Tag Archives: family

Chapter 11.2015

November
(Sorry this is a longer chapter too… I had a rough couple of month’s lol)

I got to visit my very best friend Carly Quick!! (We’re celebrating our 10year anniversary this year ;p ) She is in nursing school currently, so she’s always very busy studying. It was nice we got a chance to be together and catch up.

The beginning of November remained passive. I kept my head down and worked hard to catch up in school.
I discovered a brand of wine that supports No-Kill Animal Shelters (Chateau La Paws). Seriously check them out; they have different pictures of dogs on the bottles and it’s good wine!! Always down for anything supporting dogs.

I also started weekly American Horror Story viewings with Morgan C and Amy M at their apartment. Loved it. Miss it. Morgan, come back from Spain already.


It wasn’t until 11.15.2015 that my life became truly a ray of sunshine again. Which can only mean one thing.
Cali
For those of you who may not know, I am a HUGE dog lover. I’ve always had a dog growing up. I can be in a room with all my best friends, but if there’s a dog there… nothing else matters. If it’s been a significant amount of time since I’ve seen a dog and I see one, I will stop dead in my tracks just to look at them. Then stand there debating on if I can go pet them. I know- I’m a freak. Will started automatically telling people “Sorry, her dog moved to Texas… and she loves dogs”.
I should also mention that my personal definition of a “dog” is an animal that must weigh more than 15-20lbs and not have fluffy, white hair. Personal opinion. We all have them and are free to do so. Sorry if I offended anyone. SO back on track. Somehow by the grace of God I convinced my parents to drive, yes drive, 18 hours so that Cali could join us for thanksgiving. AKA all my dreams coming true.

Background Info: Ever since my parents moved to TX, me and Amy either fly down to SA or they fly up to see us, BUT they don’t want to fly the dog because it can bestressful on them. Not to mention expensive. This means I only get to see Cali for half of the holidays and she hadn’t seen Chicago or her Chicago friends since she moved in May 2014 (?)

So Greg took two weeks off from work, and him and mom drove Cali up to Urbana so she could stay with me for a WHOLE WEEK. Then I would drive her up to the suburbs so the whole family could be reunited once again. **So much love**
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And boy, did me and Cali have a blast. It was “Cali Goes to College 2.0” as she had stayed with me for a week once before my junior year. We went on long walks, we made new crockpot meals, we went to American Horror Story Wednesday at Morgan and Amy’s, we chased squirrels and cuddled the nights away. I was in heaven. Not to mention I forced Will to come down for a 24 hour trip (long distance with a bf in med school probs) so we could all hang out and spend some time together before it was all family- 24/7.
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Then it was thanksgiving break where the whole family was together, staying at Amy’s place. I basically lived on the couch with Cali cuddling for a week straight.


Cali also got to have not one, but TWO play dates with her boyfriend Snickers. He’s our family friend/old neighbor’s dog. It was adorable seeing them remember each another and play again 🙂 And Cali got to be reunited with Carly!!! It had been over a year since they had seen one another, but that didn’t stop Cali from going crazy with excitementthe second we pulled into Carly’s driveway.


The first Saturday of thanksgiving break, my Uncle Larry invited everyone over for an Italian thanksgiving! After some crazy, crazy, bumps this family has gone through over the years, it brought me so much joy to have us together, laughing, eating, and telling stories.

Actual Thanksgiving was spent at my Aunt Jan’s house and it was wonderful! Great to see my mom’s side of the family, catch up with everyone and eat amazing food 🙂 Not to mention Cali AND Will were able to join us. Double Win.

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So as break was winding to an end, I found another chapter of my life coming to an end as well.
I’ve been debating about how to write about this or even if I should at all, but the more I’ve reflected, the more I think I should just lay it all out there, which I’m terrified to do.
But I’m trying this new attitude on life where I remind myself that we’re all human and that means we all have struggles, emotions, personal battles and are far from perfect… no matter what you see on Instagram or Facebook. There are so many layers to humans. Everyone has a story. Everyone has experienced hurt, disappointment, grief, heartbreak; and they carry that weight in many different ways. No matter how they carry it, whether it’s hiding it or putting it right there on their sleeve; there is no wrong way. You just need to remember that it’s there. We’re all human.

