Bowling Ball Day: The Ten Year Anniversary

Today is a pretty special day for me. If you’ve never heard of Bowling Ball Day, welcome. ūüôā It’s likely that that means we’re new friends. Here’s the short version: 10 years ago today, a bowling ball fell off the top of a flag pole on my head. And I’ve celebrated this day ever since.

It was March of 2007, my second semester of college. I was visiting some friends in Tremonton for spring break. My friend, Christina had suggested that we go to a privately owned park called “Marble Park”. She insisted the barbed wire collection was a must-see. So, we went. The park is a sculpture park featuring a lot of cool things: ¬†swings made from old tractor seats, chairs made from barrels and wheels, and the infamous barbed wire collection. We decided to gather the group together for some pictures. We all climbed up onto three platforms. My friends Ashli, Mac, and I stood on the middle platform¬†which had a flag pole coming out of it and was about 5 feet tall.

Ashli and I on the platform with the flagpole.

While taking the pictures, we noticed that the flagpole was kind of wobbly. It had been cemented into the platform, but looked as though it had come loose over the years. Mac started pushing on it, and just as I said (teasing, of course)¬†“wouldn’t it be funny if I fell off?” a bowling ball fell from it’s perch on the top of the flag pole and onto my head.

If you look at the top of the flagpole in the background, you can see the bowling ball in its prongs.

I was knocked unconscious and fell off the platform. (This is a good thing because otherwise, it’s likely that I would have tried to catch myself and could have broken my arms.) Once on the ground, I regained consciousness, had a seizure, and threw up. (Lime green throw up, because I’d had Jones Green Apple Soda. TMI? Sorry.) My friends called 911 and explained that I had been hit on the head. “By what?” the operator asked. After looking around to find the culprit, Ashli eventually¬†said “Um, a bowling ball.”

I was taken in an ambulance to the Bear River Hospital where they were worried about my spinal fluid leaking into my brain, so I was then lifeflighted to the University of Utah Neuro Care Clinic. One of the few moments of all of this that I actually remember¬†happened in the helicopter. I remember watching the propellers start to spin, and one of the paramedics closed the door on my arm – so my arm was trapped between the door and my stretcher. I looked up at him and said “um, my arm…” and they quickly opened the door again and placed my arm on top of me.

The physicians at the Neuro Care Clinic determined that I had a severe concussion and my skull was fractured from front to back. You know how babies’ skulls are in two parts when they’re born and that’s why they have a soft-spot? I essentially just broke¬†that¬†open again. After four days in the hospital and eight staples in my head, I got to go home. I was on Loritab for a week, and then I went back to school. A few weeks later, I went to have my staples removed and the doctor told me I was doing surprisingly great and the concussion was gone. To this day, the only lasting damage is the quarter-sized scar on top of my head.

So, that’s the story of Bowling Ball Day. I love celebrating this day because it makes me feel special. Knowing how many people came to visit me in the hospital, prayed for me, took pictures with posters and sippy cups (long story) for me really just warms my heart. And knowing that, by some miracle, I didn’t die – that’s something that makes me feel things I’ve never been able to truly explain. Some of it is simply gratitude for the blessing of being alive and for feeling like I have a purpose for still being here. And also, in many sacred ways, this experience brought me closer to God. I believe in angels. The ones here on earth and the unseen angels that I believe were there 10 years ago.

Oh, and also, it’s pretty funny. I mean, who does this even happen to?

Malise Love Story Part 6: Okay, Don’t Freak Out

The day after Matt kissed me, I left work early to head down to Salt Lake for a Jason Mraz concert. (Side note: If you get the chance, see Jason live. It was much more of an intimate musical experience than just an opportunity to watch him perform. SO good.)

As my sister and I drove to our parent’s house together after the concert, I told her all about Matt and how great he is. When I got home, I told my dad “I might have a boyfriend and he’s really great and his middle name is your first name, so that’s cool.” Then I told my mom “I think I have a boyfriend.” and mentioned that we had kissed the night before.

