How long can we run from our demons before they catch us?

I’m at the point in my life where it’s nearing time for an exorcism.

Think this angel will chase away my demons?

I have some demons haunting me, and I’m experiencing one of those breakthrough, “How did I let this happen?” moments.

My demons control my entire life. It’s taken me years to realize it.

The first time I realized I was ruled by my demons was when I thought to myself, “I don’t blog anymore.” My creativity, hobbies, and interests disappeared.

It got to the point where I’d longingly look back on myself as who I “used” to be. I “used” to listen to that music, I “used” to write poetry, I “used” to watch movies, I “used” to blog. Every one of the aspects that made me “me” became past tense.

Out of desperation, I started to run.

I’ve been running from my demons longer than I care to admit. But over time, my demons have multiplied, feeding off one another, gaining strength, and, in the process, weakening me.

The first demons I encountered were sinister, and I hid them from everyone around me, but I was still capable of acknowledging them within myself. In public, I was all smiles, laughs, and “everything is always fine.” In private, I allowed myself to acknowledge the demons, interact with them, speak with them.

Now, I don’t even allow myself to notice my demons in private. I’ve come up with the brilliant method of repress, repress, repress, ignore, ignore, ignore. But my demons don’t appreciate this. They still make their appearances.

Once in a while I see them staring me in the face when I look in the mirror. Just when I thought I’d forgotten all about them I say, “Oh, there you are.” My demons refuse to be ignored.

Over the years, my demons have morphed into beasts, and I’ve developed the habit of running from them. But not without attempts at an exorcism.

Before they multiplied and started feeding on my flesh, I tried. I followed every step of the How-To-Get-Rid-Of-Demons handbook: Counseling, meetings with other various healthcare professionals, ridding myself of toxic/triggering people from my life, journaling, challenging negative thoughts, yoga, time outside, socializing, medications, changing my environment. But my demons refused to let go. They were around every corner, laughing, taunting.

So I ran. Against the advice from professionals and others around me, I ran. I ran from my demons. But my demons followed me to New Jersey.

I found distractions though. Trips to Manhattan, the Shore, and other adventures distracted me from my demons floating around me. However, in hindsight, I realize that no matter how distracted I may have been, my demons were always there.

They were with me when I first set foot in New Brunswick.

Church in New Brunswick.

They were with me on my walks around the neighborhood.

Building on the Rutgers University campus.

They were with me on the train to Midtown.

At the train station to attend the Women’s March in Manhattan.

 

They were with me on my strolls through Central Park.

Central Park in autumn.

They were with me in Ocean City while I watched the sunset at the beach.

Ocean City at sunset.

They were with me on a rainy day in Hoboken.

Wandering through Hoboken.

They were with me when I and thousands of others marched down Fifth Ave for the Women’s March.

Participating in the Women’s March in Manhattan.

They were with me when I looked out at the NYC skyline on a chilly April night thinking, “God I love this city.”

View of the Empire State Building from the 230 Fifth rooftop bar. Photo credit: Rikki Helvey.

They were with me when I made the decision to return to Wisconsin, the place I thought I’d forever “escaped.”

But now I realize that it wasn’t Wisconsin I was running from. I was running from my demons. And the demons hadn’t stayed in Wisconsin. They came with me to New Jersey, and followed me back to Wisconsin.

I realize now that no matter where I run, my demons will follow.

I’m approaching that pivotal moment where I realize I have two options: run or exorcise my demons. There are no other options.

If I don’t perform an exorcism, what happens?

My demons will continue to lurk. There is no escaping them. Maybe I’ll run to New York, or Chicago, but my demons will follow me.

The thing about demons is that you can’t run from them forever.

No matter what kind of demon you have, whether it’s dealing with a breakup, trauma from past sexual/physical/emotional abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, depression, bipolar, anxiety, an eating disorder, a combination of all of the above or something else, you can’t outrun any of your demons.

How long can we run from our demons? The answer is that it depends on the person. Some may not be able to run for more than a few days. Some will run for months, years, or even decades.

But the most sinister thing about our demons is that we all face the same answer to the question “What happens when our demons catch us?”

They kill us.

To be both blunt and honest with myself and anyone else currently haunted by a demon, our demons are chasing us in order to kill us. While running, we may be just out of their grasp, but once they catch us, it’s all over.

Demons quite literally are creatures from the depths of Hell. Once they start chasing us, they attempt to destroy us in every way possible. Psychologically, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, socially. Demons feed off of us and aren’t fully satisfied until we’re dead. That is their main goal.

For now, I’m still running. I even ran away from this blog post for a while before finishing it. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, I’ll perform an exorcism. Most likely it won’t rid me of my demons forever. They may be scared away for a few months, or maybe even a few years. But they’ll try to return, I’m sure.

Sometimes I wonder if I (and others still running from their demons) have a death wish. And maybe we do. But sometimes we see the light and realize we still have the strength to chase our demons away.

Every day is a battle, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. We all have to make the decision to run or fight. Some days are easier than others. But each day is a new opportunity to battle against our demons. When one day we have a death wish, the next day we may feel like we want to exorcise our demons from our lives.

I’ll keep that in mind while I run.

 

 

 

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A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

college-1

Impromptu college photo shoots were the best.

Dear college me,

Remember high school freshman orientation when your principal said, “These are the best four years of your life”? He was clearly wrong. The best four years of your life are your college years.

