Sunday, April 27, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Over the course of my 25 years, I have dabbled in a lot of stuff. Things that when I do tell, people are often shocked because, “I don’t look like that type of girl”.
Well, guess what? I am that girl and yes, we don’t all look like rebels from the dark side, we come in all shades and colors.
I remember in high school wearing that badge proudly the “Oh, I did this last night or, I don’t remember what I did but it was good and of course, the where am I?” I’ve said those lines one too many times and it's quite sad now that look back on it.
If it wasn’t stealing money from my mother’s money drawer to buy diet pills when I was 9, it was dealing with bulimia during high school or starting to smoke when I was in the 7th grade on the first day I played hooky. Yes, I remember all these things and the list still goes on.
The list I felt for sometime far outshined the good I used to do in my day to day life and in order to cope, the “bad things” that I used to do became my crutch. It was what I ran to when I was in conflict or crisis because I knew the outcome and I was controlling it.
I have lived my life like this for years. As soon as something was going great, I would “freak out” and rush back to something destructive or familiar because even if it caused me severe pain, at least I knew what the end result would be. There would be no hope, no longing just destructive pain.
No person could cause me the amount of damage that I have given myself, so why should I fear anything?
Truth be known, I was afraid of everything. I was scared of being the failure, the black daughter in a line of strong (sometimes, too strong); resilient women and I would never measure up. Or that I wouldn’t be as smart as my mother or as funny as my brother or, skinny or, or, or…
The thoughts ate out my insides day in and day out and the only thing would quiet them would be my vice for that time period. Whether it was abusing my body, being abused by someone, endangering my health by smoking, drugs or anything I could get my hands on. I was afraid to feel and I was afraid to think for myself and I wasted precious time that I will never get back doing it.
Some might find it strange and I am not trying to sound repetitive but part of me died when my mother passed away. The part that held onto a huge chunk of my self destructive ways, somehow it stopped wanting to tick, maybe because it was only then that I realized how life can quickly be so taken away. How precious life really is, how powerless we truly are in some aspects and how much MORE it harms us by not confronting the issue that is holding us back.
Losing my mother was painful but I’m thankful I didn’t fall so hard into my old ways. Sure, I stumbled but I remembered how proud my mother was of me and how she smiled down at me from her hospital bed and it felt like a part of me healed or at least, it didn't hurt nowhere near as bad as before.
So I did the unthinkable, I stopped letting self destruction rule my life. I began making conscious choices, and I owned them all, completely. Both the good and the bad, I was taking action with no type of vice and I was opening myself to all that entailed.
Whatever that was or whatever that may be. I'm living, breathing proof that it can be both scary and hard but worth it in the long run. That it won't happen overnight and you will stumble but you will be quick to brush yourself off and move on. It can and will be done, you just have to want to stop it. You just have to love your life more than your vice!
Lesson: Things may be hard and difficult and some days it’s quicker to hide from it all but if you can advance forward, even if it’s just a smidge. You would have done a heck of a lot more than that cigarette would do for you, or that feeling of binging or those new shoes. They may cure all momentarily but making conscious, proactive decisions not only protect your present but secure your future as well in this life!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Whether it was my parents, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, I was surrounded by people miserable in their marriage, their life and surroundings.
I decided that I would never be like that even if I have to end up alone or in strings of relationships that never went anywhere because I made sure that they wouldn’t.
During the course of my dating history, I have either ran from the idea of love or destroyed it enough so that it ended up running away from me. I tried to make myself unlovable because I wasn’t sure how to give or receive it. All I knew how to do was allow for people to break me down or become so cold and withdrawn that they ended up leaving me. I would shutdown and slowly self destruct because I didn’t know how to be happy and FUNCTION in a relationship. I wasn’t sure how to keep it stable or how to speak from my heart because I never had the opportunity to see it.
Love was an enigma and I was just coasting in it. I allowed others to dictate my wants and desires and allowed myself to get caught up in relationships that abused me in one way or another.
Losing my mother taught that me that I can’t go through life, alienating people because I was too scared to want them near. Meeting my boss and his wife proved to me that two people can form a loving, stable marriage that would stand the test of time.
All I had to do was believe that I was worth it. That I could have that and more if I put my past aside and opened myself up to life and all that it has to offer.
I’m still working on expressing love fully and having the actions match up with my words and sometimes the fear sneaks in and I want to push people far away because I hate showing pain.
So what do I do? I feel it, I allow myself to experience it all, the love, pain, sorrow, happiness; I open myself to it and become a better person because of it.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Yea, right. Excuses, excuses...I really should make that my middle name.
