Jack & Honey | by: Leah Koneski and Tommy Marmolejo

I can smell the cigarette through the phone. I want her to say it. Loud and clear, like a firework in the sky.

She tells me I’m her honey. Says it right on her wrinkled white shirt.

I can’t help but stare, those beautiful blue eyes, an iris so thin. I see the photo so clear, it’s almost like you’re here with me.

I can trace the tattoos so well. I wanna know the meaning.

When did the ink hit?

Was it the same time as the pen?

You can repeat it in your penmanship. The ambiance in your room is filled with scented sticks. No escape of creativity. It encapsulates every bit of who you are.

My love sparked again with sudden jitters, just like how it was after morning coffee. The way the sun hit your eyes and lips, melted my cerebellum. A better kiss.

I wonder where you are now.

__________________________________

The taste of whiskey and spontaneity dripped from your tongue, a sensation I could never forget. That was when I first knew.

My lipstick stained the edge of the mug, but you didn’t notice. I felt your stare burning through me. I was too scared to look up, you know the fear always wins.

You say those words I want to hear, I want to believe that you mean them. Do you mean them? Do you mean it?

The writing begins again. Maybe this time it won’t be about you.

Be sure to follow Tommy on Instagram @zerox500

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regaining the stolen self-worth

The sad part about today’s world is the hard truth that most people have probably experienced some sort of abusive relationship; or in the very least, mildly questionable tendencies from their partners.

For a long time I had this idea in my head that I could fix or change someone if I tried hard enough. If they weren’t changing, I wasn’t trying hard enough. I became so lost in trying to fix someone that I lost myself in the process.

It was great in the beginning– I felt loved and worthy and he seemed to really care about me. It didn’t take long for him to singlehandedly destroy my self-respect by manipulation and complete disregard for my best interests. I’m frustrated that I let it get to a point where such a thing would be possible, but I’m even more mad that his behavior has influenced me long after our breakup.

I never thought I’d let the actions of one man affect my future romantic or platonic endeavors, but I have. I can’t help but think someone won’t be nice to me just for the sake of being nice or out of genuine concern. I can’t help but think that when someone’s busy they are actually just furious with me or sick of me; when truthfully, they’re just fucking busy. I can’t help but wonder “What’s wrong with me?” or “What did I do wrong?” when I haven’t done anything at all. I’m mad at myself for letting someone who didn’t deserve an ounce of me or what I had to offer ruin all of the confidence I had in myself.

I recall one time he was irrationally angry with me over an innocent misunderstanding. When I defended myself against his harsh words, he responded with name-calling. He told me it was my fault I felt the way I did and if I was “more careful” he wouldn’t have said what he did. I can’t imagine treating someone I love with such blatant and blunt disrespect and cruelty. That is not love. I regret to admit this was only one layer of his physically and mentally abusive habits.

I believe the worst part is when someone authentic and worthy comes along, it’s hard to completely open-up because you’re afraid of judgement and you’re afraid to be looked down on. I spent too much time believing I was dumb because that’s exactly how he wanted me to feel– so why wouldn’t someone else feel that way about me too? My anxiety often translates something innocent into something entirely different in nature. I can’t take anything at face value. I’m frustrated that I let a man who had no confidence in himself take all of mine without any remorse. It’s embarrassing for me to admit this so long after the fact. Realizing that not all men/women are bad or inherently mean is a difficult thing to accept when you’ve been treated so piss-poor before.

Regardless, I give future relationships and friendships my all and understand that’s all I can do. He may have taken my confidence, my self-worth, and my ability to fully trust– but I can get all of that back with time and practice. I learned a valuable lesson and he can’t ever take that from me.

Don’t let past experiences influence potentially beautiful opportunities. We are all worthy of happy, healthy relationships. If you haven’t found yours yet, it’s coming. Be patient; but more importantly, be kind to yourself.

 

 

 

the mess you made | 2019

actions have consequences, you ran from yours

leaving a trail of uncertainty behind

the mess you made, its still not clean

because the heart you broke

still bleeds.

 

how could someone so bright be so boldly unaware?

the shot you took tore her apart, but you didn’t think

years from now it would still sting

why didn’t you think?

 

actions have consequences, you ran from yours

leaving a trail of uncertainty behind

the mess you made, its still not clean

because the heart you broke

still bleeds.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder | 2019

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

Things have been good. You’ve been doing well and everyone knows it. You look healthier, your attitude seems lighter, and it’s like a weight has been lifted off of everyone’s shoulders. Whatever you’re doing, it’s working. Maybe you’re better now.

