are dull and whiney and poorly written (IMO), but I can see how women going through that particular experience could find them relatable and helpful. Come to think of it, my blog is dull and whiney and poorly written so, fuck it, they’re great and God bless them.

I recently read a “mommy blog”-esque article about a new mother who took one of her earrings out for 7 months and no one noticed. She wrote that becoming a mom had made her invisible, that her entire identity had been sort of taken over by this new life, and everything about who she was and what she was revolved around the child. I feel pretty certain that this is a feeling shared by many moms, and it was one, I have to admit, I was jealous of.

Since my separation from my husband after only 1 year of marriage, I have begged to be invisible. If I could somehow disappear from the radar of the world and be left alone for a year, I would probably take it. Sure, I could stop writing this blog and get the fuck off social media and go volunteer in Zimbabwe or something but what do I look like, Angelina Jolie?

It took me multiple therapy appointments and a few months of crying in solitude to grasp how strong of a codependent relationship I was in. Before you freak out and think I’m dissing my ex all over again, relax. I am the one with codependency issues of the highest degree. My identity became reliant on my role as his wife, and how people treated me because of it. I didn’t care about the Kalee (Kaley) I was before I met him, I didn’t care about what kind of issues I may have individually, my sole purpose was now to be this person’s wife- and I loved it. I loved it because in comparison, I seemed very together, very loving, very involved, very compassionate, and very kind. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not really any of those things, at least not in excess.

I could measure my greatness by the areas in which my husband lacked. Every time he fell short, I stepped up. Every time he felt lost, I was the compass. This would be cute and sweet if it wasn’t so insanely selfish. I relished in the moments where I was the shining star because of someone else’s inadequacies. Every opportunity presented that allowed me to save the day, I took it.

It is almost as if I willed the failure of our marriage into existence, as if to say: SEE EVERYONE- LOOK HOW HARD I TRIED, LOOK HOW MUCH I WENT THROUGH. I WAS THE WIFE WHO SACRIFICED HERSELF FOR THE GREATER GOOD.

But fuck that, because that’s what I signed up for. I didn’t know the extent of the wounds that would be created in such a short year, but I probably could have guessed. However, my selfish need to be the rescuer, the shoulder to lean on- overcame my need to protect myself.

When the time came that I actually did need help, and was not just filling the role of giving it, I was finally invisible. All the people that claimed to love me, and be so grateful for me, were nowhere to be found. In fact, they only came out of their own hiding to urge me to become even more quiet and less visible. And of course, to blame me more, which I already do everyday.

But that didn’t last long. I don’t know what it’s like to not feel like all eyes are on me now, wondering what kind of meltdown I’m going to have next. People want to know my business without getting close to me, share their opinions of my ex without seeing me tear up, and want me to “move on” and “let it go” without having one ounce of understanding of what actually happened. Did I do this to myself for getting married so fast? For taking on this sick, damaging role of codependency towards someone who would ultimately take advantage (even subconsciously?).

I’d prefer to be invisible, I’d prefer to not be humiliated. I’d love to not be reminded daily that I am no longer a wife, that I’m no longer needed, and my efforts are better spent on rescue pets who can pretty much fend for themselves. I don’t want to date, I don’t want to make new friends. I felt like if I walked around for 7 months with one earring in everyone would point it out and then ask me “how I’m dealing with everything”.

The Kalee (Kaley) I was so eager to leave behind isn’t even here anymore either. I am now this weird, lost, paper mache version of who I used to be, mixed with who I thought I could be. I have no witty words about it, I have nothing brave to say. Congrats to everyone who found the strength to become themselves again after a failed relationship? I wish I was more like you.

Why Traveling With Me Is The Fucking Worst

I want to start this blog post of by saying that OF COURSE I like traveling. Who the fuck doesn’t like traveling? I find it particularly strange that people feel the need to say that about themselves, or add it to some dating bio. Have you ever once heard someone be like: “yeah, I just love being in the same spot constantly, I hope I never had to leave my house.” Actually, that is probably a real thing and I shouldn’t make fun of it, but still- having an affection for seeing the rest of the planet isn’t exactly something to brag about.