The next day, my aunt was over and our family was all eating lunch together. My mom announced to everyone that I had a boyfriend and that I had kissed him. My dad said “What! You didn’t tell me you kissed him!” I blushed and everyone insisted on passing my phone around to look at his Facebook profile picture. When my Aunt Kristee’s got a look at my phone she said “I don’t think kissing him was unreasonable at all!”

That night, I drove back to Logan to celebrate “Bowling Ball Day” (more about that here)¬†with Matt and some other friends. My sister didn’t have time to bowl with us, but came by the bowling alley to see Matt and give me her approval. Later that night, when Matt and I were saying goodbye on my doorstep I said “Soooo, I told my parents that you’re my boyfriend. Are you okay with that title?” He pretended to think about it, then assured me that he was definitely okay with that title.

Nearly 24 hours later, we were sitting on a bench outside the Logan temple and Matt said to me “So, I’m your boyfriend, that makes you my girlfriend, right?” I laughed and said “Yes, I think that’s how that works!” He asked if I was okay with that title and I playfully mocked him by pretending to think about it before telling him that I was.

We headed back to my apartment and decided to watch the first Narnia movie. Through the whole movie, I kept thinking to myself things like “I think I love him… no, I probably don’t. I’m just excited about a new relationship.” And five minutes later I’d think “But I think I love him! Okay, no. Elise. You just like kissing his face. You don’t love him yet.” And ten minutes later I had decided that maybe I did love him, but I definitely¬†was not allowed to say anything to him yet.

When the movie finished, Matt hugged me and said “Okay, don’t freak out…” (Which, naturally, caused me to internally freak out a little bit.) “but, I want you to know that I love you.” My brain went a million miles a minute as I thought about how I wasn’t allowed to say anything yet, but I hadn’t planned on him being in love with me and so maybe I could tell him since he had told me? Though it felt like forever, I’m sure it was only a few seconds before I responded and said, “I love you too! But…”

more love story here

Malise Love Story Part 5: Ice Cream & First Kisses

The morning after I cried myself to sleep wondering if he was still interested, I woke up to a text from Matt that said “Good morning Elise! I hope you have a great day!” and I thought to myself “Okay, things are fine. What was I even worried about?”¬†We texted alllllll day the next couple of days and discussed important matters like our favorite flavors of ice cream and which horse movies we’d seen. I told him that my favorite flavor of ice cream was Tillamook Mudslide and he informed me that Tillamook ice cream was on sale at the grocery store he worked at. Eventually we made plans to watch Seabiscuit and eat ice cream together that Tuesday night.

I’m not certain how we got to talking about horse movies because, in all reality, horse movies are a much less important topic than ice cream. And, though I didn’t hate Seabiscuit, I really didn’t actually care if I ever saw it again. So on Tuesday night when we got to his apartment and he asked if I had my heart set on Seabiscuit or if I’d rather watch something else, I was quite thrilled to agree on watching Ender’s Game instead.

And also, it solidified the belief I had that this date was a lot less about Seabiscuit and ice cream and a lot more about seeing each other again. With the lights off. In prime cuddling position. He put the movie in and sat next to me, but, you know, not right next to me.¬†I had played the “take the entire movie to hold hands” game before and I didn’t have any desire to play it again that night. So I scooted close enough that we were touching and rested my head on his shoulder as the movie started. He responded by holding out his hand and saying “So, do you want to?”

Needless to say, we held hands and cuddled through the rest of the movie. And it was great. When the movie finished, I asked something like “So, did you really invite me over here to watch Seabiscuit or were you in it for the cuddling?” He admitted that he had hoped we’d cuddle and hold hands and asked me if I had been interested just in the movie. To which I said “Oh no, I was definitely hoping for some cuddling too.”

Later that night, I updated my journal to say that he’d texted me back since my last heart-wrenching entry and that we’d cuddled that night. I mentioned that I had kind of wanted to kiss him but that I also was feeling confused because usually it seemed to take a lot more work than this to get a guy’s attention and so WAS SOMETHING WRONG AND WHY IS THIS SO EASY?

I ended the journal entry with “IDK, I probably think too much.” Which is a common truth in my life.