So here we go. Backstory time.

Will came into my life on February 26th, 2012. (one of my best friend’s birthday. I met him while we were out celebrating)
From then on we grew closer and I knew I had found someone special; the type of man you spend the rest of your life with. The problem was, I wasn’t ready to find him. I had just turned 19 when we first met, a freshman in college, and pretty damn immature, not to mention a little selfish. I cared about my own needs and my happiness. I didn’t know what I wanted and loved my new-found college freedom. So because of these things, I lost and left Will a couple of times. But we weremagnets. No matter how much distance there had been between us at one point or if I was acting backwards and pushing away, we found ourselves drawn back to one another. The continued back and forth, surprisingly taught me a lot about myself. I was in constant reflection mode.

We were so young when we first met. Untainted. Naïve. He was my first serious love.
I had daydreamed about a future with my past boyfriends (as I think many high school girls do), but Will was the first man I actually thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I saw it all. Every step. The house. The kids. The world traveling. The nursing home. The comfort. Security.
Commitment itself still terrified me, but thinking about spending my days with Will by my side brought me a sense of calm and ease. He was my best friend, my person and probably the only person in the whole world that knew every single thing about me. Hanging out with him forever didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
We then found ourselves going strong for a year and a half, almost all of which was long-distance.

Let me tell you, long distance is not easy. Long distance with someone in med school is even harder. Add on with someone whose trust and heart you’ve broken in the past. There were many days where it felt like just work. Then there were days were it came so easy, it felt like breathing. I loved him with my whole heart, so I worked as hard as I could to keep us afloat.

Our first year long-distance was his first year in medical school. I was living with 6 of my best friends and he had more free time to come down and visit. The summer meant I was living with my sister and we were only 45minutes away from each other instead of 2.5hrs. Still not ideal, with him still living at home and me working 45-50hrs/wk, but we got more time together and went on some fun adventures (camping trip in WI, Sox games, 6 Flags).

It was then in my semester living alone where I found things to get much harder. Will’s classes were occupying more of his time which meant fewer texts throughout the day, shorter phone calls, uncoordinated schedules and fewer visits.
I’m not a needy girlfriend, I promise you. Everyone who meets me time and time again tell me that I’m very independent. It wasn’t like I was dying because we were hardly talking. I just… really missed my best friend. Having dinner, doing the dishes, watching a movie, doing laundry, going to the grocery store, studying at the library, going to class, going out for a drink. Man I tell you, when we were both undergrads (wow 2yrs ago..) there were days where we did everything together. Those were usually my favorite days. But as everyone knows, the years pass by, life hits you in the face, and things get harder.


So has anyone heard of the 5 Love Languages? If not, take a couple minutes and check it out here. It was something my mother showed me and I found it pretty interesting. I learned (yes even more) about myself.

Summary: there are 5 Love Languages

    • Words of Affirmation – Using words to affirm other people
    • Acts of Service – For these people, actions speak louder than words
    • Receiving Gifts – Some people feel most loved when they recieve a gift
    • Quality Time – All about giving the other person your undivided attention
    • Physical Touch – To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch

*All information about this is taken from the website provided. Written by Gary Chapman

After taking their quiz I found my top two Love Languages are: Acts of Service and Quality Time with Physical Touch close behind. Where Receiving Gifts and Words of Affirmation aren’t as important to me. I feel loved the most when my partner just spends time with me; shows me that I’m important to them and not a checklist on their to-do list. Or when my partner goes even a little bit out of their way to show they care, makes me light up and feel the most loved. I’m also really big into hugs. And oh, how I missed Will’s hugs. Being so tall, he would just surround me, make me feel protected, calm and safe.


