Foster Harper 9th Floor — Indiana University, 2011


Truthfully, I wish I had more of a direction. I want so badly for this to have an outline, a preface, a conclusion. But it feels wrong to put a cap on it. What I’m trying to do is tell a story. This will be my creative outlet. I have so much to say. I’m always thinking. Thinking so much that it keeps me awake almost every night. And it sounds awful, and at times it is. But at times it’s a beautiful thing. When I’m happy and intrigued and inspired, I’m at 100. Nothing can knock me. Nothing can throw me. I’m all in. Many of you realize this because I never fail to blow up your texts or g chats or snap chats or whatever the case may be at the time. I’m truly overwhelmed with happiness. I appreciate you. And I want you to know it. It’s important to verbalize this. Too many people are concerned about how they might be perceived. Ego is involved. No one wants to give too much of themselves away. I’m guilty of this especially. We have these reservations because of what our past has dealt us. We’ve opened up, showed so much of ourselves in situations and in some cases, we’ve been rejected. We’ve been hurt. We didn’t receive the answer or feedback that we were expecting. What we had hoped to hear back. But this is all ok. I’m realizing more and more that it is alright, and you should continue to express yourself however your soul prefers. Do and say what feels good for you. Understand that we’re all here doing our best. The feedback you were looking for may not ever come, it also may. It will once you’re ready and the other party is also ready. But for now, have that expression. It’s healthy.

We often hold back from what we want to say. Well I want to tell you that I love you and you mean the world to me. I haven’t in the past. This is because it’s such a sore subject in some regard to show our feelings. You never want to make another person uncomfortable. There’s such a stigma around sharing what’s hard, or raw or real. The tough stuff. But the truth is, we’re all experiencing it in some capacity. My ultimate goal is that whatever I’m saying hopefully resonates in some way with you. Maybe it’s current and relevant to where you’re at now. Maybe it’s in the past for you. Maybe you’ll experience something next week or next year that will bring any of my words back to you. And if I can do that, I will be happy. We’re more alike than you think. If we could just understand that and level, I feel that it would make a good difference. The people who are around you fight their own battles. It’s their own and it makes you who you are and it makes them who they are. My experiences have made me who I am. And I love it. I love the good and I do love the bad. I’ve hurt like absolute hell. And this is something I don’t think most people know. Again, why is that? Because I don’t want to be that person for you. I want to make you happy. I want you to enjoy yourself in my presence. The tough stuff is not what I want you to remember about me. I want to make you laugh. But I think my explanation will give truth and depth to what most people are confused at by me. I feel that I haven’t properly portrayed myself. And it’s because I wasn’t ready. Maybe I wasn’t ready because I needed to put these words down to resonate with you. Maybe you’re not ready to hear this. I do know now that I’m ready. I’m looking to express myself. And I plan on doing it. This is my creative outlet and it feels right with me.

To those of you who I have. To those of you who get it. Who get me. My heart is full for you. I feel so much. When it’s good it’s so good. When it’s bad it’s so so bad. It’s almost humorous to me and I’m glad that I can draw that conclusion in the end. I laugh at how bad I hurt and how much I love in a given frame of 20 minutes. It makes me what I am and it’s great. I really wouldn’t trade it.

To those of you, who do know who you are. You’ve inspired me. You’re so important to me and I hold you in such a place that will never shift. You deserve to hear that you’re wonderful. You inspire me. You’ve shown me things about myself that I am so grateful for.

We often believe that we don’t have to verbalize these ideas. We feel that the person already knows. Or it might be awkward if we don’t receive the reaction we were looking for. The truth is everyone appreciates hearing what makes them unique. We all have beautiful things about ourselves and if it’s something you want to say, say it.

To those of you, I love you and I haven’t known this love until just recently. Kate and Lauren I cant begin to explain how I feel that I am new because of you. I have a new outlook. I truly feel empowered and that nothing will knock me and this is all because of the love I have received from you.

Why don’t we do this more often? It feels good. It feels good for me and I hope it would feel good for you. We need to knock this idea that others don’t care. We just don’t all know how to express it. Don’t judge it. Just say it. Or write it. Or sing it. Or rap it. Or paint it. It really doesn’t matter. Just get it out there.

