All original work by Torri “Belle” Patel, nom de plume “Belle”, and photos curated from Unsplash. Catch up at the Table of Contents tab and check @theredtypewriterdiaries & @torri_belle on Instagram for more! 🖤 and @torri_belle on IG for more work 🖤
We looked inside some of the posts by travelwritelove and here's what we found interesting.
I’ve been going back and forth about writing this update for a long time now, because it feels like it’s counterintuitive given my current attitude toward my personal energy expenditure. Ever since January, I’d had this vision of a tidal wave before it comes crashing down. The way the ocean recedes, draws every molecule of moisture back into itself, so that it can build up to its greatest potential before raining down in all its might. Given how terrifying and devastating tsunamis actually are, I know this analogy might come across as sinister or, at the very least, insensitive. But I don’t mean for it to be either. I’m not trying to trivialize such a destructive force of nature, nor am I intending to rain down any sort of devastating force on anyone in particular. I have just felt for a while now that I’ve spent so much time giving and giving of my energy, whether it was to relationships, friendships, family, or even just by putting myself and my writing out there for everyone’s consumption, judgment, and entertainment. I was starting to feel like I was constantly filling up everyone else’s cup and leaving very little left for my own. And that’s no way to exist.
I get described often as intimidating, mysterious, and aloof but I also am labeled as an open book, too honest, and wearing my heart on my sleeve, so I really have no idea how anyone views me anymore. But for anyone who has felt like I’ve been steadily withdrawing my time and attention either in a personal manner or from an online or social media presence the last several months, well, you’d be entirely right.
Which is why I’ve been remiss and reluctant to update the blog. Isn’t the point of this period of my life to give my energy back to myself as opposed to dissipating it out into the ether?
It is, and yet, I feel compelled to give at least a little bit of a head’s up as to what exactly is going on. People seem to think that if I’m not talking then I must be concealing secrets when the truth is, more often than not, I just like to keep my cards close to the vest. Maybe it’s paranoia, but I’ve had too many people, sometimes inner circle people, make moves against me and I’ve realized by this point in my life that the less people who know what I’m working on or where my head and heart are at, exactly, the better. Sometimes people think their machinations are for the best, but even well-intentioned attempts to control my behavior are still manipulative and more often than not, do more harm than good.
Anyway, enough of that subject. Point is, yes, I am withdrawing my energy right now and refocusing it on myself and I will probably only continue to do this further for the rest of summer.
What am I focusing on, exactly? I’m so glad you asked.
We’ll start with the obvious, BELLE + DAY, which is growing each and every month. May saw us hit a huge milestone I had set for the year, and if I can replicate the success from last month every month for the rest of the year, suffice to say, that will be a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. Right now I’m filling special orders we received from our last pop-up, planning a new collection release with my wonderful intern, Kelly, and preparing for our next pop-up which should be happening the last weekend of June. It’s funny, the same people keep asking me the same question about BELLE + DAY… basically revolving around do I like it and does it sustain me full-time? The answers to both questions continue to be yes. Thankfully, I have the fallback of law, but hopefully I will never need it and I’ve been working my butt off to ensure that I won’t.
I’m sure by this point, most people doubt that I’ll ever publish Prey. And that’s fine. I’m beyond used to people doubting me by this point. They doubted I’d get in to an Ivy League, they doubted my ability to play volleyball at a D1 school due to my height, they doubted I’d ever pass the bar exam after graduating law school, they doubted I’d get BELLE + DAY off the ground, etc etc. I’d be mad about it if it wasn’t so fun constantly proving people wrong all the time. I used to feel this way back in high school when I’d say I wanted to go a Holy Trinity school (Princeton, Harvard, Yale) and I’d get lip from certain “friends” or teachers. “It’s so competitive, what makes you think you’ll be the one who gets in?” And I wanted so badly to say, “If not me, then who? I’m one of our valedictorians and I either have the first or second highest GPA in school, I’m captain of the volleyball team, I go to junior olympics ever year, I was the Gatorade defensive player of the year, I’m a lead in the drama department, I’m in multiple academic societies, multiple charity organizations, I won the Harvard Book Award, an NCTE achievement in writing award, the DAR essay contest, and numerous other academic and athletic awards in high school and middle school. I get 5’s on every AP test and I had the highest PSAT grade in our high school (I never told my friends this at the time, but I got called in to the office one day and was informed of this achievement and got immediate college counseling on the spot because at least the administrators believed in my potential). Oh, and I’m also a published poet. Who exactly do you think these schools are looking for if not someone like me?” But I never said that. Instead, I’d look away with tears in my eyes while one of my other (better) friends stood up for me and insisted I had a great chance of getting in.
I’m not saying all of this to make the point of look how great I am. I’m just saying this because I learned such an important lesson from this. I had so many people doubt me as a teenager even though I did everything in my power to be exceptional. I thought when I snagged admittance to the most prestigious and highest ranked school in the country that people would stop second-guessing my potential. But you know what? It only got worse after that. The higher you fly, the more people want you to fall. So now when people doubt me, honestly, I just expect it. For some reason, when people look at me, they don’t see the girl who got into Princeton, or the attorney, or the girl who lived in the bush in Africa to do medical work. They see someone they can undermine, and someone they can enjoy hating from the shadows and hope to watch fail eventually.
Well… sorry to disappoint. Even when I do fail, I always get up again. I do my phoenix thing and I rise even higher than before. If it’s not BELLE + DAY or Prey, you can bet it’s going to be something. I won’t rest until it is so. I’m 99% sure I was a warrior in a past life and I have that “or die trying” spirit.
So… sorry for the rant. That frustration has been building up for quite some time if you couldn’t tell. And, also, I’d like to pause right here and say to all of my family, friends, and anonymous supporters, I appreciate you more than I could ever say. It’s only through your love and support that I remain relatively unscathed by the evil eye of so many.
So anyway, back to Prey. Suffice to say given how hard I’m working on BELLE + DAY, it can be difficult to find the hours to write. And, as I’ve mentioned before, this draft is more of an overhaul and rewrite than just an edited draft. I was struggling for a while figuring out a way to make all of the new layers of the story fit together in a plausible and sensical way. Then, once I figured out how exactly to do that, I was introduced to Story Genius, which is a phenomenal book I highly recommend to anyone working on any sort of narrative, but especially a narrative fiction piece.
What I’m doing right now is reading Story Genius, and using it to plan out the execution of this draft accordingly. I’m finishing up working on my protagonists’ misbeliefs, related background and perpetuating scenes, the plot problem(s), and formulating the perfect opening. After I finish this step, I will storyboard in Milanote and on my huge cork board I just erected in my living room, and I will storyboard according to the guide in Story Genius. After that, I have to do mini character bios on the other major players, and then I think I can finally get back to rewriting. I know it sounds like a lot, but I really believe in the story being told in Prey, and I want it to be a four book series. Most authors barely churn out a passable first book, and instead of speed writing a mediocre book that will never have a chance of turning into a successful series, I’d rather take my time and do my due diligence to ensure Prey and the following books in the series have the best possible chance at success. I have about 12 books planned out at the moment including the four in the Prey series and then multiple other series I want to create. Thus, I feel crunched for time and believe me when I say, no one wants me to finish Prey more than I do. But anything worth doing is worth doing right. So that’s where Prey is at right now.
Also, one last note on Prey. I have a few friends I used to model characters off of for Prey. One of these friends in particular, I told him about a year ago that I wouldn’t be going too deep on him for Prey, but now I fear I may have spoken out of turn. Doing Story Genius has made me realize just how deep I have to go for my main two protagonists. I will do everything in my power to mask this connection to him when the book comes out, and I don’t personally think it crosses a line, but it will get very personal. So… If you think I’m talking about you right now and you have any questions about that, feel free to ask. I haven’t reached out to chat about this yet because I figured I’d finish the whole thing first so I could see how bad the damage really was before addressing the issue, but… yeah, just wanted to throw that out here and now because it has been weighing on my mind.
Ok, moving on…
On a more esoteric level, I feel that I’ve spent a large part of the last several years working on myself in a more mind and spirit based way. If you’re at all into spirituality, I’d classify this as spending a large chunk of time trying to tap into my 5D self, and centering most of my growth from that level and downward. But, umm… I think I’ve done enough of that for the time being. I think it’s time to stop doing that kind of work and start waiting for some other people to catch up.
In the meantime, I’ve been getting grounded again and back in touch with my 3D self. Normally, when people are super focused around 3D pursuits, it means that they’re giving in to their ego too much. It usually means that they are focusing on escapist pursuits (drinking, drugs, the flesh, etc) or it means that they’re too caught up in superficial traps like social media or clout or what people are saying about them or surrounding themselves with the richest or best looking or best connected people to feed their own egos re: their own self worth.
Again, not to toot my own horn, but I feel that because of all the work I’ve been doing up in that 5D plane, right now when I’m getting grounded again and back in touch with the 3D, my goal is to do the opposite of those things. I’ve decided to incorporate in my life all of the things that keep me centered in the moment (i.e., not anxiously wondering about shit all of the time, or checking my phone, or on social media). It’s been my goal for awhile to be more present, and I feel like I’ve hit upon a pretty good formula of doing just that (at least one that works for me).
So here it is:
I hurt my ankle around August of 2018 and it kept getting steadily worse until the pandemic hit and gyms shut down. Prior to then, I’d always been a big runner, but it seemed like the world and my own body was telling me to stop for awhile. I tried to switch to yoga and then martial arts, but wouldn’t ya know it, I hurt my ankle even worse doing the latter. Last summer, I took up swimming and that was a huge improvement and finally got me burning the way I like to burn again until October hit and even with a half wetsuit on, the water was just too damn cold for me to get the workout in I needed. I floundered and put on weight for a few months, until mid to late November when I started to realize that my ankle was hurting less and less. I noticed from how it felt when I took Sherman on walks. Tentatively, I’d start to job a block with him during said walks. When that felt alright, I’d jog two blocks. Finally, it got to the point where we were running the majority of our walk and I thought I’d be good to start running again (finally, because if you’re tracking the timeline, my ankle had been out of commission in a major, painful way from August of 2018 to November of 2020, and it was getting to the point that I wondered if it was ever going to heal properly). I can now happily say that I’ve gone back to my regular running routine (with a few adjustments to ensure I don’t injure myself again) from late November to now. I’ve also reincorporated ballet and ballet conditioning into my workouts, which is something I used to do for years and loved but, you guessed it, I hyperextended my knee and had to switch to something else. I didn’t realize how much I missed the ballet and barre work until I starting doing it again, but I can say now that I think I’m going to keep it as a regular part of my workout schedule. I feel like it’s reconnecting me to my body in a way I had lost for a long time and sorely missed. So I’m thrilled to have it back. I also lift weights twice a week, but who doesn’t? Lol
Now that summer is approaching, I’d love to expand my routine to include swimming again as well as volleyball. This is the first summer in years that my ankle has felt well enough to play, so I definitely hope to get at least a few vb days in. I would also love to reincorporate martial arts at some point, but I’m a little worried about reinjuring my ankle. I’m sure I’ll do it at some point in the next year or two. But for now, I’m really happy with the way my body looks and feels as a result of my current regime.
I’ve also switched up my diet and nutrition in a major way. I now eat primarily vegan and vegetarian fare, although, I have fish maybe once a week or once every other week and I do have the odd bit of cheese here and there. I switched due to environmental, moral, and health concerns, and I gotta say, I wish I had done it sooner. I’m using Purple Carrot so I still get the satisfaction of cooking delicious meals, and I can’t tell you how much I love it. I started seeing changes in my body within just a week of switching. I’m eating more than I’ve been able to eat in years, but I feel and look amazing. I’ve spoken about my struggles with eating disorders and body dysmorphia before, so I’m to going to go into that. I’ll just say that this has been the least I’ve ever had to worry about what I’m eating and how I look since I hit puberty, and I’m beyond grateful for that. All of the areas of my body I used to agonize over are just shrinking in front of my eyes. It’s kind of amazing. So, anyway, I know nutrition and diet is super personal and different things work for different people. But dang, if I had switched to Purple Carrot years ago, I probably could have saved myself a lot of agony (and pounds) over the years.
What else is new? Well… a few more things.
So, years ago, my friends and I used to sing in our school’s chorus. It was a competitive chorus—kind of like in the show Glee except we never go to sing that current of music. We won gold at all of our performances and we had to audition to get into any tier, but by the time we graduated we were all in the showcase tier. However, when we went to high school, the music department wasn’t quite what it was in middle school. Instead, theatre was the more prestigious performing art, so we all switched over. I didn’t think too much of it at the time. I love singing, but I had wicked stage fright when it came to doing any sort of solo work. So I kind of already figured that I didn’t have much of a future in it, and just rolled with the punches and straight into theatre.
My fellow ex-chorus friends and myself kept up with singing on the side for a long time. We were all kind of competitive with each other, so even though we weren’t in chorus anymore, most weekends we were watching our favorite musicals and singing together. But then college came and we all went to different schools, and I don’t remember exercising my vocal cords in that way at all in those four years. However, in law school, one of my roommates and best friends was a pretty talented singer, and that started me up again. But, once again, those years came and went. And I noticed to my dismay throughout my later twenties and early thirties my voice getting worse and worse as it went unpracticed.
Again, I didn’t see this as a huge deal. I didn’t have a career in singing or in music. It sucked and was mildly embarrassing to hear it decline over time, but there didn’t seem to be much to do about it or much reason to try.
Until a few months ago, I started to rewatch the show Glee. And it just hit a nerve with me. I still really like to sing, it just makes me happy. But I do it less and less now that my voice is out of practice. But… it doesn’t have to be out of practice. I could actually work on it in my free time. So… I started taking free online voice lessons. I’d put them on in the background while I worked in the studio, and I’d just follow along as I painted or sewed. It was frustrating at first when I realized that I was trained in a classical chorus, which was why my soprano never seemed to crossover properly to my favorite genres of music. I kind of guessed this over the years, especially in law school when I started to discover a different, fuller sound in my voice I had yet to uncover back in my chorus days. But back then, I was at a loss to figure out what I was doing different, and how to strengthen and replicate it. It just seemed to happen sometimes, especially with certain genres of music, and other times it was gone.
Anyway, point of this whole thing is, I’ve been able to figure out where exactly that voice is coming from and how to mix it with my training from back in the day to get the best of both worlds. Again, I’m not going to do anything with it. I just have always loved music and I loved when I used to be able to part of the music. I missed it. And, I missed being able to sing well. I missed hearing those high notes come out and sound like a bell tinkling (for a lack of a better simile). It’s an extraordinary feeling, and one I imagine I might have otherwise become addicted to if it wasn’t for my aforementioned singing-related stage fright.
So, anyway, I’ve started to take lessons again, and it feels kind of awesome and empowering to get my voice back, and also finally now discover what more it can do. I’ll never be a professional singer, but it’s nice to feel like I’m getting this particular aptitude back again. Because, like I said, singing actually makes me really happy. It definitely releases endorphins. Both working on it, feeling like I’m getting better, and then successfully doing it. It just feels good.
One of my online singing tutors mentioned that the best way to get back into singing (or learn it for the first time) was to also pick up an instrument at the same time. And… this got me to thinking. As I said, I really love music. Like really. To the point that after I stopped singing, it always felt so silly to me that I had zero tie to music other than how strongly I felt about it. I almost started to feel like a poser. How could I love music so much, but in no way be creating it? Something started to feel super inauthentic there.
Back in elementary school, I wanted to learn how to play piano or guitar. But we were only given two choices, violin or cello. I opted for the violin, and it was alright. I learned how to read music which came in handy when I did chorus years later, but other than that, it was just ok. I don’t think I stuck with it for more than a year or two. It just wasn’t for me.
Fast forward through the years, and I’ve always been incredibly jealous (in a supportive way though) of my friends who played the piano or guitar. Really, any kind of musical aptitude was cool in my book, but those were the instruments that little kid Torri always wanted to learn. I never did, because my schedule was chock-full of other things. But that yearning over the years got adult Torri to thinkin’…
Why on earth have I never tried to learn another instrument since the violin? Why have I just watched others for years lamenting that it was a skillset I never acquired for myself?
Ya know, social media sucks in so many ways, especially the comparison/insecurity machine it foments, but sometimes, it can be helpful. Because I think through watching others on social media do what I always wanted to do, it finally hit me—why don’t I just give it a try? There are very few areas in my life where I have contented myself before to just watching from the sidelines. That doesn’t mean I do everything professionally or perfectly, but I like considering myself to be a jack of all trades. I brand myself as having an aptitude for almost everything. There was zero reason why music should be any different.
Especially because, I’m not at all looking to do it professionally. I’m not looking to gain a following, hell, more likely than not, the only people who will see my efforts in this sphere will be the closest of family and friends. Unless I discover some latent prodigal talent (highly highly unlikely) there is little chance of me ever documenting this area of my life and putting it out there. But just because I’m not going to do something professionally and just because I’m not gonna “do it for the gram” doesn’t mean I don’t have a reason to pursue something I’ve always had an interest in.
Actually, I’d like to take a moment to shout out one of my friends. Not by name, but he’s my only musically inclined friend at the moment so I’m sure he’ll know I’m talking about him. He actually does do this professionally but he started on his journey a little later than most, and I’m constantly blown away by his talent, ability, and confidence. I find it super inspiring. I think watching him and being constantly mesmerized and amazed also prompted me to want to learn for myself. I will never in a million years hold a candle to him, but that’s not the point. The point is to learn new things. Try things that might make you happy. Try things that ground you in the physical world and in your physical body. Music has always been a grounding influence for me. Whether I was plugged into my cd player to get pumped up for a game as a teenager or driving around my hometown late night in high school listening to 90’s rock and dreaming of the world that was to come after high school or running away my stress on the treadmill with a particular playlist on to get me through both the workout and the feelings or just creating in my studio and singing out of sheer joy. Like, writing, playing volleyball, running, swimming, designing, etc., music has always been an anti-anxiety for me.
So, I decided this spring/summer to embrace it more fully. Am I starting super late? Yep. Is it too late? Nope. Do I have any expectations other than to learn some cool new skills that will make me feel happy and good about myself? Nope. Just doing it for the freaking sake of doing it. Not for anyone’s eyes (or ears) but my own. I think there’s something incredibly liberating and awesome about that, if I do say so myself.
So… I guess it goes without saying by this point that I’ve also started to take guitar lessons. The first week was all acoustic but I was enjoying myself so much, I went ahead and bought an electric. I fit it in before I leave the studio every night and I gotta say….
I AM HAVING SO MUCH FREAKING FUN!!!
Oh my god. What started as singing lessons with learning guitar on the side has decidedly been flipped on its head. I’m still keeping up with the singing lessons but now it’s more like I get through the singing lesson SO I CAN GET MY HANDS ON THAT GUITAR AGAIN.
Dang, I am having fun.
I’m a super beginner. I’m learning chords and strumming patterns and I barely learned the intro to a famous song the other day, and I’m no where near even grabbing my fam and being like, hey, listen to this guys! But that doesn’t matter. A) I literally just started less than two weeks ago and B) I’m just doing it for myself. And it’s really fucking cool and awesome and ok, I’ll shut up about it now but suffice to say, I’m very pleased and getting a little obsessed (in a good way). I’ve always loved making/creating things with my hands, so I don’t know why this is coming as such a surprise. But it’s a surprise in the best way possible.
One quick story before I move on. I learned the first few chords of TNT the other day (barely), and I was excited afterward so I told my dad. My dad said, “Huh. That’s cool. But why don’t you learn something actually impressive, like Zeppelin or Santana or—“
And I was like, “Dad, I literally just had my first electric lesson today, give me a sec! I barely learned this.”