I have never once, however, thought to myself: “Oh my god, I would just love to pack all of my shit into an uncomfortably large backpack and wander around a foreign place solo!”. I’ve truthfully never seen the appeal of staying in a hostel, doing things on the fly with no plan, or even going somewhere that I haven’t seen a cool picture of. This does not mean that I don’t enjoy traveling, I just don’t like doing it in the particular way that people my age seem to enjoy.

Since I pay for my own lifestyle, I haven’t had the opportunity to just hop on a plane and go to India or whatever for multiple weeks and take cool Instagram pictures. The few trips I have taken, I’ve had to plan and budget for myself, which mean they are going to go down exactly the way I want them to go:

  1. I’m staying in a hotel/resort. Act like Leo DiCaprio’s character in “The Beach” all you want, but I like beds and I like room service.
  2. I have to speak English. I’m super sorry that I was born in America and didn’t start “learning” a foreign language until 9th grade, but my Google translate is only going to get me so far.
  3. I’m going to be drunk, a lot. From what I’ve gathered about vacationing, it’s supposed to be the opposite of what I do at home. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is something I do at home, sure, but my drinks aren’t cool and tropical with fun garnishes in them.
  4. I want to do nothing. Again, since I like making my travel experiences the opposite of my home life, it’s extremely enjoyable for me to do something different, like lounge by a pool and eat from a nice buffet and not speak to anyone. This is actually a bad example and I don’t know why I’m including it. I do this all the time.
  5. I don’t really mind looking like a tourist. I know “sticking out” in a foreign place is like, the worst, but who am I kidding? I am clearly a white person from America and no amount of drapey clothing or henna tattoos are going to change that. If I have to ask questions, I’m going to ask them. If it means avoiding traditional country experiences because I don’t know what the fuck is going on or how to get there, so be it.

I don’t like haggling, I don’t like feeling uncomfortable, and I certainly don’t like getting lost. I am not particularly blown away by works of architecture, and I am also not an adrenaline junkie who wants to jump off shit or swim with sharks or whatever the fuck else people do when they’re on vaca. This does not make me racist, uncultured, or that I don’t care about places different than my home. First of all, I barely like America, and second of all, if I want to sit at the same cafe in Paris drinking the same wine everyday and people watch, does that really make my experience any less valid than yours?

I have never once asked for a food or venue recommendation whilst traveling, but for some reason everyone wants to send one my way. Like ok, just because you went to Thailand ONE TIME does not mean that you know the BEST place to get Pad Thai. You are not a Thai person, you are just someone who came across a restaurant that you didn’t hate, so calm down.

I have since discovered that this mindset does not make me a fun travel partner, and I’m actually fine with that. I feel confident that someone who wants to lounge around by a fab resort pool, drink tropical beverages, and occasionally check out a wild animal from afar will want to go on a trip with me and we’ll be just fine.

So whatever, “wanderlust” people, I’m so glad you really “found yourself” in Barcelona, but I like my canopy bed and room service better.

What Happens If I Stop Being Honest?

It’s fair to say that my blog has taken a lot of weird turns in the past 12+ months. I got married, I wrote a bunch of overly happy and uplifting posts, I went MIA for a while, and then I returned with a bunch of bitter insights about trying to date and how much I hate everyone. Can you take a wild guess what happened in between? While I’d safely say this is easily my worst year to date, I’ve been able to stay rock steady in one thing: I’ve been sincerely honest.

I’ve kind of been #blessed when it comes to this blog because I would say over 90% of the responses since I started it about 4 years ago have been overwhelmingly positive. It’s kind of easy to stay in your lane and not make any major changes when people continue to blow smoke up your ass.

However, there has been a bit of backlash. There have been some topics that are too tender to share with the world, too many hurt feelings, and I’ve even had people tell me not to say things that I want to say. No, you know what- not “want” to say, but need to say.

I tried to not let it get to me, and of course I wondered if I was being too harsh, too loud, too Kalee-ish yet again, pushing people out.

I’m not the voice of my generation, I’m not a published writer. I am lucky enough to make an ok living off of my Creative Writing degree, and I’m just generally an honest person. I don’t want to pull a Carly Simon and tell you that you’re so vain, you probably think this post is about you- but if I don’t name you directly, chill. Also, if you wanted to be spoken so highly of, maybe you should have been a better person?

