A Public Apology About my Fattitude

If I were to break down my life into categories that describe my experiences, there would be a handful of columns or pillars, if you will…

I’d say that there are bout five or six “Life Experience Pillars,” but here are few examples:

Pillar 1: Performing life.

Pillar 2: Romantic relationships.

Pillar 3: Weight Loss and Body Image

 

 

A lot of my friends think I’m absolutely nuts. The last time I could even be considered “big” was when I was ten years old. I went through a growth spurt as a pre-teen and have been a pretty healthy size my whole life. But the conversations that dominated my household during my most important years were always about the same thing:

Fat. Being big. Hating skinny people. Dieting. Low-carb. Low-fat. Size charts. measurements. Being put in the back. Feeling invisible. Size 2. Size 13. Hip size. Breast size. Hair color.

You can say that this is just how girls are as they are discovering their bodies, but in my house it was extreme. It was all we talked about. I know now that this was the result of insanely low self-esteem, and a common held belief by many of the women in my family that your worth was based on how you look, and nothing much else mattered.

This attitude sunk into the heads of the ladies around me. It really affected us and it’s infuriating.

I grew up believing I was “overweight” —and that it actually mattered.

 

 

I remember being taught in Kindergarten that it doesn’t matter what you look like, that the most important things in life were being kind and being a good friend.

So why on EARTH did that part of my growth and learning become less LOUD than the voices in my head that told me to keep losing weight?

It sure made adolescence a pain in the ass.

 

 

And you know what?

I’m 28 years old and I still bitch about it.

I still have to fight that little voice in my head that wants to start screaming any time I’m bloated.

I still look at “Lose 10 pounds in 10 Days” articles on pinterest.

I still have to quiet the part of me that wants to punch a thin woman in the face while she happily eats a donut or two.

I still look at the beautiful dancers at my theater job and ache over how I will never look like them, when all I wanted as a child was to be a ballerina. I entertain those sorrowful emotions until I knock some sense into myself for being an idiot because WE SHARE THE SAME COSTUMES and I’m being ridiculous.

Maybe I am insane.

But what I want to express is this:

I’m sorry.

I’m so SO sorry for contributing to this unhealthy culture  regarding size and body image by complaining OUT LOUD about my size or what I look like. How SHITTY is that to other people?

I am sorry that I openly talk about having “fat days” like they’re a truly negative thing. They’re not. They’re just a thing that happens to everybody when they retain water. It’s not a big deal.

I am sorry that I whined a little about finishing a half marathon and not losing any weight. (That should NOT have been a thing in my head when I made a big life accomplishment. But it was. And that is a failure on my part.)

I am sorry for the amount of time I spend on this subject when I could be doing so many other things with my time.

 

And I think, most importantly, I am sorry for believing that no one else went through this kind of struggle. I’m sorry that because I see my friends being successful in their lives, I assume that they must never have this mental fight that I have with myself almost every day…

 

THIS IS A REAL THING PEOPLE EXPERIENCE BECAUSE OF THE CULTURE OF FAT SHAMING AND SKINNY-GLORIFYING.

 

At what point are we just going to decide that what we are, in this very moment, is good enough? That our bodies do not need alterations? That the only thing that should be propelling us to eat healthy and exercise is the sheer fact that it makes us happy?

 

I try to run because it makes me happy… I like the feeling of accomplishment. It should have absolutely NOTHING to do with a desire to be skinnier.

I would really like to kill that part of my brain that still believes that I run so that I can be skinny.

It has definitely shrunk over the years, but it’s still there.

 

I’m sorry that I haven’t just made a choice to halt the negativity towards the way I look and to just have a good time living my life.

 

The self-hate is not worth the energy. It is hurtful to myself, and it is hurtful to those around me.

I’ll close with this letter.

 

Dear Sad-Fat Dragon:  

I love you. I love that you have given me the passion and fire to encourage other women to love and accept themselves. I love that what once started as a negativity toward my body eventually led me to love physical activity. However, it’s time for you to shut the eff up and let me be happy with the way I look. 

Thanks,

 Jess 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Note of Gratitude

Forgive me as the words spill out of me like the tears I can’t hold back. The past two days have been filled to the brim with reasons to cry, and I have. A younger me would have judged myself for the blubbering I’ve done over the past months, but forget it.

I am a different person now than I was before. Cells have been recreated, I have been hugged more, loved more, given more, offered more breaths of life to keep living and keep loving.

Why was I given more days to experience so much life, and breath, and beauty, when those not so far from my home, my community were not spared?

