“And you’ll keep going until being in control feels more natural than being out of control.”

‘The biggest truth that I’ve learned? You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.’ – Rachel Hollis
 
One of the greatest lessons I have learned in the past year is this: “Being rude is easy. It does not take any effort and is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Kindness shows great self-discipline and strong self-esteem. Being kind is not always easy when dealing with rude people – but kindness is a sign of a person who has done a lot of personal work and has come to a great self-understanding and wisdom. Choose to be kind over being right, and you’ll be right every time because kindness is a sign of strength.”
1_O9zC--vGk3erykOIJzAxsA
 
Recognizing the lies we’ve come to accept about ourselves is the key to growing into a better version of ourselves. THAT is why I do what I do – that’s why I run to this open forum-med website that is my journal. That is why I run a blog and talk about how to strengthen your relationship, foster a village, and empower yourself enough to stand on your own two feet when all of these things don’t follow through in the ways you think that they’re supposed to. It’s why I write post after post of the ‘raw truth’ of living with anxiety. It’s why I pushed through my feelings in my last 3 break-ups to provide you with some of the things I ‘probably shouldn’t publicly write about’ but chose to write about anyways in order to empower you. It’s why I chose to participate in things like, “Foster Momma Monday” and give other real life stories about fostering a village. And yes, I talk about a lot of other things such as minimalist lifestyle changes, that time I tried Keto (and failed,) and let’s not forget “the my purse is the worst” challenge but they all boil down to one thing and one thing alone: these are the elements of my life, and I want to do them well, as well as empower you to learn from some of them, too. 
 
“A satisfied life is better than a successful life – because our success is measured by others, but our satisfaction is measured by our own heart and soul.” 
 
Let me first address something, I know that my blog has ‘rubbed a few people the wrong way,’ especially here recently. Mostly because it has included something about them or someone they care about and they don’t ‘appreciate me bashing them.’ Let me make something very clear – this isn’t about you. This is about me, things I have been through, my experiences – regardless of what they look like to anyone else. My blog demonstrates how I am growing and learning, and I want nothing more than to encourage other women to grow in the same ways I did. I suppose if I wanted to talk about makeup, or crafts, or cooking, or photography or something else to that effect that I could’ve used those types of things to boost and build myself and my friends up – but that isn’t what this is about, that isn’t what I’m about. Although those are things I thoroughly enjoy, I’m not into writing about those things. I’m into lifestyle stuff, so I focus on creating content that fulfills those needs and if that has something to do with you in the process then let this serve as my apology to you – as I’ve said from day one, this isn’t about you, this is about me and if it effects you then maybe you’re pointing fingers at the wrong one here.
 
“Understanding that you choose your own happiness, that you have control of your own life, is so important. It’s one of those things that we grasp with both hands and put on the bulletin board as a reminder… but it’s not the only thing you need to understand – you also need to identify and systematically destroy every lie you’ve told yourself your whole life.” – Rachel Hollis
 
I won’t lie, I stopped writing for a little while. Not because I was ashamed or wanted to hide what was going on in my life from you guys or whatever else you may think – but because I got so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired about what people had to say about it. Those I mentioned earlier, the ‘hurt ones’ or the ‘sticking up for my friends’ ones… I got sick of hearing their down plays to what they did, how ‘they didn’t deserve this, until at some point I realized this isn’t about them – this is about me and I need to focus more on me and those who are asking, ‘why don’t you write anymore?’ or those messages that say, ‘your writing really helped me through this or that’ – THOSE are the people who I need to worry about because truth be told, the ones who are so worried about their image, when I didn’t even say their names to begin with are just eaten up with guilt and wondering why they didn’t listen to my side for months and months and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT before it ended the way it did. I don’t look to bash anyone – those aren’t my intentions and never will be but I will share my own thoughts and emotions in regards to the subject. It’s not that I say, ‘John did this’ or ‘Mark did that’ – it’s always ‘she made me feel this way’ and guess what? That makes it about me, not you. And I’m here to tell you that even in spite of my confessions – be they painful, heartbreaking, silly, or anything else – I am at peace with myself and the things that have taken place, I have the closure I need so I can move on and you want to know something? I gave that to myself, I didn’t stand around and wait for anyone else to give it to me. It’s a lifelong journey, but I rest in the knowledge that every day I am learning and growing, which allows me to feel at peace with myself. 
 
And when I asked God, “why are you taking me through troubled waters?” He replied, “Because your enemies can’t swim.”
28-rachel-hollis-quotes1

“No matter what happens during the night, every morning the sun comes up again and again.”

“I’ve sure enjoyed the rain but I’m looking forward to the sun… you have to feel the pain when you lose the love you gave someone.”

I don’t know about your ex, but mine is a piece of work.

She pretended to be a lot of things she wasn’t, but in reality was just a little narcissistic and I was just a tad bit naive. She was immature and not ready for the very relationship she claimed she wanted.

