The Food and I

Howdy, pals! I am not quite sure why I went with howdy, but here we are. It’s been an interesting week to say the least. Most importantly, the weather has changed and you KNOW I cleaned out my closet and brought out all my snuggly sweaters. I am basic and proud. Even bought a pair of ugg boots from Goodwill. Really embracing who I am deep down.

Something else has been brewing deep, down inside of me. It’s gas. I’m gassy and sick and it’s more commonly known as gastritis. Basically, there is too much acid in my stomach and it’s caused some inflammation of the stomach lining. I’ll be honest… it’s not very fun. I’m sure you probably assumed that, but it’s not fun for more than just the stomach pains.

This is not the first time I’ve dealt with acid in my stomach. I was diagnosed with GERD last summer and they were also worried I had cysts. (Luckily, no cysts, just acid.) Whenever there is a stomach issue I get the same advice from medical professionals- lose weight. I know they are saying it because it honestly does help things like that. Usually I would say let’s explore other things that could help the issue, but after being diagnosed with GERD I lost some weight and I didn’t have any heartburn again, until I started gaining the weight back. Yet, when I hear someone say I should lose weight I roll my eyes so hard that they could probably knock over a building.

It’s because of the fat phobia that permeates our everyday lives. I can’t look on the internet without someone selling a get thin fast diet. It’s near impossible to shop in a store, I must shop online to avoid people seeing a fatty actually shopping in a store. You know, they don’t want to ruin their brand or anything. If they do happen to carry plus size clothes take note that it’s conveniently tucked into the back of the store to still hide fat people. I roll my eyes because it cuts through me like a knife cuts through butter- it’s a swift, clean cut that happens again and again.

I have carried the weight (pun intended) of binge eating disorder for most of my life. Food and I haven’t had the best relationship, but in the last few months I have felt myself getting more comfortable. The idea of eating before I feel like I am going to burst at the seems has been easier. I no longer feel the need to hide snacks throughout my living space, or sneak food behind my roommates backs. I’m open about my love of food. We are in a good place, food and I.

Yet, when I heard the doctor say “losing weight will help this go away”. All that work and progress disappeared for a moment and I wanted to stop eating forever. I wanted to breakup with food while simultaneously wanting to go binge eat McDonalds behind closed doors. All the pain and anguish from the last 20 years came flooding back in me and I wanted to cry. It felt as though time had stopped for a moment when he said it and a loop of all the self-hate I had ever experienced jumped to the front of my mind. In that brief moment I felt more than just the pain that was in my stomach.

Time stopped it’s because those feelings all happened in slow motion but when time resumed it went away fast. I sat for a minute in my office before returning to work and I thought about how far I have come and all the ways I can help my stomach without using a scale to figure it out. I googled good foods to eat for gastritis and did some deep breathing exercises. Of course, a visit from baby Sarah was also warranted.

Closing my eyes, she came to me crying, putting her hand on her stomach she called herself ugly. We held hands and we put our hands on our stomachs and together we talked about being gentle with ourselves, with our words, and with our bodies, and particularly with our stomachs. Wiping her tears, I told her the real meaning of beauty; that no matter our appearance on the outside, true beauty comes from within. Fat doesn’t make you less than, it doesn’t make you unworthy, and it definitely doesn’t make you ugly.

All of this happened last week Friday and since that day, I’ve had to visit with baby Sarah a few times. I’ve found myself more hesitant with food, brief moments of wanting to restrict and binge. I am being gentle with myself because I know that day I was triggered and it brought up a lot of feelings I haven’t seen in awhile. This doesn’t mean I haven’t healed or done the work, in fact without that work I wouldn’t have been able to work through all of those feelings so quickly. And quite frankly, that is what life is made up of- unpredictable moments that catch you off guard; sometimes those moments are happy ones and sometimes they are heartbreaking ones. Both make us stronger.

If you are having a hard time because you just so happened to have a heartbreaking moment catch you off guard, please try to be gentle with yourself. If you are grieving, if you are triggered, if you are just hurting the most important thing you can do is let yourself feel it and work with it, not around it. You are stronger today than you were yesterday. And as always, if you are not in a place to work with it, that’s okay. What you need is what you need and there is no shame in any of that.

A[wo]men

in the dips

of your rolling fields

find home

Earlier this week on the island I call my second home, Prince of Wales, Alaska, a tragedy occurred. Copied text from the GoFundMe page: “Herbie Nix Jr. was born to Marvell and Herb Sr. (Big Herb) on September 23, 2002. Lil Herb passed on October 5, 2020.  We are asking for support for the Nix/Edenshaw family during this very difficult time. Thank you in advance for your emotional and financial support. We will update you on the service times. Any cash donations may be given directly to the Nix family. Monetary donations can be made through GoFundMe, Facebook Pay, Cashapp and PayPal.” Please donate by clicking this link if you have the means and send love and healing to the island ❤

Attachment Style Renovations

c/w self-harm, anxiety, violence

Hello, my loves! What a week it has been. Apparently, COVID-19 is over because everyone decided it is and the rules no longer matter and fires are dominating our land and TikTok is where I get the most news. Oh, and people are getting sterilized WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT because that’s a thing we do here in the great ol’ U.S. of A. It is a lot. I hope as you are reading this you are doing something to take care of yourselves in these unprecidented *rolls eyes* times.

