You Got This Girl

pg-38-rosie-riveter-1Girl, you got this. I know it feels like you don’t have anything together, I know it feels like you’re lost, passing by the same tree over and over again, but you aren’t and you’re not it just seems that way from your limited point of view.

Girl, you got this. You’re tired, I know. The peaks and valleys your confidence, self-esteem ,and self-worth are constantly going through is nothing new. It’s a part of becoming a woman, it’s a part of becoming you. That doubt is just fear, that hesitancy is just caution because the fire looks so bright and beautiful but is hot and without proper care, dangerous.

Girl, you’ve got this. This mountain that you must climb, the forest you must journey through, well, it’s a rite of passage. Not for all women, just the internally resilient ones, just for the ones that become pillars of strength, and wisdom. If it looks like no one else is on a the same path, a path so hard you can barely explain it, well then, they are not the chosen women and you, you are.

Girl, you got this. Even in your weakest moments. You’ll tire, you’ll struggle, you’ll whine as if that matters, but inside you can feel it – power. Little by little it grows stronger, then sometimes weaker, but never extinguishes itself because it can’t, you can’t. And as hard as you try to, as hard as you pray for it to, it can’t because it can’t always be easy, and you can’t always give up.

Girl, you got this. It’s no sweat off your back, just dirt off your shoulder. You laugh in the face of adversity even though that same adversity sometimes make you fall to your knees drenched in pain. You don’t have to pretend it’s not there you just have to accept it and keep it moving.

Because you got this girl. You do. You can make every dream a reality and every aspiration tangible. In your hands, you have this. You are a warrior, a survivor, a gladiator in a suit, an advocate for the select few that will follow you into the darkness and emerge as Goddesses. There will be people who will try to slow you down, and you will be surprised that that person is mostly you. You are Oprah Winfrey, Vanessa Williams, and Michelle Obama, which means you put in the work and you come out a champion. You are humble but know that even your competition can’t touch you.

Oh girl, you got this and you say that to yourself everyday, in the car, in the shower, before bed, while cooking dinner. You believe it because you are your own cheerleader, your own biggest fan, the coach in the game of your life. Other people might see it, other people may cheer for you too but it’s all up to you. The good and the bad, the struggles and the victories, they are all yours, but they are no problem because girl, you got this.

 

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Heartbeat to heartbeat, Moment to Moment

anxietyI was diagnosed with anxiety and depression a year ago. While I’ve somewhat come around to identifying with depression, something that in truth started when I was eighteen, the anxiety part of it is still somewhat new. I wasn’t an anxious person, I was impatient, always the first to say, “what’s next”, but anxiety just wasn’t in my nature the way it is now.

May being mental health awareness month, a phrase I hate saying and even more so, identifying with, I wanted to write something specifically about the anxiety part, how it feels, what it does to me and a lot of people I know of, as well as personally.

Imagine if someone blew up a ballon in your chest. Your heart starts racing, and you feel physically like crawling out of your skin just to escape the sense that something isn’t right, something may not be right. Your breath is shallow and for the life of you, you can’t figure out how to get enough air in to satisfy your lungs. You pace, you swallow, you tell your self nothing is wrong by ignoring the feeling that a storm of bad news is about to hit you smack dab in the face.

You move heartbeat to heartbeat, moment to moment, saying over and over again that this will pass, everything is ok. You say it so many times that you can feel your voice shaky and uneven when you force yourself to say it out loud. You try  not to be mad at yourself for needing so much external reassurance when it seems  like everyone else in the world can self soothe and don’t feel anywhere near as fragile and circumstantial as you do.

Even though it’s an “awareness” month people don’t realize how easy it is to make an anxious person anxious. Their body language, their tone, inflections, gestures, anything that could be misconstrued as bad or unwelcoming. That trying to calm the voice that keeps whispering, “you messed up, you ruined this, this is your fault” becomes a task in and of itself and even on your best day feels almost impossible to convince yourself of the contrary.

