Greetings from the chrysalis

Have you ever woken up one day and realized that you’ve been just cocooning yourself, layer after layer, and now you’re bundled up so tight you’re not sure how you’re supposed to get out of your pupa?

I’m inclined to think that as I am right now, I have made a crack and I can now see the light of the outside world. Feel the cool air on my face and smell how it’s changed over the course of the past three years. I’m going to try and keep the astrology stuff to a minimum but let’s just say that when you talk about the age of 27, pretty much any astrologer who gives a hoot about natal astrology gives you a far off look after materializing a cigarette out of thin air and takes a long drag off of it.

“Twenty-seven, huh?” they say as you try to figure out where the fuck that cigarette came from, and also, since when do they smoke? “How’d that go for you?”

TW: self-harm, substance abuse, abuse, sexual assault, panic/anxiety, depression, really just like, going into all of the heavy shit I’ve written about over the course of the past three years.

I moved out of the house I’d lived in since high school and away from my mother for the first time in my life. Better late than never, right? To say the transition was difficult is an immense understatement. The summer that followed, I started cutting myself again, abusing alcohol, and smoking weed every day until one day the fuse for my brain’s THC receptors popped. I still haven’t found the breaker to reset this over three years later. I don’t think I care to anymore. But I also started testing out of college courses, started working out sporadically, and started this blog. I was trying desperately to claw my way towards independence since I had been suddenly uprooted from the support system I had spent the previous ten-plus years getting all my nutrients from and was even deprived of Nicholas’ presence since he worked way too much to have any spoons for his emotionally unstable wife. I wasn’t comfortable enough with the people I did have around to rely on them. So instead, I started down the path of figuring my shit out alone for the first time in my life.

The first post on here? Talking about the multiple times I had been raped, of course. “I’ll start a new blog! What should I write about? Oh, only the darkest and most traumatic experiences of my life! This seems healthy!” Here’s the thing, though: I get messages from people basically every time I write about the times in my life that I’ve been assaulted. They’re sorry this happened but they don’t feel so alone. They accept what happened to them wasn’t their fault. It was hard to read, but they’re grateful. And this is a huge factor about why I publish shit like this. I know I’m not the only one with these experiences haunting them, unspoken and ignored yet coloring so much of our relationship with our bodies, our intimacy, our feelings of safety. The feedback on this post made me feel like I was moving in the right direction, switching from my small, not-so-serious blog to a proper “my username dot com”.

One of my favorite things I used to post was my BPD Trait series but no one seemed to respond to these quite as much. It’s a bit niche, in retrospect. But if nothing else, hopefully, it helped my friends understand me a bit better. I know that despite being my less popular posts, they certainly helped me solidify what I know about my disorder.

I bounced between grief and celebrating being alive. This is probably just the nature of life when you get a bit older and those you’ve known begin to leave you. I briefly entertained the notion of making travel vlogs. I make one that performs poorly and promptly forget about it.

2018 ends with me being hyperaware of how quickly I was sprinting to get my shit together. I’m doing okay. I’m adjusting to the isolation and the instability of never knowing where I’ll be the next week. I’m grateful for the holidays. I claim that 2019 is the year I’m going to blossom. I’m balls-deep in my daily meditation practice and write what I hope is an easily palatable two-part introductory guide. After sharing all the thoughts I had about therapy, DBT, and the power of properly constructed resolutions, I go into 2019 feeling confident that it’ll only get easier from here.

I am very wrong.

In April of 2019, I come closer to killing myself than I ever have in my adult life. This is only a month after my silent meditation retreat. These two items are not related but I point it out because as much as I am a huge proponent of meditation as a way to support your mental health, it is very obviously not a substitute for proper treatment. My perception was incredibly high and my attention and concentration were both great but I was still very, very depressed. I felt incredibly alone like no one would notice if I just dropped off the face of the earth. I posted a now-removed video as well as that blog post as a cry to the universe to see if anyone would answer. My best friend Michael called me as soon as he saw it. Interestingly, no one else did. But it was enough. I was reminded that I was loved and that I would in fact be missed if I was gone. I hung on. Then we found out we were coming back to Michigan from the east coast and I was exploding with happiness at going home. It was impossible not to notice how much my attitude about “home” changed over the course of a single year away.

We have a beautiful summer with our friends and enjoy an apartment in the city, just like I’ve always wanted. Nicholas and I drink champagne our first night in the apartment and I cry as he puts a diamond bracelet on me. Everything is perfect. I’m so grateful and yet my mental health is still decaying. I can’t meditate – it’s triggering panic attacks. I feel lost, I have no idea what to do, so I go back to therapy. I’m having panic attacks almost every day for no discernible reason. My therapist points out that I used marijuana to self-medicate for a long time. It makes sense that without it, I struggle to cope. I’m also back in school, real school, for the first time in basically ten years which is very overwhelming. But looking back at this time now, I know one deep underlying issue that I wasn’t able to vocalize, let alone be properly aware of: I am afraid of leaving Grand Rapids, and the uncertainty is weighing on me like a ten-ton weight. I live in fear, knowing all of this will end sooner rather than later.

