autobiography

Three Things I Suck At

me, circa last weekend, sucking at being comfortable with being imperfect on camera.

I just got back from vacation where I acquired a tan and some clarity.

Somewhere between the beach days and the exceptional meals, I tapped into some realizations that have me feeling pretty damn good. (Side note: never down play the importance of taking a few days off.)

Over the last couple of years I’m been pretty focused on unwrapping and showcasing what’s underneath all the pretending we do in life.

Social media is one big fake game, what with everyone being obsessed with looking perfect. And perfect isn’t possible, which I know is such an obvious statement but still, here we are as a society, trying to be perfect all the time.

And I am one of those people.

While I am motivated to speak the truth about life and not be fake, I still very much struggle with my ego’s need to be perfect. That goes for looks, career performance, and interpersonal relationships – pretty much everything.

Looks wise, I want to be a conventional beauty and appear a certain way to others, but it’s not possible. I will never look like anyone other than who I look like. 

Career wise, I am always thinking about making more money. And in doing so, I am not appreciating how great things are, right here, right now, in this moment.

And I’m forever badgering myself for my perceived failures when it comes to social interactions. If I just let all that shit go, I could be more present for the news ones.

So in trying to be perfect in all areas of my life, I’m forever focusing on ways to improve myself, which takes a lot of energy.

If I just said fuck it and embraced the fact that I’m not ever going to be the way I envision myself being (ie: perfect) I could free up a lot of time spent ruminating on my failures.

If I just admitted I sucked at something, and felt how it felt to suck, I could process the feelings surrounding it and move on.

Clarity this weekend has come in the form of realizing it’s OK to suck at something – that I don’t need to be everything, all the time. And if I embrace the fact that I suck at things, instead of berating myself for my failures all the time, I can focus my efforts on things I am good at. Like writing.

Let me tell you, there is some holy hallelujah relief that comes when you just say “fuck it, that’s not my thing” – and focus your efforts on the stuff you give a shit about and are good at.

So with that in mind, I’ve decided to blast through my fear of not being good enough and share what I suck at, in no particular order.

  1. I suck at socializing in large groups. OK so it’s not that I completely suck at this on the outside, but on the inside, it’s one of my least favorite things to do. I find it overwhelming AF, and being an uber-empathetic person, it’s just plain hard on me, mentally. I daresay at times it’s a form of torture. So moving forward, if you invite me to a party, I will most likely have a work deadline and won’t be able to make it.
  2. I suck at being patient. My brain works really quickly; I process ideas and thoughts at a high-speed – faster than most people in my life. Which means I’m waiting for people to catch up to me quite often, and I get really impatient with them at times. Like no joke, I can be a fucking jerk about it. I’ll do the whole dramatic big sigh to let them know they are wasting my time and everything. What an asshole right? Before you start judging me, know that I always end up apologizing, and I don’t act like this all the time. But some days I do, and when I notice it I admit that it’s better for me to not be around people, so as to not spread my jerk germs.
  3. I suck at being fake. Truth: I get supremely annoyed when I am met with people being fake, particularly if they are people I have known for a long time. I’m talking zero patience for it. And yes I know there are some issues lying underneath that truth, and this obviously isn’t the only scenario that lends itself to me being impatient, but I’ll get to unpacking all that once I unpack my suitcase.

Bonus #4 Thing I suck at:

I suck at optimism. OK so I’m getting better at this, but it’s something I’ve had to religiously work at. I was taught how to be pessimistic from an early age, and then refined my skills over the years. Changing this default view I had of anything and everything in life came about when I got in touch with my emotions. I learned to acknowledge that it feels really shitty to think badly of someone, and it feels really good to think generously, by way of optimism. Still a work in progress, but I’m committed. Disclaimer: I am a realist and know that some people are not capable of being kind or generous, so I still selectively use pessimism as a survival tactic and have zero shame about it. I just generally do my best to view random interactions and people with a positive spin these days, because to constantly do the opposite is to suffer.

So those are the things I suck at. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start, and a step towards embracing imperfection, which is my goal.

What do you suck at? What would serve you to just admit you ain’t so great at, instead of beating yourself up over it? Let’s talk about it in the comments. 🙂

xo

A

autobiography, family

Full Moon Clarity on Codependency

My life over the past few years has been a steady flow of life altering realizations, and I can thank the full moon for it.

That sounds hippy-ish, which I have no problem owning — I am a hippy at heart. I just still shave my armpits and wouldn’t pass up vintage Chanel if I came across it.

But let me explain further: not all of these realizations are “holy shit — are you kidding me?!” moments. Some are “Gee, I never thought of it that way” situations.

Although lately, there have been many more core-rattling, soul-freeing moments of recognition than minor insights. And it’s been intense.

Usually, the most extraordinary moments of wake-the-fuck-up clarity come after a period of severe mental and emotional shutdown. I’m talking, I-shouldn’t-be-allowed-in-public kind of terrible. These are the days that, no matter what I do, nothing appears to be powerful enough to shake the overall shittiness I feel.

So I just try to stay away from people, read uplifting books, stretch and meditate, and stay the F away from social media. Because I’m way too volatile to handle random DMs on those days.

Did I mention this next-level doom I find myself consumed by always coincides with the full moon?

Years ago, if you had mentioned anything about the full moon being responsible for my problems I would have given you my are-you-fucking-kidding-me look and called you a weirdo as soon as you left.

But nowadays there is no denying it: the full moon brings out the emotional instability in me.

There is, however, some glory on the other end of these periods of despair. I ALWAYS come out with something solid, like a golden bar of guidance which was only achievable and attained through a period of wretchedness.

