Posted in healing, hope, learning, self-care, self-love, Uncategorized

Born Worthy

Last weekend, I took my first course in Life Coaching. While the creator of the course, K. C. Miller, was giving her introduction speech, I got really teary-eyed. I thought I was able to blink them back well enough, but K. C. locked eyes on me and said, “I appreciate that you are having a physiological reaction. Would you please share with us?” And then the crying hit my throat, and I knew I couldn’t speak even if I wanted to.

What got me so worked up was K. C. Miller’s philosophy that, “There are no extra people.” It’s simple and short. But the meaning is so potently beautiful, I couldn’t help but break into tears.

I am someone very familiar with feeling “extra.” I didn’t think I had a purpose or a reason to be alive; most of the time I just felt like a burden on my loved ones. I still remember the day I had an insane breakthrough with my therapist, Joy, when she told me, “You matter, Jordan.” It was the first time I had ever heard it, which maybe isn’t so unusual. It isn’t exactly the sort of thing you go around casually expressing to others. But for me, it was life-changing. Before that, I didn’t know if I mattered. In fact, I doubted that I did. In this pivotal moment, I realized that I didn’t have to earn the right to matter. I didn’t have to earn my worthiness. Every single person matters just because they exist. By extension, that meant I must have to matter too.

While in class, there was a lot of sharing (as is to be expected from a healing arts school). I listened intently to the stories of my peers. The boy with the mohawk covered in tattoos. The pretty young yogi. The blue-haired witch. The ever-giving mother. As I listened, I was brought to tears more than once. Throughout all of their trials- be it with addiction, abuse, grieving a lost loved one, low self-worth, poverty, and more- these beautiful humans still found their way to a school where they could learn to heal themselves so that they could then help to heal others. How amazing is that??

I thought, “There isn’t a person alive that you couldn’t love if you heard their story.”

Life Coaching isn’t really about giving advice or sharing stories. It’s about asking the right questions. The goal is to help your client discover their own answers through self-reflection. On the last day of class, K. C. asked us to contemplate, “What is the one most important question that we need to ask ourselves in order to heal and move forward?” Fucking intense, man.

Initially, I came up with, “Why do I think I don’t deserve to love myself?” You see, even with the important realization that I matter in this world, actually loving myself is still a work in progress. Some days it is so easy, I don’t even have to think about it. Some days it is so hard, I don’t want to think about it or I’m afraid I’ll break down.  While I meditated, though, another thought hit me. “Why do I deserve to love myself?”

Even speaking the question aloud, I felt insecure and undeserving. But I don’t believe that narrative anymore, so I am here to answer my question.

Why do I deserve to love myself?

  • Because I am brave.
  • Because I left home so I could spread my wings.
  • Because I lost myself, completely.
  • Because I tried finding myself in bottles of liquor, in strangers’ beds.
  • Because I have had my heart shattered by an ex-love.
  • Because I allowed myself to love again (and again and again…)
  • Because I am a Scorpio.
  • Because I put so much stock into astrology.
  • Because I’m a good ass friend.
  • Because I’ve been a bad friend at times, but my apologies are sincere.
  • Because I am the absolute best gift-giver you’ll ever meet.
  • Because I feel things so deeply, and it’s fucking hard.
  • Because I love learning.
  • Because I hate being told what to do.
  • Because I believe in love and equality between genders, races, and religions.
  • Because I can’t keep a hairstyle for more than six months.
  • Because I’m, like, really funny sometimes.
  • Because I’m an introvert to the max.
  • Because I have anxiety.
  • Because I’m so. goddamn. awkward. sometimes.
  • Because I won’t let my depression win.
  • Because I understand those who do, and I love them anyway.
  • Because I have zero sense of geography, even in my own neighborhood.
  • Because I’ve gotten too drunk and said too many things I can’t take back.
  • Because I’ve cried myself to sleep more nights than I can count.
  • Because I find answers in poetry.
  • Because I find meaning staring into the ocean’s vastness.
  • Because I keep trying to grow things, even though I have a brown thumb.
  • Because I’m a fucking dope wife and an even better fur-mom.
  • Because I know the world is mostly good.
  • Because I know the world is entirely deserving of love.
  • Because I am always striving, always expanding.
  • Because I was born worthy. 
  • Because we all were.
Posted in depression, goals, healing, hope, self-care, self-love, Uncategorized

Fall down 6 times, stand up 7

I am currently taking a class called Building Resiliency. It’s inspirational, obviously, and throughout, I’ve also learned methods and techniques I can use to coach others on resiliency. The techniques are so applicable, I have been integrating them into my own self-care practice as well. (For instance, I have recently found great closure in a past relationship through the practice of Higher Consciousness Conversations.)

What is important to know about resiliency is that it isn’t a personality trait. It’s a skill. That means we can all develop resiliency and learn to grow through the trials life throws at us, and even come out stronger.