They wanted a night on the town– no different from my brothers and sisters right here in beautiful Long Beach. Long Beach, a place in which I have learned to become a better version of myself– my mind, and heart, and soul has been expanded because of this place that I chose on a whim, chasing after a boy.

But I look around me and I see how goddamn lucky I was to have followed that boy that broke my heart and tore me apart to a shell of a human so that I not only could rebuild, but so that I could be so closely connected to these beautiful people around me every single glorious day.

Everything is a gift.

Everyone of you is a gift to me.

Readers, friends, those who I will never meet– the vibrations of you matter more than I could ever comprehend.

 

And then, I am over here, experiencing what it feels like to be congratulated by my loved ones to put one foot in front of the other for three hours.

That’s not hard.

Sweating for pleasure is not hard.

Watching your community break down and cry is hard.

Watching your people argue over the definition of love and equality is hard.

Watching your friends feel pain and anguish over the fact that their neighbors might see them as less than any other human is hard.

Watching your people lose all faith in your country is hard.

Going for a long run is NOT HARD.

It was merely a lesson. A lesson that when we put limitations on what we are capable of doing, we can never change. It was a lesson that dedication and hard work can reap incredible results if you just don’t fucking give up.

We can’t give up on ourselves, and I know for a fact, that my brothers and sisters are so much stronger than I am on my own.

They have proven it to me over and over and over and over again and have given me a reason to run in the first place.

 

And although running is not hard, music is not hard, dance is not hard, and art is not hard — at least not in the way this ridiculous fight is hard,

I will run longer, sing more beautifully, dance with less conviction, and create with as much fucking purpose as I have in my tiny little human form because it’s everything I’ve got.

And if our steps, our struggle, our creation, our breath gives us a reason to celebrate who we are, then GOD DAMNIT we better do it.

Because that’s love.

I don’t care who you are, love is love, and we have the power to choose LOVE over hate and separation every day.

Every day we live is a chance to choose kindness and passion and love.

 

Thank you for inspiring me to run, sing, play, and create.

But more than anything,thank you for inspiring me to love greater than I ever thought possible.

 

 

How to Live Your Truth (Explained with Tacos)

Live Your Truth.

What the heck does that mean?

It’s such a complicated little sentence because truth (if we are speaking away from any religious principles) ebbs and flows for a person.

When I was eight years old, I wanted to survive on cold bologna sandwiches and hamburger helper until the day I died.

As a high schooler, I was convinced that by the time I reached my twenties, I would be living the high life in New York City on the brink of my first Broadway production.

As a young college student, I had intense disdain for all things that could even remotely be considered lazy, took 18 units a semester, had a part time job, a boyfriend, and an incessant need to do more with my life.

Fresh out of college I had physical and emotional trouble, and ached for socializing as much as possible.

Today I like to run 10Ks, and take naps so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

 

So when someone tells me to “live my truth” or asks “What do you want?”  I sort of cock my head to the side, shrug, and say “I don’t know. Tacos?”

My truth has become tacos.

 

There has to be a bigger question here.

taco-memes-full-of-tacos.jpeg

 

 

In all serious, the fact of the matter is that I (like SO many other people out there) adjust their wants and needs based on the expectations of others.

whatdoyouwant.gifnotthatsimple.png

 

Maybe it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

A: What would you like to do?

B: I don’t know. Whatever you want makes me happy.

A: That’s not what I asked.

B: But that’s my answer.

A: Okay, I want to go watch a movie and eat pizza.

B: Great. I’ll do that with you. That will make me happy. (But I will silently be thinking about how badly I wanted to go to mini-golf and  have tacos. I will be distracted all night about it, and then I will start to get passive aggressive, blaming the other person for not knowing my needs that I never asked for in the first place.)  

 

This example is of course on a small scale, but once it becomes a habit, it ends up being applied to the big things in life as well.

Your religion.

Your sexuality.

Your marriage.

Your passions.

Your morality.

 

THAT stuff is your truth. That is the stardust inside of you that can’t be changed or altered, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. At some point or another, if you ignore it long enough, it’s going to explode out of your face and get all over everyone. You will want to blame everyone who has ever influenced you for the outcome of your life, but the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has real control of your life!

So…

lets live our truth! Ask yourself what it is inside of you that you NEED to listen to.

Dig. Ask questions. Try different things.

Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

Share the things you discover about yourself. Those who love you will stick around and support these things. Those who don’t will fall away. But it won’t matter because you’re being honest about who you are.

