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

 

 

 

 

Our Own Best Ally

Hello friends. It feels like it has been years since I last wrote even though it was only a week ago. The reason for this is I had the… FLU… dun dun dun. It was awful. I didn’t leave my house for two days, everything hurt and I thought my life was ending. Obviously, I don’t do very well with being sick. Most of the time I use my sick days for mental health needs or bad headaches. I don’t usually get puking sick. So, when I do I am a total wreck. Today though, I am feeling totally better and it feels good to be sitting in front of my computer in a Starbucks, in public, even if I am sweating profusely because that is the most I’ve moved my body in awhile. It is a nice change of scenery and my body is happy to be in a different setting as well. I love my apartment, but one can only watch so much Netflix. Didn’t know I had my limits until now.

While I am excited to be writing, I also know I don’t want to push it, so this may not be the longest post. I am just going to listen to my body, trust myself- a practice I have been working on for awhile and through this flu was reminded of.

While I was sick a lot of things came up for me and some of those thoughts took me aback and I want to process them with you all because I have a feeling I am not alone in this. As someone who has been through different eating disorders and struggled with my body I sometimes get these automatic toxic thoughts. For instance, when I started to puke my first thought was, ‘well, I bet I’ll see the scale go down at WW’. As soon as I thought it I felt sad. Sad that those thoughts still consume pieces of myself; sad that I was trying to justify my bodies pain; sad that I was even thinking about weight in that moment.

I then took a deep breath. I rubbed my stomach and I apologized. I said how sorry I am for thinking that way. I then dove into where that thought came from. This was also a way for me to not think about my nausea for a brief moment. I sometimes struggle with this idea of honoring all my thoughts when in those moments I want to beat those thoughts with a bat. I know though that they are there for a reason and I need to give them the space. So I asked myself “why did you think that?” I took another deep breath and closed my eyes. Maybe WW is too much for you right now? Maybe I watched too much romantic reality tv shows and feel gross compared to them? Perhaps dating is bringing up a lot of insecurities in myself and I tend to equate thinness to love? Perhaps, I feel guilty about not being at work and I want to think about anything other than not being there? This went on for a while. I just let all these thoughts cross my mind and swirl in and out. I sat there for about 15 minutes with a million thoughts crossing.

Then, I opened my eyes and sat in front of the mirror. My sick face, drooping, white, sickly; my eyes bulging and blood shot, unable to stay closed due to the fact that I needed the toilet every 30 minutes; my hair drenched in sweat, stuck to the sides of my face. I just sat there looking at every inch of myself, reminding myself that my body takes care of itself. I am sick because something needs to get out and my body knows that. I thought about how powerful that is. How innate it is for our bodies to just care for us, no questions asked. So, I used that when I looked in the mirror. I said out loud “I want to take care of my body- innately and unconditionally.” Those other thoughts are just leftovers from a time I didn’t trust my body.

I then got up and puked.

After I finished that up, I laid on the couch and rubbed my stomach. I called my mom and told her how much pain I was in and she told me to just rest and that it will pass and, of course, she added “if it doesn’t pass in the next few hours, go to the ER.” It did pass though. Just like that thought, the pain subsided. I rested and healed just as I knew my body could.

Yesterday, during that healing, while my body felt like it got run over by a bus, I decided to do some Yoga with Adriene for illness. It was nice to gently move my body and stretch out the parts of myself that were crunched up for 24 hours. The thing I loved the most though was how the video ended. She said when she is sick she uses the affirmation ‘my immune system works perfectly’. With our hands at our hearts we both repeated those words. As I spoke those words into the universe, I recalled my moment from the day before. A sense of relief just wafting all over myself.

I think all of this is to be a reminder that A) things are always changing and B) we can/should learn to trust our bodies more. I used to push those thoughts away, not give them the time of day. Now, letting myself explore why I had that thought and all the things that came along with it allowed me to realize that I am not in that same place. It gave me a moment of self-reflection that I wouldn’t have gotten if I just shut it down immediately.  I suggest learning to trust yourself- I promise it feels so much better than being an enemy of yourself. “They” always say you are your own worst enemy, but I would argue that we are our own best ally. 

I would also argue that we could all do better at washing our hands.

A[wo]men

a reflection
in the water,
in the mirror,
in the window,
in the puddle,
in the broken glass.
always-
you
-wherever you go.
rooting for you.
-your number one fan

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.

The Battle of the Secrets

Hello beautiful souls. Welcome back and I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts of 2020 thus far. I just wanted to start by saying that I will not be having an interview piece for the month of January, but they will be back and better than ever starting in February. Which reminds me, if you are invested in telling your own story feel free to contact me and let me know.