So as life continues to throw challenges at you, I felt myself starting to struggle even more with the loneliness. I started calling more friends and family, reaching out to any support I had to make me feel less alone. But when you’ve had a bad day, you missed the bus, you forgot your lunch, you got a parking ticket, you have an exam to study for and 4 homework assignments to catch up on, you randomly start crying because you miss your newest Angel, and you get so burnt out.. so exhausted. When all you need is to be held by your best friend to make you feel better, and you physically can’t. It brought me a new kind of hurt. An empty, aching feeling.

Then I just got sick and tired of feeling that way and I started to think. All I have in this world is myself. Sure you have friends, family, pets, but you never know when someone might die or move or just leave your life. So I started thinking about how I could work on my self-health to get myself back to the Alexa I once knew and loved. And as I started to do this, it got me to think about my future. How did I really want my life to play out? I only had one life. How did I want to live it to the fullest? How would I go about living out all my dreams and have no regrets.

Automatically two things came into my head. Travel & Dogs. So for a happy life, I knew I needed to see the world. Live in other countries; see as much of this magnificent planet as I could. As I continued to think about my future, I felt a pull…. in Chicago. Not because I wanted to. But because that’s where I had my 6ft 5in other half. I hated long distance. I wanted nothing more than to just be in the same room as Will. Evaluating my mental health, I figured I could handle a year or two of long distance. This would mean that I would potentially be moving to a new city with a long distance boyfriend who didn’t trust me 100% because I had cheated on him. So how exactly would I adjust to a new city? How would I make new friends? I played out as many different scenarios in my head as I could, and I didn’t see Will completely trusting me in any of them. I had already seen myself change over the past year. I didn’t go out as much, didn’t talk to my guy friends and didn’t have guys over to my place. He never asked me to do any of this. I want to make that very clear. I did all of these things on my own because I loved him so much I wanted to make him feel secure, comfortable and trusting in our relationship. I knew I was the one that had messed up and that I had to do serious long-term work to fix my mess. Was I ready to continue working on fixing my mistake?

Then I saw it. What my future would really look like. Grabbing drinks with a male coworker after work. Make sure Will knows he’s married so he doesn’t suspect anything. Go out on a Friday night? No thanks, I’ll pass (he’ll be more at ease knowing I’m not getting tipsy while having guys hitting on me at the bars). Go on annual vacation with my best friends. Call him every night and send him pictures to reassure him no males are there. Have our kids ask us questions about college. Please don’t ask us any questions that’ll bring up any of our bumpy road.
I was going to have this shadow follow me around for my entire life. It felt so dark and daunting. I was never going to have a clean slate.

Then I started doing the math.
Will was going to be in med school for 2.5 more years, residency for 3-4 years, then possibly a year or two specializing in something. He’ll be around 28/29 when he’s finished. Then he’ll want to start working, save money, get married and have kids.

So one day I brought up all of this to Will. Knowing we were due for a serious talk about our future.  We last talked about it over the summer, right before I started my last semester of college. Where he told me that he could get a residency wherever. This made me extremely excited. I only had to do a couple more years of long distance, and then we could travel to a new state together while he completed his years of residency. Travel, adventure, best friends- perfect! Then as graduation inched closer, we began our second serious future talk. Where Will told me that he had a higher chance of getting into a residency in Chicago. (Damn, ok… I see what he means…). Then he dropped the bomb on me that he really only wanted a residency in Chicago AND wanted to stay living there his whole life.

I’m pretty sure the floor opened up beneath me and swallowed me whole.

My stomach went in knots as I felt the shackles go on my wrist.

Loving him and refocusing toward the closer future, I asked, “Well, lets talk about next semester. Is there any way you would be able to do a weekly FaceTime session with me where we could have a date night? Or some longer phone conversations? I miss spending time with you…”.

Where he responded, “Remember, I have to take my first boards at the end of this year. Any spare time I had before will be filled with studying for that now”.

This gave me a wave of sadness and grief. Then it dawned on me. I was always going to miss him. For the next 8 years.