But like all good things, that feeling of contentedness comes to an end. Nothing happens. Nothing prompts it. You’ve got it good– so why do you feel like you can’t “handle” it anymore? Why do you feel like you’re six feet under? You get mad because you know there’s no real reason why you feel the way you do–it just is what it is. You get even more angry because you know people out there have actual problems. They should be depressed, not you. You’ve got it good.

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

They say talking about it helps but you can’t find the right words to say because nothing makes sense. Like water on ink, everything blurs and deciphering it would be a waste of time. You’re afraid that if you speak about your feelings, you’ll stress them out. Your parents have heard it enough. Your friends don’t take you seriously. They all wonder when and if you’ll ever get better. They know you’re trying. Do they know you’re trying?

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

You don’t know which is worse– being numb or feeling everything that has suddenly piled up. You don’t even know what you’re fucking sad about and that’s the most frustrating part. You were happy a week ago. It frustrates you and them. You don’t want to be a disappointment. You don’t want to be the let down. Why can’t you be like the rest of them?

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

You thought you were ok, but you’re not ok. You know you have the ability to overcome it, but the idea of going through the cycle again exhausts you. It’s not worth it. Is it worth it?

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

 

The Unknown | 2019

The bathtub is filled half way with cool water. I wanted it hot, but it must be all out. Sometimes that happens.

I try to focus on the drip drip noise that comes from the faucet but I can’t hear anything. I feel heavy and indifferent. My mind is racing, but my body is slow and forlorn. I try to focus on anything but the thoughts running rampant in my brain, but they don’t stop.

That’s the funny thing about anxiety. It doesn’t stop.

Anxiety doesn’t care that I’m a good person, or that I have goals to achieve. He doesn’t care that I have a job to go to and friends to keep up with. Anxiety doesn’t care– it just is.

I sit up in the bath and I try some deep-breathing. It helps sometimes. My body is cold and the water is slowly draining; but I don’t care. I’m slowly draining, too.

The optimist in me knows that I have the strength to conquer even the hardest days–fuck, she’s never been wrong before. What makes lately any different?

My therapist confirms that my worry stems from The Unknown, a term I’m coining for my anxiety. The Unknown is a part of me. It is my ultimate downfall and my biggest blessing.

With it; I am haphazard. Without it; I am not me.

Some days I don’t know which is worse.

I’d like to take full responsibility for how I feel because it seems like the right thing to do. For awhile I blamed my dad’s suicide, and the sexual assault, and this and that. I was hell-bent on finding someone to blame other than just letting it be what it is– a part of who I am and something I don’t have full control over. I’m not a controlling person, but Goddammit, I wish I could be in control of this.

Anxiety doesn’t have to be a negative thing, though it’s damn hard to flip the switch on something with such a depressing connotation. Manifesting something so self-debilitating and turning it into a power tool to create a better you is not something easily mastered. I won’t pretend like I have done it myself– I haven’t. But I have complete faith that it can be done; only, and only if, you allow yourself to become wholeheartedly vulnerable.

I get it. It’s hard for people to come to terms with anxiety and all it entails. It’s hard to admit when there’s a problem; and even worse, it’s hard to seek help. When you do receive help, it’s hard to accept what’s being told to you. It’s too easy to fall into the rabbit hole, constantly wondering why do I have to be like this? and why can’t I just be normal?

I guess everyone is different. I’m no expert, you know? I have no idea what the hell I’m doing most of the time. All I really know is that I go through some shit and with that comes a burning need to help others that are dealing with the same emotions I am. Not everyone is strong and level-headed. I can’t fix these people, but I can be there for them as much as they’ll allow me to be.

The water in the tub has completely drained. The air has frozen my body but I make way to grab a towel. I’m frozen, but my mind is not. She keeps going, and going, and…

I have a theory that everything happens for a reason. All the good, bad, and traumatic has a place in our lives. We aren’t always meant to know why. We aren’t always going to understand it. It’s okay to not understand. Roll with the punches, take shit at face value, allow yourself to be engulfed in whatever life hits you with.

Hm, maybe I should take my own advice?

I’m out of the tub now, sleepy and ready to rest my head.

Tomorrow is a new day, and maybe The Unknown won’t be so bad.

But even if he is, we’ll get through it.

We always do.

My Apologies

In the new year, a lot of fresh ideas and new beginnings come to light. People are excited to go to the gym, eat healthier, become more organized, and bask in the idea that there’s a better version of themselves ready break through.