I’ve had many realizations post college. I do feel that In some capacity I’ve raised myself. I’ve had ideas, beliefs, and ways of thinking that I’ve come to understand are not healthy. Why is this? I don’t believe I was properly shown how to express myself. How to love, how to be loved. We all have ideas and I’m not even sure who is right. All I know is it shouldn’t hurt to love someone. It shouldn’t be cringe-worthy to express love to anyone. I’m not sure that it makes it wrong, but it does make it unhealthy. We don’t deserve to be anything less than all we want.

Friendships, relationships. I haven’t had a clear understanding of how something that seems so simple is supposed to properly function. As a result of this, I’ve allowed a lot of hurt, disrespect, and basically darkness into my life. I’ve allowed it to even consume me at times. I was doing the best I could. I was taught and exemplified certain ways of relating to others. Certain ways of thinking, certain ways of judging, certain ways that validate what makes love real. Whether this be a friendship or intimate relationship.

I was doing the best I could. As a result there was a lot of hurt. It’s funny to me that something that has consumed so much of my mind at times. Something that has physically dragged me to the bottom, is something that so many of you that I’m so close with have no idea. That’s on me. I didn’t want to be that person for you. I’ve been too concerned with how I’m portrayed. I’m ready to knock that down. Because I feel that what I’ve experience is also in you and I do ask you to share that with me. Whether that be now or in the future. Maybe it’s when matters are keeping you awake at night. Maybe it’s when you see something absolutely beautiful and you want to share it. I want to be that person for you. Please let me in however it feels good for you.

Darkness. I mean it has given me an edge. It’s allowed me to laugh at how ironic our situations can be. It all comes full circle. It’s tough and we don’t want to talk about it. What’s funny is I believe that it bring us closer. It puts us on the same wavelength. “I am because we are”.

This is raw and it might make you uncomfortable too. Maybe it makes you squirm because you see it in yourself and maybe you’re not ready to. I know sure as hell that has been the case for me. I’ve been upset with myself. I’ve been upset with my actions. I’ve been upset with my past. I beat myself up than you will ever realize. You can’t say anything to me that I haven’t already thought of. The thing is, it’s gotten me to this point. All of the ugliness has gotten me to my floor right now as I write.

It has hurt. It hurts but I understand it now, which breaks it down for me. It has help me overcome. The more I can understand the better I do feel. And you know, I’ve been hurt by others because they’re hurt. That’s all it is. I don’t doubt that we all really are just doing the best. This is what we know. I’ve been hurt and I haven’t understood how to love because someone else was hurting. It’s almost funny am I right?

Should we get down to specifics? I don’t know that you’re ready and maybe it’s that I’m not ready. It’s funny I can physically feel myself getting so close and then spitting in circles. I feel so much. It’s physical. My heart pounds 78% of the day for what can be good or bad reasons. Usually it’s me crafting an issue for myself that I can analyze and overthink and hope to come to a conclusion. Why do you think I’m scared every Sunday? I have massive anxiety. I do and I always have. I’ll never forget when my friend Kristin’s mom told me what it was for the first time. I explained how I felt to some degree at the time. I’m always worried. I’m sweating. Whether that’s to get my lunch in the line in high school. To take my algebra test. Or it’s to go to a party or God forbid go to the mall with girls that I’m just getting to know because I can feel deep down that they don’t actually care about me. Truthfully what am I even doing here? “You have anxiety”.

It’s always been something that I figured would dwindle with time. You look at those who have the experience, in this instance at that time it was adults, and you believe ok one day I’ll get it. Truthfully we may never get it. It’s really ok. It’s kind of fun in some capacity. Who wants to stop learning? I’m fucking hungry. I’m always trying to gather more of what I can. And it’s not like math, or science but it’s what’s important to me and what will allow me to grow. So I want it. I’m always trying to understand how to get more of it.

So at the ripe age of 23 years old, my anxiety is just crippling at times. It really depends. If there’s something I’m looking forward to, which many understand I’m constantly planning and trying to build on more and more to look forward to. Maybe I’m looking forward to you. I’m looking forward to coming home and chilling with Kate and Lauren. I’m looking forward to seeing all of my friends from college or Allie Murphy’s birthday pregame. It’s a lot. Like the actual feeling of excitement is overwhelming. That’s good right? It is, it’s beautiful and it’s why people think I’m so obnoxious at times I’m guessing. I don’t quit. I do too much. I am too much. I’d define myself as extra in many ways in terms of what I am truthfully feeling is happening inside of my body. My blood fucking boils. My heart races out of my chest. I cannot sleep. I wake up at 7 am every day. It takes me minimum of 2 hours to pass out at night. I mean it’s like a warzone in my head. It’s a battle. Most if not all of my feelings, what is physically happening when my chest is sinking or caving and my mind is just racing and running for my good life. The battle is what I am physically feeling versus what I know is rational and ultimately correct. I am extremely logical but this is battling what my feelings are doing. I know it’s generally crazy for me to be so worked up about a text that someone sent. Or that I feel like I’m not being included. Or maybe I’m embarrassed of my actions 6 years ago. That’s wild right? It’s the past. It doesn’t exist. Only now exists. This second right now exists and that is all and so why even waste a breath or a moment on something that isn’t ultimately real? Well I don’t know, but my heart is breaking over it. Or my heart is filling over it.