I was going to be in a continued state of missing him and making sure he knew I was staying faithful. Then after all that, I was going to need to want kids and start that whole life. This made commitment-a-phobe girl very anxious. There’s part of me that isn’t sure I ever want that. Maybe I’ll grow and change that way, but what if I don’t? Then the idea came into my head that I needed to be with someone who might be okay with just having 4 dogs as our kids.

I saw this cookie cutter, conformed life ahead of me if Will and me stayed together.
If we went our separate ways, I saw us both growing with no boundaries. Living our own lives with nothing holding us back. No dark past, no heavy chains or burdens to carry.

This realization caused us to drift apart even more. I had also been living on my own and taking care of my own happiness for the past couple of months, that I knew I would be fine on my own. I started to see the beauty, the freedom, the strength, the lightness and self-growth that could come from being on my own.


So on November 29th, 2015, Will and me sat down to have a talk. We first said we were going on a break and just taking time apart from one another, but then that we knew we would probably never get back together. We had been trying and working so hard at our relationship for so long that clearly something wasn’t working out. I cried as I remember looking at this gorgeous man thinking, “This is it. Our chapter is ending. Our long, crazy, bumpy, beautiful story is closing”. He saw that I was upset, and he decided to go to Costco with me. I bought him a bag of chocolate covered pretzels. We got gas. I dropped him back off at home. And I drove away. I’m pretty sure I bawled the whole way back to campus, with some slight hyperventilating of course.



Then I opened a bottle of wine and started writing. Here’s exactly what I journaled that night:
(remember I am not a good writer or poet by any means, especially when I’m emotional lol)


Everyday, I chose him a little less.
Today, I feel like I can
Breathe and see for the first time
Finally be myself again, act how I want to act, do what I want to do, and not worry that I may be doing the wrong thing. Doing something that could hurt someone else. I can breathe a little easier today because I have been set free of one burden that’s been on my shoulders for so long.

I feel like everything I do is new and refreshing.
I can do whatever I want. I can be selfish for a little while longer. I wonder what the selfish desire wants within me, but I would never be able to be set truly free of my thoughts if I never let myself find out. By clearing everything from my cracked, broken plate, and put everything back together. Exactly how I want to. Maybe that means Will, maybe it means Chicago, maybe it means somewhere new.

I love Will. But I can’t be with him right now if I want to figure out where I am in life, where I want to go and how to figure out to go from point A to B.

My plate was too full
I couldn’t see clearly
My vision was blurry
Couldn’t see what road to take
Mistook you as the destiny
When really, you were training

You helped me grow
You helped me see myself a little more, and you helped me along the journey.
Many times when I wouldn’t have been able to walk it without you.
You helped me learn more about myself.
From what’s important to me and what’s not.
From who I am, all the way down to the parts I don’t like about myself and want to change.
You were patient with me, which I needed.
You were (occasionally) silly with me.
You helped me learn how to ask for help, because for so many years I didn’t know how to ask.

You were my security guard, comfort blanket, my sole confident,
Until I hit my darkness.
I don’t know what I need from you, so I just always push you away. Them I’m working on piecing things back together and suddenly, I can’t see how you fit in for so long…
Until I do again.

And these constant games, back and fourth, are ridiculous, my fault and I don’t know why.

Be free child. Relax. Enjoy the ride.
I want to be better. And live the life I’ve dreamed of.
Keep going. Stay stronger than your demons.
Stay focused on your goal.

And remember,
There is never an end sign on this journey. Just different, continuing, changing pathways and exits.

——– End Journal ———


I’ve been listening to James Bay’s “Let It Go” (Click for YouTube video) on repeat. Here are his lyrics:

From walking home and talking loads
To seeing shows in evening clothes with you
From nervous touch and getting drunk
To staying up and waking up with you

But now we’re slipping at the edge
Holding something we don’t need
All this delusion in our heads
Is gonna bring us to our knees

So come on let it go
Just let it be
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me

Everything that’s broke
Leave it to the breeze
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me
And I’ll be me

From throwing clothes across the floor
To teeth and claws and slamming doors at you
If this is all we’re living for
Why are we doing it, doing it, doing it anymore