So yeah, the shit brings gold. And here I am with another bar of it, after the full moon that has just passed. This month’s golden wisdom?

My co-dependent relationship with my mom needs to end because it’s causing us both a lot of pain.

This is a huge one for me because I keep holding onto this image of us being BFFs, and being in sync and relating on every level. I’ve been wanting this to be the reality for years, even though I know in my heart it’s never going to happen. And this past weekend has finally pushed me outside the bubble of that dream and into reality.

We are very different people. We clash quite a bit, and I find myself irritated and annoyed and often times insulted, as I’m sure she does as well. 

And it’s my own fault because I keep coming to her about everything — not because it’s necessary but because I am so used to doing so. Some days I get so excited about things that have gone on with my writing career, or a new insight I’ve had that I want to share it with her, forgetting the fact that she’s just not into the things I’m excited about.

In reality, much of what I share with her could do without being said: there is no need for me to talk to her about everything and anything. I just do it because it’s what I’ve always done.

On her end, I’m sure she get’s annoyed with me. In fact I know she does, because she has a tendency to zone out when I’m talking to her. As I said before, she just isn’t that into what I have to say. But she still relies on me as her main source of companionship, and I her, which is proving to be super unhealthy and we both know it. In fact, we’ve both admitted it, on multiple occasions.

I feel she needs some acquaintances with similar interests, because people need to connect with other people, or else they get depressed – and I know that first hand. But I can’t be her sole source of connection. I don’t have it in me to be that, and what’s more, it’s not fair. That’s too much pressure, to be my parent’s everything.

And it’s not possible for me to fulfill that role either, at least not well, because at our cores, we are so different. I wish it weren’t the case because I’d love her to understand me more and get what I’m trying to do with my life: evolve and become a more conscious human being. And I’m sure she wishes I understood her more as well and was more agreeable with her words, actions, and decisions.

But here we are, two people relying on each other way too much, and it’s not working anymore because we just don’t fucking relate.

Yesterday this wild aha moment came to me:

you cannot evolve into the person you are destined to be if you stay in this state — in this codependent relationship. The longer you stay in this dysfunction the more both of you will suffer. You have to stop being so desperate to connect with your mother over everything and anything because she will never relate to you to the level you want her to, and vice versa. To do so — to endlessly hope for the impossible — is to suffer. Do you want to suffer?

The short answer is no, I don’t want to suffer. And I don’t want my mom to suffer. I think my worries about her suffering is what got us here in the first place (did I mention we are in a time out at the moment?)

I worry about her. I feel bad that she has no partner: that she has no one to go to tea with but me. I feel guilty that she isn’t happier and healthier, and that (in my opinion) she doesn’t take any ownership for where she is in her life.

I also feel bad that I don’t relate to her as much as I’d like to. But you know what I really want? I want my space. I want to feel free to be myself, 100%, without the old school comments that, with a snap of the finger, make me feel less than.

I want to not feel responsible for her isolated way of living, and for her lack of connection with others.

I want to not feel like I owe her all of me, all the time.

What do I know I need to do?

I need to stop the constant check ins, and excessive amounts of time spent with her. I do not need to have lunch with her 3 times a week or invite her on every single walk.

I need to acknowledge that just because I feel she doesn’t value me the way I want her to, doesn’t mean I’m not of value.

I need to accept that she doesn’t get me, or what I’m trying to do, or who I endeavor to be – at least, not to the level I do.

I need to give her space and time, so she can fill it with activities and people who are closer suited to her personality and beliefs.

I need to do away with the dream that she will be kind to me all the time. And I need to accept that sometimes I need my space, and when I do I should stay far away from her because when don’t, I can be a righteous bitch. That never feels good.

I need to admit that my incessant need to run things by her and have her understand me is not working – some things she is never going to understand, and that’s OK.

I need to realize that the longer I feel bad for her and fill up her days with my voice and my presence, the longer she will abstain from connection with anyone outside of me.

Sounds like I know what I need to do. Time to give us both some breathing room, and stop trying to take responsibility for someone else’s happiness (damn these control issues! lol!)

Of course, I’ll always be there for her. And it’s not that I won’t go out for lunch and chat with her and make time to be there for her and help her.

But for the sake of both of us, the codependency has to end. Time to cut the chord, and I can thank the full moon for that realization.

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autobiography, family

Why Your Parents Are Jerks and That’s OK

About 10 years ago I got arrested for being drunk in public.

Long story short, I was in a really bad state. I was severely depressed, drinking heavily, and couldn’t see past the bottle in front of me.

No one in my family was capable of helping during this time; they didn’t know how to deal with me. Neither did the psych nurse that came to see me in jail when I’d sobered up. She basically told me that if I did it again there would be charges pressed. No offers for counseling or help.

So it was all on my own shoulders , to heal and get better. It was like, “You’re fucked up and there is no reason why you should be because  none of us are fucked up. So it’s on you to figure out your issues and get over them.”

Do I think I deserved better treatment? If I was eager to jump on the self-pity train I’d say yes. But I’ll repeat what I said previously: no one in my life was capable of helping me; they didn’t know how to deal with me. And I think I scared the shit out of them because I was like this volatile fucking rocket that was ready to go off at any time.

I learned a lot from my experience. One being that generally as a society, we lack compassion for scenarios and people we don’t understand. We get so scared, and default to simplifying and minimizing another person’s struggle.

So we say “You fucking loser drunk” instead of “You deeply troubled girl who doesn’t know how to love herself.”

And obviously, it takes less time and energy to call someone a loser, or a fuck up, and wipe your hands of them. No one wants to take ownership of a shitty scenario so they just blame it away.