 

Then put that sh*t into practice. Stop denying yourself and start speaking up.

 

It may seem trivial, but it actually does help to start by saying:

“I do not want pizza. I want tacos.”

 

iliketacos.jpg

 

It becomes a habit.

And then you learn how to ask for what you want.

And then you learn how to ask for what you need.

And then you learn how to know what you need, and declare that you’re going to go get it.

 

 

And then suddenly, we’re all eating tacos, and EVERYONE is happy.

 

notebooktaco.gif

 

 

 

 

When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

I have so many things on my body at any given time that remind me to stop being afraid.

I have a runners bracelet that says “Live Fearlessly.”

I have a necklace I wear almost every day that says “Fearless”

I have a tattoo on my left wrist that says “Courage, 1st John 4:18.” (This verse states “There is no fear in love.” I got that one after my abusive relationship in college)

 

I am very aware that I am constantly terrified.

And I’m trying to figure out what it is that scares me so much. I mean, I have the fear of people being upset with me. I am afraid of disappointing others. I am afraid that people will find out that I’m not all smiles, optimism, and kindness. I am afraid that I don’t deserve the job that I have. I am afraid that I don’t deserve to dream bigger. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of choosing the wrong “right” as I try to figure out my own right and wrong. I am afraid of being overweight. I am afraid of depression. I am afraid of being unhappy.  I am afraid I will someday be a terrible mother. I am afraid I won’t be able to finish my half marathon.

I’m afraid that I don’t deserve what I have, and that eventually someone will find out that I am not deserving of it, and it will all be taken from me.

 

Usually I use humor and creativity to deal with all of this.

But lately things don’t feel so funny or creative.

Lately it just feels like work. Being social feels like work. Talking about anything other than the mountain of emotion that I have buried myself under feels like work. I’m not allowing myself to have any fun because the fear has turned into imposter syndrome, which has turned into a belief that I don’t deserve what I have, which has turned into self-destruction and lack of motivation.

I like to think that maybe I’m just exhausted.

Or maybe I am selfishly trying to blame someone for these flaws… Recently I caught myself in a very ugly state, while I was watching some kids doing a wonderful performance, and my thoughts were “Wow, I wonder what MY life would have been like if someone gave a crap about how badly I wanted to perform as a kid, and didn’t berate me for wanting to do things that cost money outside of school.”

Now, of course this isn’t true, but somewhere deep down, there is a little girl in my heart who still feels like her dreams and hopes are not worth anyone’s time. She put them in a box and buried them, so they wouldn’t bother anybody. (Let me clarify– SHE put them there. It’s no one else’s fault.)

Now that I’ve learned this about myself, pulling that box out of that mound of dirt sometimes feels like the most difficult thing in the effing universe. I have to dig my hands into the dry, cracked, soil that has grown solid over time. I feel like I’m sobbing into the ground , screaming at my younger self for ignoring that box for all of this time. Meanwhile the grime gets under my fingernails, I can’t stop staring at this dirt, and while I dig, people in my life walk by, and get dirt thrown in their face.

 

That’s a very dramatic metaphor.

But it’s sort of what I feel like lately.

 

Every time I didn’t stick up for myself, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to stay up late on the phone for the sake of someone else’s problems, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I put someone else’s needs before my own, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I watered down my creative ideas out of fear of judgement, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I lived according to someone else’s wishes and demands, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I didn’t ask for what I needed, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to drink too much, and punish myself by locking myself in a bathroom, I put more dirt on that box.

 

Nobody else DID this to me. I let them do it, and thus I put the dirt there.

 

 

At the moment, I’m choosing to take the time so I can just pause, and write all this down. Earlier in the week I posted that “Get Money” quote on instagram, because I was in all of this pain, but didn’t have the time to feel it, give it the attention it deserves, and attempt to figure it out. So I used humor to deal. Sometimes, that’s the best I’ve got.

 

Right now, I’m tired of digging. I’m tired of trying to answer the question “What do you want?” because I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t remember what’s in that box in the dirt. I was always too scared to really look at it.

How do you ever know, really?  Maybe there’s nothing in it. If I learned anything from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and Dr. Seuss, the point is the journey, not the destination.

And maybe the journey doesn’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows.

And maybe that’s why I haven’t stopped digging.

 

 

Huh.

That’s deep shit.

(See what I did there?… Deep? … Like, ‘Dig Deep’?…No? MMk.)

 

 

 

Disengage

For as long as I can remember, I have been like a moth to the flame whenever it came to other peoples’ problems.