I spent so many years as a kid and preteen feeling riddled with anxiety. I never wanted to leave my house, I was constantly in fear that everyone hated me, no one understood me, and that I was just fucking ALONE. To say that those fears have completely gone away now that I’m an “adult” would just be false. And the only reason I’ve come as far as I have is because of writers. Because of people who tell the truth, even when it’s ugly and hard and unflattering.

I’m not saying it’s my job to speak for other people, but if my story literally makes ONE less scared, lonely, frustrated, and loss woman feel better, I fucking did my job, I can die happy- seriously.

What happens to us if people stop telling their stories? What happens to all the kids who have bad relationships with their parents, get divorced, get in debt, and feel all those terrible feelings we all try to bury? How do we help them? I’m not brave and I’m not special, and I’m only kind of funny sometimes, but I’ll be damned if anyone thinks they have the right to tell me not to speak my truth.

You have every opportunity to not read, but I’ll never stop writing.

Why Removing A Toxic Person From Your Life Is The Dopest Shit You’ll Ever Do

If you’re scrolling through the internet everyday thinking to yourself, “hey it’s been awhile since Kalee publicly dragged some douche bag who hurt her on her blog!”- you’re right! And you’re kind of in luck, actually.

While the sole purpose of this very advanced piece of writing is not to slander the gentlemen (and some ladies) who have pissed me off over the years, rest assured that there will be passive aggressive nods in their directions throughout the text.

After being in a year long relationship that completely damaged my mind, body, soul, and bank account, I have some taken some time to reflect on the importance of NOT being in a relationship. And I don’t even mean a romantic relationship, I mean avoiding any relationship where anyone makes you feel like shit.

When you’re younger, you always have to include everyone. Like, every person gets a stupid Valentine dropped in their stupid Valentine’s Day paper bag, and every single little asshole has to get an invite to your birthday, even if you hate them!

One of- if not the most- rewarding parts of being an adult is the fact that you don’t have to be friends with anyone you don’t want to. Sure, you’ll probably work with a couple of dick heads or show up to a happy hour where that one friend of a friend that you just don’t like for some reason is there, but OVERALL you have no obligation to include, be nice to, or otherwise acknowledge the existence of people you think suck. Which is great.

Why people will continue to “work on things” with people who treat you badly, or “give them a chance” after they’ve completely damaged your well being is beyond me. The earth is so heavily populated…fuck these people! Do not give them any more of your time. BLOCK THEIR NUMBERS AND ACT LIKE THEY PASSED ON. Or at least moved.

Maintaining some sense of like, decorum with your ex, or your ex best friend, or even some family member that was just a total douche is not good for you. I get the whole “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die” but like, is hanging out with a person you can’t stand going to make you somehow less angry?

Life is too short to be the bigger person, believe you me.

If you want to cut people out of your life for YOUR EMOTIONAL STABILITY, do it. Seriously, do it. No one says things have to be permanent.

If someone ever asks you, “oh what happened to so and so?” just shrug and like, do something else. Who cares?

Since cutting the toxic people from my life out of my circle, I have lost 10 pounds, achieved my dream job, repaired and focused on my important friendships, and, most importantly, made time for my fucking self.

Guess who I’m in a relationship with? Fucking me. And it’s great. Did you know that if you don’t have a toxic person living in your house you can dance around to a Justin Bieber song in your underwear as many times as you want? You can watch Kardashians alllll daayyyy if you fucking feel like it. Personally, I feel like for the first time in a long time, I’m not rushing through my day so I can get home to a person who doesn’t value my company. I can actually sit and focus on the things that are important to me. I can buy myself my own goddamn flowers and cards and drink a bottle of wine with ME instead of having to share it. I remember to send my friends meaningful texts on their birthday. I invite my best chick out for a drink instead of a lame dude.

So bottom line is, if I haven’t talk to you in a long time, there’s a good reason for it. You probably suck, and I don’t.

Have a blessed life!

A Blog Post That I Actually Really Want You To Read

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I’ve had a lot of crappy nights in my past. Most fueled by alcohol, but some were just shitty to their core. Last night was in my top 10, maybe even top 5 worst nights to date. A terrible, horrible man became president, and I was pretty shocked about it.

I got up at 6:30 AM and went to the polls to vote for the first lady president and couldn’t have been more excited.  I was fucking amped to put a female in the White House. I thought about the glass ceiling we were shattering; I thought about all the women in my life that I love and respect so much, and how major this was for us.