I fall in love so easy it’s disgusting. That’s with everything. That’s with people, that’s with guys mostly. That’s probably with you at some point. That’s with my friends. That’s with my job, my apartment, my room, my candles, that’s with what I have for me. So that seems great, right? It is but along with that, I also can be absolutely crushed over something so minor. Over someone I truly don’t know. It’s tough. It’s a battle and it keeps me awake, which triggers the vicious circle of what is my anxiety.

So I fall in love. So what does that, or has that, allowed me to do? It’s allowed me to give away my control. I’ve given away my power. I’ve given so much of myself away at times and I’m done doing that. That’s over it’s canceled. I know the correct love will come for me. It has with Kate and Lauren. And truthfully I know many of you that it will come with when we’re ready.

Let’s not be embarrassed to accept and reciprocate it. Let’s not be burned by our past. Don’t stop where you are because it’s comfortable or it’s something convenient or what you know.I mean in any capacity of what a relationship to another person can mean. You should never limit yourself because you deserve to have love exactly how you want it.

So specifics. Why is my anxiety raging. Well I do believe it’s biological. I’m on medication. I think all of 1 person might know this or maybe I’ve casually brought it up when I’ve felt it was ok. Maybe someone joked about it and it opened up for conversation. Maybe I realized that you were also on medication so it felt comfortable for me to let you know. Biological. I’m lacking a chemical that helps me to be at ease. I’m ok with that. That is something out of my control and something I try to change to better myself. So biological, 1. What else though,? It’s a combination of things. Maybe it is because I wasn’t exactly given a healthy example of what love should look like. What you should allow from others. I wasn’t shown how to respect myself. I was taught to respect my elders and to respect my mom and dad because they know what’s best for me. I don’t doubt for a second that my family loves me endlessly, however, it wasn’t exemplified to me how to love others, or what treatment is normal. What is healthy in an engagement with another person. And with that, I’ve made decisions that I know for damn sure I would never make now. Those things would never cross my mind, or that idea about myself, or maybe even you or another person. I feel awake. I would never judge as hard as I have in the past. I would never allow the treatment from another person. I also would never be silenced out of fear. That’s not going to happen anymore. What was exemplified has given result to what I’ve done. It has gotten me here and I’m fucking proud.

So specifics, maybe it’s that I grew up and didn’t fully understand until about the age of 11 that my mother was an alcoholic. I saw a lot of things occur to someone who I should never have to look at at the age of 9 years old as weak, or hurting, or suffering. I shouldn’t have to watch my baby brother nearly puke from fear as we’re hiding in my bedroom with a chair holding the door shut. As he’s gagging at the edge of my bed and crying. Neither of us can understand what’s really going on. No 9 year old should have to dodge plates being thrown across the kitchen at the walls. Or be told it’s their fault this behavior is occurring. Or deal with the endless episodes of screaming and hiding in different rooms until the epsidode is finally over. Or have their friend’s mother come and take them away so they were safe. Have you ever seen an angry drunk person with that dark look in their eyes like they’re the Cheshire cat and they’re coming for you? No 9 year old should ever have that experience or have it be a result of their mother.

It hurts me to even talk about this now because I know what my mother has come from and guess what, she’s doing the best she can too. She was taught certain ways of doing things and what is normal to cope and to not cope. What to digest and when to fight back. She’s tough as fucking hell. But at the end of the day, this is what I did grow up with and I know she didn’t mean any harm. With few exceptions, I do think that no one is intentionally trying to do harm. It’s just what you know. It’s essentially how you were brought up to recognize as acceptable or normal or what’s right for you to do at the time. It’s because you’re hurt. What can you do to change that? It’s hard as fuck. It might not stop. But all you can do is try. We’re doing our best and don’t forget it.