I always wanted to help.

Fix.

Solve their issue, provide advice, give them love in all of the places they needed it.

I once got an award in grade school because my friend fell down and chose to sit and cry about it, rather than get up and deal, so I got up from my desk and helped her to the nurses’ office. She just bumped her knee. My interference was not necessary. But I liked being a helper, and frankly I was seven, so I liked the acknowledgment that I did something that fell under the category of “Good Citizenship.”

There comes many a time when you need to help the little guy that fell down and can’t get up. But something I am realizing lately, is that sometimes the little guy on the ground is just a douche bag that can’t deal with his own shit. And by going over and helping that douche bag up off the floor, I become an even bigger douche bag, because now I’m an enabler.

 

What a conundrum.

 

For many years of my life my definition of loving a person has been all sorts of unsuccessful. I constantly made  excuses for other peoples’ terrible life choices. I have listened to their sob stories, always chose to be empathetic, rarely stood up for myself, and thus never really formed an opinion other than to “be kind.” I became an introvert because my relationships with people were so exhausting. I would rather work, write, run, and tell jokes from the safe distance of a stage, rather than engage in relationships. They were too much work. And frankly, for a long time, I had a very difficult time just enjoying drama-free relationships because I felt guilty that I wasn’t off picking up the pieces of someone else’s broken personality. That is all kinds of crappy, isn’t it?

What kind of life is that?

I’m starting to mourn my lost youth… I could have been embarking on all sorts of projects, dreams, hobbies, and career paths, but instead, I spent most of my time worrying.

Worrying that I wasn’t enough for the people in my life.

BUT I WOULD NEVER WORRY ABOUT ME.

 

I thought I was giving myself enough just by choosing to be a performing arts major. I scratched the surfaces of my talents and abilities, and I felt GUILTY ABOUT IT. I felt that going after my own desires meant that I was an awful, selfish person. Projects and dreams take up time. They put relationships on the back burner, and when all of your relationships are primarily dependent individuals, you end up stunted.

I digress…

I’ve decided it’s time. It’s time to set some boundaries. It’s time to stand up for that girl that never got to speak up. It’s time to stop enabling the douche bags.

I don’t like to admit that some people really are just crappy, or in a time in their lives in which they are choosing to be crappy people. But you know what?

I AM ALLOWED TO CHOOSE  TO SAY NO TO THESE CRAPPY RELATIONSHIPS.

I don’t need their validation.

I don’t require another person’s neediness of my time and my love in order to feel like a good person.

 

I’m done saying no to myself.

I’m done saying yes to the douche bags until they choose to stop being douche bags.

 

And I never knew what that really meant until now, but I’m excited for this newfound concept that I have the power over my own life.

I get to choose what I love, who I love, and how I love.

I get to choose how I want to spend my time.

I get to choose who deserves my love and attention, and who does not.

 

Holy crap, that is liberating.

 

Time to disengage.

 

Body Dysmorphia Realness and Other Fun Discoveries

I have not yet posted anything on this blog while I’m right in the thick of an emotional sh*t show. I like to write when I am of sound, level-headed mind, mostly because I like to be a force of positivity. There is way too much negative BS in my life, that I try to make sure that whatever I am sharing is useful, and a version of my best self.

Well, if I practice what I preach (that you need to love the parts of yourself that aren’t always perfect, and that your Sad Dragon is a beautiful part of who you are) then I should also be okay with being vulnerable and honest. And right now, I’m having a terrible time in my head, and have been all damn day. I’m FURIOUS about it too, because I just had an incredible weekend away spending time with great people and seeing San Francisco/ Oakland for the first time as an adult. It was fantastic.

 

But instead of basking in the glory that was the last three work-free days, I am lying awake in bed, OBSESSING over the fact that I don’t feel happy in my body right now. And I mean, OBSESSING.

The thoughts in my head are so ugly. I’m telling myself that I am fat, bloated, useless, overweight, and that my training for my half marathon is a waste of time because my jeans are feeling tighter. I ran three times this week, and worked a TON, but for some reason I am feeling all kinds of chubby. Also, I don’t know how to ask for what I want or need. I have learned in the last year that my body requires a certain type of eating to feel good, but I’m too embarrassed to say anything because I don’t like to be a burden. I was starving half of the time on this trip, not because I wasn’t eating enough calories, but because I wasn’t eating the nutrients that I know make me feel good, and keep my emotions on a steady level.

