The hard facts I learned about love

Romantic love is not, nor should it be, unconditional. 

Three years ago, I was in a long-term relationship with someone who couldn’t love me back. Our relationship was constantly being pushed forward into the future, at some distant point in time when everything would change and he would finally fall in love with me, too.

It’simages okay that he doesn’t love me yet, I would find myself telling myself.  I deceived myself into thinking that one day it would all change and that he’d magically develop feelings for me.

It took a lot of time to realize that he was never going to love me. He just didn’t have it in him, for some reason or another. Was it sad? Sure. Having to live with the reality that you have to move on without the one person you didn’t think you could survive without––it’s unspeakably difficult. There’s no way around it–it’s pure hell, and will be for some time. You feel the loss deep within you until time causes you to eventually forget the details that caused you pain.

But you know what? Letting go was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It took a long time. For about a year after we broke up, I still thought we might get back together. I realized, however, that a lot of this was propelled by fear. Deep down, I was scared of being alone. But then I realized at some point that I was better off single and facing my fears than to be tethered to someone who isn’t giving you what you need. The future is terrifying but at least there’s a chance of actually finding someone who can make you happy.

Chance of staying in love with someone who doesn’t love you and finding someone who can make you happy – 0%.

Chance of being single and finding someone who can make you happy – higher than 0% (Statistically speaking, the chances of getting married in the U.S. before age 40 is ~90%)

If someone isn’t giving you what you need *and* isn’t willing to work and communicate with you in order to give you what you need, it’s time to let go and move on. Someone who cares about you is going to do whatever it takes to give you what you need–and whether they are unable or unwilling to do so, the outcome is the same–like a plant can’t survive without nourishment, you can’t emotionally survive in a relationship unless you’re getting your emotional needs met. No matter how much you want it, a relationship without just it isn’t feasible. This includes anyone who doesn’t want to be with you. I don’t care if they’re the best person in the universe–it just can’t logistically happen. Realizing that is really tough, especially when you’re still deep in the trenches of love for that person. But you have to – for your own sake – let it go. Mourn the loss, eliminate all possibility of it working out, and move on, even if it means just surviving for a while. I think it’s important to close the door completely, because as long as you’re harboring hope, you’re still attaching feelings to them.

Melodie Beatty calls it “letting go in love.” You can still love someone and let them go. But by letting go, you’re freeing up both people to go find a relationship that is truly fulfilling for them.


I’m okay. I’m not okay.

It’s been a week.

It seems so strange that for all of the emotions I’ve felt this week, I can’t come up with the words to properly describe them. My brain feels like it’s short-circuited somewhere along the way and has been lagging to catch up for the last few days.


Actual depiction of what is going on inside of my brain 

So, given that my brain is temporarily out of commission and my writing skills are down for the moment, I’ll just skip the thick description and opt for a listicle to describe my current mental and emotional state.

Here’s the lowdown:

I thought I had cured my depression using positive psychology and CBT and I have, kind of. I mean, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is a beautiful thing. When I went off of Lexapro in November because of less-than-ideal side effects (a janky eye twich that made me grimace-wink every 2 minutes–trust me, not a good look), I was a bit of a wreck (see previous post for proof). But I worked really hard with my school’s counselor, and now I can happily say that I can go off of antidepressant medication and not want to crawl in a hole and die. Yayyy, progress!!!!!!!!!!

I figured out that Depression is much more than sadness. So I had thought that if I could just make peace with my past and focus on becoming more positive, I could rehabilitate my life and it would all be roses. HAHAHA NOPE! I’m not crying every day anymore, but it doesn’t mean that my problems are over. It turns out that Depression and Anxiety are much more complex than I had previously realized. See, while changing your paradigm and developing a positive attitude are necessary (and beautiful) aspects of recovery, it takes a lot more than that.  I still have neural pathways that react the same way they always do. I still want to skew negative when new problems arise. I still tend to lose my focus in class or church because I’m worried about something absolutely ridiculous. And I still have the memory of a goldfish (which goes over really well in grad school when I lose my train of thought and can’t remember what I’m saying). My outlook might be better, but it doesn’t change the fact that my brain is still sick.

I came to terms with the fact that recovery could take a lot longer than I previously thought. I’ve been a bit down for the last few days for a few reasons. First, I felt like for all my hard work, I hadn’t seen a lot of results. I had read Stephen Ilardi’s book “The Depression Cure” earlier this year, and I had religiously followed each of his recommendations (okay, except for the sleep thing. But I’m a perpetual insomniac, so I can’t do much there).  I’ve run at least a mile each day, I’ve taken fish oil, I’ve tried not to ruminate, etc. I even bought a sunlight therapy lamp (which I highly recommend). All of these things are AWESOME, and I feel more productive. I feel better. But something is still wrong, still there. I can tell my brain is still not quite right. I certainly can’t fault Ilardi for this, particularly because I haven’t been following all of his guidelines. But it’s there.