“You’re way too good to be true.” How many times did i say those exact words? I have lost count but i do know that i was right each and every time i said them and now i think back to all of the times where she said, “just wait, I’m going to prove this to you” and i can’t help but roll my eyes and laugh. She was in fact “too good to be true.”

She never made any effort to keep me. In fact, if anything, day by day it was like she was trying to push me further away – in a reckless game of, ‘who throws their hands up and gives up first.’

She made me feel unlovable. Made me feel unworthy of finding a good partner as she lived in the doorway between her ‘old life’ and what she wanted her new one to be. She did this for nearly four months and continued to do it for a few weeks after she “ended things” with me.

One day I had to decide if that was what I wanted. If I wanted to be with someone who made me feel less than a priority. That day I decided I deserved more. That I would fight for what I wanted and what I needed.

I ended it and I knew she would realize her actions ruined one of the greatest things she ever had. And i just had to keep reminding myself that nothing in this world is permanent – not even our sadness.

“One day he will realize how amazing she really was. He will regret the day he hurt her, but by then she will be with the guy who knew she was amazing all along.”

I struggled for a long time after her and I split up – wondering if I would ever find someone who could cherish me and treat me like the good woman I know I am.

Then I found you.

Right off the bat, I knew you’d be different. You instantly put her to shame with your gorgeous, breath-taking looks and one of a kind personality.

You immediately made me feel special. You helped me find myself again and made me realize I was worthy of the most real of love.

You make me feel good, and give my an insane amount of butterflies. I never have to fish for compliments with you, you compliment me in different ways all the time. And I can tell you actually mean it.

Even though we have our bad days, the good days outweigh them by a lot – something I wasn’t used to with her.

You never belittle me or make me feel like my feelings are invalid. You always take the time to break down and make sense of what I’m feeling WITH ME verse trying to tell me how I should feel about something.

You taught me to not “house my anxiety” but rather how to “house my happiness” and then the anxiety seems so minimal. You embraced something that all of the ones before you ripped me apart for.

I am more than thankful to have found you when I did. I am grateful to have dated that prick, so that she could teach me what kind of person I needed.

She taught me I needed someone exactly like you.. and if nothing else, I guess I could thank her for that.

Don’t let one person ruin you or turn your heart to stone. Don’t try and see the bad in something good, embrace it and don’t push that person away. Don’t let the fears of the “what ifs” or “could have beens” keep you from finding happiness.

One day you’ll be so happy you gave that person your phone number, which led you to say yes to that second date. It may not be this person but eventually you’ll start to feel what real love feels like and one day you’re going to bravely tell someone you love them and you won’t have to worry or be anxious because they’re going to tell you that they love you too.

You’re going to find that love that you have so willingly given out to others, and you’re going to receive the love that you deserve. It will be everything you could ever dream of and so much more.

From Someone Who Once Loved an Addict: For Blaming Ariana, Shame on You.

 

September is National Recovery Month, and with the news of Mac Miller yesterday I see this as a more fitting time than ever. I am by no means an addict, nor have I ever been (although I do believe everyone is addicted to something – but that’s not what this is about so we won’t go there.) Have you ever loved one, tried to love one? Can you look me square in the eyes and tell me that you didn’t get addicted trying to fix them? If you’re lucky, they recover. If you’re really lucky, you recover, too.

“Ariana Grande is currently living the nightmare of every woman who had to leave a toxic relationship with someone they love because of drugs or other related issues. Please, please just send her love. Please watch your words. I can’t stress this enough.” – Aliyah Giggle

In May, upon Ariana’s split with Mac she released the following… “I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be,” she wrote. “I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety & prayed for his balance for years… but shaming/blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his shit together is a very major problem.”

Let me just leave this here: Loving an addict is hard. Walking away from an addict when enough is finally enough IS HARD. Sometimes you have to stop enabling and love them from afar and unless you’ve been faced with that sort of situation, you don’t know what that does to a person. For the ones blaming and shaming a person who knew her worth and made a better life for herself. Shame on you.

A romantic partner cannot “love” someone out of their struggles with addiction.

Much like suicide, when it comes to death by overdose, people tend to point the finger at loved ones who didn’t “save” the person from themselves. And as much as support and help from loved ones are vital for recovery, ultimately you cannot save another person, they have to save themselves. I cannot promise that in all cases that they will, but I will say that this is the single handed hardest decision you will make to walk away from them and to quit enabling them.

Substance abuse can bring out the evil in a person and turn them into someone you don’t recognize. It can make them lie, it can make them cheat, it can make them steal – and before you know it, you’re living with a stranger. There’s only so much you can do for an addict but in the end it’s up to them to break free of addiction. I dated an addict and watched addiction run rampant in my family. I cut ties with those people simply because it was draining for me, mentally and emotionally. I owed them nothing, they owed it to themselves to want to seek help. I owed it to myself to make sure I was taking care of myself instead of just catering to everyone around me and their needs. Loving a drug addict can and will consume your every thought. Watching their physical deterioration and emotional detachment to everything will make you a walking zombie.

