Posted in depression, healing, hope, self-love

Breaking down the walls

I started thinking about blogging and its many forms. WordPress, Tumblr, Instagram- the list goes on and on. If you frequent the internet, you see a lot of Millennial-shaming for their tend to “over-share” on social media. “Nobody cares what you ate for breakfast,” or “We’re all looking at the exact same sunset,” and the ever-present “TMI!” are just a couple of comments I’ve seen or heard more than once. In an insecure moment, I questioned myself and this blog; does anyone really care what I have to say?

In regards to this question, I look to some of my big female heroes. Glennon Doyle Melton. Elizabeth Gilbert. Brene Brown. These women are famous for opening up in their books and blogs about many personal topics considered taboo to talk about in our society. Divorce. Mental illness. Shame. Pain. They don’t gloss over the hard stuff; they lay it all out in the open, where anyone can see it. They’re vulnerable.

Brene Brown has written an amazing book on the subject of vulnerability, “Daring Greatly.” In the book, she states,

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough- that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing.”

We love when others are open and honest, we crave it, because it lets us relate to them on a new, deeper level. Our hearts cry out, “Oh! I’m not alone in all this!” But vulnerability is really hard to do. I’ve been working on that with my therapist for a few years now, and it’s still hard. How can you know if someone is trustworthy with this tender piece of yourself? How can you know they’ll take care of it, that they won’t use it against you?

The fact is, nobody makes it through life unscathed. We have all been hurt by somebody we thought we could trust. Somebody who we cared about, who we once trusted to protect us. And after being marred like that, it’s difficult to expose ourselves again- to that person or others.

When I’ve been emotionally hurt, I can almost see the walls coming up around me. My body tenses. A knot forms in my stomach. It feels as if the wind has been knocked out of me. Much like a wounded animal in the wild, my first reaction is, “Protect yourself!” I want space between myself and the perpetrator. I recoil from their touch. It’s hard to speak because in my head, alarms are flashing, telling me, “THIS PERSON IS DANGEROUS! DON’T GET TOO CLOSE!”

This has happened with many previous boyfriends. With my parents. With my best friends. Even with my husband. The link between this people? We care about each other. I’m vulnerable with them.

In the darkest months of my depression, I was terrified of letting people get close to me. My heart was already aching so much, I couldn’t bear the thought of adding any more pain. During this time, my walls stayed up. Always. With everyone. I kept my very closest friends, the ones I had known for over a decade, at arms’ length away. I would still have conversations with them, sometimes even emotional conversations, but I always held back. I never let them see too much of myself. I was afraid for two reasons:

  1. If I told them my deepest thoughts, feelings, fears, dreams, and secrets, they could use them against me. They would know my weak spots, know right where to strike a blow.
  2. I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want my loved ones to pity me, or to be a burden in their lives.

Of these fears I would like to say this: I was never a burden, nor could I ever be. I know that now, although it took years of unlearning to get to this place. The reason they’re called loved ones is because we love them. My family and my friends loved me then and love me now. And I love them. And when you’re in a loving relationship, you’re there because you want to be. You’re there because you genuinely care for somebody.

When it comes to baring myself to others, I’m getting better. It’s a work in progress, and I’m fine with that. There is a (very) small circle of people who I can now let myself be completely raw with. No walls, no distance. Does that mean they know where to attack my most fragile parts? Yeah, it does. But by keeping those parts hidden, I wasn’t allowing myself to be fully loved. So it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Sometimes, because that’s just how life is, we hurt each other. But I’m learning to peek over my rising walls and just be honest when that happens. Admit that I’m hurt. Then, together, we can move forward and heal.

So, yeah, maybe some people don’t care what I have to say. Maybe some people do. My goal with this blog (other than helping me keep track of my own self-care journey) is to be vulnerable and honest and raw because to be known, truly known, is a good feeling. And that is my wish to you all.

Posted in anxiety, depression, healing, self-care, self-love

This isn’t a gardening blog

But I did start a garden. It’s small. Four pots. Two vegetables and two herbs.

It’s an experiment in self-care. The idea came to me because I kept drawing the Nine of Pentacles every time I did a tarot reading for myself. The Nine of Pentacles often depicts a woman in her luscious garden, not laboring, but rather, enjoying its richness.

Work hard and then enjoy thIMG_4454e fruits of your labor. The garden acts as a symbol for my real work.

Since my last post, I’ve come a long way in my healing. There is still work to be done (because there is always more you can learn about yourself), but I am in a good place. It’s weird. I constantly question my happiness, am nervously waiting for everything to come crashing down on me and plunge me back into the dark depths of my own brain. But so far, it hasn’t happened. Can I get a HELL YEAH?!

Mainly, I think this is because, through therapy (and more therapy and more and more and more therapy), I’ve learned the skills I need to get back to my center. I have learned that I am worthy of self-care. As someone who has consistently put the needs of everyone I know ahead of my own, this is a new notion for me. But hey, turns out my therapist, Joy, has some pretty solid advice.

Depression and anxiety are different for everyone, but for me, a lot of it was being completely overwhelmed by the smallest, simplest of tasks. If I knew I had to do the dishes, I would dread doing them. I was too tired to do them, but looking at them made me even more tired. The stack would continue to pile up and become more and more daunting. Before bed, I would tell myself, “Tomorrow after school I AM GOING TO DO THE DISHES.” And after school, I was so exhausted I couldn’t bring myself to move off the couch. This could go on for days (once for 2 full weeks). Add to this a list of other tasks: homework; laundry; text so-and-so back; make an effort to socialize (ughhhh). Even things I legitimately wanted to be doing, like practicing yoga, seemed like so much work. I just didn’t have the energy. So I literally did nothing, and my list continued to grow, which overwhelmed me even more, so I did nothing still… you can see how the cycle goes.

Anyway, I have sort of learned how to better manage my anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely still fall to pieces here and there, but I try to take inventory of how I am feeling, try to be aware of my triggers, and (this is a big one) I try to say ‘no’ sometimes when I don’t want to or don’t have the energy to do something.

Which in turn, gives me time to do things I actually want to do, and thinIMG_4408k about things that I want to think about. One thing that I keep circling back to is writing. Even if it isn’t any good, even if nobody reads it, I just need to get the words out.

So, here I am, trying this blog again after a 2-year hiatus. (Oops.) I’m hoping to document my attempts at self-care and self-love. Because, although I’m better at it than I was two years ago, it still takes work and conscious effort.

But you’ve got to water the garden if you want to eat the damn tomatoes.