I speak from a place far, far away—I come from the future. Great Scott!

part high quality future great back

Go figure, I just had to throw in a Back to the Future reference.). But since future me has been in the “real world” for a few years now, I can say from experience that so far, the college years were some of the best years of my life.

Sure, I know right now you’re probably reading this while procrastinating on a paper you should be writing for Honors, or Spanish, or Creative Nonfiction…or maybe all three. Right now you’re probably panicking about how busy you are, how there never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get all these papers done. You wish that the coffee shop on campus was open 24 hours (and just an FYI: you will miss those delicious coffees more than you can even imagine).

I’m probably being a bad influence right now, but keep procrastinating for a little longer and let me school you with some knowledge. Just kidding. But I do want to fill you in on what I wish I would have known during college:

1. It’s okay to stress out. What you’re doing right now? It’s normal. You’re a college student. You are an Honors student. You’re double-majoring. You’re writing for the college newspaper. You have a lot on your mind, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking steps to reduce stress, as long as it’s healthy, is always a good idea. It’ll be a few years before you heed my advice, but let me just tell you now: Yoga does wonders. Honestly. You’ll thank me later.

2. Enjoy the adventures. Throughout your college years, you will have opportunities to travel to new places around the country, and for the first time, you’ll finally set foot outside the United States, traveling to Greece.

college-2

Ending college with a bang at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Trust me: Right now, that will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it will forever be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. Take it all in, take tons of photos, breathe, close your eyes, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You’ll remember these moments for years to come.

3. Life post-college is just as confusing/stressful/complicated/weird as college life is. No, even in your mid-20s, you still won’t have life “figured out.” Will we ever have it figured out? Who knows. But what I do know is that life will take you to places you never thought you’d end up (like New Jersey and New York City).

college-3

Sunset at the most beautiful beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

college-4

Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the New York City Marathon.

Your life will probably always be unpredictable, but isn’t that what makes life thrilling?

4. As a millennial, you and millions of other college grads around the country will deal with paying back student loans. 20-somethings everywhere are in the same boat as you are, so you don’t need to feel alone. Even though the idea of student debt is daunting, places like Earnest exist to help students refinance your loans. They also help students understand finances better, which is obviously important for all of us. Adulting outside of college is tricky, but finding the right resources to help you will only help you out in the long run, so no worries.

5. There is no timeline for chasing after your dreams. You may compare yourself to others around you, and in case you were wondering, you’ll compare yourself even more once you’re out of college, unfortunately. Social media plays into it because we only post what we want others to see. You’ll see people living lives that you’re slightly jealous of. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. The answer: Nothing. You’re walking along the path that’s right for you. You’re taking steps towards where you want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just know that comparing yourself to others is natural, but the path you are on is uniquely yours.

6. You are capable. I know you, and I know that voice of insecurity. Even if you don’t believe me right now, just know that you are capable of success, in whichever way that may be. You are capable of finding peace. You are capable of finding day-to-day happiness. You are capable of finding security—security in your identity, in your present life, in your future. Just know that right now where I am in life, I am on that journey towards achieving all of those things. Yes, there will be dark times that you may feel you won’t emotionally survive. But somehow, you will. The journey only continues, and you will walk on.

7. It’s okay to love yourself. Your college years will be the most inspiring years of your life (at least they have been so far), so please take advantage of these years. Relish in those moments of confidence, inspiration, and self love. Loving yourself isn’t vain—loving yourself is crucial to living with yourself. After some rocky years post-college, I know that. I live that. So I just want you to love yourself and be proud of it.

I’m sure right now it’s nearly midnight, so you should probably get back to the papers you’re procrastinating on. I know you might be a little bundle of nerves, but honestly, I think that’s just a part of the college experience. To be honest, I’m slightly jealous of you. Life outside of college is another world entirely, and even though I don’t miss the stress of college, I miss the atmosphere. So breathe it in, write in one of those fancy journals until your hand cramps up, drink too much coffee, and always say yes to movie nights with your friends down the hall. You’ll never, ever regret it. Just know that I love you. I always have, and I always will.

Love,

Future Me

college-5

All we can do sometimes is laugh our way through life.

Someday (Letter Three)

Someday, this will be a memory. Someday you'll be okay.

Someday, this will be just a memory. Someday, you’ll be okay.

This is my third letter to myself. I know, I write letters to myself a lot. But writing in itself is cathartic, and this letter-writing technique has proven to be just what I needed.

Letter One

Letter Two

———————————————————————————————————

Dear Me,

Maybe one day I’ll stop writing you letters.  Right now, I haven’t yet said enough. It’s crucial to communicate with you.

Today is one of those beautiful “good” days. Your thoughts are clear, and you feel in control.

I cannot, however, explain why your negative thoughts surrounded you a couple of days ago. They swarmed like bees, stinging you again and again. They made their way into your mouth, down your throat, and suffocated you. You collapsed, succumbing to these thoughts instead of controlling them. That day, your negativity controlled you.

At this point in time, I still cannot pinpoint what causes these turbulent meltdowns. Thankfully, they are rare. The clear days seem to outweigh the ones clouded with questions, judgments, and labels.

That most recent dark day was darker than usual. The negative thoughts surrounded and stung so quickly, it made more sense to stay still, hoping they’d just move on. Swatting them away would only make them more aggressive. But on this particular day, they were relentless. You had no defense to guard yourself from the attack.

No matter how painful those thoughts stung, and no matter how unexpected it was, one thing is certain:

You made it. You made it to a day in which you feel in control. Do you know what that means?