For me, building resiliency has really been about coming back from my depression as a stronger person. To be frank, depression knocked me on my ass and sent me tumbling hard into rock bottom. Not only did I feel completely alone, but I felt like I deserved to be alone. I felt like a burden to the people I loved. I didn’t feel worthy of joy, love, or even existing. And through this, I completely lost my sense of identity. I wasn’t an animal-loving, poetry-writing, kind-hearted person suffering the despair of depression. I was despair and depression.

Everywhere I looked, I found evidence of this fact, evidence to support how unworthy of love I was. I put on a mask everywhere I went of a happy, silly, easy-going girl, so even my “friends” and “family” (quotations because, at the time, I felt they didn’t want to be a part of my life and were unfortunately forced to because they felt sorry for me or felt too guilty to blow me off) couldn’t see how lost and full of hurt I was. I didn’t let anyone in, sure that nobody could love the real me; the me that carried a heavy heart and a tightness in my chest so stifling that sometimes I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

For me, rock bottom and the turning point were one and the same. On what was supposed to be a joyful trip to Las Vegas to celebrate friends’ birthdays, I found myself alone, drunk, and crying, wishing for my non-existence. Here, I attempted to end my own life, and was stopped at the last moment. I got to see another side of Las Vegas- an emergency room visit, followed by a stay in a mental health facility where my life was on a consistent schedule of meal times, group therapy, and two outdoor breaks a day. Not what I really had in mind when I embarked on this trip. Still, it was here that I realized, I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to stop existing. I just wanted to feel better. I didn’t know if that was possible, but I committed to at least trying.

I went back to my therapist, who I had been ignoring for the past few months. Here, I did WORK. Hard, dirty, painful, soul-searching work. I strengthened and learned new personal protective factors. Because I spent so much time in the chair, exploring my past, my emotions, my thought processes, I learned Inner Direction. I was able to consciously evaluate how I felt about something and make my decisions based on this, rather than what I felt would make me most lovable to others. I learned Perseverance. Things didn’t feel better for a long time. But I held onto a tiny glimmer of hope that one day, they would. I deepened my Spirituality starting with the belief that we matter because we exist. On days that I couldn’t convince myself that I mattered, I would come back to this belief. Everyone matters, so by default, I had to matter as well. Self-Worth came slowly, and there are still rough days when I can’t find it. But it is now something I know is there, so I trust that if I show myself some love and compassion, I can always find it again.

Another very important piece to my healing was pro-social bonding. Prior to my hospitalization, I spent as many nights as possible going out to parties or bars with a large group of people I considered my friends, but who actually didn’t even know me. After I decided to quit drinking for a while, I didn’t see many of them again. Who I did see, were the people I discovered were my real friends. The ones who called to check in on me in the hospital, and who sent me encouraging notes in the weeks that followed. The friends that I could hang out with without drinking and (though it was scary at first) be my true self around. My circle shrank significantly, but the love I felt grew immensely.

The tricky part about pro-social bonding and depression is that depression doesn’t want you to bond. It wants you to stay home alone and compare yourself to others on social media and wallow in regrets and past traumas. And it’s comfortable, and it feels safe, so sometimes we give in. Some nights, I had to force myself to go watch a movie or meet for dinner because I knew I would feel better after spending time with a good friend. My advice to others dealing with depression would be, “Say yes sometimes.” You don’t have to go to all of the events; in fact, you really probably shouldn’t. But do go, sometimes, with the people you care about and who you know care about you. Being around people who love you is miraculously helpful when you are trying to learn to love yourself.

While I am in a much healthier head-space these days, my recovery from depression is ongoing. There are great days and there are days that I feel I barely made it through. Resiliency is what keeps me going through all the days. Resiliency helped me climb from the shadowy darkness into the light. Resiliency helps me find humor and creativity around what I have experienced. And resiliency helped me find myself again, which was the greatest gift of all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Piercing or pleasing

Recently, my work changed its policy on nose piercing (allowing piercings 2mm or smaller) and, being a staff of young women, we were all pretty excited about our new freedom. A group of four girls (myself included) planned a trip to a tattoo and piercing shop together so we could bond over decorative nose jewelry.

When I got home that night, I told my husband my plans. He was less enthused. “Please don’t,” he said. “I really don’t like how they look.”

Now, I will openly admit that perhaps the most childish trait about me is that I HATE being told what to do. In fact, even if I was already planning on doing one thing, if someone tells me to do it (not asks or suggests but tells, as if I don’t know what is best for me), I will almost certainly do the opposite thing instead. In my  actual wedding vows, I said, “I vow to never let you tell me what to do, but to always take into account your opinion on important decisions.” That’s fair, right?

Herein lied my dilemma. My husband didn’t tell me what to do. He didn’t even suggest it. He just asked me not to do something. And, vows aside, I really do respect his opinion. But, I really wanted to pierce my nose.

I asked the opinion of one of my very close friends. She is a successful doctor, a homeowner, an amazing chef, and a thoughtful, funny, charismatic woman. I explained my situation to her and her response was, “That’s why I don’t have a tattoo. My boyfriend hates them.”