Parents do it too.

And ego’s don’t like compassion or empathy. They are horny for power and control, and there’s tons of that in the judgment process. So generally, our ego-dominated society digs judgment, because it boosts people up, albeit under dirty, false pretenses.

What am I saying? I’m saying I wouldn’t change a thing. I got better on my own and I’m proud of that fact. It didn’t happen right away; not even after that night in jail – but it happened. And through the process of recovering and discovering some love for myself, I learned a lot of stuff, particularly about my family.

I learned it takes two to tango. That just because someone does something shitty doesn’t mean it warrants them a lifetime of judgment and ostracization. And I’m not talking about myself here, though of course, it is relatable to my scenario.

I’ve realized that the avoidance of any and all responsibility for one’s actions causes great imbalance. I’ve long held one parent responsible for all the issues in our family, sheltering the other from any ownership. When in fact it takes two to create a shitty situation. To capitalize on the other’s mistakes and use it as fuel, in order to dismiss ownership of the unsightly, and proclaim “I didn’t do anything wrong; I am innocent” is to create an imbalance that causes much discontent — for all parties involved.

Blame is high-grade procrastination — it’s like the THC in weed. It keeps you from seeing your own contributions to the discontent you feel. For whatever reason, my journey has entailed blaming others and outside sources for all the shitty stuff that went on in my life. I was taught how to blame away my problems, and now I’m teaching myself how to release the need to do that.

Because I am hyper cognizant of the fact that blame is a recipe for suffering.

Truth: if you find yourself in a shitty interaction, you had a hand in it. You are not innocent. This does not mean you are a piece of shit and unworthy of love. It means that to say you had no hand in the events surrounding your discontent is to avoid the lesson. And I don’t know about you, but I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE LESSONS. I want to make sense of the struggle, and come out of it like a fucking phoenix rising from the ashes.

I think my hope for what I wanted my parents to be was so intense that I couldn’t see who they actually were: flawed humans. That’s not a slight, it just is what it is. Yes, they have talents and abilities and positive qualities — but they are human, and to be human is to be flawed. Part of my journey has entailed realizing that they will not always be right, or kind, or compassionate, or loving.

They are capable of being jerks, just like me and every other person walking the planet.

And they weren’t and will not be capable of being my saviors. They won’t be able to fix me or teach me to appreciate myself; they won’t be the ones leading me towards enlightenment. Though, through their dysfunction and perceived failures, I have learned to love who I am, and function at a higher state.

So even though they aren’t good with apologies; even though they judged me and gossiped about me in the past; even though they may not consider the repercussions of their comments and behaviors — each moment of disappointment I feel is actually an opportunity for me to just accept them, as is, for who they are.

Because when I do that, I open the door for them to be generous enough to do the same for me.

If you liked this story, please Recommend it, by sharing it. 🙂

autobiography, family

When You Don’t Relate to Your Relatives

A nervous me with a cameo by mom's arm, on the way to my brother's wedding, July 2017.
Disclaimer: this post contains a bit of emotionally digressed content. Which means I do a little bit of bitching, followed by a solid message of empowerment. So bear with me. (PS: That’s a very nervous me above, with a cameo by my mom’s arm, on my way to my brother’s wedding.)

I have been working through some stuff over the past week, much of which stems from my feelings surrounding my brother’s recent wedding (read about it here.)

One of the things that has been bothering me to the max are my feelings about the extended relatives that were there (not all of them – I have some extended family members that I enjoy very much.)

But to truly explain where my issues with my relatives comes from I have to go back a couple of years, and then some.

Two years ago I found out that my aunt was gossiping about me really badly. I know she is a merciless shit talker. Every time I see her she is judging someone. In fact, I’m not sure what made me think she wouldn’t do the same to me. Probably because she had been nice to me over the past 10 years, emailing and calling me on occasion; we had some nice chats. So to hear she was saying bad things cut me deep.

It also really hurt because I realized the time frame in which she was shit talking me: I was in the thick of depression, anxiety, and addiction. I was in a terrible place and was suffering hugely. And I remember the deep level of pain I felt during that time; it rumbles me to the core to recollect.

So it hurt really fucking bad to hear my pain was being capitalized on as gossip fuel by my aunt.

All that judgment, when if she had taken some time to ask if I was OK, might have played out differently. But let’s take it through the truth filter: there is a high probability she wouldn’t have changed her tune. She’s twisted with bitterness, and I am not the only victim of her hate tirades. It’s very sad. And to be real, when I was suffering, I sure as shit wasn’t dishing out kindness either. I was mean and bitter and toxic. I guess I just thought my aunt would be loving and kind and supportive because she’s my aunt.

So faaaccckkk – knowing what my own relative was saying about me really burned, and still does.

Here’s what I’d say to her if I had the chance; if I actively sought her out to confront her:

“What makes you think you are better than me? What makes you think I deserve to be treated so terribly? What makes you think my addictions are worse than yours? You have been addicted to being verbally and mentally abusive YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. I remember running into you in a grocery store as a kid and you acted like you didn’t even know who I was. You know you’ve got some stuff under the seams when you pull that shit, so don’t fling your judgment diarrhea my way.”

Big sigh. That felt good to get out.

Back to the wedding. It was a lovely wedding. Meticulously decorated. Everything was fabulous – the food, the cake, the decor. Bride and groom were very happy. It was all very exciting, I was just so damn nervous. Then I see said aunt, and she put’s a fake smile on and looks me up and down. And all I can think is “she’s looking for shit talking fuel.”

