And Add a Sprinkle of Glitter…

Baggage… We all carry it. What’s in your baggage? Daddy issues, tragedy, grief, bitterness, shame, hatred? Maybe your baggage is full of rainbows, unicorns, butterflies, and glitter? Like most people, you probably have a combination of all of the above.

It is interesting because baggage is usually referred to in a negative context. If a divorced woman enters into a relationship with 5 kids and her ex cheated on her, people might say “she has a lot of baggage… you sure you want to be with her.” Frankly, this is a ridiculous statement. Yeah, this woman is carrying some stuff with her but we are all lugging shit around! Baggage can contain anything ranging from wreckage to joyful wonder.

Lately, I have been reflecting a lot on my own baggage. I just finished graduate school and haven’t started my job yet. I’ve got some time on my hands. Anyways, I realized something about myself that frankly shocked me. A lot of the shit that I have in my baggage is leading me to see myself as a victim. Ugh! Even writing that sentence disgusts me. You see, I’d like to see myself as a confident, thriving, and powerful woman. Instead, I have let past resentments, losses, pains, discriminations, etc. shape me into someone I’d rather not recognize.

I am incredibly grateful for my life. I am actually pretty happy and resilient most of the time. But when I really start to rummage around within myself, I find a lot of dust, grime, and cobwebs surrounding some stuff that I should have let go of years ago. In some ways, that stuff has driven me to succeed. It has driven me to prove people wrong. My baggage has shaped me. Who am I without it? In other ways, my baggage is weighing me down and holding me back. My arms are starting to shake under the pressure and the rest of me is starting to sweat. Maybe it is time to put it down, open it up, and reassess what belongs and add a sprinkle of glitter.

It must be impossible to rid yourself of baggage entirely. If we did, we’d be empty husks connecting with nothing and no one. But I’m learning that we can unpack and reorganize our baggage. It takes courage and hard work but it can be done. Today, I have decided that I am a victim no more. I am going to take hold of what control I do have and leave the rest to fate or the universe or God or whatever or whoever is grater than me. So here’s to unpacking, decluttering, reorganizing, reassessing, minimizing, and repacking baggage. Cheers!

Advertisements

And Just When I Thought You Considered Me A Human…

Crack my head open

On your kitchen floor

To prove to you that I have brains

– Alkaline Trio

When you are disabled, much of your life is spent proving your humanity to others. Too often, disabled people are objects; objects of your pity, objects of your existential strife, objects that someone needs to care for, objects of your inspiration, I could go on. Objects are acted on and not interacted with. And when we get too comfortable with our illusion of humanity, someone will always be there to shatter it. Someone, so graciously, reminded me of my objectified existence today. They really deserve a medal for preventing this disabled chick from using her own brain.

The thing is, she meant well. Most people do. Long story short, plans were unnecessarily changed in order to accommodate my disability. No one asked me. They gave me a vague reason for the change. I was living in ignorant bliss until today. Then someone opened their big mouth and said “well, we changed the plan for you, because you know, your disability.” When I explained that the change was unnecessary, she replied “I guess we should have asked.” Nailed it! You definitely should have asked! You see, we could chalk this up to a learning experience and call it a day. That’s a part of what I will do. The other part is that I will do my best to explain to you, dear reader, why this is fucked up. I want you to be better than that.

These people forgot that I am a human! I am not a delicate flower. I will not whither if you offend me. I will not be crushed by your carelessness. And you are not an almighty force that makes or breaks me. We are 2 fellow humans so let’s treat one another as such.

Fear also factors into this. They were afraid of offending me. Maybe they were afraid of needing to help me. Maybe they were afraid of the discomfort of watching me do something in my own way. Who knows! The point is, YOU ARE BRAVER THAN THAT!

Through my time working in community mental health, I have learned a few things.

1. We are all just a few intensely shitty experiences away from the things we fear the most… Maybe that is living on the streets, or becoming terminally ill, dyeing, becoming disabled, etc.

2. People experience intense discomfort when faced with this concept.

I get it! It makes me pretty uncomfortable too. So what do we do? Truthfully, I do not know. But one thing we can do is BE BRAVE and remember one another’s humanity.

