September 28, 2012

Stream Of Consciousness: Safe And Cozy

Whenever someone asks me "hows it going?" or "how are you doing?" it takes a little bit of time for me to answer. Depending on how well I know the person, I might say that I'm pretty busy; I have something going just about every night, between homework/studying, small group/student organizations, working out, counseling, and trying to have a social life on top of it all. It is quite the load, but it's one that I'm enjoying.

Other times, I might say that my life is currently divided up into two series of moments; moments filled with joy, gratitude, and ease. Then there are days when I become frustrated, bitter, sad, and even a little scared. The latter often occurs late at night as I'm trying to sleep, which I'm currently trying to find ways to relax so that kind of thing doesn't happen as much.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've realized that there are certain broken relationships in my life that I'm not at peace with. It's very much a personal thing, and one that realistically, I have been trying to cope with for years. Yet, somehow I always end up back at square one. That is, I miss them and I start thinking about them almost all the time. I've definitely reached a point where just getting on with my life no longer works, and this itch or longing needs to be addressed.

One of the biggest lies that anyone will tell you is that time heals all wounds. If you keep yourself busy enough and fill your days with other people and other things, then eventually you'll stop hurting. Better yet you will wake up one day and not be able to remember the last time you thought about your pain or trauma.

That has never happened to me, ever. While I've been down that road before, it has never helped me in any way. Come to think of it, I was ultimately trying to put an emotional band-aid on my heart, either by clinging to my circumstances or looking to other people. Nothing was ever resolved.

I don't have all of the answers, and I don't expect anyone else to either.While I do confide in a few close friends about the whole thing, I'm extremely selective about it, and I make it clear that often times I need prayer more than I need advice. When I receive too much input, my thoughts become clouded and I begin to doubt myself. Many people can be extremely negative and cynical as well; sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by the message that I should hate those that hurt me, and carry that hatred with me so that I don't get hurt again. Hatred is not in my nature, regardless of what happens. While I do get angry and don't always forgive right away, I can't actively hate another person. I just don't see the point and feel it does more harm than good. 

More than anything, I need to feel safe with who I'm confiding in.

One of the things that is helping me to balance out negativity/pain and joy, is giving thanks and reflecting on all that I have. At the end of each day, I write down five things that I'm grateful for, have learned, or occurred. I love taking the time to pray in the morning, and even read a passage or two in my Bible. Not only is it a good way to begin my routine, but it helps me to clear out the cobwebs in my mind and focus on God. 

And although I don't know exactly where He is in all of this or what He's doing, I know that there is a time for everything. Regardless of what happens down the road, I'm doing what I can to be present in the moment. I know what I have and feel extremely blessed by all of it. My friends, and the times we get to spend together through coffee dates, football games, going out on the town, or just ordinary stuff. I am fortunate to live where I live and to come home to a place that is so nice and cozy. And when I think about how far I've come and what I have accomplished thus far in college, my heart fills with gratitude. 

Yes, I'm experiencing a little bit of pain right now, and there are certain aspects of my life that are both confusing that uncertain. But the one thing I know for sure is that God is good, and that all I can do is live life through each day and trust that the pieces with eventually come together, whenever that may be. 


September 21, 2012

Own It. Be It. Live It

In the last two and a half years, I consider self-acceptance to be one of my greatest personal successes. It's not perfect, nor is it entirely full, but it is there.

I'm deep. I'm emotional. I'm quirky. And somewhat feisty/stubborn. I could name a lot more, but those are just the main ones that I frequently see in myself.

It has taken a lot of time and soul-searching, but I no longer have any fear or shame towards those qualities. In other words, I own them.

In previous posts, I discussed how for many years, I disliked myself physically. When puberty hit, the emotional aspects began to factor in. It wasn't so much the peer influence as it was being told that I needed to change (or what I was interpreting at the time).  So I would try and try and try again, but I always ended up right back where I started. This ridiculous cycle went on again and again for close to six years.

There was no epiphany-esque moment; It was recent, sometime back over the course of last semester. I asked myself, "what do you have to prove, and who do you have to prove it to?" 