Later, all that got taken away from me. And I did something kind of strange, for me.

I sat on my couch in front of the results and I cried. I cried for my beautiful, intelligent, wonderful Latina friend who believes her family will be deported now. I cried for the incredible friends I have in the LGBTQ community. I cried for my uncle in a wheelchair. I cried for every person of color. I cried for myself. Not just me, the female, but the girl who was bullied for years on end, and ate lunch alone. The girl who was told she was ugly and stupid. When you see a bully win, all of those terrible, gut-wrenching feelings of hurt come rushing back, and it’s fucking terrifying.

I cowered. I went to bed and hid. I talked about (and posted about) leaving this country. To me, this was the big “fuck you” to those bullies, those racists, the men who made disgusting comments about my body, the homophobic jerks, the people who talked shit about me for having an abortion. I would just leave them all behind.

Then a few hours with the knowledge of President Trump turned into 4, then 5, then 10, and so on. And it still fucking sucks. And I’m still so fucking angry. But I am better than the girl on the couch crying.

I have made people laugh, feel good, and feel safe with this stupid little blog. I have done something. I am not a person who does nothing. If I ever have daughters, they will be strong, amazing, articulate women, and they will not do nothing. They will not be okay with doing nothing.

Of course I still want to leave the country. I want to run away from this shit. Of course I’m still afraid. I’m fucking pissed. But I am not the woman I have built myself to be for 26 years if I just sit behind a computer and talk shit. So please, everyone, with all that is left in your big, beautiful, worthy, kind hearts: let’s figure out a way to take our bravery back.

Let’s host charity events, lets donate anything and sign everything we can. Let’s walk out, let’s protest. Let’s shine brighter. Let’s be the baddest fucking bitches in the game. If I do have a daughter- or a son, fuck it- I can show them this, my words, the kind things I’ve done, and I can feel okay with that. I can’t be ok with tears.

How can I sit here and say we can be ANYTHING and then hide away? We can be fucking anything.  We can do ANYTHING. Please, please, share charities, causes, events, petitions, and anything you can think of that will bring us together. We can make our own. I am more than happy to donate my time, my money, my belongings to prove that this scum bag is not my voice, and this country that we call home is not based on hate.

I’m not a cry baby. I’m a nasty woman and I’m ready to start shit. Let’s do this.

The 5 Stages Of Grief When Trying To Go Sober For 30 Days

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I don’t like to throw around the term “alcoholic”, but let’s just say I tell my doctor that I have “one drink” everyday. This was all fine and good when I had a fake ID, but now that I’m a 26-year-old woman, all of those empty calories have taken residency on my thighs, resulting in a hearty 16 pound weight gain in 2 months (hahahhaha help me hahahah). So, in the name of vanity, I decided to give up alcohol for the entire month of October.

Here are the five stages of grief when dealing with Sober October, Ocsober, or, if you’re not a douche, just October without drinking:

  1. Denial and isolation: You will tell yourself that being sober is easy. It’s only 30 days! Big whoop! You’ve got this. There are so many more exciting things to do when you’re not getting drunk! Cut to two days in, you’re alone in bed trying to make ginger ale taste better while your friends go to happy hour (isolation).
  2. Anger: Not only are you angry because you JUST WANT ONE GLASS OF PINOT WHILE YOU WRITE THIS DAMN THING, but you’re angry because you can’t thing of a single fucking thing to do that doesn’t involve alcohol. Who the fuck watches Game of Thrones sober?!
  3. Bargaining: Ok so….what if you only drink on weekends? That’s basically the same thing as being sober, right? What if you just smoke a ton of pot instead? That’s better than drinking!
  4. Depression: Going to bed early, skipping the wine aisle on grocery trips, drinking ‘mocktails’ at dinner, making yourself go to the gym, soberly talking to your husband about your hopes and dreams…you may as well be at church camp.
  5. Acceptance: Haven’t hit this one yet. I’ll let you know if it ever happens.

I miss you, wine!

Why My Blog Isn’t Funny Anymore

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I started this blog over 2 years ago. I was in a really bad place and I knew I had to do something for myself; I knew I had to write because it’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. I  had to keep my hands and mind occupied because I knew that if I didn’t, things wouldn’t end well for me.