And why wouldn’t I think that way? I was already rattled and feeling vulnerable, in the thick of this huge social function that my introverted ass was not comfortable in. And I know what she is capable of. So for her to even try to be nice was just not even happening for me. I made an excuse (easy: bride needs a drink) and left the area for self-preservation purposes.

But it didn’t end there. Another aunt, who wouldn’t give me a minute of her time when I ran into her at Costco a couple of months ago (warehouse oatmeal took precendent) tried to engage with me as well. And I wasn’t having it. Minimal attention was given as well.

And then the uncle who has a habit of not acknowledging people dismisses my hello and walks right past me. The same uncle who will occasionally talk my ear off, when it’s convenient for him – acts like I don’t exist. This is typical behavior for him, but still WTF territory.

And finally, the uncle who likes to shit talk just as bad as the aforementioned aunt is there. He takes the time to tell me after dinner that “Uncle <name> is leaving. Aren’t you going to say good-bye to him?” Like I’m a fucking moron who lacks manners. Thanks, dude, but we already said our good byes and made plans to email next week, so scram.

I know this stuff is so catty and shitty and a whole bunch of other acronyms. And I know somewhere buried beneath all the bitching is a lesson, grounded in the truth which is You Are What You Complain About.

But this is my family; this if how they are. And I feel unsafe around them – like they are sharks in the water, waiting for me to bleed. I shouldn’t be narcissistic: I know I’m not the only one they’re doing it to. But it doesn’t make it easy to accept, and I wish it didn’t bother me.

So I’ve made some observations, one being that I’m tapped the fuck out on dealing with them. I feel like I’ve never fit an acceptable mold in their eyes, and I’ve spent too long feeling less than because of it. So as of right now, in this moment, I am done. I know what my issues are, and one of them is I’ve spent too much of my life worrying about what they have to say about me. I’ve spent too much time trying to fit a mold I will never fit.

I’m releasing the need to be angry about things I have zero control over, namely how my relatives see me.

Somewhere along the timeline of my life, I aged out of being treated with kindness by certain family members. And with their history of fire-hydrant style judgment, and the lack of kindness, I have decided they will get the most minimal amount of my attention from now on.

Through my interactions with them this past weekend I’ve realized something (well in truth, my dad sparked the flame towards my accepting this a couple of months ago): I don’t have to spend time with anyone I don’t want to spend time with. If someone isn’t up for being nice to me, on all occasions, they don’t get my time or attention in the moments of their choosing. You either go all in with me or you get nothing.

Relation or not, if you aren’t kind I will keep my distance.

This means I will be very choosy about what family events I go to. Instant no’s will go to all invites, depending on who and what it is in relation to (please – no more invites to wedding showers without being invited to the wedding.)

And with that, I feel like I’m ready to release the beast inside that is angry about this. Like, seeyah later, I-have-no-need-for-you anymore time. You no longer have the conch ego (not my first lord of the flies reference and not my last. lol.)

Moral of the venting session today? Sometimes looking after yourself means loving yourself enough to admit that you don’t relate to your relatives.

And please – if you do anything new moving forward – be choosy about who you extend your time to. This doesn’t mean you need to ignore people: it means releasing the need to try to please the unpleasable. Because some people are never going to accept you; some people are forever going to look for your faults and use them as ammo.

And you know what else? Ego LOVES to try to do battle with people who are unsettled and vulnerable. So when you are feeling less than, you may notice you have a lot of shitty interactions that day. That’s because riled up egos love going to battle with other riled up egos.

So do whatever you can to empower yourself, every single day. Because when you emit positive vibrations you’re less likely to be met with the opposite. This is a tried and true fact that I’ve witnessed in my own life on so many occasions, it’s wild.

Now – I promise to counteract this bit of bitching with heaps of positivity. And I thank you for accepting me as is, in my fear tarnished coat of truth and all. I remain committed to being real, which means acknowledging that sometimes people piss me off, and that I am capable of a temporary emotional digressions, which always results in a solid lesson. So it’s worth it.

Onward we go, with gratitude to counteract the complaints. Time to get right via some meditation. Have you heard of calm.com? I LOVE it. Plug your headphones in and have a listen. It will zen you the F out.

xo

A

autobiography, perfection

Failing at Perfection: Tales From Last Weekend

If you’ve read any of the 100+ posts on this blog, you might have an idea of what I struggle with the most:

It’s my relentless desire for perfection, which is quite frankly ruining my life.

That sounds dramatic. Nothing has been ruined. It just makes everything so fucking difficult.

See I’m capable of a lot of things. I can write. I can sing. I can dance. I can be compassionate as a mother fucker. And don’t get me started on empathy – I am a text book empath. Being hyper-empathetic is something I struggle with all the time. I get so jarred and rattled by the negative emotions of others. I take ownership of everything at times, which I know is so bizarrely narcissistic. I sense discontent a mile away, and I fight with it and then desperately try to disengage with it, in an attempt to supply the world with the opposite.

So I’m capable of lot’s of things – I just don’t know how to disengage with my need to be perfect.

Some days I can’t see the green grass or the blue sky, even when it’s right in front of me. Some days I see brown, withered failure because I didn’t live up to the ridiculously unachievable expectations I have for myself.

And then I start to believe the stories I make up based on the seemingly disapproving looks I get for being myself. And because of them I tell myself I am wrong: that I am bad, and not good enough.

Where’s all this coming from? It’s coming from the mind of an overly exhausted, mentally depleted woman. Three days at a wedding celebration with over 100 people might be the epicenter of fun for some, but to me it was difficult to say the least.