Okay, now that housekeeping is out of the way, let’s get to the goods. I have been feeling some type of way and I’ve enjoyed exploring those feelings more as of late. Interestingly, I have started a new form of birth control that I swear has evened out my hormones. I know a lot of people say they feel more mood swings with the pill, but I have never felt more even keeled. I am sure there are a lot of factors that go into why I am feeling like this, but I really think that is one of them. Now, when I say more even keeled, it does not mean I am not emotional. I still cry on the regular, don’t you worry y’all, gotta get that release somehow. However, those low-lows that I used to have, get less and less. I haven’t had a real low-low in about a month, which is impressive, if I do say so myself. Plus, that low was triggered by alcohol which I have been avoiding as well. So, I am sure that has helped a lot. While I do feel more stable there is an area of my life that is bringing up a lot of feels and a lot of what I’ve been exploring this past month.

Ey-yo, low self-esteem check! (Tiktoc reference, for you oldies. JK I’m old, but I like to stay up-to-date on what the cool kids are doing). But seriously, I’ve been feeling not very powerful and it has been really interrupting my groove. As someone with a history of eating disorders, the new year is the hardest time. Everyone around me is talking about their diet; the weight they have gained over the holidays; the desire to be thinner, thicker, taller, shorter, beefier. Every “I just need to loose 5 lbs, 10lbs, 100lbs” scatters about me and I don’t know how to respond. I oscillate between wanting to be happy with who I am and wanting to be thin. Should I want to loose weight? Should I not? How do I feel about myself? So many thoughts constantly echoing in my brain. “The Biggest Loser” flashes across my screen and  brings me back to the image of fat people puking while a thin person berates them. I play Demi Lovato’s new song Anyone on repeat while I think about all the things she has overcome and how glorious she looked on that stage at the Grammy’s.

Last night, with Demi in mind, I stared into the mirror and I saidyou are worthy of everything you want’ and I began to cry because I didn’t know if I believed it or not. Everyday I wonder if I am loving myself correctly. In this instance, is self-love admitting that I want to change? Is it wanting to feel okay in my current skin? Is it both? I think it is both… No, I know it is both. Why can’t I have a desire to change while also loving who I am? Both can exist at the same time and both can be a beautiful admittance. My worth does not depend on whether I want to change or not. My worth is a value that comes from  inside of myself, even on the days I get self-love wrong, I am worthy.

This morning I stared into the mirror and I said ‘you are worthy of everything you want’ and I began to cry because I knew it was true whether I believed it or not. That’s thing about being gentle with yourself. It’s okay to be exactly who you are at all times, even when it feels like you might be a walking paradox. It is hard to feel worthy, unless you start to accept pieces of yourself that might feel scary to accept.

In light of this revelation, there is a secret I have been keeping to myself that I feel I need to let out. I joined Weight Watchers again and typing that is really scary for me. There it is, out in the open. Even just typing it out loud feels liberating. I think this is scary for me to admit because it feels like I am failing in some way, like wanting to change means I don’t just fully embrace who I am now and that means I am doing self-love a disservice and everything I’ve said before is a lie. The thing is though, that I do love myself as I am today and I want to be able to eat more reasonable portions and I wouldn’t mind losing weight. I do not want to feel shame or guilt in that. Weight Watchers, to me, is a place where I find community, where I can talk about my struggles with eating and feel no judgement. It feels so good to not be holding that in any longer.

Keeping secrets is a heavy weight to carry around. As a social worker, I think the number one phrase I’ve heard in my position is “I’ve never told anyone that before“. After they say it, their change in body language can only be described as amazing. There is always a deep breath and a feeling of relief. The power that I witness firsthand in letting out a secret is one of my favorite parts of the work I do. I feel that feeling each week as I sit at my computer. Each post accompanies a deep breath and feeling of relief.

There are pieces of me that are hard for me to admit, but with each blog post, with each conversation with a friend, with each confession, I feel more and more worthy of what I want. It all starts with ripping the bandaid. Telling your secrets to the air, your pet, a piece of paper, a computer screen, a trusted friend, a stranger, your therapist – is powerful. Scream it out or whisper it quietly. Secrets that we keep inside are the real parts of ourselves that we need to battle. Today, take out your sword and be brave- tell a secret you’ve been holding on to. If you don’t have anyone/thing to tell, you can tell me. Just go to my contact page and if you want to remain anonymous just make up a name and email. I just want you to know that you have a place here that is safe. I feel safe in telling you my secrets and I hope you feel the same in return.