Dating feels foreign to me now


I’ve been sort of avoiding dating (at least seriously) for the last little while because I knew I needed time to heal. It seemed better not only for me, but for the males around me as well. After all, I could never be able to find a healthy relationship if I was unhealthy. So I took a step back and worked on my mental health.

There were some guys who were interested, but I never took the plunge because I knew that if I were ever going to get better, I had to learn to be healthy outside of a relationship. Plus, for the last few years I had this weird thing where guys would pursue me and I would hang out with them a lot and try to convince myself that I liked them. It’s pathetic, I know. I hated myself for doing that, for being so weak. I felt like a bad person for leading people on, even if it felt like I couldn’t help myself sometimes. But now.. I want to date someone because I want them around, not because I need them.

3 months into my dating fast (and nearly a year of being a single woman), in walks a guy into my life that I like.  He was handsome, smart, and hella tall. He wanted to flirt with me. And surprise surprise, I had no idea how to conduct myself. I was Garth from “Wayne’s World.”


I’m telling you, my behavior around him was laughably bad. As much as I had tried to shore up my self-esteem for the last few months, my attempts were utterly futile in the midst this particularly tall pair of blue eyes. During every one of our interactions, I had a running inner dialogue that sounded something like, oh please lawdy. I ain’t ready for this kind of man.  Pleaaaase don’t put me in the ring with George Foreman yet. 

Blue Eyes, of course was not having my strange, stilted, aloof, goofy behavior one bit and hightailed it right out there. Which I don’t blame him for, because I would have totally done the same if I were a 6’7 granola lawyer with outdoorsy babes to woo. Afterwards I was really bummed – not because I lost my shot with him, as there are other Blue Eyes – but because I knew that this was how all of my interactions were going to go with the opposite sex for the next indeterminate amount of time. Up until now, I purposely avoided being interested in guys around me, but now that I was opening up to the idea, this was just a harbinger for a rough road ahead. A road paved with with male rejection and oodles of therapy, I would imagine. (I kid).

(VERY) long story short…

I’m just a girl trying to get by.  Fighting this Depression, Anxiety, and whatever-the-heck-else is going on with my mind is a constant struggle for me. I feel burned out. But I can feel peace from the fact that I’m doing everything in my power to fight it. Am I bummed out that males seem to not like me rn? Kind of. BUT, heaven-willing, I’ll get to the point where I won’t mind as much. My priority at the moment is just to get my mind working okay. I just want to be OKAY.

I caved and started taking 30mg of Cymbalta (Duloxetine) today. I just couldn’t deal with the social anxiety and lack of concentration and it seemed silly to try and fight this when I could get additional assistance from le drugs. The doctor also prescribed Gabitril, which is, weirdly enough, a seizure medication that can be used to treat anxiety. I don’t know why, but I am MUCHO excited about this. I figured it would be helpful to chronicle my experience with these drugs, because so many people have questions about them. I’m just looking forward to finally feeling less like a turd in a toilet bowl.


I am not joyful today. And that’s okay.

Warning: Extremely emo post ahead ..


I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly strong person. Not just physically–because let’s face it, pushups are out of the question for me–but emotionally as well.

But let me tell you, trying to live a neuro-typical life when you are depressed is hard. It’s damn hard. Allow me to indulge in some oddly gratifying self-pity for a moment and say, in all of its hyperpole, trying to live as a depressed person in a non-depressed world can be hell on earth. I mean, there are even demons, in a sense. Demons in  your skull that tell you constantly how crappy of a human you are. How that guy that didn’t say hi to you must think you’re ugly and terrible because you’re ugly and terrible. You feel it deep in you. You feel it in your bones, in your soul, even. A part of you knows that the conclusion you came to is total bunk, but another part of you – the emotional side- is convinced that it has to be true. 

Maybe everyone has these demons and is better at tuning them out.

I’ve been to the doc, the therapist, the bishop for help; I’ve read enough depression “cure” books to fill a self-help section at Barnes & Noble. In case you were thinking of asking if I’ve “Just tried being happy,” yes, I’ve actually turned my frown upside down on countless occasions. I’ve yoga’d and meditated, medicated and chanted and prayed and journaled and run and tried to surround myself with positive people and taken supplements and spent time outdoors and did P90x.

It’s still there. 

So forgive me when everyone around me says “there’s hope” for my Depression and I’m less-than-inclined to believe them. To believe them would be admitting that even with all of my effort I’m not doing enough. I’m not advocating giving up, nor am I saying I’m giving up in any way.  But sometimes it feels so strangely satisfying to just be grumpy. To give way to that salty, salty, bitterness. You know, just wallow in the idea that maybe things don’t always work out for the best, romance is lame and I’m essentially going to be the human version of Statler & Waldorf (the old guys from the Muppets? Anyone? ) for the rest of my life.

