Wishing You Well This Fat Girl Summer

Another day, another blog. I believe that is how the saying goes. It is a beautiful day in New York, which I actually find slightly annoying because I was looking forward to a rainy day writing sesh, but alas here I am. I don’t mind the blue skies either, but there is something about writing with the pitter patter of rain drops. Perhaps this is why I haven’t written a book yet. Sorry publisher, I can’t get those pages to you… it hasn’t rained in weeks. Either way, I hope you are all enjoying the weather of your choice today and if you’re not, that’s okay too.

This past week has been… interesting. I had a bout of depression that was a bit debilitating. The real kicker was the moment I realized I was depressed. I was standing in front of my kitchen sink staring at the ONE spoon I had to wash and I was sitting there just like “c’mon Sarah. It’s one spoon just wash it.” Then, I had one of those office moments where I looked into the non-existent camera and was just like “damn, it’s back.” And then the studio audience laughed and laughed and laughed. I then went through my head to find all the reasons I could be experiencing it this time and there were quite a few things on the list : I’m still mourning; I missed my anti-depressants two days in a row; I had my period; I started seeing someone new; it’s still quarantine; Trump is still president; Breonna Taylors murderers (Brett Hankison, Jon Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove) have not been charged; I could probably keep going, but you get my point.

So, I did what any normal depressed person would do and I binged watched Little Fires Everywhere and ate to my hearts content. As Drew Carry once said “welcome to the show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter” and sure he was talking about the game show, but I think it translates to life as well. I concocted my own little depression antidote out of thin air and it seemed to work wonders and I am awarding myself 2000 points. Oh, and getting back to my daily vitamins and anti-depressants was probably helpful as well. The nice thing about going through so many depression spells in my life is that it gets a lot easier to remember that it isn’t going to last. Imagine 16 year old me, listening to Senses Fail, feeling depressed and genuinely believing it will never go away and that music is the only thing that understands me. #emokid No wonder my life felt like a nightmare. Poor teenage brain, not fully developed, sure that things would never get better. SO glad to be through that phase. (If you are a teenager that is reading this your brain has a hard time seeing the future, but it’s there and it does get better. I am living proof.)

The thing that I hate most about my depression is those teen Sarah thoughts that creep up, specifically about my body. It is summer in the city, so more skin is showing, which means more comments about my body from total strangers, which means more comments from inner teen voice Sarah which means more work to change the narrative. The summer for fat girls can be one of both mental and physical pain. It’s hotter, so there is more chaffing. My inner thighs current have cuts that will burn later as the water washes over them in the shower. I don’t just glisten or drip a little sweat, it’s like my glands open up and become a waterfall for the whole world to see. Except, I am not a spectacle they come to see and take pictures of and use cheesy captions like “difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”. Instead I get looks from thin bodies eyes that say they are afraid I am dying, but happy they aren’t me. I also get looks from fat bodies that say I see you and you’re doing great sweetie. I like those looks. The clothes on my body become paper-towels absorbing the water.  I become hyper aware of what I wear and how I put my hair to help minimize the amount of my sweat people can see. Black shirts, hats, headbands. NOBODY CAN KNOW I AM A FAT GIRL.

Honestly, laughing out loud writing all of that. “Why?” you might ask. Well, because it is just so silly, don’t you think. Everybody knows I am a fat girl. I mean I wrote it in my bio on Instagram. I know I am a fat girl. I love my fat girl body, but then you put me in the heat and I feel like I have to shrink back down. Just another product of depression and low self-esteem mixing together like one beautiful masterpiece of pain. Today, when I noticed this was happening I closed my eyes and thanked my body for sweating. I know the sweat is trying to cool me down; how sweet my body is to care enough. The reason I did this was actually because of something I saw on the gram this past week. I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I saw it, but it said to practice wishing people well when you notice you start to get angry at them. For example, someone cuts in front of you in line and as soon as you start to get upset you say “I hope they are okay and have a good day.” It has been a real game changer for me this past week and also has helped with those little voices. Using this technique inward as well as outward is important because I get angry with myself all the time. If a stranger can get my blessing, I better be able to give it to me too. I even got to use it with a stranger just before writing this post when a man was  hollering at me “HEY LADY” loudly and repeatedly and when I didn’t say anything called me a fat a*s. I took a deep breath and said “I hope he receives goodness in his life” and added “and yes, I do have a fat a*s. Thank you for noticing.”

It’s a freeing feeling to know I am not held down by my emotions. I feel them and they are rightfully so present and they are not facts. I can be depressed and talk myself into washing a spoon even if it feels impossible; I can be angry and wish myself and others well even if it feels like I might cry; I can be happy and cut someone off in traffic because I am in a hurry. It’s all about that inner voice. How are you talking to yourself? Do you notice your feelings? Do you validate them? Do you try to work with them or against them?