Specifics. Maybe my anxiety cripples my body because I was understanding a relationship that wasn’t healthy. And to me it’s what I knew. The more I realize the more it scares me. What else am I unaware of? What else do I think is normal that’s really not? What else is unhealthy that has been engrained at me and caused me to hurt others? It’s a warzone. I’m constantly questioning. Is this right? Is this my fault? It is it me? It can’t be you because I have this affect on everyone so it has to be me. Back and forth and back and forth. It’s been frightening as all hell sometimes.

I do give the courtesy to one person in particular who I will never understand as often as I fought to in my past. I do give the courtesy of my anxiety multiplying to an all time high where I was living in what felt was like a fucking daze for a good three years of my young life. It’s frightening to look back on yourself at times and think I actually do not know that person. It’s a warzone.

At times I actually would have visions or episodes in my head of some frightening thoughts. I’m very dark. I do like that about myself in some ways because it has me sitting on my floor now doing this. But it’s frightening.

So these vision, I’ve had thoughts and episodes in my head during these all time highs that would relate to the lack of stability I was facing. It’s funny, touching on goals. At the end of the day I’ve realized my goal at times was to just have stability. To have normalcy. To not be so afraid all of the time. To not feel as if I’m awaiting bad news. That’s how it feels at times. I know nothing is actually happening. I could just be walking to the purple line after a decently solid day at work. Nothing to speak of but inside my chest is breaking down and I physically feel frightened. It’s not fun. The best way to explain it is like I’m awaiting news that I’ve been anticipating that’s bad from a phone call. It’s like I’m waiting for a doctor to call me with test results that I’m sick and it’s not good from here on out. That’s how I feel I’d say 60% of the time. Even when I seem ok. I try to laugh it off.

I do attribute this massive crippling monster in my head to one person in particular who absolutely spiked it to an all time high during my sophomore year of college.

I entered into a relationship with someone who was my best friend at the time and who would soon become an actual monster that I’ve never known before.

At this phase in my life I’ve forgiven the situation and come to terms with my actions. But don’t think for a second that it’s not still engrained in me. My biggest issue has been why did I allow that to happen? Why would I ever think that someone else’s life is before my own? Why would I ever allow such disrespect, terror, rage, hatred, into my life. I did it. But it was the best I could do with what I knew at the time. It was how I had understood how to interpret a relationship and a situation. It’s not because this was something I was familiar with in an obvious manner. But I never learned what aspects of myself were deserving of respect. This wasn’t an example for me growing up.

So what had happened. This person who was once my very best friend and I was so deeply in love with. I fall in love hard, well this was raw and overwhelming for every second. When it was good, it was so good for me at the time. What I thought was good. It was disguised it wasn’t good. I hadn’t had the realizations that I’m so lucky to now. So with that, when it got bad, it snowballed into an actual living hell for me at Indiana University.

People often talk about how much they miss college and what they’d do to go back and whatever else. I loved Indiana and it will always have a strange place in my heart. When I visited as a senior in high school I fell in absolute love. It’s more beautiful than you’ll ever know if you’ve never been. It’s a great time. There’s good company and there’s a certain air. I had the privilege of busting my ass to be accepted to one of the most accredited business schools in the country. And I do say this because I don’t feel that I’ve been accurately understood by many. Those who come to know me often touch on how they didn’t realize I was intelligent as I am. This could be on me but I don’t think it should take me shoving my college degree in your face or explaining my actions or trying to be validated by whoever you are to make me intelligent. You just haven’t come to know me and I like to joke around. People don’t understand my humor and those that do appreciate it to some degree. We need to be better at understanding each other. There’s much of me in you and I hope others can see that as beautifully as I believe it is.

So what had occurred. It was jealousy. It was anger. It was the beginning of giving away my control, not setting a healthy boundary that I was never taught. It was a foreign aspect so how was I to set it. What occurred.

I did most of my crying in the shower early in the mornings. So no one could hear me. Or in my car. I would drive my little green ford Taurus “chick car” Bessie off campus and just scream. I would park and sob. It felt good. It was like the only form of getting away from it all. My hair began to fall out in clumps. I was prescribed Klonopin to even get to sleep at night. Which I would continue to take for two years after.

I’m an extremely nostalgic person. I can’t get a whiff of spring air without being thrown back into my senior year being absolutely thrilled for what the future was ready to hold with prom coming up and me leaving for school in the fall, which was meant to be my saving grace.