It’s all good, because I know this too will pass, at least for a short time. Give it a few weeks – or months- and I’m going to be horrified for even posting this. But in this moment, this is me accepting (albeit in a very self-indulgent way) that some days I’m just too tired to try to be optimistic. There are times when I don’t want to “dance in the rain,” and instead I want to surrender to it and lay down in my own little puddle of sorrow. Some days I’m less than stellar, and I’m okay with that.


Just let me be like this for a little while, okay ?

The Pros and Cons of Being a Tall Woman

I’m about to answer a question that I know has been eating at some of you for a while…

Just how tall is Alison?

Well, friends, I’m 6′1 (according to the doctor’s office) and it’s been.. interesting, to say the least.

I come from a tall family. My dad is 6′4 and my mom is 5′11. My older brother is 6′5. You could say that I’ve always been destined to be an Amazon.

Even though I’ve tried to make an effort to embrace my height (and try to make light of the situation), it has affected my life a lot, and honestly, it’s been a bit of a challenge at times.

Let’s go over some pros and cons, shall we?


Tall girls get noticed. There are advantages to standing out in a crowd People know me and remember me as soon as we meet (even if they don’t always remember my name, they know who I am). I’ve never been mistaken for another person maybe ever (except for my sisters – but they’re tall too). 

-I know genetics has a part in this, but it’s hard for me to put on weight no matter what I eat. Even though I’m not remarkably thin, I have long, thin arms and legs that make me look slender.

-Some people love tall girls


What is it like to be feminine? I don’t really think of myself as particularly “feminine” in the purely physiological sense. Femininity is associated with being small, delicate, petite.. and I’m none of those things. In fact, I usually feel a bit large and cumbersome most of the time. This is made even worse when I try on dresses that may as well be American Girl Doll dresses based on how well they fit me. It makes me feel like King Kong has descended on American Eagle.

Having group photos taken is the WORST. I think wedding pictures are my least favorite thing in the world. I’ve been a bridesmaid several times and nothing feels quite as bad as seeing the photographer scramble to figure out how to reframe the photo so you don’t completely ruin the composition. If you try and bend your knees to “cheat” and make yourself shorter, the camera WILL catch that and you’ll end up being the weirdo who looks like they’re popping a squat in the middle of a photoshoot

-You can never wear jumpsuits, rompers, or most one-piece swimsuits unless you want to be very, VERY uncomfortable (if ya know what I mean)

-I’ve been the target of some very thoughtless remarks. Most of them have been innocent mistakes, but it’s still rough to hear. (pro tip: women don’t like being called “huge” or “giant” no matter what the context is)

I used to try and make myself shorter by slumping when i was younger, and it’s been hard to break that bad-posture habit

-I think the worst part for me is the dating aspect. I live in Provo, Utah, which has a really strange dating culture without factoring in height. There is a dizzying amount of dating options here, which is both a good thing and a bad thing.

You already know that tall girls (as well as short men) have a major disadvantage in the dating game. And even though I feel like it’s almost a necessity for me to date someone somewhat tall-ISH (I just don’t want to absolutely tower over my significant other and be “that couple” that everyone jokes about), tall guys have virtually no reason to specifically go for tall girls. They don’t need my NBA genes, after all. So really, I’m playing at a total disadvantage here.

I dated a stocky 5′6/7 guy for a while, but the comments we were getting from total strangers were totally bizarre. Once, when we were at the grocery store together, I had sarcastically joked about being mad about something silly. The cashier piped in [to my boyfriend]: “What, did she find out you’re not going to grow any more?” It was weird and embarrassing for both of us.

All in all, I wouldn’t say that being a tall woman is a bad experience. Just like anything else, it’s absolutely what you make of it. My sisters are all tall, but they’re all confident and perfectly happy. I have another female friend who is 6 feet tall and wears high heels. I think it’s all about playing with the cards you’ve been dealt with. And despite its occasional downsides, I’m pretty much cool with it. Just don’t make me pose for another wedding picture.

The day it all fell apart

Last June, I went on my first date with Danny.  I was a different person then.  I was fickle, picky, and flaky when it came to guys.  I had gotten so used to wrinkling my nose at hopeful suitors that it became second nature. I became emotionally cold to any guy who liked me that didn’t fit the bill of my perfect man.

I wasn’t immediately in love with Danny.  I thought he was cute, but I wasn’t gaga for him by any means.  It was obvious that he liked me, though, and I gave it a chance.