Aw man, that’s very typical of the expectations in my family. If you’re not amazing at something yet, then it’s just not worth talking about. I know that seems harsh, but it’s all in good fun. And the thing is, when someone has high expectations from you, well the cool thing is they obviously believe you’re capable of doing that thing and doing it well. So it’s kind of a compliment in a weird way.
Alright, next up… I’ve always been a big reader. But for awhile, I just got too busy for it. Then I discovered audiobooks, which were super helpful because I put them on in the background while I did other things. None of this is groundbreaking. We all know what a freaking audiobook is and have an Audible subscription by now. This is not my point.
Umm… I don’t know how to say this exactly… there’s a new series I recently discovered. I want to preface this by saying I did not go looking for this series. I was watching a book critic YouTuber recommend a bunch of books in a particular genre, and I wasn’t actually even looking to read books in that genre. Moreover, I was looking to see if she mentioned any of the books that happen to be my favorite in that genre.
What genre is that? Well, I guess it’s more of a trope than a genre. She was talking about the hate to love trope and which books she thought did it the best. Listen… I’m a big fan of this trope. It’s not the romance trope I went with for Prey buuutttt sometimes I wish I could switch over to it because, I don’t know, there’s just something about it that gets your blood pumping. I’m not going to go so far as to say that I’m currently experiencing anything like that in my personal life buuttt… I guess there are certain elements of it that have been ringing true for a while with me and a particular person who shall go unnamed. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. Point is, I’m a sucker for that trope when executed well.
So, even though I didn’t start watching this particular video looking for recommendations, I ended up adding almost every book she mentioned to my Audible wishlist. And, I don’t know, the more she talked, the more I realized that maybe I should take one or two of these recommendations to heart. I’m at the point in my love life where I need a fucking distraction like so bad, right the eff now. Since I don’t do dating apps and we’re not exactly at a point where I’m going out and meeting the kind of guy that would take my mind off my current situation, it just seemed like a good idea to get that kind of distraction through a good book. Because, hopefully you guys have also had that experience by now, but if a book is done well enough, you low key feel like you’re cheating on your boyfriend every time you pick it up because you’re basically in a relationship with the main guy of the book vis a vis the female protagonist.
HANYWAY… I ended up buying one of the books she recommended because she kept emphasizing how well the hate to love thing was done and also because the way she described the action in the book, it seemed like it was kind of a horror/thriller romance. Which, Prey is also horror/thriller romance so I thought maybe it would give me a good idea as to how to pace the love story in my book.
But umm… it wasn’t that long into this book that I realized that it’s not a horror/thriller romance. It’s a thriller… umm it’s also erotica.
Listen, nothing is wrong with erotica. I’ve been known to indulge in a good piece of erotic fiction from time to time. But when you’re starting a book thinking it’s a run of the mill YA romance with some horror elements thrown in only to be (figuratively) slapped in the face with something else, well, let’s just say it was a bit of a shock.
Now, why am I talking about this? Ok, Torri, we get it, the book was a different genre than you thought. Big fucking whoop.
Give me a sec, okay? I’m getting there.
So, I’m mentioning this particular book series because… I kind of don’t know how I feel about it. First of all, I’ve never been so enraged by characters before but also completely unable to put the book down. However, I learned after the first day of trying to listen to this book at work that it’s probably best saved for quiet time alone at home for many reasons. Make of that what you will. Anyway, I’m mostly mentioning this because I really needed a distraction. I really needed something so freaking out there that it wasn’t going to remind me of my love life or current situation in any way shape or form. And I can confidently say that this book does that. Because, there’s really only one similarity between the main male protagonist and my main male protagonist IRL, but other than that they are so freaking dissimilar that I’m not reminded of my dude, I’m not triggered, I’m not shot back to the present at all when I’m listening. So, really, thus far, it has served as the perfect distraction.
Anyway, the book is called Corrupt and the author is Penelope Douglas. And if you too are in the mood for a distraction, then I’d check it out. Again, I’d like to underscore the fact that the characters are honestly terrible, terrible people. You will probably hate them all and find them detestable not even halfway through the book. But that’s kind of the nice thing about it, all the bad things that happen, all the gray area moral decisions that they make… I find that because I truly dislike these characters, I can just listen to all the fucked up shit that’s happening in this book and not really care too much. It’s like conscience-free listening. That being said, this book is not for the faint of heart. It is not only highly sexually explicit but it also deals with a million and one taboos and crimes and manipulations and in some cases, outright evil. If you are the kind of person that can disagree with what happening in what you’re reading but also remember that it’s just a work of fiction at the end of the day and not take it too seriously, then you’ll be fine. But if you’re too easily triggered by morally gray situations, then… maybe skip this one.
Oh… I do kind of like Kai once we hit the 2/3 of the way through the book mark. Why do I always fall for the broken ones? Kai’s story is explored further in book 2 of the 6 book series, just FYI.
Last but not least, I’ll get to the less pleasant bits.
Erm… I think for me, the last year or so, has taught me a lot of lessons about the relationships I have with the people I consider “my people”. Like family, friends, relationships, a lot has happened in the last year that has really made reconsider who I value and hold close and who I decide it’s time to let go of.
I’m not going to go all woe is me right now because I know I live a very blessed life and for the most part, I’m really lucky to be surrounded by the people I have around me. That being said, I’ve come to realize that there were/are many relationships in my life where I sustain abuse that I just do not deserve. I spent a lot time rationalizing this behavior, thinking it would change, thinking that if I just proved myself good enough, I would get treated better. And no, I don’t mean physical or verbal abuse. I just mean that I haven’t been treated fairly by a lot of people. I try to have a stiff upper lip. And when that doesn’t work, I distance myself. People like to say I’m too independent or aloof even, but I’m that way because that’s how I protect myself.
I really love so many people in my life, but I’ve also come to learn that in many situations or with so many various groups of people I hold dear, when push comes to shove, I am the first to get pushed and/or shoved under the bus. I don’t know if there is an underlying resentment that people just don’t verbalize to my face or if people think I can handle it or if people just really view me in such a negative light that the fault always just gets shoved in my direction.
For too long, I allowed this to color my view of myself. But, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve spent years doing the work. I’ve grown a lot, and even if there were times in the past where I felt like I deserved the harsh judgment, I a) never deserved it to the degree I received it and b) definitely don’t deserve it now.
So… I’ve found myself drawing a line with many people in my life. For some, I just know in the back of my head, no matter how much I love them and want to trust them, I will always have to keep my guard up. Because, again, when that bus comes barreling down the street, even if I’ve done nothing to merit it, so long as I’m standing anywhere near the street, guess who’s gonna be the one finding herself underneath those wheels?
If anything, it’s just confirmed my resolve to keep everyone at arm’s length, and to always have an escape route or a backup plan. I long for the day when I have one person that I can truly and honestly trust not to do this. Someone I can rely on to have my back before anyone and everyone else. I’m sure that person is out there…somewhere. But they’re not around yet.
In addition to this, there’s also been some other really uncool behavior coming from people that I really care about, ranging from harassment to gaslighting to undermining to cutting down to ghosting. It’s been so much and so overwhelming, I just hit a point a few months ago where I had to go numb to it all. It was too much to manage otherwise. Too painful. Especially when compounded with the loss of my grandma, Ba.
A few people, I have had some unpleasant but necessary discussions with, and I’m hopeful that behavior will change in my future. But there are also a handful of people, a combination of friends, more than friends, and family where it just seems like there is nothing more to say. Anything I would say, I have said too many times before.
If you’re someone who has noticed me distancing myself from you, whether that’s on social media or in real life, well… yeah. I have been. The thing is, you know what the problem is. We’ve had this talk before. And, it’s just clear to me now that no matter how much I tell you how much it hurts when you act this way, you’re still going to do it. And, this might seem like mixed messages given something I said earlier in this post, but ya know what? I’ve been a victim of mixed messages for a few years now, so… I guess it’s your turn to deal with it.
And the thing is, I’m not like irreparably mad at these people. I just have decided to focus on my 3D—to focus on my here and now world. So, I’m not chasing down the people who aren’t interested in being part of my tangible world. It sucks and I miss these people, and I’m really hurt by their actions or inaction but… I don’t know. It’s just not worth it for me to keep trying with them. And the thing is, if you can’t tell if you’re one of these people or not, then… either a) you probably are or b) we need to talk because clearly we’re having some sort of disconnect where you think you could be in one of these categories.
So… this is all I’ll say to all four of you: I’m not mad at you. I’m hurt. I feel like I don’t matter worth a damn to you, but I’m tired of trying to prove my worth. The thing is, I’ve realized that I don’t need to prove my worth. I know who I am, and you can tell yourself what you want about me, but deep down you know the truth. But you’ll never admit it to yourself, so I’ve just given up.
The universe has been urging me for a while to let go, and let things be. So… that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to focus on all of the things making me immediately happy and gratified and I’m chucking the rest.
“Stop watering dead relationships and expecting them to grow.”
Yeah, this is just not something I’m willing to do anymore.
I hate to leave on such a downer, because I’m really not mad at these people. I’m hurt. I’m so beyond hurt. But the kind of people I want in my life are not the kind that need convincing to stay.
I think back to all the times before that I had to say goodbye to people I really cared about. The process of letting go was brutal, almost impossible. But for each of them, it was like the second I made peace with the decision to let go and walk into the unknown—just surrender to whatever the fuck the future had in store—well, it was scary and disconcerting at first but pretty soon, the next cards I got dealt were so much better. And every time, I remember thinking, dang, why didn’t I let go sooner? Why did I fight for this for so long?
And I feel like that’s what’s happening right now. I feel like the universe is urging me to let go and walk forward unencumbered. Like I'm not supposed to know what’s coming or what’s going to happen next because it’s going to be a huge and pleasant surprise gift bestowed upon me from the divine. For being brave and trusting and letting go. I’m not the best at doing that, but I’m trying to change that now.
Anyway, I’m excited to see what this new phase has in store.
That’s it for now.
Oh, btw, I might also be moving in the next several months! We’ll all just have to wait and see ;)
P.S…. Re: Letting Go
My boyfriend broke my heart for the second time. We had been together for two and a half years, and for the bulk of that time, I was so head over heels in love with him, I never even noticed another guy existed. That is, until he totally disappeared on me and took up with someone else. Somehow, we ended up making up and getting back together, but even though I took him back, I never forgot the slight or how easily replaceable I seemingly was to him. That was Crack 1. He didn’t know it at the time, but that was the first major crack my love for him. Crack 2 came when I met someone who did actually treat me so much better, and who, even though I tried to deny it, I was insanely attracted to. Crack 3 came at this second heartbreak, where for the second time he was breaking up with me citing wanting to date someone else. Crack 3 was bit of a breaking point for me. Even though my heart felt completely destroyed, I was starting to get pissed. I didn’t want to lose him, but I also knew I deserved so much better. After I turned ice cold, he spent about a week begging and pleading for me to take him back. Reluctant though admittedly relieved, I relented. But then came Crack 4: We were supposed to be working on things, but once he realized he had put in enough effort for me to say “yes” to taking him back, he just disappeared again. He pulled the disappearing act on Thursday. On Sunday, I was devastated and needy for some validation and reassurance. I reached out but barely got what I needed to get. Sunday night, I went out and ran into the guy who caused Crack 2. I think we can all guess where I woke up Monday morning. Still, I felt terrible and wanted another chance with my ex. I really thought we could still work it out. By Tuesday, I felt so miserable. I hadn’t heard from him for days, he wasn’t responding to any texts or calls. It felt like my world was crashing down. Wednesday and Thursday passed in the same amount of misery. But then Thursday night as I lay awake in bed, nervous about the events of the coming day (you can read about this in another post, I think, the one about “Bicker”), I finally got a text back from my ex. It was weak, like he didn’t really want to respond and he wanted me to know he was putting in minimal effort. “Breadcrumbing” is the term I believe we use now. But even though I thought I would be overjoyed to get that half-assed text just a few days ago, when I looked at my phone, I just frowned.
What was happening? Wasn’t a sign of life, no matter how small, exactly what I wanted?
No, I realized, shocked by the revelation, It wasn’t what I wanted. Maybe he wasn’t what I wanted…
I thought back to Sunday night. The night I had been trying to erase in my memory due to how guilty I felt, even though technically we weren’t together anymore and also, he had cheated on me multiple times before whereas I had never stepped so much as a toe out of line in all our time together.
If I could choose between the two guys right now, if both J and W wanted me equally, who would I pick?
The answer was clear, and it wasn’t J. And even though I wasn’t sure W wanted me in that way, I wasn’t sure yet I wanted him in that way—the dating way. But the hookup way? One hundred percent yes, I wanted to do that with him again. I wanted the freedom and the possibility and the option. Because what would happen if I just gave in to J again? We’d have the same problems that led to this breakup, which even though it felt sprung on me, I had to admit, the issues were mutual. In fact, they might even be more on my side than I wanted to admit.
So… for the first night in a week, I didn’t cry myself to sleep. I wasn’t thinking about J and agonizing over what he was thinking and why he was acting so hot and cold. I didn’t even text him back. I needed time to think. About J. About W… about just being single and free for awhile.
Friday morning came and before noon, J was hounding me via texts and calls. He couldn’t believe I didn’t text him back the previous night. But I think it was more than that. It wasn’t just the missing one text when he’d been MIA all week. I think he could feel that something had irrevocably shifted in my energy.
Because now, even though he was blowing up my phone like I had been hoping he would for the last several weeks, I didn’t even want to talk to him. I wanted to drink with my friends and dance and have fun. I wanted to see W, and find out if he was ready for Round 2.
By the time I saw W a few hours later and he enthusiastically embraced me and welcomed me to the fold (again, see the other post), I was so high on life and booze and the hot man hugging me, that I had practically forgotten J’s name.
For more than three years after that, J from time to time still made attempts to get me back. FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS. That’s longer than we even dated for. When I was single, I entertained the option—at first. But I always came back with the same answer. I just wasn’t interested.
There was the time when J again pulled a disappearing act on me in May of that year. In June, when he wanted to know where I was, I had to inform him I was leaving for Kenya the next day and would be there all of summer. “What about us?” He choked out. Apparently he was going to be in our hometown that summer, which was where he thought I would be and he only went MIA because he thought we’d have all summer together. What a convenient excuse. But I was getting the hell outta dodge as fast as I could.
All summer, he emailed me. I only had internet reception once every other week, so he dutifully waited for my responses and wrote back pretty much immediately every time. Because of the continued effort I agreed to meeting up again when I got back from Kenya before school started up. But lo and behold, guess who made an excuse and ghosted me upon getting back? Yep.
He tried again on Thanksgiving break, and I told him if he did the same thing, I was basically never speaking to him again. He showed up this time and we fooled around a bit. But to me, it was just meant to be that. But then he started talking about graduating from school early and moving to Princeton to live with me my senior year and I was like, oh crap, what the heck did I just do because getting back together with him and getting back on our getting married immediately after college track was the last thing in the world I fucking wanted to do. I even regretted fooling around given how much I was still not over W and truly craving him and no one else, least of all, my ex.
But back at school, W and I didn’t seem any closer to figuring things out. So, I agreed to try with J over Christmas break. But again, it was the same shit. He was never there when he said he would be and he even bailed on coming to say goodbye before I went back to school.
I was sad and mad because against my better judgment, I had tried again. By the time I got back to campus, I was sad for a few days, but then I was just done. J tried again to reach out many many times in the following months, but he could tell by my lukewarm responses (when I bothered to respond at all) that I was over it. Still he made another gallant attempt over summer. The thing was, I was already dating someone else, so I said yes to hanging out one night with J, but told him when he wanted to start dating again that the string that used to connect my heart to his—well, it wasn’t there anymore. My heart was now connected to someone else’s heart. And that was that. He didn’t take it well, to say the least, but I already told that story so I’m not going to repeat it.
For a good year, almost two years after that, he still tried to get me back. But I was long gone. I was happy with someone else, but even before we started seriously dating, months before then, I still knew I was done with J.
Happily dating for two and a half years. Then really from that second breakup on, my heart was just never the same. Even when I said we could try again, I was never really in it. And that was a very hard pill for J to swallow. He said so much when trying to win me back. He couldn’t understand how I had loved him so damn much for so long and then my emotions could go so cold. But couldn’t he? Didn’t he know every time he made another crack that it would be harder and harder to mend the damage?
I’m not the kind of person who gives up on people right away. I give chances to the people I love—the ones I believe in. But you hit a point with me where you start putting fractures in our relationship and in my heart, and slowly but surely those fractures start filling with ice. Just because I’m still being nice and/or entertaining you, doesn’t mean that my heart hasn’t already started to glaze over more than a bit. It’s kind of sad to watch because I can tell by the continual bread crumbing of the other person that they really think I’m just as into it as I’ve ever been. But the thing that’s truly deadly isn’t the contingency plans. It’s the icy apathy that starts to set in. The apathy that is so strong, that even someone I would have died for so much did I love them—suddenly one day, I wake up and that person means… nothing to me.
This happened again with my ex R. Oh R. The breadcrumber and gaslighter extraordinaire. R suffered from the same delusion. He thought that because I loved him so fiercely when we were together, that I would put up with his bad behavior forever. “Ghosting” wasn’t a word at the time, but he was the king of it. But he’d always return. For the first six months of dating, he was amazing. Always there for me, so attentive, made every date, made time to talk every day, flew me out to see him (we were long distance), really made me feel important and like a priority. But then, around summertime, he started to grow cold and distant. He’d disappear for days, weeks even, sometimes. He was hot and cold. He was equal parts admiring and tearing me down. He founds my insecurities and dug deep into them. But then he always made sure to massage my ego when I needed it the most, and he was always there when he knew I was having a really hard time with something, so then I could never say he wasn’t there for me when…
R was so hot and cold. He always made me wonder if there was someone else. And he always put off defining our relationship or talking about our plans together until a future “someday”. He said he’d be ready to tackle that stuff in 5, maybe 7 years.
R didn’t notice my actual attempts to distance from him. He thought that every time I spoke up and mentioned breaking up that I was just trying to get his attention. He thought it was a game. It wasn’t. My feelings were shifting. I meant what I said.
The following summer, we were supposed to get to spend a lot of time together. But he had a tragedy in his family, and he just was nowhere to be found. For the first month, I was empathetic. For the second, I was confused and getting a little hurt. By the third month, I was fucking over it.
I broke up with him in a text message because lo and behold, he wasn’t answering his phone let alone following through with seeing me in person.
I was about to leave for Europe in a few weeks anyway. A semester abroad in which we had originally planned to see a lot of each other because he worked over seas a bit.
And I supposed that’s what he thought… we’d just reconnoiter on the continent. What’s being in the same city all summer really mean for a long distance couple anyway? Who cares if he just ignores me all summer so long as he meets up with me in Europe?—I supposed that was the thought behind the ghostly behavior, at least.
A few weeks before I was to leave, I got an answer to the breakup text. He had been out of the country. He hadn’t seen or checked his phone. He didn’t want to breakup.
Interesting that I didn’t even know he was out of the country in the first place…
I agreed to keep the topic open and he was back to his old tricks almost immediately. I got to Europe. R kept being hot and cold. 8 days passed and for the bulk of them I was feeling down and heartbroken. And then I met D. And he turned my world upside down.
R, when he got back in touch a month later hoping to meet up in Europe was shocked. But he thought it was just a phase. He was certain by the time I finished my semester abroad, I’d be over D and running back to him. He contacted me when I got home in December, but I told him I was still with D. In fact, R continued to check in with me almost every other month for the next three years. I was still with D every single time.
After D and I broke up, I was completely devastated. In fact, I finally replied to R on one of his many reach outs, but only to see what I could find out from an ex of mine’s perspective on how to get D back. R also thought this was a phase. He was certain that when I didn’t get back together with D, I’d be ready to date him again. I know this because he stuck around for months while I was trying to get back with D and when it was clear it wasn’t going to happen, then he tried to move in himself.
