Untangling Myself from an Emotional Rock Bottom

Originally published on Elephant Journal on 1/28/2016.

 

RG-Mermaid-2Not being able to see instant gratification from a newly-incorporated healthier lifestyle can snuff out any enthusiasm for sticking with it.

But sometimes we find ourselves in situations where there is no other choice but to stick it out for the long haul, clinging to the promise of an elusive “one day.” The alternative is to continue down a path of self destruction, whether it be emotional, physical or often times both.

A person does not suddenly wake up one morning and find themselves unexpectedly at rock bottom. The trail is paved by half-hearted attempts to integrate new routines that always seem to be sidelined by discouragement, before being forgotten for tried and true habits. The cycle repeats itself indefinitely until the build up of poor choices leads to a derailment of everyday life, serving as a gut-punching S.O.S.

Hitting rock-bottom is similar to sitting on the bottom of a swimming pool and looking straight up to the surface. At the bottom of the swimming pool, there is an awareness of sound and movement whirling above, but nothing is clear enough to be understood. Although a person may be able to avoid the wave-making commotion and chaos transpiring above, it comes at the price of never being able to experience the direct warmth of the sun.

Two years ago, I had realized that years of unresolved feelings and continuous unhealthy choices had navigated me to an emotional rock-bottom. Continue reading

Finding My New Christmas Season: Trees, Ugly Sweaters, Rockettes and of Course, Cats

It’s 5 days from Christmas Day and I’m smiling. And have been for the last week everywhere I go- work meetings, doctors appointments, the grocery store. Somehow I’ve found myself being in the total opposite place I assumed I would be a month ago- filled with holiday spirit.

Honestly, I was gearing up for a mental war fare with a range of emotions with an expected battle with emotions that would leave me upset, drained and defeated by the time Santa came. You can even read about it in the piece I had published on Elite Daily earlier this month.

However it seemed that the world nor Dr. R (my therapist) would let me fall for that old trap. Maybe it’s because I’m in a strong, stable place emotionally for the first time in almost 3 years for the holiday season. Or maybe it is because I’m finally gaining confidence to start new traditions and letting go of old ones. And honestly, I think it speaks volumes to the fact that all of the self-exploration, life changes, and relationship evaluations over the past 2 years is actually paying off for the best present of all=inner peace.

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Oh, and having a cat dressed up like a reindeer doesn’t hurt either. Here are a few of the Christmas traditions and fun I’ve filled my time with over the past month:

  • 12404176_10156247093540063_327223759_nPut up a damn Christmas Tree and plugged in every night- Living in a shared house can be lonely, despite having 3 other roommates. Opposite schedules make it so that sometimes I only see one of the roommates once every few months.  With limited space and time, decorating used to be a challenge. The first Christmas I moved in, I went without my own Christmas tree which was a bad idea. Last year, I picked up a 3ft Charlie Brown tree that’s pre-lit and fits perfect on my dresser. Each night when I get home after a 10 hour day of working, the first thing I do is plug in the tree. Instantly the lights help me relax. It really has helped me remind myself that this year is full of finding my own holiday season- including my own tree! And the best part is that it goes right back in the corner of my closet in January! And after the first 2 days, Annie tries stopping to eat the branches.

Continue reading

How I’ve Spent My Summer Vacation- or Lack There Of

anigif_enhanced-12676-1424726950-5It’s mid-summer, more than halfway through 2016, and my perception of time has gone out the window. Within three months of the new year, I found myself being called to rise to the occasion at my new job. An unexpected life lesson and experience allowed me to foster a whole new level of professional abilities, however it completely abandoned my path to achieve the goal of a better work/life/personal project balance.

I began to feel a self-imposed sense of guilt for shafting my own writings , despite publishing three pieces for HuffPo, xoJane, and Bustle during that 4 month period. Like a AA member who has fallen off the bandwagon, I’m back to committing to the twelve steps of life balance- which includes:

  • Being mindful to not work from 7 am-6pm every night. 
  • 2gxofvoMaking an effort to spend time doing creative writing during the week.
  • Feeding myself with healthy meals instead of ingesting food that’s convenient and liquid. 
  • Stop holding myself to self-imposed schedules and rigid to-do lists that are only upsetting to me when their not achieved.

Between dealing with the aftermath of my mom’s latest stroke, turning 26 and trying to continue to acclimate myself with my job of less than a year, other fun stuff has been happening including: Continue reading

Generations Of Dysfunctional Body Image Ends With Me

Originally Published on Bustle in 2/2015

When you think of the phrase “eating disorder,” who do you picture? Young girls with visible ribs poking out of their barely-there pubescent bodies? Teenagers with their heads dangling in a toilet bowl?

Most likely, you don’t picture someone who looks like me. From a young age, I was praised for being a “good eater,” meaning I was open to all different types of foods, and my weight was always “healthy”.

Eating was a popular pastime in my family growing up, but cooking was left out of the equation. My mother’s goal each night was to serve a meal without using the oven, because she thought it made the house too hot. We ate packaged food covered in butter or cheese. Our proteins consisted of any meat my father could put on the grill, which oscillated between cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and pork loin.