I legitimately had a moment yesterday where I was convinced the world was ending. I started to get sweaty palms as I looked up into the not quite clear skies in the east coast that have been penetrated by the smoke from the west coast. Isn’t this how all those movies start? The ones where the world is ending? 2020 is like 4 of those end of the world movies all smashed together in one. I hope it gets nominated for some sort of an award because this year has really outdone itself.

My anxiety has been all over the place in the last week. As my depression has essentially been non-existent my mind is like, “well we need some sort of mental health predicament, don’t we?” Kind of rude, but whatever. Hence that whole ‘the world is ending’ thing. My anxiety, unlike my depression, is a ball of energy that needs to escape in some way, and it needs to escape as soon as it decides. Some may say it is too fast, too furious. Not to be confused with the 2003 film, starring Paul Walker, R.I.P. Most often it escapes through picking aka excoriation. If you had seen me this week, perhaps you noticed the welts or scars on my shoulders, chest, and face. This is my anxiety escaping. I don’t tap, I don’t click pens, I don’t bounce my knee. Instead, I turn my energy against myself, which, really, is a form of self harm.

It is sometimes unconscious and subtle and I have to ask people to hit me to get me to stop, while other times it is fully intentional and painful. There are a lot of reasons to be anxious right now re: the world ending. However, the thing that has me most anxious currently is a new relationship. It sounds so ridiculous typing it out. I know, rationally, that there are much bigger things to focus on, but distractions are a great way to get through some of the difficulties in life and I am welcoming this distraction with open arms. Plus, this blog is about my life and this is a big thing in my life.

New relationships often make me anxious, but this time it is in a different way. See, there has been a lot of bad people in the past; harmful, painful, brutal, made-me-suicidal relationships. This person feels different. He makes me feel safe and not in a way that is overbearing, but in the way that I can say I’m upset about x, y, z and he will say “okay, let’s work through it.” Hold up, you’re telling me I can just talk about my feelings and I won’t be made to feel like an insane person? What is this magic?

All of this sounds wonderful and grand. Except for the fact that because I am not used to it my anxious brain is like there is a catch and you need to protect yourself and he is going to destroy your life and we should probably eat everything in the fridge and make your skin bleed… for protection, of course. That part of my brain really is something. She can create the wildest scenarios anytime, anywhere. It is really impressive. The other day she was like “what if he actually is a murderer and is just waiting for the right moment to get you alone.” Like damn, dude… calm down. Next level kind of shit. I know this is all to protect me, so I let the thoughts in and digest them. I just need to work on not letting them take over.

Because the other message that it is sending is an old favorite- I don’t deserve good love. My attachment style- fearful avoidant- isn’t a very healthy one and tends to perpetuate that message. I operate a lot out of attachment theory when it comes to my work with clients, and like to practice what I preach. Attachment theory explores how we relate to others through the way we learned to relate to people as children. It poses that we carry those styles into adulthood and often replicate/perpetuate them. When we know our attachment style, we can better understand how we act in relationships (both platonic and not) and, hopefully, avoid recreating unhealthy attachments. #breakthecycle As someone who is fearful avoidant I typically want to be close to people, but am also terrified of being hurt and therefor try to avoid it. This can result in some really wonderful self-sabotage.

Earlier this month I talked about listening to my gut when it came to ending a relationship and I want to do the same in wanting to grow a relationship. Despite my anxious brain, my gut is telling me that this person is a good person. So, whether he is in my life for a month or for a long time, I want to accept that I deserve to have good people in my life. So, how am I working through all these feelings and desires of running away? Mostly by talking about it.

Every time I feel myself pushing him away, I vocalize it. If it is out there, there is no hiding from it. I can’t just melt into the feeling and let it take over. There is no rationalizing with it and justifying it. There is only reality testing it. This is the way we work through the hard things. We release them into the world and let them be heard. My anxiety has taught me this lesson. The feelings that live in our bodies will come out, and if we don’t let them out they will break out in ways we didn’t agree to.

The best part about working on this, is that he is so open to it! *Spoiler alert* he is also a therapist. My gut is telling me that it’s a great (healthy) sign that he is good at communication. My anxious brain probably won’t trust him for a little bit, but we’ll keep talking it out like mature adults do until she feels safe.

So, for this week, maybe we could try voicing how we feel. When you’re sitting with your significant other try letting them know if you are upset or even if you are happy. If you’re roommate just did something that didn’t feel good, let ’em know. If your dog is the goodest baby in the whole world, please, for the love of Beyoncé, tell them that. I think you might find that it will feel good to say how you are feeling and you’re body won’t be holding all of these things that it needs to release.

And as always, if you’re like ‘nah, I like my emotions right where I keep them buried’ you do you, booboo.

A[wo]men

falling in love

is easy,

like lazy afternoons.

being in love

takes work,

like building

your dream home,

from the ground up.