So somewhere that I loved so much, Gresh cafeteria, Foster Harper, Fee Lane, Wells 4thfloor. These places and memories soon became the darkest areas of my life because I had shared them with someone whom I loved and cherished endlessly. Like that kind of love that hurts you because it’s so strong. I was dealing with someone who was just as hurt as I was all my life. He understood that for me and that was what I needed at the time. But with the same token, he only magnified it in the end. He didn’t put me before him so why was I doing this. It was what I knew. I needed the love. I needed someone who was fueling what was putting me at ease. None of this was healthy but it was a quick fix for me. It was the only way I knew how to be ok. He would feed into being with me at all hours so that I wasn’t so afraid. He would feed into being accessible at all hours when we weren’t with each other so I wasn’t so afraid. It was so deep because it was the only way I knew how to put my mind at ease for a given time. It cut deep because he gave me everything physical that made me feel so great as I’ve mentioned. He would dig his nails into me in a loving way. It was that deep love that felt good for me at the time.

None of these things that I thought I needed make it worth allowing the behavior that I did for so many months. Things snowballed. It was as if I watched the situation tumble from a mile away. Like it just kept picking up, and got bigger and deeper and more angry and more fighting and more cheating until it finally happened.

I believe it was Thanksgiving weekend the first time where no one was in his house. Everyone had gone home for break and I chose to stay with him because I needed him at all times to ease what was becoming worse and worse and I thought it would make it better at the time. It soon would become the darkest place I’ve ever come to know. It was always as a result of him being intoxicated. It was manipulative. It was ugly. It was gut wrenching and it hit me in places and jabbed at me in personal ways that only he could. It’s funny right, how someone who knows such dark things about you in deep ways and they know this because they’re meant to be important and a positive aspect in your life. Someone who knows so much about you and only someone who you love and cherish can hurt you like absolutely no one else can.

It was gut wrenching. It was physical, it was absolutely mental and it was emotional. I was in a situation where I felt as if I were being mentally beat up between why my parents don’t love me, how I’m such a whore and I deserve to be raped. How my dad believes I’m a whore. How this is why I can’t keep friends. How everyone thinks I’m crazy. How his friends hate me. How I look like a fool. How I’m not pretty. I had a video on my phone I would play to myself sometimes and often thought about putting out for the public to see because I needed validation at the time. I was so lost. So hurt. So alone in my mind being consumed.

He broke skin and drew blood. He actually took a bite out of my cheek. I had my hair ripped out. I had my nose busted at one point. I had a full Gatorade thrown at my head with absolute force. I had bruises on my eye. On my neck. On my inner thighs. On my hips. It was uncomfortable for others.

It was uncomfortable and I never wanted to be that person for you. I never wanted to have you see me suffer and be put in a difficult place. I want to be fun and funny and make you happy. I was in a place where I tarnished friendships and relationships to come as a result of this situation. I’m truly sorry and the person I was is entirely changed. Never again will I allow this behavior into my life. I have many to thank for putting my healing into motion and helping me realize that no one ever in a million years I don’t care who it is it could be queen Elizabeth of England. No one has the right to make you feel that small, frightened, powerless, ashamed, confused, angry, crushed, alone. There is no one who has the right to make you feel anything less than the best that you want to be. The best version of yourself. Whatever it is, it’s in there and please take the baby step to get there. I hope you jump in full force cannon ball and please let me know what I can do to help you get there. If it’s just being there for you. If it’s listening to you sing because you’ve always wanted to. If it’s reading your writing. If it’s just watching tv. If it’s getting dinner. If it’s screaming in my car. If it’s sobbing. If it’s g chat. Whatever it is I want to be that person for you. No one has the right to make you feel that way and no one should ever feel that way. You are never alone. I am here. And I will do all I can to know you and what you’ve been through.

I love so much. All I’m wanting is to love deep. To love hard. And to be loved back. I often think about how excited I am to have my own children because I’m going to love the shit out of them. They’re going to be wonderful. They’re going to make things happen. Whatever they want out of life I will do all I can to empower them to accomplish it. If it’s becoming a pro athlete, if it’s working odd jobs to pay for travel, if it’s writing, if it’s becoming a teacher, if it’s singing. Whatever it might be. I will do all I can to allow them to love and to be loved without reservation.

I began with no direction. It doesn’t feel right to edit. Sitting on my floor just non stop giving you the thoughts that cross my mind. Know that I’m able to do this because of my anxiety. I’m fueled. I can only ask that you listen and digest and that is my life’s accomplishment.

-Milana Montalto

Originally published here: