On keeping it real (honest).

A good soak in the tub.

It’s 9:30 pm, and I’m writing this on my phone as I soak in the tub. I just had a mini-meltdown in my car and am grasping for all of my self care necessities at once: Blanche, bubble bath, John Mayer, and a clay mask. 

Since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, I’ve been stressed. I’ve been doing several things to help those in need (and am looking forward to doing more), but it takes a toll. 

I feel really lucky that Austin wasn’t affected as much as predicted and I still have my house, my kitty, my car…but events like these either bring out the best in people, or the worst. 

I couldn’t help but notice just how many people did not contact me to see how I weathered the storm. In fact, the 3 people who did contact me, are people I haven’t seen in at least a year. 

Maybe it’s not a big deal to most, but no matter what’s going on between me and you when shit hits the fan, I’m going to reach out and see how you’re doing. That’s what we do. Right? 

I know many people probably just don’t feel a need to check in because it’s much easier to just look online and see the last time they posted on social media. 

But what if that wasn’t an option?

In the last week, I read a book (“What Made Maddy Run?”) and saw a movie (“Ingrid Goes West”) that both talked about the cultural change we’ve experienced because of social media and the effect it has on our mental health. No spoilers, but the result is not a good one. 

I know I’m guilty of scrolling through Instagram and being jealous of someone’s outfit, their vacation, or really just…their entire life. Of course, I’m only seeing the highlight reel. And that’s where things get dicey. 

I always think I’m putting the real me out there, but you’ve never seen a picture of my face after I’ve been crying. 

If you wanted to, you could read a lot of my issues right here on this blog. And there’s plenty of dirt on my Twitter feed. But I’m going to put some realness out there, right now. 

In the last year, I’ve spoken to only four members of my family. Including my mom. In the last two years, I’ve had other family members tell me I need Jesus, threaten to sue me, and tell me I’m a piece of trash. 

I spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas with my cat. And it was awful. 

There are days when I feel lonely, times I feel there’s no one I could call, times I feel like a burden to this world. 

I work in politics. Liberal politics. And things are dark right now. Obviously. 

I suffer from financial stress. The money I make at my day job barely covers my bills, and I’m constantly doing extra work to keep up, to save for fun things, or to just pay off a credit card or taxes. I worry about bills, and trying to save. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel financially free. 

I’ve done some shit I shouldn’t have. Mathematically, I feel like I shouldn’t still actually be alive but I’m here and I get very stressed about making my time here count. 

I know I’m critical of myself. And of others, too. At times I wonder if I’m right in the way I feel, and I recall years of therapy where I learned it’s ok to feel anything you feel. 

I’ve spent many years searching for what I think is happiness, and I’ve found that generally it’s my weekly trip to the library, cooking, or driving by these two palm trees at the bend on my street. 

So there. Now you see it, my dirty laundry. I know we have a long way to go before posts like these are accepted just as any other. It’s less of a pity party and more of a display so you know that if you’ve ever felt any of these things, you’re not alone. 

I’d like to think that’s a small reason I’ve created this blog for myself – it’s my place to go when the seas get rough, when I feel like there’s no one to call. 

There’s another (literal) storm out there. If you know someone that’s going to be affected by it, at all, shoot them a message. We need each other – the real each other, not the Instagram stuff. 

I’m not apologizing for my crazy today. It’s real, just like any of my blog posts – this one’s just a little less pretty. 

She’s perfect, so flawless, oh so they say…she thinks I can’t see the smile that she’s faking, posing for pictures that are being taken. I loved you, gray sweatpants, no makeup, so perfect. 

Sent from my iPhone


  1. yogagirl70

    Hi Holly, I can’t thank you enough for this posting! I too, had a meltdown day yesterday and wanted to sneak outta town and leave no forwarding address to…my beloved husband, friends, family. Pretty dark actually.
    But I want to use this Reply as a confession. You see, I took your blogging class last fall and so dreamed of doing exactly what you are doing on this site and publicly share yourself – sharing books, politics, ideas, food, moods, the works. I haven’t even started! I also think I said something, asked a question in a mean-sounding tone that was not intended to be mean. I get really frustrated around technology so it was that anger that oozed out that was not about you at all. I am really sorry if my question offended you.
    I love what you are doing and want to do some of this too. Maybe you could alleviate some of your financial problems by letting me pay you to sort out what I’ve started. I would love your personal help with a club website project that has fallen on its ass and then establish my own blog/site. There’s more confessions to come but I thought this might be a good start.
    Your Admirer – Carol

    1. thebitterlemon

      Hey Carol – wow, so sweet of you to reach out! Thank you so much for taking my class and you definitely did NOT offend me (isn’t it funny how much we get worried about these things?). I definitely recommend everyone have a blog; a space to call their own. I’d love to help you with yours – I know it’s difficult to get motivated on your own sometimes. Email me: Holly@thebitterlemon.com & let’s make it happen!! 😎

  2. smithersaaronyahoocom

    Hang in there Holly! Marcel Proust, after thinking about his life came to the conclusion that the times that he really lived were the times he struggled. I know how you feel about the finances, I work a full time job as a teacher and a part time job and still find it hard to make ends meet in Austin. Remember you have made it to this point in your life and you have survived! Sometimes life is about taking the hits and continually moving forward. Hang tough!

    1. thebitterlemon

      I can definitely see a lot of truth in that – I try so hard to fill my schedule when I’m feeling low and it really helps. Yes, I have made it this far and I’m going to keep going!! Thank you 🙂

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