When Those We Love Hurt Us

What do you do when someone you love hurts you? Not physical or even intentional emotional abuse, but when this person is incapable of healing from their past trauma and hurt, and refuses to feel or communicate any pain. When all this person chooses to see is sunshine and daisies in the emotional pain of those around them. It can be a great source of frustration for the other party to act as though nothing has happened and to engage in small talk.

I have always been pretty open about my feelings. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’ve been called sensitive more times than I could count on all fingers and toes, cried in public more times than I would like to admit, and even quit jobs for people yelling at me. So you can see that it would be difficult for me to have a relationship with someone who is incapable of expressing their feelings.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is you can’t force them to be emotionally enlightened. If this person wants to live in their own ignorance, they have every right to do so. So do you accept this, come to terms with your own hurt, and continue to have a relationship with this person? Or do you choose not to because this person can’t live up to your own emotional standards. Both options have proven to be difficult and painful.

I guess what I’m trying to express here is: life is hard. Life is painful. But life is also beautiful, and joyous, and remarkable. And I think you are not only cheating others by not feeling or accepting pain, but more importantly, yourself. ~

Flying with Your Own Wings – but not being afraid to ask for help

It happens every time. Someone stares a little too long at my wrist or asks me what the crooked, imperfect script permanently inked onto my body means. “It’s Latin,” I reply in a dismissive I-know-it’s-silly-I-was-18 tone. I usually don’t try to divulge what the term translates to unless the questioner blankly stares at me waiting for me to share. “She flies with her own wings. Or at least that’s what Google tells me,” I say with a sarcastic tone. But, you know, that’s what people living with anxiety do. They diminish things because they would rather point something potentially silly or stupid out first so the other party doesn’t judge them without already knowing I am well aware of the partly foolish, impulsive decision I made randomly one Friday evening. It happened to me again today, but I couldn’t help but think deeper about the saying, what it meant to me then, 7 1/2 years ago, and what it means to me now.

I’ve always felt independent. I blame it partly on being an only child, but as I get older I blame it on anxiety and, ultimately, introversion as well. The emotional drain of including people in your problems or everyday tasks was never appealing to me. When my parents separated and my mom and I moved in with my grandparents, I felt like I had no one. I didn’t have anyone who could share the same experience (even though now I know that is totally false). But as a pubescent, self-centered child it was devastating and world turning. Fast forward a few years, my mom secretly packed all of her stuff and moved sixteen hours away during my second month of college. I couldn’t deal with it mentally, so I dropped out. I dropped out without telling my family and I moved in with a cousin. I was independent. I didn’t need anyone. Or was I just pushing everyone away?

Ah, hence the tattoo loudly declaring independence on my wrist where I used to partake in self-harm. The saying meant I was strong, that I didn’t need my parents or the immature boys that broke my heart. I could do everything on my own. Which I know, now, is only partly true.

When you’re dealing with anxiety and/or depression, you need help. You cannot do it on your own and that is why you feel the way you do. Accept the help – admit to yourself you are not wired to work alone all the time for everything.

Today, I am happy to say that I do fly with my own wings, I have made a lot of successful decisions on my own, but I also know I need people to fly with me. ~

Living with Debilitating Anxiety – You’re Not Alone

Yep. There’s that word again. Anxiety. For better and for worse, this has become sort of a buzzword in today’s society. Social media has somewhat made it trendy. In my field of work, parents tend to use it to allow their children to have accommodations in the classroom which can be controversial in itself. While I’m glad that we are generally becoming more accepting of this disorder that affects millions in the U.S. alone, I don’t know if I can say I’m satisfied with the direction it is going.

For as long as I can remember, I have lived with anxiety. I just didn’t know what it was until I was 19 and started to suffer from major panic attacks. Yeah, I was diagnosed with depression several years earlier, but I knew when I came out of the depression, something else was different, scary even, in my life. Anxiety can be downright dreadful. Biologically speaking, the fight or flight response is a good thing. When faced with real danger — for example, coming head first with a bear in the wild — hormones are released and the nervous system activates the adrenal glands which respond with an influx of adrenaline. This, in turn, primes us to either stay and fight the perceived danger or run away, the flight part. But there’s the kicker, the perceived danger. For anxiety sufferers like myself, we can perceive danger over one hundred times daily when, in fact, there is no true danger. The fight or flight response, which for me always manifests in flight *run away and run away fast to your bed* leads us to stay home from work, exclude ourselves from social functions, skip out on going to the doctor, and distance ourselves from loved ones. Yeah, and that can sometimes only be the beginning of it. Obviously anxiety can be detrimental to our health because not only are we potentially missing out on important doctors appointments, we live in a constant state of stress. Stress can do all sorts of nasty things to our bodies – weaken the immune system, be a precursor to diseases such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, obesity, and ulcers, and ultimately make our lives less enjoyable when we are constantly worrying about everything.