I used to recognize myself
It’s funny how reflections change
When we’re becoming something else
I think it’s time to walk away

*Chorus*

Trying to fit your hand inside of mine
When we know it just don’t belong
There’s no force on earth
Could make it feel right, no

Whoa

Trying to push this problem up the hill
When it’s just too heavy to hold
Think now’s the time to let it slide

Everything that’s broke
Leave it to the breeze
Let the ashes fall
Forget about me

Come on let it go
Just let it be
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me

And I’ll be me

————————-

I learned numerous, invaluable things from our relationship. For that I will be forever grateful. Will is an amazing man and I feel completely honored to have shared so many years with him. He will always hold a special place in my heart. I will always care for him and love him. But sometimes the past is too heavy and your futures don’t match. He was one of the largest parts to my College chapter. So as that chapter came to and end, so did ours.

 

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Chapter 10.2015

October
Forewarning, this is where things take a turn.

It began with a night trip to the city for Alissa’s 22nd Birthday (&Bri’s but she couldn’t make it up to the city). While it was a very short 24 hour visit it was nice to spend time with Will, Megan, and Alissa; not to mention see a handful of other friends!


I then had an extremely stressful week with three exams AND the career fair.
Preparing ahead and staying focused I made it through. Not to mention I had a special guest visiting that weekend to give me something to look forward too.


Will arrived on Friday.
Exhausted from studying and no sleep, we stayed in and watched a movie. Saturday consisted of the farmers market (where he bought me a sunflower- my favorite!), pumpkin patch (finding the perfect pumpkins and indulging on apple cider donuts) and Black Dog (most delicious ribs ever)!


10.16.2015 marked 16 years since my dad passed away.
Amy had the day off and decided to drive down so we could drink beer and make homemade pizza together in his honor. I can honestly say it was the first year I felt completely at peace. While the sadness will never go away, it was the first year I was filled with more joy than hurt. He was such an amazing man, knowing him for just six years still makes me luckier than anyone who never had the opportunity to meet him at all.
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10.22.2015 is where things turned on me.
I was sitting at the Law Library studying physics, when I received a text from Will to check Marissa’s Facebook. Let me give you some back-story here. Marissa is incredibly fit and attractive. It’s not difficult for this girl to get 150+ likes on a photo. Not only that, but she is one of the most genuine, kind people you were ever meet. So I was expecting to see some fitness post about her doing another fitness competition or something. But it wasn’t. In that moment… I froze as I read Marissa’s words:

“Heroin took my best friend in the whole wide world away from me this afternoon. My brother is finally at peace in heaven, and set free. Twenty years we spent together wasn’t long enough. RIP Mitchell, I hope I can learn to love how you loved me.. It was truly unconditional.”

I remember sitting there for a couple of minutes as my mind raced. I knew Mitch had struggled for years, but we all thought he had gotten things finally on track. He was going to college, getting good grades, working out and was in the best shape of his life. We had finally been able to reconnect and grow closer again. We were texting, snapchatting, hanging out and were closer than ever. And just like that. Sitting alone in the Law Library, I felt my entire world shift.

I ran out of the library and called everyone I knew on campus. There was no way I could walk or bus home to an empty apartment.
*Huge shoutout to Ryan Carr for rushing to my help and spending his evening with me until I was calm enough to be alone*

It was a Thursday that Mitch died.
Friday was the beginning of Homecoming Weekend.
I was going to have Will, Megan, Paige, Alex, Bri and Ally staying with me. After struggling being alone the past couple of months I was looking forward to this weekend more than anything in the world. All my best friends under my roof again. Except now I felt like there was a big, black hole in my chest. Their texts came flooding in as they said their condolences and they could stay somewhere else to give me privacy, but I knew them being close to me was best. They helped give me a fantastic weekend full of laughter, tears, reminiscing on old memories, and shots dedicated to Mitch. Truly a great weekend.