I was out-of-my skin uncomfortable the entire time, from the first flight to the last one, and instead of admitting that and accepting that big crowds and events aren’t my thing – I beat myself up the whole time. And then I tried to fit in with people who, plain and simple, aren’t my type of people. Don’t get me wrong: there were some really lovely folks in attendance – there was just a bit too much going on for my introverted ass.

So I drank booze to calm my nerves and the voice inside me that told me I needed to be perfect.

If you’ve read my Huffington post piece, that last part might be the tid bit that gets your attention the most. I struggled with alcohol for many years. But what lot’s of people don’t know about me – and actually I got a lot of assumptions flung my way over that 1000 word piece of writing –  is that while I very much acknowledge my addictive behaviors, I don’t consider myself to be an alcoholic anymore, and I don’t label myself as something negative – at least not in that department.

But out of desperation, on a 34-degree ranch in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by people I didn’t understand or relate to, I chose alcohol to get by this past weekend.

I drank to calm myself down in a social setting that was anything but comfortable. And it’s not even the booze that upsets me: it’s the beliefs I chose to believe about myself that brought me to drink that first bud light (you’d think if I was going to drink for the first time in a long time I’d pick something better, but nope, I drank a bud light.)

Save for a few close friends, most people don’t know that while I identified as an alcoholic for quite some time, I don’t anymore. I identify with being an addict in the sense that I am addicted to avoiding the overpopulated negativity and self-damaging thoughts I have about myself.

I am addicted to avoiding the fear I feel. And while day to day I don’t drink to avoid sub par feelings, this past weekend I did.

What do I do usually? Yoga. Meditation. Cooking. Reading. Shopping. But I had no time for myself this past weekend, and the anxiety was so severe that I was unwilling to believe that these things could work, even if I had found time for them.

I can do all the blaming and excuse making I want, but it won’t change the fact that I’m here now, still reeling from the side effects of booze, which in this case include depression, a lack of sleep, and brain fog.

To me, alcohol is just a total waste of time. It clouds my brain for days and keeps me from my passion, which is writing. I have zero desire to spend money on it. To me, it’s just not fun anymore. But this past weekend, with an open bar and next level social anxiety, I drank anyway.

Am I proud? No. In fact, I’m rattled. But not just about the fact that I drank.

I’m rattled about the speech I gave, even though many people approached me saying they loved it and that I should go into public speaking (proof that what scares you the most is what you should embrace.)

I’m rattled about those two Aunts of mine, giving me their reliable looks that said, “I’ll be nice to your face but can’t wait to get home and do the rounds talking shit about you.” I’m not even going to try with them anymore. Not worth my energy.

I’m rattled about the isolation I felt as my husband drank to the point that I wanted nothing to do with him. Heck, I’m rattled that I drank and wanted nothing to do with myself.

I’m rattled by how alone I felt amongst a sea of people I felt the need to impress so badly that they would include me in the festivities, instead of ignoring me.

And I’m rattled by all of my over the top expectations that were destined to be left unmet.

Perfection wasn’t achieved.

What does perfect look like to me? Everyone approving of me. Me being patient instead of being a bitch during the traveling process. Me not being scared or upset over this innate sense of loss over my brother’s marriage; that things will never be the same again; that we will never have the relationship I dream of us having. And I’m mad because I really don’t understand why I’m so damn emotional about that.

And I’m mad at the prick who told me I screwed up the beginning of my speech because I choked on my emotions: this fuck you goes out to you jerk face.

I wish I could be perfect. I wish I could have handled it all with grace and mercy and an innate sense of calm. But guess what? I didn’t. And none of these words are going to change that.

The one thing they will do is help me get over it. Help me forgive myself. And make me realize that I really need someone to help me get over this obsession with being perfect. I don’t want to do life like this anymore. It’s just too damn hard this way.

So there you have it: full-blown truth. I can’t be anything but real anymore. Spent too much of my weekend – my life for that matter – being fake. Time for courage, and self-care and getting back to the business of being me. Time to peel back more layers to find the truth, not a version others might approve of.

Because imperfect me is perfection.

xo

A

autobiography

Why I Use Pessimism as a Survival Tactic

my post pessimism glow

I’ve been slightly obsessed with the idea of pessimism lately.

I keep thinking about how it harms us, but also how it serves us. Lot’s of note jotting and talking to Siri about it.

I used to be a hard-core pessimist. Things are better these days, and I’m generally quite capable of swapping out negatives narratives for positives ones. But there are still times when I struggle to think positively about others and myself.

I acknowledge that my self-directed pessimism does me little to no good. It’s caused me heaps of world-ending anxiety over the years, which as of recently has led to some rather severe health issues (you can read about them here.)

So overall, I’m trying to focus all my activities and thoughts on positive things, with the exception of a bit of what I’m calling healthy, outwardly directed pessimism.

Because sure, it doesn’t serve me to berate myself with thoughts like, “you’re going to screw this up and no one will like you anymore.”

But it does serve me to think, “He’s going to be difficult to deal with so I better take a moment to prepare myself for how I will respond to any hostility, so as not to make the situation any worse.” Do you see how this might help a sister out?

I think this whole idea of pessimism as a survival tactic is extremely valuable.

I started thinking about it when I saw this YouTube video on pessimism by School of Life a few months ago. The idea that it could be used to my benefit was fascinating to me.

Because I harmed myself for years by being pessimistic. And then I beat myself up by harshly judged myself for doing it. Now, to find a way to use it to my advantage – that’s some cool shit right there.

And talk about empowering: the very thing that caused me heaps of problems can be refurbed into something that makes my life easier.

Needless to say, I’ve tossed out a lot of emotional baggage over the years. I overhauled the contents of my belief system and started afresh. Many steps forward were taken. Many fear-laced steps were taken back. And lot’s of tears and mini emotional break downs were had.