I was amazed how easy words came, how quick the rants and stories and allegories just fell out of me, like they’d be waiting so long for their moment. I didn’t go through life defining myself as an angry person. I didn’t think I needed help, and I let it roll of my shoulders when people told me I “looked mean” so often.

I had found my stride in this little corner of the writing world. People thought I was funny and honest. Every little thing that irritated me, that I was jealous of, that made me hurt- could be turned into 600 words and a funny meme that people liked. That was my purpose.

My life has changed so much that I feel like I’ve some how failed by writing wife-type blogs now. Like I caved in, drank the Kool-aid, and now I’m this lame Eat Pray Love person who has no original thoughts and just skips around through flower fields all day.

I’m still me, though. I don’t feel like I’ve changed. I feel like this Kalee, this happier, lighter Kalee has always been there, I just had no idea how to get to her. I somehow found a way to love without fear, to trust without holding a grudge, and to live without armor.

It’s all still there, don’t get me wrong, my defenses still come up sometimes when my husband and I fight. You’d be amazed how easy it is for me to find hurtful things to say, to find the quickest insecurity and shine a light on it. That part of me can gain strength.

But as I go through life today, a little bit frustrated that my posts are no longer funny, that I don’t care about people’s dating problems anymore and am no longer being irritated by babies and strollers, I know that I am newer. I know that this Kalee is the Kalee my family always saw, the teachers who believed in me always fought for. This is the me I begged for when I was too depressed to get out of bed, too alone to ask for help.

I think that’s kind of all anyone can hope for really, that they still feel like themselves, just lighter and brighter. I feel less prickly, more vulnerable. Less brave, more loving. Less independent, more welcoming. I am still searching for the balance, but anger leaves me much quicker now. I am a bit sad that my blog had to pay the price for that, but if a few snarky words are the casualties of my happiness then I will take that and be grateful.

If you are still in need of sassier writing, betches.com is hilarious.

A Note On Emotional Stability And Mental Illness

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About a week ago I wrote a piece about my husband. I’m definitely not here to take back anything that I wrote, but I will admit that I fibbed a bit.

Aleks DOES support me, and love me, and make my life wonderful. But this morning we got into a “fight” (I rarely call our loud discussions fights- we mostly just yell out our concerns until something gets solved.) and I realized something. I do not feel 100% safe in my relationship. I don’t know how anyone feels 100% about anything, I find that nearly impossible, but this isn’t a fault on my husband’s part, or my marriage by any means.

The more I explored it on my own, the more I felt like it was something I needed to share.

My husband – and arguably a lot of other people in my life- see me as a very brave, very strong, determined, independent person. I really don’t like excuses, or lack of accountability. I feel like there is answer for everything. So when, I wake up and lay in bed crying for upwards of an hour with no real explanation to give, that is really challenging scenario for my partner.

I grew up in a house where mental illness was no doubt talked about, but not well understood. It was also an environment where things like depression, or bi-polar disorder, or even loss were used as an excuse for causing hurt. I don’t accept that. Another thing I have a hard time accepting are words like no or can’t or won’t. Just because struggle with things that some people don’t understand doesn’t mean I can’t do something or I won’t do something, or that my behavior is excusable.

That being said, I push it away. I push away my depression, and my anxiety, and anytime I “feel sad for no reason”, I hope with everything in my heart that it will just go away. I don’t want to ever hurt or impact anybody in a bad way because of something that I feel. Unfortunately, there are going to be days where I wake up and I just can’t wish or pretend it away.

I have had vivid, painful, real thoughts about hurting myself. I have been so thoroughly engulfed in sadness that I feel like I can’t stand up on my own. While I don’t see this is as a weakness on my part, I do see these sentences as things I cannot just simply say outloud.

It’s very difficult to wake up next to someone who I love and admire and respect and say: “Hi I literally feel like I want to die. I feel like my insides are crumbling apart. I feel like I want to punch something and cry and scream and I can’t stop it.”

I have nothing but admiration for people who openly talk about mental illness, and I myself have nothing to hide, but I am ashamed sometimes. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m mad at myself. I just want to feel better. I want to feel NORMAL.