Today I am going to be brave alongside you and I am going to tell three more secrets before the day is done. You will be able to find them on my Instagram page.

A[wo]men

i feel the aching-

today in my chest,

yesterday in my bones,

tomorrow in my stomach.

it will always linger,

always want out.

i close my eyes,

open my mouth,

let the words

escape my lips

i’m free.

-letting go of secrets

 

 

 

 

 

From the Year of Change to the Year of Stability

Hello loves, I would first like to start off by thanking you all for the kind words after my post about Alex Wolf. I am so happy to hear all the people that also want to live their life like Alex. As I continue to follow those words, I would also like to share that this will be my last post of 2019. Taking a bit of winter break for myself and focusing on building more stability and grounding. I will return in 2020 with more to talk about and *fingers crossed* more interviews. So for today, I would like to do my own year in review. Thank you, Spotify, for the idea.

My greatest hits of 2019 include:

  1. Travel Girl  (feat. Hawaii, Rhode Island & Myrtle Beach)
  2. Ending a Relationship (feat. my ex)
  3. Alaska to New York
  4. Goodbye first job, Hello new job
  5. Got a new therapist, who dis?
  6. Dating (half of NYC)
  7. Oops, I got robbed on the train
  8. Forever Missed (feat. Alex Wolf)

I am officially coining 2019 the year of change. There were so many ups and downs. Constant, life changing events were thrown in my direction. I would like to say I handled them with grace and ease, but I absolutely did not because I am human. I stumbled about as if I were a new born dear trying to walk. It was not pretty. I find something quite beautiful in that ugliness of living though. A bit of a contradiction, I suppose. Yet, it simply is the epitome of human life to fall and get up and fall and get up. It is how we learn to do most things in life. How can that not be beautiful in its ugliness?

While I reflect on the past and the ways that I careened through the year, I would also like to look toward the future. Typically, each year I make a list of things I hope to accomplish. I know, v. original. I went back in my blog for 2019 to see what my list said… There was no list. When 2019 began I was in a deep, deep depression. The future seemed bleak and if I remember correctly the only thing on my list was to heal. A to-do that I believe is never quite finished. We are always healing from new marks that find their way to us. Though, as I make my way to the end of 2019, I am in a completely different headspace. I now have the tools to help the healing and the wisdom to know that nothing is permanent. Things change, always.

With that being said, I want to highlight some changes I hope to see in 2020:

  • Learn a new hobby (knitting?)
  • Continue to work towards obtaining my LCSW
  • Reduce CC debt by 50%
  • Travel (Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, Maine, Spain)
  • Build strong relationships
  • Run a 5k
  • Fall in love with myself again, and again, and again
  • Write more
  • Scroll less
  • A new president

If 2019 was the year of change, I would like 2020 to be the year of stability. All that change I went through was vital to my own growth; however, I want to feel more grounded as I enter this new year. This is also why I intend to take a break from writing for the next month. I plan to use that time to focus on my goals and come up with a concrete plan. I was a bit willy-nilly with how I moved through the world this year. I was very much reactive, rather than proactive. It is my hope to now become proactive. A trait I believe is curated as we age. In 2020, I will become 30 years old. Another decade will have passed in my life and I hope by the time I get there I understand myself in a deeper way and care for myself in the way I care for others.

They say we are creatures of habit, so I am encouraging us to create a habit of self-compassion this year. Let’s become so in love with ourselves that we can’t help but feel safe and stable in our own arms. Coin this year whatever you feel you need to move forward. Perhaps you need change, perhaps you need stability, perhaps you need something totally different. Just remember that your path is for you. Figure out what you need and let it guide you.

I will greet you all again in January, until then spread love to yourself and to others.

A[wo]men

it’s me

in the dew of the morning

in the dark of the night

through the forest

and the depths of the ocean

in the sunshine &

the moon

love & heartache

growth & regrowth

i am with me through it all

-you are your best partner through life

 

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*

Indecisions, Indecisions

Hi friends, I am writing to you from Philadelphia. I’ve decided to run away and live here now. JUST KIDDING. I am here for a conference and I am excited to be spending the day here exploring— and by that I mean sitting at this one coffee shop, not buying anything, and using their internet for the day. And what a day it is-not too hot, not too cold, partly cloudy with a chance of fun.