It means that someday, you’ll be in control. Someday, your realistic thoughts will outweigh the negatives. Someday, these thoughts that drive you to a meltdown will no longer matter. They won’t sting. They will roll away to the back of your mind, and slowly fade.

For now, you are stronger than I ever thought you would be. You have been fighting against those negative thoughts with all of your being. Instead of surrendering to the questions, obsessions, the insecurities, you are challenging them all. This is a strength you didn’t possess four years ago.

This strength takes work. Every day. You work every day to treat yourself with respect. To be realistic. You know that the dark days don’t happen often anymore, but they aren’t over for good.

That’s okay. I mean it.

Acceptance is the most difficult part of moving on. I don’t mean acceptance of the situation. That may never happen. It’s my belief that while you can acknowledge what happened to your relationship (an arson set fire to it), you may never “accept” it. Maybe you will. That remains to be seen.

What I mean by acceptance is your acceptance of your mistakes and emotions. I want you to accept your occasional meltdowns. The bad days. The missteps. They happen. I want you to accept that just like perfection doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, you aren’t perfect, either. Expecting perfection from yourself is setting yourself up for disappointment.

I also ask that you strive to be patient. You are coping in a healthy way this time around, but please don’t beat yourself up on the dark days. Accept them as a part of the process, and know that these days will become significantly fewer in time.

Trust me, it’s okay.

I want you to accept yourself because someday, you will be okay.

Someday, none of those negative thoughts will even be thoughts anymore.

Someday, you won’t have meltdowns over this. They will be memories that shaped you.

Someday, you will be apathetic about this time period of your life. You will no longer hate him, or her, or yourself. You will understand that this was just a part of your life, but you won’t be angry forever about this.

Someday, you won’t blame yourself. For now, please, even on your darkest days, STOP.

No matter how confused you are, no matter what dark corners of your mind those negative thoughts drive you to, just know that it never was your fault. You couldn’t have done anything to prevent it, you aren’t the one who caused him to hurt you, and you did not deserve it. Please, no more “Why me” or “What’s wrong with me” or “What did I do.”

“Why me?” It could have happened to anyone. Honestly, it’s just a shitty reality in life.

“What’s wrong with me?” Nothing. At least, speaking in the terms of this situation, nothing. Do you have flaws? Yes. Does everyone have flaws? Yes. Did your flaws drive him to sleep with someone else behind your back? No. Hell-to-the-no.

“What did I do?” Nothing. In terms of what I know you mean, you did nothing to deserve someone to lie to you and betray the relationship you thought you had.

Every thought you have should help you, not hurt you. Obsessing hurts, anger hurts, insecurity hurts, negative self-talk hurts. While I know that it feels impossible on the dark days, but you have to just stamp out these behaviors. There’s no other way around it. I will not allow you to accept these behaviors, because they cause you pain.

Ask yourself, “Is this helping or hurting me?” If it’s an obsession, angry or negative thought, or an insecurity, it will automatically be hurting you. In these times, it’s crucial to pull away and distract your mind.

Just know that I love you, I’m proud of you, and you are amazing for your strength right now. You have progressed so much, and you are coping with this better than I ever could have imagined.

You’ll be okay someday.

Love,

Me

Why do we let our dreams bother us?

Source: barbwire.com

Source: barbwire.com

My friend The Modern Philosopher recently wrote about an unpleasant dream he had involving his ex-wife, who he doesn’t normally think about in his waking life. This post got me thinking about the dreams I’ve been having recently.

Why do we let our dreams bother us?

Over the past couple of weeks, no matter how positive my thoughts are during the day, and no matter how distracted I am from my breakup with my cheating ex, he still makes an appearance in my dreams.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I wake from a dream involving someone I am trying to pretend never existed, it can start my day off on the wrong foot. Waking up and falling asleep are the times when I have to work the hardest to control and challenge my negative thoughts. Having dreams that cause negative thoughts don’t help me.

While some psychologists believe that dreams are only random neuron firings and don’t actually hold any true meaning, I disagree. If our dreams are random images that our brain puts together, I don’t believe that this theory explains recurring dreams, nightmares, or having dreams about our exes. I have always believed that my dreams mean something.

Source: themarkeworld.com

Source: themarkeworld.com

Keeping this in mind, my dreams can have an impact on my thoughts when I wake up in the morning. I am learning how to breathe after all, and waking up from dreams of my ex makes it harder for me to think realistically. The dreams send my brain on a whirlwind of blurry, negative thoughts that only make me angry over situations out of my control.

Here are the dreams that have recently been causing me the most stress:

1. My ex emailed me to say that he had been secretly sleeping with two other girls, not just one. In the dream, I knew who the second girl was (I’m not sure of her identity in real life), and she lived in my town. I went to find her and asked her, “Are you sleeping with Bobby?” She said she was, and I gave her the heads up that he was also sleeping with another girl (the real Other Woman, Lacy). The girl told me she was done with him, and we both agreed that he was a jerk.

Even though this dream felt like I was seeking revenge for what he did, and I was gaining allies in the dream, I still woke up feeling angry and depressed.

2. My ex and I emailed each other civilly, giving updates on our lives. We were becoming “friends.”

I woke up and realized that the dream was unrealistic. I’ve never been able to be friends with my exes, and I feel the same way with my most recent breakup. I believe that I could only be friends with an ex if we parted on relatively “good” terms, with a minimal amount of bitterness or hurt feelings.