I have a different idea.

I have spent a great portion of my life, even from childhood, feeling like a burden and feeling bad for everything; like somehow my existence is a bother to those around me. Because of this; I shut myself out, I don’t talk about my feelings, and I apologize for everything.

I don’t want to be that way this year.

Feeling like a burden is a really exhausting way to live, tiptoeing through life because of the fear of being annoying or the fear of being “too much.” I tell everyone I’m sorry for “this” and “that,” and most of the time I don’t have a clue what it is that I’m sorry for. I don’t think it’s due to a lack of self-esteem or self-worth; but maybe subconsciously it is. I have a habit of thinking that all the good things that find their way into my life are bound to fail. I don’t know if thinking like this is a direct result from the trauma in my past or because I fail to have a balanced way of thinking. I don’t know if it matters.

Regardless of reasoning, I’m tired.

I’m tired of being sorry. I’m tired of thinking that I don’t deserve more. I’m tired of manifesting anxiety, but not accepting it. I’m tired of being too hard on myself. Most of all, though, I’m tired of being tired.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to know, it’s that even the most damaged or broken pieces can be fixed and healed. Even a bad habit or a bitter attitude can be mended with patience and zeal.

It’s unrealistic and foolish to think that this is something I can change overnight. It might take months or years before I don’t feel like a burden anymore. I’m going to fail. I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to royally fuck up. The good news? I have a lot of time to get up and start over again.

I’m lucky enough to have a few people in my life that truly understand me and accept me for who I am, despite my many flaws and weird habits. When the going gets tough, I know they’ll be there. I take great comfort in knowing I don’t have to go through anything alone.

“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.” –Mark Manson

Lessons From a Dead Man

Someone highly important to me recently recommended I read “The Last Lecture,” by Randy Pausch. I never even heard of it, nor did I bother to see what it was about before purchasing it.

I won’t reiterate what can easily be Googled. Instead, I want to emphasize the importance of the message:

Positively overcoming obstacles and making the most out of any situation– even the tragic ones.

Randy Pausch knew he was going to die. He was well aware that he could spend the last of his days sulking in his unfortunate demise and feeling sorry for himself. That’s exactly what he didn’t do. Due to the nature of this book, I don’t want to use the word “positive” to describe it, but that’s exactly what I got from it– an overwhelming sense of positivity.

When you find yourself in turmoil, it’s easy to become engulfed in negativity. It’s easy to ask dead-end questions.

“Why did this happen to me?”

“What did I do to deserve this?”

For a long time, I dwelled in my sorrow. I made excuses for why things weren’t getting better. I became complacent with my self-destruction because it was comfortable for me. The less I had to think about the root of my problems, the easier it was to ignore them.

I don’t know if I have a definitive answer as to how I got myself out of the mess I made for myself. I wouldn’t expect it to help you either– we are all vastly different individuals, set on different paths with varying degrees of hardships. My answer may not be your answer.

I will say that I woke up one day incredibly tired of the way my life was panning out– after having been in the hospital for complications with my anti-depressants, experiencing sleep paralysis nightly, completely emotionless– I knew I had to make a change.


In the ever-evolving world of social media, it’s hard to make positive changes in our lives when we are constantly reminded of what we don’t have. I pretended like social media was helping me in a positive manner, but really, it was destroying my self-esteem. It’s easy to lose yourself in the mess of the world wide web. It’s easy to forget what you do have when you’re surrounded by images of things you don’t.

Differentiate what is real and what is not– only then will you find peace.

I think a majority of my unhappiness stemmed from Facebook and Instagram because I was not emotionally secure. I was outwardly happy, but inside I was a mess. I was not confident. I was not proud. I was letting my past and the struggles I had faced dictate my every move. The image I had yearned for was not realistic. It was not me.

So I cut back, like a smoker trying to reduce the amount of packs she smokes per day. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true– social media is addictive. I spent so much time trying to keep up with everyone elses’ lives because I knew it distracted me from my own.

Maybe not completely, maybe not a lot, but I did cut back.

And just like that, I was happier.


When I made the decision to move away for college, I had been broken up with my on-again-off-again boyfriend for a few months. I knew I couldn’t have made that decision while dating him. Moving away was something I needed to do so I could grow as a human being, so when we got back together again– and became engaged– I knew it wasn’t going to work and I knew it wasn’t for the right reasons for either of us. I loved him, but I loved myself too, and I knew this was something I needed to do alone.

So I did.

I moved.