To illustrate my complicity, here is a story. I was on the bus the other day when a young guy in a wheel chair gets on. He started talking about how he was pretty newly disabled from a traumatic event. When he was sharing his story, I felt really emotional. I was faced with those really common/pesky existential concerns. I felt really bad for the dude. But I think what I did wrong here is that I made his stuff about me. I was not brave. I made him an object.I think it would be pretty accurate to assume that he has no interest in my pity. He is probably interested in being treated like a resilient human who went through some rough shit. He probably has lots of opinions, and favorite movies/bands/books, and hobbies. He is more than that disability. He is complex. We are all complex.

TLDR: Objectification is easy and weak. Be brave and recognize humans for humans.

Almost There…! 🤹🏼‍♀️🎢

It’s the eve of my second to last quarter of grad school and I am feeling anxious as hell! There’s this part of me that can taste the savory end and this other part of me that is preparing for a bungee jumping adventure and my harness is a touch too loose. It doesn’t help that I’m starting out 2018 like a clumsy toddler fumbling for a lost pacifier in a ball pit. My dryer is producing this God awful burning smell that we are trying to fix before it starts a house fire. I just found out that my dog has a tooth fracture that could lead to her becoming very sick if we don’t spend $2000 to get it fixed. I almost dropped a bottle of tabasco sauce on my head but it landed on my coffee grinder instead and shattered the most vital piece of the grinder. Super grateful that it wasn’t my head! Oh, and I got my dates mixed up and missed my first class. Not sure why they decided to make school start in the middle of the week, as opposed to starting at the beginning of the week, but hey! And this morning, my graceful self snapped a handle straight off a mug. Just call me she hulk!

I just feel like a god damn hot mess, y’all! And I just want to feel like I have my shit together!

The start of a new quarter means more evaluation and more criticism! And let me tell you, evaluation and criticism do not always make you feel like you got your shit together. In reality, I know it is so not that bad. In the end, it will make me a better therapist. It just starts to weigh on you after a while. It doesn’t help that I have not managed to make good friends in this program. I mean, I have people I can chat with but no one that I can really talk to. No one to look forward to seeing at school. And that human connection is so crucial to perseverance. Don’t get me wrong. I have the will to get through this program. I have a great support system outside of school. It would just help to have someone on the inside, ya know? Then maybe I wouldn’t do things like miss the first day of classes.

When I decided to go back to school, I thought it would be like re-living my years as an undergrad… It so isn’t! At this point, I just can’t wait to get that degree and start making money again. And I think this is an unfortunate mindset to have. I try to remain positive and embrace the moment, but it is just not working. I want to wake up everyday excited to go to school and internship but nope! Can’t do it. It doesn’t help that I am a slight germ-a-phobe and my internship site is not for the germ avoidant.

I need an attitude adjustment! One of the other interns at my site is constantly sing songing “I need an attitude adjustment.” I think I am going to adopt this mantra. And the other sassy one says “I don’t know if I want to be a therapist anymore.” Rough times where it is tough to be positive.

But here’s the thing… The hell of grad school will be worth it in the end. I will get to be paid for something that I enjoy. I get to hold a space for human vulnerability every day. I get to keep learning things that I find interesting and worth while. And I can continue growing in my humanity each and every day.

I write this for cathartic release. I write this to give myself an attitude adjustment. I write this to remind myself to pull up my big girl panties and stop bitching.

And so it is…“`

The Holidays Are…?

Christmas is here my friends! Currently writing this while in the car, on the way to see my husband’s fam. We are obviously running late because that is the story of our lives. We may or may not have had a little too much Christmas cheer last night. Coincidentally, mixing apple jack brandy, cranberry ginger ale, and Pinot Grigio makes for a delightful cup of holiday greatness. A cup you very much need after splitting your Christmas time between 5 different sets of families.

This year, I tried to veer away from my typical grinchy ways and took more of a elfish approach to Christmas. I started off the season by decorating the group home for my clients. They were not quite feeling the Christmas spirit but what can you do. Then we did some zoo lights, struggled to make a ginger bread house, and attended a hilarious play entitled, “Santa’s Big Red Sack.”Throw all of that in with some Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, and home decorating of our own, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for Christmas spirit.

A phrase I heard frequently uttered throughout the season was “Holidays are hard!” It’s interesting because this is not something I put much thought into over my lifespan. It’s not because the holidays have been void of difficulty for me. I think it’s just that I’ve never thought about putting it into words. I never thought about generalizing an entire season like that. I’ve just always taken it step by step. Oh yeah, today it sucks that my divorced parents are guilting the hell out of me to spend more time with one or the other. Oh, I hate all those back handed compliments and straight up insults that get tossed around like a hot potato at family gatherings. Don’t forget the good old fashioned passive aggression. Wait, remember the pressure to buy nice gifts for all those people you aren’t even that close to? What if you don’t have family or friends? What if you are grieving? There is a reason suicide rates go up over the holidays. Damn, I guess the holidays are hard.