But here we are today: today is good. Save for some soon to be sorted out health issues, I am solid. And I’m here because I decided to let go of all of my past beliefs.

Save for my buddy pessimism.

Here’s the logic: in order for me to be the bad ass boss woman I am today, I can’t be pessimistic about my skills, my drive, or my abilities. No room or time for that.

But what has served me so very well over the past few years has been a dose of pessimism when I’m dealing with other people.

Case in point:

  • an ego-centric employer who is incapable of thinking of anyone but himself (True story. Read about it here)
  • a family member who flings his insecurities onto others via heavy snark
  • a friend who got a pink slip for shaming me (yep, this happened too – and I wrote about it here)

The common denominator in all three of these scenarios is that everyone was struggling with their ego. That sucker was running the show and keeping them from one incredibly valuable act: connection with others. Because who the hell wants to hang out with people who are mean and unsupportive?

And their eg-sponsored unkindness was reliable. So after many a repeated acts of ego, and dealing with my exhausting emotional response to it (“Why is he/she doing this? Why are they being so mean? Waaaahhhhhh!!”) I realized I needed to get reliable with my use of pessimism.

I needed to start assuming they were going to act shitty, and amp myself up to set a good example. I needed to not respond to their aggression (well, sadness is what it really is) with more aggression.

So I needed to not give them what they unknowingly wanted: more fuel to keep their pain fire burning.

The way I use pessimism these days is in a diluted, based-in-kindness form. So I think stuff like:

“I know this guy is struggling to function, so I’ll commit to calling out the rudeness in a calm and kind way, if and/or when something comes up that’s not appropriate.”

Rather than:

“This guy is a righteous asshole and I know he is going to f*** with me today – so I’m going to get myself jacked up with come backs for his inevitable insults to my character.”

Harsh, yes. But not far off from the old me.

The past is the past. So I do my damnedest to stick to the first scenario these days and wow, does it work well for me when I do. I can focus on doing my best, and not get so rattled or obsessed with other people’s perceived inefficiencies. ‘Cause we all got ’em.

Which brings me to another act that makes life easier: accepting that I will never be perfect. That I make mistakes. That I do not always get things right, but that I’m doing my very best, and that has to be enough.

And that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been able to use pessimism in such a healthy way. Because I am hyper accepting of the fact that as humans, we were made to be flawed.

Some days my best is just not my best. And I sure as hell don’t have it all figured out. But when I do struggle or screw up, I’ve always got writing to help me make sense of it all. Storytelling heals, so cheers to that!

And cheers to pessimism, in all its tarnished glory. It might have a bad rap, but when you use it to your benefit, it really is a top-notch survival tactic.

(PS: there was a bit of pessimism over whether or not the hubby would get the boat ready for floating today – so I snapped a pic of my relieved face upon finding he had!)
autobiography

Why I Lost My Virginity to a Jerk

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written about. It’s still hard for me to even type these words, right now, without getting emotional. That’s how deeply this has all affected me. It’s also the reason why I’m sharing this story, because I know I’m not the only one who has gone through something like this, and I know storytelling can heal. And if I’m committed to anything, it’s healing.
Me, circa mid 90s.

I really loathe the phrase, “losing my virginity.” It’s not a sock or a set of car keys for crying out loud.

But then I named this article that so…. lol. “Lost Innocence” sounded overly dramatic – I wasn’t feeling it. Note to self: come up with a better term for doing the deed for the first time down the road.

I was 16 years old when the whole lost virginity experience happened for me, and there was nothing loving or romantic about it. No pleasant synonyms can be attached to it. It was all about a girl wanting to impress a boy, who she thought liked her, coupled with a sense of owing. This feeling of owing a guy sex wasn’t a one-off for me, and sadly, continued for many years to follow.

But back to the first time. There was this guy at school who was good-looking and popular, and one day he started paying attention to me. Picking me up from work, giving me rides home. Calling me. I just assumed he liked me as a friend. Reason being, in the 90s, when it was all about being a conventional beauty, I was the opposite.

I looked nothing like Kelly from Beverly Hills 90210. And the fact that I had a big bump on my nose placed me in the not-so-hot category as well. The amount of time I wasted dreaming of a nose job and wanting to look like someone else – it was so sad. Not until three years ago did I finally learn to accept what I looked like, bump on the nose and all.

Anyways, back in high school, when this dude started wanting to spend time with me, I was happy but also completely glib to his motivations. To me, there was no way he wanted to be anything but my friend. My non-existent self-esteem, coupled with the fact that he happened to be close friends with my good male friend wouldn’t allow the thought to enter my brain.

Now the fact that I referred to this male friend of mine as good is also quite sad because as I would soon find out, he was anything but. At the time, however, and even after what I’m about to explain, I thought he was good to me. In actuality, it was a deeply toxic and dysfunctional relationship based on verbal and emotional abuse that I took part in for many years.  (Check out a poem I wrote about it on my Instagram.)

Back to Mr. Popular-Good-Looking, who paid a lot of attention to me for a while, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I mean what 16-year-old doesn’t like attention, particularly from someone who’s desired by other girls? In my mind, everything was going great, up until the night when I let him get what he wanted.

He had been giving me rides for quite a while, so one night after work when he made his move on me, I let him do it. I felt like I owed him. I lacked the self-worth to say no. My need to please him and be liked overrode my need to like myself, or be comfortable.

I don’t remember a lot of the details, and wouldn’t get into them if I could. But when it was over I recall a deep sense of relief that it was done, because I wasn’t into it. At all.