So, what do we do about this epidemic of anxiety in our society?! Of course, being the Western world that we are, we throw some pills at it. Ah, Big Pharma and their capitalistic nature. Now before I go any farther I am not in any way, shape, or form dissing some anti-anxiety or depression pills because I have been on them for 7 years. Yep, and up until about a year ago, I never wanted to go off of them. They didn’t help make the anxiety go away per se – but I could eat in public places without feeling like I was going to choke and die (the height of my panic attacks). I started decreasing my medication (with the help of a professional doctor!!) and the dread is back. The dread of the What If’s, the How Come’s and the Who Even Am I’s.

I blame a lot of our society and culture on the pressure on people living with anxiety. We are expected to work at least forty hours a week, have spotless houses, eat well, workout 30 minutes a day five days a week, take care of children, spouses, and potentially parents. We work our lives away to have more money so we can buy bigger houses, better cars, more shoes, more clothes, more expensive handbags, watches, you name it. No time to take care of ourselves mentally. No quiet time to meditate, be mindful, stretch, or even breathe. Of course I am just as guilty as the rest of society in wanting more. I want a dream house with a big farmhouse sink and a huge island with multiple windows, a huge bedroom for a California king sized bed (because I am NOT a cuddler), new clothes, a better iPhone, and the list goes on…

My point here is we have to become more conscious of our mental state and our bodies. We have to be more conscious of our wants versus our needs and if our wants are warranted by society (hello, Instagram). We have to find purpose in our lives that isn’t just how much money we can make or what our career is or what size jeans we wear. We have to forgive ourselves. Forgive ourselves for not doing it all. And just be. ~

Transforming to a Non-Toxic Lifestyle…Fragrance Free

My teens and early twenties were plagued with thoughts such as “Everything causes cancer anyway, better live life how you want to.” This mantra invaded all aspects of my life, as it does for many teens and adults. I smoked cigarettes regularly, ate way too much fast food, used umpteen personal care products daily with carcinogenic ingredients, cleaned my apartment with similar products, washed my clothes with them, etc.

When I was in graduate school, I started babysitting part time for a family who limited their chemical exposure. They did not use plastic containers for food storage, didn’t paint their nails, did not use unnecessary beauty products, even only pretty much used vinegar to clean their house. In my naivety and ignorance, I thought they were nuts, control freaks. Life was going to hand them whatever it wanted to anyway, why couldn’t they just use regular cleaning products?! Where was the Dawn dish soap? The Windex? C’mon… no Glade air freshener in the bathroom?

It wasn’t until recently when I quit smoking (thank God) that my consumer-driven, naive thinking that the universe was going to hand you cancer one way or another was challenged. I started reading studies and trying to understand holistic approaches to health. And most importantly on the topic of this post, living a fragrance-free life, was sparked by a documentary on Netflix entitled “STINK!” You definitely should watch the documentary if you have interest in transforming your life without fragrance, but the gist of it is this — the term fragrance (parfum) on an ingredients list can consist of hundreds of toxic chemicals that companies do not have to disclose because it is considered proprietary information aka a “trade secret.” There are numerous studies of linking chemicals called endocrine disruptors to breast cancer and infertility. Breast cancer rates have increased rapidly in the past 50 years, which would have to mean it is environmental effects that is causing this.

This freaked me out. The first major change I made was ditching my aluminum, BHT, fragrance filled deodorant to a natural one. Now, this was no easy switch, and my body is still getting used to it three weeks later, but wow it feels refreshing to know something that I apply to my body multiple times daily (I inherited my father’s sweating genes) is not going to cause me cancer! Next was body soap, multipurpose household cleaner, dish liquid (Goodbye Dawn) and laundry detergent. All synthetic fragrance free. I have a long way to go, I know, but the beginning of this journey has felt great. Let me know if you also are on this journey or if you have been living this lifestyle for awhile now.

Until next time,