Umm… no, was my resolute answer. That was literally the last thing in the world I wanted. Yes, I was beyond heartbroken and lonely and sad, but even so, being with someone so hot and cold, gaslighting, and manipulative as R was even worse than being alone right now. Of that, I was sure.
R didn’t get the memo. He continued to try for YEARS. Until finally, I lost my temper. He brought up a card I wrote him once, where I wrote something gushing and told him I loved him. He asked how it was possible that I felt so strongly for him once and now seemingly felt nothing at all. And I let him have it. I told him exactly how my feelings for him diminished to nothing. How exactly my heart went so ice cold.
Like J, R was astonished and upset. He simply COULD NOT BELIEVE a girl who loved him so much and stuck around for so much of his bull shit would ever not only fall out of love with him but be so apathetic to his entire being. So cold.
Their tragic dismay would have been gratifying if I still cared at all... which I didn’t.
There are other stories I could tell, of just how cold my heart can grow when constantly mistreated, but I won’t. I think I’ve made my point.
Wow, this is just not my fucking week. I’m going to be completely honest right now, I’m in a dark head space. I’m heartbroken and disgusted by our country, by the treason and insurrection, by the people in our government as well as those I know who still cannot admit what happened last week is not only wrong but an assault on American democracy, and to make everything worse, I am heartbroken and disgusted by certain people in my personal life, AND on top of it, I just can’t seem to get a break when it comes to catching up with BELLE + DAY and Prey.
Yeah, it’s pretty fucking bleak right now. My hope hangs on getting caught up and back to get a good place with work and/or writing, my Reality Hacker arriving and the other bad energy busting materials I ordered a few days ago, and/or, I don’t know, people deciding to not be complete assholes anymore. I would also love for people who approach me with ideas and requests for BELLE + DAY to actually offer something useful or be of help, as opposed to just making suggestions/requests that are thinly veiled demands. I don’t know what people don’t understand about the fact that I am already so behind with work and it’s basically only me and one part time intern handing everything right now, so being on my ass to craft my company and work around what suits them when I get nothing out of the deal isn’t necessarily top of my fucking priority list, especially when I am already worn so goddamn thin that I’m honestly getting a little worried about myself.
And then, there are my nearest and dearest—people whom I have always sacrificed everything for—who pretty much see fit to slap me in the face or use me as a punching bag at every turn. Use me, abuse me, ignore me, reject me, compare me to others and imply that I’m always found wanting... sure, what else do you want to add to the growing list of insults and injuries?
But it’s fine. Honestly, EVERYTHING IS FINE.
Suffice to say, I realized yesterday that this 30 day break I’m taking is not just due to my being upset with a certain person or wanting to get back on track with Prey and BELLE + DAY, although those are both certainly pressing concerns and stressors, but I am starting to realize just how affected I am right now by what is happening in our country. I’m upset. I’m really fucking upset and angry and saddened and confused and frustrated. And I just feel so powerless. And I don’t really have an answer to any of that other than to say I’m aware that it’s affecting my mental and emotional mood at the moment but I don’t know how to even begin combatting that.
So, anyway, back to the blog. Which btw, I get that it’s weird for me to be currently writing from such a dark place about how to change your mindset. Before everything went to absolute shit for me, these tactics were working to control my anxiety and stress. I’m sure once I kick this particularly malignant dark cloud to the curb, these tactics will work again. So, I dunno, I guess just suspend your disbelief as you read this. I wrote this original part of the blog in a happier personal time.
Ok, so back to the moments I decide to channel when I have to deal with the chaos of my own mind in these anxiety free-falls. What are the specific memories and moods I try to tap into in these moments?
One that always comes to mind is when I was a senior in college and like many seniors, I was visiting all of the schools I was considering attending the following year. The previous summer, my family took me back east to get familiarized with the bevy of institutions on the other coast. In the fall, I mostly visited the schools with which I was a final candidate for an academic or athletic scholarship, and in the spring, I visited the schools I had been admitted to.
This particular memory/mood comes from one of those fall scholarship trips, although it very much applies to almost every campus visit I made. I was at Scripps College, which together with Pomona, Harvey-Mudd, Claremont-McKenna, and Pitzer comprises the Claremont college system. I applied to Scripps and Pomona, but at Scripps I was being considered for an academic scholarship and invited to stay at a hotel near campus for a weekend with other scholarship hopefuls.
I’m sure many of you reading this also experienced a campus trip or two yourself, and if you happened to do the kind where you went sans parents and were placed in a group of prospective students, you usually were taken around campus at night and given an introduction to the various clubs and activities the college has to offer.
I think Scripps was the first campus I did this at, but I remember doing it twice at SC (once for an academic scholarship, once as a volleyball prospective), and I also remember doing it at Princeton in the spring. But the night we were taken around campus at Scripps was my first experience, and it did not disappoint! There was just something so thrilling about the independence gleaming on the horizon, which the current students were serving us our first taste of that night. Given that we were all scholarship hopefuls, the most prestigious academic scholarship the school had at the time, we were provided the royal treatment by staff and students alike. The message being that, even though it was fall, the fact that we were up for such a scholarship meant we had all basically been admitted and it was up to us to duke it out for which of bunch would receive the high honor. But the school wanted us, scholarship or not, so first we had a welcome party in one of the campus’s nicest dorms before being whisked away for a night around campus, which by the way, was gorgeous. We were taken to a cappella and improv shows, mingled with the various groups and clubs of the five campuses, and just generally learned the lay of the land and indulged in the pending independence to come.
As a valedictorian, captain of the volleyball team, and lead in the drama department (as well as being involved in multiple clubs and causes around campus), I had a fruitful and fun high school experience and due to my volleyball status, also experienced the perk of being somewhat popular. Still, high school for me was primarily composed of hard work, stress to remain at the top in everything, and a bevy of one nighters. In fact, come June, I was usually so tuckered out but the school year that it took me almost a full month of sleeping for 11-13 hours every night to recover (just in time for my club team to start seriously training for Junior Olympics). I didn’t get to have that carefree, full of parties and first-times high school experience that I so often—well, I would say “saw in movies” but I didn’t see so many movies as constantly have my head buried in young adult books back then.
I remember often driving around the streets of the “good side” of Long Beach at night, 90’s rock music drifting through the speakers, imagining all the life that was being lived somewhere out there beyond my reach. I could feel it, but I couldn’t find it or experience it for the life of me.
But when I was on campus that night, I recalled the life-defining moments of my favorite characters in the books I always had my nose buried in. And for the first time ever, I realized that I was about to be launched into a world where I, for the first time, would get to have all of those experiences.
For the entire rest of the school year, I was never one of those seniors mournful to leave high school behind. No, I could not get out of there fast enough. I was so ready for my new life and everything that was to come with it.
And I remember that night at Scripps when all of this dawned on me. Everything that lay ahead and how exciting and full of opportunities it would be. I had worked my ass off since the sixth grade, straight A’s, academic awards, athletic perfection—and now my diligence was finally going to pay off. It was finally going to be my story coming to life.
Even just watching the improv group and listening to the choral groups was unbelievably thrilling—I had done theatre for four years and competitive chorus for two years, so I could theoretically join any of the clubs performing in front on me at that moment. Plus, I had already spoken with the volleyball coach at Scripps, and was told I was a shoe-in on the team as it wasn’t quite as competitive as the other schools that were scouting me.
And that was just what I knew off the top of my head! There were surely dozens of other clubs and activities I could potentially take part in if I wanted to.
I’m sure the possibility implied by college boys also tickled my fancy, but in my memories of that night, I was more excited by the general prospect of the life in front of me than any such single-minded pursuits.
And the next day in my interview, which I nailed by the way (I did get offered the scholarship, but I ultimately turned it down in favor of attending Princeton), I remember talking to the professor who interview me about their work in the realm of neuroscience (which at the time, topped my list of career propsects as I thought I was going to become a doctor) and I left that interview feeling so excited about the more academic aspects of college. I had never felt properly challenged before in the public school system, even in the more advanced and gifted classes I had long been placed in, and the thought of attending an institution of higher learning designed for minds like my own —well, it just seemed like a gift, to be honest.
My senior year of high school and pretty much the entire four years of college (minus my freshman year when I was an idiot stuck in a controlling long distance relationship) was a time period in which every day seemed so full of excitement and opportunity. I took advantage of so much, but if I could go back I would do even more to make the most out of every moment. I could probably live it entirely different and be just as happy if not more so with the way it turned out. And that kind of opportunity and freedom and possibility—the reality of it and the feeling of it—that’s a huge reason why that memory still lingers so powerfully in mind. And this is why it is one of those mindsets I am trying to step into and channel now when I get stuck in a dull cycle. Just because I’m not 18 anymore doesn’t mean I have any less opportunity in front of me. I’ve worked hard to set myself up to be exactly where I am right now. And arguably, I have more tools at my advantage and a wider world in front of me at 32 than I did at 18. And thankfully, I now have a fully developed brain that can more completely comprehend and take stock of the opportunities before me (not to mention the benefit of learning from tough lessons such that I’m much less of an idiot now and also making great strides in the realm of emotional control, so I’m far less likely to embarrass myself—both of which are huge pluses in my book—if you knew me in college, you’d understand what I’m talking about here).
Setting boundaries, getting honest, walking away, fresh starts, and new techniques...
I decided to walk away from someone in my soul family today (specifically, my TF). Which means I’m walking away from the entire twin journey. That makes today a pretty fucking big deal for me. I also decided to get off my personal social media account for a month (at least). IG played a huge role in my interaction with my twin, and in order to walk away from him, I have to walk away from the app as well. At least for a little while. I mean, who knows? When I went off Facebook after a breakup 9 years ago, I thought it would only be for a month. But I ended up loving not being on the platform anymore. Maybe that will happen this time? I mean, I can’t get off completely because of BELLE + DAY, but maybe I’ll choose to take my personal life off that particular platform.
The other reason I decided to take a social media hiatus is because I don’t want to post on my personal account again until I have at least finished the second draft of Prey or made some significant step(s) toward getting Prey published. I’m very aware that a huge component of the app making me unhappy right now is not just due to my twin but also due to the lack of progress with Prey. I’ve explained this before, so I won’t go into it again, but suffice to say I know on a soul level my life is going to change in huge ways when I get that book/series published. And for the time being, IG is serving as both a tiresome distraction/obstacle between me and that goal as well as a painful reminder of how far away I am from reaching that goal. And I’m not doing that to myself any longer.
Btw this is less of an update as opposed to a declaration and the beginning of a new journey. I’ll try to check in every few days with a mini update as to how it’s going—both with social media and my twin flame detox. But point being, this is going to be less of an essay or story like how I usually write and more of a daily temperature check. I think because I need to do this for myself right now so I’m making this blog something that is going to help me get through this time as opposed to something entertaining or helpful for the reader primarily, although I hope it is that, too. Update/Edit: The second half of this post is dedicated to new manifesting tactics I’ve discovered, so I think it is potentially more helpful than I was making it out to be initially.
I’m not going to describe what the TF journey is because I’ve talked about it before and also, if you’re not familiar with it, then it honestly just sounds crazy. Trust me, I am more than aware of that. If I could choose not to have a TF in this lifetime, I probably would. I will say this, I’ve been “in love” four maybe five times before, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt that I had a twin. And I’ve known about the twin concept during those previous relationships, so it’s not something that I was introduced to around the time I met my twin and just decided to apply to him.
Anyway, the realization that I had met my twin sunk in from around August of 2018 to May of 2019. It took almost a year for me to accept it because the concept seemed insane and was difficult to wrap my mind around. But as much as I tried to fight it, when you are a twin, there’s just no denying the bond. It is what it is, and you either accept it or choose to constantly fight it.
But that’s all I’m going to say about the dynamics of that connection. There’s the whole runner/chaser aspect which is such a freaking pain, and then there’s the part that really got me which is the ways in which your twin challenges and mirrors you and ultimately leads to you becoming the best version of yourself…
Usually one of the twins is further along in this journey than the other and that pretty much comes down to the matter of acceptance. The twin that gives in first experiences the dark night of the soul aspect first (which sucks) but also then after they do the work they need to do, they get to ascend first whereas the one that fights it stays in a lower, escapist, ego-centric vibration for much longer. And in my connection, I’m the former and my twin is the latter. And boy is he ever stuck in the latter. Like grossly so. And I’m over waiting.
Because, this is the thing. In most lifetimes, twins don’t get to come together. They meet, they recognize, they alternate chasing and running, they mirror, they bring on more than a few dark nights of soul, and they challenge you—and all of this results in you growing into the best version of yourself. And also, not everyone has a twin. So, if this all sounds super foreign to you, then you probably don’t have a twin in this lifetime. So don’t worry about it. You’re one of the lucky ones.
And, not that I’m the best version of myself yet, but I’ve grown so much from this journey. And I’m tired of waiting for my twin to catch up. It just hurts too much. And I deserve better.
“Not my circus, not my monkeys.”
I’ve heard this saying so often lately, and I’ve come to adopt it as my theme for moving forward in my journey—separate from my twin. You can only watch someone stuck in the roller coaster that is their own ego so much before you start to feel queasy yourself. Especially when you’ve offered to help them slow down or even get off the fucking ride.
Yeah, I’m not going to say much more about it. I’ve just decided I’m done. It’s a mood that’s been coming on for awhile but this weekend was the straw that broke the camel’s back for sure.
Glad, you asked ;)
I’ve recently discovered a new method of manifesting that is really working for me. I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming post, because it’s getting late and I really need to work on Prey more tonight and get a good night’s sleep. Today feels a lot like the day when Dario and my relationship blew up (i.e., so fucking dismal) and I’m just ready for it to be over.
So, other than this new method of manifesting which I will share more about later, I’ve also decided to do a self check-in. So much has been going really really well in a few areas of my life in particular that I realized I’ve just been focusing solely on those areas and kind of neglecting how I’m feeing in the others. I’m going to take the next 30 days to really take stock of all aspects of my life. I can already name two areas that I want to change within the next year and one that I need major help managing, so I definitely have my work cut out for me in this department.
Another thing is I really need to get a good schedule down for BELLE + DAY and Prey. For both, I have so much work to do, and there is so much momentum I’m constantly afraid of losing. I probably need to clone myself twice over, but since that’s not an option, I really need to get organized with my schedule and how I’m going to manage meeting all my various deadlines. Now that I get to focus solely on these two pursuits, it is sink or swim time, and swimming is the only option. So, I’ve got a lot to figure out there…
I also feel like I need to spend more time with my friends. I know a few in particular seem to be going through similar cycles in life right now.
Update: Broke down right after writing that sentence last night. Poured a giant glass of bubbles and called my only friend who was awake. Cried and talked it out for a good hour and a half and then felt a million times better and chatted about more normal things for the last hour. I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders and heart after we hung up, and my friend, who wasn’t the one who needed the call in the first place, texted me afterward and actually thanked me for calling (at 1 in the morning) because apparently quarantine has been getting to all of us and we all just need to talk and feel a little more connected.
I just mention this because I know for myself at least, I have a very “just hunker down and get through it” attitude. And I think most of my friends are pretty similar. I just kept telling myself “just make it through another few months”, “just another few months”. Just keep throwing yourself into your work and make it a few more months. But I know increasingly from talks with my friends the past few weeks, we are all hitting our breaking point. We know being young and healthy, we’ll all probably be in the last round to get vaccinated, and while we accept that, it doesn’t make things any easier that our return to normal will be the most delayed.
Yesterday, I felt like tearing my hair out. I just needed to get out. I still want to get the hell out of dodge, whether it’s out of town for the weekend or moving somewhere far away and brand new. But I can’t do the first because of travel restrictions and I can’t do the second because I just set up my new studio which I am obsessed with. So even though I’d want to live somewhere else, I have zero desire or ability to just pick up the BELLE + DAY studio and move it (at this point in time), so… that’s not going to work.
Point being, if you’re having a hard time, and you’re feeling stuck, reach out to your friends. Text them, call them. I always feel like I’m bothering people, but your friends just might surprise you. Some of them might need to talk and connect as much as you do.
I’m also going to carve out some time in the coming weeks to visit my favorite semi-private beach with Sherman. It’s where we had a beach house when I was in high school and college, and it’s still one of my favorite places in the world. It’s only about 45 minutes away and also usually very quiet, especially this time of the year. Plus, the weather is cold enough for Sherman to actually enjoy a day at the beach. I’ll probably bring my traveler and just write and relax. I might also bring my Reality Hacker, and I’ll explain what that is below.
I also am going to try to go to Barnes & Noble some time in the next few weeks. Lord knows, I don’t need any books right now. But the Barnes & Noble near where I live holds so many amazing memories for me, and it always used to be a pick me up when I was feeling down in the past. Just walking through the front door immediately puts me in a better mood. I’ve been wanting to go so badly, but trying to wait until the pandemic was mostly over. But I don’t I want to wait any longer, and I want to support them. Speaking of which, there are a few other small businesses I’d like to stop by and support (not that B&N is small business, but I always worry about it given Amazon’s dominance in the marketplace), so I should probably make a list of all the local businesses I love and try to knock off a few off every weekend.
I have a really cool Vision Notebook (as opposed to a Vision Board) that I bought months ago and have been dying to fill in but have yet to have the chance. I’d love to finally tackle that, and January is usually the best time to do those things.
Along a similar vein, I recently bought a Reality Hacker: Invincible Winter Journal which is supposed to be a combination of a planner and a manifestation/adventure course. Even before I decided to walk away from my TF journey, the Reality Hacker called out to me and now I feel excited to be more cleanly dedicated to the fresh start. If you’re curious about the Reality Hacker, here is the link so you can find out more:
I opted to go with the Reality Hacker because I resonated with it a little more. Although, if the creativity journal was meant to use when slightly-no-definitely buzzed on bubbles as opposed to high, it would have been a more difficult choice. But I’m including those options in case they appeal to anyone reading this because I think all 3 journal/planners sound pretty cool, and if you decide to try one, I’d love to hear about your experience with it.
I’ll try to briefly touch on the new manifesting technique I’ve been trying lately. Basically, I’ve been noticing that when my brain is left unoccupied, I have a hard time not sinking into an anxiety or stress spiral, usually about something related to my twin flame. Since anxiety and stress on top of not feeling good also just pushes manifestations further away from you, I’ve really been wanting to combat these moments. Especially because my brain has been working like this for literally years now and I’m getting a little exhausted of keeping it constantly distracted. Writing, working out, and working on BELLE + DAY in my new studio helps as my primary anti-stress/anti-anxiety strategies (as does talking to my Twin, but again, I’m taking that option off the list), but I can’t be writing, working on BELLE + DAY, and/or working out every second of the day. So how do I manage to not stress myself out and also cancel out my good manifesting mojo in the meantime?
Because there’s more to these anxiety/stress cycles than just being painful, self-defeating, and stressful. They are actively canceling out all of my good manifestation energy. A year ago, I kept getting messages from God/The Universe/My Soul, whatever you want to call it, that there was untapped power in me and for whatever reason I was holding myself back from accessing it. But in order to live up to my destiny, I had to start tapping into that power and really manifesting. And last year, I worked on that—I mean, I really worked on that. And the results have been phenomenal. And I noticed that now, I’m made it so that I’m in a really good place in multiple areas of my life that I’ve been wanting to change for years. So I should be all good now, right? I shouldn’t be having these anxiety spirals.
But I am. So what gives? Plus, the anxiety spirals are annoying because when you have them, they are inherently destructive of gratitude. I should feel so happy and excited and jazzed about all the blessings I have in my life right now. I should be super excited to move forward as I’m finally at the stage where I can really enjoy the journey. Sure, the stakes are a bit higher now, but in the way that I’ve been wanting them to be for awhile. I got what I wanted. So why am I still spazzing out anxiety-wise like I don’t have what I want?