We’d made plans to see each other again on Thursday night. I’d agreed to help out with a local special needs dance and I invited him to come with me. He admitted that he hadn’t been to a dance since high school, but was a really good sport about it and we had a fun time that night. (He was even very patient while I danced with one of the darling special needs guys who called me his girlfriend and asked if I wanted to marry him multiple times that evening.)

After the dance, we went back to my apartment and watched a couple episodes of Psych or The Office (I don’t remember which?). When the show was over, we sat on my couch and talked for a while. Suddenly, he got really nervous and said “I’m sorry…” I looked at him with, I’m sure, a confused look. He continued, “You don’t have to… no pressure…” and I said “What?” and finally, he said, “Do you want to… kiss?” I smiled, said yes, and waited for him to lean in closer. He didn’t at first and made a comment about being rusty, I reassured him that I was a little out of practice too, got impatient and went 90 and let him go 10. (Watch this if you’re confused.)

After we kissed, we hugged and said all kinds of cute things about how much we liked each other, etc. etc. and he told me he thought he was going to delete Tinder. I informed him that I had deleted mine the previous night and he said “I haven’t been on since I met you.” (Which, of course, I knew. Because I looked at his profile to see if he’d been on again before I deleted mine.)

That night’s journal entry ended with “So, that’s the story of when I kissed the cutest, nicest, most wonderful human.”

more love story here

malise love story part three: a tale of two tinder dates

After letting our Tinder conversation fizzle back in December, I didn’t really think much about Matt for a while. Then, sometime around Valentine’s Day, I saw him in my Tinder feed again. I realized that that meant either he had deleted Tinder and come back, or he’d unmatched us after I let conversation fizzle. “Well, I have to know if he swiped right on me again.” I thought. “It’s a Match!” popped up on my screen and I smiled. I decided to send him a message, I wanted to make sure he remembered who I was, so I mentioned things we had talked about before.

From that point on, we talked on Tinder pretty consistently. At night, he’d say “I’ll talk to you tomorrow!” and I loved knowing that I’d hear from him again. Eventually, we exchanged phone numbers and started texting frequently.

At the end of February, my friend Steph and I took a spontaneous weekend trip to California. During that trip, I was texting two guys from Tinder; Matt and one other. (We’re going to call him Kevin.) One blissful California night as Steph and I were walking around the LA temple, Matt asked me on a date for when I got back the next week. Steph and I talked about how excited I was and how I also hoped that Kevin would ask me on a date too.

When we got back from California, Kevin called and asked me on a date for that weekend. Which meant I had a date with Matt on Wednesday night and date with Kevin on Friday night. My friend, Dustin, asked me which date I was more excited for and I remember telling him that I liked talking to both guys and thought they were great, but that I was pretty sure Kevin would be the one I was interested in.

Wednesday night came and Matt showed up on my doorstep right on time. (He knew two of my best friends and they assured me it would be safe to tell him where I lived, so I did. #tindersafety) I’d had a cold that left me with an awful plugged ear and I found out pretty quickly that Matt is a pretty soft speaker. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hear him for the entire date and got really nervous that it would be awkward.

We got to Kneaders and ordered our cheesecake and picked a table for two right by the window. He and I talked for three hours with me leaning in the entire time in order to hear him. (Hey-a, Luce! This guy bothering you? …it looks like he’s leaning. Okay, sorry for the distraction. back to the story.) We kept asking each other questions and at some point, I remember thinking “he just keeps talking… I’m pretty sure it’s because he doesn’t want this date to end…” and I thought that was pretty cute. As we walked up to my doorstep, he asked if I wanted to go shooting with him and some friends that Saturday. “Ooh, second date and we haven’t even said good night yet, this is good!” I thought, and told him I would love to.

We hugged and said good bye. I walked inside and realized that I didn’t know if I wanted to marry him yet. Okay, I understand how silly that sounds, but lets be honest – I was the kind of girl who would ‘decide’ either “yep, I could marry him some day” or “nope, let’s never talk again, please” after one date. But this time I didn’t know. All I knew was that I had had a great time and I wanted to see him again. And I felt like he genuinely wanted to see me again. And that felt good.