I’ve learned that I have a really negative reaction to certain types of meals, and styles of eating on a very deep, emotional level. But I neglected that part of myself for a week, because I was trying to “eat less for vacation” and by the time I was on vacation, I was starving. I ran twice, walked all over the Bay Area, didn’t eat enough, feel incredibly deprived, but still feel like I gained ten pounds in a few days.

 

And now, here I am, late at night, HATING myself.

I have a really serious problem with knowing when to try and get what I want and need. I have zero ability to say that I need or want something, because I am too afraid of sounding like a selfish bitch. I don’t even recognize it’s happening when it’s happening, because I always defer to whatever the other party wants. ALWAYS. ITS INGRAINED IN MY DAMN SKULL.

Not only that, but I feel like an idiot/privileged/white girl because I’m not comfortable saying “I’m sorry, I need to eat six mini meals a day of approximately 85% paleo foods or I will get cranky and bloated and have an emotional break down by the end of the week.” It is not exactly something I want to have to bring up at any social gathering while everyone is throwing down beer.

But this has become my reality.

 

Furthermore, I am dealing with a REALLY AWFUL part of my brain that absolutely DETESTS watching thin, beautiful women, enjoying cheeses, baguettes, and cocktails WORRY FREE. Why the hell was I dealt a hand that does not allow me to enjoy things like bread, beer, and pancakes without being absolutely terrified of the repercussions? I RUN EVERY MORNING, WHY CANT I JUST ENJOY MYSELF???

Its NOT. FUCKING. FAIR.

I HATE THIS ABOUT MYSELF. I hate that I go to these ugly places in my mind. I hate that I can’t ask for what I need. I’m working on it right now in therapy, but it’s a journey. I don’t know how to stop being a people pleaser, and thus, I don’t know how to just be myself. 

And I’m so damn tired. I’m exhausted. I run myself ragged and try to keep up with taking care of myself, and yet I still fall short, because I’m too afraid to explain that I can’t eat fast food or bread? HOW ARE THESE EVEN REAL PROBLEMS??? 

 

Just wanted to share because getting it out there helps me feel better, and also just wanted to communicate that I don’t have it all together. I’m a work in progress, just like everyone else.

 

I’m trying to be graceful with myself… recognizing that it’s all a process, and that I’ve made great strides. But right now, I just want to sit and cry. I just want to be sad and frustrated that I can’t relax, when other people seem to be so good at it. I hate that I spend so much energy on stupid bullshit like this. There is so much I could be worrying about and caring about that is significantly more important.

 

… But maybe that’s the problem.

I self-neglect.

Because I’m afraid of seeming selfish.

I’m am terrified of upsetting other people by putting my needs before theirs.

I am more comfortable being totally alone, than have to admit to someone else that I need something.

 

 

And if we take it a step further, and you really look at it on a deep level…

I have a hard time being loved because I don’t want to burden anyone.

 

This is my problem.

It manifests in body issues, anxiety, unexplained crying, volcanic eruptions of frustration, overbooking myself, terror dreams, and a paralyzing fear that coincides with asking for anything I need.

So that’s my Sad Dragon. There you go, internet.

 

 

 

 

Self-Deprecation: A Big Waste of Everyone’s Time

Something has been on my mind lately.

I know a lot of people that spend a significant amount of time self-deprecating.

“I’m just not that smart.”

“I wish my hair looked like yours.”

“That’s what I get for being short and fat.”

“I’ll never look good no matter how much I diet.”

“I mean, I’m obviously the least intelligent person in this room.”

“Could I be any more useless?”

“What good will it do if I try to communicate my feelings?”

“I’m not worth anyone’s time.”

(S/he says as s/he tries to backtrack the severity of this blanket, self-hate statement with a nervous laugh.)

My Response?

Shut. The hell. Up.

 

I refuse to any longer be the type of friend or family member that pats you on the head and tells you how pretty and perfect you are, despite how horribly you speak about yourself.

Do you know why?

Because I love you.

Because I believe we are so much better than just fishing for compliments.

I believe that there are FAR MORE INTERESTING things to talk about rather than our inability to lose ten pounds.

I believe that we are lovely, capable human beings who (just like every other human on this planet) may go through some awful times, but are courageous enough to put on their big girl pants and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I believe that we spend so much time worrying and whining about what we aren’t,  that we don’t even get to scratch the surface of everything that we could be.

 

I am SO TIRED of this conversation. I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m tired of it being in my own head.  And you know what? Here’s the thing…

THE VOICES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

There’s no magical little “off” switch that will suddenly make us feel perfectly confident and content. There will always be a time when we will feel like we aren’t enough. We will fall short. We will be forced to look at ourselves. We will fail.