I was this person. I was the enabler. I supported this person through a different job every 3 months, as they said, “oh it’s going to be different this time” and “this is going to be it” as they lost a job for an ‘unknown reason.’ Addiction is a disease. I pleaded and got down on my knees and prayed and did everything I could, for YEARS. I stood in the doorway of our bedroom and pleaded with them that I, ‘just wanted them back.’ When you watch the person you love disappear right in front of your eyes long enough, you’ll start to dissolve, too. I begged this person to change, not only for me and for the rest of their family but for themselves and guess what? They couldn’t do it! Having boundaries with someone struggling with addiction does NOT mean you love them less. Guess who made the choice to leave? I DID. Did it hurt them? Absolutely. Did they understand why at first? Absolutely not. But fast forward 5 years and they thanked me for walking away from them when I did because it made them save themselves when I couldn’t. It made them stand up when I was no longer enabling them.

Relationships with someone struggling with addiction can sometimes become toxic, and it’s important to take a step back if a relationship is more than you can handle. Taking care of yourself does not mean you love your partner any less. You must put your oxygen mask on before you can help someone with theirs.

Drug addiction has the largest ripple effect that I have ever witnessed firsthand. It causes parents to outlive their children. It causes jail time and homelessness. It causes sisters to mourn their siblings. It causes nieces to never meet their aunts. It causes an absence before the exit. You will see your loved one walking and talking, but the truth is, you will lose them far before they actually succumb to their demons; which, if they don’t find recovery, is inevitable.

Drug addiction causes bedrooms and social media sites to become memorials. It causes the “yesterdays” to outnumber the “tomorrows.” It causes things to break; like the law, trust and homes. Drug addiction causes statistics to rise and knees to fall, as praying seems like the only thing left to do sometimes. It is not the person who uses, but the addict. It is not the person who steals to support their habit, but the addict. It is not the person who spews obscenities at their family, but the addict. It is not the person who lies, but the addict.

You will learn that drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if the addict came from a loving home or a broken family. Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are religious. Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are a straight-A student or a drop-out. Drug addiction doesn’t care what ethnicity you are. Drug addiction will show you that one decision and one lapse in judgment can alter the course of an entire life. Drug addiction doesn’t care. Period. But you care.

My anxiety won’t let me stop. But neither will my heart, and thank goodness, the heart always wins.

If you notice that I fall in and out of conversations via text, one minute I’m all in and the next it’s kind of spotty, it’s my anxiety. If we are having a conversation face to face and I seem fidgety, and you almost question whether or not I’m listening to you, I promise you I’m taking it all in – I hear every word and I can even recite everything that you said, verbatim back to you – it’s just my anxiety. If we are eating dinner together, and you notice me shaking my leg, it’s my anxiety.

It doesn’t let me stop. Ever.

“Anxiety isn’t that bad.” Anxiety makes you sit there and overthink every single little thing. At times, it makes you think that the ones in your life are leaving you. You begin to feel abandoned so you push away for the fear of being hurt. You push them away so that they can’t discard you or leave you. When in reality, nobody was ever leaving. Anxiety this bad makes you leave the ones you love – point blank.

Once a worry has made its way inside my mind, it’s trapped there. It lives there. It takes up permanent residence there. It comes on fast and sometimes, it comes on strong like a wave crashing down over my head in the middle of an otherwise peaceful ocean.

And as it gets comfortable in my mind, it starts destroying everything around. It starts throwing around towels in the bathroom. It starts throwing bowls across the kitchen when I can’t find the proper lid that fits. It starts spilling out words onto paper with a pen until everything has turned to black scribbles.

And so, I forget things that matter.

I slip up and mess up and lose track of things that are important.

I say ‘no’ to girls’ nights. I decline invitations to play dates and birthday parties and couples vacations. Because if I go, I know that I’ll just stay up all night obsessing over things I’ve said. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night worrying that I’ve talked too much.

And I’ll assume it’s because of me.

I’ll reason that it’s because I’m too much.

I’ll convince myself that it’s because they just don’t like me.

And then I won’t stop running through these made-up scenarios just because the night is over. I won’t stop playing back the stupid things I said just because nobody heard them. I won’t stop letting myself become consumed with my own insecurity, or with beating myself up, or with self-doubt. My thoughts, about myself, about how others view me, about my place in society aren’t controlled by reality. They’re controlled by anxiety in some kind of upside-down world where my reflection is blurry and bent and backwards.

It doesn’t let me stop. It doesn’t let me be logical. It’s doesn’t let me be sensible. It’s doesn’t let me listen to reason. It goes to the worst place time and time again. It doesn’t let me stop. It keeps my brain going and going and going.

Nothing is easy. Nothing is simple. Nothing just is.

Watching the news is a recipe for uncontrolled torment. Scrolling through CNN is an invitation for stress to sit on the throne in my mind and dictate every decision I make for days, weeks, years to come. Are we safe in this movie theater? Are we on the verge of the next world war? Should we take that trip to Florida later in the month? It’s so crowded there. It’s so busy there. It’s so unsafe there.

