Sometimes the words come tumbling out. Other times they get stuck somewhere between my head and my heart and my brain. Sometimes I’m having five conversations with myself in my head all at once and it takes such effort to quiet and focus it that I have to reset and step back and slow down. I can’t always control it, and, like the chaos theory, even the most random of things that seemingly come out of nowhere are actually quite clearly interlinked in my brain even when the outside world can’t see or understand how.

Deterministic chaos. Everything out of order still in its own order. A paradox because it connects two notions that are familiar and commonly regarded as incompatible.

Sitting on the tarmac after a long week away feeling a bit lost and disjointed, a little displeased with myself in some ways, a whole lot proud of myself in others, working through some hard stuff, fighting through some heavy stuff, figuring out what weight to carry all on my own, who’s weight I can help carry, who’s stuff I can help physically move (in, in this case), and what I can put down, pick up later, or simply leave behind.

Wow. That was a tumble of words that I can hear my English Lit professor in my head telling me is too long and rambling and then I point out James Joyce and how he writes even though I hate his writing.

Sometimes my brain does that. It’s just how I process. It’s just how I deal. I know that I am not wired the same. I’ve spent countless hours over since my father died explaining my (and his) brain to my sister and brother to help them understand. It just works differently. I revisited some of Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s book to remind myself of some of it, and how far since she wrote that back in 1995 our understanding of the brain, and treatments and everything have come. Reading some of the excerpts and summary on Wikipedia (because I am on a plane and I don’t have the book with me) I was reminded of something I’d almost entirely forgotten she wrote. The section on “This Medicine, Love.”

It’s something I’ve never truly experienced before in many ways, and certainly never in the way I have at the present time. I think that’s part of what makes it so scary – because when I look inside my own unquiet mind, for all its years of healing and change and growth, and all the work I’ve done on me, there’s a part of me that will always question myself. I still argue with myself over things such as being confident – and not. Being afraid, and completely content. Being sure of what’s coming next, and totally unsure of anything beyond tomorrow. It’s exhausting, thinking in circles like that sometimes, but like the chaos theory, eventually it all sorts itself out.

That’s the beautiful thing. None of our brains are truly linear. Mine just happens to be even less so than most. But it all sorts itself out and makes sense if I remember to stop and breathe along the way.

Funny thing is, leaving wasn’t hard. It was the going home that got me. It made me realize the difference and why. How a home so full with life could feel so empty at the same time, realizing it also isn’t empty at all but just filled with my own insecurities and self-doubts that I need to clean out of my heart and my home and my head for good. Even if they never really fully leave, I know I can make peace with them and move forward again. I am good at that, and when I let things bounce around and rattle about and ping-pong all over up there, eventually what settles is the good stuff. That’s what stands out and that’s what my brain holds on to and carries forward with me into tomorrow.


I can deal with the inauthenticity tomorrow and in the days ahead. I despise it, but I know the difference between the gaslighting and lying and rumors locally vs the reality that exists, or even the reasons for some of the shifting and why some things absolutely must happen behind the scenes because shouting our truths from the rooftops doesn’t help anyone when those truths cause hurt and anger and pain to people we love.

My patience often fails me. My math brain prefers logic, but my heart believes in magic and when I try to reconcile that, sometimes I run myself in circles. Sometimes I run the people I love in circles. It’s amazing that any of them can keep up, but they do. Even when they don’t understand how my brain works, or it is working in completely opposite ways than theirs do, they are still there. How blessed am I to have that in my life on any level? How selfish of me to ask for more, even though I want it.

I’m learning that what we want isn’t what really matters. What matters is how we spend our time, who we surround ourselves with in our lives, and learning the balance between integrity and authenticity and understanding that they are not the same thing.

Sometimes we need integrity to work through inauthenticity. Sometimes we need to allow and understand why things may be or need to feel a little inauthentic at times for the consideration of others, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is when it becomes the accepted, the norm, or filled with lies and gaslighting. I’m learning there’s a difference between lying and inauthenticity, too although often times they overlap in life.

I am so tired of building something great, or something that I believe to be great, or will be great, or may grow to be something great, to be wrong. And it would seem I am just SO tired of that, that for some reason my mathematical brain decided that if one thing is going to blow up, they all should. Keep it neat and orderly. The order of chaos. It’s why I like a clean house, lack of clutter, organization. Sure my dresser drawers are messy and filled with unfolded clothes, but that’s okay as long as they stay neatly tucked away from view. Organized chaos.

But life IS messy. Life IS hard. Life IS challenging. And it’s all that stuff that we work through together that builds us up for the good times ahead. For the smiles and laughter to come. For the changes in the road aren’t all hills to climb. There’s a time in the future where the road rises to meet us, and encourages us on, not forcing us uphill or tumbling us down the other side. That’s the opposite of what I’ve been doing – understanding that, accepting that, and accepting myself.

If one thing burns down, may as well burn it all down, why not? Clean slate. Set it all on fire and start over. But what if there is only one thing that needs to burn to get to the better stuff ahead? Is it really worth setting the world on fire in spite of myself, or to spite myself or those around that are inauthentic? Are they ALL really inauthentic or are only some of them guilty of gaslighting and rumors and trying to control the narrative to the detriment of others, while some perhaps, are actually trying to do all that for the good of those around them. Sometimes I have a hard time sorting through the difference and making sure my reactions and emotions are directed in the right places, and the right people, and most importantly at the right times.

So what’s next? Where do we go from here? Perhaps I should start with not borrowing trouble and pain from tomorrow. Today already has enough of its own. Perhaps I should forgive myself for my shortcomings, and stop looking at myself in the mirror feeling like it doesn’t entirely look like me, and not understanding how others see me. Perhaps I should be a little bit kinder and more patient with those around me. Perhaps I should be a little bit kinder and more patient with myself. Perhaps I should start changing my mind about the love I think I deserve, and accept the love that’s right in front of me, and start feeling a little more at home in my house and my mind and, perhaps, even my body.

We’ll get there. I know I am ready for what’s next, I just need to be patient until those around me are ready, too. And I need to remember to love myself along the way. I already love you. I’m the hard one to love, at least through my own eyes it seems. But that’s okay. I’m changing. And so is everything around me in its own chaotic perfection.

Anna Todd dark meets light chaos lifewithoutapaddle