Why do I anthropomorphize my problems?

In one of my recent blog posts, I wrote about my demons. A couple comments acknowledged that I, like now, am preferring the word “demon” rather than speaking what is currently unnamed. And continuing to do so.

Why anthropomorphize my problems?

Via giphy.com

I have my reasons.

  1. These blog posts are my selfish way of venting creatively while also keeping details, for the most part, a mystery.
  1. Labeling my problems “demons” keeps my problems vague enough that I believe readers with various experiences could (hopefully/potentially) relate, since I’m not specifying what my problems are.
  1. While a comment mentioned that the word “demons” was not always used to connote negative entities, in my blog post and according to our most current usages of the word, “demons” are negative entities usually out to destroy anything good in the world, and are the mystical, Biblical depiction of evil. For me and the problems I have, this depiction couldn’t be more fitting. Thus, I ran with it (and from the demons). See, there I go again.

Via giphy.com

So those are my main reasons for why I chose to anthropomorphize my problems as “demons,” because it was a conscious decision I thought through before even writing the post. However, one comment addressed a point that I can’t argue with:

“Hmmm… I have to say that I don’t think anthropomorphising your problems is going to help. They’re not demons (demons are just mythical creatures) they’re bad things that happened.”

And to that I say, you’re exactly right.

Via giphy.com

Does calling my problems “demons” help? No.

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Could it potentially make the problem worse? Oh, most definitely.

Via giphy.com

And that’s the whole point.

In my blog post, I describe that I’m running from my problems (“demons”). Since I’m calling them “demons” and not by their name, and I’m running from them, at this point I haven’t faced them yet. Am I helping myself by continuing to not face my demons and continue to refer to them as “demons”? Not at all. Which is part of my problem.

If anyone can relate to having a problem needing to be addressed and worked through, many of us may encounter a feeling of denial or refusal in wanting to address the problem. Addressing there is a problem is sometimes just as difficult as living with the problem. Addressing the problem means you have to fight to fix the problem. Change is never easy, especially if your problem involves habits or negative thought patterns you’ve been engaged with for months, years, or decades. As they say, “Old habits die hard,” and if that phrase wasn’t written for me, then…no, it was written for me, actually. Google it.

Via giphy.com

I don’t think referring to my problems as “demons” does me any good in the end, that is, essentially, the point. I haven’t yet conquered my problems (“demons”), so I’m not at the stage to speak their names.

I’m running, and hopefully I’ll stop dead in my tracks soon, turn around, and face these demons. And for now, I’m still calling them “demons.”

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Demi Lovato: Why her story is important

Photo credit: YouTube.com

Pop singer Demi Lovato’s documentary Simply Complicated was released on YouTube on October 17th. While she’s been open about her drug and alcohol addictions and eating disorder in the past, this doc provides a more detailed timeline of Demi’s journey from addiction to recovery to relapse and back to recovery once more.

Photo credit: Directlyrics.com

This documentary is unapologetic, raw, and in-your-face. It has some eerie similarities to director Asif Kapadia’s brilliant 2016 Best Documentary Feature, Amy, which documents the life and tragic death of British singer Amy Winehouse.

Ironically, in Simply Complicated, Demi references Winehouse as someone she idolized growing up. In a journey back to Demi’s house, she shows a poster she’d made as a child that she kept in her closet, plastered with photos of celebrities she wanted to look like. There, among the models and skinny celebrities, was Winehouse, most likely in the depths of drug and alcohol addiction and bulimia, which she was mocked for in the media until the day she died.

Photo credit: Pinterest.com

The difference with this doc? Well, to put it bluntly, the addiction sufferer survived. In Simply Complicated, Demi acknowledges that while she is clean from drugs and alcohol, she does still struggle with eating disorder behaviors, and that it will be something she most likely will struggle with for the rest of her life. However, even though she may have her setbacks, this documentary has a completely different outcome and tone than Amy did, mainly because Demi is speaking from a place of recovery while Winehouse is no longer here to tell her story because her addictions killed her.