-attachment style renovations

Stability on the Water;

Hi, Friends! I apologize if you missed me last week, because I sure missed y’all. It is funny how off my week can feel when I skip a post (or 2, or 3). Don’t get me wrong I don’t regret taking the time off. I mean if you had the opportunity to go to the beach, wouldn’t you? Especially as summer fades away into fall I figured I should take advantage of any opportunities I can get in the sun and water.

I know I’ve talked a lot about baby Sarah, mostly in the context of hardships, but baby Sarah comes soaring out in all her greatness when I am in the water. As soon as I dip my big toe in I am transported back to that little girl that felt free in the water. There is no pain there, no fear. I am weightless! And for someone that always felt like she was too big, the peace that came with such an escape was indescribable. In fact, I think I could say the water saved my life.

I spent a lot of my childhood hoping to die. Yet, I never felt that way if I was in the water. I found solace lying on my back looking up at the sky or ceiling, the water filling my ears so all that was detectable was faint sounds that didn’t translate. We had a pool in our back yard. I would float or be a mermaid or a shark or a minnow or Marco or Polo and real world problems simply didn’t exist.

This month is Suicide Prevention Month. I’ve spent a lot of my writing talking about moments in time when I felt suicidal. It is not something I am shameful about and, in all honesty, I believe those thoughts are as natural world itself. Some of us feel them stronger than others and some of us believe there is no escape. For a long while, I only believed in escape in the water. However, when my feet would touch solid ground again, I slipped right back into my reality- the reality that I didn’t want to be here.

I am not here to talk about that reality today though. Today, I want to talk about my reality of this moment. In this moment, I doing really well. Well like I could skip down the sidewalk and sing in the store. Well like my heart might burst through my chest. What has caused me to feel so well? Mostly, there is stability in my life, like real stability. I’m not sure if you recall, but that was my news years resolution this year. I have money in my savings account, my credit card balances are finally going down, I have medication that has quite literally stabilized my mood, there is a cute boy I like. And if I am being totally real with y’all.. it’s freaking me out.

Why is it freaking me out? It is a new feeling. New anythings scare the sh*t out of me. New hairstyles, new apartments, new friends, new bedding. It’s unknown and what is scarier than the unknown? My anxious brain loves to think about the unknowns. The current obsession on repeat is “do I deserve to feel this good?” feat. trauma. It’s a classic hit that I’ve heard before. Real catchy, almost like an annoying jingle. Part of it spins out of that depressed girl, that didn’t think she should be alive. The girl that believed nothing could ever feel this good.

When this greatest hit get’s played, I want to rush to turn it off. As I have learned though, that’s not the way intrusive thoughts get shut down. They get shut down by letting them in, understanding them, respecting them. I’ve mulled over the question the last few nights, trying to understand my brain a little more. I have never questioned when hurtful things happen. Without skipping a beat “I deserve this” also feat. trauma, oddly enough, shoots to the top of the list. So, why, when something good happens, does it become the opposite? Could it be that old central message I worked so hard to get rid of rearing it’s head?

DING. DING. DING. Up until this past year I always thought that I wasn’t good enough. Messages that could validate such a statement were snuggled up under the covers with me and messages that didn’t rolled off my back like water. Now, my new message is that I am good enough, but it’s a new message… and you know how I feel about new things. I know though that it is all about practice. New things don’t always stay new. I thought again about my current #1 hit and how I could get it to fit my new message.

Why do I deserve to feel this good? Because feeling good is what everyone deserves. I am not special in that. If I want my friends and family and patients and strangers to feel that way, and I hope and pray for them to feel that way, I should hope and pray the same for myself. I am a human being with a million different parts and I want to experience all of those parts. We are all worthy of such a life.

Your central message right now might be telling you that you are not worthy. I sat with that message for along time, so I know how that feels. If you are hearing that as you read this, that is totally okay. You don’t have to rush into new feelings. Perhaps though you could think of what you would want your central message to say, or what you would want your best friends central message to say. Close your eyes and think of all the words that could make that statement come true, like a vision board. Now, try to trust that new things, although scary, can be the best things that happen to us. Try taking one little step to flip this unworthy message on its head. Maybe that means brushing your teeth, or getting a therapist, or literally just breathing.

And if all of that sounds like a bunch of bullsh*t, maybe go float in some water and drown it all out. That may be all you need for now.

A[wo]men

**Also, I would be remissed not to note that suicide prevention is not just reaching out. Suicide prevention is loving/supporting the LGBTQ+ community, it’s supportive housing, it’s having enough food, it’s being able to afford medication, it’s undoing racism. It’s a million things that are systemic and need to be fixed. Need resources? Contact me.

from the tears of those before you

fill your ears with their

salt and water

float

-you’re not alone;

And as always, if you are feeling in need of support, whether that be because you are suicidal, sad, happy, want to tell me a funny joke, etc. please reach out to me on my contact page. Love you all ❤

What Does Safety Got to do With Gut?

Alright, I don’t know about y’all, but I am tired as sh*t. Anybody else feel like they could just take a nap for about 2 years? No? Just me? Okay then. Honestly though, I know we are all tired. We are all fighting every day like hell to feel okay. With the state of the world, the state of our mental health, the state of bachelor nation… It’s a lot for one person to handle. 