3. I learned intimate details about my ex and Lacy. I searched through social media and they were open about their relationship. Bobby and Lacy seemed like a happy couple.

This dream is fuzzy, but there may have been instances in the dream in which I reached out to Lacy and she gave me details about her new relationship with Bobby. All I know is that the dream involved answers to many of the burning questions that eat at me in my waking life.

Dreams are not real.

Source: dreamanity.com

Source: dreamanity.com

So why do they bother me so much?

My theory is that my dreams are the thoughts I suppress during the day. While I know that the details of Bobby’s relationship with Lacy don’t matter because we are broken up and our relationship was no longer healthy, the thoughts of her still bother me. I’m currently trying to challenge these thoughts and make them more realistic ones, but these dreams make the task more difficult.

My dreams are situations that scare me. They are what happens when my anxious mind runs away with me. These dreams are the result of losing control of my negative thoughts. When I’m awake, I have an easier time controlling my negative thoughts. I’m aware of them, at least. When I’m sleeping, the imaginary situations play over and over. My worst fears are real life in my dreams.

Since I’m still learning how to breathe, I’ve realized that the times it’s most crucial is when I wake up from disturbing dreams. I just need to learn how to start off my day with realistic thoughts instead of obsessing over dreams that trigger negativity.

I’m focusing my energy on challenging every negative thought I have and turning it into a realistic one. I’m hopeful that as I practice this, my dreams will also become less negative.

Honestly, I forgot how painful dreams can be during the breakup process. Dreams are my hopes, wishes, and repressed thoughts from my waking life. Seeing exes in my dreams recalls all the thoughts I’ve been trying to forget.

While time doesn’t erase memories, it can dull the pain. Over time, dreams change as my thoughts change. Someday, my dreams will no longer be about him, or at least not quite as often. The process may be slow, but I’m proud of the progress I have made. I have come so far from the dark hole I was in a couple months ago, when the events were fresh. Now, I’m looking at the situation with a more realistic perspective.

Dreams 4

Source: iama.be

As long as I keep moving away from my past and into a healthier future, I am going to focus on not letting my dreams drag me further down. I’m going to keep working to build myself up, because I know I deserve it.

Too much information: Is blogging our lives “over-sharing”?

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

My blog started off, in its earliest stages, as a place to post my poetry. As it continued to evolve, I tried new techniques. I wrote about current events, music, and movies. However, I left most of my true emotions out. My blog was positive, void of my personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences. I wrote what I thought people wanted to read.

Somewhere along the way, my blog became a safe place. A place for me to vent, to be honest, and to receive feedback from people who not only understood where I was coming from, but appreciated and related to what I wrote.

I felt less alone, and proud of my writing. Proud of my honesty. Proud that my blog was more bold than when I published that first post. My posts are real because I’m going through what I blog about currently. When I feel something, I blog it. I write it in the way I want. My blog has now become more personal than it’s ever been.

But is that bad? Are there topics that should be “off-limits”? Where do we draw the line?

Is my blog full of sunshine, rainbows, and roses? Not all the time. Is that bad? I don’t think so.

Am I satisfied with my writing when I publish my blog posts? Absolutely. I wouldn’t post them if I wasn’t.

I have read other bloggers who’ve written posts about past relationships, and I commend them for being honest and venting their true feelings. It’s my belief that writing is therapy. WordPress is a community, and I have gained so much happiness from voicing my thoughts to the blogging community and receiving support in return.

Is there such a thing as over-sharing? Probably. To me, I believe that over-sharing is when someone divulges too much information in an unnecessary way. But for me, if the information is shared in more artistic or creative ways, it’s not necessarily over-sharing.

I believe that blogging is a place to write about personal matters creatively. We can tell our stories, sharing as many details as we want, and gain feedback from others.

I’ve read beautifully-written blog posts, and many of them stand out in my mind because they were honest. Personal. These bloggers told their stories without holding back. Without fear. They were not ashamed of what they went through, and it made the writing that much easier to relate to.

Is that over-sharing? In my opinion, no.

Blogging has become one of my forms of therapy. I have gotten positive feedback from my more personal posts, and it gave me the confidence to be honest. To write about things on my mind. To express problems in our society. To write about topics that aren’t sunshine, rainbows, and roses. Breakups, for example.

Should these topics be off-limits? Should I feel free to write about breakups, counseling, politics, and feminism? Or are these topics “too much information”?

I believe that as writers, we should be free to express ourselves in a way that’s comfortable for us. If I feel comfortable sharing details of a breakup and actively want to blog about it, I should feel free to do so.

For me, sharing some details of my experiences has helped me to cope with those situations. If I felt that I was “over-sharing,” I wouldn’t have published those posts. Why should I be ashamed with what happened to me? I don’t think I should be. I’m writing posts because I feel inspired to write. That’s it. As a writer, it’s as simple as that. I don’t believe in stifling my creativity, censoring it, or “toning it down.” That defeats the purpose of blogging; at least for me, it would.

I believe that every blogger is different. We all have our comfort zones, our go-to blogging topics, our life stories. If we censored our writing, sticking to limited, approved topics that are “safe” from judgement, wouldn’t have stifle our growth as writers? Where is the fun in only writing within the confines of what’s safe, and probably boring?