  It was largely to shut people up and get them off my back, to put it bluntly. I also wanted to feel some sort of normalcy, because I felt like I constantly stood out in my former years. 

None of it felt right to me.

That's when I began to learn how to stay true to myself, and to be comfortable with admitting those truths. As I said above, I am not prim and proper all the time, nor will I ever be. I refuse to sugarcoat my life or my experiences, unless it's not an appropriate time to discuss those things. To add to that, I have an independent streak that tends to drive those closest to me absolutely crazy.

This is most likely why billions upon billions of us struggle with interacting with and relating to one another; either we don't know how to own who we are, or we're terrified of not being completely accepted if we do.

But I do understand why it can be difficult; we're living in a world where it's easier to hide behind a social network or a text message. So-called experts are spitting out handfuls of "advice" that if you don't look or act a certain way, you're not and never will be good enough. Personally, I have struggled with becoming easily intimidated by those that appear to have it all together and never admit that they're unhappy at times or are having a bad day. It makes me feel like if I did open up to them, they wouldn't be able to handle it; or perhaps they would understand at first, but then hold it against me in some way later down the road.

The reality of life is that we all have pain. We all have baggage and issues that we're presently dealing with, or will have to deal with at some point. It's just that some are better at sweeping those things under the rug and acting like they're not there. Or, they're really private and only up to those that they're completely comfortable with. And then there are those who just give off an unapproachable or awkward vibe, regardless of the other person's confidence. 

Yet, the only thing I can control is the way I act and how I respond to a situation. I do my best to make sure people know that they're safe around me and they can confide in me, if needed. I'm not going to tell them that they're a bad person or that they're wrong. They should be able to be themselves and express their own thoughts and feelings. 

If I want to be safe and completely comfortable around other people, I need to be able to do the same for them as well.

I wonder what the world would be like if breaking down the vulnerability barrier wasn't so hard. Just imagine  who you could inspire or encourage by telling your story, without any fears or inhibitions. More importantly, just imagine what kind of miracle or healing could take place, whether it be in your own life or someone else's. 

While there are appropriate times and places to intimately share one's personal history, that does not mean it has to be completely avoided. I know that I myself make the whole experience/process a lot harder than it needs to be. I spend more time focusing on what I say or crafting how I say it, rather than just putting it out there. And realistically, a lot of my insecurities are probably all in my head.

Self-ownership is not something that just happens naturally or overnight. It's a gradual process of being honest about what makes you unique, both in body and in mind. More so, it's about learning to love those things, and allowing yourself to shine, while also being humble. 

As you discover who you are, set those things free. Don't keep your desires, your pain, your passions all tied up in one big knot, terrified of what the rest of the world will say about it. Write it down, make a proclamation, do whatever you have to do to allow them to become real and worth discussing. 

Own it. Be It. Live it out!

There is a dark side to all of it, which can be a challenge to overcome, and even get to the point of being catastrophic. However, I have decided into making that a second addition to this post, since I've already written so much as it is. But I'm curious, what kind of struggles do readers have when it comes to this particular topic? Thoughts?

September 18, 2012


This poem was inspired a by a conversation that I had with a relative a while back; we have very different personalities, and nine times out of ten don't agree on the same things. But lately, it has made me think about the concept of wanting something, or multiple things. This is my response to that conversation.


A hot summer day
We drive with the glare of the sun beating down
He turns to me, like so many times before
Switches the radio down and begins to lecture me about life
Some things never change

He tells me, “you want far too much than you can ever have”
“You don’t know how to be grateful”
“You’re materialistic”
“These dreams and wishes of yours might never come to pass”

Meanwhile, my head is pressed against the window
Staring out at the sky, I pretend that I hear him
Yet, I’m only trying to let it go in one ear and out the other

On the inside, his words light a fire in my heart
That leads to defense in my mind
Although gratitude was hardly ever my strong suit, I’m taking a step back
And recognizing what’s important

Why is everything considered unrealistic?
Nothing is ever easy to come by anymore
I’m a dreamer, you know
If I am determined to achieve something, it propels me
Like a warrior, I don’t allow any obstacle to keep me from fighting
On the other side, If I’m not ready or it does not feel right
No one but the will of God can make me move
So don’t try to convince me otherwise

What is so wrong with asking?
What is the harm in believing you’re capable of more than what is expected of you?
Then again, not many walk in my shoes
Or understand the frustration that comes with working to achieve a goal
But not knowing how

Perhaps our desires, our hopes, our dreams are not about gaining anything
But experiencing peace and clarity
The freedom to move forward
To do what we feel is right

So before you accuse someone of wanting too much
Before you try and tell them that they’re never satisfied
Sit down and really listen to what they’re saying
Perhaps the question is not, “what do you want?”
But rather, “why?” 