You ready for the good news? The good news is that we CAN handle it. Our brains enjoy telling us that the weight of the world will one day crush us. We say we are weak and incapable and, wait for it, not enough. To quote the great Tom Selleck and his even greater mustache in the 90’s hit Three Men and a Little Lady – “What a crock!” We, as we are today, are more than enough. We are doing exactly what our brains are telling us we can’t. We are living, breathing, fighting every single day despite what we might be hearing. 

Now that I let you in on my little words of wisdom to kick us off, let’s get into the good stuff. I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately, trying to leave the brain out of it. I mentioned in my previous post that I am working on being more in touch with my gut instincts. Y’all, it’s hard. I don’t like to complain, HAHA just kidding. Yes I do. It is sooo hard. I find myself wanting to quit sometimes. Like, maybe I can just go back to not caring about myself. As they say though, ignorance is bliss, and I can’t unsee what I now know. In order to avoid my number one fear in life [settling] I must keep doing the work. Keep moving forward. 

How am I moving forward? I am so glad you asked. From the outside it may not have looked like I was doing much at all, but that is the cool thing about learning to trust your gut. Nobody can see you doing it. In this instance I am the Wizard of Oz, the woman behind the curtain. And trust me when I say you do not want to remove the curtain because it is mostly just blood and guts. Ew. 

I really did practice a lot though. I practiced not only listening to it, but not judging it. I feel the judgement all the time. “Why didn’t you say this? How did they take that? Am I even good at what I do? Am I good? Am I enough? Should I speak?” This week though, I shut it down. I took every opportunity I got to practice listening to myself. No hesitation, no judgment. With this practice I found myself feeling stronger in my choices, more confident in my decisions. Each time one of those old comments entered my brain I didn’t shut it down, I just reality tested it. I would hear ‘why didn’t you say this?’ and I would break it down. Why didn’t I say it? Perhaps it wasn’t the right time to say it? Maybe they weren’t ready to hear it? Maybe I can bring that up next time? It was validating in a way that I had not felt validation before. I felt safe. 

Safety is hard to conceptualize. In a world where people are being harmed and/or murdered for the color of their skin, and/or their gender identity, and/or their sexual orientation how do we define safety? What does it mean to feel safe? I’ve talked to a lot of people lately, both in my work and my personal life, who just don’t feel safe. Heck, most days I don’t feel “safe”. The world, as was previously stated, is scary right now. 

For me, right now, safety is not about feeling like nothing bad will happen, it’s about feeling like I am making the right choices. That I can trust that when my gut is telling me to run, I run like hell; when my gut is telling me to fight, I fight like hell; when my gut is telling me to freeze, I don’t move a damn thing. On the flip side when my gut is telling me to love, I love deeply; when my gut is telling me to heal, I stitch each part that needs it; when my gut is telling me to stand in solidarity, I take each of the hands beside mine and I hold it and squeeze it and let them know I’m here. 

If you’re finding yourself in a place of fear, you are not alone. If you’re gut is telling you things are scary, it’s probably because they are, but if you listen closely to your gut, I bet it is also telling you to reach out to someone, to get help, to know that fear is not something that must hold us back, but rather it can ignite a passion in us that we didn’t know we had.

Our world scares me in the way that hate and fear sometimes guides people, rather than love and understanding. It scares me in the way that power and control is our goal rather than harmony. Hearing the news of Jacob Blake scared me, just as hearing the names of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd,  and a million other names scared. It scares me in the way that life is so fragile, so easily stolen. Those fears though only makes me want to fight harder. It makes me want to know that in my life time I did not let the fear take over, that instead I harnessed that energy; that I stood up against injustices because I knew in my gut it is the right thing to do. 

As for now, my gut is trustworthy and that is the “safety” I always needed. 

A[wo]man

a compass blooms

from the gut.

direction bred 

of misdirections.

-soul searching

If you have the means please consider donating to BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective). A collective “of advocates, yoga teachers, artists, therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, psychologists and activists committed to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities.”

A Clock is a Clock

Hey all, can you believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve told y’all about my emotions? I know you are all desperately waiting to hear how I’ve been holding up since my last blog. You know, the one where I was an anxious hot mess. Yeah, that one. Well good news, I am doing FABULOUS now. I know that sounded a little sarcastic, but I am being completely truthful with y’all- as always. 

The real question though, is how did I go from an anxious hot mess back to a confident boss babe in a matter of two weeks. Well, I am sure I can attribute it to a lot of things, but I would say the number one contributing factor was *drum roll* LISTENING AND TRUSTING MYSELF.

After my last big relationship, I had a really hard time believing myself. I was convinced that I didn’t know anything and that I could not, under any circumstance, listen to my instincts. That, my friends, is the result of being lied to by people you love and trust. Your internal meter for what is right and real gets twisted and begins to resemble The Persistence of Memory by Salvado Dalí. Reality just melts and it feels near impossible to get it back to its original shape.   

This is the result of trauma. 