And along the way, I found myself and I found the things I knew I needed– self-love, ambition, and a drive for happiness and well-being. I slipped up along the way, but that’s fine– good, actually. Everything that has happened can be chalked up as a learning experience, a lesson, and maybe even a laugh.


Randy Pausch made a valuable point:

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Truth be told, life can throw us some pretty shitty, inconveniencing, nasty shit. It’s what we do with it that means the most.

One year ago I was stuck, but I was fortunate enough to know it didn’t have to remain that way. I didn’t have to stay in my situation if it made me unhappy. I was free to live life how I wanted to, despite what anyone else thought of it.

You know the cool thing about that?

You can too.

You are not shackled to your past, or your problems, or your insecurities. You have just as much right to live fully and freely as everyone else. What others think of your passions or dreams is none of your business. After all, this is your life. Do what makes you happy.

If a dying man can do that, we all can.

Be good, do good, and remember that everything you want out of life is attainable; and if nothing else– know that I am rooting for you.

We need you.

Twenty-Two

Yesterday was my twenty-second birthday. If I said it was bittersweet, well…that would be an understatement.

We don’t realize how quickly time passes until we sit for a moment and really reflect.

In 2018, I’ve ended an engagement. I’ve watched a friend get buried. I’ve gotten my heart broken. I’ve nearly died. I’ve been manipulated and hurt.

I’ve also graduated college. I’ve moved away from my hometown. I’ve started therapy. I’ve made new friends, lost weight, earned a ton of self-respect and self-love. I’ve met some undeniably beautiful, incredible people.

It’s hard not to focus on the negative. When a new year approaches, it’s so easy to say, “I can’t wait for this year to be over!”

I had a conversation with my therapist today about living in the moment and how hard I find that to be.

“Do you ever sit back and find the ‘pause’ in life? Do you breathe?”

No, I don’t fucking breathe because my mind goes a mile a minute and I’m ever-so-gracefully trying to play catch-up. That mindset has singlehandedly robbed me of so many good, pure opportunities. It has taken away so much happiness. It has ruined a lot of great things.

The good news is this:

Thinking destructively is reversible. I am not destined for failure because of it. I am not doomed. Because of my ability to recognize a negative habit, I am that much closer to flipping it into something better and healthier.

In short, I’d say this year was a success; much like all the other years under my belt. I’m alive. I was fortunate enough to feel emotion and express it. I’ve made people happy, and people have done the same for me. It’s bittersweet in the sense that I’ve gone through a lot of heartache, but secretly, that’s the beauty of it. Everything, even bad things, happen for a reason. I am empathetic, experienced, and above all else– I am happy.

I am ending this year confidently with a few amazing people and a better frame of mind.

I am ready.

 

 

 

 

The Art of Accomplishing Nothing

I visited my therapist this past Friday, like I do every week. We were discussing accomplishments and how I am notorious for downplaying even the big and exciting things that happen to me.

“I guess something cool happened to me. It’s not huge, but…”

“You’re doing it again.”

Dammit. She’s a great therapist and she’s even better when she calls me out on my bullshit.

Her point did get me thinking– Why do I downplay myself? Why do I find it so difficult to celebrate the small stuff? I have this irrational way of thinking everything I do or say needs to be momentous; and if it’s not, I probably shouldn’t go about it. I practice this with articles, in conversations, with schoolwork. It’s an exhausting way to go about life.

“Not every accomplishment needs to be big. Sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning is an accomplishment.”

She’s absolutely right. Sometime’s it’s really fucking hard to get out of bed, or take a shower, or finding time to eat a decent meal. These tasks seem menial, but some days they’re the hardest ones to start or finish.

I had a bad day yesterday, but I still finished my day. I still ate. I still smiled. I still took a shower, found time to eat, checked in with my friends. There was a lot I could have done and didn’t do– but that’s okay. Life goes on and it won’t stop for you or I.

Today started off equally as terrible, but I still got up. I went to class. I did what I needed to do. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane style of our day-to-day, so I try to break things up. I order a different coffee in the morning. I take a different route to class. I listen to a new song. It seems silly, and maybe it is, but things like these do count as accomplishments some days. There’s something to be said for the effort put forth. There’s something to be said for trying.

I’m not going to pretend like this revelation will change my way of thinking all-day, every-day. It won’t. I’m still going to feel very, very unaccomplished some days. I’m still going to have doubt and worry. I’m still going to feel like I’m not doing enough.

But the good news?

I’m ok today.

That’s all I can ask for.

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