“Die, Vampires.”

Has anyone ever been tormented in their head by the things others have said about you?

Actually, you know what, that is a ridiculous question.

EVERYONE HAS BEEN TORMENTED BY THE THINGS OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THEM. 

We all have had this experience, even if it was back in the third grade, when Johnny called you a stupid-face and told you to eat dirt. Johnny was an a- hole. I really hope you didn’t eat dirt… I would have been the kid that ate the dirt in silence, not told an adult, and then cried about it at home. But I digress….

Anyway, this really got me thinking about the narrative we have in our heads when our tormentors, bullies, relatives, coaches, etc., tell us things that are completely detrimental to our well-being. We may not be able to control what people say or do to us, but we have 100% responsibility for the way we react to it, and how it controls our behavior in the future.

Unfortunately, I have been a pushover most of my life. I’m still grappling with the terrible things that have been said to me. But recently, I got an idea. I read in a book that if you can imagine yourself achieving a goal as vividly as possible, you’re WAY more likely to achieve it in your life. So I thought, maybe that could work the other way around as well. Maybe I could replace my responses to the jerks with something else, something I wish I had said, and that can make me stronger now.

So lately, I’ve decided to change my narrative. Entirely through the use of imagination (yay Theater Degree!) I’m working on replacing my memory with something the a stronger, older, wiser me would say the the A-holes.

 

The following is a list of things things that have been said to me in my past, how I responded then, and the new narrative I am now using so I can move the eff on with my life.

Hater: “You’re too fat for the standards of this performance group.”  

Old Me: “Yeah I know, but it’s fine I’ll just be in the back where I can sing. I’m good at singing anyway, I’m not here because I’m good-looking.

New Me: “Hey! F*CK you! I made it just as well as anyone else. Also, I’m a beautiful, talented goddess, and my body is not your business.”

 

Hater: “I’m cutting you from this dance. You look like a horse.” 

Old Me: Continues to rehearse in silence until the tears pour out of my face uncontrollably.

New Me:  “You know, it takes a really specific kind of person to look a twelve-year-old in the eyes and compare them to a barn animal. Although, horses are majestic! So I guess that means I’m majestic! Would you like to do something else in this scene? Or can I call my mom and go home?”

 

Hater: “Do you think you could lose ten pounds before opening night? None of these costumes fit you.”

Old Me: (Awkward laughter) ” I’m sorry. I could try? ”

New Me: “I hear crash diets are really unhealthy, especially for fifth graders. So, should I put your name down for being held responsible for my early onset anorexic tendencies? I’ll just give you my therapist’s address and you can write her a check directly.”

 

Hater: “Your body is fine, it could just be… you know… firmer. More toned.” 

Old Me: Oh yeah, I agree. That’s why I’ve been trying to lift weights and eat more lean protein. Firmer definitely is better.

New Me: Continuing to eat cake. We’re breaking up.

 

 

Hater: Good luck trying to find someone who loves you as much as I do. You’re a lot to handle and I doubt anyone else will understand how to deal with you. 

Old me: Cries.

New Me: Those two sentences make absolutely NO sense! And my worth is not defined by whether or not a boyfriend can “handle” me. I can handle myself, thank you very much! Giggity!

 

 

Hater: Ugh, you’re so irresponsible and dreamy. Why can’t you pay attention and be smart?  

Old me: I don’t know. I guess my mind wanders too much. I’m sorry.

New Me: I’m a creative person and I’m very smart about a lot of things. My intelligence is defined differently than yours, and maybe you would realize that if you actually attempted to listen to me once in a while.

 

 

Hater: Your involvement in the Theater Arts is making you vulnerable to Satan. You’re doing the work of the Devil and you don’t even know it. That’s why you’re not happy, and you never will be until you change your ways. 

Old Me: Frantically searches the Bible for answers, prays to God to take away my passions and to change my heart to love more “Godly” things.  

New Me: You’re insane. If you don’t have respect for my passions, then you don’t respect me. We’re breaking up.

 

 

 

You guys, don’t get me wrong. The experiences in our past that sucked make us who we are. They are a part of ourselves that give us the fuel to live out our passions and connect to others. But if the a-holes in your past are holding you back from anything in your present, try to change the narrative and see what happens.

 

xoxox

 

 

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.

Take Responsibility and Say “No.”

What is it about certain personality types (myself included) that feel this desperation to say “Yes” to everyone that needs them, to always try to coddle other peoples’ unhappiness, and sacrifice their own health for the sake of someone else’s Sad Dragon?

Why is it so difficult for the People-Pleasing types to actually ADMIT that they have needs and desires in their hearts? Why does the thought of saying “No, I’d rather not deal with your problem. I need to take this day to _________.” Fill in the blank. Rather, why is it so easy to listen to a voice that says “Yes, it’s more important for you to take care of someone else’s problem than to deal with your own,” when said person is perfectly capable of taking responsibility?

It’s not my responsibility to take care of other peoples’ happiness. It is NO ONE’s responsibility to do that. PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN SAD DRAGONS.

And, for some, a massive part of that personal responsibility is knowing when to say “No” or “Enough is Enough.”

Let’s put it this way…

Imagine a scenario in which Person A is totally giving in to their Sad Dragon. Lets say Person A’s Dragon makes them feel fat, lonely, cranky, and tired. It’s not trying to get them to do anything desperate, just making them generally feel like poop. Person A then calls on Person B for a vent session, or a self-sabotage session in which Person A encourages Person B to drink, eat ice cream, stay up late, make less than ideal choices. Person B has been battling their own Sad Dragon because they just went through a break-up and they’re swamped with work. Person B has been feeling better, but is still on the fragile side. Person B would rather stay home and take a nap, but Person A guilt trips them into coming because Person B bailed last time. Person B really wants to say “No,” but chooses to listen to the guilt. Two hours later, A and B are now sitting on the couch with wine, scrolling through the Facebook pages of their ex-lovers and talking crap about everyone online. They get drunk. They fall asleep on the couch. Person A feels better and wants to have brunch. Person B is exhausted and has work to do, but feels guilty for staying up late and drinking. Person A and B go to brunch in their sweatpants, and spend too much money on crummy omelets  and toast.

Now there are TWO people with ravenous Sad Dragons, because they let them feed each other. They listened to the Dragon’s voice— anger, frustration, guilt, victimization, sadness, worthlessness— and the cycle just continues. 

Now, who is to blame in this scenario? The immediate reaction is to say it’s Person A’s fault, but Person B is the one who gave in. Both of them chose to give in to the Sad Dragon’s voices, and so they’re both at fault, and now it’s going to be more difficult for both of them to deal with their current problem.

To be fair, I frequently think that doing something stupid (like drinking wine and trolling Instagram pictures, or whatever it may be) will make me feel better, or make it easier to bounce back into a happier, productive state the next day. But it ALWAYS just makes it harder. Once the Dragon is just sitting it’s giant butt on my heart and eating an extra large bag of kettle chips, it takes extra effort to push it off and tell it to use it’s fire-breathing for some productivity fuel instead. That being said, it really doesn’t help when someone else’s Dragon is high-fiving my own. It’s hard enough as it is.

We’re here for each other.

Take responsibility.

Learn when to say “No.”

And know the difference between the Sad Dragon’s voice and your own.