Which is when I entered my catch 22.
Yet, initially, I wanted to stuff all those feelings back down and go back to what was comfortable and familiar but I knew better. Hiding from it won't help matters any.
I have to handle this now or else I’ll keep drowning from the inside out. I have to learn to sit in my pain long enough to handle it and not be ashamed of my vulnerability. That being vulnerable isn't a sign of weakness but the opposite. That, just being is really okay, being present in this feeling and not feeling that I have to hide it anymore.
Lately, I have been struggling hard with this procrastination issue. But instead of making excuses, I’m handling it and doing my best to get to the bottom of the issue. The fact is, is that I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I stop procrastinating that the divide between me and supposed failure will be that much thinner and part of me wonders if I can handle it.
I’m afraid to fail, I’m worried that it might not be what I want and I’d have devoted all this time to something that didn’t get me anywhere. I don’t think I’m good enough to be what I really want, I’m even AFRAID to figure out what I really want to do.
So instead, I procrastinate…I push it away, out of my head for that hour, that day, month or year; but it always comes creeping on back in. I have tried out sleeping it, out drinking it, out – well, you get the idea; I have pretty much tried everything humanly possible to stop these thoughts that plague my brain.
I have even used my lesser procrastinations (i.e. washing my car, laundry, etc.) as tools to blow off the bigger things that I know I should handle. Which worked just fine for me, until this year, I can’t explain it really. Something went off inside me and I knew I couldn’t just coast on through my life having private trepidations hold me back repeatedly. Not when I have so much I want to do, not after losing my mother in a span of one month and being powerless about it. I can feel my potential but I was too scared shitless to utilize it.
I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. I wouldn’t allow myself to be a supporting character in my own life and if I wanted to accomplish anything, I couldn’t wait for it to happen. I had to get off my comfy arse and get too it!
I started reading self help books, travel books, writing books. I renewed my passport; started running took up dance again. I got out there, I got involved in my life and I’m still adding new things to do. It’s not about being great at everything now because I know that I can’t be but I’m never going to know where my strengths are until I get out there and try.
So what’s in store for me?
1. Writing, this blog and my book
2. Losing the last stubborn bit of this weight
3. Travel off the East coast by myself
4. Video blog
5. Apply to graduate programs both here and in London
What gets in your way? Have you been able to conquer it? If you are a former procrastinator, I would love to hear your insight!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
So Sunday, I was out early trying to get an oil change for my car because it’s way past due. I looked down at my gas gauge and I noticed that it said 25 miles before my tank is empty. I thought to myself, “I don’t need to stop, I have enough gas to get to Wal-Mart”, granted I didn’t even know where this Wal-Mart was exactly but I had a good feeling I’d make it there in time. A gas station came up to a gas station on my left, I kept going. Came to a light there sat a gas station on my right and I still kept going.
So, I guess you can figure out what happened. My car gave a little shudder, so I swerved all the way over to the turning lane. I stopped at the red light and waited for my turn to go, I could even see the station bright as day right across the street, and then I felt it. Another sputter followed by a shake, instinctively I pushed on the gas to move forward. I moved forward a smidge than stillness, no sound, no nothing but stillness. My car decided to putter right out of gas, in the left hand turning lane of one of the busiest intersections on Cobb Parkway. Cars were lining up behind me; I could hear the honking echo behind as I sat looking forward at the light changing from green blending into yellow sliding right into red.
Well, since my car wasn’t going anywhere and the lights were going to keep changing, I did what every sensible, urban chick would do, I turned on my hazard lights opened up my car door and prepared to run to the gas station. Well, that all changed as soon as I opened up the door and a strong gust of wind came blowing in causing my dress to fly up. Sexy, yes I know but thankfully someone stopped to help after seeing my plight of trying to run while holding my dress in place. I would like to think that they stopped because I was a young woman walking alone not due to the unintentional flashing of my pink trousers.
Suffice it to say, I got my gas and a kind, older gentlemen made sure I got my car back up and running and to the nearest gas station.