Like I said, it’s destructive of gratitude. Because when you act like what you have is so fragile that it could be lost at any moment, you really minimize what you have. Which means, you’re minimizing your blessings. And that’s the opposite of what I want to be doing. If anything, I want to be more aware and more excited of everything going well for me right now every second of the day. I want to enjoy the fruit of my hard work, and use that momentum to push me forward in my manifesting/success even more.
But again, I keep getting in my own way. And I’m getting the same messages from the universe—there is more to unleash. That stress/anxiety that keeps telling me I’m not good enough to access that last 10-20%—it’s wrong. It’s not outside of the scope of what I can achieve. I can achieve everything I want/imagine/desire and more. It’s inside of me to be able to do that. I just have to figure out how to get out of my own way. Because twin flame bullshit aside, I should be really fucking pleased with everything I’ve accomplished over the past 3 years, and I should be using that pride and confidence and all my new opportunities to just ascend higher.
So, I’ve been thinking lately. What am I doing to get in my own way so much?
And I realized, the anxiety/stress spirals are not the symptom of me getting in my own way when it comes to manifesting. They are the sickness itself. They bring down my mood, my vibe, my productivity, my belief in myself, my gratitude, my happiness—and all of this minimizes my ability to continue manifesting everything I want.
When you get anxious, it’s a limiting thing. Because I’m not taking stock of everything I have. Instead I’m worried about what I might lose or I’m fixating on one tiny thing and convincing myself I’m going to lose everything. And when you make your happiness and the blessings you have in your life that fragile, you are discounting them. And I don’t want to be discounting them. I want to be in the moment, so aware and so happy and pleased with where I am. Because I should be, logically speaking, I should be so stoked with where I am right now. So I’m having this weird disconnect between the logical side of my brain and wherever in my brain this anxiety is coming from. And I don’t like it! I want to stop it because it’s not helping, it doesn’t make me feels good, it takes away from my ability to manifest things and takes away from my enjoyment of just living in every moment of the day.
I’m sick of it and I’m ready to put a stop to it.
Especially because, I think I’ve been having these anxiety spirals longer than I care to admit. Probably, to be honest and I hate confessing this, since my breakup with my ex, Dario. The dissolution of that relationship almost destroyed me, and thankfully I found the strength to rebuild 100 times better than before, but there are still a lot of open wounds there that I don’t think have ever healed. Again, to be honest, this bull shit with my twin for the past several years and the other guys I’ve dated between Dario and my twin and even after my twin have also probably left those wounds not only unhealed but also more likely than not, infected.
Not going to go any further into that, but suffice to say, these anxiety spirals have been a burden for a good four years now. Burying myself in my work, my fitness/health, and my writing has helped, but it’s become evident to me lately that all of those tactics aren’t enough. Because I’m on top of the world in all of those arenas right now (almost on top in writing), so I should be spiraling in a very positive direction. I am very happy with where I am in life right now. So I’ve been thinking about this, because why am I doing this to myself? Why am I having these anxiety spirals when everything is gravy? More importantly, I need to stop it.
When I’m writing and dreaming up other worlds, I get to not only escape to those worlds but also feel powerful in my own brand of magic. I am in my mind, but I’m not in my life—I’m in my characters’ lives, and thus the anxiety lessens when I’m writing. And when I’m working out, I’m usually visualizing volleyball glory or thinking about a fun night out with my friends or success with my twin (although the last one is getting crossed off the working out fantasy list, to be sure). And when I’m working on BELLE + DAY, I’m either creating and thus escaping or I’m so focused on the business/analytical side of things, that I don’t have a spare brain cell to dedicate to anxiety spiraling.
So it got me to thinking, because like I said, I can’t be writing or working out every second of the day. What do I do the rest of the day when I can’t turn my brain off?
Obviously, music is preferred to mindless tv or youtube or Netflix on in the background. I don’t like sitting down for too long of any day or night to watch TV or a movie because the time I spend doing that is time wasted. I end up feeling guilty too because my goal is for Prey to be a published series that is turned into a tv show or a movie, and when I mindlessly distract myself with someone else’s creation, that’s time I take away from creating myself and getting my creation to be that popular and successful. So, other than taking 30 minutes to an hour to eat dinner and relax with a show in the evening before getting back to work, if I ever have a show or movie on, it’s usually just in the background while I’m working on other things.
However, I realized this year that one major difference between current Torri and past uber manifester Torri is how much less music I listen to now. From around age 11 to 26, I was almost always plugged in listening to music. It’s only been in the last six or seven years that smart phones have made it so easy to be watching as opposed to listening at any time of the day. Like I said, I’m not a big tv watcher, but I like to have that background noise to distract me from my anxiety spirals. But I noticed that more often than not, having a tv type thing playing in the background only serves to heighten my anxiety slowly but surely throughout the day. However, when I turn on iTunes (I don’t use Spotify, I never found it helpful, it never suggested songs I actually liked and neither did Pandora so screw ‘em, I’ll continue to curate my own playlists and discover new music on my own, thank you very much) or I put a cd in or a record on, my mood in less than 10 seconds elevates several notches.
Music is magic, guys. Or, rather, the right kind of music is magic. Never underestimate the power of a good song, but also the reverse is true. So… be careful what you listen to. There’s a good chance that “bop” that tops the charts is eating away at your soul. Seriously. I’m not going to call out specific types of music because I don’t want to offend anyone, but… there are certain genres where if someone tells me that’s what they’re into, then from experience, I know one of three things: a) they’re a poser, b) they sold their soul to the devil, or c) they only like that music because they’re high/wasted when they listen to it, which defeats the point of music. Good music, in and of itself, should be what gets you high. The alcohol and drugs should just build on that, NOT be a necessary inciting factor. Anyway, there’s some dark shit hidden under some of those beats. At least the rock genre is up front about its darkness. Just sayin’…
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Listening to music more often in the day and night has been huge in affecting my mood and stopping that anxiety spiral in its tracks. I can tell when it’s completely turned my mood around because that’s the point where I’m singing along. If you don’t know this about me, my best friends and I were in a competitive choral group in middle school (kind of like on the show Glee) and even though we didn’t continue with it in high school, we never stopped singing and being a little competitive with each other about it. I mean, we’re not competitive anymore about it, jeez, it’s been years since any of us has had a proper lesson, but I don’t think any of us has ever let go of what we’ve learned entirely. And I know for my part, I still sing whenever I’m in a good mood.
So, putting music on to create that good mood just kind of reverse engineers it. It goes something like this: I’m having anxiety, I put music on, the anxiety starts to diminish, my mood elevates, then I start singing, then I think I don’t sound half bad, then I feel kind of good about myself, and then I think, hey, if I’m singing, I must be in a good mood, right? I only sing when I’m happy. And bam! Just like that, I’m in a great fucking mood.
Like I said. Music is magic.
What else, though? Because sadly, I can’t be listening to music at every second of the day either. And I want to get comfortable with my brain patterns and thoughts as opposed to always needing to drown them out.
So I was thinking what can I do when I’m having these moments to lean into my thought patterns and use them to my advantage as oppose to trying to escape from them?
And just as a general thing, when I want to improve at something, I look back to a time in my life where I was kicking butt in that category and I think, ok, what was I doing at that point of my life where I was able to do so well at this particular thing? Why was I so good at what I was good at during that point in my life and how can I learn from myself in the past?
Because this is the thing with the Self Help community. While I think it is always advisable and admirable to continually be improving yourself, I also think that different tactics work for different people so there is never a one size fits all remedy. You usually have to take these ideas as guidelines as opposed to gospel. And I had two exes in particular who would get trapped in these kind of self help spirals. They would obsessively listen to and try to emulate the people they admired in that community or in their respective industries, but not in a way that would ever result in actual, effective change. And so, when it didn’t work because either they weren’t taking enough action/weren’t appplying the principles enough or they weren’t adapting the approach to suit them and thus not taking the right kind of action, they’d move on to the next person/ideology they found to obsess about, and it the cycle would just continue to repeat.
So it got me to think because I do also listen to audiobooks or life coaches who give more instructional advice about improving in certain areas, which I do find helpful and comforting. But I never want to get stuck in the kind of self help spirals that I would see my exes B and D get stuck in.
Because there is a point when you’re looking into help from outside sources where you need to draw a line in the sand with yourself and say ok, I’m going to search for outside help with this, but in order to make it work, I have to implement it. Because constantly seeking self help and never implementing is just another form of escapism, and it doesn’t help you. Escapism only works in the short run. It’s a band-aid. But you can’t put a band-aid on a wound that requires stitches and expect for it to heal. You need to get stitches at some point.
So I look at self help like that. It can be helpful and it can be a guiding force, but unless you can find a way to implement it in your life in a way that is feasible and effective for you then you might as well just be watching junk tv, or indulging in any other kind of easy escape—like getting high or drinking at noon or developing a porn addiction.
So the reason why I like to look at my own life and at the times in my life where I was doing the thing I want to be doing currently is because if I was able to incorporate that strategy in my life before in a way that worked for me—that had good results—that means that it was both feasible and effective for me personally. So there is a better chance that particular strategy would work for me again as opposed to a strategy employed by someone else. Again, we are complex beings—there is no one size fits all answer to anything.
So that’s usually my rule of thumb, I look to myself and the times I’ve done it effectively before, as opposed to looking at other people and how they’re doing it. The times I break this rule is when the other person I’m looking to has demonstrated in some way that they are similar to me and/or their tactics have worked for me before. That’s generally how I find so called life coaches whose work I like to follow. But you have to stay vigilant with that stuff. For example, at one point in my life, I might really resonate with one coach or thought leader, but if over time I find our views or tactics start diverging, I might look elsewhere to find someone I resonate with more. We’re all allowed to grow and evolve, after all. I mean, that’s the point of the Self Help arena, right?
But generally speaking, the most effective strategies I ever find are those I’ve already employed in the past. Pretty much works 100% of the time.
At this point where I’m trying to figure out how to get out of these anxiety spirals, I started looking back to two specific moods/thoughts/mind frames I’ve had in my life before. Or rather, one is a mind frame and the other is an observation or reminder. So the mind frame I found myself looking for was the times in my life where I had a lot of opportunity ahead of me, and I had this feeling that anything could happen. Because that is where I am right now, I have many opportunities in front of me and I should be feeing like anything could happen and is just about to happen and I should be super excited every moment of every day.
So I’m looking back at these times of my life where I felt like anything was possible and I was so excited to be in and living every second of it. And when I’m getting into these anxiety free-falls, I do my best to visualize who I was at that point in my life where everything seemed so exciting and full of promise, and I put myself back in the mindset/experiences/memories of the person I was in that moment so I can remember how it felt. I do my best to get myself back in that moment as a reminder that, hey, you’re not in that exact moment right now but you’re in a really similar moment, so let’s be excited. Let’s realize how lucky we are to be in the stage of our life we are in right now (yes, I talk to myself using “we”, get over it). Because you’re not always in a stage where you have a lot of opportunity in front of you. Sometimes you’re in a stage where things are really shitty and limiting and you’re just trying to get out of it. And I got out of that, so I don’t want to be living in that anxiety mindset when I don’t need to be. I just feel like I’m doing much more damage than good in so many ways.
I’m sure that was confusing, so let me give some more explicit examples to explain what I mean.
WHEN SHALL WE THREE MEET AGAIN? IN THUNDER, LIGHTNING OR IN RAIN?
Macbeth (1948) dir. Orson Welles
The Witches of Eastwick (1987) dir. George Miller
Stardust (2007) dir. Matthew Vaughn
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018 - 2020)
The Pale Horse (2020) dir. Leonora Lonsdale
Hercules (1997) dir. John Musker, Ron Clements
Sleeping Beauty (1959) dir. Clyde Geronimi
The Black Cauldron (1985) dir. Richard Rich, Ted Berman
Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996 - 2003)
Halloweentown (1998) dir. Duwayne Dunham
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) dir. Ava DuVernay
The Craft (1996) dir. Andrew Fleming
Charmed (1998 - 2006)
Hocus Pocus (1993) dir. Kenny Ortega
So… I wrote something last night. Umm I’d like to categorize it as an “interesting” free-write, but I’m pretty sure the more accurate term is “NSFW”. Basically it started out with a nap dream I had about someone… a “friend” of mine. He is technically just a friend (we’ve never crossed any sort of physical boundary) and yet, I’m 99% sure that neither of us has ever put the other in the “just friends” category.
Basically, I had an NSFW dream about this friend, and, it’s not like I’ve never had those kinds of dreams about him before, and it’s not that they’ve never been vivid, but this one just felt particularly real. And it was umm… I’m going to use a euphemism here and just say “aggressive”. It was aggressive in a nice way, but uhh I was definitely shocked by both of our behavior in this dream. But pleasantly surprised that it seemed to be working for me. Like really working…
At first, I was surprised at the intensity and tenor (another euphemism) of this dream. But when I really think about it, I have been wondering a lot lately about what would happen if we did cross that line. I am insanely attracted to this person (I think the dream put to rest any doubts I might have had on that matter), but I also very much care for him on a friend level. And I can only remember being in this situation with one other person ever in my life. Normally my guy friends are 100% JUST A FRIEND, and I have zero interest in doing anything that would remotely cross that boundary line.
In fact, the one time this happened before, the only reason we became friends before we umm consummated anything was because I was in a relationship at the time, so due to my trying not to be a shitty person, we remained “just friends” (who flirted a fuck ton) until I broke up with my boyfriend and then as soon as I told said friend my boyfriend and I had split, it was open season pretty much immediately.
So anyway, I had this dream, about a “friend” and the feeling of pretty much everything in the dream just lingered. Like I said, it was a vivid dream. The kind that’s so vivid, you gotta wonder if there wasn’t some sort of astral traveling or some way you both had the dream at the same time, because it takes you a while afterward to convince your body and your brain that whatever events (or, in this case, acts) transpired in the dream didn’t also occur in real life.
This happened between 10 and 11 pm. I then got up and tried to get some writing done. But I would only get so far before being brought back to the dream again. And then I would pause and replay what happened in my mind and then I would feel rather hot under the collar and take a sip of my drink and try to refocus so I could keep writing Prey.
But I just couldn’t get a hold of myself…
I was anxious.
I was fidgety.
I shifted in my chair, crossing and uncrossing my legs, trying to will the urge away.
I was yearning for something I couldn’t have in the moment and it was driving me crazy, and I just needed some form of release.
I think at about 1/1:30 AM, I gave up trying to fight reliving the dream and decided to just give my self over to it fully. No… not like that. Just wait…
So in real life, I have been meaning to ask this person for help with something, but I’ve been sitting on it because I don’t want to seem too needy. But I know that at some point, I will ask him for a favor. So… I found my mind wandering to the point in time after he did me said favor and the situation in which we might just be talking and I might accidentally let slip the fact that I had this dream, and then… what might happen after that point.
So for a good while, I basically wrote an even more NSFW scene, fantasizing about what would happen if/after I told my friend that I had an NSFW dream about him.
Yeah… I know.
And the thing is, it wasn’t a bad scene. Like, as far as that kind of writing goes, I like to think it was more Sylvia Day than E.L. James, which is a huge success in my mind, any way. Other than a scene just reading well, these are my two tricks to know if what I wrote was good—even before I have any other person read it.
First, when I read it back, it’s like I’m reading something completely brand new. Like I didn’t write it myself, and I get sucked into the story like I legitimately don’t know what’s coming next. And this is also a result of the second factor of my knowing whether or not I created something worth reading which is that I go into almost a trancelike state when I write where I’m tapping into what feels like a higher power. I don’t really know what the storyline is (even when I outline ahead of time) because everything—especially all the sensory details—just come to me in the moment. It’s like the story spills forth in my mind always just a beat ahead of my writing it on the page.
It’s my favorite form of escapism and voyeurism. It feels like I’m being told the stories from a divine power—like I’m just transcribing them from someone or something else. And afterward, it feels like an insane and necessary release just happened. That’s the only way I know it truly came from me and not from someone else, because for the most part it feels like almost a climax-y sort of blackout. I’m not trying to be funny or graphic, but creating in general stirs up a lesser degree of these emotions, but writing for me is just so completely full on. It’s such a physical and mental release, it’s no wonder I feel so fucking good and refreshed and fulfilled and spent yet so somehow so energetic afterward.
And then, there’s always the third way to tell if these kinds of scenes were well-written. I feel like it’s pretty self-explanatory, so… yeah not going to go any further into that.
I don’t often write scenes like I did last night because they always end up on the cutting room floor because I am way too embarrassed to ever share them with literally anyone ever (even when I personally think they’re pretty good). But when I do indulge and write about that kind of thing on top of what writing already feels like for me, well, shit gets interesting… I’m just going to leave it at that and up to the imagination to the supply the rest.
In fact, writing about this confessional/what might come next moment felt even more like astral projection than the dream did. I had to take some pauses, drink some alcohol to steady myself, take some deep breaths. I closed my eyes and felt it all transpiring around me in real time. My skin was hot, and even as the early morning hours ticked by, every cell felt awake. In fact, I couldn’t fall asleep afterward until about 6 in the morning. And even though I was aware I was lost in a moment of my own creation, I couldn’t help but wonder if the person I was thinking about wasn’t also being physically affected somehow—even if it was by a force beyond his knowledge—in that exact moment.
I mean, both the writing and the dream were so vivid, even now in the cool light of day, it feels like we ****** last night—twice. And I keep having to remind myself that we haven’t in fact ****** at all yet. We haven’t even kissed.
Ahem, so anyway… that brings me to this morning. I feel like I wrote something big and good last night, which makes me want to edit it and post it on the blog. I also feel like I would die of humiliation if I ever posted it on said blog. I do think more people would enjoy it than would think badly of me for posting it, but I don’t know, still…
If we’re good friends, then you probably know I make dirty/overtly sexual jokes and comments basically all of the time. It’s one of my hallmarks as a friend (in addition to just being generally weird). But it’s one thing to throw such comments out randomly to shock/make my friends laugh, and it’s another to let that side of my mind loose through writing that pretty much amounts to (hopefully) less cringe-y erotica.
I think maybe also because this isn’t just between two characters in a book (however thinly veiled that “disguise” turns out to be at the end of the day). This is far more personal… and honest.
In addition to what my readers and friends would think, there’s the person I wrote this about. What would he think?
I mean, truth be told, I’m sure I have several guy friends who will read this and, even if they have zero empirical evidence to think it’s about them, they will find a way to convince themselves that it is. I always think about the many studies they’ve done where men always see themselves as more attractive to women than they are on average percieved, and men usually read that women like them more than women actually do. I think that leads to a lot of the phenomenon of guys ghosting frustrated women on the mistaken belief that the women already like them too much and they don’t think they reciprocate like that yet when really the girl is like bro, we’ve had all of two dates, I don’t even know if I like you as a human being yet, much less a romantic interest. I’m just being nice to you because I think you’re cute and I’m curious about ya. Women, on the flip side, tend to underestimate their attractiveness, as well as the level of interest of the men in their lives.
Given this fact (and how much I see it repeated in my every day life) I’m sure almost all of my male friends and acquaintances will somehow read into my words and looks for clues and hints that all of the NSFW imagining (fantasizing) going on last night included them.
Oh man. Knock yourself out, bud.
Which means I know for sure for sure, that the person this is actually about will one hundred percent think/know I wrote this about him. I’ve already seen him get a little delusional about how he thinks I feel about him on multiple occasions. And I just wish I could say (without him getting all sensitive and feel like I’m rejecting him): I find you inexplicably alluring, interesting, and attractive and yes, I do care about you. But hun, that doesn’t mean I’m in love with you. If we gave it a shot, I have no idea if we’d ever even reach the second date (I mean, I think we would, but nothing is ever certain) and I definitely haven’t decided yet whether or not you’ll ever get to see me naked. Despite the fact that I flirt a lot, and am clearly already having triple x dreams about you.