But I make it through somehow. A lot of drinking, to be perfectly honest. I also go for a walk literally every time I have a panic attack. I call 911 twice this year – once, in New Jersey, I let them take me to the ER but the second time in Grand Rapids after the EMTs check me out I tell them I don’t need to go, surely I’m fine, and they’re sweet and mark it down as an accidental call. I get surgery on my donked-up nose which helps both my anxiety and my ability to meditate. After self-destructing Thanksgiving weekend (which was detailed in a now-deleted post), I make a vow to quit drinking. December 1st, 2019 I pour the last of my wine down the sink and realize that this is the first day I like who I am.

I’m sober for the next nine months. And in the nick of time, really, because I have no fucking idea what’s coming around the bend. None of us do. Oh, I try writing reviews because… reasons. I don’t know, I wanted to make money blogging so it seemed like the thing to do. I’ve long since given up on making any kind of real income on this shit. I’m just here now because I enjoy it and other people seem to like it sometimes, too.

Mostly, I veer back to some educational posts about mental health: highly sensitive people, panic attacks, and a review of how my life and mind have changed one year after my meditation retreat. 2020 has just begun and I’m feeling like maybe all the optimism of 2019 can just roll over to this year instead.

Then COVID hits.

I share a list of coping techniques I’ve learned and practiced over the course of the past two years. It’s time for me to really, truly put it all to the test. Interestingly, my isolation actually becomes more tolerable because suddenly everyone is available online. It’s still a terrifying time to be alive, especially as a hypochondriac, but I make the most of the opportunities I have. There’s Unus Annus to watch, after all.

I remain sober for nine months until I feel like I’m mentally well enough to engage with drinking in a healthy manner again. My first drink after the break is the night before my best friend’s wedding and I feel safe with my friends. I don’t even drink at the wedding itself. Now, a year after that, I can inform you that spoiler alert: besides a few bumps in the road, still going strong on not getting fucked up when I’m feeling emotionally volatile. Sobriety is a perfectly valid existence for many. As someone who has a background of black-and-white thinking to a very severe and unhealthy degree, I very seldom like to operate in spaces that are “none of this ever”. Embracing moderation has been one of the cornerstones of me living a life that fulfills me.

The rest of 2020 passes rather uneventfully. I’m starting to feel like I have some idea of who I want to be and how I want to get there. As 2021 rolls around, I start making videos with brainblanket and it helps me hang on to my sanity through the pandemic.

For a while.

I am in the midst of making a video that actually goes much more in-depth about the dissolution of brainblanket at the ~excitement~ surrounding it. It is very important to me that I make one thing abundantly clear, as much as I’d love to play it vague and clickbait you into subscribing to my YouTube channel: we just went in different directions. I wish CJ and Caitlyn nothing but love and light. But of course, there’s a little more nuance than that, and really an important life lesson to be learned from the whole experience so I do plan on getting a little more into it soon.

Before the hiatus turned into a foreverus, though, I made the decision to move back home to Michigan while my partner Nicholas continued to travel for work. We signed a lease and my love and I spent our anniversary and a delightful Independence Day in San Francisco, enjoying a vacation before parting ways.

The original intention had been that being together in person would enable CJ and I to really focus on brainblanket and see what we could make of it. That isn’t what turned out happening and that’s okay. Instead, I enrolled in college again, started recording music, and went back to therapy… again. Like I said, it’s been a long, hard three years. I could see my mental state threatening to jump off of the cliff I stood at the edge of; without the love of my life by my side, the end of a friendship that has spanned over half of my life, a very complicated grief situation, the complete 180 of my priorities and living situation, and the sudden need to go back to work in the midst of a pandemic, I was lost. Add in the interpersonal problems and Bo’s special dismantling any desire to overshare online, I decided to disappear from the internet. With the help of a professional, I’ve been able to navigate not only backing away from the edge but finally beginning trauma processing, which I’ve never done before.

So now here I am before you, coming to the close of a year that was just as fast as 2020 was slow. It’s been quite the fucking ride, my dudes. And none of us are the same people we were back in April of 2018. Shit, I’m not even the same person I was in April of 2021, let’s be real.

If you’re wondering why I decided to do a retrospective of the period of time this blog spanned, it’s because I can feel it coming to a close. It served me as well as it could, and many others as well, but it’s time to let carlykaxt.com go. If eclectic-exocentric was the caterpillar years, then carlykaxt.com is the chyrsalis years. But like I said at the top of the post, I can see through my shell now and it’s time I work to shed it because it’s no longer serving me. I have a feeling that till next summer, I’ll just be working to peel the exoskeleton I spent the past three years residing inside of, watching and waiting for the right moment to spread my wings.

It’s funny, I used to think that leaving my home town was my time to butterfly. Now I see how naive I was, and how much work I had to do before I could really fly. But hindsight is 2020 c;

If you have any desire to keep reading what I write, my Patreon – https://patreon.com/carlykaxt – will continue to exist. I will even probably go back to writing for it again soon but I’m done writing anything except exactly what I want to write. If what I’ve done here seems like something that adds value to your life, that’s wonderful. If not, I absolutely understand. The internet is rife with billions of free ways to occupy your attention.

Meanwhile, I recently decided to return to the video essay format I experimented with earlier this year so that’s something you enjoy, feel free to subscribe over at https://www.youtube.com/user/carlykaxt/. I genuinely enjoy making these videos and that alone gives them value in my eyes. I will only post a new video when I feel like it because the time of my life in which I pushed content is over. I will never waste your time or clog your feed for the sake of increasing engagement. I’m back to where I started: still smoldering with an intense need to express, create, connect, I am carlykaxt. Thanks for staying a while and listening. Take care.

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