But to a brain that never stops, to a mind that never settles, nothing is ever really safe. Nothing is ever really certain. Nothing is ever really the right decision.

To a brain that never stops, molehills become mountains. A handful becomes a heap. Whispers become a whole lot of screaming and shouting.

Small things become huge things.

And eventually, it all made me tired. Even a hamster will get to the point where he will either collapse or make a conscience decision to step off of the wheel and rest for a while.

My ex used to say I was so lazy for always sleeping. But little do people know, depression and anxiety carries many forms and one of them is sleep. It’s an escape. Depression is exhausting. Anxiety is exhausting. It doesn’t make you lazy, it makes your mind and body tired.

I felt like I could deal with the tired for a while, but when my anxiety began to make me angry. When my anxiety began to make me lash out. When my anxiety kept me huddled up in a ball on my bed. When my anxiety began to stand in the way of my friendships, my relationship, and my motherhood, I knew something had to change. When my anxiety made me someone I didn’t know and didn’t want to know, I knew I needed something new. I knew I needed a break, or I was going to break.

1. I got help from a professional. I got a counselor. I saw a doctor. (Deep breaths: I can’t believe I just said that out loud.)

2. About 3 months ago, I wrote out a paragraph of positive affirmations about myself (per my counselors request.) And I repeat them out loud, even to this day, before I walk into any situation that gets my heart racing, any situation that gets my social anxiety spinning.

3. I made peace a priority. I paused. I prayed. Before I close my eyes to go to sleep every night, I push every thought out of my head and focus, really focus, on being grateful. On being content. On slowing down. On being still.

4. I got it out. I talked. I wrote. I did anything to make sure I took over my anxiety before my anxiety completely took over my life, which is a life I love.

5. I got off social media when things were at their worst. I got off WebMD. I got off any and every news station. No good can come from reading every bad thing that’s ever happened in the world.

6. I let myself feel, but I refuse to let my feelings and my fears become reality.

7. I stopped trying to do it on my own and I let people help.

My ultimate goal is to be at peace with myself, eliminate toxic feelings and elements and energies from my life, unlearn negative and harmful practices and thought patterns, stop checking for people that don’t check for me, create a space for myself that is nurturing for growth so that I may generate loving energy for myself and others.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to conquer my anxiety. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be able to climb that snowy, rocky Everest and plant my flag at the very top. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ever to throw my hands in the air and chant that I have won the war.

But I do know that I am strong. I do know that I am capable. I do know that I am in charge of my feelings, and God is in charge of every situation.

I do know that I’ll wake up tomorrow, get out of bed, put a smile on my face and face the day with grit and with grace. I do know that I’ll fill my heart with positivity and purity and thoughts of peace. I do know that I’ll let my heart keep trying to convince my head that everything is better than it seems.

My anxiety won’t let me stop. But neither will my heart, and thank goodness, the heart always wins.

Mental health is not fight club, you can talk about it.

How can you wake up one day, dancing, singing, taking on the world, to destroying yourself and others the next? How can you find peace in your ever changing moods and racing mind? How can you go from healthy to deteriorating? How can you ever love yourself when no one can ever love you? It’s impossible.

The mornings change every day. 
 

Anxiety isn’t a one size fits all, it isn’t consistent and it isn’t always easy to tell. She might think you’ve just snapped at her, but it was anxiety that did it, she might think you’re angry, but it’s the anxiety that’s got a choke hold, she might think that you’re not enjoying yourself when you guys go out and it’s her fault or that she did something wrong, but it’s not. It’s anxiety.

You can feel it in your tired eyes. You eat one day, then it’s followed by picking at random meals for the next three. You go from wanting nothing more than to be in bed all afternoon and sleeping early to wanting to go do so many things the next day. You’re setting goals and finding a way to accomplish them one day, and the next you’re unable to even consider it as a possibility.

You know how she can’t understand when she asks you what are you thinking, why you would respond with ‘nothing’… it’s because she never thinks nothing. Her thoughts replay like a freight train in her head full steam ahead, over and over. It’s exhausting for her. It’s why she’s tired. It’s anxiety ridden thoughts that keep her up at night and guess what? She can’t turn it off. 

When your mood changes as rapidly as the wind can there’s no room to breathe. 

There’s no relaxation, no hope, no cure. It lives within you, unable to be tamed. It consumes and destroys every part of your being. It takes your body and turns it frail. 

It takes your loving family and causes them to be confused and disappointed. It takes your romantic partner, puts them through hell and makes them question if they really know who you are anymore.

Sometimes she wonders why you’re with her, and if you knew she had anxiety would you still be there, do you regret it? Being with her? Do you wish you were with someone else that didn’t have this vice around their neck?

I want you to know I see that this is tough on you, tough to see your loved one hurt, tough on you, the pressure for you would be immense. But don’t think for a second she doesn’t see you, don’t think for a second she doesn’t worry about you, too. She even gets anxiety about you. She knows it’s not your fault, and she knows you want to fix her and in the way that means you help her, but you can’t fix her. She’s not broken.