I mean, lustful by nature, by my willpower is what rules me. My strength is my emperor, and you’d have to defeat him first to truly rule/master me. Because unlike a lot of women today (unfortunately), I’m still a prize to be won by only the most worthy. I might dangle it in front of a few lucky souls to see if they’ll step up to the plate, but I don’t throw it at people (strangers or crushes) in a misguided show of “feminism” and modernity. I am still something that needs to be earned. I know my worth, and it’s too valuable to be doled out in free sample form #notafreesamplekindawoman
Plus, there are other ways to satisfy that urge that usually work better anyway…
But guys are sensitive and way too afraid of rejection, so if I ever tried to have a real talk with him like that, it would just scare him away—as though I literally slapped him in the face—even though all I’m really saying I like you enough to give it a try but not enough to create expectations. I’m constantly walking this tight rope of trying to convey just the right amount of interest to encourage him to continue to walk in my direction but also not enough so that he thinks it’s a slam dunk. Bleh, it blows, but, in my opinion, dating apps and the normalization of random hookups on such a mass degree really messed up the days of men knowing when to sack up and just ask a girl out on a real fucking date. If you graphed the rise of dating apps, you could also basically track the steady decline of my personal life, and probably a meaningful one for a ton of other people.
Or, at least, that’s what it feels like most of the time… But I’ve also made some strategic moves/decisions to sit a few rounds out for awhile. So, who knows?
Ugh, anyway. Frustration with the opposite gender aside, I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’d love to post it—I’d love to give my readers/friends something to be titillated by and even possibly have to hide their signs of arousal over if they make the mistake of reading it in public. And, concerning my “friend”, even though he might take it more seriously than I mean it, I’d love for the person I wrote about to also hear these words and imagine these thoughts. I’d like it so much, I’d even sacrifice a few other guys doing the same even when it’s not accurate for them to do so.
But… I don’t think I will. I don’t think I can. It’s too… revealing. Too vulnerable and… scary.
So… I guess I’ll just sit on this for awhile. Maybe one day I’ll sneak it in the blog, but I won’t announce when I do so. Probably the more eagle-eyed, attentive readers will be the only ones who find it. Or maybe I will announce it, but in a very low key way… so again, only a loyal few will be able to catch it.
More likely than not, I will try to find a way to put it in Prey. I mean… it wouldn’t be too far off from the storyline to do so…
And then, there’s also that other possibility, concerning the prophetic effect my writing often seems to have.
Maybe I wrote it to manifest the moment…
Oh, who am I kidding? I definitely did.
How many times have I written scenes only to experience them come to life weeks, months, or years later? In fact, I wrote something last week that literally came true the next day. It was as insane as it was awesome and vindicating. It makes me feel so powerful when that kind of shit happens. Like I can create almost anything with just a few keystrokes…
Oh, there’s one caveat though. Like, when I mentioned earlier that I go into this trancelike state when I write and then out flows this divine kind of creation that later seems to have some sort of supernatural power… it doesn’t happen if I only get to sit down to write for a few minutes. I have to slip into the flow, which usually requires writing for at least 30-45 sustained minutes and is best when it’s at least two to five hours.
In this way, tapping into “my magic” reminds me a lot of working out. I have so many people tell me they hate exercising and it’s not “easy” for them like it must be for other people who don’t hate it. And I always say the same thing: Minus it being a little easier to perform some tasks when you have more muscle and cardiovascular endurance, working out is generally the same for most people. You have to do it consistently, and hard enough such that your heart starts to beat fast enough for a sustained period of time that you enter the “burn zone” and long enough so that your body starts to release endorphins. If you don’t work out hard enough, you wont feel the endorphins and it wont feel “good”. And if you don’t get your heart rate high enough for long enough, you won’t reach that optimal burning stage where you see results. That’s just as true for the average gym denier as it is for a professional athlete. Over time, it will get easier for you to find your sweet spot between pushing yourself into the burn zone and releasing endorphins. That’s why athletes say they love working out, and their bodies show the results of it. But if you never work hard enough to get there, you will always operate under the misapprehension that your body is different from the bodies who like to work out slash the bodies for whom working out pays physical/visible dividends. But it’s really not different. That’s why even athletes will say after extended periods of rest and recovery, that they have to work really hard to “get back in shape”. They’ll still look in shape to you, but if you ask them, that first week or two of getting back to their old workout regime will be rough for them. Because they need to reacclimate their body to finding their sweet spot amidst the burn. And, I honestly think so many people fail at their resolutions to exercise because they aren’t aware that they have to just work hard enough to get over that “sweet spot” hill (it’s like activation energy).
Anyway, I have a theory that this is also true with whatever habit helps you tap into your own particular brand of magic. I think we all have something—some quality or strength or hobby or passion—that when we do it enough or give into it enough, we create “magic”, both externally and internally. Magic can mean a lot of things—you create a work of art or genius, you achieve something very difficult if not seemingly impossible, you become very successful at something, you do something that fills your soul with happiness and completely fulfills you of your own accord from the inside out, and the combination of all these things usually breaks loose the manifestation dam in other related and unrelated arenas. Usually, a person’s form of magic is their answer to the question, “What are you most passionate about?” or “What’s your favorite hobby” or “What would your dream job be?”
I love to create (in general) and I love working out, and I usually feel much higher vibes, happier, and more fulfilled when I do those two things every day. But my magic is strongest when created by two things, writing and playing volleyball (next strongest would be traveling and swimming). But for whatever reason, writing and volleyball are the two activities that leave me feeling most in touch with my own divinity and power (slash that enable me to tap into a higher divinity or power) and channel that magic/energy into my own kind of genius creation/amazing feat.
Anyway, I know I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t go super in detail on it, but I just wanted to say that, in my experience, it only works if you do it in its truest form, which means fully giving into the activity such that you practically black out by the time you’re done. I can’t just write for five minutes or even fifteen but be distracted when doing it just as I can’t just pick up a volleyball and mess around with it for awhile. I have to be actively engaged—I have to hit the point where the story is being fed into my brain from a higher source; or where I’m in the heat of a game such that I have no awareness of my own body or wellbeing beyond it’s use as a tool to manipulate the ball and the score toward the direction of victory.
Well, I’m going to go because I have to get ready for work now. But I want to leave you with the question, what’s your form of magic? Have you ever experienced what I’m talking about before? If yes, is this something you should be incorporating into your schedule more often so you can really play around with your power and manifest your dreams? And if your answer is no, what can you do to try to figure out exactly what your magic is? I think I’d start with a list of your guesses/hunches and do each for a week and then see what made you feel the best. But that’s just a suggestion. I’ve been spoiled in that I’ve known what my magic is (in both arenas) pretty much as long as I can remember. From the moment I first picked up a pen to write a story and from the first time I touched a volleyball and was taught how to play, I just knew. Hey, maybe that’s your hint right there.
And, as far as the NSFW scene goes… you can always request that I post it. I’m not sure if I can be persuaded on that matter, but I might send it privately around, if I’m feeling particularly bold. And, of course, I might just post it at some point sans announcement… so… maybe just stay tuned…
I really didn’t want to mention anything on this blog until I finished the final draft of Prey, but I just couldn’t stay silent through this.
Something is up. I can feel it in the air. Can you?
It started almost exactly 2 weeks ago. It was just a slight shift at first. I felt it coming on in a wave of anxiety. I hoped I was imagining it at the time, but now I’m almost positive I wasn’t.
Now, I know it’s been a crazy, calamitous year. I know a lot of people think the whole of 2020 is just effed up and off. And I’m not saying that there’s not a hint of truth to that.
The thing is, even though it’s been a very difficult and strange year, it hasn’t felt this off (to me, at least) until the last few weeks. Sometimes, we go through difficult cycles, personally or collectively. Up until this point in time, I just chalked the year up to being a challenging cycle for the collective. Because even though it’s been surreal and rough, I’ve definitely witnessed a heck of a lot of wins this year. Over and over and over again, I’ve been seeing my family, friends, and myself overcome a crap ton of obstacles that have repeatedly knocked up on our asses for years now. It was almost like the world/karma was saying, “Listen, we’re going to kick you around a bit this year, thrown a bunch of sand in your eyes, and sucker punch ya, but, if you keep your head down and push through it, we’re going to let you knock us out when and where it counts.” And, to be honest, I’m kind of okay with that for a short-term kind of arrangement.
Whether it was my friend finishing a difficult academic pursuit, or one of my family members getting pregnant after years of trying, or me finally reaching a point of career autonomy and success I’ve been after for years while also making some significant strides in a personal connection that I can’t explain but for some reason, means the world to me, it just seems like everything, despite the overall unease and frozen-in-time state of the world, for myself and my nearest and dearest has finally been moving forward. And I’ve felt so beyond grateful for that. In so many areas it feels like my wishes and manifestations are finally coming true (after years of just feeling stuck and crushed by a karmic wheel that has refused to budge even an inch).
But something shifted two weeks ago...
Like I said, first I felt it in the form of an anxiety attack that seemingly hit out of nowhere. But that’s what anxiety is like. Everything is fine until it isn’t. I went home and self-soothed until I felt better. And the next day I was hoping that would just be that.
But three days later I woke up to a completely unexpected and unprecedented amount of neck/upper back pain and stiffness. I had to call in to work and tell them I couldn’t come in. I could barely move without crying. It was terrible. Thankfully, the stiffness eventually subsided enough that I could actually move again, but it hasn’t relented completely and combined with the pain, this condition has lasted for almost two weeks now. I can’t work out, and I can barely function through normal daily tasks without pain medication.
And let me tell you, not being able to work out eats at my soul. Working out is one of my top two anti-anxieties (the other is writing). It’s been brutal being sidelined for so long. It’s been brutal just being this uncomfortable and in such an intense amount of unrelenting pain. I can barely sleep at night because there is no position I can lay in that doesn’t hurt.
We don’t know what’s going on, my doctor dad is guessing at something viral being the underlying cause and my mom thinks it’s been brought on by stress because work, while being blessedly successful as of late, has been beyond hectic and I’ve been working most nights as well as weekends without much rest for over a month now. I have to go in to get it checked out if it persists much longer, but I’m hoping my mom is right and it’s stress-induced, and if I can just chill the eff out and relax a bit, it will finally start subsiding.
And the thing is, it could just be stress. In addition to working way more than I probably should be and not resting enough, ever since that initial panic attack, so many things have started going wrong. Things that should be working out. Things that were coming so easy before.
Not all the shit has hit the fan though. Thank goodness there are two things still going very, very right for me. I feel like it’s only through that stability that I’m holding onto my sanity and am able to destress. Because everything else is just a mess.
Chaos, to be honest.
A little over four years ago, I entered a several month-long period where it felt life my life just went off the rails and got stuck on a wonky, alternate track. A wrong track. A track headed god knows where, but I knew I didn’t want to stick around on that train long enough to see the final destination.
And that’s how it feels now. Earth was already careening a bit on its axis, but now it just feels like we’ve shifted into a parallel, dark universe.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m being dramatic… but am I?
Anxiety attacks. Unexplainable and debilitating bodily pain and discomfort. Non-stop heat waves. Virus numbers subsiding but the government still unable to function in rational ways. Rioting in many of our most populous cities such that they resemble war zones once the sun goes down. Fire… fire everywhere. The oppressive heat has actually been drowned out by smoke as ash rains down, making the air even more unsafe. And that’s just the West Coast!
And then there are the other personal setbacks. Systems failing, non-sensical roadblocks at every turn, all forms of communication feeling blocked and rejected, attempts at making things happen unexplainably and mercilessly thwarted...
And through it all, I just feel off. Like I’m watching the world fall apart around me. Like a character stuck in a disaster movie. But a side character. Not one contributing to the chaos or the hero trying to solve the problem, but an innocent bystander wondering why all of a sudden all of the plagues of Egypt seem to be raining down and just trying to dodge as many fireballs and stay alive until the heroes sort everything out and kill the freaking mummy already.
God, it’s been so weird. I’m not sure I have much of a conclusion other than I have no f*cking idea what’s going on and I just want everything to get righted soon. If you feel like the last two weeks have just been strange and icky and foreboding in an unexplainable way, email me (email@example.com) or text me if you have my number and we can commiserate.
So… for those of us who share this feeling, where do we go from here? I’m a big believer in action, but I have to admit, I don’t think this particular shift has anything to do with me, and I’m not sure my “magic” alone is enough to defeat it or reverse the tides.
I don’t know what the answer is for everyone else, but for me, I’m leaning in hard on tried and true coping/self-soothing tactics. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family and friends, especially my cousins (who feel more like siblings) and that has made me so freaking happy, because they’re blood. When we’re together, I just feel like I’m with my coven, and my vibe automatically goes up. Added to that, I’ve been cooking for them and having them over to my place, which also just makes me happy. And we’ve been watching things like “The Mummy” which has got to be one of my favorite movies of all time so… that’s been sick.
I’ve also been spending a lot of time cuddling with Sherman and petting him. Whether he senses my anxiety or pain or just has those heightened animal instincts, I feel like Sherman also knows something is off. He’s been sticking to my side even closer than normal, and I so appreciate that. We’re in this together, bud.
I started reading my favorite authors from my late teens/early twenties again. Actual physical books I can hold in my hands, simultaneously grounding myself in their solidity while astrally escaping to another life, another adventure.
I’ve been creating seemingly non-stop, but I think that’s actually been contributing to the stress because it’s all been for business purposes and I’ve got myself on this crazy schedule right now that I don’t really need to be on, but I’m kind of just doing it to myself; almost afraid that if I stop, the success will stop. I’m now instead trying to remind myself to relax, and organize my schedule so that when I go home in the evenings, the only creating I need to and should be doing is writing. I know that if I were writing more, it would help. Writing is my magic--it fixes everything.
I’ve also created some emo, angry rock playlists, the kind I used to listen to pretty much non-stop during hard times from 13 to, well, now. I know some people feel like that kind of music just stresses them out, and I guess I get that. Certainly, some of the heavier stuff I don’t listen to when my vibrations are already pretty high. But when happiness is a little harder to come by—when I’m frustrated or sad or just down and I can’t explain it—getting angry makes me feel better. Because anger is empowering, as opposed to depression which is just defeating. If you can turn your pain into anger, you’ll eventually get so pissed off that you start to feel empowered. And when you feel empowered, you can finally manifest change. At least for me, it’s a weird hack to get my vibes up again when I’m not feeling organically happy.
There are some songs in particular, maybe it’s the lyrics, maybe it’s the rhythm, maybe it’s the vision the combined effects conjure… Because great music should make you see/live new stories in your mind—and if you can tap into the power of what you’re feeling and seeing, then you should be able to manifest from just listening to it. That’s why music is so intoxicating. That’s why we’re all obsessed with music and the people who create it. It helps us feel and tap into magic. To be fair, other art forms do as well. It’s like when we witness other people tap into their own creative divinity, it transfers to us and allows us to tap into our deepest manifesting/magical powers (I also think sports can do this as well in a physical divinity kind of way, but I’m not going to go into that right now). At least, music does this for me. Music is the drug that fuels my creations, and it always has been. I can only hope my writing/stories/clothes hold that power for someone else one day.
In general, I’ve been trying to watch/consume less tv/youtube videos, etc. and read and listen to music more. Ever since I can remember, my main hobbies included writing, drawing, sewing, listening to music, and reading. And for years (basically childhood to my mid twenties), my ability to manifest almost anything I wanted remained strong. But with the advent of the netflix/youtube generation, even though I rarely sit down to just watch shows or movies very often (because I usually am working while it’s on in the background), I can feel that watching most forms of video just numbs me out. It ends up turning into white noise that really messes with my vibe. So, I went back to what I used to do when I was younger and felt like more was possible in the world. And I feel like ever since I’ve made a concerted effort to listen, read, write, and create more and watch less, more has been happening for me, in ways I’ve been waiting for things to happen for a long time. So I’ma keep doing that.
And, of course, different music fuels different moods and different manifestations. But when the chips are down, I gotta go with some angry rock music. I don’t what it is about these songs, but they transform my mood from depression to power every time. Maybe it’s the specific ones I choose for these anger/power playlists, but instead of feeling like a victim, I start to see myself as the hero of my own story again. I’m just at that point in the story where everything is going wrong. But the more I listen, the angrier I get. Fuck the world for being so shitty. I’m the fucking hero of this story. And I’m going to fuck all the shit up until things start going well for me again. Because this is my goddamn story. I only have one life and I’m going to live it exactly the way I want, and anything that dares to get in my way can just piss off.
A lot of the lyrics remind me to tap into a darker, more primal and powerful side of myself. Those lyrics might sound ominous to a lot of people, but to me, they remind me to reach into that deeply rooted internal power we all have. They tell me to pick myself up by the bootstraps and dive into the chasms of my soul to mine the deepest wells of strength and reserves of fortitude and courage I possess. They remind me that life is survival of the fittest, and it’s up to me and me alone to not only survive but thrive. They inspire me to prove the world wrong. To say fuck you, hit me with everything you’ve got, I’m stronger than this and I’m going to overcome your bullshit and shove it back up your ass to remind you never to fuck with me like this again.
Anywho… maybe angry music isn’t your jam. But it’s mine. It helps me out in a very palpable way (thank goodness for the creators who make the kind of music that enables me tap into my strength when I’m feeling the most down and out btw).
So… this is where we’re at, I guess. My parents gave me something pretty intense to take that’s supposed to help with nerve pain and I think it’s working. I’ve got my angry music on and I’m going to write some manifestations out and then work on Prey until I pass out. I’m also going to keep reminding myself to take deep breaths and relax because the stress is not helping anyone—least of all, my body—right now. I’ve accomplished so much in the past few months, and instead of constantly pushing myself to achieve more, I really, for my own health and well-being, need to take a well-deserved break, pat myself on the back, and just rest for a moment. The success will still be there for me to achieve in the morning, or even in a week from now. It’s not going to disappear just because I stop chasing it for a brief spell.
I’m remembering to spend extra time petting my dog, because that fluffy wolf makes me feel better every time I so much as look at him. Maybe I’ll read a little Stephenie Meyer before I go to bed, because yes, Edward is a creepy, manipulative f*ck, but dammit if her writing doesn’t take me back in time to a much less stressful era of my life. A much more hopeful era of my life. And I want to feel hopeful again. It may be over a decade later, but I’m still only 32. I’m sure I have so many surprises and positive experiences ahead of me, if only I can get my mind to imagine that kind of life for myself again. To be honest, the wounds from Dario (and from the one right after Dario who I’m not going to mention because we’re friends and I don’t want him to feel bad) never healed but instead lingered and festered, and I think I’m only now realizing how much those two fucked me up, and how much healing I have left to do. I buried the pain down deep, and I thought I could just pave over it with success after success. But, now that my karmic wheel is finally starting to turn again, I’m realizing that the dirt is rising and the bodies are coming to the surface. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know I’m working on facing them now and that in and of itself is something.
And, I think it’s become most apparent to me because whereas I can imagine tremendous success in every other area of my life, I just can’t seem to imagine having those kind of positive, transformative experiences again in my love/personal life. It’s almost like deep inside, I just feel like that kind of life isn’t meant for me. Like I had what I had for the time I had it but now it’s gone and it’s never coming back. I’m like a widowed 90 year old trapped in a full of latent potential 32 year old’s body. And I’m so tired of doing that to myself. Maybe that’s why I’m trying to tap back into all of these hacks that make me feel young and make life feel full of possibilities again. It’s like logically I know this isn’t the end for me, but I almost need some electric paddles to shock my heart back into beating again.