WordPress is a diverse world. There are bloggers for just about every topic. If we all censored ourselves, we wouldn’t have the diversity that we do. As long as we’re comfortable with what we’re blogging, that’s what matters. I don’t write for other people, and I never have. I write for myself first, and if others read it, then that gives me more feedback and inspiration for blog posts I write in the future.

But I’m the only person I’m writing for.

Source: nikki-blevins.blogspot.com

Source: nikki-blevins.blogspot.com

Learning to breathe: Harder than I thought

After a few weeks of learning how to breathe, I’ve realized it’s harder than I thought it would be.

When I started going to counseling, I was on a roll. Journaling, deep breathing and visualizations, yoga, daily positives, and other relaxing activities worked for me.

attackattackoh.com

attackattackoh.com

I learned about the thought process, how to recognize thought distortions (negative thoughts), and I’m currently in the process of challenging those negative thoughts. This involves debating with myself either on paper or in my head to help turn those thoughts into more realistic ones.

Since I started counseling, I am aware that situations themselves don’t cause my negative feelings; it’s the thoughts I have in reaction to those situations. However, a situation recently arose that gave me negative thoughts. I forgot how to breathe.

What situation caused my negative thoughts? My ex (*Bobby, the one who inspired many a blog post, and some of the back-story can be found here) sent me an email on Sunday. Here is what he wrote:

“Hi Becky,

Sorry I did not respond to your email last month. I know I’ve hurt you and I am so sorry. I haven’t been a very good person for a while and I deserve what I got.

Anyway I hope you are doing okay, thinking of you,

-Bobby”

Yes, I had sent him an email. On Valentine’s Day to be exact.

Source: imgflip.com

Source: imgflip.com

Why, you ask? I had gone on a double date that night. With the breakup (and anger) still fresh in my mind, and since it was before counseling (where I learned how to cope), I was overwhelmed.

The date was fun, don’t get me wrong. But that First Date after a breakup when I know I’m going on a date too soon always leaves me looking like this (after the date of course):

Source: becuo.com

Source: becuo.com

Going on a Valentine’s Day date, while fun, wasn’t the best decision for my emotional state at the time. If I had already been learning to breathe, I could have maybe had more will power to stop myself. But I couldn’t. I was irrationally angry. I sent an email to Bobby:

“I wish you had told me you didn’t love me.”

That was all I wrote. I’m not quite sure what I meant by it. It’s a possibility I meant that I wish he’d been honest, because in my mind, cheating does not equal love.

After my poor decision to email Bobby, he sent no reply. I was okay with that (honestly). I began counseling shortly after, and I dived right into the process of coping and relieving my anxiety. My negative thoughts no longer tormented me as often.

Until Bobby’s email on Sunday. When I read it, I was shaking. I couldn’t believe he had the nerve to write back as if he was so emotionally removed from the situation. As if he was being the bigger person and “checking in” to see that I was okay.

I didn’t reply. I found ways to distract my thinking, and for a while, it worked.

quickmeme.com

quickmeme.com

However, that was short-lived. Oops.

On Wednesday, after a night out with friends, my negative thoughts got the best of me. I forgot how to breathe. I forgot how to push the thoughts aside. I sent Bobby a reply.

Source: goodreads.com

Source: goodreads.com

Sure, it would have been preferable to continue ignoring his email. But since I decided to reply, I could at least be civil, right?

Source: memeaddicts.com

Source: memeaddicts.com

My reply was, to put it lightly, harsh and to-the-point:

“I don’t know how you sleep at night. Guess there’s always that one person who has no morals and he doesn’t care about anything but his dick.

Good thing I avoided wasting one more second on a diseased pig.”

Source: galleryhip.com

Source: galleryhip.com

Not my proudest moment in life.

What have I learned from all of this, besides not to send angry emails?

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be angry. However, I’ve finally (FINALLY, I think) realized that acting on my thoughts and feelings will not help me. So far, acting on my negative thoughts and emotions has only hurt me more. When I sent Bobby that email, it did nothing to relieve my anger. It only made me angrier, irrationally so.

Learning to breathe is a slow process. Making relaxation and realistic thoughts a habit takes time. Sometimes I’ve grown impatient, hoping that I could snap my fingers and be “over it.” But that’s not how breakups work. It takes work to cope with the process in a healthy way. I’ve had some bumps along the way. I’ve made poor decisions because I reverted back to my ways of acting on my negative thoughts. In the future, I have to learn to take a step back. I have to breathe.

*Name has been changed 

Tell me what you’re running from

Source: momentumrunningco.com

Source: momentumrunningco.com

When I wrote this post called The deer and the hunter, I had a completely different idea in mind at first. I started off writing about running. Somehow it ran in a different direction (see what I did there?). Here is where my idea started.

——————————————————————————————————————

Sometimes when I’m running, I feel like I’m in a chase scene out of a movie. I’m escaping something behind me, and I’m too anxious to look over my shoulder.

Lately, Ellie Goulding, Florence Welch, and my new favorite artist, Charlotte OC, have all asked me what I’m running from.

I finally realized that I haven’t stopped running. I’m not safe yet. Danger still lurks behind. I’m racing as far as I can.

But what am (or who) am I running from?

First, the whats:

I’m running, first and foremost, from my anxiety. For months, I was a mess. Day to day was a battle. I was a prisoner of war and I’ve escaped.

I’m running from my new-found insecurities that stemmed from a boyfriend wanting someone else.

I’m running from my questions. The “what have I dones” and “who is she” and “why did this happen to me” and “how could you.”