Can I share a secret though? I hate that fucking phrase! And I 100% cannot figure out why. Maybe it’s the childish part of my soul that wants to hold the holidays in magical regard. Maybe it’s because it’s just said too often. Maybe it makes me feel guilty for having a good time over the holidays. Maybe it serves as an ugly reminder of my own pain and anxiety. I sincerely apologize for hating this phrase. It makes me feel like an insensitive ass hole. But it is just the ugly truth.

At this point in my life, I still have reason to enjoy the holidays. I mean there is glitter, pretty lights, happy children, you get to keep a tree in your house, more glitter, cookies, lots of other baked goodies, lovely and yet pain in the ass family time, thoughtful gifts, did I mention the glitter? Trust me, I understand that the holidays are super hard and dreadful for so many. I am not at all trying to discount that painful experience. I just had to vent about my feelings regarding that unfortunate phrase.

Nevertheless, go have yourself a hard but happy holiday! Namaste!

Together We Reach And Together We Bear

You know that feeling in your heart telling you that something is off? That slight flutter below your rib cage… That tightness in your chest… The feeling of your internal self taking a plunge to the floor but your physical self is standing firm… It just takes one text… One phone call… One too many expectations… A little chemical imbalance anyone? Or maybe it just comes out of nowhere… Sometimes I feel like I’m having a heart attack or an allergic reaction. Occasionally I feel paralyzed. In a less extreme moment, I just feel off. Breath becomes hard to come by but is the key to climbing out of this abyss of the mind. This is my anxiety. She’d probably lie and say it’s nice to meet you but she’s busy throwing up in a dark corner of my brain right now. Such a nasty bitch.

I like to imagine tying her up and locking her in a closet. Occasionally I’ll deliver a mean upper cut to her jaw. I’ll do anything to try and push her away so I can bring myself back down to earth. I use healing crystals, essential oils, breathing exercises, and meditation. In a real pinch, I’ll pop some Xanax but once that magic wears off I worry about losing my memory from it later in life. What a joke, right? But this is the joke that people with anxiety live whenever that bitch decides to drunkenly strut back into their minds.

It seems as though anxiety is becoming synonymous with American life. It’s all about the goals and success… Always gaining and rising above… Improve… You can do better! Don’t be late. Get that A. Get that positive review. Ignore the haters. Eat healthier… Become more fit… Clean, Clean, Clean! Am I the only one who seems to have a washed up high school cheerleading coach for a brain? It’s truly exhausting and enough to cause a minor existential crisis from time to time.

What do we do? We keep that shit to ourselves because if we don’t, we seem crazy! We feel like we are going into anaphylactic shock on the inside, yet we just keep on smiling and waving on the outside. We see random people on the street who probably feel the same way we do, and we will never know. The only reason I know is because I work in mental health. I listen to people’s darkness and hidden truths on the daily. It’s a brutal world we live in. Horrible shit happens! Things are unexplainable, unreconcilable, unforgivable, and unbelievably painful. But you know what? There is always a flip side. Yeah, life sucks sometimes. Shit is hard, annoying, uncertain, stress inducing, etc. But life is also joyous, celebratory, full of adventure, peaceful, and a learning opportunity. Life is enough! I just read a post where someone listed all the things in life that are enough so I am going to give that a whirl here.

Enough is a powerful word. If you consider the origins of the word, you learn that the first element of the word means together and the second element means to reach or to bear. Things that are enough… Things with which life becomes bearable. Things with which we can reach potential. That’s pretty nifty if you ask me. With all of that being said, here’s my list of things that are ENOUGH. The list of different things which soothe that anxious monstrous who enters my brain now and again. *Probably not going to be comprehensive but it’s a start to keeping a more positive mindset.*