But you can help her, you can loosen the vice. You can see what gets too much for her, the crowds of people or bed time, dinner time, see it and help her by holding her hand and tell her you’re with her. Do it with her, take over, tell her to sit down for a while and breathe.

You’ll often hear her say the words, “I really just don’t want to go” – this doesn’t mean she doesn’t actually want to go or spend time with those people, she just doesn’t feel like dealing with her anxiety, it’s emotionally exhausting and draining. 

If you see her struggling with appointments, reschedule them for her, encourage her to take it slowly. Too much is overwhelming for her, even though she has good intentions. Don’t make her feel bad for missing an appointment, a party, whatever. She wanted to go, but she couldn’t. Talk through it with her, even if it seems that’s not what she wants to do – talk through it, she may push, but you will help her to learn to pull herself up. Remember, she already feels bad. Tell her that it’s okay. Take the kids out for a play date when you see her struggling, encourage her to take time out for herself. If the kids are awake all night and she’s worse if she has less sleep, get up with her, take over. Tell her to go back to bed.

Sometimes the answer won’t be so obvious. Sometimes she won’t even know the answer is to what she needs, but so long as your patient with her, she will feel your love.

She or you won’t benefit if you get frustrated, it’ll just escalate and make both of you miserable. She doesn’t want her anxiety to define your relationship and when you are patient, you’re telling her you’re willing to do the same.

Anxiety is heartbreaking for her – really, it is. She wishes she could just feel free. The free feeling of just being carefree and not a prisoner to this ugly illness. Free of the voice that follows her listing all her insecurities.

Not every day will be bad, and those days should be celebrated, but on the bad days, still celebrate her, because she needs it.

She appreciates you, she loves you. She’s vulnerable and scared. But she chose you to share her biggest deepest scar tissue that resides in her heart, and she knew the day she met you that you were the one worthy enough to see her in all her imperfections. She will love you with that whole heart, and you know she will because she’s already listed the pros and cons… and just as you are by her side she will be fiercely loyal to yours. Forever and ever, you just to need take her hand and tell her, ‘I am with you.’

This illness does not define me. 

But it does explain the situations that bring about so much damage. How do you not damage those you love when you constantly and recklessly, damage yourself?

I’m ill. Unfortunately, what I suffer from is not a disease that can be explained or cured. Rising above it has become the only goal I want to achieve. It has also become the greatest struggle I have ever faced.

As hard as it is for some of those to forgive me for the things I have done with no control, I need their support. How do I face this alone? How will I be okay tomorrow? If they felt the intensity of my mania would they understand then?

One day I’m the girl they know and love, and the next I wake up into someone else. I wish it were different.

It seems like people don’t understand that I don’t want to be this way. How do you live a life being one person by morning and someone else by night? How do you find yourself okay when people become angry over something you, yourself, cannot control? 

They want so badly to be the person everyone has seen and loved, but they can’t because like a light switch can be flicked on and off so easily their mood can change.

People like me, we become monsters to everyone we love. 

You spend your time trying to think positive, trying to believe it’ll be better or easier, but it doesn’t happen. You go see a counselor and dread when that switch will be hit. And then, when you’re finally taking care of things the way you should it’s already too late to fix everything your hurricane has destroyed.

No one can handle a hurricane. Even the strongest buildings collapse due to the high speed of the storm. Those who can withstand it become my grounding point. Somewhere in the mountains where the hurricane can never begin. 

Those mountains have become my strength. If only I could rebuild those buildings that have been destroyed up in the mountains maybe it would bring more peace.

I want to tell the world the struggles I face, but it’s hard when no one can really see them. 

No one can really step back and identify what passes through my brain every single day. Because of this, I feel alone. How can you be in a crowd of people and still find the feeling of loneliness? It’s like being trapped in a deep tunnel with no light. It’s just dark and cold.

Those who say there’s always light at the end of the tunnel have never walked a day in my shoes.

Without that light of hope, you live every day in the unknown. You just sit in this dark your mind has created as your home. 

How do you ever find happiness when the only light in your life comes from mania which makes you a danger to yourself? You become irrational and reckless. Yes, you finally feel happy, but this is nothing to celebrate. The struggle still remains as it always has.

Although you’re someone else during the days of sadness, at least you can become rational, to an extent. When you’re manic you cannot come close to controlling yourself and if someone begins to try and control you the rage becomes unbearable. 

The confusing part? Your happiness is euphoric when you’re manic, so how can you become so angry so quickly?

All of these questions of why or how continuously get asked, but there’s never an answer. 

You, yourself, can never explain it and if you try it’s looked at as an excuse because people don’t get to see the effects of the illness. There are no warning labels, no commercials, no magazines, no knowledge unless you live with it. 

It’s also the most heartbreaking experience when those you love refuse to listen or become informed of what this mental illness can do to you. It crushes you. 