So, we can choose to dwell on our failings, shamefully staring at our shortcomings OR we can use our failure as fuel.

Let your failure be your motivator.

So, maybe you’re saying “Jessica, the voices are so loud. I always hear them, causing so much anxiety and depression for me. They stunt me and make me feel terrible about myself. They make me want to quit my job and hide in a corner forever.”

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been there more often than I would like to admit. But I made the decision that I don’t want to be crying in a corner forever. I want to be useful to my community. I want to know what it’s like to feel like Superwoman. I want to know how to reach my full potential. I chose TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

For me, it’s running, writing, eating well, going to bed early, loving people as hard as I can, and laughing at myself.

Example: I used to hate the fact that I’m tall. Sometimes it is still a source of insecurity, but when it starts to bother me, I make a joke and say “Watch out, here comes the big gorilla” in a stupid voice  we all laugh about it.

The voices can’t control me if I am always aware that I control them.  

But that’s me. That’s my therapy.

For another person, it might be a different story. Maybe it’s taking up an interest like cooking, spending more time with kids, meditating, doing something useful in the community…(I’m a big believer in doing something charitable if you want to stop feeling like a Big Sad Screw-Up. It’s kind of impossible to feel like one when you’re focusing on giving.)

 

But, please. For everyone’s sake.

Find a way to get over it.

Find a way to start embracing the failure, and staring it dead in the face. If it’s something that’s really causing big problems to your health or your relationships, make a change.

Try something new and open your mind to different possibilities.

Ask yourself what you could be if you let go of the bull crap that clouds your head, and go become it.

It’s that simple.

You are in charge of the life that you live.

Whine a little if you have to, but find a way to get over it.

You deserve it.

How to Find Love: Step 1. Leave Toxic Relationships

Our hearts know when we are in a relationship that is unhealthy. But sometimes, we absolutely hate to admit it. We would rather drag out being uncomfortable with a person (and with ourselves) by sweeping things under the rug, or just pretending that the breakdown in communication doesn’t exist.

Maybe you have a ton of memories with this person. Maybe you’re connected financially. Maybe there is pressure from your family to stay attached to this person.

Maybe you’re just terrified of what it means if you cut ties.

 

All of this is normal. All of us have been through this experience of “trying to make things work” with that parent, that boyfriend, that spouse, that best friend, that boss, that sibling that is just KILLING us to be around for one reason or another. We make up excuses for that person, try to be understanding of their unacceptable behavior, and put ourselves second to a person that does nothing but cause us grief and suffering.

We put up blinders to their bad behavior and force ourselves to see the good in that person, even if that costs us our own sanity.

 

Why?

There truly is no point in staying intertwined with a person who only makes you hurt and angry. If you have done (and this is important) everything in your power to communicate your feelings with this person, and the message is not being received, then you just have to grow a pair and say good-bye.

Now let me touch on something for a moment—

Communicate How You Feel  

This is massively overlooked (particularly for those “Sweep-things-under-the-rug-to-avoid-conflict” types) when dealing with a toxic relationship. Sometimes the toxicity is growing in stench and thickness because the hurt individual isn’t communicating with their person to try and fix the problem. Sure, they’ll vent about that person to all of their friends and family, but they don’t go directly to the source, which only makes matters worse, and is terribly unfair to all parties involved. That being said, do not read the rest of this post until you have tried to communicate first, because it will do nothing for you. SAY SOMETHING.

Being quiet is the absolute worst thing you can do for yourself and your person if you are hurt. 

 

Now that that’s out of the way…

If you have tried to communicate and your message is not being received, you are not doing anyone any favors by staying connected to someone who is tearing you apart. (Unless there are children involved, then it gets complicated. But I am definitely no expert on this matter. I’l leave my opinions on this for another time in the future).

 

Now, stop being a martyr. GET OUT of the relationship.

Are you putting goals on hold because of this person’s opinions of you?

Are you compromising your health because of the senseless emotional stress this person is causing?

Are they dulling you? Making you worry about who you are? Making you question yourself and who you want to be?

Are they controlling you? Manipulating you? Lying to you?

Then, leave.