Demi has not only been vocal for years about her struggles with addiction, mental illness, and recovery. She also has stated her awareness of the life-and-death nature of these addictions. But her story has not ended the way Amy’s did. Demi has come away from her addictions through recovery and publicly advocating for mental illness treatment, awareness, and erasing the stigma behind it.

Photo credit: Vulture.com

Whether you’re a fan of her music or not, whether you even know who Demi is or not, her story matters. This documentary matters. Why?

It matters because Demi is sharing her struggles with mental illness in a world where mental illness is still stigmatized.

It matters because roughly half of those struggling with mental illness are not currently receiving treatment

It matters because while eating disorders (specifically anorexia) are the most lethal of all psychiatric illnesses, there is a severe lack of funding allocated to research.

It matters because celebrities are viewed as being “immune” to mental illness and shamed for suffering, seeking treatment, or dying by suicide. 

Example of mental illness stigma perpetuated on Facebook.

If you look at any article or social media post with news of a celebrity dying by suicide or opening up about his/her mental illness struggles, you will find a heaping pile of comments perpetuating myths surrounding basic psychology. Some classic myths or statements of victim-blaming represented in comment threads include:

“You’re rich, so you have nothing to be depressed about!”

“You’re rich, so you can afford treatment!”

Victim-blaming in action.

“You’re doing this for attention because no one cares about you anymore!”

“There are poor people in the world who have REAL problems!”

A meme attempting to crack jokes about mental illness and perpetuate the stigma. Classy. Photo credit: Instagram.com.

“So selfish to leave your family all alone!”

Victim blaming seems quite popular on social media.

Or, the ever popular favorite:

“Mental illness doesn’t even EXIST. Just smile and get over it!”

Someone attempting to “spread the message of veganism” by stating that mental illness doesn’t exist and shaming sufferers. Makes perfect sense. Photo credit: Instagram.com.

Demi is viewed by many as a hero. Why? Because she speaks out in a world that either misunderstands, demonizes, or attempts to silence those suffering from mental illness. She speaks out without editing herself. She speaks not only of her addictions and recovery, but also of her slipups. By doing so, especially with the release of this documentary, Demi is not only helping raise awareness for those who need to be educated on mental illness; she’s also giving a realistic and honest representation of what addiction, recovery, and relapse look like, while still showing why she continues to work towards recovery.

This documentary is a brave move, and one Demi should be commended for. For years she has been vocal, blunt, and unapologetically honest about her struggles, and this is the type of voice necessary for raising awareness and slowly erasing mental illness stigma. Those uneducated need to not only be educated; people suffering from mental illness also need to be prepared for recovery, relapses, and understand that recovery is something necessary for survival.

Erasing the stigma surrounding mental illness is a slow, long process. Documentaries like Amy and Simply Complicated have been bold moves towards erasing that stigma. Demi’s leadership in advocating for mental illness awareness is so necessary, and hopefully in the coming years, she will inspire more voices to speak out.

Watch the documentary on YouTube.

 

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.

 

 

 

Autumn’s got me daydreaming

Here in Wisconsin, autumn is in full-force. The temperatures have dipped, the sun shines a bit dimmer and sinks earlier than we’re used to, and most mornings call for a cozy sweatshirt and cup of pumpkin or mint-flavored coffee (or any other autumn-inspired beverage).

A hot caramel macchiato on a cold Wisconsin autumn day.

As a lover of summer and all that it brings, autumn in Wisconsin usually has me daydreaming for a bit more sunshine, more 80-degree days, and maybe a new adventure altogether. While drinking coffee with hazelnut coffee creamer (because I’m the type of girl who loves creamer more than the actual coffee), my mind usually wanders to my next adventure.

Usually with daydreams, it’s go big or go home. Why would our brains limit us when the possibilities are endless in our dreams? The thrill behind daydreams is to dream up the “what ifs.”

What if you had an extra $10,000 to spend on your dream trip? Places like Earnest make fulfilling your dreams possible with low-interest personal loans to assist you in making those dreams a reality.

