Today was the first day I went to school in almost seven years.  But I'll get to that in a minute; I want to explain myself.  

2011 was a horrible year for me.  My aunt died, my sisters and I got into WWE-style brawls, my marriage ended up not being what it was supposed to be.  I came back to Salt Lake City with a heart full of fear, head full of nothing, and felt like I had to start over from scratch.  Had anyone read my tarot cards it would've been death, death, death and more death.  Last year was without a doubt the worst year of my life.

I decided 2012 was going to be different.  It was going to be MY year and damn anyone who got in my path.  Since I love to travel so much, I booked trips from the get-go.  Starting with a road trip in January I went a little crazy with traveling.  Sweden saw me for the second time.  I regained a lot of lost confidence while on the road; I always do.  I enrolled in school, I did yoga, I ignored my family as hard as it was for me.  

I hate when people compare humans lives' and changes to butterflies.  A butterfly goes from being a fluffy bug to being a pretty delicate thing that dies within days, after one huge life-changing transformation.  Humans are more like hermit crabs.  We grow and grow, and eventually get too big for our exoskeletons, so we have to dig underground and shed our skin, eat it for sustenance, and we re-emerge larger.  And this happens over and over to us throughout our lives.  

Believing such, I am always looking for ways to improve on myself.  To help myself grow out of my shell.   I think once you stop growing you stop living.  You become stagnant, you're a waste.  Nobody is ever perfect and if one gives up on that growing process, there's nothing left for you to do.  And the world will go on without you, because the world has no place for people who don't grow.  Sometimes it sucks, because I get comfortable and don't want to move.  Most of my life and last year in particular, I had no room to grow.  I was too busy surviving.

And surviving gets you in trouble when you don't need to do it anymore.  Surviving is something I'm comfortable with.  I'm great at it.  I can grit my teeth and get through shit better than people twice my age with ten times my resources.  Growing up in poverty and growing up ignored makes a person strong, but there's a fine line between strong and jaded.  Only so many slaps in the face before you start to distrust people.

My therapist was in a conundrum the other day (and yes, I see a therapist.  Trust me, I need to.)  She felt that I needed to slip out of this defensive shell I've trained myself to use over the years, but she stated that "what makes you, YOU" is my opinions, my strength, my "badass" side that I'm so well-known for.  We tried to think of methods to retain my essence--a fierce and loving bitch--without all of the venom and "backed into a corner" reactions I typically display to the world.  I'm not backed in a corner anymore.  It's hard to believe, but it's true.

That's where I'm lost.  I don't have to survive anymore, I don't have to push people away.  The people who hurt me are long gone, and they're not coming back.  I have real friends, people I consider family who make me feel happy to be alive.  It struck me that I've been living lately.  True living, with nothing holding me back.  Even with a marriage that doesn't make sense and a wavering sense of self-esteem as far as writing is concerned...I'm still living, and doing it happily.  True to fashion I am overloading myself with things to do, but that's just my perfectionist side doing its job.

The thing is that this scares me more than anything.  I've spent so long in armor, fighting for a free world for myself and the people who deserve it.  Now I'm here, the world is here, and I don't know what to do.  I've been very afraid of this vulnerability.  My abrasiveness is brushing off bit by bit, and I feel naked.  I have no intention of being a smiling vibrant optimist, I have no intention of living life as if it's not a tough battle every day.  I know the dark side of it and I know others go through it, and I'll never turn a blind eye to that in any way.  I don't want to be the fighter anymore though; I want to be me, the person making life a wonderful adventure, the person I always dreamed I would become.  But you can't just take Mowgli out of the jungle and expect him to be a gentleman.  And the worst part is that again, I'm doing this alone.  I'm learning how to change and adapt, alone.  It terrifies me.  I wake up scared and I go to sleep scared.

Monday, May 14, I woke up even more scared.  At 4 am no less.  After having some noodles I spent most of the day crying, writing my blog entry from yesterday, and trying to fight through my fear to get to that first day at school.  And as everyone told me, and as I had tried to tell myself over and over again: it wasn't that bad.  I'm excited to learn.  I want to be perfect at this.  It shocked me to realize how I felt all during the lecture.  
Being an EMT was a choice that happened randomly in a dark point in my life, after I'd quit teaching and for a minute there, had no real purpose.  I wasn't changing, I wasn't improving, I was failing at life, and I saw a fire truck responding to an incident.  It lit a fire (no pun intended) in me that hasn't gone down.  I thought of helping people, and  I thought how practical it would be to work in a field where bravery and quick thinking--two very common traits of a survivor--would be a necessity.  Friends who knew me nodded in approval; this was definitely a job for strong-stomached Alex.

But it was so strange for me to sit in the classroom and tune out the lecturer long enough to realize that this is what I want.  This is what drives me, apart from writing.  To help other people, to help even strangers.  To do difficult things in order to save their lives.  Even if they just overdosed on a drug, or if they caused a car accident due to drinking.  A rescuer has to be blind to the people they rescue every hour of every day .  I've started maturing out of survivor and fighter mode only to choose a career that throws me right back in the middle of it, but I don't mind, because it isn't about me.  A job is a job, but to feel fulfilled I have to offer a service in some way.

Sometimes the childish (read: lazy) side of me gets frustrated, tired, sad with all the responsibility on my shoulders.  But I'm the one who puts it there, and there's really no greater feeling....this is the freedom I've been fighting for.  The freedom to help others in need at a moment's notice.  


  1. I love you. You and I both know that whatever you decide to do, you will do and nothing can stop that. No hurt, harassment, fear of failure etc, will prevent that from happening. It may take longer than in your head it should, but you will get there. You are resilience, and sometimes that gets you pushed back into a corner and in attack mode because don't forget to some extent everyone is surviving. If I haven't entered the giveaway by tonight, remind me would you! I can't get onto it at school, don't they know I need to rafflecopter my life away!

  2. Congratulations on taking that first step and getting through your first day of school. I think your strength and empathy will stand you in good stead in your future career.

  3. That first photo of you is gorgeous! :)

  4. I just want to print out this post and give it to anyone who thinks therapy is crap; this was AMAZING. I think it's so great that you are figuring things out in therapy, like trying to find that balance between an approachable fighter and a push-everyone-away fighter. I still have a fighter in me (from growing up in poverty with an alcoholic mom and child molesters as her friends) but I've realized it's so nice sometimes to just smile and say, "Fuck it, today is a great day!"

    I've already said it, but again, CONGRATS on going back to school! The first day is always the hardest, and you made it through! Woohoo!

  5. OH, and I entered your giveaway, I hope I win!