We texted pretty consistently the next couple of days minus the time we were sleeping and the time on Friday night when I went on the date with Kevin. I sent Matt one last response before Kevin picked me up and wondered if Matt would notice if I stopped responding for a while.

Kevin and I went bowling. He was just as handsome as he looked on Tinder, kind, charming, and a good date. I was definitely enjoying myself, but somewhere around frame 4 or 5 I thought, “This is fun, but I kind of wish I was with that Matt kid…” The thought kind of surprised me, but I put it in the back of my mind and tried to focus on the rest of the date with Kevin. After bowling, we got ice cream and talked. I enjoyed our conversation, but I still had Matt in the back of my mind and I was anxious to text him again.

After a while, Kevin took me home and walked me to my door. I thanked him and went inside and texted Matt. And then I sent Kevin an after-date text to thank him and let him know I’d had a good time. And then I kept texting Matt. The next day, when my friend Dustin asked me how my date with Kevin had gone, I said “Well, it was good… but I think I actually like Matt more.”

more love story here

malise love story part two: a little bit of heartbreak and a little hope

As I’m sure you could have guessed, things didn’t work out with the other Tinder guy. I went on another date or two, developed a new crush, got pretty bold one night and let that new crush know I was interested and he kindly told me that he didn’t see us being anything more than friends. This had been one of the first times that I’d just been up front at the start of a crush and it was kind of refreshing to have just been honest and know how he felt before I had gotten all emotionally invested in the idea.

BUT. I still felt pretty heartbroken that night. It really just felt like the final straw. It seemed like I was giving everything to try to have a chance with all of these wonderful guys and experiencing rejection after rejection after rejection. I was so frustrated. I was on Tinder, digging through “dumpsters”, putting myself out there, and I still wasn’t making it past a third date with anyone. And I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.

That night, I called my dad in tears.

We had a similar conversation to all the late night, Elise-in-tears phone chats we’d had before. He told me I was amazing and reminded me of promised blessings. He let me cry and complain and talk about how much it hurt. And he also told me that I had every reason to be gun-shy – he’d helped me through some of the pretty tough breakups and rocky relationships I’d had before. He told me he was pretty impressed by the way I kept trying despite the heartaches I’d been through. And then he said something that he hadn’t ever said before. He told me, “Don’t settle for unrealistic. Believe in the absolute impossible.” Then he said, “It is going to happen.” 

I hung up and knelt on top of my bed to pray. Through sobs, I told Heavenly Father that I couldn’t do it anymore, that I was turning my dating life over to Him. I told Him that I knew of the blessings He had promised me. My patriarchal blessing talks about me being guided to someone and I’d had other blessings that promised that someone was being prepared for me. So, I told Heavenly Father that it was up to Him now. I promised that I would listen for guidance and do anything He needed me to do to help the process along, but that the rest was all up to Him. And then I said that I knew that would be hard for me to trust Him and asked for help to let go of the “I’ll do it myself” control I’d been trying to have over my own dating life.

Not long after that prayer, my best friend Heather and I went for a drive to our favorite place, Magic Park. It was freezing outside, so we stayed in her car to chat this time. She’d just gotten back from a trip to Oregon where she visited the guy she was long-distance dating. She told me all about how perfect it was and then she told me that they’d decided they were going to get married. First, I felt really excited for her and then I started to feel some self-pity. I thought, “Really? Again??” I’ve had a lot of my best friends get married over the years. I’m always quite happy for them, but it can be tough when you have that go-to friend who is always ready to get ice cream or fries with you, and wants to hear all the pointless details of your life and the boys you’ve been texting, and they find a husband. It’s not that you stop being friends with them, but it kind of feels like a breakup because you have to find a new go-to best friend.

When my best friend Nichelle got married, I promised myself that I was going to get a male best friend to “replace” her. That seemed like the best plan. (And if everything worked out right, I’d keep that one around for forever.) But Heather wasn’t a boy (which is fine, because she was exactly the best friend I needed at that time). So as I sat in Heather’s car feeling like I’d never find a forever go-to best friend, let alone just another go-to best friend, a quiet voice cut me off and said “It’s okay. I will take care of you.” and my concerns instantly went away.