I know, oh humans, do I know how hard it can be to change that inner voice. We hear time and time again that we are our own worst enemies, but what if I told you, you are your own best hero. This week maybe when you feel yourself getting angry, at yourself or others, you could try wishing them well. If your inner voice tells you, you are ugly can you then tell yourself that you hope you find happiness? If I happen to cut you off in traffic this week can you send me healing words? (In advance: Sorry if I cut you off in traffic this week.)

If you can’t because you feel overwhelmed, or that voice is too strong to change right now, or you think that sounds like hippy, dippy bullsh*t, that’s okay too. Either way I love you and I think you’re doing your best.

A[wo]men

like blades of grass

soft and hard at the same time

-growing up with a fat body

P.S. Here are some links to help in the fight for Justice for Breonna Taylor:

Change.org Petition

Stand with Bre- Grassroots Law Project

Action Network Petition

Madeline Raube- Journey to Empowerment

Hello my social distancing friends. Writing this to you from the comfort of my own home and not a coffee shop. It feels v. off, but I am making do.

I am excited to announce that this weeks post is the second interview session of the year! I usually prepare people for that at the end of the previous blog, but the last Wednesday of March came so quickly. That’s right… next Wednesday is April 1. Sorry if that is shocking news to you; it was shocking to me when I found out. Had to do some deep breathing when I realized I had three days to write this interview post, when I typically give myself a couple weeks. Honestly though, what else am I doing in this social distancing time anyways?

What I am doing is A LOT of FaceTiming, so it worked out quite well for this weeks interview consider she is a friend, previous roomie, and someone I often call when I am on any sort of lock down, whether it be governor mandated or depression suggestions. Madeline Raube, for those of you that don’t know, is an aspiring broadway singer/actress with talent radiating from her. Her voice is so beautiful, the birds return the song, as if we are in some Cinderella movie. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’ve literally witness it first hand.

My favorite thing about Madeline though, is getting to see her how best friends usually get to see each other- no make-up, hair thrown up into a bun, old t-shirt and sweatpants being the optimal clothing choices. In public Madeline is a star. Her outfits are always ready to meet an up and coming director, her makeup is subtle, yet, pristine, and her hair has a beautiful bounce to the curly red locks. In her profession “all the worlds a stage” is not just a quote from William Shakespeare. This is why I love getting to see the behind the scenes, the raw person. Because even without the make-up and hair and outfits she is still this person that is shining, even if she doesn’t always see that. That part though, we will get too later.

The interview started off a bit different this week, seeing how the world is a bit different this week.

“Tell me about your quarantine experience,” I asked.

“My quarantine experience has been okay,” she smirks, “I’ve only had two breakdowns so far, this week. None of us have privacy and we’re all cooped up inside, so it just makes me feel depressed sometimes, so it’s rough, but, you know, it could be a lot worse.”

Madeline isn’t just social distancing, she is in full-on lock down. Madeline is diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes, which is at the heart of our interview today. This is something that she has lived with for most of her life and in today’s pandemic it makes her vulnerable.

“What story are you hoping to tell today,” I digressed.

She took a deep breath, as if to remind her body that she is safe. “I had a hard time thinking of, like, a specific story. Um, like the biggest thing that popped into my mind was just my experience with my diabetes.” Madeline, as mentioned earlier, has Type-1 Diabetes described by mayoclinic.org as “a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.”

She continued by saying, “that’s usually what triggers my anxiety or like it’s the biggest thing in my life that causes me personal emotional problems. So, um, and the thing is like I have so many stories about my experience with it that it’s hard to nail down one.”

Her words, which are often concise and clear, began to have words like “like” and “um” mixed into them. I could tell she was nervous, but the kind of nervous that felt brave, as if parachuting out of an airplane or entering your 1st audition room. It’s those moment where you know the afterwards will feel great, but your brain is still like “B**ch, are you nuts?” She kept going though, breathing through the fear with confidence.

She then began to discuss her career. What it is like to have diabetes in the world of acting and how hard she tries to hide it from the people deciding if they will give her a shot or not. I wanted to know what would happen if they did know before hand. Would she be denied roles due to her diagnosis?

“I mean, I don’t know,” she answered “but it might sway them and [they] could say ‘you know it’d be easier to hire someone who doesn’t have this versus someone who does’ because it’s be easier to put their contract together or be easier to work with them. [I mean] they encourage people with disabilities to audition. Um, I mean someone just this past year won a Tony [award] and she has been in a wheelchair all of her life, so, I mean, it’s possible but it’s also not fully evolved yet.”