I’ve been getting many inquiries and desires for the deets of my dating life. I know the deets you are all looking for and honestly the name of my show would be sexless and the city. I must’ve shaken the magic eight ball and received ‘outlook not good’ because the people that I have met are, well, underwhelming, to say the least. There was one guy I dated for a hot second, but it was just that—a second. And the rest were nice enough, but not my cup of tea. *I would like to note that I feel very lucky that I have not met anyone that is cruel*

What I am finding is that there seems to be a lack of passion in the world. I am not just talking about romantic passion, but passion for life. When I ask people why they do what they do, most don’t have a real answer. Often responded with ‘I make good money’ or ‘what else would I do’? I’m fairly certain they don’t even enjoy their work. And these aren’t the people that are making money to get by. I get those people. I’ve been that person. We gotta do what we gotta do. These are people that have spent years of their lives in school, pursuing something that they aren’t even sure of. Then when I ask what they do outside of work I tend to get the generic ‘hang out with friends, work out, *cough* do you even lift bro?’ It’s like someone is playing a joke on me. I mean if it is a joke, that’s pretty good. But like, Ashton, you can come out now. 

Really though, in this frame I feel lucky- and not just because I don’t call people bro. In my undergraduate studies I changed my major several times. I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, work in media, learn spanish, teach spanish, teach math, go into politics … and more. Often the response I get to this is of shock and confusion. Personally, I am more shocked and awed that this isn’t the standard. I often get down on myself about being indecisive. At times it makes me feel like I have this burdensome weakness. “Just pick a cereal, Sarah, it’s not that hard”. Sure, Reese’s Puffs vs Cinnamon Toast Crunch doesn’t seem that important, but to me it’s a couple weeks of breakfast. What do I want to wake up to every morning? Will it bring me joy. My mornings are my favorite part of the day. This decision is crucial. And you know, I typically go with the choice that I hadn’t even been considering, i.e oatmeal. Might bring this up to my therapist later, idk.

These dates with people that seem ‘just okay’ with their lives have been a friendly reminder to me; I am indecisive because I care about myself. This is not a weakness, this is a strength. When I meet people that just do things because that’s what they are supposed to do and they don’t question that, alarm bells ring in my head. Every choice we make should mean something to us. For this reason, I am taking a new approach with my dating life. Previously, I was going on dates just to go on dates. It didn’t matter the person, I just needed to get used to dating again. Both my quest and therapy have helped me get over that fear. Now, I have a new goal. I want to meet people with intention. I want to be surrounded by thoughts I haven’t had yet and feelings I didn’t know I could feel. I want to leap back out of my comfort zone, not into a fearful zone, but of excitement. I want passion in all aspects of my life. 

Jumping back into dating with intention means that there has to be a critical look at my past relationships. Looking back, my most recent relationship began without intention. One minute we were friends and the next minute we were more than that. Then the next minute we weren’t either of those things. Then we were again. Then we weren’t. Then my friends started calling us Rachel and Ross. Not really, but they could’ve. My emotions followed suit—Happy, mad, sad, happy, sad. Yet, I never assessed those feelings. I took them at face value. I thought I was sad because I was letting go of something I shouldn’t; I thought I was mad because I wish I didn’t know what I knew; I thought I was happy because there was still a chance of us being together. Now I know I was all those things because I was supposed to be, because break-ups are hard. But there was that emotional stigma again, telling me that sadness/madness are bad and all I should want is happy. I just kept reaching for happy, not understanding that all my emotions were trying to tell me something. Up and down, up and down my feelings went. I got so seasick I had to jump ship and landed all the way in New York. 

But see, leaving Alaska was done with intention. That was a decision that I mulled over and feared of making the wrong choice. As I sit here thinking back to how hard that choice was for me, I am wondering why I have never put the same energy into picking the right partner. My indecisiveness does not translate to my relationships. I often find myself dating people simply because they want to date me. I don’t think about why I want to be with that person or what makes me passionate about building a life with them in it. 

What is it about finding a partner that I don’t think it warrants the same attention? If there is anything I should be indecisive about, it is finding a person that I let into my life in more intimate ways than any other person. With pillow talk, I pass out deep secrets like candies. I am consumed with the vulnerability displayed by nakedness. For me and the things I have been through, I tend to let my guard down as a way to protect myself. If I say yes, if I tell them my secrets, even if I don’t necessarily want to, then I am safe. They can’t hold anything against me. I think this is why I have been so hesitant to give my attention to this. Because it means I have to take myself off of autopilot and really check myself every step of the way. These connections, though, deserve more of my attention, more of my indecisiveness, more of me caring about myself. I want to find people that have passion and that make me feel safe to let my guard down, not as a way to protect myself, but because I feel safe to do so.

