another year come and gone

indian

It has been an exquisite year full of immense learnings and beautiful changes. I’ve learned to love and accept love in return. I’ve learned how to stand up for myself and to speak up when necessary. I’m learning to love myself the way I am, regardless of my perceived imperfections. I’m learning how to be me.

I found my very best friend; someone who accepts me for me and who loves me despite my constant attempts to annoy him. Life has been so much more colorful with him in it and I’m thankful to be walking side by side with him on this earth.

I’ve learned that I am indeed, NOT allergic to cats and that I’ve been lying to myself for virtually my whole life. I now share my home with a spunky little gray fur ball who loves to nibble on my toes every morning at 4am on the dot. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

At the end of summer I got my first root canal and am now the proud owner of a porcelain molar. Around the same time, I moved in with my best friend and finally felt at home for the first time in over a year.

I’ve had to say many goodbyes, but I’ve also been blessed with many hellos. I’ve made impulsive decisions that later led to miracles in disguise. Although my life isn’t perfect (whose is?), it’s happy and peaceful. As I reflect back, I’m reminded once again how everything happens for a reason; how everything is connected and how the Universe really does have our backs.

2014 has been the year where I’ve finally come into my own, a year where I’ve finally truly realized that what other people think, doesn’t matter. What matters is laughter and love. Friendship and family (including our fur babies). Being true to your spirit. Kindness, gratitude and prayer. And whatever else it is that makes your heart smile.

Here’s to hoping that 2015 brings all of this and more. 🙂

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cue the john mayer song…

I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but wasn’t sure how to put into words what I’ve been experiencing and where my mind has been. Every day is different. A few days ago I was sad. Then the next, discontent. Yesterday I wasn’t sure how I was feeling. And today, I’m peaceful. I must admit that my mind is all over the place (in part because of the coffee I normally don’t drink). So you must forgive me, if this post is all over the place.

I stumbled upon a beautiful quote today by E.E. Cummings: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” I paused to ponder its significance for a bit. I catch myself trying to be something I feel that others want me to be still. My shape is constantly morphing, yet I try to fit myself into a minuscule square box, unable to breathe. I tend to gravitate to folks who are quirky and very simply themselves. And they make me want to be my quirky and oddball self too! It’s much more peaceful and takes way less energy.

Perhaps it’s one of the reasons I don’t blog much. I worry too much how others will perceive my words. I worry too much about offending someone. I worry too much about being criticized. Because sharing pieces of my world and what goes on in this crazy head of mine, is vulnerable. I even worry about being judged for incorrect grammar. And all of this worry builds up into anxiety and then I’m able to convince myself not to say anything at all. Not only on this blog, but to people around me. I stop myself from saying how I really feel at times, in fear of how I’ll be judged. I stop myself from making connections with people, in fear that I’m unwanted and unworthy. I stop myself from fully being myself, in fear of…well, all of the above. And it’s so debilitating. And I’m pretty much done with it.

I wonder how many others feel the same way. Most everyone, probably. There’s so much fear in this world and we give it so much control. Fear itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when we give it the power to affect our lives in a negative way, we’re doing ourselves a huge disservice. I’ve always wanted to connect with people. People from all over the world, from all cultures, genders, races, religions, beliefs, ect. I love people and I love connecting and sharing thoughts and experiences. I love helping, which is especially why I love my new job (I’m working with children who have been through crazy and horrible things in their lives, in hopes that I can have some kind of positive effect on them. And also to show them love and that they’re worthy of big and beautiful things in life). And yet, in the midst of all of this, I let fear take hold of me and stop me from forming connections. It’s all a conundrum.

Life is hard and confusing and dynamic and crazy. Crazy and beautiful. And I love it. I love it all. And this gives me reason enough to go out and be me- the real me. To walk with fear, but not let it reign over me. To blog. To sing out loud, in public. To dance. To laugh, even when it’s raining. To be quirky. And to love.