I’m running from my body. Sometimes I want to run right out of my flesh and find a body I’m satisfied with. How many miles would that take?

I’m running from my devils. The thought disorders that gnaw at my brain. Thoughts that aren’t based on reality, but in my times of weakness, they become my reality.

Now, the whos:

I’m running from him. Not the him I met three years ago. Not the him who told me what I craved at the time. Not the him that I loved (even though I hate admitting it now).

I’m running from the him who looked me in the eyes and lied. The him who falsely proclaimed his love for selfish gain. The him who already found someone else. The him who became another mistake. Another regret. Another battle. Another “you’ll find someone better” or “we didn’t like him anyway” or “it’s karma that she gave him chlamydia.” Despite the truth in all those statements, it hasn’t stopped me from running.

I’m running from her. A girl I do not know, never will know, yet dangerously obsessed over before I ran further. A girl who may or may not have known who I was. A girl who I judged and labeled. A girl who he wanted more than me. A girl who he wanted despite the disease she infected him with. It was clear that she had something he couldn’t escape, because he didn’t let his STD stop him from running to her when he needed a fix.

Most of all, I’m running from myself. I’m running from the realization that none of it matters. I’m running to shield myself from the question, “But why do these thoughts upset me?” I’m running because I’m not okay yet, and I’m impatient. I’m counting down to the day that I think of me, and no one else. I’m running to pretend I’m not wounded anymore. The bandages are still wrapped around my arms, but I haven’t taken them off yet. I don’t know if the bleeding’s stopped.

Once I do remove those bandages, once the bleeding has stopped, the scars will be there. I’ll carry them with me for the rest of my life, like everything else that has shaped who I currently am as I run on the concrete. I don’t think much of the scars I’ve accumulated over the course of my 25 years. They’re a part of me. I can do nothing to erase them. I’m not airbrushed or tanned, and I don’t cover them up anymore. I’m learning that it’s okay I’m not perfect, and that I never have been.

These new wounds will be the same someday. They’ll be obvious when the scars are healing. Everyone will be able to see them. Yet I don’t want to cover them up. I don’t want to hide anymore. I know that there are other girls who’ve been through this, and it’s an insult to myself to pretend I haven’t been wounded. It’s a disservice to myself to strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist.

The wounds will join the rest of my scars as memories that have proven I’m not weak. If I were weak, I would have hidden. I wouldn’t have accumulated more scars because I would have been too weak to put myself in the battlegrounds again. But I ran back in every time. The hope meekly overcame the doubts, the aching wounds, the tears, the black hole of negativity.

I have learned recently that I have control. I’m not weak. I can control the “what have I dones” and the “why did this happen” and the “I’m not good enough.” None of those thoughts have any realistic basis, and I’m gaining control of it now. For the first time in my life, I’m in control.

For now, I’m still running. But I’m in control of how long. I can stop when I want to. I will remove the bandages when I feel that the wounds have scarred and it’s safe. I’m safe running by myself.

The deer and the hunter 

Sometimes while I’m running, I have to look over my shoulder. That paranoia crawls up my body. It’s like a leech. Buried in my skin. So quick I don’t notice.

Deer

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

I’m a deer. Weak, frail, timid. I’m running for my survival.

I had been alone and cautious because a hunter had shot me with a bow and arrow. It pierced me in the chest, just inches from my heart. Somehow, I escaped.

I stumbled into the forest, determined to be alone. The wound had greatly weakened me. I was bleeding all over the forest because the arrow was still lodged in my chest.

A buck came out from behind a tree. He assisted in removing the arrow. He said, “I would never hurt you. You’re too weak and small, my dear.” He told me he would protect me from the dangers in the woods.

I was skeptical at first. With all the dark creatures lurking in the forest, is it wise to trust a strange buck?

The sun was falling steadily. I had to make a decision soon. My survival depended on it. I could continue my journey alone, awake all night and on the alert, or I could travel with this buck.

I went against my better judgement and followed his lead. We traveled into the depths of the woods, and I could see nothing.

For two years, I was blind. We traveled through the woods, and usually at night. This buck was nocturnal, always telling me, “Just trust me. I won’t stray you in the wrong direction, my dear.” So I followed.

I have poor eyesight. When alone, I travel during the daylight hours. I stop at the edge of the woods, but don’t venture into the clearing. The open space is risky. I prefer the safety of the trees.

As a frail, weak female, it was perhaps wise to travel with the young buck. For the two years of our time in the trees together, I found it peculiar that we only began our ventures when the sun fell. I spoke up at times. Meekly, but I still voiced my concerns. His answers always left lingering questions that I kept in my head. Sometimes the questions traveled to my tongue, but I swallowed them.

During the day, the buck and I were lazy together. At first it felt comfortable. While alone I had to always be on the alert, but with him, I relaxed. I got too comfortable.

Over the course of our time living in the woods together, his actions gave me more questions that swam in my head. After two years, I was a nervous wreck. Not only was I weak and frail, but he was convinced I was dumb and incapable of living without fear. I questioned his every move, and rightly so.

The buck was concealing his true identity. The questions were building because my instincts told me to get out. But his charm trapped me to his side. I was enslaved, weighed down by the hopes that I was worthy of him.

Leading up to the horrific event, I should have known. The buck has assisted in helping me when I’d been bleeding all over the summer leaves. He caught me when I was vulnerable, almost begging for someone to take me. To at least pretend he cared. This buck was the best pretender. However, I swatted the questions away like flies.