Sure, there have been people who have inspired life in that seemingly tired out muscle. And maybe one in particular who is like a magnificent, breathtaking, potentially deadly lightning storm in and of himself, and, man, when he strikes does that feel impossibly amazing (and potentially resurrecting).
But he’s got his demons to overcome, too, and moreover, I don’t want to rely on someone else to make me feel that way again. I have to heal it on my own before I can incorporate another person to enhance that experience. It’s too risky to rely on someone else to do it all for me, and sure, it would be an easier and quicker fix but, I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem like the right way to go about it.
Anyway, once again, this has taken an unexpected turn, and I’ve probably said a little too much. I gotta go write and create some magic now. Seriously though, let me know if you’ve felt like the last two weeks have gone to hell in a hand basket. I’m so curious to know if anyone else has felt the same shift I’ve been feeling. And if you have, well, here’s to it disappearing as suddenly as it came on.
So it dawned on me while I was working out last night that the last update I wrote did have an overriding thesis and that is “I feel different.”
And as I was musing about this spinning the wheels of the ol’ stationary bike, I realized that I actually really like feeling different. I like when my friends roll their eyes at my antics and tease me, I like when my dad jokingly says, “Oh God, why did you have to curse me with such an odd child?”, and I like when my exes chuckle and remark that one day the FBI is going to show up on their doorstep to ask about me.
I really freaking like being weird. And maybe if I like my weirdness so much, it shouldn’t be something that makes me interpret my relationships with others in a negative light. Maybe, my weirdness will attract to me people who either love it and/or are equally odd.
After all, don’t we all feel a little strange and misunderstood sometimes? Don’t we all struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation? Maybe you’re a crazy, loony, creative weirdo like me. Or maybe, you feel different for another reason. Maybe you feel like you don’t fit the mold of whatever region you live in or industry you work in. Maybe you feel estranged from “your generation”. Maybe you want to go out in the world and make a life for yourself whereas your whole family are the hometown-for-life kind of people. Maybe you prefer having reptiles for pets as opposed to dogs and cats. Maybe you feel like you don’t fit into our societal conventions of attractiveness, fitness, success, sexuality, gender, etc. Maybe you don’t like “Game of Thrones” (I’m not the biggest fan, TBH).
The point is, we all feel separated from the norm sometimes. This can be painful given the natural human instinct to build packs. But it can also be empowering! When you can lean into whatever makes you different and instead of letting it make you feel insecure, you figure out how to harness and leverage it to your advantage--well, to me that sounds like the ultimate super power.
I’m glad I wrote that update. I had so much I needed to get out; and I honestly feel like I exorcised so many demons and dark, painful thoughts and fears by doing so. After I hit the “post” button yesterday, it felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders and chest. I felt light and happy, and like I could breathe again. And I felt like all the problems I had addressed, somehow seemed so much smaller. Like, just by saying their name and acknowledging their existence, I shrunk my monsters down in size so that they transformed from something terrifying, ginormous, and unbeatable to something almost cute, tiny, and easily manageable.
Sometimes, you just need to let things out, and oftentimes, if you can do that in a creative way or in a way that harnesses your special brand of magic, it can have truly incredibly results. You’ll feel better, and who knows what tapping into that kind of power might manifest? Only amazing things, I’ll bet!
I’m going to keep this “surprise” post short. I just wanted to say, I get what I was trying to say now. I’m different. We’re all different. But I love the ways in which I’m different, and I’m going to do my best to remember that. And if people don’t accept me or you because of the ways in which we’re different, guess what? Those just aren’t our people.
After all, birds of a feather flock together. So I’m going to lean into my weird, strange, odd eccentricities, harness them into even more superpowers, and find my particular, peculiar, and powerful flock of like-minded winged mutants. I hope you all do the same.
Sending you love and warm hugs on this chilly, rainy April day.
Hokay, change of plans. I’m going to save the happy stuff for the end and just get into it. I’m worried the back and forth is too confusing otherwise. You might want to grab a drink for this. It’s going to get very dark but then end very light. Actually, I think I’m going to grab a drink for editing this as well. Because, eff this had be crying when I was writing it yesterday.
Part 4 Continued:
Another thing that concerns me is my need for personal space. I have always run into difficulties with my exes—even the most self-sufficient ones—because most of them had a problem with my need for alone time. I have experienced everything from literally being held down against my will and forced not to leave a room (that same asshole also threw me into a wall and cracked it with my head and also wouldn’t “allow” me to to watch movies like The Covenant or Eyes Wide Shut because I was his “little girl” and I wasn’t to be subjected to the male nudity aspect—this guy was actually my age, weirdly enough, and this is why my first love was not my first boyfriend but actually my second one, because fuck that dbag) to getting my work/book/whatever it was that I was concentrating on taken away from me so I could just sit on the couch next to my boyfriend and watch him watch sports—my attention wasn’t allowed to be diverted in any way, to getting shit from multiple boyfriends from talking to my friends too much while we were hanging out in group situations, to being guilted out of going to parties with mutual friends for the same reason—my attention would be too diverted— to multiple exes having problems with me staying up a few hours later than them to have some alone time and get writing done (I was always accused of staying up to text other people/cheat), to spending too much time in the bathroom whether I was taking a bath or getting ready for bed or whatever. I’ve also been hounded for spending too much time on work-related matters or even for going to the gym too much. It’s like my time is not my own when I’m in a relationship, and I think this is part of why I opt to do long distance relationships so much of the time because at least when we’re not together, i can spend my time how I choose.
And, the thing is, not all of my exes were so monopolizing of my time from the beginning. But inevitably, as time went on, it would turn to that. The cherry on top was when one of my exes rationalized their cheating on me with my need for my own autonomy and personal/work time, because they said it seemed like I was used my extra time to be unfaithful as well.
So… yeah, fuck. It’s hard for me to get around this. And it’s hard because I see so many of my friends who are in relationships or married struggle with the same thing but it doesn’t seem to be quite the dealbreaker/soul sucker it is for me for them. So there is a part of me that is worried that I just don’t have the same kind of attachment style as most people, given that having zero alone time/free time seems to be annoying at worst to others, but for me it is CRIPPLING. I feel so suffocated.
My only hope here is that I find someone who has an equal need for their personal/me time as well. Someone trustworthy who also trusts me. And we can hang out and be together in our free time, and we can even get work done together in the same room sometimes, but if either of us needs personal time, we’re allowed to just take it, no questions asked. I wrote a poem about this, it’s called “Alone Together” and, that was a very personal and honest poem because that’s exactly the dynamic I’m looking for. I just hope there is someone out there who is looking for the same thing.
Another thing that worries me is the masculine-feminine dynamic in relationships. Like most women, I am attracted to strong, dominant, alpha in (their own way) guys. Because I am also an alpha, so I’d like to be with an alpha. And some of my most heart-warming moments in my last relationship included times when my ex very much took a protector role with me. Actually, I have two exes who did this in very sweet, caring, non-controlling ways, and those are some of my most fond relationship memories out of all of my past relationships. For example, one time the whole glass sliding door of the shower exploded on me while I was taking a shower, and my then-boyfriend had to literally lift me out of the glass because every slight shift of weight I made cut my feet to shreds. I’m usually fairly brave about most things and I have a very high pain tolerance, but this incident was super frightening. Thank goodness I didn’t have Sherman then because he always sits right next to the shower when I’m taking one and he would have been injured as well.
But I remember how scared I was and how I couldn’t stop shaking and crying when this happened. I was in so much pain as my boyfriend picked me up out of the glass, carried me out of the bathroom, and sat me down so he could start pulling the glass out of my skin. Then he started cleaning/bandaging up the wounds, while also trying to comfort me so I would stop crying. He helped me clean up afterward and offered to contact the landlord for me but I told him I would handle the last part as I had recovered enough to put on my big girl panties again.
And, also when we had just started dating, this ex and I took a trip to Scotland together (we were both living in Europe at the time), and we challenged each other to a race as made the climb up to Arthur’s seat. Which, if you’ve never done that before, it’s a path you can walk--for the most part--except the closer you get to the top, it gets super rocky and the walkable crags get further and further apart. So for my boyfriend who was a good 8 in inches taller than me with much longer legs, he had no problem getting over those crags, but that was the point in the hike where my short legs became a bit of an impediment. Still, I wasn’t going to ask for his help because I’m stubborn and we were racing. But once we got to the very top, I did not realize how windy it would be. Seriously, the wind was fierce. And it soon became apparent that the wind was so strong that several of us at the top were going to have considerable trouble staying on our feet.
Noticing the difficulty I was having, and not wanting me to be blown off the mountainside, my fairly burly and sturdy boyfriend--without a word--came over to me and kept a steadying hand/arm around me the entire time we were at the top. I think he knew it hurt my ego a little bit that I couldn’t “handle” the elements up there by myself, so he didn’t say anything about it or give me a hard time. Instead, he tried to make it romantic and asked the people up there to take our pictures, where it looks like we’re cuddling sweetly, and we were, but also he was holding me down so I wouldn’t fall to my demise.
And another time, with a different ex back in college, I had just been admitted to a prestigious social club that he was already a member of, and we were going through initiations that night, which required us to strip down to our skivvies and get very intoxicated. After I went through the hazing/celebratory rituals, I was very drunk and had little intention of putting my clothes back on; and my ex (who at the time wasn’t my boyfriend really yet, we had just started hanging out) he grabbed me and made me re-robe. And we hung out for awhile, but then when it was clear I was incredibly drunk, he made sure I got home safely. And at the time, I was annoyed because I wanted to stay and keep partying. But the next day, I was really glad that he did get me home when he did and that he did make sure I only was in my underwear for the necessary time because I would have been mortified if I had stayed in that state of undress the whole night. And, it was different than my previous controlling boyfriend who just never wanted to me out or partying or hanging out with guys. This one had no problem with me partying, in fact, he was one of the main people who encouraged me to join this social club. But, on the rare occasions I was too inebriated, he would always make sure I got home safe; and even back when we were “just friends” and I was dating someone else, if ever someone was bugging or making me feel uncomfortable, he would always leave the party early to make sure I got back safe and sound.
And, I’m not going to go through all the moments where my exes acted like men and stepped up and took care of me in situations where I was too scared, physically incapable, or incapacitated to do so on my own; but I feel like out of all my relationships, those were the moments that have always stuck out to me as meaning the most. I try to be super independent the majority of the time, and even when in a relationship, I am often in long distance situations, so I still have to be independent regularly because I don’t have my boyfriend around to rely on all of the time. So, I don’t know, I guess it just meant a lot to me in these moments to have someone to hold onto, rely on to look out for my safety, and/or to get extra strength from.
So, on one hand, I really want to have this dynamic in my next relationship. It’s usually something that in the past has been at the top of my list for qualities I look for in a partner.
But, on the other hand, I don’t like having this dynamic in relationships, and this is why. I have always been the tough, tomboy type girl, but even then, I’ve noticed an uncomfortable habit form in several of my serious relationships. The stronger my partner is and the more comfortable I get relying on them, the more I lose confidence in my own ability to handle certain situations, and I get risk-adverse. This results in my self-esteem dropping slash me feeling incomplete on my own because I think I “need” my man to get me through these moments in life, and it makes me too cautious and much less fun as a partner.
AND I FUCKING HATE IT!
I think that’s why when I come out of relationships, I seek out super fool-hardy and dangerous things to do. It’s like I need to reassert my own ability to take care of myself and be a badass. And, the thing that sucks is that, this isn’t anyone’s fault necessarily. But it seems like to keep my boyfriend feeling like the man, and me feeling like I have a strong protector in my life, I have to sacrifice some of my own ability to look after myself. And then, I lose a huge chunk of that confidence, bravery, and adventurousness that made me a more attractive partner in the first place. So it just seems like a no-win situation.
Now, there may not be a solution to this. Or, maybe with the right person, I won’t lose the strong/brave part of myself. I have to admit, there is one ex of mine where with him, I didn’t do this. Now, to be fair, we didn’t date for super long so I don’t know if that habit would have formed down the line. But there is part of me that thinks it wouldn’t have, because we had a very different dynamic between the two of us; and he really encouraged me to be the strongest version of myself I could be. Also, we had such a great friendship at the core of our bond, that when we hung out together, even though I was insanely attracted to him, I felt very free to be my regular old tomboy nerd self, and I just felt like when we went on our little adventures, it felt more like we were two kids just having fun. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. But there’s something about the way our dynamic was that I’m not sure I would have developed the same crutch with him that I did with the others. And I have to add here, that the person I like right now, our bond reminds me the most of the bond I had with this ex. And, that is part of what give me hope that maybe with the right person, I won’t give in to this destructive habit. Or, I’ll be able to indulge in it to the extent that we both need me to, but I won’t abuse it and become less badass and more risk-adverse as a result.
Another thing I’m really hoping is that I’ve done enough growing over the past four years or so that I know myself well enough and I’m strong enough in who I am that no matter how much I like when my boyfriend steps up and takes care of me on the off occasion I need him to do so, I still remember that I’m basically a super hero in disguise and the majority of time, I can and should remain 100% capable and confident in my own abilities. And the thing is, it’s not like I don’t feel like I’m confident and badass when I’m in a relationship because logically I know I’m the same person, but it’s like practically I don’t act like that. Like I said, I grow risk-adverse. Almost like I’m afraid that I have something to lose, so I stop doing things that are fun but risky on the rare chance that something terrible might happen and I’d end up losing him or myself in the process.
For example, I’m not super fond of swimming in the ocean, but I do love swimming in general, and I’m pretty much in a pool whenever I can be. The last time I went on a vacation with my ex, I not only refused to go in the ocean with him, but I also wouldn’t go swimming in any of the bodies of water we came across on our hikes (I did go in the pool though). Nor would I jump off anything or swing on the rope trees. But, if you know me, you would know I’m a little monkey when it comes to shit like that--so long as it’s reasonably safe to do so. But I was too scared—too risk-adverse—due to the relationship to be my normal self. Now, to be fair, we still had a lot of adventures together and this ex did take me on a lot of literal paths that were actually quite dangerous—like we could have died dangerous--and I gamely went along. He even led me down a sheer cliff face one time and when I was struggling the other hikers came to my rescue and showed me the safe route down.
So for the life of me I can’t figure out why I did the most dangerous things, but the semi-dangerous more fun things, I held myself back from. But even though I don’t understand the logic behind this, it’s clearly a pattern, because I’ve seen myself do this in almost all of my relationships.
After we broke up, one of the first things I did—and now this was stupid so I’m not telling anyone to go do this—was I went for a swim in riptide conditions. I got pounded—along with my cousin—trying to make our way back in to shore, and we got pulled back out so many freaking times. But it was exhilarating, liberating, and fun, despite being insanely dangerous. And it was like all of a sudden I felt the release to be reckless and not care about all these what if’s and stupid speculations and fears holding me back now that I wasn’t in a relationship anymore.
And even now, I can feel over the past few years from choosing to remain single that I’m just loosening up so much over time. I’m saying yes to things that would have always been a hard pass before. I’m considering kind of crazy ideas and adventures and experiences that were I in a relationship would probably seem crazy and scary to me (and, no, I don’t mean sexual so get your mind out of the gutter).
And I vowed that the next time I went somewhere tropical, I would make the jump and go for the swim when we came to the end of our hikes, and last summer in Maui, I lived up to my word. I didn’t hold myself back at all. And again, the last few years, I’ve been making it a priority to say yes to risky ideas that I would normally say no to, and some of those things I’ll continue doing and others weren’t my cup of tea so I’m good now, but at least I didn’t hold myself back due to fear.
But I am definitely worried that I might revert back in my next relationship. It’s just something I really need to stay mindful of. And it sucks because, I don’t want to emasculate my boyfriend. I want him to feel as strong and manly as possible, and I want to see him that way. But I also want to be the fun, brave partner having adventures right along with him. I don’t want to be the hesitant, cautious, unsure one. I want to be ME; and I hate when I change in this regard when I’m in a relationship.
In a similar vein, I don’t want to get in a relationship where we hold each other back in any way. Whether that’s because one of us is scared of the other’s growth or because we get so damn comfortable and content in our relationship that we lose the fire under our asses. That’s what happened in my last one. We were so fucking happy in our relationship and in each other, we started letting our goals fall to the wayside. And that led to us both being somehow in an amazing relationship but living rather mediocre lives outside of it. I will NOT settle for that. I would rather have an all around kick-ass single life than be married but not meet my potential in most arenas. The idea of “but at least I’m married with kids so I still get validated by society” is not enough for me. And, hey, that’s fine if that works for you, but that is one of my greatest fears. Because I know that no matter how happy my relationship is, if I’m not achieving or living life in all the other ways that matter to me, I will ultimately be unfulfilled. And if I’m happy in love but not happy with anything else, then that’s not a win for me; and thus, that’s not an acceptable option.
I hope that with whomever I end up dating next, that we are able to keep each other focused and motivated. I hope I end up with someone who has a need to also be constantly hustling and improving. I’m a little worried about our work/life/relationship balance, but hopefully if I find someone who operates similarly to me, that won’t be a problem.
Ok this is a smaller one, but it really concerns me the way modern day dating works, because it’s completely opposite to the way I date. I don’t hook up unless I’ve been dating someone for a little bit (preferably not before exclusivity is established), but I also like to date people who are my best friend. Which means, I’m not into super fancy dates or being wined and dined; and I’m also not looking for someone to “take care of me”.
I want to meet someone who’s ok with going for drinks or going to see live music or going on random adventures and hanging out in a more friendly way; and if that turns romantic after a few “dates”, then awesome. I just like things to develop naturally, and I don’t like the expectations that comes with modern day dating culture—whether that’s hooking up on the first date or having someone take you out to a very serious sit-down dinner or just spending a shit ton of money on you with the expectation that they will be reaping dividends from their investment.
I’d rather go for a hike and then go grab drinks and maybe hit an arcade or something. I just want to fall for my best friend, and I want to have the time to do so. I don’t want to be forced into some kind of hooking up before we know each other or seriously dating or putting labels on anything before we’re both sure we feel that way and want that. And that’s not so we can just still be hooking up with whomever—I don’t do that anyway, and I’d prefer the person I’m dating to not use that period to sleep around as much as possible either.
It’s just so things can develop at a natural pace and there’s no pressure placed on anything. I think when I tell people I don’t hook up and I don’t use dating apps, they think that I'm expecting the five star, girlfriend to wife fast track treatment and that’s the opposite of what I’m looking for. In the past, all of my relationships just kind of… happened. Like we either were friends for awhile first and hanging out super low key (not friends with benefits though, again, I don’t do that), and over time romantic feelings just formed or got stronger and we decided to take it to the next level OR we met on vacation or in the real world and had some adventures together and decided we didn’t want that to stop. I’m just not a hookup girl and I’m not a formal dating girl and I’m not the kind of girl who likes to move too fast with anything. I just like to take it as it comes, and I’m not seeing my dating style really reflected by most women anymore; and it makes me think that most of the guys I encounter have zero idea what I’m looking for and/or what I want at the end of the day.
Of course, given my trust and abandonment issues, I’d be remiss not to mention my fears concerning that area. The thing is, I want to trust people, but once you’ve been cheated on, it’s so hard to do so. I hate being jealous, and nothing irks me more than people who are manipulative and controlling in relationships, so I never want to be that kind of person. At the same time, I’m obviously going to need a lot of reassurances from the next person I’m with that I can trust them. I feel bad asking that of someone because I don’t want them to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me, but also I don’t want the seeds of discontent to be sewn over me feeling slighted or taken advantage of or being made to look like a fool. And it’s especially hard when I start to trust someone, but then I hear all of these things about them that make me feel like I’d be stupid to give them my heart. I feel like I’ve run away from some potentially great guys over half-baked rumors. At the same time, though, if I went back and gave them a chance and they did end up cheating on me or leaving blindsided and out of the blue, wouldn’t I feel even worse about it because I had been warned?