I had no idea that I was going to fall more deeply in love with him than I’d ever felt before about any other living being.  Within months, he became my everything.  As I shared my life with him and his life with mine, we grew closer.

I went to Arizona with him for Christmas, and I grew to love Danny even more as I fell in love with his family.  The “M” word began to be mentioned.  He actually admitted that he wanted to marry me as soon as possible.  He would be moving to Oregon in September, and I committed to moving there with him as his wife. Even though I was initially unsure, I was ecstatic.

But there was something in our way that we couldn’t surmount, and that is that horrible thing called doubt.  Doubt crept into our relationship in January.  As we both seriously prayed to our Heavenly Father about whether it was right, problems started to surface.

The ear-to-ear grin that Danny got every time he saw me suddenly was replaced by a somewhat-forced smile.  I noticed, but I refused to attribute that to our own relationship, instead thinking that he must have had a hard day.  As I tried to pray about it, I was just feeling… nothing. I felt like I wasn’t getting any sort of answer.

Suddenly the word doubt began to emerge in some of his conversations with me.  “I have doubts about whether this will work out…” He was worried that his busy schedule as a masters student wasn’t allowing enough time to truly make me happy. I would always try to ease those doubts, telling him that I was fine and that any problems we had could be worked out.  But none of my encouragement seemed to help. I could see the uneasiness on his face between moments of happiness.

I was feeling apprehensive, too, but I am a professional at burying any unwanted feelings.  I wanted it to work out.  I wanted to move to Oregon with him.  I wanted to spend forever with this wonderful man.  It was a mind-over-matter situation.

As I shared with him my desire to be married one night, all I got for a response was that he wasn’t feeling good enough about it.  I cried all night.

The next week, I was feeling like I needed some serious answers.  As I was preparing for a Sunday School lesson, I watched a video about personal revelation.  It explained that if you ask in faith, you’ll know exactly what you were supposed to do.  Suddenly, I knew I needed to pray seriously about this.

I got down on my knees and told my Heavenly Father that I wanted to marry Danny.  I asked to know whether it was right.  But I got a very peculiar feeling.  It was a feeling of unease.

I rephrased my question.  I asked Heavenly Father if I should break up with him.  I suddenly felt a calmness, as an assurance that I was going to be okay.  Heavenly Father loves me and he wanted me to happy.

I felt like I had gotten my answer.  It wasn’t right.  Tears started to stream down my face.  I began to justify what I had felt–maybe it was because Danny didn’t want to marry me right now.  Maybe it was a timing thing, and in a few weeks, my answer would be a resounding yes.  I hesitated on breaking it off with Danny, because I didn’t know the why. In my mind, it was still going to work, and I was going to ensure that.

But the unease I felt only continued.  Things started to get a little weird.  When people asked me about Oregon, I would get a knot in my stomach.  I felt rushed to get married.  I had a hard time even picturing us engaged anymore.  But the relationship continued, and we did the same things we always did.

Then yesterday happened.  My cousin became engaged and their date was set in September–a month after Danny and I had set our tentative wedding date in August.  I went over to his apartment and explained how this was making me feel antsy about getting engaged, too.

He had a look on his face–a look I will never forget.  It was devastating.  He looked as though he was going to cry.

“We need to go somewhere alone to pray about whether we should get married.”

I knew at that moment what was about to happen. This was the end.  I already knew the answer to the question, because I had felt it before, and I felt it as soon as he had said that.

It was the most awkward car ride in the world as we drove on campus to an empty classroom to pray.  Neither of us was saying anything, and there was an air of mourning in the car.  He still had that harrowing expression, but this time with a blank stare. I felt a million miles away from him.

When we got to the empty classroom, we sat down on the floor.  I felt tears coming.

“I need to admit something to you,” he said quietly. “The other day, when I prayed about whether we were right for each other… I felt like we weren’t. But,” he added, “I felt like we were going to be okay.”

I lost it at that point.  I finally admitted what I had been feeling when I prayed. “I felt the exact same way.”

There was nothing more to be said at that point–we both knew it was the end.  We cried in each other’s arms for several hours, mourning the loss of an amazing relationship.

As we said our goodbyes, we told each other we still loved each other. Nothing was going to change that.  We assured each other that this wasn’t then end of our friendship, only the relationship.  But the pain was still terrible. We ended it with a kiss.
I don’t know why the Lord didn’t feel like we were compatible.  It is a reality that hurts me to my innermost core when I think about it.  I don’t know why the Lord works in the way that he does.  But I am reminded of the promise that we both had–that we will be okay. This was the hardest experience of my life thus far, but I know that somewhere down the road the pain will go away.  The feeling of wanting to curl up and die will one day ebb, and I can be happy again.  I am going to need to learn how to live without him, and that will be the hardest part.  But somewhere, down the line, I will find my happiness again.