Fast forward to the next day. The phone rings, and it’s that friend of mine I told you about earlier. He’s furious. Calling me a whore. Ripping me to shreds. He couldn’t believe I did what I did. Which is comical, because all I did was lay there while his buddy took what he wanted and left.

And Mr. Popular-Good looking? He went radio silent. Wouldn’t return my calls. Dismissed my attempts to chat in real life. Whatever interest he had in me vanished, and I was left contemplating the fact that I was the one who had caused all the problems, with the added bonus that I was now a whore.

I think this is about the time that I really starting owning the title “piece of shit.”  I wouldn’t go around saying that’s what I was, but the way I talked about myself and treated myself said it all. Being self-deprecating became part of my identity. And I know it made a lot of people uncomfortable, but it was my way of trying to take the power back.

I don’t think this scenario was the all-encapsulating moment I lost myself. I think it was a series of traumatic scenarios that helped me learn to hate myself and become the untrusting, deeply pessimistic person I was up until a few years ago.

That moment, when he decided I was no longer relevant and rejected me like a used toy; when in turn my “friend” decided I was equal parts useless and disgusting – those were scarring moments for me. And though I used to feel all sorts of shame and anger about those events, I now feel an innate sadness and compassion for the little girl who went through them. In looking at it as an outsider, I am now better able to release the intense feelings I have about what happened all those years ago.

But I’ll never forget what happened, as it will forever be a part of my journey and who I am today. The memory reminds me that I am worth more than being disposed of and being treated like a replaceable, only-good-for-my-vagina toy.

And I know now that no matter what happens, I don’t have to put up with being verbally abused, and I don’t have to own a title someone else tries to give me.

Today I see myself as a victim of a madly egocentric boy, whose self-worth was tied up in how long his list of sexual conquests could get (FYI: he learned that from somewhere.) His desires came before caring about other people’s feelings. I was manipulated into thinking that I meant something to him. And the thing is, he probably doesn’t even realize what he did.

I saw him quite a few years back at a bar, when I was still drinking (heavily I might add), and told him that he took my virginity. I think he had a shocked look on his face, but it’s a hazy memory at best. Regardless, I don’t think he’ll ever understand how deeply the choices he made shaped and changed my life.

I don’t think many people understand the power they hold in the choices and decision they make for that matter. We are all so much more powerful than we think, which is why it’s so important to focus on health and wellness. Because if we get right with ourselves, we are capable of making better decisions: decisions that consider the effects of our behaviors and actions on not just ourselves but on the people around us.

I could never have known back then the magnitude of the act of losing my virginity. In fact, for years I dismissed it as insignificant. But today I know that act, along with the events that followed, created major cracks in my foundation. Cracks that, along with all the others that preceded and proceeded it, would become part of an emotional undoing and rebuilding, 20 years later.

I am who I am, right now in this moment, because of my desperation to be loved by others. That desperation told me to let a jerk take my virginity many years ago. But because I let that happen, I am the woman I am today – someone I am so incredibly proud of.

autobiography

Why You Need To Keep Putting Yourself Out There, Spelling Mistakes and All

Part of the reason why I’m happy today is that in spite of the fear of how I might be perceived or what may be said about me, I put myself out there.

Pressing post on my first article for my blog on Dec 31st, 2015 was the catalyst for drastic change in my life. It was also what propelled me towards this idea that I might be really awesome in my inherent state. Me as is, was something to be celebrated, not frowned upon.

It also taught me that it was OK to be me on a global scale – on any scale for that matter. And that I had a talent, of which I didn’t have to feel bad about celebrating. I could stop minimizing my worth.

In putting myself out there, I was able to get myself into a state of wellness. But it was really hard to do in the beginning.

The reason I was so scared initially was that I was so deeply concerned about what others might say or think of me – the underlying issue to that being that I craved perfection. And without an editor, the perfect amount of sleep, a peer review and the clarity of a Buddhist monk, it wasn’t going to happen. I mean heck, perfection just doesn’t exist. And it’s in correcting the errors that we find greatness.

I believe in the process of life. I trust it. So when I find an error days later and gasp in horror, I look at it as a chance to give myself a pep talk. “Andrea – just because you made an error doesn’t mean you suck. It means you were in the zone and your eyes skimmed over it.”

You also never know where that edit and update may take you. After I update something I usually share it on social media again. And who knows who might come across that post? Maybe they will find some common ground in what I’ve written? Maybe it will help them face something they have been scared to admit to or talk about?

I believe we need to do our best, all the time. But sometimes my best isn’t the best of the best. For example, when I’ve had a rough sleep, but I wake up with this idea for an article and it just pours out of me like syrup. The idea might be amazing, but the packaging might not be that great. That day, the article as a whole might not be my all-time best. But because I’m feeling it, and I follow the goosebumps, I post it.

I believe those pulls to do something are things we must listen to. So I do. And every-time I do I get better at being me.

Days later I often find an error or two. But you know what? That’s inevitable. It’s gonna happen. The eyes that are reading it two days later aren’t the eyes that skimmed it two days earlier at 6 am. Plus, with clients, dishes, and laundry I don’t have time to take my posts through a rigid editing process. So I choose to post it – and move past the fear of judgment or shame that sits on my shoulder telling me I should be scared to share my words with the world.

So to one and all: put yourself out there. Do your best. Just know that your best isn’t going to be Harper Collins editing team quality, at all times. And don’t hate on yourself when you inevitably realize that.

The world needs you to be you! Keep putting yourself out there!

autobiography

What I Learned From Being Car Shamed

So I got car shamed last week and it was lame. Here’s the back story:

I was at work when I got an email from one of the tenants (we rent spaces to people) urging me to check out an article on how to give my car a poor man’s paint job. Why? Here’s the back story:

I drive an older car (see above). It’s a 1991 Honda hatchback station wagon, and it has some paint peeling off of it, not unlike a lot of cars you see of that vintage.