For me, I’ve been dreaming of taking a trip back to the East Coast. After my move from New Jersey back to Wisconsin, I’ve already felt the itch to return to New York. As a millennial who embraces technology, there are so many options that make traveling more affordable and easier than it’s ever been.

Autumn is ideal for a trip to NYC. Southwest offers cheap flights, so I’d hop on a plane from the Milwaukee to LaGuardia airport.

One of the coolest recent technological advancements is Airbnb, an app on your phone where you can browse and book stays in rooms, apartments, or houses for your trips. Communication with the host of your accommodation is done through the app, and prices can often be more affordable than you’d find for traditional hotels. Airbnb can be a great option not only if you’re looking to save money, but also if you’re looking for a more unique travel experience.

My Airbnb would be close to one of my favorite places in Manhattan: Central Park. I love the blend of city and nature, the ponds throughout the park, and it’s perfect for people-watching.

Central Park in panorama.

After a walk through Central Park, it’s only natural that I’d need some pizza to satisfy my hunger. Luckily New York is a place where I have many options for a slice at $1 a pop (or $3 if I wanted to splurge). Then I’d venture down to the perfect place for me: a dessert shop called Becky Bites NYC. Of course, why wouldn’t I go there? Founder of the shop, Becky Rosenthal, has created a heavenly place with cream-cheese inspired treats that are just too good to pass up.
My sweet tooth satisfied, and with my extra travel money still burning holes in my pockets, shopping seems like an obvious way to spend part of my day in the city. The largest department store in the world, Macy’s Herald Square, seems like a wise choice. But I wouldn’t be shopping just for the sake of shopping: I’d be on the hunt for the perfect dress for a night out in Manhattan.

After finding the winning dress, my day in the city wouldn’t be complete without some spectacular views. So I’d head over to 230 Fifth, a heated rooftop bar with a view that’ll blow you away. I’d make sure to make it to the rooftop early enough to see the sunset over the beautiful city. 

The view from the 230 Fifth rooftop bar. Photo credit: Rikki Helvey.

Running around Manhattan all day gives you an appetite, so I’m sure while I’m soaking in the view, I’d have to enjoy one of the options from the bar’s food menu. As a vegetarian, sometimes my options at restaurants can be limited, and sometimes limited to only items from the appetizer menu. But at 230 Fifth, the vegetarian ravioli or Asian vegetarian noodles would be perfect entrees for me (mainly because I’m forever obsessed with pasta).

Nighttime calls for something I haven’t done in NYC since I was 13: seeing a Broadway show. With shows like Anastasia, Wicked, and Hamilton onstage currently, you can’t go wrong. There’s just something magical about Broadway.

My night complete, I’d return to my Airbnb to sleep off the event-filled day I’d had, and definitely sleep in. My second day would involve plenty of museums, which is always one of my favorite things to do whenever I travel. The Museum of Natural History is one of my favorites, so I’d start there, but I’d want to venture out and explore museums I haven’t seen yet, like the Met and the Guggenheim.

American Museum of Natural History.

Of course throughout the day I’d indulge in some mandatory NYC bagels, and probably more pizza. In a city like New York, your food options are basically endless. Foods like bagels and pizza are not only delicious–they’re also convenient for when you’re on the go, which is a given if you’re in New York. After all the running around, I’d go back to my Airbnb earlier and relax for the night.

On my last full day in NYC, I’d take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, another one of my favorite New York sights.

The view from the Brooklyn Bridge.

I’d make sure to bring a good book and find a bench in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which offers beautiful views of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

View of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The next day I’d fly back to Wisconsin, promising that I’ll return to New York as soon as I could (which would be feasible with the leftover money from the extra $10,000 to go towards the trip). No matter how many times I visit New York, I’m already planning what I’ll see next time I’m there. For now, I’ll keep dreaming.

If you had $10,000 to put towards your dream trip, where would you go?

 

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).

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

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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

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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.