My immediate reaction was a strong one. How dare he? I thought. She is a strong, independent woman and she doesn’t need his permission to do what she wants with her own body! That’s bullshit! She should go get TEN tattoos! 

So you can see where my cognitive dissonance was coming from. I am a proud feminist and I never imagined making decisions based on what someone else wanted me to do. I felt anxious and nauseated at the thought.

The day came and my friends texted me to see if I was still in. I told them I was undecided. I still had a few hours to decide (and to make up an excuse other than ‘My husband doesn’t want me to,’ if I decided to ditch out. That would be too shameful to admit.)

As the afternoon wore on, I brought it up to my husband. I was going to tell him that I respect his opinion but still felt that, when it comes to my own body, I should get final say. “The girls are all going to get their noses pierced tonight. What if I went with them?”

His response reaffirmed why I chose this man as my life partner. He said, “If you want to get one, you should go. I want you to be happy and if this will make you happy, I support it.” Heart eyes forever, right? And I didn’t even have to give him my speech.

So, the full group of us went to the shop and squeezed shut our eyes as a REALLY big needle was jammed through our nostrils and then giggled as we tried not to sneeze.

Turns out, two of my friends had had similar conversations with their own spouses. I’m happy that all of us decided we got to choose what we do or don’t do with our own noses. Even though a nose ring seems like such a small choice, it feels important to me that I made the decision based on what I wanted, not on pleasing other people.

I remember my therapist told me once, “The more confident and happy you are with your choices, the less it will matter what everyone else thinks about them.” I am happy with my choice.

Posted in Uncategorized

Don’t quit your daydream

It is becoming very apparent to me that I am an eternal optimist- mostly. It becomes clear when I’m driving through a town my best friend will later describe as “sketchy and dangerous” and all I noticed were the cute houses with different colored mailboxes. I notice it, also, as I listen to other people complain about the rude clients they’ve dealt with at work all day while personally choosing to remain silent about the injured pets I cared for and the euthanasias I assisted my doctors with that day. (It is a constant choice for me to leave work at work, and I do believe I am healthier for it.) Looking back, I can even see the small glimmer of optimism I held onto during the worst of the worst days of my depression. Even when my days were endlessly long, lonely, and dark, I somehow held out hope that one day they wouldn’t be.

The one place I find it hard to maintain an idealistic attitude? My future. My dreams.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but as the end of high school loomed nearer and fear of the real world set it, I changed my major from creative writing to the more sensible journalism. Even then, I didn’t really think I had the chops to make it in that field, so I left my four-year-college for a technical school where I studied veterinary technology.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my job and I’m thankful to have my degree. I genuinely get to feel like I make a difference to people every day. But this isn’t what I always dreamed I’d be doing. And, the longer I’m in this field, the more I realize it isn’t really the passion-inspiring career I want for the rest of my life.

Lost and wandering (isn’t that how we all spend our twenties?), I visited a psychic in a lone building in a desolate parking lot in California. She told me she saw me in a career focused on helping people, something like therapy or counseling. Cut to me enrolling in community college for a degree in psychology. This is the closest fit I’ve found to what I actually want to be doing, which is helping people through my writing. I mean, I love therapy. I love going to my own therapist. I enjoy listening to my friends’ problems and assuring them that they are good, beautiful people, and they have everything it takes to succeed inside of them. I could easily excel at counseling others.

But… if I’m being honest, it still feels like the safer choice. The choice with job security and a 401k and a somewhat direct course of action. Does that mean it won’t be fulfilling? No. But will it be the most fulfilling? I don’t know.

Most of my life, I’ve carried around so much insecurity in my heart you could sink a boat with it. I believed I wasn’t funny enough, wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t kind enough, wasn’t good enough at anything. Some of that comes from childhood (none of us makes it out completely unscathed), and some of that comes from friendships and romances I’ve been hurt by as an adult. It has taken literally 5 years in therapy for me to be able to admit that I’m a good person. Even writing that is hard. Neurons in my brain are firing-off, shouting, “No! That is narcissistic! Try harder! Be better! You aren’t good enough to call yourself good!” The difference is that, now, I can acknowledge those self-doubts and say back, “No. Fuck you. I am smart and I am kind and I am good enough, damn it.”

A really important part of that for me is allowing myself to believe that I’m good enough to follow my own dreams. I’m deserving of a life that fulfills me. I am worthy of happiness. (For those of you that this realization comes easily to: consider yourself luuuucky.)

Admitting that I want to be a writer is scary. Admitting that I want to create something in the hopes that others will be receptive to it is scary. Letting go of the typical life plan is scary. But the scariest thing I can imagine is looking back on my life twenty years from now (as I go through the motions at a job I only mostly like) and wishing I had been brave enough to at least try to go after my dreams.

IMG_6642

A couple of years ago, at a particularly low point of my depression, I went with a friend to get a tattoo (great time to make permanent life decisions, right?) I chose the word brave because that’s what I wanted to be. And I was; brave enough to keep fighting. Brave enough to put in the work to get myself healthier. And now, brave enough to admit I have a dream and to chase it as hard as I can.