Trauma bends our reality and alters our brain and, to be honest, f*cks sh*t up. So, how do we get them back to that original shape? How do we unf*ck sh*t up? Where is that place where a clock is a clock and there is no question about it? If you read my blog, you know what I am about to say… therapyyyy. You’re welcome. That is how we get reality back to its shape. We have a professional person guide us back to the spot where we trust our gut, where a clock looks like a clock and therefore is a clock. 

My therapist guides me through my body, eyes closed, with full trust in her and in myself. After my last post the first message that I listened to from myself was that I needed to speak with my therapist. I am not kidding. I posted my blog at 5 and then went to therapy at 6. Before I had a therapist I would convince myself I was fine. I wouldn’t listen when my body was literally pouring out tears uncontrollably or my brain was saying things like “nobody loves you”. I didn’t listen when I would eat until it hurt to avoid feeling anything else. Once I started listening to myself, all the pain I felt was still there, but it was healable. That pain was no longer an abstract, never-ending “this is just how I feel and I can’t change it” part of myself. You can only heal when you know what you are trying to heal. 

So, let’s circle back to that session of healing and how I got back to feeling stable. I fired up my laptop, hit the FaceTime button, and waited for my therapist to answer. I could feel the anxiety coursing through my body as I sat on my floor with my laptop perched on my bed. By the end of the session the anxiety was minimized, near gone. She helped me release the ties I was holding so tightly to. It was a beautiful exercise in release and I encourage you to try it if my description resonates with you.  I closed my eyes and she said “I want you to picture that relationship, the one that hurt you. Where can you feel it?” Without hesitation I saw a tight rope, thick and strong, tied so tightly to my heart it was strangling it. Each time it pumped, I could see the rope tighten. She wanted me to look at the memories that painted the rope. The good, the bad, the ugly; see the rope connected to that person. Then, she wanted me to cut it. 

I hesitated. I couldn’t cut it. I wasn’t ready. I was sobbing, not quite sure that I knew how to be without this part of myself. I was scared that letting go of that pain meant moving on and moving on meant finding someone new; scared because I didn’t know what any of that truly looked like. In the calmest of voices she said “only when you are ready Sarah.” And then the most beautiful healing imagery appeared: 

Baby Sarah. 

She grabbed my hand and whispered ‘we could cut it together.’ That little face of mine, with big dreams, staring up at me just wanting us to be happy. My sobbing slowed as we picked up the pair of golden scissors together. I squeezed her hand as I began to cut into the thick rope. It didn’t budge at first and I looked down at her again and she looked up at me as if to say “keep going” and I did. I cut again and again and again. Each cut made the rope fray ever so slightly. Then it happened, as if I was watching my own cartoon version of what I was doing, the rope slid to the floor, his end back to him and my end back to me and my heart started to glow like the sun. I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath until the rope broke free and I took a huge gasp of air. It almost felt like I had been holding my breath for the last two years. I opened my eyes and saw my therapist looking back at me. She said “I am so proud of you.” Those words again, setting me free. I said I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do it and she interrupted me and said “Sarah, if you weren’t ready to, we wouldn’t have done it.” That was the power of listening to myself- knowing when I’m ready to let go, ready to heal. Just as important as knowing when I am not ready. 

So, I spent the last two weeks remaining in tune with myself. I took a break, I ran away with me for the summer. I did not go upstate though, I went to Wisconsin. (Solid Hamilton reference in case you missed it.) I rented a car, drove 14 hours there and 14 hours back, got a COVID test before and after, and was able to be in tune with myself. My wants and needs were met every inch of the way.  I stopped everything that was giving me anxiety and I just lived. I took a break from this blog (not that this blog gives me anxiety, but I do feel the pressure of deadlines and wanting more people to read, etc.). I had dance parties in my kitchen with my roommate; I watched TV; I read a book; I took my antidepressant every day; I listened to me and trusted what I was hearing. 

So, here I am refreshed. My head is clear and my heart is … free. Of course, it’s all a practice and I’ll forget to listen and/or trust myself again, but that’s what learning is all about. We fail and we try again and again and again until we no longer have to think about. Until listening and trusting myself is as second nature as obnoxiously quoting Hamilton is. And please remember, it is more than okay to fail and forget and to make mistakes. If we didn’t we would be robots and we wouldn’t have feelings and this blog would be meaningless.

Plus, without the mistakes I’ve made along the way, I’m not sure this blog would even exist. Scratch that, I know this blog wouldn’t exist.

A[wo]men

arms spread,

eyes closed.

drop back

into a vast sea of yourself.

deep, powerful, real.

-trust falls

The Three Brains

“I simply just don’t even want to do it today. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to feel. Bro, I straight up am not having a good time.”

That’s my anxious brain talking. Everyone say hello! My anxious brain is actually one of my more favorite parts of my brain. It might be confusing as to why for some, but my depression is very much linked to the past and the strongest sad emotions that really take over. I see these moments of my life on repeat and it’s typically moments of trauma. My trauma loop is exhausting. It’s like sitting through The English Patient, which I haven’t actually had to endure, but if Elaine from Seinfeld hates it I stan. However, my anxiety, oh baby, does she have some unique imaginative powers and girl has got some teeth.