I know that there is medication that exists that could take this all away, and maybe make my life easier for my friends and loved ones, but I just won’t go there…at least not yet. I don’t want to make excuses. I know that my husband, and my friends, and my mom just don’t understand. And that’s totally okay. Creating a safe space for me to hurt is not their responsibility. My vulnerability and balance is on me.

I guess I just want everyone to know, whether they have a support system or not, or whether they struggle with mental illness or not, that it’s okay to feel lost and shitty and ashamed. And that there are going to be people who love you SO much that still won’t get it. They have no idea how you feel.

It doesn’t mean I love these people any less, or think of my relationship any less. It’s going to be a challenge for us for the rest of our lives.

I guess I’d just say to those of us who are putting on a good face 90% of the time, we really need a hug and love and comfort for that other 10%- but the chances of us asking for it are almost nonexistent. Because we are scared and maybe a little ashamed.

Not really sure how to wrap this one up? 😉

An Uncomfortably Emotional Letter To My Husband On His Birthday

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Unfortunately, as good as I am at getting my feelings down in black and white, saying them out loud without sounding sarcastic (no,that shirt looks REALLY good on you) or condescending is nearly impossible. So, on the anniversary of my husband’s 28th trip around the sun, I decided to write him a little something. Feel free to use any of my lovely words for your own special someone- just don’t forget to give me credit.

Dear Aleks,

Happy birthday! Your birth is probably one of my favorite things that has ever happened. I am so insanely grateful that our paths crossed and you became my husband. It is bizarrely easy for me to picture us as parents, as semi-functional middle-aged adults, and even as old people. I think about taking care of you as a funny old man and it makes me smile. I never thought that I would experience such a peaceful, honest love the way I do with you.

I am so proud of all that you take on, from your music, to your acting, to your insane work ethic- you are a tornado of talent and I am so impressed with your energizer bunny-like momentum. The accomplishments and goals I have seen you reach in such a short period of time are nothing short of amazing.

They always say opposites attract, and while I think our humor, our values, and our hearts are extremely similar, you are my polar opposite in all the best ways. You are so wonderfully social, outgoing, brave, patient, and full of life. You make every person that you encounter feel valued. You always listen, you always include, and you are one of the most generous people I know. Thank you for helping me come out of my shell (I had suffered from crippling social anxiety for years and it had damaged many, many relationships and my own self esteem), I couldn’t have done it without you.

I am constantly impressed with your love for the female energy. I have never met a man so respectful, so understanding, and so patient with a woman as crazy as me. Thank you for allowing me to feel so brave and safe. I think in the past I tended to tone down my femininity, my intellect, and my pain for men. You encourage every part of me, or at least tolerate it with a smile, which is pretty damn impressive.

When I am with you, I feel like I’m with my brother. I know that sounds creepy and totally not romantic, but what I mean is, I’m so completely myself. I don’t feel judged, or like I’m trying to be impressive, or interesting, or whatever. I feel comfy and warm; I feel like I have a love that’s unconditional, which is something I’ve never felt that from someone outside of my family.

Thank you for encouraging my intelligence. My thirst for knowledge and love of books was a safe space I retreated to alone for most of my life. I never really had a lot of friends, and it was hard for me to feel good about myself for a long time. You fell in love with my mind, you listen to me, you never cease to remind me of how smart I am, and continue to build me up when I feel like I’ve failed.

You always remind me not to keep score. You’ve taught me patience, and graciousness, and a love that speaks volumes. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me insanely angry, but you’re slowing down for me, you’re sitting still with me, and I feel very lucky.

For a girl who has spend most of her life being harsh and weirdly angry, you have no idea how rewarding it is to hear people tell me that I look happy. Since I met you, I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone, I’ve tried new things, and I’ve found some of the most rewarding successes in my young life. My relationships with my friends and family have improved, and the shitty, heavy fortress that blocked my heart away for what felt like so long is starting to be broken away.

I know that I’m going to piss you off a lot. I know I fall asleep really early, I know I make too much noise in the morning, I know that I nag you. But I love you more than I ever thought I could love anybody. And even though I’m really bad at showing it, I hope you know how happy you make me and how grateful I am for your big heart. I’m so genuinely happy that you’re my husband. You’re my best friend, and I am so excited to share my life with you!

Thank you for being born. I’m so happy you exist(: I hope you have the best birthday ever- you deserve it!

I love you,

Kalee