  1. An enchanting story that drags you in and leaves you wanting more
  2. The smell of essential oils, especially lavender
  3. A new perfume that feels like spraying on confidence
  4. A hug from a baby who is happy to see you
  5. Laughing until you cry and can’t breathe
  6. Fresh baked anything delicious
  7. Successfully soothing a sad child
  8. Observing the silence that sometimes accompanies freshly fallen snow
  9. The feel of a freshly cleaned home
  10. An amazing homecooked meal… especially green chili, homemade tortillas and refried beans
  11. Hearing the life history of your grandparents
  12. Cat and dog snuggles
  13. Baby snuggles
  14. The smell of Johnson’s baby products (I may or may not have baby fever)
  15. The love that fills your soul when your husband does something that reminds you why you married him in the first place
  16. Melting into a hug from the husband
  17. The joy that fills a dog’s step when they receive a new toy
  18. A refreshing meditation session
  19. Learning a new skill
  20. Holding a new born swaddled in a blanket
  21. Observing tired but passionately loving parents
  22. An unexpected compliment
  23. Feeling the sand beneath your toes
  24. Opening and pouring a bottle of wine
  25. Making coffee

Ok seriously, if you made it this far, you should definitely give this a try. I already feel more positive and a little lighter. Thank you for reading. Cheers!

Worlds Known and Unknown

“Life is an awful, ugly place to not have a best friend.” – Sarah Dessen

 

Today, my heart aches and my eyes burn for the empty place in my soul reserved for the intimacy of female friendships. I do not write this in search of pity. I do not write this with a lack of gratitude for my current life. I write this from the shores of isolation from my best lady friends, where you get your mani/pedis alone, girl talk is only occasional, and pantsless dance parties to throwback tunes are in limited supply. Sometimes that emptiness is a million miles away and sometimes it is front and center, begging to be filled but uncertain about how to find fulfillment.

Different happenings trigger the knowledge of this void. It’s that co-worker who is constantly posting her best friend adventures on Facebook or casually mentioning them at work. Or it’s those women in your class that always sit together and hang out after class. Maybe it’s the sting of rejection when you ask that cool girl to hang out sometime and she says yes but never brings it up again. Christina and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy dancing it out never fails to get the bestie feels a’feeling. DON’T EVEN get me started on Grace and Frankie! The final scene of the most recent season had me in tears and thinking of my best friend who lives way too far away from me.

I’m not the kind of person who enters relationships in a half-hearted manner. I love my people. I would bury bodies for my people if the connection is right. That connection is incredibly difficult to find and maintain for life. I offer fierce loyalty, honesty, unconditional love, and support, as long as that is offered in return. I don’t do half hearted friendships well and I am a jealous bitch, even in friendships. That being said, I am far from perfect and have made big mistakes. The human condition is incredibly complex and tends to muddy the waters of perfection.

 

“In college and right after college, there’s this sense that your friends are your family. It’s really painful in your late twenties when you realize that they’re not your family, and they are going to make their own families.” – Greta Gerwig

 

I’ve had strong woman friendships for much of my life. Sure, some of that has been stricken with female strife, but much of it has been full of joy and connection. One of my most intimate and soulful friendships ended in heartbreak, loss of trust, and regret. It felt like losing a lover. A fitting description because some people saw us as such. I still long for that friendship. What could I have done differently? What could she have done differently? Could we be friends now? Are we too different now? Could we pick up where we left off? Answers that may never become known.

This woman felt like a soul mate as far as friends go. She made me a better person. We would fall asleep next to one another, wipe away tears, make music, and share secrets. We had an abundance of inside jokes and it often seemed as though we knew what the other was thinking. We constantly bonded while indulging in cookies, candy, and coffee. It took one night for that relationship to be destroyed. One word… One lie… Maybe she was protecting me. Maybe I was just scared. Nevertheless, the waters seem so turbulent. I am so uncertain of the right direction. I just want her to know that she was a fabulous best friend even if our relationship ended in pieces.

Another one of my amazing female friendships can be described as intimately loyal. She is still my best friend but the physical distance between us has caused our connection to grow slack. But still, we can always pick up right where we left off. Adulting has really gotten in the way of our friendship and I long for the days where we were roommates. I long for the nights of drinking too much and falling asleep next to the pizza rolls. I miss our awkward dance parties and swapping of embarrassing stories. I miss your closet and annoying compulsion to always make your bed. Most of all, I miss being your person. Marriage has brought us to a new phase of life. It has given us new people, new homes, and new priorities. I wish we were still one another’s priority. I used to view our connection as family, as everlasting. Blood and legal contracts are over riding that view but that is ok. I am still your ride or die best friend even if we need to tighten the slack sometimes.