After two years, the buck and I were in shambles. I was too weak and frail to keep up with him during our nightly journeys through the woods. My eyesight worsened, and it made me nervous. We were on the lookout for hunters in their orange attire, but I could only see a few feet ahead of me.

The buck, once charming, now was frustrated. I weighed him down and I knew it. I was a risk to travel with, day or night.

We both knew we could not go on. We were dead together, before the hunters had even shot us. The buck and I decided that we would part at the edge of the woods, and I would venture into the field for the first time in two years.

He led the way, like he always had. I was too blind in the trees to realize this would be the sign before the attack.

The buck I had been chained to for two years was secretly disguised as a hunter. He raised his gun and pointed it between my eyes.

“I’m sorry, dear,” he said. “I love you.”

He looked me in the eyes. His blue eyes. They looked different now. His eyes used to be so clear. Now I saw only a stranger in front of me. Had I really been that blind? Why hadn’t I run when I had the chance, before the night draped over the both of us?

As the hunter stood poised with his shotgun, I knew there was nothing I could say that would convince him to lower the gun and let me go. For two years, he’d been after my flesh. He led me right into his trap.

He shot his bullet straight through my head. My brains spilled all over the melted snow and mud as I ran out. I’ve been running ever since, leaving a dark red trail.

I ran out of the woods, my skinny legs shaking. My head is spinning from the blood loss. How am I alive?

I’m still looking over my shoulder as I run. My eyesight is slowly returning. I don’t sleep at night. But the paranoia is still buried in my skin. I cannot stop running for anyone. One more arrow, one more bullet, one wrong move, and I could be a lifeless carcass buried deep in the woods or eaten by a family of hunters.

I’m safer alone.

Learning to breathe

Bought this today. I already keep a journal, but this one will be for my three daily positives and my thoughts.

Bought this today. I already keep a journal, but this one will be for my three daily positives and my thoughts.

Today is my first day learning how to breathe.

In counseling, I learned about deep breathing and visualization. When dealing with anxiety, learning how to control your breathing is crucial. If you’re stressed, you can think of the most relaxing place you have been, and close your eyes while envisioning this place. The sights, sounds, and feelings.

Here is mine:

Greece is my favorite place I've been so far. Tranquil, colorful, and a dream.

Greece is my favorite place I’ve been so far. Tranquil, colorful, and a dream.

Three times a day (or more, if I need it), I am practicing deep breathing and relaxing visualizations. I’m combining this with journaling my thoughts and three daily positives. The breathing is especially important if I catch myself in negative thoughts and when I feel the anxiety building.

I also learned about how the thought process works:

Source: weplay.co

Source: weplay.co

Or, in other words:

Situation—->Thought—->Feeling—->Behavior—->Thought

During the thought process, it’s never the situation itself that causes our feelings and behaviors. It is our thoughts about the situation that cause our feelings and behaviors. We go through hundreds of situations every day, and we have automatic thoughts about those situations. Those in turn affect our feelings, thus affecting how we react to the situations that happen in our daily lives.

Today was Day One of learning how to breathe. My first two sessions of deep breathing during the day were before I had any stress. I thought, “Maybe I don’t need to worry. It’s already working. I don’t have any negative thoughts. I’m cured!”

But then, the flashes of negativity struck, dragging my body down that familiar path. I could sense I was inching towards that vicious cycle of anxiety. Panic. It can be like a black hole once it sucks you in. Once you’re in the middle of it, there’s no one helping you out. You’re on your own.

I caught myself before I fell. I immediately sat down, closed my eyes, and mentally traveled back to Greece. I could hear the splashing of the sea, hear the laughter of tourists, see the green water and the rocks at the bottom.

I had climbed safely out of the negative darkness on my own. My thoughts, in that instance, did not get the best of me.

I know this will take practice. Day One was a good day. But not all days will be this simple. I may not catch my negative thoughts the moment they occur. The questions, insecurities, and irrational thoughts happen so suddenly that it takes only seconds for them to manifest into an emotional meltdown.

Night will always be the most difficult. For some reason, the time when my body and mind decompress is when the demons come out to play. As I lay my head to the pillow, the little devils are there, gnawing at my shoulders, face, and ears with their pointy, yellow teeth. Shaking them off has proven easier said than done. They latch onto my skin with their claws, hanging onto me all day. At night they awake to play their tormented games.

I can’t breathe with the demons hanging onto me. Shaking them off only allows them to latch on more forcefully, choking me, slashing at my throat. It puts them on the defense. They attack me, beat me to the ground until I can’t fight back.

Instead of fighting against the demons, I have to let them go. Replace them with other thoughts. When the demons follow behind me, I have visions to distract me, to show them that they are not wanted.

Every day won’t be like Day One. Learning to breathe isn’t automatic. It is a process. I am practicing, and soon, it will come naturally. The oxygen is slowly seeping back into my lungs. The oxygen is clean, safe. For so long I have been inhaling toxins, and now I am riding my body of the harmful chemicals that used to permeate my life.

Having a plan keeps the demons (mostly) hiding out. They’ll come back to taunt me, but I’m armed and ready for them. I know I’m stronger than they are.

I’m stronger than I’ve ever given myself credit for. Finally, I’m beginning to see it. There will days of doubt, of weakness, and of depression. But I know that I’ve clawed my way out of every hole I’ve been thrown into. Nothing will make sense now, but it will in the future. For now, I have to just learn to breathe.

