health, mental health, wellness

Rewrite Your Story

You can edit your story.

Perhaps you’ll choose to rework it and tell it a different way.

Perhaps instead of concluding that you are a terrible person and unworthy of love because of the mistakes you made, you’ll try on the idea that you made them because you were so full of hurt it spewed out like a geyser, blasting everyone and everything in its path. And it altered your ability to see clearly.

Perhaps you’ll acknowledge the little kid inside who is still reeling over the love they never received in the ways they individually and innately required it, and ask yourself if you’d bully 5-year-old you the way you bully yourself today.

Perhaps you’ll warm to the fact that you are human, and therefore incapable of perfection. Perhaps you’ll realize the power in admitting to a mistake, and notice how much happier you are when you stop putting so much work into persuading yourself and others that you didn’t do anything wrong.

Perhaps you’ll realize you don’t need to be the expert on everything all the time, and that it’s OK to not comment on small-scale ignorance, instead choosing an internal state of chill.

Perhaps you’ll make some space in your heart for forgiveness, because they truly, madly, deeply, know not what they do. And sometimes, neither do you.

In realizing that, maybe you’ll release the need to bully yourself every time you aren’t impeccable with your word, your thoughts, and actions.

Because that stuff is so damn exhausting.

Perhaps you’ll acknowledge the spectrum of perspectives that houses good and bad. Perhaps you’ll start to see the goodness living within your perceived deficiencies, and begin to value yourself more, instead of spending so much time berating yourself over your societally deemed “negative” qualities.

Maybe you’ll see the beauty in the OCD;

The braveness in the overly emotional;

The benevolence in the overactive brain.

Perhaps you’ll see that just because someone doesn’t acknowledge your worth doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Upon realizing that, maybe you’ll give yourself the gift of swiftly exiting exchanges with people who don’t appreciate your efforts, or what you bring to the table.

Perhaps you’ll come to realize that you have the right to question the experts and the elders, as they too are human and capable of making mistakes. Even if they are too all-up-in-their-own-heads to acknowledge that fact.

And perhaps you’ll accept that you don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed if you don’t agree with someone’s view about what they see as being the “right” course of action. Even if that view is coming out of the mouth of an MD, a specialist, a registered massage therapist, a naturopath or a yoga teacher.

Perhaps you’ll find the courage to accommodate your comfort. Even if it encompasses not going with the crowd.

Perhaps you’ll realize that the only one who can answer the question, “What is right for me?” is you.

The story you tell yourself about who you were yesterday and who you are today can and will evolve. And for that to happen you’ll contradict yourself.

Contradiction is part of this life thing we are all doing. It entails seeing things differently from day-to-day, week to week, even morning to afternoon. It’s about evolving and growing and learning and healing, and figuring out what feels like the right thing to do for you.

It’s not hypocritical. It’s not sinful. It’s not outrageous. It’s not shameful.

It just is.

You don’t have to be ashamed of your evolution.

We have to re-write our stories in order to heal. And to do that we have to convince ourselves that it’s safe to throw our hands in the air and surrender to our evolution.

addiction, health, wellness

Avoiding your fears through addiction

I might have spent 20 plus years on a convoluted quest to feed an addiction to things, like alcohol, cigarettes, shopping, and drugs. But the act of avoiding my fears was the soil that these socially unacceptable vices of mine grew out of.

I embraced fear in the early double digits — around 12 or 13. I started to believe that to live was to suffer and there was no way around it. I thought I was destined to experience a lifetime of discontent.

So I began to worry a lot, about everything: making mistakes and being rejected for it, not being perfect and being abandoned by my friends and family because of it, never being able to make enough money, and not being able to sleep.

Needless to say, all that fear caused a lot of problems. I struggled with intense bouts of depression and anxiety, got sick a lot, and had major sleep issues. And I was forever feeling terrible, both mentally and physically.

So to distract myself from this learned addiction to fear and the feelings surrounding it, I began to commit my life to the act of avoiding it.

It all started with shopping. As a kid, if I had a really bad day or week, my mom would buy me clothes. And I’d feel better, albeit temporarily. So when I could, I started doing it on my own, the problem being that I didn’t have the money she had.

I was ruthless about it: I would go to any means possible to get what I wanted. All that mattered was the rush I got in the immediate moment of purchase, and the subsequent feelings of comfort surrounding getting the items home and hung up in my closet.

I coveted anything new and expensive, and I became obsessed with the constant pursuit of acquiring things that made me look good on the outside. And It was all done in the name of avoiding feelings of inadequacy that stemmed from that dreaded emotion, fear.

Shortly after I began to embrace shopping as an avoidance tactic I found alcohol. 

I loved it — another escape, albeit a more powerful one. I essentially became a functioning alcoholic in my late teens, until I reached my mid 20’s, and there was no way to hide the fact that I’d lost the ability to do so.