For me, caffeine makes it worse. The jittery sensation heightens my predisposition to run. Except you can’t run from conflict, you can’t run from a gut feeling, whether realistic or not that bad news is coming. There are coping mechanisms, sure – I take meds as necessary for the moments when it’s bad and I feel like I’m about to have a heart attack. I’ve experienced it several times of the past year and unlike most personality quirks, it never goes away, never gets easier, never gets less traumatizing. Explaining to new people in my life that this is a thing, that this really happens to me, ironically (or maybe not) fills me with anxiety. Will they understand? Will they get that uncertainty with open ended ambiguity will drive me completely nuts, literally?

Usually towards the end of a bought of acute anxiety I get the hiccups. Hiccups being caused by too much oxygen in your blood stream, you can see why this is. Not enough deep breathes, too many shallow ones, and slight hyperventilating while trying not to have a full on panic attack. Walking can sometimes help too. Water and music often do the trick when it’s not too fraught a situation. Professional and relationship anxiety plague me the most, because they’re usually tied to emotion distress, a common trigger for anxiety. Driving sometimes causes this too, since I was in a car crash 3 years ago and since learning to drive a stick shift, something that would make even the most confident driver hesitant.

So anxiety, yeah, it’s tough. Depression to me feels treatable, something therapy and the right medication can help, and in the best cases, keep at bay for months or even years. If we’re going with a full on metaphor here, I would say that depression is the cancer and anxiety is the fatigue one feels before, during and after. The fatigue lingers, and even if you’re in remission, fatigue will follow you, reminding you that at any moment you could not be in remission anymore.

What helps the most is writing and talking and trying to be honest when anxiety creeps up. Getting it out there, seeing and feeling it leave your body can be as relieving as blowing your nose. But it is still hard, still there, lying beneath the surface reminding me I’m different from everyone else.

 

Wedding Fever

Wedding .pngAbout a year ago I wrote an article about having a dream wedding Pinterest board. It, unsurprisingly, received a few negative comments pointing out that the idea of a woman obsessed with planning her wedding day is somehow a blow to the feminist movement. Obviously, I disagree, but I do realize that not every woman dreams about her big day and thus I pretty much stopped talking and thinking about the damn wedding Pinterest board I started.

It was easy too, I spent most of the following year only casually dating guys and the one that I spent the most time with could barely even commit to being in a relationship with me let alone committing to someday marrying me. Because I may be a closet romantic I continued to add to my board in small doses with even the most casual string of good dates. I’d imagine how that guy would fit into my already established wedding desires and subtle add one or two pins with him in mind. It sounds crazy, but I really want to meet a woman (note: a woman who has marriage and, in particularly, a wedding on her “to-do” list) who can honestly say she’s never done this. In fact, I feel like if you’re thinking about getting into relationship or even kind of feeling a guy there SHOULD be a moment where you turn and look at him and think, ” could I marry this guy?”.

All that aside, the point is I mostly left it alone. It was a hard year and there was an enormous amount of time needing someone specific rather than wanting something.

But now here we are entering into wedding season. Most of my friends bemoan this time of the year because honestly, even participating as a guest in a wedding is moola that most people would like not to spend. It’s an obligation to top all other obligations and the sense of dread the minute a close friend announces their pending nuptials is real for a lot of people, but not me. I think I’ve mentioned before that this year alone 6 of my friends have gotten engaged. It hasn’t so much filled me with fear as it has a mixture of jealousy, pressure, and a sense of nostalgia so deep I sometimes become very melancholy. The nostalgia, of course, is due to the fact that these people are my friends in one way or another. High school friends who I spent with painting our nails and loudly singing along to the radio. Fellow summer camp counselor’s I’d spend time sitting on the porch talking about boys with. Former roommates who use to come home at night and gossip while getting ready for bed while I stood in my scrappy old pajama’s. There’s a lot of, “I remember when…” surrounding the fact that this person I once knew when we were younger versions of ourselves is now about to get married. FREAKING MARRIED! And now we are not young, that chapter in our lives is, in many cases, over. To lesser extents I feel pressure and jealousy and then recently another, more predominate feeling came into play.