I, with the help of a dear friend, have come up with a plan to do just that. I am going to start meeting people with more intention. First off, I am going to start talking to people in public. [I know… it’s so un-millennial of me. Talking to strangers just out in public like some kind of wild animal.] Secondly, I am going to be observant and reach out to those that seem to have a spark in them. Thirdly, I am going to try new things. Join groups, lean new skills, leap into new passions! This process is not just for romantic relationships, but for connection with all humans. 

Isn’t that all any of us are really looking for anyways— Connection. 

A[wo]men

It’s radiant – the black and the white
The good and the bad
The sharp contrast.

I, however, am gray. 

It’s subtle- black and white
No good, no bad 
The blurry mixture.

-Just stories. 

Good GERD

Hi, friends. Last week I thought I was dying. And I don’t mean the normal ‘I have the flu and I feel like death’ dying. All of the sudden while I was writing my blog I started to get this pain in my chest. It felt like I couldn’t breathe and I was having trouble swallowing. Turns out it was severe gastric reflux or GERD as some people call it. I also had severe back pain which was being impacted by the reflux. It was uncomfortable and I was sure WebMd was right, it had to be cancer. Of course, it wasn’t and I am doing much better as I sit here and write this, but it brought up a lot of feelings for me. Feelings about my body, my misunderstanding of health, and trying to find a balance of self-love and self-care.

If you are an avid reader, you know we have been here before. (Also thank you, you da real MVP.) The battle with my body is repetitive and important. Prior to my move to Alaska I was in the best shape of my life. I was running 6 miles, eating well, and felt good. Then I moved, and moving is scary, and I was told to be easy on myself, do things that make me feel good. Following my break-up, I was also told to be easy on myself, do things that make me feel good. In fact, if I look back at all the things I’ve struggled through in my life, these words are often uttered to me in some way. It is a kind message, but a message I took quite literally. Carbs make me feel good… Carbs and cheese and chips and well you get the idea. I did what everyone was telling me to do, I made myself feel good. I ate and I ate and when I would eat, even if just for the moment, I would forget how I was feeling.

After my break-up I was in a low place. I thought that there was something wrong with me, and more specifically I thought I was physically gross. I thought I deserved what happened because I was a monster, with thicc thighs and hairy skin. I thought that, that feeling would never pass and I would die alone, a monster. Trust me, I know how dramatic this sounds. I can now recognize how truly absurd I was being; thinking that the weight I was at or the growth of my hair somehow impacted the respect I deserve. This was partly baby Sarah making an appearance and it was also the years of media telling me that only the skinny girl finds love and the fat girl gets to be the sidekick on her journey. When I started dating my ex, I believe a part of me thought I had broken the mold. A fat girl found love and I couldn’t lose it because it was an anomaly that it happened in the first place.

Fast forward to New York City. Through my millions (or what felt like millions) of dates and ghosting and texts and calls, I started to realize that I wasn’t in a film where I was the side kick. I am the star, baby. Even better, I realized that I get to choose who I fall in love with and I don’t have to settle for someone because *SPOILER ALERT* fat girls fall in love too. Then, last week, when my body started to revolt against me, all those thoughts came flooding back. Not only will I not find love, but I am going to die early because I mistook binge eating for self-care. I was a failure and I deserved this, because I am a monster.

I was mad at my body and my brain for failing me. I wanted a new body and a new brain, an all too familiar thought. For a long time, I thought that self-love was about denying that part of me that doesn’t like myself. Every time a negative thought would surface, I felt like I was failing my message. It begged the question: Can I preach self-love if I, in fact, don’t love myself? The simple answer is, of course, yes. I am human, with human flesh and human faults. At the core of me, I love who I am and I think that is what is important. I strive for self-love everyday, while honoring the part of me that wants a flatter tummy, a thinner face, more toned arms, etc. That part of me is what started this blog and pushes me towards constant self-reflection.

Because I am in therapy and being much more proactive about my health (both physical and mental) these recent thoughts did not last long; I honored them and let them go. However, these thoughts really made me reflect on what messages I still cling onto and what core ideas I am finding hard to let go of? I mentioned media earlier. When I say media, I predominantly mean romcoms, because let’s be honest I am basic AF, a fact I am v. proud of. These romcoms though have become extremely problematic in my way of thinking. [And I would like to point out the multitudes of other ways romcoms are problematic, but that’s a whole other post… or research essay really]. Not only did they make me believe I wouldn’t find love, but I think I excuse a lot of behaviors in the name of love, as is seen in romcoms. I let my boundaries become irrelevant in order to please others, because the most important goal in any romcom is to find the one… *pukes in mouth* ..even if that one is completely wrong for you and treats you like trash, but he apologized and told you the 3 most basic compliments to make you forgot the horrible things he did, so like oh, well! Marriage is on the horizon, ya know?