 

The best thing I ever could have done was get out of the relationships that were shrinking me. I had people in my life that made me feel small, that made me second-guess everything I believed in. I would be passionate and excited about a project, and get shrugged at or told it was a waste of time. I would feel sad about something, and was snubbed at for being to sensitive. I would ask for the person’s time, and they wouldn’t make room for me. I would compromise my own thoughts, feelings, and personality all to make this individual what I thought was “happy” when really it was just a big huge lie. It took a long time for me to figure it out, but the fact of the matter is,

When you lie to yourself, you can’t love yourself. And when you don’t love yourself, you sure as hell can’t love anyone else. 

 

I was making myself believe that I needed these individuals in my life. I believed that my worth would decrease if I was without them. I felt guilty for even questioning my happiness in the first place.

But in the months that I started to make room in my life to love myself, the toxic relationships started falling away like dominoes.

Not only that, but after some time, I learned (and am still learning) how to deal with the relationships that do take extra emotional energy. I can love these individuals, but not let them so far into my heart that it tears me apart. It takes patience and perseverance, but it is possible.

Part of loving yourself, is protecting your heart. And there is absolutely NO SHAME in needing to protect your heart. Anyone who truly loves you for who you are will understand and respect that fact. But you have to set the boundaries from the beginning. At some point, you stop and other people start. It is entirely up to you who you let over the wall of your heart. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE GATE KEY IF THEY DONT RESPECT THE WALL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

 

I made room in my life to love myself, and let me tell you, I have fallen into the greatest love of my life that I had no idea was fathomable outside of books and movies. Not only does this person love me for who I am, but he makes me feel more like myself than I ever thought was possible. And I never would have found him, if I didn’t learn how to eliminate the things in my life that were dulling who I am.

 

Everyone deserves to feel this kind of all-encompassing love. What an amazing world we would live in if everyone learned how to love themselves first.

 

 

 

 

The Dragon’s Voice Needs to Be Heard

Panic attacks run in my family.

Let me rephrase that… panic attacks are RAMPANT in my family. And anyone who has ever had one understands how awful and ridiculous they can feel.

I know they are different and come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are so massive they can make you feel like you only have a few minutes to live. Others feel like a heart attack. Mine usually start with a nervous feeling in my gut which spreads to my mind, makes me start feeling like the biggest failure on the planet, gives me the shakes and cause the irrational fear that I am about to vomit in public. Also I usually can’t stop crying.

 

Yeah. They suck.

 

But I have been working hard to have a relationship with the thing (or things) that ignite my anxiety. I try to figure out why they start in the first place. I ask myself—

What did I do today?

Was I productive or did I neglect something important?

Did I eat to fuel my body and soul, or did I eat poorly?

Did I get enough sleep?

Did I focus on the good things in my life?

Did I achieve (or set) any goals?

How is my relationship with myself right now?

Am I being self-deprecating, or practicing gratitude and self-love?

 

I find, more often than not, that the overwhelming feeling of dread and sorrow stems from not saying “Yes” to what’s happening in my heart and mind. It often comes from self-neglect– in other words, letting the Dragon roar as loud as it wants and letting it win. Whether that is from not giving myself a break from hours of work, putting junk in my body, not getting enough rest, or dwelling on past mistakes.

These things are all just anxiety fuel.  Sad Dragon meat and potatoes with a side of vodka and an extra large slice of cheesecake.

 

So, what do you do when anxiety is running rampant? Personally, I don’t think it’s useful for anyone to hate or ignore the panicky uneasiness. In fact, it should be looked at as a message that your Dragon is trying to tell you something important. Something is causing the hurt, so it would be detrimental to neglect it. Otherwise, it will just start roaring louder and louder until you cant decipher the messages.

Combating anxiety is different for everybody, but I’m going to start by saying “Yes” to the things my body and mind really need. And now that I’ve had an anxiety-ridden conversation (well, more like a kicking-and-screaming-break-up-fight with my Sad Dragon) with myself, I’m starting to hear what the Dragon is trying to tell me.

So, I’m focusing on three things for the next few months:

  1. Cutting Back on Work. I find that I don’t know who I am when I am not working. At any given time, I usually have five or six jobs, mostly because I am terrified of being broke. That is very unhealthy fear-based mentality and I need to let it go. If I focus on staying minimalist, and loving living on less, I will be absolutely fine. I must trust this process.
  2. Running My First Half Marathon I have been running now for a little over a year (mostly 5Ks and 10Ks) and I love it. It calms my mind, elevates my mood, and makes me feel like the Super Hero I have longed to be since I was a teenager. I have had this goal for a while now, and I need to stop putting it off because of work. In April, it’s on. I will be running 13.1 miles for the first time.
  3. Traveling and Seeing as Much as Possible because it’s FUN The last time I truly went somewhere far away and different from home was in high school on a bus with a chaperone. I am a theater-loving Californian and I have never experienced San Francisco, have only seen Yosemite once (when I was eleven), and VERY rarely get out to see live entertainment. I don’t give myself permission to see things, just for the sake of seeing them. Again, it’s usually because I’m working.