She discussed the visible ways she can’t hide her diabetes. Madeline wears a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) on her arm (as pictured it the featured image). She talked about the giant bandaid that she covers it with and wonders what casting directors are thinking when they see it. She mentions the looks she gets with faces that scream “what happened to her arm?” and how vulnerable that can feel, even without any words being exchanged. Madeline has two instagram pages for this very reason- one for her singing and the other for her “secret diabetic life” as she terms it.

Madeline has only recently started being more open with her diagnosis, so even having a public platform for it at all has been a huge step in her life to breaking down walls and ending stigma. I know how scary that can be, putting your private life into the public eye. I remember binge eating after I posted my first blog. Terrified of the response I would get.

I wanted to know, “now that it’s in the public spotlight are there things you’re still kind of nervous to put out there?”

“I’m definitely holding back [from things]. I used to keep my diabetes a big secret from people, so now I am just sharing little by little and going slow… I would just try to hide it at all costs. I would hide my insulin pump, check my blood sugar under a table so no one would see. I was really ashamed and embarrassed of having this disease. So, me sharing on social media is actually pretty new. It’s almost therapeutic in a way because I am learning how to find my voice and kind of share what it’s like. And actually, people are interested,” she said entirely surprised. “I didn’t think they would be.”

“So, for my interviews, I like to do stories that maybe a lot of people don’t know about you… Is there a part of this you haven’t shared yet, that you want to discuss today?”

“Yeah, so I guess the thing that I haven’t ever really talked about, which is related to diabetes is just body image with diabetes. There are times where you to eat food, even when you don’t want to, because it keeps you alive.” I could tell that her breathing was getting faster and she looked up to the ceiling more often as we started this topic. She was being vulnerable and brave and I could feel myself holding her energy. Wanting to tell her it’s okay, but she was releasing and I left the space for her to keep going. “And like, there have been times where I have almost like neglected giving myself the food because of that. Just almost as a way of like punishment, or like the opposite, where I would binge eat… And then just the component of having to constantly prick my skin and inject needles. Like, I have a lot of bruising on my body and a lot of scar tissue. I just have a lot that’s always on my body. I’m really self conscious of it.”

She talked about the struggle of dating and how “awkward” it can be to say “hold on, let me just take some blood out of my finger” in the middle of dinner. We both laughed, imagining the conversation to be one of deep intellect only to be paused by a need for blood. Vampire vibes, really. Then our laughter slowed as she expressed that she’s had some bad experiences. She talk about a guy that put his arm around her waist and he could feel her insulin pump. “He didn’t know what it was because I wasn’t telling him I was diabetic. And he was like what is this and I was like ‘oh, nothing. Don’t worry about it, it’s nothing. It’s just my phone’ and then my phone was sitting on the table in front of us. So, then I had to tell him and his response was ‘What? So, you’re part robot?” and from then on he wanted nothing to do with me.” She talked about her desire to feel sexy and beautiful and a hope to not feel tied down by what she was wearing on her body, and then to hear her be called a robot by someone she liked felt as though she had been punched in the gut.

I could feel my own anger bubbling up inside of me. HOW DARE A PERSON MAKE MY FRIEND FEEL ANY LESS THAN BEAUTIFUL AND SEXY AND AMAZING. I could only imagine how she was feeling in that moment. She made a point to recognize that not everyone is like that, though. How she has met people in her life that have made her feel exceptional. She also mentioned that she is currently single, so fellas, if you interested I’ve got a keeper for ya.

We then discussed the cruel fate of an anxious brain. 100 comments saying you’re beautiful and all you need is one to send you down the self-hatred spiral. Those negative comments are what leads to food restriction and over-exercising and binging.

“When I would hear comments like that I would think to myself ‘okay, so that is weird for them to look at so I need to work out a lot so that at least my body looks really amazing. Just like, maybe they won’t notice the things on my body if I am in incredible shape. I would just go the totally wrong direction to compensate.”

I found myself lost as we were talking. I was Madelines roommate for two years. We didn’t just share an apartment, we shared a room. Even being so incredibly close these are things I never picked up on. I didn’t notice the over compensating, but as she spoke it was clear that it was there the whole time. I know I have said this before, but this is what I love most about these interviews. Even people that I have known in a deep way have pieces of themselves that they have hidden away. I get to learn more about their vulnerable sides. The things that even in a drunken stupor, eating Artichoke Pizza on the kitchen floor, are kept secret.

“Now,” she continued “I’m not in that space, which is good.” Her journey to get here though was long. She was first diagnosed in 4th grade where her whole class was informed, she had to go to the nurses offices every few hours to get a shot, and she felt different from everybody else right off the bat. Very self-conscious and scared are the two words I would use to describe the beginning of my journey.”