And then there was the smoking that started in my teens, and the drugs that came into play in my 20s – the use of which evolved and intensified as the years passed.

I could go into great detail about how my life fell apart because of all these destructive activities that I felt I needed to survive and be happy. But I’d rather focus on the motivations behind these addictions, as I feel they are most important.

Straight up, I didn’t know how to love myself.  I was never taught how to. And when you don’t have self-love you get the opposite of it, fear.

Based on my views of life, and how terrible I believed it was destined to be, I began to embrace behaviors grounded in fear, like negativity, and aggression.

The logic behind my commitment to negativity and aggression goes like this: If I called out the world as being terrible, rather than letting the flow of terrible only be directed at me, I could feel like I had more power and control.

So I became a beacon for aggression and negativity. I was sending and receiving it and it dictated the direction my life went for many years.

You can imagine how difficult it would be to wrangle in an ego that out of control. That sucker was like a wild horse. To spend 20 years being scared, angry, and bitter, and then to attempt the work involved in removing that toxicity from my mind and soul has been one hell of a process. And it’s not over.

Negativity and aggression is like a blanket with thorns. I get scared and cold, so I want to wrap myself in it, but every time I do I end up scratched  to shit.

And I can’t even get frustrated at myself about it anymore — I know it’s my subconscious trying to protect me.

Because all addictions, whether to things, feelings and emotions, or behaviors, come about as a means to keep us safe. Even though they end up doing the opposite.

I’d like to say I have it all figured out — that I have it all under control. I’d also like to be able to share a clear explanation for how I released my addictions, and learned to deal with my fear in a more constructive way,  because I think that could help a lot of people.

But the truth is I’m still trying to figure out how to keep some of my go-to’s,  like negativity and shopping, at bay. I still default to them when I feel the rush of fear, telling me to put up my guards of aggression, or my credit card.

And while I’m still working on understanding and explaining exactly how I managed to pull myself out of the darkest times in my life, I’m also trying to deal with fear in a different way.

I still feel it. In fact, I feel it more than I’d like to or know to be healthy. But whereas before my greatest fears stemmed from being abandoned or ridiculed, the scariest moments I experience now are when I realize I no longer have my addictions to comfort me.

I feel a deep ache of mourning every time I realize that my fear or anger can’t be helped with a bout of rage, a cigarette, a bottle of wine, drugs, or some emotionally charged shopping.

And In some ways I miss my addictions like one would miss an old friend who passed away. I mourn the loss of them every single time I am upset.

This new response to fear, which encompasses the realization that I have to feel this – there is no way out – is bewildering to me. It’s such a foreign concept, to know there’s nothing that can be done but just feel what I’m feeling until it passes.

But I have no other choice. This is what life has offered me. I can only surmise that the fact that I’m experiencing the feelings or emotions I’m experiencing, is so I can learn that I can and will survive them –  if I only choose to surrender.

Surrendering to everything — every good experience and every bad one — is how I choose to live these days. Some days I really struggle with it, because I’m human, and I have this ego that wants its own way, all the time. But on others I handle everything in spectacular fashion, and really amaze myself in the process.

Every day though, I continue to train myself to get used to the idea of a bad feeling not being life ending. And in doing so I teach myself to fear less, trust more, and make better choices that contribute to my health and wellness — not my addictions.

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autobiography, health, wellness

Why I won’t be blogging on the huffington post anymore

When I first started blogging, I desperately wanted to become a Huffington Post blogger.

Fast forward a year and change later, and that dream was realized.

I was elated – cried a few tears of gratitude upon seeing my name in the byline. And the support from my friends and fans was just, well, it was heartwarming and made me cry even more.

Now here we are, present day. And I’ve realized that the dream I had of what it is to be a Huffington Post blogger is not all that I thought it would be.

Everything I share on that platform is ripped to shreds by faceless strangers who read the title (which the editing team writes – I have no say) and use it as an invitation to attempt to shame me and my story.

Don’t get me wrong: I know that anytime you put yourself out there, and be 100% you, you risk the chance of being rejected and ridiculed.

But NEVER have I been met with such toxicity in response to my writing on other platforms, like mustlovecrows.com, twitter, Medium, Instagram and good old Facebook.

So what is the lesson here?

The lesson for me is that it’s time to let go of the dream I had of what it is to be a Huffington Post blogger. It’s time to say thank you for the opportunity, but I won’t allow my writing to become an impetus for hostility.

I cannot control other people; I cannot make people face the reasons why they hate so passionately.

But I can stop offering up bits of myself – bits of my soul –  on a platform that is a breeding ground for all that is wrong with this world.

Which by the way, is a lack of love.

I appreciate you all so much for your support over the past couple years. And I look forward to continuing to connect with you here on mustlovecrows.com.

You just won’t catch anything new from me moving forward on The Huffington Post.

xo

A

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