Really, I am just trying to rewrite these automatic thoughts I get about my worth and how I attach that to the need for love from others. Life isn’t a romcom and and I am not a monster and things are never perfect. If I am being honest, I am up and down on the whole loving myself thing and I think that is healthy and normal. The thing I embrace about the self-love movement is that it centers on honoring oneself, all the parts of oneself. There is a scene in one of my favorite romcoms, ’10 Things I Hate About You’ (told you I was basic) where she is reading this poem about all the things she hates about her love interest, Heath Ledger: heartthrob, sexual awakening, RIP. BUT the poem ends with how she doesn’t even hate him at all. Honestly, it is one of the cheesiest things in a film I have ever witnessed, but her poem resonates with the way I feel about myself. Let me show you what I mean:

Me to me: I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you [wear] your hair. I hate the way you [sweat and chafe when you walk]. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb [stomach], and the way you get [caught in your own mind]. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me [write]. I hate the way you’re always [comparing]. I hate it when you [over-eat]. I hate it when you make me [angry], even worse when you make me cry. I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t [rest]. But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.

Okay, I made some small edits, and it no longer rhymes, but you can see what I mean. There are parts of me that I will struggle with throughout my life, but the good news is it will be me the whole way through and I am here for it.

*Also to circle back on the GERD diagnosis, I basically have to avoid acidic foods. Meaning it has now been 7 days since my last coffee. I am surviving, but would appreciate your #thoughtsandprays in this trying time. Honestly though, my stomach is healing just fine and the back pain has subsided. Thank female yeezy. 

**Also, also dating is still going really well [as you might have guessed from my rant about the lies media has told me], thank you for asking!

 

Featured image found on https://www.mooreaseal.com/products/self-love-club-sticker where you can purchase the sticker for $4.50

Nobody Puts Baby [Sarah] in the Corner

Hi, friends. Since my last post I’ve had several people reach out to me. They reached out to check-in on me. They reached out to tell me their own stories of suicidal ideation. They reached out. Over the last couple of weeks I have felt supported by people both close to me and people that I don’t know very well. It is amazing how much this keeps me going. It reminds me how special this blog is to me. Please keep reaching out, even if it isn’t to me. Just check-in on your friends, you never know how much someone might need it.

This morning riding the subway there was a person. They were wearing pants on their head and screaming at the top of their lungs. The passengers on the train gave them weird looks, heck I probably gave them weird looks. Some people would enter the train car and immediately hop back off, like “not today, Satan.” All I could think for that 15 minute ride was ‘where were they going? Did they have people that would reach out to them? How different would the world look if we took care of each other instead of feared one another?’ Don’t get me wrong… I am guilty of the fear. The fear that drives my internal system and tells me people are bad. It is that baby Sarah voice that takes over. It’s a really cute voice with a bit of a speech impediment and she is not very nice.

I’ve actually been spending a lot of time thinking about baby Sarah as I move forward from my recent heart break; the role she plays in my daily life, her goals and dreams, and how they are both similar and vastly different from the person I am now. I think it is important to think of our inner child often, as they are typically the drivers of our natural instincts. Baby Sarah is a peace keeper. She always wants to make things right, even when it wasn’t her fault that things went wrong. This makes sense to me, then, that as an adult I cling. I cling to the hope that I can fix just about anything with a nice smile and a quiet voice. What magic it would be if we could simply smile and cure pain and suffering. If it were that easy, I would have fixed a lot of problems ‘cuz, to quote my many dates, [I have a great smile].

Which reminds me, in the last few week I have been on many dates. Talk about the inner child, whew. I find it fascinating the way humans behave within the first few moments of meeting. There are so many things people are willing to disclose; so many things that aren’t being said at all. Dating is mystery, excitement, and inevitable choice: Do I kiss them? Do I ghost them? Do I see them again? Do I runaway to Europe? Sometimes it feels like I am the one wearing pants on my head. Sometimes I want to be the one screaming at the top of my lungs on the subway car. With that being said, to my surprise, dating is going really well. I’ve met some really awesome people and I am feeling more hopeful about finding a partner that is kind, honest, and holds me in a safe space and I do the same for them.