“You mentioned you aren’t in that space any more. What helped you get here?”

She said what I always love to hear from people “for the most part, therapy.” I could hear me give a sigh of relief in the recording of the interview. Every time someone I care about tells me they are in therapy, I can feel a weight lift off of my shoulders. Not because it was my burden by any means, but to know they have a safe space and to know they are talking about how they are feeling, at least an hour a week, its give me peace of mind. I mean, I still worry about the people I love, pretty much all the time, but t to know someone else is there for them helps. I know what can happen when we keep those things inside. It can get ugly, real quick. “I talk about this a lot in therapy. Like I’ve told her how I have worked out till it hurts, and my therapist was like ‘uhm, no. Don’t do that.’ It just helps to have support and to hear I don’t have to do that.” She also talked about the amount of support she has received from her family and friends, without whom this she wouldn’t be where she is today.

As we know though, just because we aren’t in a certain space anymore doesn’t mean we are free and clear of any negative thoughts. Madeline shared how she’s found peace in knowing that her body is forever changing and she doesn’t need to beat her body up because of that. Although she still get’s angry, and rightfully so.

“It comes in waves. Recently I’ve been angry with it just because I feel like I can’t control it sometimes, or I’m doing my best and it isn’t working. A lot of it is out of my control.” Not being in control is hard to accept, for anyone. (Hello pandemic). Madeline though, believes this is all part of her journey to acceptance and to her real end goal of being a spokesperson for this disease.

“It feels like a calling.. I feel like I’m finding my voice and other people are able to relate to this so like I kind of can’t wait until I’m able to fully own this so that I can really speak about it from the perspective of like ‘yeah, this is what it is and its really difficult but you can get through this. Like, that’s it. I wish I had someone tell me that when I was in fourth grade.”

I asked her to go bigger with her dream, delete the limitations.

She’s starring in Wicked playing the role of Glinda. She is able to share her story and inspire others. She has not only become empowered, but she has empowered others just like her to reach for the stars. Feeling no shame or stigma as she talks about every aspect that comes along with Type-1 Diabetes. That is her dream.

“If you were talking to somebody that had diabetes now or has a different disease that feels really vulnerable, but also open and scary, what advice would you give them?

“Number one, you are not alone because everyone is going through something. And it’s really difficult right now, but one day you will be able to take back control and no matter what anybody says about you, you are beautiful, with the disease that you have. That is the truth. That’s what I would tell my younger self, my younger little Madeline. That’s what I would tell myself now.”

Little does Madeline know that with those words she is already stepping towards her dream. One day she will be inspiring millions of people from a platform so large and powerful. I can’t wait to see this for her and for all the people who need to hear her words.

A[wo]men & Madeline Raube

**Check out Madelines instagram pages @mdrsinger & @t1d_inthespotlight & her website where you can learn more about her singing and acting journey**

hidden

or out in the open

pain

is universal.

out in the open

or hidden

healing

is universal,

too.

-what we all go through

 

Good Intentions With Negative Impacts

Hello friends, fam, and all around lovely humans. Happy Black History Month! As an artist I would like to pay tribute to the amazing contributions from Black artists that have influenced me as a person. I will end each of my posts this month with works from Black artists that I’ve been impacted by and think you should check out as well. I hope you will enjoy them and please reach out to me if you have any of your own suggestions for things I should check out.

Speaking of amazing artists there is something that I would like to talk about that was ignited by the halftime show- our need to comment on other peoples bodies. This thought first started to linger in my head as headlines scattered across my screen following the Super Bowl half time show. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch the Super Bowl and I only watched the half time show after it was posted all over my feeds. I don’t really care about it unless the Packers are playing, so sue me. (GO PACK GO.) After watching the half-time show I remember thinking what’s the big deal? Why are people so concerned about these people? What is it about skin that freaks people out? Is it the fact that it is brown skin? Is it the fact that it’s the skin of people with vaginas? Is it because it’s “old” skin that “looks young”? Their art, and it was beautiful art, was clouded with judgements about their appearance. It just didn’t sit well with me.

I didn’t realize how much it didn’t sit well with me, until today. I was out for my daily run and a person insisted on yelling loud enough for me to hear over my loud AF headphones: “It’s okay honey, thick is good. THICK IS GOOD.” I think their intentions were kind. I think they didn’t want me to think I had to run. BUT, and pardon my language here, F**K YOUR INTENTIONS. As I continued my run, I thought about how they don’t know me or my body. It didn’t make me feel good, it made me feel violated. My body is not for anyone else and I don’t want advice or comments or anything else about it. That shouldn’t matter if I am famous or poor or rich or naked in the middle of the street.