You can’t explain something to someone who doesn’t want to listen. But, those who decide to read up, get some information and try to understand are the only ones who may give you a small gleam of light in that dark, cold tunnel. These are the people who matter, hold onto them. 

So to those who are trying to understand: thank you.

For those of us who have any type of anxiety disorder, there will always be good days along with some darker days. There are days we can manage it, function properly, and stay on top of it, but there are also days when it can completely take over our minds, our emotions, and our entire well-being. One thing people need to understand is that anxiety is real, and it doesn’t just mean that you tend to worry about things or get stressed easily. Anxiety disorders have real, physical, and mental symptoms that make daily life difficult. On a day where anxiety is at an all-time high, this is what it can truly feel like…

It’s like your world is spinning out of control and no matter what you do, you can’t stop it. No matter what anyone says in that moment, it doesn’t make it go away, no matter how bad you want it to. You’re completely lost in your thoughts. When someone says, “what’s on your mind?” You can’t form words, because there’s all of these words and fragments of sentences without any sort of rhyme or reason. You cannot explain these thoughts and feelings, or what you’re exactly worrying about because it’s so many things (both big and small, real and nonexistent) all at once.

You have feelings of dread wash over you. You have a pit in your stomach. Your chest feels really tight, like you can hardly breathe or it’s difficult to catch your breath. You tend to continually take deep, short breaths. It seems like these feelings will never go away, even though somewhere in the non-anxious part of your brain, you know they will.

It feels like you’re stuck in a dark tunnel, trapped, unable to stop worrying. You begin to over-analyze things and replay dark thoughts in your head, and this is a vicious cycle. Your head feels foggy and it becomes difficult to concentrate or focus on anything. It feels like there is no way out of your own head. It’s almost impossible to see past the anxiety, even if you know there will be brighter days. It feels like you’re falling apart, and you suddenly don’t know how to put the pieces back together. It feels like you’re drowning.


If you or someone you love is suffering from anxiety, please try and find healthy ways to feel better. And never, ever, be afraid to seek the help you need – it’ll only make those darker days less frequent and more bearable. Stay strong. Deep breaths. One day at a time. You will be okay.

Letter to a New LGBT Parent: take that deep breath in and let it out.

Coming out of the closet as LGBT is no easy task, no matter what background you come from or time-frame you grew up in. You wonder: Will I do it right? (No.) Will anyone truly understand what I’m going through? (No.) Can I go back in the closet if I don’t get the reaction I want? (Hell no.) And, most importantly: Will my parents still love me once the words finally escape my head?
c2838167243f2a34ed91df7b6037828f--lesbian-quotes-lesbian-pride
 
As parents we all can have that same moment of panic when our child is something we can’t identify with, something we don’t know first hand, something that we don’t know the answers to before anyone bothers to ask the questions. We get scared and we don’t know what to do.
 
It might also be good time to remind yourself that being LGBT is not a choice. Anyone who thinks it is a choice has never seriously had a conversation with a gay person. (And if you are one of these people, then you need to go talk to some LGBT people right now. I’ll wait.)

 

 
So here it is: “You want to shove those words back in and put the lid on. But you can’t. Your child is gay. This goes against everything you’ve been taught. It was not what you had in mind, and you instantly wonder where you went wrong.”
 

In many Christian circles, this is not good news, and you may begin to spiral into reflection and self-searching. We’ll get to that. But at the bottom of it all, this is not about you. Most parents first mistake is to make it about them instead of about their son or daughter. So let’s talk about some of the major stumbling blocks, shall we?

0509890d80ec022756507102b99e1464bfb1ad-wm

1. This is not an offense against you. This is not something your child did to you. They did not “choose gayness” (Is that even a thing? Read the next paragraph.) to rebel against you, get back at you or make your life miserable. In fact, it really has nothing do with you. You did not cause this; it’s not a failure on your part. As a younger Christian, you’re often taught that homosexuality is a sin – I believed that trauma somewhere in someone’s past caused homosexuality, even if they didn’t remember it. To my surprise, God completely shifted my understanding and revealed to me the many people who had a great childhood and are still gay. He also reminded me of the many straight people who had traumatic childhoods, yet remained straight. Your expectations may lay shattered at your feet. But those are your expectations for your child. Quite simply, they may not be God’s expectations. Ask God to replace your vision for your child with His.

 

*What is a choice? Being a parent. If a woman gets pregnant, in this country at least, she is not forced to give birth. There are choices. Even when a child is born, the biological parents do not have to parent that child. Adoption can be a beautiful choice for biological parents, who chose not to parent themselves for many reasons. Parenting is not compulsory. Parenting is 100 percent choice. You chose it. When we choose to be parents, we are taking on the responsibility, obligation and honor to love the children we adopt or create. This statement does not come with an asterisk at the end. You don’t get to parent only children who are academically gifted. You don’t get to parent only children who are gifted at sports. You don’t get to parent only healthy children. You don’t get to parent only well behaved children. (We all know that last one is true because there aren’t bands of hundreds of feral children roaming the streets, who just wouldn’t listen!) You get to parent your child, and everything that comes with that.
 