I’ve probably already written a post very similar to this. But a lot of times, it takes people a bit to learn something; for a life lesson to really sink in and change things. And that’s okay. Because life isn’t meant to be perfect.

living life more presently

ImageLife has been quite peaceful lately. Well…actually life has been unpredictable and full of curveballs since I last wrote, so it’s more like I’ve been peaceful. Up until now, my living space has always been littered with to-do lists and little slips of papers with scribbles of reminders. I have a habit of writing down every little thing in fear of forgetting things and I’d get overwhelmed if I didn’t have things noted somewhere. This was meant to help me, not stress me out, yet it’s always done the exact opposite.

Lately though, I’ve been catching myself remembering things that I had neglected to annotate and actually being pretty chill about it. Besides a few reminders on my iPhone, I haven’t been keeping any to-do lists and such. And for some reason, this change didn’t hit me until a few days ago. I realize that my need to keep track of every little detail stemmed from my need to be in control. As if everything I needed to do and get done wouldn’t get done if I didn’t have it written down on a piece of paper. It sounds trivial, but this change in habit has led me to feel more peaceful. And I didn’t even realize I was making a change!

I’m living more in the moment now, rather than future tripping. I’ll write down important things that I know I can’t forget to do, but besides those few things, I live life more presently now. I get to things when I get to them at the perfect time they’re meant to be gotten to. Plus, ironically enough, I’m more likely to accomplish things sooner that in the past I would have procrastinated on, since I knew it was annotated for future reference. Makes no sense, eh? 

Anyway, as I said, I’ve been quite peaceful lately. I don’t try to control things as much and trust that things will be just fine without my incessant scribbles everywhere. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? As I get older, I notice more and more just how simple life can be if you only let it.

you don’t need someone else’s attention to validate your self-worth.

As I was journaling this morning, the wonderful sentence in the title went through my mind. It hit me that I still struggle to feel worthy of love and friendship. I seek attention from others in order to feel good about myself. And if I don’t get the attention I crave, then I feel horrible and unloved. And it makes completely no sense!

As I peel back the layers of myself in order to know myself better and heal, I’m always amazed by how much I blame outside sources on my pain. I’m constantly finding that the true source of my different issues always derive from something lacking in myself. The ironic thing about that is, I wouldn’t learn the things I learn, without the involvement of those around me. Each and every person who come into our lives have the gift of teaching us, especially the ones who hurt us. This fact really hit me hard today, when I realized that a recent struggle with a friend and some family, brought me to the latest lessons I’ve learned. I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me to continually grow and evolve.

I tend to be an introvert. I genuinely love having my own space and time to myself. I also tend to keep a certain amount of distance between other people and myself. I can be the greatest friend you could ever have, on one hand and the worst friend you could ever have, on another. I’m really just a mess. I say the worst friend, because I’ve been known to disappear. If I think someone is getting too close, I become Houdini and escape unfound. But also like an act Houdini was known for, I’m burying myself alive. The older I get, the more I’m seeing the importance of relationships. I wouldn’t be who I am right now, without other people’s influence. Yes, I like to be by myself, but I’m learning that there has to be balance. In the past, I would hold people at a distance in a form of self-defense. If they weren’t too close, they couldn’t hurt me, right? But by doing this, I hurt myself more.

In other words, I seek attention from others in order in validate my self-worth, yet I keep people at a distance and push them away if they get too close. And people wonder why I’m still single… 😉

I still have issues that need to be addressed and fixed. I’m learning to be forgiving and patient with myself though. I’m constantly going through lesson after lesson. And after each lesson, is test upon test. It’s like the universe doesn’t yet believe I’ve learned and is throwing things in my way to prove itself right (or perhaps, prove itself wrong). And during some tests, I find myself reverting back to old behavior. Usually when this happens, I tell myself I’m still the fucked up girl I’ve always been. And I think I’ll never heal. As if the more I try to heal, the more I discover how broken I really am. So then, what’s the point?

And then I tell myself to breathe. That it’s okay to fall, so long as I continue to get back up and trudge forward.

My latest lesson has taught me that it’s a waste of time to seek validation and approval from outside sources. I realize that I’m blind to the love that the world has to offer me, if I’m not first, loving myself. I understand the importance of having healthy and balanced relationships with other people and how selfish it is to keep others at a distance. I’m not perfect. I don’t always say the right thing or do the right thing. I often get off track and need the same lesson thrown at me a dozen times before I grasp what I’m suppose to learn from it. I’m learning, albeit, a little slower than I wish at times, but I’m learning all the same.

“Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one’s liberty.”Henri Frederic Amiel

check yourself before you wreck yourself

I just finished watching a vlog by Gabrielle Bernstein (whom I love love love), which couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. (The video is here, in case you want to check it out). In it, Gabby is speaking about being authentic and true to yourself. I haven’t been the most laid back person lately and it’s made me feel very uncomfortable and icky. In other words, I haven’t been very authentic. When I’m not being my true self, I get very anxious and easily agitated and the past few weeks, I’ve found myself getting angry at the drop of a hat. Last night I got into an argument with my dad, which culminated in me waking up this morning feeling especially anxious and agitated. I hadn’t meditated in a while and knew I desperately needed to get centered and figure out why I was acting so out of character.

My relationship with my father has never been normal. I’ve always been fiercely protective of him and done everything in my power to make sure he’s safe and happy. I put my own wants and needs on the back burner for him. When my stepmom left and I was suddenly expected to take on the role of the female of the household, it made our relationship even more complex. I could spend days dissecting and explaining the different aspects of our relationship and how it’s shaped me to be who I am today, but I don’t have the energy and you don’t have the patience nor the time. So lets just say that somewhere along the way, our roles reversed and it’s as if I’m the parent, and he’s the child.

He’s hurt me in ways that a decent father shouldn’t. He’s put me through situations that a loving father would have tried to protect his child from. I had to grow up being my own parent and still have trouble understanding what a healthy father-daughter relationship is. When I moved out for the first time, I felt at peace. Living on my own felt normal and safe. I never really felt safe or protected by my dad, because it was always me protecting and taking care of him. For the first time, I could breathe and live my own life. And yet, when my dad calls me now, saying he needs me, I’m like a puppy just waiting for the command to fetch, dropping everything else to run to him.

After taking a big deep breath and just sitting in silence this morning, I realized that I’ve been putting my life on hold and taking out my anger at myself, on others. I’ve been so concerned with helping those around me (not only my father), taking care of them and being at their beck and call, that I forgot to live my life.

My relationship with my father isn’t healthy and it’s time for me to draw a line in the sand and have healthy boundaries. It’s important that I shed the mothering role I took on a long time ago. I’m learning to balance things and to live my life for me. My dad and I are both adults and we should act as such. I’m learning to relinquish control and remind myself that my dad can take care of himself; it isn’t my duty to save him.

But it is my duty to live my life. No one can take care of me, but me. No one can live my life for me. Only I can do that. And I need to start. Now, this very moment. Because I’ve wasted too much precious time already.

I’ve been so afraid to live. To breathe and focus on what’s happening in front of my eyes; to go for my dreams and to take care of myself. I can’t be a shell of myself. It isn’t healthy and you can’t fully love a person who is only half there. I have all ten fingers and toes. I have all my arms and legs. I have my eyes to see and my mouth to speak. I have everything I truly need. It’s time to live to my full potential. I need to love myself enough to live my life the way I deem and let myself be happy. I love my dad, but he’s my dad, not my son and I’m his daughter, not his mom. So I’m taking back my life and letting go of the need to save his. I want my life to be amazing. And I’m intent on making it so.

NOTE: This isn’t a rant about my father. I’m not trying to cast a negative shadow onto him. He has a good heart and many good qualities as a person. This is simply a post to shed light on the dynamics of our relationship. There are many reasons for why he is the way he is and I love my dad very much. 🙂

loving oneself

Until a week ago, I really believed I had healed the part within myself that holds such self-hatred. I’ve struggled with the concept that I’m unlovable all my life. While going through therapy I somehow tricked myself into thinking I loved myself. Deep down, it was a lie.

There’s still a part of me that constantly wants to go behind the wall I built as a kid and push away the world. There’s a part of me that doesn’t believe I’m worthy of friendship or love. And there’s a part of me that doesn’t understand why anyone would care about me. It’s still there, haunting and familiar and safe. It feels safe to be alone in a cocoon where another person can’t touch me, can’t hurt me.

“No one likes you. We only took you in, because we feel bad that you don’t have a mom.” An aunt said this to me during some argument we were in when I was nine. I don’t remember the details of that argument, but I remember that statement and I remember crying myself to sleep that night. If my family didn’t like me, who the hell could?