Two days later, Matt and I went on our first date.

malise love story part one: right swipe

When I downloaded Tinder again a week or so before Christmas, I set up some ground rules for myself that I thought would make it a better experience. 1 – No Tinder-ing when I was feeling lonely/desperate, 2 – I would try initiating some of the conversations this time, and 3 – I wasn’t allowed to keep talking to someone just to be nice if I’d decided I didn’t want to go on a date with them.

These rules made Tinder a much more pleasant experience for me. Also, it seemed that I managed to catch some “golden window” of Tinder opportunity. Perhaps the holiday season brought more options to Tinder because of family dating pressure? Who knows. But within the first month of 2015, I went on quite a few great dates with really, really good guys. 
I clearly remember swiping right on Matt. He didn’t even have a bio posted, just a picture of him holding a fish he’d caught. I guess I decided he was attractive enough that I could give him a chance without the bio. Plus, he just looked genuinely good. We matched, he initiated conversation, and we chatted off and on for maybe a week or so. 
There was also another Tinder guy who I was particularly interested in at the time. We had become friends on Facebook, which meant that I could see through Tinder that he also knew Matt. I started to pay more attention to this other guy and less attention to Tinder. I also intentionally let my conversation with Matt fizzle because I wanted to date his friend and I didn’t want them to end up at a party together and talk about me and assume I was on some mission to date all the boys from their high school who were on Tinder. 
So, Matt and I stopped talking and he deleted Tinder shortly after.

missed the prologue? 

malise love story: the rest of the prologue

I had had the “let’s get married” talk twice before Matt. At least one of those guys even had the ring and I know both had a plan for the proposal. Both of those guys were wonderful guys, each with their own reasons for not choosing to marry me in the end. Which, in retrospect, has worked out just fine. However, in the moment, those were some very serious heartbreaks for me. Those, plus a few other, smaller dating heartbreaks left me fairly gun-shy when it came to dating, but I also knew that finding a companion and starting a family was the one thing I wanted most in life. So, despite my fears, I worked pretty hard to find dating opportunities that could lead me to what I wanted.

After my “dumpster experience“, I tried to be more open minded about who I showed interest in dating. I went on dates with some awesome short guys, younger guys, and one particularly great guy whose style was… well, he really needed new jeans. Being more open minded helped me to have more dating opportunities. For a few years before I met Matt, I had some really great and some really tough dating experiences. After a particularly great first date with a guy in my ward, I remember standing just inside my front door and thinking “This is what it’s supposed to feel like. This is how it feels when you’re genuinely interested and he’s genuinely returning that interest.” Not that that hadn’t happened before, but never that easy. Things faded with that guy, and faded with other guys, and faded with more guys. But I kept a little bit of hope that maybe I could find more of “this is what it’s supposed to feel like.”

At some point in all of this, a friend introduced me to Tinder. I played around with it for a day or two, decided it wasn’t really for me and forgot about it for a while. Then, in the midst of a particularly rocky relationship, the guy I was dating said he felt like we should date other people. So, because I didn’t agree, I decided to download Tinder and date other people I met online as if that would hurt his feelings or something. I went on one Tinder “spite date” and gave up on that idea for a while again.

Months later, I was feeling particularly single and I decided to give Tinder another shot because at least it felt remotely “productive”. I bounced on and off of Tinder, occasionally deleting it because it was just providing all kinds of awkward moments for me and I seemed to be only talking to guys who were nice, but not really who I wanted to date. Finally, I reached a point where I didn’t want to date any of the 20 some odd guys I’d matched with that go-around, decided Tinder wasn’t for me and I erased my bio, deleted my picture, and removed the app from my phone.

I kind of forgot about Tinder for a while until one Sunday when I had a conversation about online dating with my friend, Desiree. She told me that she’d met some incredible guys, that she found a lot of success in initiating the conversation, and just some other general things about online dating that gave me a lot more happy feelings than I had previously had. I hadn’t heard many people speak so positively about online dating – in fact, I had somewhat of an idea that online dating meant you were desperate. And even though Tinder was a bit more “mainstream”, I still wasn’t sure that that was how I wanted to meet my future eternal companion. (Cough, dumpster, cough.)