Wedding fever. If it’s not a thing I’m making it a thing by writing this post and claiming it is a thing because I say so. Last night when I confessed to my best friend over an hour long phone call that I had it she immediately asked, “…what the fuck is that?!” I explained that like baby fever, ( a recognized real thing that happens to women sometimes) I was currently obsessed with the idea of getting married. No, seriously, obsessed. I constantly read the Wedding section of Huffington Post, digest every piece of information about being engaged and married, and have spent more time on my Wedding Pinterest board than I’m really willing to admit to. I literally hear wedding bells in my sleep and often find myself pursing around the inter webs day dreaming about an event that, even in the best case scenario, is probably a couple to a few years away.

“Are you even dating anyone?” A normal and sane person might ask me. And while it may sound slightly insane if I said no (because who dreams about weddings when they are so so blatantly single) the crazier thing is that I am dating someone. Obviously the fact that I have wedding fever is a secret just between me and basically anyone reading this article but I know you guys won’t tell him and his hard stance on hating all social media assures me that he won’t happen to wonder upon this post and become instantly terrified.

Because he would definitely be terrified, at least at this point early on in our relationship where the discussion of something so theoretical would cause anyone to have an instant panic attack. And that’s a very sad, and almost annoying thing about relationships in your latter twenties. It’s a completely valid conversation to have sometime between calling it official and moving into together (in this case we’re much much closer to the former than the latter by any means). But back in reality, no woman, or man for that matter, wants to admit that the kind of relationship their looking for is one that will last, and ideally end in some kind of marriage situation. We’ve talked about that, of course. After a few dates we both confessed that we weren’t looking for just a fling and a few more weeks after that we had a tougher conversation about where our lives were headed and realistically agreed it probably wouldn’t work. However, the next morning after running to get coffee I (with a very elegantly practiced speech) stated that while I like being realistic I didn’t want to be the type of person who made decision based of what could happen. He agreed because well, we both like each other too much to stop dating… yada yada yada tangent, tangent, tangent.

Right, so lets get back to the real center of my wedding fever. It’s not necessarily that I see myself marrying this particular guy and thus started my wedding obsession. To answer the obvious questions from above, yes I’ve thought about it (again, it’s almost crazy not to at least ponder the possibility after a certain age) but we really didn’t have a “wow this is the one” moment from the get go. Although we’re not stupid, having that type of moment and going hard all in usually only leads to terrible things, trust me, I would know.  Plus weddings are expensive and time consuming and money and time happen to be a little low in my life right now. So if it’s not that then what is it? Is it simply the fact that all my friends are getting married?

I’m no Sigmund Freud, but if I were a licensed physiologist I’d probably start with that as a main reason. Deeper though t’s really more about having this desire to have something serious, meaningful, and visible to the people I love and care about. Deeper still, is the fact that I did spend almost a year wanting someone who just couldn’t commit to me and I so desperately needed him to. As I healed and let that go I stopped feeling the NEED to be with someone. At 26 I’ve learned not to need anyone and that my only true commitment is to myself, my friends and my family. Which has birthed something completely separate – a wanting to be that connected to somebody. An idea that romance isn’t dead and that I want it. To put it simply, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of love and now I don’t know how to stop it.

I know a couple staunch feminist who are probably cursing this article by now. I see myself as a feminist and even I cringe a little at how this all must sound. But I also feel like it’s normal at this stage in my  life, that it’s normal when you’re trying to build a relationship, that it’s normal when you see people close to you look so happy and so blessed to have found that person already. It doesn’t make me less of a strong woman to admit to any of that – in fact I think it makes me stronger. I think there’s a lot of women out there who can relate to this feeling, a lot of people in general who think these thoughts but can’t exactly express them.

So I’m going to wait out my “wedding fever” because it’s a hell of a lot more realistic than me having baby fever at this point. I’m happy to be in this stage of a relationship were the only thing we’re building together is a friendship and a foundation without giving any extended thought into where it may or may not lead. And most importantly, I’m going to continue to dig into being in love with love and a believer in romance and celebrating it with a moderate sized celebration where I get to be a princess and marry someone I can’t see living my life without. For now I’ll just pin all my dreams on a meaningless board and wait.