I spoke to my friend about it who said, “it’s good it was you, a person that feels confident in themselves [most days]. Imagine it was someone else, who’s whole day or progress could’ve been brought down by that.” My day isn’t ruined and in fact I love being thick. Heck, my insta bio specifically says I’m a ‘thicc NYC babe always’. I just think about the lack of disregard for what people are experiencing and how we shouldn’t be assuming anything about people. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez may have their lives documented in the public light all the time, but we don’t know anything about them. Just because they are famous, doesn’t mean we have the right to say things about their bodies. They, as much as we forget sometimes, are humans. We are all just humans.

As humans I want to urge us to move forward with more intention. When the intentions are good and the impacts are negative we must be able to sit with that and work to remedy it. We must also being willing to speak up about those negative impacts. When they yelled this to me, I smiled and moved along, not wanting to make waves. I always fear making waves, believing that they will swallow me whole, rather than believing I can ride them. I want to be better about speaking up and telling people when I’ve been hurt by their words or actions. I want the people around me to do the same.

In fact, some of my favorite moments in my work is when people tell me how I might have misspoke or misinterpreted or misjudged. I don’t love messing up, the Type A in me actually hates it, but I do love it because of the powerhouse sitting in front of me. No, I don’t mean the mitochondria, that’s the powerhouse of the cell. I mean people acknowledging that they want better. They are recognizing their worth and their need to be respected in the way they want to be respected. That energy when I see someone speak up is power. They are power; you are power; I am power. I am channeling that power moving forward.

I actually felt some of that power this week when I had a lovely conversation with an acquaintance from high school. She reached out to me via FB to discuss some of the feelings she was having about the halftime show. She was honest and brave and we had a beautiful dialogue about what it means to be a person in this society and how that gets interpreted and what that means for others. I bring this up because it is moments like this that I am speaking about when it comes to being powerful. You don’t have to be famous to make an impact. There is power in talking, texting, putting words out there, even when it seems scary or overwhelming. Every time you tell someone what you are thinking, feeling, needing, wanting, scared of, excited for, worried about- the world is a safer and kinder place to be.

Be brave. Be honest.

A[wo]men

“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”

-Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom

Published in 2013, this book explores Maya Angelou’s relationship with her mother. It is raw and beautiful and made me bawl on an airplane in 2016 when I first read it. Maya Angelou was a human of many talents and her art is something that will always make me feel so many things. I highly recommend Mom & Me & Mom but in all honesty just get anything done by her and you will feel things you didn’t know you needed to feel.

I’m Full!

Oh my what a week it has been. My parents were visiting for a few days and just left today and I am exhausted. I really am an ambivert. I like some time with others, but gosh I really need that alone time too. Too much of one makes me go all wonky. It’s a balance really.

I think one of my favorite things about having visitors in the city is having them see what life is really like. I pretty much forbid tourist attractions. If you want to see the statue of liberty, mom and dad, go see it on your own. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Harsh words, I know, but like you’ve seen it once that’s good enough. They did, btw. They went to the statue of liberty while I was at work, bless their hearts.

“You really walk this much? Does the noise ever bother you? How do people drive in this city? (*hint, we don’t.) Do you ever miss Alaska and the quietness? (*Hint, I do.) Are people nice? Do you go to Manhattan? Is that weed I smell? Is that lady always on your stoop?” -All excellent questions from out-of-towners I’ve had.

The thing is, just like I am an ambivert, I am also a middle-of-the-road dweller. I need some of both when it comes to my living place. Alaska, was just a bit too quiet for me. Thoughts of bears eating my face off would take over and well, in the quiet it’s hard to turn those thoughts off. Living in Manahattan was like being sucker punched every morning when you walked out the door. Sometimes I would dream of a volume button I could put on the 1st ave to quiet all the busy workers down. Brooklyn, to me, is just right. *Dying my hair blonde and becoming Goldilocks now- except that whole fear of bears may deter this drastic change* My street is quiet and my apartment is even quieter- and cozy, if I do say so myself. It’s got beautiful town homes that line the street, and, as my mom kept insisting to joke about the entire trip, “a tree really does grow in Brooklyn.” (Good one, mom.) People, and by people I mean the dudes I talk to while online dating, ask me if I plan to stay in New York forever. I don’t plan on anything forever [learned that one a long time ago, okur], but I will be here indefinitely.