I don’t know. That scares me. And in addition, there’s a flip side of that where in the past, my partner hasn’t been cheating on me, per se, but they’re doing things that kind of cross a line or they’re not saying “no” definitively enough to other people pursuing them and I get upset and retaliate. And it’s not like I’ll go cheat on them, but I’ll just go do the same thing they’re doing. So then I’m hurt and they end up hurt and it just poisons everything. But at the same time, what was I going to do, tell them to stop hanging out with their friends when they weren’t physically crossing a line? Then I’d get labeled the controlling jealous girlfriend, and that in of itself would probably push them away more and into someone else’s arms. And even in the cases where I haven’t asked them to stop doing something but I’ve told them how it makes me feel, well, that's been thrown back in my face as well. Usually when we break up, they’ll accuse me of making them walk on eggshells all the time so as to not hurt my feelings.
I mean, I don’t think asking you not to overtly flirt with your female friend who is clearly in love with you is asking you to walk on eggshells, but… I don't know. It just seems like a lose-lose (-lose). Unless I get extra lucky and find someone who doesn’t push boundaries in this way… but, I don’t know, in my experience 99% of guys do because they crave the extra attention and validation. Yeah, I don’t know what else to say here other than this is a huge fear of mine and a big reason why I’ve stayed single for so long.
Not to mention, when it comes to this category, when someone betrays or abandons you, then those old feelings of not being good enough just rear their ugly head again. I’m not going to go into this because I addressed this a few times before in this post, but that’s another fear/concern—dealing with the way being cheated on or summarily left with no explanation makes you feel—fucking shitty.
The last thing that worries me is something I realized at a party a few years ago. I don’t know if this is something specific to men in LA or if this is a general thing for men my generation that I’ve just never noticed before, but I don’t know, it seems like most men now on the surface act like they are “woke” and supportive of women and people of color and minorities. But the more you talk to them, the more clear it becomes that they see women as “other” or people of other races and sexual orientations as “other”. And, I’m going to focus here on their view of women exclusively because I’m specifically talking relationship concerns here.
I’m terrified of ending up with a guy who says he’s a feminist, but deep down, just sees women as status symbols only, gold diggers, and/or sex objects. And the scary thing is, I don’t think most millennial men realize they are like this, but it’s like there’s this dark side of their mind that exists and it only comes to light when they talk to other guys. And I think they rationalize it the rest of the time as “just guy talk” but it’s not. It’s how they really feel, they just hide it in polite company because they want to appear “woke”. Also, they wouldn’t get many girls if they led with it.
For example, I remember this particular conversation I was privy to a few years ago where a group of my kind-of guy friends were justifying prostitution. They had actually romanticized and fantasized about it; and they rationalized that most men pay for their girlfriends/wives at the end of the day so isn’t it all just the same thing?
And I’m sorry, but if you think human sexual trafficking is the same dynamic present in a female/male voluntary, consensual relationships, you are going to have a profoundly fucked up relationship. You also have zero empathy for the female experience and the history of women being subjugated, traded, and exploited as sex objects (or even the men and children who are also sexually exploited and trafficked).
And it seems like there is this backlash against women gaining more power, and that men have taken to sexualizing and fetishizing them to an even greater degree to still feel powerful. I mean, just look at the rise of graphic female nudity, sex, and violence against women we are assaulted with on the daily in the most popular tv shows, movies, and video games. And if you don’t think that over-exposure to these images, ideas, and narratives affects how men view women (or even how women view women), I got bad news for you. I think this theme also continues in our uber fucked up dating culture. And women don’t help in this regard either—don’t even get me started with the modern single woman’s take on her sex/dating life. But again, that’s not my issue because I date men, so I won’t go into it.
I just… I don’t know. For as much as I have said about my exes on this blog, AT LEAST none of them, at least not when we were dating, were this chauvinistic. Or maybe they were, and they just hid it. That’s part of my fear.
Because I feel like I see this dichotomy play out over and over again. There will be guys I meet who I respect and I think they respect me. But get a few drinks in them and the shit they say, it just breaks my heart. And this isn’t just romantic partners, but also friends and family. And I’m afraid that more and more millennial men are giving into this dark manner of thinking because they’re feeling powerless as women gain power. But I just wish there was an equally strong contingent of men out there who realize that women gaining power doesn’t have to detract from the power of men but can instead enhance it. I used to believe that there were men out there like that—and those were the kind of men I usually dated in the past. But I’m afraid they don’t exist anymore, because it’s been a while since I’ve met any like that.
And the guy I like right now—I truly can’t tell which side of this fence he comes down on. If the rumors about him are to be believed then he decidedly isn’t one of this strong contingent of men. But if I’m instead to believe how he has presented himself to me—well, then I would have faith that he wasn’t like this. But I don’t know yet because I don’t him well enough, and I’m just terrified to start dating someone who ultimately views women as transactional, replaceable, second-class citizens who are mean to be sex objects or trophy girlfriends/wives above all else.
And the thing that sucks is I don’t think modern single women are helping this cause at all. Whether it’s the IG model type or the shameless dating app hoe or the princess that demands to be taken care of in every single way or the male hater or the one with daddy issues. It feels like our own gender is out to sabotage us.
So, I get to a certain extent where this level of toxic masculinity is being amplified, and spread out. I guess I never had to really think that much about it before because it’s never affected my love life until now. I just never assumed my boyfriends weren’t pricks on the feminism front in the past, and most of them never really were. Except maybe that first douche...
I just don’t know anymore, though. All I want is someone who sees and treats me as an equal. Who doesn’t put me in a box due to my gender, or reduce my power through harmful stereotypes to maximize their perceived power/lessen their own insecurity. I want someone who doesn’t make me or my gender out to be the scapegoat for all their problems. Someone who is secure enough to see me as a human being first, and treat me as such.
And sometimes I get really angry, because it’s like, you know what guys? We’re fucking pissed and scared, too. We’ve been disempowered and objectified our entire fucking lives. We’ve been told that we’re less than and treated that way for centuries. And now you’re just getting a tiny taste of it, and you’re freaking out. And you hate us for it. You’re pissed because you’re scared that by not allowing you to control us anymore, we’re diminishing your power. If that diminishes your power (i.e., if your power is solely derived from the subjugation of others), well then, my friend, you never had much in the first place. You hate us for demanding to be treated like human beings. Honestly, fuck you.
And for the men who don’t feel this way, a very very sincere thank you. And I hope your mindset and empathy are contagious. I have many male friends and family members who are diamonds in the rough in this regard. And I fucking love you all for it. You are men, leaders, and kings in my eyes.
But if you’ve ever gone off on an anti-feminist rant before—even one just to your bros—you better check your fucking privilege at the door. Could you imagine if you were treated as a second-class citizen your whole life--for your gender’s whole existence-- and you tried to reclaim your power and you were shamed for it? If you were told you would be a less desirable mate for asking to be treated like an equal?
Whatever, I’m not going to go further into this. I can sympathize with the struggles of other minorities that I don’t belong to; but if you as a man can’t sympathize with women and applaud feminists for being brave as opposed to dragging them down; you’re a lost cause. And I’m not talking about supporting militant, men-hating feminists. I’m talking about supporting the feminist who is almost afraid to identify herself as such because of the backlash she knows she’ll get, but all she’s really asking for is to be treated like a person. Like you would treat any other human being [man].
But in a world of (more often than not, degrading) porn at our fingertips, photoshop/facetune, IG models and Kardashians, endless “options” at the swipe of a finger thus any connection is dispensable and replaceable, and rape, gratuitous sex and violence on every popular media form; have we just desensitized everyone from seeing others as human beings first and foremost? I kind of feel like we have. And that makes me feel really sad. And really really lonely. And isolated. And afraid to even try with the person I care about because I don’t want the disappointment of learning that he’s like this at the core as well. I’m literally tearing up as I write this because this fear/insecurity cuts so freaking deep.
But then, on the other hand, what if he’s not like this? What if being with him doesn’t resurrect any of the pain or worry or insecurities I just mentioned? What if I’m just accumulating all of my hurts and fears related to dating for nothing because I’ve grown as a person and maybe the person I end up will also have matured beyond these issues? What if he truly values women and does his best not to objectify them? What if he truly values and loves me for exactly the flawed, awesome, crazy, weird individual that I am? What if we have great communication? What if we want the same kind of schedule? What if he also wants to be “alone-together”? What if we give each other space and yet in that space we both are cognizant of each other’s boundaries and neither of us does anything that makes the other one feel jealous or like they’ve been made to look like a fool? What if the next person I date adores me as much as I adore him, and we never make the other one feel less than or not good enough? What if we don’t expect each other to be perfect and instead we love and embrace each other’s flaws and fit together like a slightly worn yet much loved puzzle?
Because… there might be someone that I really like who I could see having an easier road with. He’s someone who I don’t know nearly as well as I’d like but he already feels like one of my best friends. And, I think we’ve been hurt by similar things in the past, and I think we’re afraid of/don’t want the same things in a relationship. I think we have similar ideals of love that we’re afraid are unattainable. I think that if this is going to work with anyone, it might work with him. And not only just work, but potentially thrive. Because, we have this crazy deep bond, and I think we would have a lot of fun and adventures together. I also think we could be an uber successful power couple together. We’d support each other, and help light the flame under each others’ butts, and encourage each other to never stop kicking ass and taking names. And I think we would be intrigued and drawn into each other’s dark/weird sides, as opposed to being turned off by them. We might understand and see each other in a way we’ve never experienced before. And, I think there’s a chance we would totally respect and possibly even relate to each other’s boundaries and triggers.
Anyway, I don’t want to go too far into dreamland with that right now, because the point is there is someone who makes me not so afraid of all the things I listed above. Maybe that’s naive and maybe it’s just setting me up for failure again; but maybe it’s not. Maybe he’s just the right one.
I don’t know. I guess there might be light at the end of this tunnel. Only time will tell.
I really just wanted to get all of that crap out there because keeping those things hidden and not facing up to them is part of what triggered all my demons coming out to play at the end of last year. And I know these things are scary, embarrassing, paranoid, crazy even. I know they might reek of issues, trauma, and PTSD. But you know what? I’ve been hurt. Really really hurt. By a lot of people. So what if I’m a little broken in matters of the heart? I’m hyper-functioning in almost every other regard. And isn’t it a positive that I’m willing to face up to my shit at the end of the day? I know some people would rather keep their skeletons in the closet forever, haunting them until the end of time as long as they keep up appearances. But that’s not me. I’d rather just get it out in the open, deal with it, and finally make it to that last level where I can defeat (*ahem* befriend) the dragon, collect the treasure, save my prince, and, once and for all, beat the game.
So… that’s my dark and ugly truth. That’s what’s hiding under my hood. The good thing is marriage and kids aren’t exactly on my bucket list for life, so even if I never figure this shit out, fortunately for me, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll still have a pretty fulfilled, happy, and kick-ass life regardless. And, to be honest, if I had never met this one person in particular who I think would be worth clearing all this crap out for, then I might have just left this shit buried forever. But I think the looming possibility of what might be that’s hanging between us—I don’t know, it seems like a waste not to give it a try. I can’t really explain it to myself sometimes, but I feel like life just keeps pushing me toward him, and I’m tired of swimming against this particular current, especially when I want to be swimming toward him and not away.
So… I want to end this on a positive note, with two more random tangents. And I don’t exactly have the most positive thesis to this general update because I’m still working through all the things I just talked about. The good news is, I worked through all the previous things I mentioned in this several part series such that I’m no longer dancing with my demons every day anymore and I’ve officially emerged from that six month long dark tunnel of nightmares--so that is awesome. I feel not only back to normal now, but better than ever in most regards. And yet there are still things in every arena I’ve gone through, some big, some small, that I am very consciously working on. Everything is moving forward positively, but I’m no one where near done with the work, so there’s no pretty bow to tie this thing up with at the moment.
However, there are two positive trains of thought I’d like to end this with, because I don’t want to leave you (or me) bummed out. That’s the opposite of the intended effect I want to have.
Ok, so first, I want to talk about plans for the future. For quarantine and beyond.
I talked about some of these things earlier, but I wanted to give a little overview of my main focuses and projects for the next month and then the rest of the year.
I mentioned previously that I was reworking my exercise schedule so that I can hopefully heal my left ankle and foot which have been bothering me since September of 2019. I said that I was going to be changing my primarily running schedule to include a rebounder workout as well, and that also I was trying to incorporate pilates and stretching on my off-days. Well, I have made a few tweaks to that plan. I’ve signed up for a 21 day yoga series, and I’ve decided to include dance tutorials in my workouts as well. I’ve also agreed to coach one of my friends in volleyball so that we can play some pickup beach games this summer. Since my foot/ankle show no signs of getting better, I think I'm going to take a full week to focus primarily on the yoga, dance, pilates, and stretching. Thankfully, I have access to a stationary bike right now, so I’ll be using that for some zero impact cardio.
Hopefully after this week, my ankle/foot will feel up to running/rebounding at least two days a week, and I’ll start working that into my schedule slowly over the next month or two. Ideally, I would like to be running/rebounding four days of the week, and I also think it’s going to be important to work the yoga/pilates/stretching/dancing/volleyball in at least 3 to 4 days of the week. I’ll have to play around with a few different schedules the next few months to see what works, but I hope that in going forward, I can come up with a sustainable workout plan that won’t exacerbate my injuries but will burn the right amount of calories, add to my flexibility, and overall just be fun. I’ve also been discussing with some friends working kickboxing or something similar in the schedule, but I might have to hold off on that a) obviously until self isolation is over because we’d probably do a group class and b) until my ankle/foot have healed. Maybe come summer or fall I can also do that… We’ll see.
As far as writing projects go, once I finish this blog series, I’m going to release the first two parts of “Haunted” that include the ghost/paranormal/supernatural stories. The rest of “Haunted” I pretty much addressed in this blog update and/or I’m writing about it in Prey, so I feel like I’m covering the vast majority of it anyway, and thus I’m probably not going to need to write any more about it in the future. There is one area of “Haunted” that I wanted to discuss but to be honest, it’s super speculative and requires much more research on my part AND I think it’s going to be a major plot point in the third book of the Prey trilogy, so that’s the only part not yet addressed but it’ll be coming down the pipeline eventually.
After posting “Haunting” part 1 and part 2, to be honest, I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be posting a blog update will be. I have so much work to do for Prey and Belle + Day that I’m just dying to get done. With Prey, I have to go back and compile all my video and written revision notes, and then continue with editing the final draft. However, the thing about my editing process is that I’m more of a rewriter than an editor, so… I think I’m going to be plenty busy and occupied getting that final draft done. Once that’s done, I’ll send it out to agents and/or publishing companies. I explained this before, but I’m not sending it out before it’s in a more finalized form because I used to work on the publishing side and the more finalized a manuscript was, the less I felt inclined to chop it up and rework it.
After that, I have the rest of the trilogy to sort out. I already have a very good outline in my head of Prey #2, and I’m super excited to write it. Whereas Prey #1 is set somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and is meant to have a similarly atmospheric/moody vibe, Prey #2 is going to be set in LA, and I want it to draw on LA’s “scene” and underworld to bring forth a combined rock n’ roll, noir, & horror vibe. Like with Prey #1, one of the villains in Prey #2 is going to be based off someone I know in real life, except unlike Prey #1 where the person who inspired the character was pretty much as creepy and scary in real life as the character in the book, the person who inspired the villain in Prey #2 is not a villain in real life—not as far as I know anyway. Prey #2 and #3 will have the same lead characters, Riley and Liam, and they will also include one other protagonist type character from Prey #1 who will take on increasingly important/complicated roles in the second and third books.
At this point in time, Prey #3 is going to take place in 3-4 different locations that share a common connection. Prey #3 will have a travel/nature/wanderlust vibe—kind of a “what’s in the mists” in both a beautiful, mysterious intriguing way as well as a cosmic horror way.
So… Prey #1 has two villains both of whom are human except one thinks he’s a little more of a preternatural hunter/killer. Prey #2 also has two villains and while they are both human, one has certain proclivities that draw upon some not so human aspects. And Prey #3 has two villains except one is human and the other is something else. So there’s an element of the supernatural pervasive throughout all three books, but it increases from book to book to book. This mirrors another trajectory of the storyline that I can’t get say right now because *spoiler alert*. But the books start out as slightly supernatural but more of a thriller and end as a still a thriller but far more supernatural. Oh and Prey #3 is going to be loosely based on the Orpheus and Eurydice/Cupid & Psyche/East of the Sun, West of the Moon mythology where a person basically has to travel to hell (or some equivalent) and back to retrieve their lover.
After Prey #3, I have an idea for a book that is going to take place in the same universe. I think the main character is going to be related to Riley, and she’s going to go through some similar experiences to Riley and Liam, but I can’t specify what because *spoilers*. This book is also going to mix thriller and horror elements, but it’s going to be the most dark/witchy of the bunch. It’s inspired by the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and most of the AMAZING YA novels I grew up devouring and thus, the characters in this book will be in high school; and it’s also going to be inspired by modern day urban legends like Slender Man and also some real life horror stories from my home town.
So… after that, I want to get back to that original Africa adventure/medical mystery/coming of age story I was working on before I started writing Prey. I have 600-700 pages written, but I’m anticipating doing a major rewrite on the entire thing and making it a much shorter story… But I’m not thinking about that too much now because I have to focus on Prey first.
Then, I’ve always wanted to write some kind of pirate epic… I have some loose ideas and notes for this that came to me when I was in Kauai around 5 years ago. Oh, and I started writing a dark fantasy when I was in law school that I’d love to return to and finish one day. Actually, put that one ahead of the pirate epic because that one’s plot is much better formulated at this point in time. That would also be a three part series, and it actually has a pretty insane/dark/fascinating story line that I think lovers of Game of Thrones and The Witcher would be into.
Wow, I honestly wish I could just write fiction all day every day as my full time job. I love Belle + Day, and I love making things with my hands, but my heart truly lies in these stories. Maybe one day… *fingers crossed*
I’ll see if I can come up with a description for the dark fantasy trilogy that I can post. To be honest, I’m a little afraid to dive back into that world right now because I’m so enmeshed in all the twists and turns of Prey, and I don’t want to get myself too confused at the moment. But I do have some very interesting ideas for every book in that trilogy, so I do hope I get to write that one day. Actually, I hope I get to write and publish all of the pieces I mentioned here one day. That would be the dream. I want to walk into a bookstore and see a whole display at the front dedicated to just my books. Number one life goal achieved right there.
Ok, so concerning Belle + Day, I have so many new designs and styles in the pipeline, it’s almost overwhelming given all the ideas for stories also swarming around in my head. I have another idea to combine story-telling with the Belle + Day designs, so once I get caught up with orders and new design drops, I’ll see if I can make that a reality. I also have this marketing course I haven’t finished yet that I really want to do for Belle + Day. But it’s super intensive so I do have to carve out a large chunk of time to get that done, and right now I just need to catch up on Belle + Day first before I make extra time for anything else. I have so many designs and series planned for Belle + Day that I just need to get to making all these pieces. At the very least, if I can go through and make everything I already have the materials for and clear out my workspace a bit, then I can work on filling orders/ just getting samples done of all of the designs I want to do (I think there are somewhere between 50-100 new designs already sketched out), and then once I get those out of my brain, we’ll just go from there.
Concerning manifesting, I already mentioned this, but I want to keep up with the creative visualization. I have two very vivid dreams in my head right now that are super fun to write about—especially before bed because then I tend to dream about those things as well, which I think just makes the intention/wish stronger. I’ve never made a vision board before, but that’s something I’d also love to get done in this isolation period. I mean, I already have all the supplies and a printer. So… both of those are on the to-do list as well.