 

Sitting On A Train

13178780_10154181249298910_5166600812592092138_nI’m sitting on a train on my way from Modesto, California to Sacramento. It’s an hour and a half long ride where, no matter what window you look out, all you can see is miles and miles of farmland in the expansive Central Valley. Herds of cattle and distant hills separate me from the never ending coastline that I grew up on and it still seems odd to me that I’m not land locked by purple mountains and mile high skylines.

I’m sitting on a train in transit to see family I haven’t seen in years. The last time I saw them I was different, younger, less of who I am now. The thought of seeing them fills me with relief because I still cry every morning, missing my friends, missing my home that was never really my home. I’m desperate to feel grounded in something familiar even if it’s just for a day, even if it means spending Saturday morning on a train where all I have is time to think about how much I’m unsure of.

I m anticipating my aunt asking me a million questions I know I won’t have the answers to. I know that she’ll dig past my facade of begrudging positivity at my current circumstances. I prepare myself to fight back the tears I know will come because I’m so fragile, too fragile to hold it together even for her.

I’m sitting on a train and I’m thinking about how it’s the day before Mother’s Day and being here in the place I grew up makes me miss my grandmother so much it hurts. How I wish she were alive so she could tell me it’ll all work out, even though I’ve heard my own mother say it everyday for the past 6 weeks. But if she were here, if she were saying it, I would believe her even though I can’t put my finger on why.

I’m sitting on a train and I’m sad. Because while I literally know where I’m going I have no idea about any other destination. I’m living in my worst nightmare – the unknown, and it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable even in my own skin. Even though I know that’s where the most growth happens at this age I am scared and lonely and trying my best not to resist this chapter in my life where everything is blurry and uncertain and unpredictable. I’m being forced to go with the flow even though the flow is deep and slow and in this moment feels like it’s taking me no where.

I’m sitting on a train and I’m thinking about a guy, because it would be weird not to. I’m thinking about this new thing and how I wasn’t looking for it and how I should have known that that’s when these things always find you. I can feel myself pushing against it, thinking of all the reasons why it can’t work before I even give myself a chance to see if it can. But there are so many reasons why it’s complicated and hard and maybe even slightly reckless and impulsive and depending on my mood I use those as excuses for why we should or shouldn’t jump in. We are both aware, maybe too much so, of all the trip wires in front of us and yet we’re both not ready to walk away, so eager to watch this play out even though the odds are not in our favor. But watching out the window I can’t help but think of his laugh and the crazy way we’re almost always in sync and I feel the smallest sliver of… cautious optimism which feels strangely out of place amongst all my other emotions.

I’m surprised, very surprised that one thing that hasn’t been a factor is him, the one that broke my heart. I’m so use to reading articles about how hard it is to start something when someone else has broken you down so much and I am amazed at how unbroken I feel. I am stunned, literally stunned, that thinking about him doesn’t bring me to tears the way I thought it would. Because a few months ago I would have been sitting on this train thinking of him, missing him, wondering how the emotional baggage he left me with would affect something new from growing and imagine my surprise, it’s not.

I’m sitting on a train and I am proud of myself because I am processing all these emotions without letting them drown me. A year ago even one of these things would have spelled disaster and I would have let them hold me hostage and sink me slowly. Right now, sitting here, watching as everything else passes by me I feel ok. Nothing is what I imagined, everything is uncertain and I feel ok. There’s this fire and strength that has literally taken over my body and I am handling it like a fucking solider. I am fighting with the tools I have accumulated from my early twenties and I am slaying it. I am a lot of things but who I am, what I hope to gain in these next few months is so solid that the train metaphor is not lost on me even a little. I am moving and everything around me is nothing but vast images sliding past me.

I’m sitting on a train and I’m just riding, not driving, not navigating, not worrying… just sitting and waiting for my final destination.