All this talk of Brooklyn makes me wonder where I will be in 5/10 years. In my last blog post I talked about all the things I was so sure of and how those things changed. This time two years ago, I was getting ready to move to Alaska. I thought Alaska just might be my forever home. I wonder what state I will be in, both physically and mentally, in another two years. I try not to wonder too much because then my imagination takes over and before I know it, I am living on a yacht with my sugar daddy in the Caribbean, where he has his off shore accounts. See, told ya this brain of mine can really get creative.

While it is super fun to have these imaginative moments, I also know it is wasted energy because I have no freakin’ clue where my life is going or how it will end up. Which interestingly enough is how I also write my blog posts, who knows how this baby is going to end! It is interesting though because in the past it was hard for me to ever think of the future. When I would think of the future I was most certainly alone and most certainly depressed. There was no fun creativity. I was Debbie Downer all the way *wah wah*. I think I am still just processing this whole ‘I can live a life without suicidal ideation’ thing. It has opened up my brain space in so many ways, I almost don’t know what to do with it all.

Actually, my brain space has opened up in a lot of different ways recently. Most notable, is that I stopped talking about weightloss, dreaming about weightloss, and really any sort of diet talk at all. When I hear things like “Ugh, I shouldn’t have eaten that” or “I’ll definitely need to earn my next meal” I just shut off my brain and zone out. And the coolest thing has happened since I have made this transition. For the first time in my life, *drum roll please* I felt full. Louder for those in the back- I FELT FULL. Let me tell you, two of the weirdest feelings in the world have occurred to me in the last month. I stopped hoping to die and I stopped feeling the need to binge eat. Last week I wrote a poem about what it feels like to not have suicidal ideations. I wish I could also write a poem about feeling full but it is honestly indescribable. Trust me, I have tried to explain this to people that don’t have an eating disorder and it just doesn’t work. Unless you know the feeling, I don’t know any other way to tell you.

The first time I felt it, I was confused AF. I remember just like closing my eyes and thinking aliens have invaded my body. What was happening in my body.. This weird sensation. I was fully present while I was eating and I was listening to my body. It told me it was full and I just listened. Ever since that day, when I feel full I can’t help but smile. Like hey, look at me listening to my body signals and being aware and shit. This is not to say that I don’t ever overeat anymore. Sometimes the chocolate is just too good to put down, but when that happens I no longer feel guilt or shame.

In fact, I am over feeling guilt or shame for anything I choose to do to my body. I am over people convincing me that I should feel guilt or shame. Part of the reason I developed an eating disorder was due to guilt and shame about what I looked like. Want to know why I wanted to die? Guilt and shame about who I am as a person. And, heck, I am living in a privileged body. I’ve actually moved away from writing about the body positive movement for this reason. I do not want to diminish any body that has felt discrimination, that has experienced this message of guilt and shame particularly due to intersectionality, and I do not wish to center my voice in this movement. I mostly just want to say that it is a wild ride to decide to not care how people see you. I would actually like to give credit to those that are centered in this movement because they are part of my healing journey, that led to me being able to be a diet culture drop out. Some notable people you should be following on IG is @lizzobeeating, @bopolena, @sassy_latte, @libbyshappyproject, @theeverymanproject,  and @recoverybrainfood. I could keep going but I will limit myself. Part of my journey to this space of fullness was unfollowing all the accounts that made me feel bad about who I was and follow accounts that are about standing in their truth and feeling good about it. How could I feel full when the people I was following before made me feel so empty? It was one of the best small changes I made for myself. And of course shout out to my therapist, who is the real MVP. In these changes and commitments to myself and my wellbeing, I was able to drop the guilt and shame and realize it was the only weight I actually needed to lose.

Before I moved to Brooklyn, I was at a low point in my life. Now, here in my safe space, I am growing into something I never thought would be possible. I’ve told many clients that I’ve worked with before that just because you move somewhere new, does not mean that it will change the things you are struggling with. And while this is true, it is important to note that it can be positive to get a new perspective; to try new places until you find the place that feels ‘just right’. This can mean changing places physically, mentally, or even virtually. Finding a place that lets me feel full and alive and in love with myself is the place I want to be.

I want to really encourage you to stop following the accounts that make you feel bad. Even just try it for a day, you can always go back to them- they aren’t going anywhere. It changed a lot for me and it just might have the same impact for you.

A[wo]men

click. scroll. like. like. scroll.

it’s not fair, they’re better-

IG tragedy.

-How to feel empty

So, that’s how this one decided to end. Fascinating.

My Body is a Monument

Hi all, I think I am still riding the high from last weeks post. If you didn’t get a chance to read Kitty’s story I highly encourage that you do so. It was awesome to be able to write about someone else for a change. And I am beyond excited for my September story that will be coming at the end of this month, so keep an eye out!