 

 

A letter to myself: take two

You'll be okay. I promise.

You’ll be okay. I promise.

Dear Me,

You feel bipolar. This morning you woke up refreshed, giddy, assured. Tonight, you’re a mess. Dark, desperate, insecure.

You will feel bipolar for many months. Trust me. Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. Your bliss will be shattered by stabbing pain that chokes you.

The thoughts are evil voices in your head. Sick obsessions that you have to shake off but can’t. You can’t communicate with the little devils. You shouldn’t answer their questions, even though you formulate your answers:

“Yes, she’s prettier.”

“No, I wish I hadn’t met him.”

“Yes, I’m sure they’re dating already.”

“No, she can have him. I’m done.”

“Yes, I’ll be okay someday.”

“No, I’m done with relationships.”

You fear falling asleep and recalling the nightmares when you wake up. But you have to admit, the dream of punching him in the face was worth remembering.

Emotional stability is a thing of the past. You latched onto it briefly, and here you are, back to daily uncertainty. A briefcase full of emotions that seem to appear out of nowhere.

The questions you ask yourself everyday are crushing. Your thoughts are eating you alive. Without positive thoughts, you’ll waste away.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that no matter how thick your armor, you cannot shield yourself from the pain. Time does nothing but dull the wounds, scar the cuts, yellow the bruises. It can never be erased. You will carry it with you for the rest of your life.

And that terrifies you. You are scared that you’re the girl who needs fixing. The girl who’s broken. The girl who’s fucked up. Yes, that is maybe what you are right now.

You’re in recovery. You experience triggers every day, and right now, your reactions are negative. Music, movies, and television shows centered around relationships are intolerable. It must be anti-love or avoid the theme altogether. You almost gag at any mention of his too-common first name. Discussions of relationships in general give you snarky thoughts.

Recovery is torture. It’s a jagged path of glass. Every day you stumble along it, walking until you have to crawl. Your whole body is bloodied, and even then, it’s not over. The cuts that begin healing will reopen. Over and over.

Not only do you not believe in love (romantic love), but you also believe it to be a joke. A sick joke. Maybe a trick. Bigger than just a lie. An over two-year long April Fools.

You feel duped. Scammed. The girl who believed she won the lottery, if she only mail in a payment of $500. You wait for the big money, and while everyone is telling you it’s a scam, you don’t believe it.

Yes, you were tricked. Scammed. The butt of the joke.

I’m sorry. I know you look in the mirror and feel like a joke, but you’re not. You didn’t deserve it.

One day, your thoughts will evolve. You’ll learn to replace every “Why?” with “Who cares?” Every “What did I do?” with “It wasn’t my fault.” Every “I’m not good enough” with “I’m good enough for myself.”

One day, you won’t roll your eyes. One day, you won’t be haunted. Yes, it will take months, but it is in your future.

I know most of your thoughts are centered around “her.” You can’t help wondering what she had to make him sleep with her, to lie to you, and to keep him running back to her for more.

Newsflash: it doesn’t matter. None of it.

What does matter?

You.

Your smile, your body, your mind, your future, your emotional well-being, your physical well-being, your self-worth. All the aspects encompassing your relationship with yourself matter. Currently, all of those things are in jeopardy. And you know it.

You are rebuilding, learning, stumbling. You feel like a stranger trapped in your own body. You are ashamed and confused. You feel like a teenager having the classic “Who am I?” crisis.

Embrace that crisis. The past two and a half years, you forgot about you. Embrace this twisted but necessary opportunity to get to know yourself again.

Someday, you may meet someone. But please, keep your armor on. Wear your mask. At the FIRST sign of bullshit, RUN. The days of being nice are over.

Don’t, under any circumstances, feel obligated to be nice to someone who gives you bad vibes. Too much kindness is a sign that you are weak, and you cannot allow anyone to take advantage of you.

“His” words mean nothing. “I love you,” “I want to marry you,” “I’m not seeing anyone,” and “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world” was all code for “I’m a liar.” Yes, it’s a slap in the face, and he scammed you. No, that does not make you an idiot. Or gullible.

You trusted him. A mistake, yes. But if you do meet someone who could possibly be worth your time, don’t trust him immediately. I’m sorry to be a bitch, but after the fire you escaped, trust is no longer given. It is earned. This means you are a realist, a skeptic, and cautious until he has proven to be respectful, worth your time, honest, and kind. Those qualities are things you’ve neglected to search for in the past. Now, you won’t.

All that matters is you. Not her, not him. Thoughts of them are only keeping you prisoner. I know you can’t forget, and you never will. But as every second ticks by, you are one second closer to being “okay.” To being “moved on.” To hopefully being “happy.” And I mean genuine, self-accepting, contented happy. The happiness that only grows from a healthy relationship with oneself.

Right now, make that your mission. Allow positive thoughts to enter your mind because bullying yourself will only drive you further into darkness. Please.

Just know that you deserve to BE. You deserve to be confident. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to love your body, your mind, and your flaws. You deserve to be surrounded by people who mean what they say, appreciate you, and truly love you. You deserve to one day live without fear of being hurt, mistreated, or used.

Most importantly, you deserve to look in the mirror with pride in who you see. You deserve to live with yourself not as a stranger trapped in this body, but proud of it. You deserve to accept who you are, and accept that you will be okay someday.

Source: livefrommyheart.wordpress.com

Source: livefrommyheart.wordpress.com

You matter.

Love,

Me