When my mom left us, I immediately developed abandonment issues. And then when my dad moved me between family members until I hit eight grade, they deepened. So I push people away, because they probably wouldn’t care to get to know me anyway. I tend to draw in folks who ignore me and cast me aside. I tell myself that if I were them, I’d ignore me too, so I always understand and even come to expect it. I tell myself it’s my fault, because I’m unlovable. And when someone doesn’t go away even when I’ve tried to push them away, I try to find every excuse I can to exemplify that they have ulterior motives. I don’t allow myself to believe that they could genuinely care for me.

We’re told that others can only love us if we love ourselves. And I’ve found this to be very true. I’m a firm believer that we’re all connected and made up of energy and that we draw in what’s really going on inside of us. Because I had very little love for myself for basically all my life, I drew in people who would confirm my beliefs. But I’m very tired of being hurt. I’m tired of hurting myself. I’m tired of hating myself. It seems easier to love yourself than despise yourself, so I’ve been working on this and it’s a lot easier than I thought.

Because of the way others treated me, I made an agreement very early on that I was unlovable. But I know better now. I’ve said before that when others treat you badly, it’s usually because of something inside themselves and has nothing to do with you. I was made to feel unlovable when the underlying reasons given, had nothing at all to do with me. I hated myself for no solid reason, which is so damn illogical. No one in my family has ever seen the true me and I was misjudged very early on. They never had a clear view of who I truly am and therefore, never gave themselves the chance to love the beautiful soul hidden beyond their muddy glasses.

But none of that matters now. What matters is how I view myself. I’m learning to love myself every day and it’s a wonderful feeling.

I’ll make it out alive
Find a beautiful life, a beautiful life
We all wanna find, a beautiful life, a beautiful life…

forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it

I don’t remember receiving any affection growing up. No one really told me they loved me or gave me hugs or praise. To pinpoint a healthy relationship in my life while growing up is difficult. So now as an adult, I’m left to pick up the broken pieces of the mirror that’s been my life. As if they’ve been lying there on the ground, waiting for me to tend to them and put them back together so that my life can be reflected back to me in a whole new way. One where I’ve cried the tears necessary for the little girl that’s still a bit battered and bruised and hold her with love and compassion, which was all she had really needed at the time anyway. One where the empty cracks of my heart are sealed back together and my spirit, healed. So that I may forgive all who have hurt me and forgive myself for holding so tight to the notion that I deserved all of the hurt. So that I may finally let go of the resentment and anger for having been abandoned by both of my parents and then treated as if it was my fault, as if I was the bad guy. So that I may finally have peace and know what it feels like to have a healthy relationship with both myself and those around me. The mirror has been mended quite a bit, but I still have pieces waiting to be added.

I was going through old photographs the other day, which is what led me to this major reflection of my life. I’ve been slowly healing for over a year now, but it’s hit me that I’ve yet to examine the catalyst of it all: my mother leaving. The word ‘mom’ is so foreign to me. I don’t even remember how old I was when she left my life. I don’t remember if she ever told me she loved me or sang me to sleep. I don’t remember if she ever hugged me or kissed me. I don’t have memories of her attending my plays or choir shows. She was never there to talk with me about boys or show me how to do my hair. She wasn’t at either of my graduations. I don’t know what it’s like to have a mother to go to when you need to cry or laugh or vent. I’m not familiar with a mother’s love.

But I remember the times she’d take us to her boyfriend’s house and go off with him while my brother and me played with his sister’s kids. I remember the times she was late to picking me up from pre-school. I remember the times she’d smoke and drink while talking about leaving my “asshole of a father” (her words, not mine). I remember the time I finally learned to tie my shoelaces for the first time and ran to tell her, only to find her under the sheets with a random guy. And I remember the time my dad picked me up from school one day to explain that she had disappeared. I remember all the times that she would show up out of the blue and then leave again without notice.