2. This is not news to your child. They likely did not tell you the first time they noticed their same-sex attraction, or felt that they were different in some way. In fact, they have probably lived with this quite a long time (years upon years.) They had to discover how true it was. They had to watch other young teens grow into puberty, and realize they weren’t developing the same feelings. Perhaps they dated the opposite gender to see if passion might develop, and yet none did. By the time they come out to you, they are pretty sure of what they’re saying. You may have to work through a slate of brand new emotions about this, and your emotions will affect them, but theirs are not brand new. Do not ask them if they are sure, if maybe they want to take a little time and see what happens. Instead, consider the journey they have been through. Ask them things like, “When did you know?” “How long have you felt this way?” and tell them how you are grateful that they are including you, that they don’t have to go through this alone anymore.
 
3. Now is a key time to embrace your child. Imagine for a moment the courage it took to tell you about their sexuality, especially when they know it seems to contradict your core beliefs. In this moment, your child needs to know he/she did the right thing by telling you. You may flood with fear, doubt, anger, grief, disappointment, shame, anguish or guilt, but do not let those hinder you from expressing your unconditional love and admiration for your child. Your child will have their own list of emotions to deal with; don’t hand them yours. Give yourself time to process all of your own emotions. Be kind to yourself and your child through this.
 
So, take your deep breath and let it out. Don’t waste your energy on panicking and what-ifs. You are going to need that energy, because you have a big job ahead of you. This might feel uncomfortable to you, maybe even a little alien, but this is not about you. This is about your child.
 
And your child needs you. Your child needs you and your unconditional support. LGBT kids are eight times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts. LGBT children who do not have family support are even more likely to commit suicide. If you want your child to grow to become an amazing adult, now is the time to put yourself aside and put your child first. Because you are a parent. Because it’s your job.
 

4. They were terrified to tell you. The risk they took is very real. Some gay teens have been shamed, banished, threatened, beaten, and shunned. They know that once it is said, it cannot be unsaid. They know they’re risking everything to be who they are, including you. They took this chance either because they trusted you and hoped for the best, or because they could not stand to live in-authentically any longer. You have a strong child. Be proud. You have the opportunity to make the most of their trust and come through for them with the unconditional love of a parent. That’s your job as a parent and a Christian — to love unconditionally.

5. Praying, wishing and believing will not make your child straight. I have heard countless stories of people who prayed without ceasing, but nothing changed. Picture with me the false faith-healers who pray to heal audience members’ maladies; when there is no result, those charlatans tell the poor kid in the wheelchair, “Maybe next time you’ll have enough faith to be healed.” Where does that place the blame? If anyone has ever been healed in that setting, it is God’s choice, not the one in the wheelchair. Has anyone prayed themselves straight? I don’t know. Meanwhile, countless stories of those who prayed, did everything right, followed every suggestion, and poured themselves wholeheartedly into being straight–only to experience disappointment and self-loathing. Your child does not deserve this.

Haven’t we yet learned how crippling it is to have to please someone else? Do not tell them that it is a phase that will wear off. Acknowledge how far they have come, that they have an exciting future, and that you will be with them every step of the way. If they discover that their orientation may not be what they thought, then they alone will discover that. Telling them you are praying that they change, or that they will likely “straighten out” as they get older, will only distance them from you. 

6. Adult children are out of your hands. Even more than teens, the choices of your adult children are beyond your parental authority. You have done your best as a parent, however flawed you were. You must trust God with this child you have raised. Embrace them and love them. Do not shun them or take other action, which will only alienate you from their lives. Instead, look forward to the many major life events ahead, and be there for them as you wanted your parents to be there for you.

7. Put other peoples responses aside. The opinion of your pastor, your social group, or your extended family are not as important as your son or daughter’s well-being. Put others’ opinions aside and focus on how your family specifically. If you can’t say in your heart that your child is more important than others’ opinions, restore your priorities.

8. Finally, remember that we are not responsible to change people’s behavior. Not our job, even with our children, especially as they get older. If you think you’re going to make your pianist into a football player, give it up now. Your job is to love people, especially your family. Allow yourself to use this situation to show you what it means to love unconditionally. While we love others, God is at work in ways we can’t see.

Still having trouble? Try to remember that this is not about you. We don’t really know exactly what makes people LGBT. Some people are gay. Some people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and everything in between. Those are the facts. And no matter how LGBT people get created, they are here. While science may not have sussed out exactly how the genes work together yet, there is one thing we do know: You did not make your child gay. There is nothing you did to cause this. There is nothing you could have done to avoid it. Gay people are in every culture, across every era, in every country, race, religion, economic class, etc. LGBT people are everywhere and one of them is your kid.

lgbt-quotes-best-motivational-and-inspirational-quotes-lgbt-quotes-inspirational

All parents must bump up against the tension between how our kids live their lives and how we’d like them to live. This journey is likely not one you would have chosen, nor initially welcomed. But if you seek it, God will show you the beauty of the journey.