At some point during my childhood, food became the reward. When my parents would have a major fight, or when my mom was sick in the hospital, my dad would bring me to a fast food place to eat. Over a Taco Bell Mexican pizza, he would promise me that things would get better, and that we would be a happy family one day. For a brief moment over that cheesy meal, I felt safe.

My mom had her first heart attack when I was twelve years old, and required an emergency quadruple bypass at age 43. That was the catalyst for other health issues, including several strokes, severe depression, and anxiety. It was a rare moment when my parents weren’t fighting over her health, the inability to pay bills, or even how I was being raised.

My self-image, like most young girls, became skewed around the fifth grade. Not only did I want to look like the models on my WB shows or in my CosmoGirl magazine —  I wanted to look good enough for my family to be happy. During fall semester of my junior year, I began restricting myself to eating only kidney beans. My college roommates would beg me to eat something else. When I called home to lament to my mother about their negative overreactions, she only fueled the fire. “They’re just bitter you’re losing weight. Keep it up,” she reassured me over the phone.

My mother’s weight yo-yo’ed throughout my childhood, and my father would belittle her for not being the size 8 she had once been. At night, I would sit at the kitchen table, watching her pop diet pills; each month, she’d try try a different brand that promised even better results. Sometimes, she would skip meals, but then, late at night, I would come down to find her binge-eating a container of cookies.

My mother never talked about exercise or eating in moderation. She never once considered signing up for a gym, or even walking around our neighborhood. After she became chronically ill when I was entering my teen years, she pushed her own looks to the side — and began to zone in on my appearance instead.

“We need to get you thinner, without that horrible stomach,” she’d say to me as a 17-year old. “You’re just not that kind of thin girl like [insert skinny friend’s name],” she’d point out.

For years, every time I left the house, I would ask her, ”Do I look pretty, do I look skinny?”

Continue reading

What I’d Rather Have Taken in College Instead of Philosophy

images (3)Three years have passed since September meant ‘back to school’ season in my life. It wasn’t that long ago, but being able to refer to a time of my life as ‘my college years’ is weird.

As an adult, the only things that I have to look forward to when the seasons change are wardrobe switches and upcoming paid holidays. Currently the fact that it has become socially acceptable for me to wear boots is big deal. Oh, and pumpkin flavored everything has made life more bearable these days.

Being a few years removed from college has allowed me to reflect on my academic experience, and how my education has impacted my career thus far. My degree in Advertising Communications gave me a sturdy foundation to build upon, but there have been many, many, many career-lessons learned brutally because I was unprepared in certain aspects.

Perhaps they can be categorized as education from the hard knock life or growing pains. However, it would have made a world of difference if my curriculum focused on more practical working skills rather than just industry fundamentals and core classes.

Here are a few classes I wish were on my roaster during college: Continue reading

Back to Basics

 

For the first time since early in my college career, I’m making a commitment to growing in my own voice. Somehow between earning a college degree, writing for publications, and entering the full-time workforce, my ability and craving to pen personal narratives fizzled.

Continue reading

Throwing Warm and Fuzzy out the Window

As seen on Huffington Post, published on 05/14/2013

IMG_2288While browsing the card aisle trying to pick out a card for my mother on her special holiday, I began to feel overwhelmed. Most of the cards spouted messages of thanks for always being there, for always showing the right path in life while being an amazing role model. As nice as the inscriptions were, they did not portray the relationship I have with my own mother.

The sentiments seemed more appropriate for the maternal figures portrayed in televisions shows — the flawless ones that always seem to make the right decisions and can fix everything in under an hour. All of the messaging seemed to sugarcoat the intense, strong but complex love I have for my her. My mother is a lot of things, but she is not flawless. And neither is your mother. Continue reading

Moving on From Being Dark and Twisty

Originally seen on Huffington Post, Published on 06/20/2012

GAtumblr_mu0fxzuM701rjj1tzo3_500During a recent conversation with a boy I’m seeing, we were discussing hair colors we previously rocked in our younger years. I made a passing comment that my jet black hair was during my “dark and twisty” phase. Taken right out of the playbook of Meredith Grey, those words resonated with me more than anything during that period.

My dark and twisty period did not occur during my teenage years, when most people go through their “punk rock” or “goth” phase. To me, those phases aren’t really dark and twisty. The only true dark thing about that is the black nail polish and wardrobe bought at Hot Topic. My self-proclaimed “dark and twisty” years took place during college. Except for the period of jet black hair, from the outside I looked the complete opposite of dark or twisted. I held a full roster on the dean’s list, interned at major companies and wrote for my school paper. By surrounding myself with a stellar exterior, it deflected any attention of how rapidly my interior was deteriorating. Continue reading

Knowing Yourself, Not Just Your Expectations

Originally seen on Huffington Post, Published 05/02/2012

deepest-condolences-graduation-ecard-someecardsCongratulations to the class of 2012. After four years of pouring over textbooks, dealing with roommate drama and fighting with your college’s financial aid office, your college career has come to an end. This pomp and circumstance is the grand finale of the marathon of education, for most. Rehydrate with the beer at your graduation party because there is a more challenging feat that is next on your to-do list: start your career in your chosen profession in one of the worst economic periods our country has ever known. Hell, hard liquor may be needed at times to prepare for the challenge. Continue reading