The first time she ran away, her parents and siblings were moving to North Carolina. I woke up one morning to the sounds of her shuffling about, throwing items into suitcases. My brother was playing with his toys, oblivious to what was transpiring. My father was at work and I asked where we were going and if Daddy was going too. She said that we were going on a trip and that my daddy couldn’t go. I’m not sure how long we were in North Carolina or what the days consisted of, but I distinctly remember balancing on rusty train tracks with my brother while following my mom to the grocery store to get groceries. Her family didn’t treat us very well and had refused to drive us to the store that day after running out of milk and such. I suppose my mom realized that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side, so she told my dad where we were and he drove over a thousands miles, in the dead of winter, to come get us.

I’m not sure why she ran away with us that first time. I can’t recall the environment of the home we lived in, but I know that my dad was a workaholic and liked to drink a lot. I don’t remember whether or not they fought at all or if they were happy. But before she ran away the second (and final time), I know that there was a lot of tension in the house. My dad was gone all the time, working as much overtime as he could. And my mom was always with one of her boyfriends.

Those are my memories of my mother. The last time I saw her was at the age of eleven. She contacted me for the first time since then when I was in college. How she got my number, I’m still unsure, but it’s been a struggle for me to let her back into my life. I’ve only spoken with her a few times since, unsure of how much of what she’s saying is truth. I don’t want to be incapable of empathy though. I don’t want to be so cruel as to not give a second chance– to not try to see things from her perspective.

My childhood, especially while she was still around, is very fuzzy. There are so many unanswered questions and clouded memories. My dad has never felt comfortable answering any inquires I’ve had, so I have little to go on. I do know that my mom’s life has been a struggle. Her parents didn’t treat her very well and she was molested at a young age. How she internalized her experiences and how they affected her, I’m not sure, but since she had my brother and me at such a young age, she was not yet mature enough to be a parent. She still wanted to party and date other guys. And perhaps her inclination to have many boyfriends and sexual partners, stemmed from her broken childhood. Perhaps her and dad fought too much and she wasn’t happy with us. I’m not sure.

But when I look at the photographs from my childhood, photographs that were taken while she was still in my life, for which few other photos were taken of me after her absence, it hits me that she really did try. There are dozens upon dozens of pictures and many of them even had the dates written on them. She just wasn’t yet ready for children and the sacrifices that come with having them. Her destructive behavior was selfish and by no means, okay, but I forgive her, because I’m so tired of carrying around the anguish and resentment. I’m so tired of pretending to hate her.

After she left, my family tried really hard to make me dislike her. I’m not sure why, but I think it might be because they were afraid I’d follow in her self-destructive footprints. That maybe if they didn’t keep a tight hold on my feelings towards her, I’d search for her and be subjected to her influence. It really makes no sense if you think about it. She’d reappear once in a while and when she did, my family made me feel ashamed to talk to her. As if it was a horrible thing to have a relationship with my mother. I think that’s another reason why it’s been so difficult for me to reconcile with her, because they made me feel as if it’s wrong. But what is so wrong with wanting to know your biological mother? No matter what happened in the past, she’s still the person who gave birth to me and nothing will change that. And besides that, she hurt me, she left me, so isn’t it up to me, whether or not I forgive her and allow her back into my life? I understand that they probably thought they were protecting me, but it’s time to shed these negative ideas. It’s time for me to decide what to do about this situation and their opinions aren’t subjective. I don’t want to regret not having known my mother when she dies; never knowing the answers to questions that have been plaguing me for years.

Abandonment issues stem from my mother’s absence and because she wasn’t around, I lived a childhood filled with abuse. I was robbed of having a normal and loving childhood, but in turn, I’m the person I am today, and I really like this person. There are times I still feel cast aside. I’m hesitant to consider anyone a really good friend/best friend, but wish I had a close relationship like that and am working at being open. I still find excuses to push people away and I feel a strange distress at being left out of things, like I’m being abandoned again, like I’m not wanted. But again, I’m getting much better. It’s time to shed these negative beliefs, because they no longer serve me. It’s time to release the resentment and anger at my mother as well as my father and focus on the present moment. My mom is still on earth right now and although it’s hard, I would like to get to know her and let her be a part of my life. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be comfortable calling her “mom”, but my hope is that one day, I can call her a friend.

I still have tons of healing to do, but even when the mirror is fully repaired, cracks will always be apparent. I see this as a gift though, because even when the mirror is fully repaired, I may look into it and remember how far I’ve come and be proud.