I’ve heard people say that depression is about past thoughts and anxiety is often about the future. I don’t know if you can tell by my writing, but my creativity when it comes to thinking about the future is next level. I’ve dreamt up whole futures in my head, some good, some bad, some just right. None of them real, not even close. Trust me, I never would have dreamt I’d be living in Brooklyn, working at Planned Parenthood, writing a weekly blog, and posting pictures of myself in bikini’s unedited on the internet. I definitely didn’t guess that whole living in Alaska thing. Heck, I never saw myself actually falling in [romantic] love.

Ah, where the anxious brain and the depressive brain meet- Romantic Love. L is for the way you look so dumb. O is for the only ones I wish I didn’t meet. V is very, very stupid. E is even worse/great than anyone could imagine. I hope you tried to sing that and realized it doesn’t work, as I just did. Anyways, yes love has got me feeling some kind of way. As I mentioned in my last post I was seeing someone new. Well, guess who isn’t seeing someone new anymore? Yes, this girl. Guess who is seeing someone new though? That’s right an ex-boyfriend. I guess I should say THE ex-boyfriend. The first love. The blah, blah, yuck, ew love.

I don’t write a lot about my relationships, mostly because this is about me and not about them. No matter what happened with anyone that I dated, they are a part of me, so I try to be careful in the way I write about them because a part of me will always care about them. My anxious brain isn’t careful though; another reason I love her. I can’t even write some of the things she has said about them. She likes to curse, a lot. I am the queen of careful; I work so very hard to not hurt people feelings and play things safe. So, when I feel my anxious brain going off, I like spending time on the wild side, letting her free flow. If my anxious brain had a celebrity personality it would Mona-Lisa Saperstein from Parks and Rec. The w0o0orst. [But also the best?]

Here’s where I get frustrated though- I know we aren’t right for each other. I know it is completely done. I know I have dated like a lot, a lot of people since we’ve been done. I know all the things. Yet, one little post and I am sent into all the feelings from before which, coincidentally enough, was about all the future things. Hence the depression and anxiety teaming up. My friends, my real true loves, are great and they tell me to be kind to myself and they assure me that all the things I am feeling are normal. But dang, if  they could hear this girl talk. The anxious brain comes in and is like, “remember that whole mom thing you dreamed of? GUESS AGAIN!! muahahah” I told you she is straight up mean. She just comes up in here saying how I am going to be alone forever and I can’t find the right person because that is my destiny. Sometimes, the future looks bleak with this anxious brain. I will say, my anxious brain does kick my adrenaline into overdrive and my apartment is nearly spotless and all my errands were completed before noon today, so I do really appreciate that about her.

But then, in an overarching hero-like-fashion enters my rational brain. *BA BAD DA BUM* “I’m here to save you from these past and future thoughts to bring you directly to our present moment.” My rational brain is so dreamy. I love her the most. She comes in and is like “honey, let’s take a deep breath and really think about this… who broke up with these boys?” “uh… I did.” “and why did you break up with them?” “Uh… because I know what I am looking for in a partner and I haven’t found that yet and it’s important for me listen to my instincts and trust myself.” “Exactly, baby girl. You know exactly why you aren’t with these boys, so you just keep breathing and trust that you know what is right for you.” Ah, rational brain, my true love.

My rational brain was MIA for a v. long time. I think the depressive and anxious brain were holding her hostage somewhere. It wasn’t until she saw a slight break in the lock that she crawled out victoriously. The aforementioned break in the lock came from growing up, from loving friends/family, from therapy, and from Lizzo. When the rational brain wasn’t there, that’s when things like suicidal ideation would creep in. The more I let the rational brain take control of things the further and further I get away from having any of those thoughts. I can actually proudly say that I haven’t had a thought like that since June, which is the longest I’ve gone without such a thought and if that is not something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

To summarize, this past week I was filled with anxiety about what my future love life holds, but it did not drown me. We went a little wild with our thoughts and then we brought it right back to the here and now. That is what I call growth, my friends.

Are you feeling anxious this week? Especially because 2020 is a ball of anxious energy and nobody knows what’s around the corner? Cool, cool, cool. Just feel it, remind yourself it isn’t real, and then come back to the here and now and take stock of all the things you can do for yourself in the present moment. As always though, if you’re not ready to be in the here and now, it’s all gravy baby.

A[wo]men

you are breathing,
reading,
existing.
you are love.
-in the here and now

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

Connecting it all

Hey friends. Today is Thursday in case any of you were wondering. I know days seem irrelevant in the current state of the world, but I am here to remind of arbitrary things like the day of the week and how we are already in the middle of July… somehow. My past week has been a week of grief, strength, and, if I’m being honest, pure angst.

I have been on this up and down rollercoaster of emotions which honestly reminds me of being a teenager. If I had to venture a guess, I would assume this is where the angst is coming from. It’s wild to me that even as a 29 year old I can be transported back to my 16 year old responses so easily. However, I am still 29, so the rollercoaster just ends up giving me acid reflux and neck pain. I’m easing into turning 30 quite swimmingly.