Shortly after that conversation with Desiree, I had the opportunity to watch this TED Talk: How I Hacked Online Dating. I watched it twice, actually. I was fascinated by the way she worked to present herself to really seek out the kind of person she was interested in. But ultimately, the way she talked about finding some who really matched what she was looking for and was also interested in her gave me hope. She was so confident about who she found. It didn’t matter where she found him or how, she was led to exactly what she wanted.

After a month of conversations like that and thoughts about that TED Talk, I got the feeling that maybe it was time to download Tinder again. So, three months after swearing off of Tinder forever, this happened:

malise love story: a prologue about dumpster diving

In 2013, James Taylor performed in Salt Lake City, Utah with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (Isn’t that how all good stories start? No? Too bad, it’s important.) I heart James Taylor, so naturally, I signed up for tickets. However, a week or two before the concert, something came up and I wasn’t able to go. So, I posted on Facebook to offer the tickets to anyone who could use them. My friend claimed them for she and her son to use and I was excited to share them with her.

The night before she was coming to pick the tickets up, I went to pull them out of my wallet and put them on my bedside table. But, they weren’t there. And they weren’t already on my bedside table, and they weren’t in the kitchen… then I realized that I had cleaned my purse out earlier that week, so I checked my bedroom garbage can and the kitchen garbage – not there either. I felt pretty frustrated.

My roommate, Janielle, used to always say “prayer works” – usually after a story of losing her keys or purse, but always very full of gratitude. So, as I stood there in my room mad about losing the tickets, I heard a little Janielle voice in my head say “prayer works” and, though I thought it might be dumb to pray to find tickets, I knelt down and decided I’d pray until I stopped feeling dumb about it. As I started to pray, I remembered that it was garbage day, but we’d forgotten to take our big garbage can out to the curb that morning. Which meant that if I’d thrown the tickets away, they’d still be out in the garbage bin somewhere.

I started to feel hopeful that that’s where they could be, but remembered that my neighbors were having a party in their back yard. I worried about what they would think of their neighbor dumpster diving at 11:00 PM on a Friday night. SO lame. “I really don’t want to look in the garbage can”, I prayed. And then a soft voice said “If I lead you to exactly what you’re looking for, does it matter where I send you to look?”

I was humbled and I agreed that I could look in the dumpster in front of my partying neighbors if that’s where I would find the tickets. Shortly after that, I opened my eyes and saw the tickets right on top of my bedroom garbage can (which I swear I looked through before). I said a prayer of gratitude and got the strong impression that I needed to compare this experience to dating.

I learned that it doesn’t matter where you find what you’re looking for, how you find what you’re looking for, or even if it doesn’t look like what you’re looking for (cough, shorter than me, cough) – Heavenly Father will still guide you to exactly what you’re looking for AND He’ll give you the peaceful confirmation that you’ve found something right.

So, I started learning how to let him guide me through my “dating dumpster”.

Dear Boy

dear “punk”,

 

thanks for being all kinds of cute and trying to one-up me in battles of who is nicer/cuter/etc.

I’m glad we’re adorable. (and you’re totally more adorable than me, ha.)

 

love,

elise

dear matty,

 

my heart does magical firework-y things when you smile

and also when you smirk because you think you’re being really clever

and also when you tease me

and also all the time.

 

love,

elise

dear boyfriend,

 

you’re my favorite everything.

 

I love you more than instagram,

elise

silent battles

I’ve mentioned in recent blog posts that life has been hard for me lately. Honestly, it’s difficult to explain why it’s been hard because it’s a lot of things and it’s a lot of mental things. It’s dating, it’s work, it’s self-esteem, it’s acne, it’s growing up, it’s not wanting to grow up, it’s a whole lot of learning things about myself that I didn’t realize before, it’s failure, it’s overcoming weaknesses and discovering new ones, it’s healing, it’s holding on to hope, it’s letting go of things that need to be let go of… and that’s just the beginning.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, that challenge has a label. It’s google-able and people have heard about it before. They may not understand what it’s like to go through that trial, but it’s something they’ve heard of before. When someone has cancer, you can post about that on Facebook and ask for help – and thank goodness for that! I’m grateful for the lives that have been blessed and the prayers that have been answered because we know how to ask for help when someone has cancer.