 

So, take that deep breath in and let it out again. We breathe in our panic; let ourselves feel it and breath out our resolve. We can do this. We have to do this.
gay-quotes-10-830x467

“Don’t Broadcast Your Heartbreak — but Don’t Lie About It, Either.”

social-media-etiquette

Life was simple before Mark Zuckerberg decided to give everyone in the world the opportunity to constantly be connected to people from the past and present.

 

Before Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and even Twitter, both dating and being single were pleasant. My news feed is now a constant stream of “I’m engaged” or “look at who I’m dating now” photos. Of course, I could just make my life simple and remove myself from social media, but it’s addictive and the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

 

I love being able to have a place where my friends can share photos with each other and I can graciously look back and laugh at the one time I accidentally dyed my hair bleach blonde (more like orange, but okay) many moons ago (WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING?) but the miserable part of social media is when you are no longer a part of someone’s life.

 

In the 1950’s break-ups were simple. You ended things, you avoided the same social circles and you probably rarely had to see them again. In pre-internet movies, the rituals of how to deal with a breakup are well-documented (see – 10 Things I Hate About You.) You gather up everything your ex gave you, put it in a box, and either bury it or burn it. After that, the only times you have to be reminded of them are if you bump into each other in public or if “your song” comes on the radio.

 

But with the advents of social media, dealing with breakups is far less cut-and-dry. You don’t just break up with someone’s physical self — you have to break up with their social media presence, too. And between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — hell, even LinkedIn — getting rid of reminders of your former beloved is much easier said than done.

f88bfe7bd60c6e1cb618ec8c3d778d2063227157

 

“Don’t Broadcast Your Heartbreak — but Don’t Lie About It, Either.”

 

You are, of course, the only person who can decide how public you want to be about breakups, but lying about a breakup and pretending it never happened can only come back to haunt you. This is most often the route of jilted lovers who haven’t yet accepted that they’ve been dumped, but whatever the case, acting like you’re still coupled when you’re not has never been a good look.

 

Anyone who’s dated as much as me (but seriously, 3 relationships in 6 years – I don’t feel like I’ve dated all that much!) knows that not all breakups are created equal. There’s the amicable, “this isn’t working but I still care about you” breakup, and then there’s the “I curse you and your entire bloodline and never want to see you again” breakup — and, of course, tons of circumstances in between.

 

To judge just how far you need to go to avoid your ex online, you need to be brutally honest with yourself about how much they hurt you. If you underestimate your pain or anger, it will come back to haunt you when you don’t take the necessary steps to cut your ex out of your digital life.

 

Now there’s always some avenue to stay connected with people you’d rather have nothing to do with. Hence the ever serious dilemma of blocking someone from social media. As extreme as it may seem to block an ex, it’s much less so than seeing their face, name and comments all over your feeds. With the block feature (on Facebook and Twitter, at least), their comments and replies will be hidden even on posts from mutual friends – they’re literally non-existent. Sure, you might notice some “missing” replies now and again, but it’s better than seeing the words and face of the person who broke your heart.

 

On other platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat (and even Pinterest,) blocking can often be the only way to “unfriend” and not see posts or updates by your ex. Beyond just blocking you from seeing their posts, this feature also keeps them from e-stalking (or fixating on) your posts as well — a common post-breakup tactic regardless of who did the dumping.

1c25def

“Breakups hurt. But losing someone who doesn’t respect you is actually a gain. Not a loss.”

 

I decided to remove someone from all avenues of social media and it weirdly was a rather stressful decision. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing I couldn’t handle seeing them be happy in their new (or previous, whatever) relationship. I didn’t want them to know they had that power over me and the truth is I didn’t want to admit it to myself on some level. In the face of self-preservation, I decided to block her.

 

“Everyone is allowed to be in love with the wrong person at some point. In fact, it’s a mistake not to be.”

 

There’s no shame in blocking someone, especially someone who hurt you on a fundamental level like the way she hurt me. By blocking her, I’m choosing me. I’m putting me first and making it pretty clear that there is no remote reason for us to ever to be in communication again.

 

I’d only be hurting myself staying in the same space as her (via the ever expansive virtual world.) I’m not being dramatic. Life is just a matter of perspective and my perspective needed to be 100% free of her from my life.

 

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

 

I have ZERO self-control and no shame in admitting that the wound is fresh and the only way to move on is to take a chapter from the generations before us and walk away cleanly. Yes, I am one of those fixating people.

 

Girls seem to hate this simple click of a button that is blocking someone but the truth is those girls are trying to tangibly hold on to some way to stay tied to these people who don’t deserve to be tethered to them.

 

By blocking someone, you’re making a conscious decision to erase that person from your life and that’s absolutely A-Okay in my book!

 

So go on girl, block that jerk whose name you curse every day – you’ll be much saner in the long run because of it.