As for this week, I have something important I would like to write about. This is something that used to dominate my blog, but I have steered away from for quite some time.

I am ready to talk about it again: My Body.

**Trigger warnings of self-harm and eating disorders**

In therapy, I talk a lot about my relationship with my body. I do a lot of inner child work  which you can read more about with this link. For one of my sessions we talked about my first memory of hating my body.  She told me to close my eyes and just think of a memory that comes up. I could picture it so clearly:

My hair was a mess that day because we had just gotten back from recess. I was wearing cat ears made of felt and so the felt kept rubbing against my hair and creating the little ones to stand up with my pony slicked back as tight as it could go. I was wearing a navy blue nike shirt and some jeans. There was so much joy because it was the last day with our 1st grade reading buddies.  My co-reading buddy and I crouched down next to our first grade friend and the adult snapped the shot. A few days later the pictures were developed and hung in the hallway. I remember feeling complete shame every time I had to walk past that photograph. My co-reading buddy was flawless. Her long blonde hair flowing in the photograph, no sign of rolls on her skin. I remember thinking how she was pretty and thin and I was fat and ugly.

I was 10 years old. 

I remember having to go to JCPenny for back to school shopping because it was the only store that had clothes for bigger kids. I  recalled the hatred I felt for being the fat cheerleader, squeezing into the largest skirt they had.  I remember developing breasts much earlier than I wanted and being teased about it constantly. I wanted to hide in a baggy sweatshirt and never let anyone see my body, including myself.

My body has been was a battleground for as long as I can remember. In high school, as my depression peaked, I began cutting my thighs. Why my thighs, you might ask? Well for starters it was much easier to hide. Also, I hated my thighs more than I hated any other part of my body. I thought maybe scars would make me love them more and if that didn’t work at least they would be punished for being the bane of my existence. I hate to admit that it worked. I liked the scars. I like telling people that my cat scratched me when the wounds would make a brief appearance at a sleepover. I liked having this secret ritual that helped me cope with the hatred I was feeling for my body.

And with all that I ate.

I ate to cope. I ate to stay the way I was. I ate to feel. Food was my life raft.

It got dark… like really dark. For a long time I think I was just drifting along in a sea of darkness, not really knowing or wanting to know how to get out. Then, little by little, it started to get light.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately to understand how I got from point A to point B. How did I go from despising my body more than anything to people telling me I inspire them to love their own body? It certainly wasn’t over night.

So, I did what always helps me process, I sat down and I started writing. I wrote about the teasing, the cheerleading, the comparisons, the dieting, the misunderstandings of my own worth. I thought about my need for love and how I put value to my body by peoples desire to have it. I doodled about the body positive movement, Ashley Graham, and Lizzo. I wrote about writing and the power I found from telling my truth about my body. I journaled about my binge eating disorder diagnosis and what it felt like to hear that for the first time. Then I thought about therapy and all the help it has given me.

Earlier I wrote that my body has been a battleground and crossed it out, because it feels as though the war is finally over. My body is now a monument where a battle used to take place. This is not to say that I am all loving, never have a down day, totally happy all the time. Ew. This is to say that I can now go to these parts of myself without a sword in my hand trying to cut them all down. I can sit with the feeling and let it just be there. Like most monuments, I pay tribute to all the ways the war shaped me and what it taught me. Basically, I got from point A to point B by learning how to be gentle… And Lizzo.

When it comes to all the work I have done, and keep doing, it is all with the hope that the next generation, my own future kids, can feel happy in their skin. I don’t want to pass down an ideal of what size, gender, height, body box they have to fit into. I just want them to be kids.

And so lately, when I start to feel really down about my body, I think of what I would do as a kid if I didn’t have this ideal in my head. Then, I stand in front of my mirror, usually in my bra and underwear and I just dance. I put on a song that I can’t help but move too, I wiggle my thighs with the scar still there, moving with me. I look at my body with a bit of naivety, just allowing it to be. 10/10 would recommend.

A[wo]men

If you are struggling with your body image, please know that you are not alone. Also know, that it doesn’t have to feel this way forever. Little by little it can get lighter for you. And if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder reach out to the  National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) or me and I can assist you in finding the help you want.

The weapons are drawn.

And as the mirror shatters,

Your own worst enemy has been defeated.

-How to build a monument

*Featured image drawn during my exploration doodles of the body-positive movement. Done with my eyes-closed, as encouraged by a dear friend, to take away judgement*

Old Patterns Need New Perspectives

*In the tune of the narrator from Jane the Virgin Welcome back friends!*

It has been a wild last couple of weeks. I apologize for not posting last week, but I was stranded in Myrtle Beach, with no computer, and lots of tears. Such a mess.