Grief is a funny thing. Not a like LOL hilarious funny thing, but like a this is oddly familiar, yet totally foreign funny thing. Whenever someone I love dies, I am flooded with memories of all the other losses I have experienced in my life. My first experience with death was as a kid. We had barn cats that would always think it was okay to cross the highway and very rarely did they make it. Although, my pet cat Eric (named after Eric Matthews/the boy I happened to have a crush on in 3rd grade with the same name) really did have 9 lives. He was one of our only cats that got hit by a car and ended up surviving. My little miracle kitty. Then, the first human loss I experienced was in high school. It was an odd thing to feel suicidal while also mourning the loss of a teenage life. I think I stuck around in the ‘bargaining’ stage of grief much longer during that period of my life. “Take me instead. Her life was better than mine. Why wasn’t it me?” I remember thinking nothing can feel as painful as this loss, but I was wrong. Each loss cuts through me, without warning, and I lose my own breath when someone else loses theirs. What I have learned from each loss is how grief is not a straight line of moving on, rather it is a scar that we will always live with and while the mark may dim it will always remain.

For a long time I hated my body. (I promise this connects, just hear me out.) For a long, long time I hated my body. I would curse the way it looked and prayed that some how it could change. In the last few years I have worked really hard to not only be comfortable with my body, but to love it. Each mark and dimple no longer gets harsh words tossed at them, but rather each part of myself has felt a gentle touch and words of love. Part of the past hatred included my scars- both the physical and psychological one. (See I told you it would connect again.) In my discovery of self love I have also learned how to heal in the other parts of life. Those scars, those losses, no matter how painful are the result of deep and vast love. I no longer sit around in the bargaining phase, instead I think about all of the ways that life impacted me. I use a gentle touch and words of love to work through grief.

When I first started blogging, I didn’t expect to ever right about loss or depression or mental health or a number of other topics I have touched on. In the beginning it was about me documenting my weight loss journey. I’m pretty sure I am 10lbs heavier than when I first started blogging, so jokes on all of you. The thing is, I didn’t realize that writing would actually help me overcome this desire to change everything about me. I didn’t realize that all this healing, this whole time, was actually a way for me to understand the way I move through the world.

I celebrated my one year anniversary of blogging [with more fervor and tenacity] recently and I spent some time reading through old post. I got to read real moments of self-discovery that I can remember viscerally. I am lucky enough to be able to go back in time and feel parts of myself that I might have otherwise forgotten. Through this reading, as I was mourning, I realized all the tools I have in my toolbox to get through hardships. All the ways I have built a community around myself to fall upon when I am struggling. I will go through a million more hard moments in my life, but I finally realize that I will make it through all of them.

With a loss there is a moment where we look upon the persons life and wonder if they were happy? If they did all the things they wanted to do? The thing I have realized about these questions is that we are partially asking them because we want to be happy; we want to do all the things we want to do. So, as I continue to move forward with this new scar I am being gentle with myself, I am using my tools, I am leaning on my supports, and I am reflecting on all the ways death brings new life.

A[wo]men

physical, mental, imaginary.

round, square, heart.

scars come in many shapes.

love them all

as they are u

-seeing all of urself

 

 

 

 

 

A Butterfly Spirit

Hi, friends. A lot has happened in the last two weeks, but I don’t want to talk about most of them. Most of them are minuscule and irrelevant at this point in time. This is not to diminish my experiences, but rather to express the fact that I’ve experienced a great loss this week. A loss changes your world, alters your perception, and minimizes all else around you. This past week my supervisor, my work advocate, my friend passed away- Vilma.

She was the light during one of the darkest times in my working life. I would work with her often and sit in her office. She had the worlds softest giggle that made things just seem like they would be okay. Vilma was an employee for 31 years, so her knowledge of the job was invaluable. I would often sit with her as she described what the role was like ‘back in the day’ and all the major changes along the way. During this time of uncertainty she would always say “Sarah, I’ve seen some really hard times here before. We’ll get through this.” She shared stories of her youth, how she would always leave her hair long and natural like I do and would only wear skirts and dresses, unlike I do.

We would often sit laughing at the fact that she had an iPhone 6 that refused to hold a charge. She would say to me “Sarah, come look at this. It’s at 15% and I haven’t used it all day!” I would ask her why she didn’t just get a new phone all the time and she always said, “eh, it still works though. Why would I get a new one?” And we would both giggle. She told me she loved her phone before this one and would still have it to this day if it didn’t shatter in her hands. We laughed at how the pieces of her old phone just broke. She thought it was a defect in the way it came apart. She made it clear to me thought that she didn’t need anything fancy, she just needed things to work. I admired this about her.

She also had a love for sweets. On my lunch break she would often give me her Starbucks gift card to pick her up a Frappuccino to help her get through the day. The last few times I worked with her I also would grab us both lunch to ease her need to walk far. Through this I learned that she loved Italian subs, with extra mayo, and Cole slaw on the side. She would also always want me to grab her a shake, but last minute would say- no I don’t need that, maybe next time. I wish I got her the milkshakes anyway. She would make hot cocoa in the break room, even on hot days when she needed a “quick fix”. Her face would light up when our coworkers would bring in donuts or bake sweet treats. I loved to see her smile.