September 12, 2012

Stream Of Consciousness: Peace and Restlessness

Do you ever get lonely?

I get asked that question a lot, especially when I say I don't have a roommate. And my answer would be yes, it definitely does happen. When I'm by myself for extended periods of time on the weekends or partaking in things that one would normally do in a group, I'll actually admit out loud that I want someone to keep me company. Occasionally I'll become a little sad over not having seen certain friends since I've been back on campus, but that sadness is only fleeting, because it is soon after replaced by an overflowing tidal wave of gratitude.

It's like I'm experiencing that same feeling of awe and wonderment that I did during freshman year, except it's not because everything is completely new, (I was practically living alone sophomore year) but because I'm fully aware of what I have and that it's very special. This past weekend I had friends come over for the first time; It was great to not only show them where I live, but to indulge in the wonderful time of the year known as football season, along with good food and extremely hilarious memories (to make a long story short, I was chased by what looked like a beaver and managed to trip up the stairs. None one really knows if it actually was a beaver; I freaked out and ran as fast as I could, while the other two collapsed into a laughing fit).

And that's what I want my apartment to be; a place where people can come to hang out and just be comfortable and happy. Sort of like southern hospitality, but  it's more of the college version. I'm really enjoying the process of learning how to cook different things and cooking for other people, so I'm more than happy to have anyone over for dinner! If nothing at all, I want to provide a place where everyone can feel welcome and safe. That doesn't seem hard at all. 

However, school work is definitely keeping me busy, which is why sometimes I'm only able to blog once a week. Since I am now into my junior year, my classes are more centered on my major; and as an English major, I usually have four novels to read (anywhere from forty to close to one hundred pages per day), plus a textbook. My classes are all inter-related somehow, so it helps me to better understand what's going on. On top of that, I'm also trying to accomplish a goal of writing at least one hour per day. It has its overwhelming and completely hectic moments, which I'm not always good at dealing with. 

Which is part of the reason why I'm OK with not having other people around all the time; I can decompress at my own pace and ultimately have time for myself. When I feel loneliness creeping up on me, I either go for a walk, write in my journal, pray, or do both. It gives me peace in what sometimes seems like craziness. 

I made an appointment for my first group counseling session, which I'm very much looking forward to. As the title indicated, while I am content with certain areas of my life, I'm currently feeling extremely restlessness. in regards to another. I know what it is, but I'm not at a point  where I want to discuss it at length, at least not on here. Right now, I'm grateful to be able to recognize what it is and that I can't deal with it on my own. 

I may not know where I am headed, but I'm confident that I am where I'm supposed to be. God is good!

Side note: I just recently created a Facebook Page, so feel free to "like" it in order to keep up!  You can also follow me on Twitter!

September 06, 2012

The Path Of Healing

I sat across from my therapist, rubbing my fingers against my palms and trying to figure out how to articulate the question that had been burning holes in my mind for the last week. "How long does it take for someone who's been through what I've been through to heal?"

What I meant was, is there some magic, light-bulb-going-off kind of moment where you can say that you're healed? How will I know that I'm not broken anymore?

In previous years, I thought that there was some magical or euphoric sensation indicating such. When I accepted God into my life, I assumed that all of my struggles, both inward and out, would disappear. There were years of running into brick walls because I thought that I had gotten myself together, only to fall back into my old patterns a short time after. I felt this unecessary need to prove that I was not only happy, but that I didn't need anybody to hold my hand; they had seen me go through enough.