 

I need to stop saying that I’m too busy to experience my own life. I need to stop letting my Dragon win. I am in control of my emotions. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that, and that’s ok.

 

What is your Dragon trying to tell you?

.

 

Training Your Fat/Old/Ugly/Pimply/ Tall / Short/ Scrawny/ BODY-HATING Dragon

Much like practically every other woman in America, I have struggled with my body image for as long as I had body awareness. As I kid, I was on the chubby side and realized pretty early on that I was bigger than my peers. I was always very tall (a full head and shoulders taller than average) and was just thick. I had a belly and was uncomfortable in jeans because my baby muffin top would press into the button fly. I avoided physical activity because I believed it wasn’t meant for me. I would rather write and sing with my sister.

The funny thing is, once I hit my growth spurt around age 12, I turned into a bean pole with curves. I had no awkward adolescence. I went straight from chubby girl with dirty fingernails to woman-sized with braces. Now I was the only 5’9 7th grader in school, and though I realized I was no longer overweight, I did everything I could to try and take up less space. I hated that everyone could see me in a crowd. I was embarrassed and felt huge. In photos from middle school and high school, I am completely hunched over with the look I like to call the “vulture neck” to try and appear shorter. This stayed with me until… about last year. It took fifteen years. FIFTEEN YEARS OF VULTURE NECK!

I’m still 5’9, thick legs for days, and have a broad back. I’m not dainty. And I’m not small. What baffles my mind lately is how long I obsessed over how much I hated myself for taking up space. I gave myself back and vocal problems from how much I hunched myself over. I dieted constantly, deciding that if I had to be tall, maybe I could at least be stick-thin. I worked out obsessively. And though at one point I made it all the way down to 138 pounds, I was always exhausted, miserable, and anxious.

It hasn’t been until the last year or so before i realized that regardless of how small or strong I got, I still felt uncomfortable in my body, and thus uncomfortable with myself. My body is really all I have, and I spent my entire life hating it for what it is. Who cares how good I looked in a pair of jeans if I still envied other girls who were pretty, funny, strong, or successful? I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t stop hating my body and being jealous of other peoples’ bodies, faces, hair, skin…

This is my Sad Dragon. It’s loudest voice is the one that roars that I need to be thinner. I need to be smaller. I need to take up less space.

The change finally occurred when I started accepting that my body is awesome. It’s strong. It’s tall. It can make kids laugh. It can run 6 miles at a time. It can belt super high notes at karaoke. And it couldn’t do any of those things if IT DIDNT TAKE UP SPACE.

Through theatrical projects, conversations, meditation, journaling, and looking at THOUSANDS of photos of REAL women all over the internet, my thinking finally started to change. I stopped punishing myself with diet food and exercise, and instead I learned about how my individual body works– discovered which foods make it feel its best and which work out routines make me feel stronger and more available for the things that give me joy. If I’m tired, I nap and eat tons of brown rice and veggies. If I’m feeling strong and badass, I go for a long run with my favorite music. I set goals and try to meet them. But I never beat myself up if they don’t happen because the whole thing is a process. Some days are better than others. And that’s okay.

I know that this is a huge problem for a ton of women. Often times I think that the Sad Dragon is pissed off about something we may not even realize, and the easiest pathway to roar at us is the one that attacks our body. Maybe we are hurting about a past relationship, so instead of dealing with that problem, we listen to the voice that says we are overweight and useless. Maybe we are struggling with finding a job, so we come to the conclusion that if we were just prettier that maybe we would be more likable in an interview (or audition, in my case). Maybe we can’t accept the fact that we are getting older, so we curse and try to cover our wrinkles and gray hairs.

Whatever the case may be, BEFORE you decide on a diet and exercise routine, make sure you are loving your body for where it is. Right now. It is beautiful and capable. It’s the packaging for your heart, soul, and mind. Love the SHIT out of it for what it is, no matter how it looks. The diet and exercising is secondary to this necessary part of your life’s puzzle.

To sum up, if you can’t love yourself when you eat a pizza, you can’t really love yourself when you run a 10K either.

So go run a 10 K.

And go eat a pizza.

And be proud of both.