She talked to me a lot about her family. It was clear she loved her family more than anything in the world. I got to hear stories of her father who worked in fancy hotels, and the stories he would tell her and the way he watched the landscape of New York City change over time. She spoke of her parents unending energy, even as they aged. She told me how much she hopes to have that much energy when she gets older. I wish I was right when I said “I bet you will, it runs in your family.” She should’ve have gotten that chance.

Her room was a spectacle and every patient that entered would say “I love all your decorations.” I wish I could’ve taken credit, but I’d always respond with “unfortunately, it’s not my room, but it’s my favorite room to work in.” Vilma was a big fan of tchotchke’s many of which she had collected over the years of working. I could spend hours sitting in her office discovering things I had no idea were there before. My favorite was a sign that read ‘kindness is always free” something Vilma always lived by. It sat across from where our patients sat, so I always wondered if it also served as a reminder for those sitting in that chair. Not that they would need it- Vilma was so kind it just radiated and permeated those around her.

Over the last few days I went from sadness that took over my entire body, to anger, to complete numbness. I knew writing this post would help me break out of feeling numb and enter a stage of feeling complete luck for having known such a beautiful person (while also feeling continued sadness). Writing and talking about my memories just reminds me that she was right when she said “I’ve seen some really hard times before. We’ll get through this.” The thought of getting through this without her is hard to imagine, but I know I can. She has given me strength over these last few months and will continue to be a guiding light for me. She may be gone, but her warmth, kindness, and maternal energy will always be with me.

I hope wherever you are, Vilma, there are endless shakes and sweets. I love you.

A[wo]men

your voice,

a memory.

ingrained forever-

soft,

gentle,

calm.

-a butterfly spirit

Change Leads to Growth

Hi friends, welcome to another week in the revolution and a very, very happy Pride Month. I hope you are all taking care of yourselves in whatever way works for you right now. Cuz times they are a changin’ and we all know that change is hard. I would argue change is one of the hardest things we go through, yet one of the most inevitable and necessary parts of life. It is, in my opinion, that with change comes growth.

This post today is not going to be a long post because honestly I am going through some of my own changes. And even more honest- I am sad, really sad. See, while the world was going through these really intense changes, I also decided to put my heart out there and, long story short, it didn’t work out. **Note to self: starting a new relationship during a pandemic is not the best idea. That growth though, that growth that I don’t necessarily want to be going through right now, is important.

Each time a relationship doesn’t work out I immediately begin to wonder what is wrong with me. Why can’t I find someone that I love and loves me back and we just fit? Why am I so alone? Why does it seem so easy for other people? What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? I know these old friends are just protectors that are trying to help. I know that there is nothing wrong with me and I know that things often don’t work out because they are not supposed to. I know that it is not easy for other people and that the story I see on social media is a blip on the radar of an actual relationship.

Still, is leaves me feeling empty for a moment.

Then, my lovely friend, anxiety, has this really cool way of blowing things out of proportion. So, when a relationship doesn’t work out, it somehow jumps from ‘what is wrong with me?’ to ‘I am going to be alone forever and I will never have the family that I want.’ Old me would’ve sat with those feelings and believed them for a very long time. Oh, and by old me I literally mean Sarah from a year ago. My last big relationship melted me down to the core when it ended. I sat with those notions for a long time. In fact, those fears kept me going back over and over again, even though I knew it wasn’t right. The thing is, I am glad it melted me down to the core, because I rebuilt that part of me. That ending brought me to therapy and to healing and to understanding myself better. Not to sound cliche, but that ending truly was a new beginning. Without that rebuilding, I wouldn’t understand that those thoughts are normal, but not true. Without that rebuilding, I’d still be putting other peoples feelings and needs ahead of my own.

I talked to one of my friends yesterday who paused with me as I cried and in the silence she whispered ‘I am really proud of you.’ I don’t think I realized how much I needed to hear those words. I cried harder, like a mix of happy and sad tears all in one. She reflected back to me all of this growth I’ve had of putting myself first and understanding what I deserve.

I’ve been in some pretty toxic relationships before, both platonic and not, and the toxicity only flourished because of my insesent need to please people. I just wanted everyone around me to feel good at the expense of my own feelings; my boundaries were non-existent. In the last year I have done a lot of work at expressing my needs and putting up boundaries. It is the scariest, most freeing work I have done with myself. I say it is scary because it means that not everyone is going to stay in my life. It means that sometimes I will say what I need and it won’t be met and I will have to walk away. Letting go is scary. I say it is freeing because I am building a family of people that love me so much and want a balanced relationship. It is freeing because I am no longer held down by needing others to like me. Letting go is freeing.

All of this is to say that right now I am really sad and I am really proud of myself and those feelings can coexist. So, I am going to sit with those two things and eat my Oreos and cry and laugh and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and remind myself that love wins, especially when it is directed towards ourselves.

A[wo]men

“what is wrong with me,”

she screams.

“i love you,”

she whispers.

-conversations in the mirror