But then Sunday came. And everyone left. Leaving me alone to actually process what had just happened. And honestly, for the next week and a half I turned into a zombie. Like the life had been completely sucked out of me. It took all my energy to get off the couch or out of bed. That Monday I skipped all my classes, but couldn’t miss Tuesdays. I remember sitting in my discussion, looking down at these stupid math problems and they all started to blur together. People were continuing on with their lives because nothing had gone wrong for them, while mine had turned upside down. I didn’t know how to communicate with people. Everyone starts with “Hey! How are you?”. All I could think of was “I have clean clothes on and I’m out of the house”, but responded with a “Good, you?” just to end our conversations sooner, even though it was a lie.

We had the service on October 30th. By this time things had gotten slightly easier. Will told me he would be there without me even asking and Megan came to show her love and support. Beyond happy they came. The service was in the morning. Me, Amy (sister), Kevin and Carly (cousins) presented the gifts. Our cousin Rob gave a great eulogy. Then there was a party/gathering at the Autry’s house after everything where Me and Marissa became instant partners in crime. Reminiscing on crazy Mitch’s life and doing our best to be silly, keep ourselves together, and drink. lots. Because we knew that’s what Mitch would have done lol. Despite the occasion, it was nice having all the Caponigro cousins under one roof. We took time to catch up on each others lives and realized how out of touch with one another we had become. And how Mitch had managed to stay in contact with all of us. We then collectively agreed to stay in each others lives, keep showing love and be there for one another. Just as Mitch had done individually with all of us.

Towards the end of the evening me and Marissa needed to get some space so we went upstairs to her room. *Backstory* my Mother bought me a necklace that says “Love you more” on it because it’s something my dad used to always say to me and my sister. Now for the past few weeks, I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. I had torn my apartment apart, my car, had friends check their places, this necklace was NOWHERE. So, me and Marissa come upstairs and what do I see draped out of my purse (that I use ALL the time and had checked four times), but the necklace itself. Goosebumps ran up my arm as I felt Mitch’s presence. There’s no way that necklace appeared there, in the way that it was placed, without his doing.

We all knew Mitch loved us unconditionally. We all knew what a trouble maker he was. So to get a little crazy, me and Marissa decided to try on Will’s suit, because let’s face it, the man is a giant. It was just the laugh we needed. Enjoy the photo below lol.


I still haven’t deleted Mitch on Snapchat or deleted our last text conversation from my phone. I try to remember he’s with my dad and our grandparents now, which is definitely something I’m envious of; cuz if those four are together, you know there’s sarcasm, lots of laugher and great food. If there’s food in heaven… lol

So if you noticed, yeah, Halloween was the day after Mitch’s service. So me and Marissa decided to just be together, be low key at a party and have a little fun to get our minds off things. There was a guy dressed EXACTLY like Captain Jack Sparrow- hammered drunk, eyeliner, nail polish and slurred words and all.
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I then returned back to Urbana to get my head back into school mode. Dreading the amount of work I would have to do in order to catch up on my studies.


This chapter taught me a lot.
I’ve lost a lot of people near and dear to me throughout my life, but none so powerful as Mitch’s. I’ve seen death’s cause rifts in families and tear them apart, but I got to see Mitch’s bring people together. Being there for one another, reaching out to keep in contact with people is so important. Even a simple “Hey, I’m thinking about you and hope you’re well”. Everyone is going through their own struggles every single day. No one is perfect, despite what they want you to think on Instagram. So showing others that you’re there for them for support and love them, can be extremely powerful. Mitch continued to do it and I wish that he felt comfortable enough with others to be open about his disease. Because that’s what drug addiction is, an extremely powerful disease. So many people feel ostracized by their addiction that they try to hide it, which will cause it to never go away. I just hope people start to recognize this. We’re all human. None of us are perfect. If we all stopped judging one another, started showing more love, acceptance and kindness.. who knows. We just live too short of lives and never know what tomorrow will bring. All the judging, hatred, grudges… it’s just not worth it. Losing Mitch changed me, but for the better. My point to all of this, is I hope his death can have an effect on you too.

I also would love if you guys checked out this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao8L-0nSYzg
Found it interesting, it definitely opened my eyes and changed my perspective.