But that’s the thing. Sometimes we have trials that aren’t google-able. Sometimes there is no easy label for why life is hard. Or maybe it’s something private that you don’t actually want to talk about. I know some brave people who talk about their challenges with infertility. I think people who share their struggles with cancer are incredibly brave too. I also have learned that sometimes there are brave people fighting silent battles that they don’t understand, can’t label, or aren’t really prepared to open up about. Sometimes there are battles that are so innately internal that you really can’t tell people about them. And the more time I’ve spent thinking about this “silent battles” concept, the more I come to realize that a LOT of us are going through these times in life and maybe we don’t know what to do.

I feel weird telling people that life is challenging right now and not being able to really fully explain why. I tell some close friends/family a little bit, but there are so many deep factors to why life is hard for me right now and I don’t even understand half of them. So, hi, life is hard. I’ve got a whole lot going on inside of me and I’ve got no label to tell you why.

But I want people to know that my life is hard. I feel selfish just typing that. The phrase “misery loves company” comes to mind. But I think it’s much more than that. Honestly, I think sometimes we need to cry out and say “Hey! You people that care about me! I am not sure I’m okay right now and I need help.” Actually, I think we spend a lot of time crying out messages like that – I think our bodies know how to get that message out when we’re not ready to admit it. I’m sure you’ve seen lists of “signs of depression”. They’re filled with things like fatigue, over eating, under eating, insomnia, over sleeping… you get the point.

I think the world has taught us one giant lie that needs to be torn to bits and destroyed forever. That lie is this: “Asking for help is not okay/means I’m weak.” Perhaps it’s phrased differently in each of our minds. Any way you say it, it’s a lie. We were put here on earth with other compassionate humans for a reason. We can ask for help. We were born into family units with people who love and care deeply about us for a reason. We can ask for help. It’s OKAY to not be okay. It’s OKAY to let people know you have flaws. It’s OKAY to need help.

I let myself do this thing where I say “I’m fine, it’s okay, I’ve got this” for a long time until I’m crying in my car on the way home from work and it’s all I can do to think of something I might be able to eat without feeling like I’m going to vomit. I’m learning that I’m allowed to ask for help before I reach this point of desperation. I can tell someone I’m struggling before the tears come. I’m allowed to get support from friends and family any time I want. I’ve learned that all you have to do is ask. People LOVE you. They want to support you and help you be okay. We’re not here to work through all our challenges alone. It was never meant to be that way.

Ultimately, I’ve also been learning how to turn to the Savior. It’s okay to need Him. It’s okay to ask for divine help. In fact, we are promised “ask and ye shall receive”. He wants to run to us, to succor us, to heal us and bless us. I think I re-learn how much I need to rely on the Savior almost every day. In my favorite Holland talk of the day, Elder Holland says “When He says to the poor in spirit, ‚ÄúCome unto me,‚ÄĚ He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.” Up and out is exactly the way I feel like I need to go.

I also want you to know that I am okay. I have moments where I want to scream out and cry out and tell everyone that I’m not okay. Those are real. But I also have wonderful, blissful, joy-filled moments where I feel peace and I know that I am okay and that things are going to be okay and I know I’m on a beautiful path. I’m finding that there is a lot more joy in the struggle than I ever believed there could be. Slowly, I’m starting to realize that there is a lot to be learned from the hard times and even from making mistakes. I have to remind myself, but I think that deep down I actually do know that being vulnerable, taking chances, going off of gut feelings and moving forward (even moving forward feeling like you have little to no sense of direction) is a lot more like progress than staying safe in your comfort zone and not ever risking anything. And through all of the scary, vulnerable, not okay moments, it really is always going to be okay.