And you know what; I owned my accountability for what happened. I couldn’t be angry, I couldn’t play the victim this was my fault. I knew how much gas I had in my car but I took the risk anyway. I passed two other gas stations that were within easy access and I passed them because I swore I could make it to Wal-Mart. I wanted to wait until the last possible second to fill up because (like grocery shopping), I hate stopping for gas. So, I waited because I knew I had this beat so when my car stopped at a busy intersection on Sunday, I didn’t even bother swearing or trying to rationalize it in my head. I messed up; I knew it all the people behind me knew it and I had to deal with the consequences. I wanted to do things when I wanted too, of course my car had different plans but now I realize that when opportunity presents itself on MULTIPLE occasions, maybe I should get outside of my pride/ego and think with some common sense. Why put off tomorrow what you can do today? (I think I’m taking this cliché thing too far but its true). I had ample opportunity to put gas in my car but I chose to ignore because I felt I needed to get somewhere.
If you think about it, that’s how some people coast through life only stopping when they are forced too not by making the conscious choice to do it themselves. There are plenty of things that you can be doing today that you might not be thrilled about possibly but it shouldn’t deter you, if anything It’ll make your arrival your destination that much smoother in the end.
Granted, I could always fall back on CPT and say it’s in my blood to wait until the last minute. CPT stands for Colored People Time by the way. I realize I can’t stand and hold true to that claim, though. It would be considered generalizing and I’m trying my best not to do that.
Are there things that you are delaying in your own life because you feel like you’ll get to them when you want too? Just remember, when opportunity presents itself don’t always let it pass you by or else you may end up like me, stranded in the middle of the interstate trying to figure out how to quickly fix a situation that could have been avoided, if procrastination wasn’t an issue.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I realize this way of thinking is severely flawed, however.
Now, I sit and think. If my being involved in someone’s life is based on what I can do for them and nothing else, I’m really better off alone. I’m not your maid, servant, chauffeur, personal shrink so why do I feel beholding to the people close in my life. Why are my boundaries so skewed? That’s actually a whole other topic, which I’m sure I’ll cover later.
I wouldn’t consider myself “new age” at all, I don’t see anything wrong with it but until recently, I never really bought into the idea of it. Call it the ‘Christian conservative’ side of me but until college, I was around people who identified mostly as Christian and I didn't expand my horizons until then.
So a good friend of mine introduced me to mantras. Words or sentences that apply to you or the situation that brings you a sense of calmness and peace that aids in bringing you back to center. I was hesitant about posting mine but after reading I was hesitant about posting mine at first but I decided to take the plunge and after reading Semi-Charmed Wife's posting about transforming negative feelings, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just put it all out there.
Since I’m on this journey of finding myself and finding my true center, I came up with a few of them to help me through out some of my more anxious (read, CONTROLLING)times.
1. I am only in control of me and my actions; I can’t handle anyone else’s. Those are their issues. I am not here to save anyone from things that life brings to them. I can't get people to do what I want them to do, just because I think a certain way may be better doesn't mean it's what they want to do. I can't force a change in anyone's life but my own. I need to be strong and secure in who I am before I even try to assist someone else along those lines.
2. I will say no assertively and won’t feel bad about taking time for myself. Growing up around aggressive, opinionated and very narrow minded women, I often felt out casted and never accepted. The only way it seemed that my family actually liked and wanted me around was when I was doing something for them. I easily became the ‘yes girl’ that everyone ran too and I would drop whatever I was doing to help. My sense of self became wrapped up in other people and their satisfaction and when I wasn’t getting it from them; I often became lost and self-destructive.
3. If it feels wrong to me, I won’t do it. This one goes hand in hand with my fear of saying no. I often would involve myself in situations where intuitively I knew the outcome wasn’t good but I didn’t want to rock the boat so I entered into an unhealthy situation to appease the other person.
4. Treat myself the way I expect others to treat me. I recently realized that because I received all my good feelings off of how I made others feel, I never noticed how bad I treated myself in comparision to the other person. The love I bestowed upon another person (who more often than not, didn’t return my feelings), was the exact same thing I should have been giving myself all along. Knowing your boundaries and what you will and will not allow is one of the healthiest things that you can do for yourself. No one has the right to mistake your kindness for weakness. Your feelings are a gift that someone should cherish – family or otherwise – and you should feel that they realize that.
5. Live in the Now & Enjoy it. Self Explanatory, I hope! You can’t change the past, you can’t dictate the future exactly, enjoy the present moment for what it is! This is the simplest to understand but the hardest to do, even for yours truly.
I took to reciting mantra’s rather easily often times I do it aloud (I’m by myself, usually). My next step is to carve out some morning time where I can start a practice of meditation on a particular mantra for that day.
Does anyone else out there in this blog bubble participate in the use of mantras? If so, what is it? Why do you do it and have you noticed a difference? Also, if you don't buy into the mantra hype, please let me know your thoughts as well!