On top of that, I carried a false notion that everyone has to deal with their own hell on earth, but they only go through one major crisis and that's it.But I've discovered that we're not limited or immune to any kind of heartbreak, regardless of what it is. For nearly a decade, I endured the hell of being told that everything was perfectly fine at home, yet seeing and hearing that it obviously wasn't. Hell was wondering if my  best friend was alive or dead in a ditch somewhere, and wondering why this person pulled away from me afterward. Hell was experiencing the consequences of choosing to live with someone was as equally, if not more broken than I at the time.

Yet, nothing compares to the hell of feeling like you're walking in complete darkness, without hope or guidance. You're alone, because you think no one understands or wants to try to understand. They just tell you to "suck it up and move on." That is a hell we have all been through, but do not have to go through.

Clearly I was not healing. I was only doing my best to survive.

And survival only works for so long.

About a year ago to last  weekend, I had a meltdown. It was not the only one, but it was the one where I knew that I couldn't do it anymore. The problems that I mentioned above were crushing my spirit and my soul. I hated the way I saw myself, along with how I was living my life.

Through counseling and a lot of emotional support, I began to dig deeper, and thus began to discover why I was constantly going in and out of these depressive funks. My biggest feat was learning how to actively surrender, mostly in terms of faith and spirituality; to give up the need to have control over what was really uncontrollable. To give up the want to know why everything happens the way it does, for the sake of being able to move forward. If everything made sense right away, there wouldn't be any need to have faith. 

The most important thing of all, as well as the hardest, is reminding myself that I can't do it alone.

Read that again: No one can move forward or do anything completely on their own.  Forget the individualistic crap and "needing people is a sign of weakness." There is so much strength in weakness,along with admitting and taking the steps to get help.

To answer my question above,  I've found getting past any pain or obstacle is  not just a sense of peace felt from within, or some destination that you reach and everything afterward is all sunshine and sparkles. It is a path that enables you to see your negative experiences as a way to grow, rather than a way to curl up in a ball and hide, as I sometimes feel like doing. You don't have to deny that it happened or that it's part of your history, but you don't have to let it become you.

A lot of my own healing, and transformation, has come from being authentic and upfront with my loved ones. I'm incredibly blessed by those that sat and talked with me, cried with me, prayed over me, and or listened to what was on my heart. Some of them might not have known that they were being any kind of help, but they were. Being vulnerable is not always easy for me; I used and still tend to put pressure to have myself all together. I'm very independent and stubborn, while I still like being cared for and knowing that I matter to someone.

The other part is a simple, down-to-the-mere-bones kind of Faith; not politics or various inputs about what someone shouldn't think. It's about me taking the time to connect with the One who knows me best. I do keep a journal, and that has comforted me when I otherwise might have turned to other means. More so, it's reminding myself that no matter what I go through, I'm going to be all right

I had a friend once say "look at all you've been through, and you're still standing." It has been a profound journey, one that is seven years in the making, and isn't over. It's not because I'm trying to attain perfection, but because I am always growing and gaining a deeper understanding myself. I'm willing to own who I am and more importantly, what I value.

I'm going to continue with counseling for another semester; I do not see myself as someone that is damaged, but a human being that is a work in progress. There are some unhealthy views and attitudes that I need to let go of, especially when it comes to men and relationships. I know that the majority of it is all in my mind, but its been really tough trying to just not think about it, as some have told me to do. Sometimes it's not just about single-handed events, but collective experiences that keep me from getting what I want or going where I'd like to go. It has created a barrier, and I'll be damned if I let it dictate my life. 

Over the years, my Mom would ask me about what had happened to the happy, bubbly little girl that I used to be. The truth is, I thought that little girl was gone and never coming back. But she was just hidden beneath all the garbage and baggage that I refused to clean up for a long time. And as I said before, regardless of what kind of person you become, your true self always remains part of you in one way or another. 

While I'm not a little girl anymore, I still have a very girly personality and have no shame in letting it show. I think that's how true healing takes place; that is, being able to find yourself again when you thought that you would always be lost. 

All you have to do is start walking. Take your time and don't worry about what anyone else says; it's your life and you need to go at your own pace. And above all else, do what's right for you.