But I am back baby and ready to write some more.

This week was pretty exhausting. Traveling can really take it out of you and then work was also pretty hectic. So, it feels good to just be in my apartment, with my PJ’s still on, the taste of an everything bagel lingering, and the creative juices flowing. This is my happy place.

I’ve also learned this week that my happy place is definitely not in front of the camera.

On Sunday I got to be part of a really cool project called The Conversationalist which is currently in its infancy, but I imagine it going very far. The project is a content platform for people to have conversations where voices can be heard. In my interview with Sophie Beren, the amazing human who founded The Conversationalist, we discussed social media, body image, and mental health. It was fascinating because these are all pieces of myself that I write about weekly, but for some reason talking about them in front of a camera added a whole new level of fear.

I walked in and could immediately hear my heart begin to race, felt my mouth get dry, and my voice sound a little shaky. This was not something I was expecting. I thought ‘how hard could it be? I talk about this stuff every week. Easy peasy.’ As it so happens, being out from behind the computer is very different. Sure, 90% of my audience knows who I am, but my words are edited and rewrote and erased and thought through. I can write about my body image while I sit in a sports bra at home. I don’t actually have to visually see my face while I write about my face. It was almost like an out of body experience. I could hear myself answering the questions, but did I answer them the way I wanted to? Was it really how I felt? Was there more that I could have said? The answer to these questions don’t really matter though. The important thing is that I did it.

I have really been pushing myself lately to try new things. To get outside my comfort zone and challenge myself in ways I never have before. This was absolutely no exception.

Following that experience, I did the therapeutic thing I would recommend to any client I am working with- I journaled about it. My journaling process is messy and helpful. I write all the things that comes to my head for about 30 minutes. No interruptions. No distractions. Just free-for-all writing. I don’t journal as often as I would like, but when I do it feels so freeing. No judgement. No guide on what things should look like. And when I am done journaling I page through all my past journals to look for patterns, new feelings, similar feelings, etc.

As I skimmed my journal this week, I noticed a theme that I was surprised I hadn’t noticed before. It starts with a desire to figure out how I am feeling- “Hi. I don’t know how I am feeling right now. I really need to figure it out. I feel like crying, but I don’t know why.” Very common reason for my journaling to start. Following that there tends to be a message about how I am feeling about myself- “I don’t like my body right now. I feel fat. I feel stupid.” Which then leads to a discussion about my desire to find love- “I miss my ex. I wish I had a boyfriend. I hate being alone. Will anyone ever love me?” Of course that leads to my existential crisis about this- “I don’t need a man. What am I talking about? I am great. I am a goddess sent from above. I WOKE UP LIKE THIS.” With a conclusion about how I am going to move forward- “I need to keep going. I need to work out. I need to eat better. I need to take care of myself and the rest will follow. You’ve got this girl. Now go on, stop writing, and make a move.”

Sundays journaling exercise was no different. I felt sad about feeling sad about my body as I sat in front of that camera and talked about body-positivity and self-love. I felt like a hypocrite and confused. I felt like I left out parts of myself because I was in such a panic and desire to come off as cool, calm and collected. I wished I had someone to be there with me. I wanted to call my ex and tell him. I challenged those thoughts. I told myself I was great and even if I don’t remember exactly what I said I am sure it sounded just fine. I wrote about how doing something new is always going to create new feelings, scary feelings, and I am going to want to resort to old ways. “Stop that” I wrote.

All in all, it was a very cool experience and I am glad I was part of the conversation. I feel grateful that I pushed myself out of that comfort zone and I tried something new. As I looked through my journals though I realized I also have to try something new when it comes to writing. I need to break these patterns of thoughts that have been inherent in my writing for so long. Can I write a post without talking about boys or my body? Can I discuss my emotions that aren’t centered around fear? Can I expand my writing to be more? Of course I can, I can break any cycle that I want. I am in control, after all.

So, in order to help me break my cycle I have decided to add a new layer to my blog. I am still going to write and discuss my own life experiences, but I would also like to incorporate other people’s life experiences. Once a month I would like to feature someone else’s narrative. I will interview the person and find out what story they want me to tell. New perspectives, I believe, is the best way to break any cycle. Sitting in front of that camera, being front and center, was a new perspective for me. Giving people the opportunity to sit front and center in this blog can be new perspective for me and others that I believe will lead to even more connection. I want this to be a place where new ideas and experiences are shared. This is an concept I have been toying with for awhile and I am very excited to see where it takes me and what stories I get to be a part of along the way.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in sharing their story with me, please follow the contact link here or hit the contact button at the top of this page.

A[wo]men

*For more information on The Conversationalist follow the link*