And I love that car. I even named her Neenee. She’s reliable, and when she has problems she’s cheap to fix and rebounds like a newborn. She just won’t quit, like the woman who drives her.

What’s more, I really appreciate my vehicle. It get’s me to my part-time gig safely and reliably, and is cheap on gas to boot. Best 1200 dollars I ever spent.

Which is why I got irritated when this guy sent this weird, slightly insulting email.

It’s really my ego that got defensive and pissed off, as can be deduced by the following diatribe that rolled through my head shortly after receiving the email:

“Who does this moron think he is sending me an email like that? I’m not poor, I’m smart with my money. And I don’t need to show off in an outside-my-means leased car to prove my worth to random people like him. Plus: I’m here to work asshole, not to deal with weird, passive aggressive messaged like this.”

Whoa! Do not poke the bear! But I know where that aggression is coming from. I have a hard time with ego-centric comments, which I’m guessing comes from my long-standing commitment to my own ego, which is still alive and well. I’m making progress, but it clearly likes to take center stage on occasion.

And the fact that I worked for and with so many egotists for most of my life is a top contender for why I voraciously reject men who try to dominate me with not-so-passive aggressive comments.

(And I dated a lot of them too, which you can read about via my latest Huffington Post article.)

But here’s the thing I know and acknowledge: the fact that I get so pissed off is proof that my ego is still kicking it old school. It wants to be in control. So when it perceives a comment as negative, it takes off in full justification mode (case in point the rant a few paragraphs up.)

But when I take the time to breathe and 5-4-3-2-1-it (have you read Mel Robbins’ book yet? Doooo it!) I can take back the reigns.

Still, even with all that knowledge and understanding, I’m fascinated over why this person tried to car shame me.

This guy’s ego-centric comments come in many more flavors. Car-wise though, he has made cracks about mine before. And he makes cracks about other people’s cars too. So the psychologist in me just wants to know why the f*** he cares about what other people’s cars look like. Seriously, what gives?

And this isn’t the first person who has not so subtly alluded to the fact that my car isn’t acceptable as is.

I had a family member openly admit to being embarrassed about getting a ride in it. And an acquaintance was adamant that we should lease a brand new Honda and get rid of the old one. “It’s only X amount of dollars per month…

But that’s my point: it’s X amount of dollars per month. Why would I spend a bunch of money, or borrow cash from a bank to buy a car just to appease the people who are uncomfortable with how mine looks? Especially when my car still works?

I’m not going to pimp my ride alas Xzibit (remember that show? They need to bring it back) when there’s no return on investment. A paint job on a 1991 Honda does not serve someone who is in empire-building mode. (Thanks for those two paragraphs ego – but I’ll take the reigns again now)

Regardless of who said what and when it’s all so fascinating to me how uncomfortable my car makes other people.

Every single one of them is living in the faux-zone. And they’ll do whatever it takes to keep up the pretenses – overspending, ruining their credit and causing themselves heaps of anxiety in the process (case in point: that family member who found my car unacceptable.)

What these people seem to have in common (oh I’m in dangerous territory here with all these stinky assumptions that are rolling out) is that in rejecting me and my car, they reject themselves.

They have these self-perceived inadequacies, and instead of facing them and working on them, they choose the easy route: pointing out other people’s perceived issues.

Even if said person doesn’t see them as being issues.

If I’m honest, there are moments where I feel the pull to live in faux-mode. It’s not surprising, as those beliefs were ingrained in me from a young age. But I’m working on them.

Would I like a new car with a shiny new paint job? Yes. But I refuse to go into debt over it, and I’m not in the tax bracket (yet – but soon) where I’d be comfortable dropping a lot of coin on a car.

These days I do my best to follow the old school rule: if you can’t afford to pay cash, don’t buy it. I’m all about good credit ratings, probably because I wasn’t for so long.

So maybe this push from the egotist at work is a lesson, there to reaffirm what I already know: it is ridiculous to worry about how things look to others.

All that matters is that I stay true to what I know to be right for me.

These days I fancy myself a pretty good business woman. And I know it’s a bad business decision to sink money into something that gives no return on investment. Case in point, a paint job on a 1991 Honda.

And I’m a realist – I know sooner or later we will have to upgrade our car. Which means we will look after Neenee as best we can, and keep on saving our cash money until the time comes.

It’s very likely that we may borrow money to get a newer car down the road.

But the purpose of whatever new car we do get will be because we need it. Not to appease the egotistical need to live up to the expectations of others.

So even though my ego wanted to tell this guy to f** off, I listened to logic and Eckart Tolle, both of which reminded me that aggression would only disrupt my commitment to living in a peaceful state.

And I’ve already allowed my peace to be disrupted enough when I allowed myself to be temporarily consumed with that email when it came through. Enough ruminating on that garbage.

So what did I do? How did I handle this not-so-passive aggressive snark mail?

I said and did absolutely nothing, save for a bit of reflecting.

I acknowledged that this guy has no tact and that it’s not my job to show him that maybe he should do some thinking as to why he is so obsessed with my car.

And I realized that his comment was just a comment, and it’s my choice to keep thinking about it or not.

And I acknowledged my own ego getting riled up about someone elluding to me being less than because of the car I drive, and told it, “Not today ego! Not today!

Andrea 1.

Ego 0.

Jerk at work -1.

May the peace be with you friends. And may your car be steadfast, with or without a fancy paint job.