 

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin

 

Truthfully, the women friendships in my life have opened up new worlds for me. I learned about different family dynamics, and the effects of trauma and resiliency. This is where I discovered the power of connection. Friendship is where I first learned that you can hand pick the people with which you would like to spend your time. Friendship is where I learned how to connect emotionally with another human. It’s where I learned to be myself, and yet try on different personas. These are the people with which I fumbled socially, emotionally, and physically. These are the people who I could be Hella embarrassing around and they would still accept me.

I am having somewhat of a dry spell when it comes to intimate lady friendships that live a reasonable distance away from me. I love my friends, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that this long-distance thing is not doing it for me. I am too high maintenance for this shit. I am too demanding for shallow friendships. My couples friends are fun and wonderful but they do not fill the void that a woman best friend would fill. Sometimes it feels like the universe is telling me, “you can’t have everything.” Maybe I can’t have a wonderful husband and an amazing woman best friend. But that is what I want. I want it all! But I am willing to be patient for this new world to open up for me. I appreciate the old worlds. I value all the things that all friendships bring, whether that be past, present, or future. For now, I will feel this void and try my best to learn from it.

 

“I think that is one reason why women live longer than men. Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. We go under, even if we haven’t seen each other for years. There are hormones that are released from women to other women that are healthy and do away with the stress hormones. It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be. We have to just hang together and help each other.” – Jane Fonda

 

Long story short – I am so lucky to have experienced what Jane Fonda is talking about here and I hope to experience it, in all its glory, again one day.

A Rose Is A Rose

“I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death; and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen, and since he has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him.” – Emily Bronte

Rejection is a cruel mistress. The sting of rejection has the power to throw you into an existential crisis if you grant it so. I was recently reminded of my unfortunate lack of imperviousness when it comes to rejection. I applied for a thing, interviewed for a thing, and did not get the thing. And God damn it, I was pissed that not everyone needs, wants, and accepts me! Being that I am a rational grown up who desires to help others for a living, I of course took my frustration out on my partner who then took me out for some shopping therapy… That’s the obvious choice, isn’t it?

Petty Side note: I was extra upset because I am a minority. I am disabled and I really wanted my voice to be heard in the particular space I applied for. To be perfectly honest, disabled voices are often ignored and dismissed. So yeah… I was upset, whiney, and spiraling into an existential crisis… Yes… I am a super dramatic person, as previously mentioned in my blog. It’s genetic… So yeah, I fought with my partner who very kindly took me shopping while I asked myself, “Did they not pick me because of my disability? If they did pick me, would it have been because of my disability? Do I deserve anything that I have?”

What I really should have done is channel the great psychologist and king of sarcasm, Albert Ellis.

This dude… is so… AWESOMELY sarcastic! At this point in my career, I could not imagine speaking to my clients this way… But I feel like I should definitely start speaking to myself this way.

Fun story: Albert Ellis was a socially awkward fella who had some trouble with the ladies. He frequented a beautiful and quiet park that so happened to attract lots of lovely women. He desired to get to know some of these women but just could not gather up the courage to approach them. This bothered him so he decided to conquer his fear of rejection. He resolved to approach all the females no matter how much he was sweating, tongue tied, shaking, or about to throw up. Over the course of a month, he approached 130 women, 30 of whom gave him the metaphorical finger, 100 of them were willing to chat, and 1 agreed to a date to which she did not show. That’s the bad news… The good news is that he eventually did not feel stressed out when talking to a pretty lady. That, my friends, is the beauty of exposure therapy.

Most of us are not going to agree to getting the door slammed in our face over and over again until we do not care anymore. But maybe if you’re fear is really holding you back, consider looking into that. Luckily, there are other fancy psychological tricks you can deploy. Try thinking of rejection as more of an event than a feeling. “Okay… Rejection happened. I feel pretty bummed out about it.” Then try to remember that things can always be worse. “Yeah, I did not get that thing and I do not get to pay off my massive student loan debt faster. But things could be so much worse. At least no one barfed on me that day.” Then DO NOT provide that little bastard (rejection) with consent to define you. The link above talks about the metaphor of the flower. I will put my own spin on it for you. Some people do not like roses. A rose is still a rose. It is ok as a rose and you are ok as you are.

Moral of the story: Rejection sucks but it happens. Just keep being you because you are perfectly ok as you are. Also, buying things and saying “fuck them” in your head can help a little too.

“When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first.” – Kelly Cutrone