In fact, baby Sarah shows up a lot on my dates. She thinks about her future and the family she one day wants to have. She also gets really, really scared. I am trying very hard to both listen and understand this part of myself while challenging it as well. From a young age I absorbed messaging that I was not good enough. I don’t think this was the message that I was supposed to receive, but this is how my kiddo brain interpreted things then. I think the point was to protect myself, but I just ended up hurting myself. I became the victim of my own life and I set out on a self-fulfilling prophecy to ensure I would continue to play out these patterns that remind me I am not good enough. This is where I have to challenge this girl because… I AM GOOD ENOUGH. I deserve happiness, love, and to follow my dreams. I actually just got done with therapy and surprise, surprise baby Sarah was the star of the show. She kept coming up over the hour and a half. My therapist also mentioned the protecting she does for me. The protection of leaving my body, the security of giving trust to those that I shouldn’t, the safety of providing ‘soft no’s’ all in hopes to avoid pain and hurt. She is my keeper after all; however, I am also on the right track with this whole pushing back thing. While these patterns provide a sense of safety they are in fact hindering my ability to live a happy life. Instead, I currently live in a constant state of fear. How exhausting…

My assignment given to me for the week is to A. Find moments I disassociate (leave my body) B. Find the places where I feel safe and happy and C. Establish more consistency. After leaving the session 20 minutes ago I have left my body twice and I have felt safe and happy once. Sitting here, writing this blog, listening to two girls watch a stand-up comedian and laughing so hard the one blew soup out of her nose, I feel safe. I feel happy. I’ve always struggled to do this for myself. To put my happiness above other things. I tend to come in second to the rest of the world. I preach self-love and then shove baby [Sarah] in the corner. I’m over it. I’m over the soft no’s and the quiet complacency. I want to say YES when things feel good. I want to demand people hear my NO when I say ‘NO’. I want to stand up for myself and not feel concerned about how people might react to that. I will be stronger, every day, continually growing into the person baby Sarah could only be proud of. So, I would like to give you all an assignment as well. Think of baby *insert name here*. How are they serving you? Would they proud of the person you are now? Is there anything you can do in this moment to make them smile? Maybe, just maybe, you have 5 minutes to devote to this reflection.

And on that note, I would like to end today’s post with a poem written by Rupi Kaur, whose words have been a guiding source in my healing and growth over the last few years:

it was when I stopped searching for home within others

and lifted the foundations of home within myself

i found there were no roots more intimate

than those between a mind and body

that have decided to be whole

-rupi kaur

Moving On

Hi, friends! It has been awhile and I am so excited to be back. Gosh, even just typing nonsense feels good. I missed my time and my space that I created for myself here on the internet. I forgot how therapeutic writing for me really is and my goodness do I need all the therapeutic activities I can get. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

There has been so much going on in my life I barely know where to begin. I believe my last post was approximately 6 months ago, give or take a few. Even in those last few posts I wasn’t in the best head space to say how I was truly feeling or what I was going through. I think I have made it through the fog and I am ready to let it out. “Hold onto your butts” as the great Samuel L. Jackson once stated in the greatest film of all time (let’s fight about it).

I will start with the biggest news of all, I MOVED BACK TO NEW YORK CITY! Basically it all started with a text from my previous intern supervisor informing me that there was a job opening and I was encouraged to apply. As soon as I saw the text, I knew in my heart of hearts that NYC was where I was meant to be. Of course, even when my stomach knows the truth, my brain has a tendency to disregard all natural instincts.

I explored options with friends, family, therapists, trees, stray dogs, the wind, etc. I went back and forth, back and forth, unsure if I should stay or go. Although, everyone around me seemed to know my answer before I did… There were just so many things I loved about Alaska. I have people that I call family there. I loved my kiddos I worked with, they were the reason I woke up in the morning. I never stopped being in awe of the beauty. Alaska was the place I thought I would be for a very long time. However, there were also dark parts of me in Alaska; a side of me I hadn’t seen in a long time. I would isolate myself, avoiding any human contact for as long as I could. I thought about not living anymore, more often than I would like to admit. It got scary. So, as much as the pros of the island were really great, the dark pieces of me were longing to feel light again. After a lot of consideration (and getting hired, which the whole plan was contingent on) I decided to make the move. I spent my last few weeks in Alaska with the people I love, exploring the island. It was the most beautiful 4 weeks of my entire time there. I then loaded up my car, got back on the three day ferry that got me there in the first place, drove to Wisconsin, then flew to NYC all in a total of 5 days. Talk about a wild ride… There has not been a day since I left where I don’t think about the island. There will always be a part of my heart there, just like there was always a part of my heart left in NYC.

Coming back to the city felt like coming home. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I could feel a weight lift off of me. When I was in Alaska and working through my depression, I didn’t realize how far down the hole I had gotten until I was out of the hole and breathing again. It is difficult to recognize something is wrong, after it had been wrong for so long, because that starts to feel like your new normal. I have said this before, but it bares repeating: My depression is my friend. She is a comfort in a lot of ways and often I don’t notice when she has over stayed her welcome, but when she leaves there is an immediate ability to reflect on all the harm she does.

I think I appreciated her presence even more in Alaska because I was going through heartbreak. (I like how I said that in past tense, like I am not still going through heartbreak. Cute.) I felt rejected and hurt and my depression validated my feelings. I would say I was worthless and she would say “yeah, you’re right. Let’s just stay in bed.” At that time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. Ending my relationship made me feel extremely out of control, but giving into my depression made me feel safe. I am sure many of you are wondering about my breakup and want more details, but it just isn’t going to happen. The wounds are still there and I think they will be there for awhile. Love hurts, ya know? *Cue Nazareth (1976)*

While I am not talking about the breakup specifics, I do want to talk about what I have been going through emotionally, in hopes that maybe I find some more healing. Mostly, at this stage, I have felt frustrated. The idea of going through that whole process again to potentially go through more heartbreak is v. upsetting. There has to be an easier way, right? I mean, I guess it’s called being alone, but that doesn’t sound fun either. On top of feeling frustrated, I am also feeling alarmingly scared. I have lost a lot of trust. So much so that I start to panic around strangers, assuming that they want to hurt me in some way. I have been on edge, particularly around male-identifying humans. I know it’s not fair that a few bad experiences have made me generalize, but trust me I am working through it. We’ll get to how in just a moment. I have also felt very confused. I constantly miss this person, yet know I shouldn’t be with this person, but also can’t stop comparing everyone to this person, and all my feelings get jumbled up into a big ball of mess. One big, confused, fucked up, ball of mess. Pretty much the epitome of human existence, I think.

The good thing about all these feelings I have been experiencing is that I am officially out of it, so I can start to work through some of these things. Living in Alaska, seeing them every day… it was really hard and what was harder was letting go. Right now, that is all I am really focusing on. Letting go of the past in hopes that I am making all the best choices for my future. Which is why I am back to blogging and back to focusing on myself and my needs. ALSO, I deleted social media off of my phone and only visit the pages for blogging purposes. It has made a world of difference. My own self-esteem has increased by at least 40%, and honestly, I think that is a gross underestimate. I realized the constant comparing I was doing and the damage it was causing. I would search his page daily, wondering if he was thinking about me. I would find myself googling plastic surgery, calculating how much I would have to save to start looking like the models I follow. It was hazardous. Healing from this way of thinking is the most rewarding part of my journey thus far.

Another part of my healing plan, and desire to get back to trusting others, has included dating again. *EEK*  This is that part of the story that we weren’t ready for earlier. That’s right, friends… A billion dates with men is on the agenda. Okay, maybe not a billion, but really I am trying to create my own form of exposure therapy. I figure that the more dates I go on, the more comfortable I will start to feel around the male-identifying population and perhaps may even find feelings for one them. *not holding breath* It is refreshing to go in with this mentality, solely because I feel very much in control of each situation. I don’t spend time wondering if I am putting on a good show. I actually haven’t worn makeup or dressed up for a single date yet. I am genuinely just there to hear their story and find connection with the human sitting in front of me. I don’t know if this technique is for everyone, but it certainly seems to be working for me. So far, they have all been pretty decent dates too, so that is helping the journey go smoother. *Informercial voice over* Some of the side effects to this form of treatment include: spending a lot of money on dates, being out too late on work nights, spending 5 minutes prior to a date exploring what to do if the person tries to murder you, and of course *relationships not guaranteed*. Other than those few hiccups, it is fun.

I am also dating myself again which is always my favorite thing to do and actually blossomed out of my first blog. RIP Tumblr blog. Last weekend I took myself to the movies. I’ve taken myself out to dinner a few times. I love taking myself out for coffee. I am an excellent coffee drinker/people watcher date FYI. I gave myself time to write. I heart self-love and I am glad I am giving me the attention I deserve.

And with that, I would like to end on a poem I wrote, as I try to further develop my poetic skills and continue to show myself love and compassion in new adventures:

 


The way the wind rustles the leaves

That is the way I fall in love.

Light and mesmerizing,

without a path to follow.

 

The way the fire burns with rage

That is the way I fall out of love.

Powerful and dangerous,

without water to make it stop.

 

The way the water ebbs and flows

That is the way I heal my soul.

In and out, in and out, in and out

without an end in sight.

 

The way the earth exists for us

That is the way I exist for others.