And… I think that’s really it for now. Or, at the very least, that’s all I’m going to allow myself to focus on at the moment. Otherwise, I’ll get too overwhelmed and never get anything done. I have a Next 90 day planner and I just ordered a Commit 30 planner (because I’m just a few pages away from being done with my current one), so we’ll see which one I am most drawn to, and hopefully it will help me sort things out/get extra motivated to cross as much as possible (as soon as possible) off these various to-do lists.
So… that’s my plan for the foreseeable future. I did have some awesome travel plans for this year, but now all of those are up in the air, so I’m not going to go into them now. We’ll see if they come to fruition and if not, well, it will just be a nose to the grindstone year for me.
Do you have any big plans for what you want to achieve during this isolation period and/or for the rest of 2020?
Ok, the last thing I wanted to mention is something where I’m not sure if a lot of people are going to understand what I'm saying, but just in case you do, I’m going to go out on a limb and talk about this a little bit.
So, throughout my life, I’ve had this thing where certain songs or memories or ideas or places or a combination of all of the above will strike my brain in a certain way where a very vivid mini story plays out. But the thing about this story is that it’s not something I have ever experienced, but I have very visceral feelings around it, as though I did experience it. And I’ll have very positive strong associations with it, but it will be super confusing because it will feel like it’s a memory but it’s not a memory. And yet it’s a “memory” I want to indulge in because it feels good and right, and like that storyline or feeling is meant to play out and exist in my life.
When I was younger, I would write this habit off as daydreaming, and I’d rationalize that it was because either I hadn’t lived enough life yet and I was dreaming about what might be or maybe I wan’t writing enough so my mind was just constantly churning out these creative story tangents because I wasn’t exercising my writing muscle well enough.
But, over the last few years, these “memories” and ideas have become so powerful in my mind that at times, they almost border on obsession. I would get these nagging, niggling sensation that to ignore these feelings would be to miss out on something extraordinary. But I didn’t understand how I was supposed to take advantage of them. I spent a few years chasing people, places, and things I felt embodied these “memories”, but that wasn’t doing the trick either.
So… when Prey came together as a concept in my brain, it was actually a combination of several of this niggling ideas and false memories. Some that had haunted my brain since high school even, and I think that’s why Prey felt/feels so cathartic to write, because I’m finally exorcising these feelings that have haunted me for so long. But even then, it took me until the last few months to really understand how I’m supposed to utilize these ideas/feelings.
My theory is that these ideas/feelings/false memories/daydreams represent some kind of unfulfilled potential/tension between my mind and the 5D/spiritual world and my body and the 3D/physical world. So, now when I experience this sensation, I do one of two things. I either see if it’s something I can incorporate in my writing or if it’s something I can use as part of a creative visualization.
For example, there is a live music venue in Hollywood that I’ve been to about three times now, and every time I’m there, I get a constant stream of glimpses through the vibe and decor and music of more fantastic stories playing out there. It’s like I’m present in the current time and place but also I can imagine other times/places/stories playing out concurrently with what I’m experiencing at the moment. And these feelings and fantasies I was overcome with when at that particular spot stuck with me months after the last time I was there. So… I decided to incorporate that place into my writing. I used it as inspiration for two poems I wrote last year (one being “The Wolf”) and I also used the venue as a pretty significant place where a lot of action occurs in Prey.
Another example of this is that when I was in Maui last summer, I kept getting this haunting feeling that I was supposed to be there with someone else. I was in the moment and enjoying every little thing, but in the back of my mind, this camera roll of images would not stop playing of being there with a particular person. And it wasn’t just a romantic thing, it was more of an experiential thing. Like, if this person were here, we’d be doing this, this and that together, and I could feel every sensation of every dream experience from sounds to tastes to vibrant colors to tangible touches. I just couldn’t shake these ideas, and they were also perpetuated every time I listened to the song “Crystals” by Of Monsters and Men. It just felt like there was an experience I was supposed to be having there or that a version of me in an alternate world was having there that the me in this world was missing out on. Like I was so close to having the other experience that I could see/hear/feel/taste/smell it, but I just missed it.
So, after months of being haunted by this feeling, I started incorporating it in my creative visualization process. I started writing out all of the scenes I saw in my head while in Maui, and particularly, when I was in Hana. And I have to say, after a week of doing this, I feel so much freaking better.
And then there’s another related tangent to this I’ve had, also with Maui but somehow connected to Iceland and more Of Monsters & Men songs. So, I’ve decided to tap into this feeling and this is how I came up with the storyline/setting for Prey #3.
I know you’re not all writers, but everyone can do their own form of creative visualization. I obviously don’t have the answers to this yet, and to be completely honest, I don’t know if anyone else experiences this phenomena other than me. But every since I started expressing these “memories” or feelings via poetry, fiction writing, or creative visualization, I feel like a) they’re not haunting me anymore in an anxiety-producing way, b) I can really dive into them and enjoy the feelings they supply me and record them in a way that doesn’t make me afraid that I might lose or not remember the vision, and c) I feel like if there is any chance to bring to life the potential hovering between my mind, spiritual world, body and physical world right now, it would be through my own special kind of magic, i.e., any form of writing.
And to be honest, it has led to magic. I mean, channeling these visions into the written word helped me develop the full trilogy of Prey—which if you knew how many different and seemingly distinct feelings/fake memories had to come together like a puzzle in my brain to do that, you would understand how cathartic and magical it truly felt/feels. And, I don’t know, something about capturing it via my special form of magic just feels right. Like if anything is going to breathe life into these dreams, this is it.
So… I guess my challenge/suggestion for you is that if you at all can relate to what I’m talking about then look deep inside yourself/your abilities and ask how you can channel this potential energy—these daydreams/visions/memories/feelings—into your own special brand of magic. I think there’s a lot of energy present in these fancies—I mean, there are in mine, I’ve having such strong emotional and sensory responses to things I’ve never even experienced before as though I was living them in the moment. I think there’s got to be something to that. I think there is magic/energy there waiting to be channeled. And, you know it’s up to you if you choose to engage in this experiment with me. But hey, what harm could it do?
If you do try this, I’d be really interested in hearing how you channel these feelings/memories and what ends up coming out of that in the next weeks, months, years. So definitely feel free to DM or email or text me to share.
Ok guys, that’s all I have for now. Take care and please stay safe. Sending love to you all. And especially to you...
Ok, so Part 4 and Part 5 get kind of serious. To alleviate the mood, I’m going to start and end both of the last posts with more light-hearted tangents because I don’t want to leave y’all feeling down or frustrated.
Neither of the tangents book-ending this post have much to do with anything I talked about in this series, but I just felt like sharing. Not sure why.
Hokay, so.... this might go without saying if you follow me on IG or know me in real life, but I change my hair a lot. And not just my hair, but kind of my entire look. Probably every 3-4 months, I feel the need to transform a little bit, both internally and externally. And I think I’ve been like this at least since college, but possibly before then.
But anyway, this is one of my favorite “transformation” stories. So, my senior year of college, I decided to go progressively blonde. In fact, my natural hair color has A LOT Of blonde in it, and the whole reason I started dying my hair in the first place was because by the time I was about 13 or 14, the bottom of my hair was blonde whereas the top was still a darker brown. I basically had that whole balayage/ombre thing going on with my hair since before it was cool. I think it’s because my mom has strawberry blonde hair naturally and, this might come as a shock to the people who didn’t grow up in so cal so they’re not used to seeing mixes and instead just see me/all of us as brown and thus relate us more to our darker parent, but I actually have way closer skin/eye/hair coloring to my mom than I do to my dad. In fact, my mom wears a darker shade of powder than I do, and my arms and legs are covered in freckles just like hers are. And my eyes are actually hazel and they change colors fairly often, putting them a little closer to my mom’s green eyes.
Anyway, with the combination of my mom’s coloring and my time spent in the sun and pool, my mom started coloring my hair on top so that it had blonde highlights throughout as opposed to being brown on top and blonde on the bottom. One day, she got tired of having to use the Beach Blonde products every day and she decided to use a more permanent highlighting product she bought at the drug store. She assured me it would be fine but it actually ended up highlighting my hair orange. So, after one mortifying day of existing in high school with orange highlights, I went back with her to the store and picked out a shade of brown I thought was similar to my natural hair color. My mom was sad to lose her now significantly blonde daughter, but I didn’t care so much whether I was blonde or brunette, I just didn’t want to have orange highlights.
So, I dyed my hair brown, but of course, we picked a color that was actually a little darker than my natural color. And, because of my mom’s strawberry blonde hair and my aunt’s red hair, I didn’t realize until this moment that red would come out very strongly in my hair. In fact, whatever color my hair is dyed, it inevitably goes more and more red over time. Which is fine with me, because I like having red in my hair--I feel like it brings color to my cheeks and is reminiscent of my Scottish ancestry; and I like that’s it’s something that seems to just naturally come out now.
Anyway, I liked that darker, richer brown/auburn color and usually gravitate back to that or something in that ballpark. But during my senior year of college, and after years of nagging from my mom, I decided to give my “natural hair color” a shot. So, I went back to a medium brown with blond highlights, and then my hairdresser just pulled me progressively lighter over time.
I did this for a few months until finally I got bored and wanted to switch it up. I was in a relationship at the time, and when I met him I think I had a dark brown almost purple/black hair, and then I dyed it a lighter red/brown color and then medium brown with blonde and then more and more blonde. So he had seen me go through about three different types of hair color, but by the time I decided to dye it, it had been about a year since he had seen me with dark hair. And at the salon this time, I didn’t just get dark hair. I also got a whole new messy kind of cut with long bangs. It was a very sexy French girl cut and I wish I had a picture of myself with it because to this day it remains one of my faves, and it was definitely popular with the fellas ;)
Anyway, he knew beforehand that I was getting my hair done, but I don’t remember if I told him exactly what I was doing or if I was just going to surprise him with it. The hair salon I went to was just a few stores down from the boba tea/frozen yogurt shop that was one of our favorite places to meet up and grab a treat after a stressful day of class, and we had arranged to me there once my hair appointment was done.
I remember walking down the street toward the yogurt/tea shop with my new dark locks bouncing and trying to get used to my longer bangs now partially obscuring my view. I saw my boyfriend walking toward me slash toward the boba tea shop and when I caught his eye I smiled and waved at him, a little coyly because I knew he must be surprised at my new ‘do.
And in fact, he looked a little surprised but he smiled unsurely and waved back with kind of a confused look on his face before he ducked into the tea shop. I didn’t think too much of it because the shop was usually packed so it made sense for him to head inside and snag us a table and/or a place in line rather than walk past it to meet me. And I figured the weird look on his face was because he had something to tell me.
I ducked inside the shop and headed over to the table he had grabbed and set down my bag. I was about to start to ask him how his day was going when he looked up at me and his mouth dropped open in shock.
“Oh my god, it’s you!”
And then it was my turn to be confused.
“Umm… were you expecting someone else?” I teased, not sure what the hell he was talking about.
“I didn’t recognize you!”
“You didn’t recognize me on the street just now? You waved at me.”
“No, you waved at me, only I didn’t know it was you because your hair is so different. And I thought, holy shit, that beautiful girl is waving at me and I waved back but then I felt bad for thinking you looked so pretty when I was meeting my girlfriend here… but thank god it’s you! Now I don’t have to feel guilty.”
First of all, this whole exchange was hilarious on several levels, but I thought that it was insanely cool that just by changing up my look a little bit, I had become almost a different person to my boyfriend. In fact, over the next several years of us dating, it was a running joke between us, that it was almost like he got to date several different girls because I was always changing my look (and he’s not the first boyfriend who has made that comment). We would laugh about it, but I knew there was seriousness underlying his words. And, to be honest, I liked constantly being the new shiny thing. Even after years of dating, it was cool and important to me that I was able to keep things new and interesting by doing these kind of external transformations that I would have done anyway. One of my previous boyfriends who had been very controlling always gave me shit for changing my look. I think it was because he knew that every time I changed it meant that I had grown on the inside and that growth was reflected on the outside; and to him that was scary because growth on my part meant it would be less easy for him to control/manipulate me. And he was right.
But anyway, most of my exes have been into my changing look, and for that I am grateful, because it’s one of my favorite things to do. It also reminded me of this one Halloween when the same boyfriend from the first hair story and I happened to be in New York. In fact, to this day, this was one of my favorite Halloweens. We went to a party in the city that was hosted by Princeton alums, and it was supposedly a Princeton-only party. The apartment that it was at actually consisted of several different floors of apartments, all of which were connected by secret stairs or passageways. The lore around this place was that for as far back as people can remember, it’s been occupied by Princeton alums—all of the apartments that were connected that is. They built the secret connecting stairs and doorways for the sake of having these Princeton gatherings, and I’m not going to lie, the setup was pretty freaking sick.
Also when you’re in college and you’re hanging out with the older “cooler” version of you already out in the adult world, well, there’s definitely a “wow” factor in that and I felt pretty special gaining admittance to that party because we were some of the only undergrads allowed there. But that particular ex had connections and I guess I was starting to as well by that point, so… anyway.
My boyfriend and I had been dating for about six months already when we went to this party, and at one point we found ourselves upstairs in a hallway with people in the various rooms around us. We were just talking in the hallway, I think we were waiting for one of his friends to meet us, but we had consumed some drinks by this point, and the vibe was definitely gettin’ flirty and the sexual tension was pretty high.
A guy walked by and looked at the two of us, and made a comment to my boyfriend and I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it basically insinuated that he was assuming my boyfriend and I had just meant that night and were probably going to hook up and he was congratulating my boyfriend on that fact.
We looked at each other with similar expressions on our face because obviously we were like, dude, we’ve been dating for awhile now, this isn’t like a novel thing for us. But we didn’t say anything to the guy, and we just kind of laughed about it. But I remember Iater talking about that moment, and we both said that we didn’t want us to lose that quality we had with each other—the one that made other people think we were just strangers who wanted to rip each other’s clothes off as opposed to a boring couple who had been dating for awhile. And I know six months doesn’t seem like a super long time in the realm of dating, but think back to when you were in college and your hormones were on overdrive. I remember back then just being exclusive with someone for longer than a month was a BIG DEAL. So, to us as 21 and 22 year olds, six months did seem like an effing long ass time to be in a serious relationship with someone.
Anywho, I don’t know, I guess maintaining that feeling of newness in relationships is something that has always stuck with me as being of primary importance. Because my first relationship, after about three years of dating, did start to feel stagnant. I felt like we had fallen into the brother/sister trap, and the spark was effectively gone--at least on my end. But thankfully, I haven’t experienced that in any of the relationships since; and I’d like to think part of that is due to my vigilance concerning keeping things feeling fresh and new. And constantly changing my look/vibe ;p
Sorry, that was random. Just felt like getting that out for some reason.
Ok, I’m going to save the second random tangent for after the “meat “of the post. That one is actually my favorite of all the tangents I’m going to share. Probably because it’s the most relevant to how I’m feeling about my love life right now...
To be honest, there were initially 4 or 5 random tangents but I decided that the other 3 were just too dark and not necessary right now. We’re all stressed out, confused, angry, scared, and feeling helpless. Given that I decided to use my pre-med education and experience and go to law school instead of medical school (a choice I still very much regret to this day), I figure the best way for me to help right now is to do my best to distract, lift spirits, and inspire. And to rant about the way certain people are handling this or to bemoan the career choices I’ve made that have landed me in a position of being able to do very little to help or contribute to what’s going on in ways that I deem meaningful would just not be helpful. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, at least concerning the latter issue, I had always planned on becoming a doctor and I wanted to either be a surgeon or specialize in infectious diseases. I did field research in Kenya for a summer, and both gathered data and treated people there; and then I used the data I collected for my thesis on malaria. Because I was the first people who ever went to those bush clinics and compiled all their infectious disease data, some NGO’s used my work to provide malaria testing kits and much needed medicine and supplies to that area.
I really loved doing the work I did there. Helping people one on one was the most satisfying, fulfilling act I’ve ever done, and I loved following in my father’s footsteps. My dad is an anesthesiologist now, but he used to work in emergency pediatrics; and my whole life whenever there has been an emergency—car accident, heart attack on a plane, etc.—he has always been the first to jump up and help save a life. I got to experience doing work like that when I lived in Kenya, and to this day, it’s the time of my life I’m the most proud of and it was also the most transformational for me in indescribably positive ways.
For a set of reasons I’m not going to go into right now, I mistakenly threw away the career in medicine I had always wanted to go to law school. I have regretted that decision for years, but never more than now. I wish I could do more, and I wish more than anything that I could help. But I can’t. And that is such a soul-crushing realization.
People ask me all the time if I would ever go back and go to medical school. Technically I could, I completed all of the qualifications. I’d have to take the MCAT again, but after the bar exam, the MCAT doesn’t seem like a huge barrier to entry. The thing is, if I had all the time and money in the world, I would. But, at this point it just doesn’t seem that feasible. I don’t want to waste more time and money on an ego goal, when I’m perfectly suited the way I am to empire-build. And at this point, I feel like that’s the best option for me.
I remember this one conversation I had with my dad when I was newly back from Kenya. I was 20 and feeling so incensed to return to Africa and do more medical work. I remember telling my dad that I was thinking about becoming a general surgeon or ob/gyn or infectious disease specialist, because I thought that would be what they would need the most in those parts of the world. I was asking him about Doctors Without Borders and similar programs; and I also informed him that I might not ever get married or have a family because it would be dangerous where I would be working, and I wouldn’t want to subject a husband or children to that kind of lifestyle. You see, it was really dangerous where I lived in Kenya. You had to be vigilant basically every second of the day. One of our interns had to go home early because she couldn’t handle it (in fact, there was a rumor she had been attacked, but I don’t know for sure because she left so abruptly and we never got to ask her). And I knew it wasn’t the kind of life that most people would want. By the way, I have written extensively on my time in Kenya, and it’s being worked into a different novel so yes, I’ll be telling those stories eventually. To this day, those are my greatest stories ever. Actually, if we’re close, just ask me about them the next time we hang out. I’ll be more than happy to share as they’re my favorite memories to relive.
So I loved that kind of lifestyle. Since I was a little kid, I wanted to be an explorer like Indiana Jones, and I felt like for the first time, I was putting those dreams to the test. I loved being disconnected from everything--no phones, no social media, no internet, no electricity, no running water--ok, the no running water part was kind of hard, but we made it work. I loved the danger and primality of life there. We’d be brushing our teeth for bed and have to sprint back to our tents because lions were stalking us. You were more alive and attuned to every single second both because you had to be and because you wanted to be. The earth was this red orange clay that would fly up around you in dust storms and cake every inch of your body. The sky was so blue and the clouds seemed so close that you could reach up and touch them. There were miracles happening in the landscape around you every second of the day, and you would only catch them if you were paying attention. Danger lurked around every turn but if you were brave and vigilant enough, you would be prepared. And I was doing good work—I was having a direct positive impact on people. And I was learning so much and felt like I was truly living in a way I had never experienced before. I often have commented that I left my heart in Kenya, and I still feel that way.
I was made for that life, and there is still a part of me that dreams about going back to medical school, buying a ranch out in the western central highlands, and working as a doctor there for the rest of my days.
But, my dad told me during this conversation something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Torri, all of that sounds great. You can make whatever decisions you want for your life—your mom and I will support you. And I think it’s very admirable you want to dedicate your life to helping people. But I have to tell you, even though it’s a difficult life and you’re getting your hands dirty and putting in all the hard work, sometimes you can effectuate more change from afar than you can on a one-to-one basis. Like, for example, you could be the doctor in the field treating someone for an infectious disease, and you could maybe treat several people every day OR you could have an incredibly successful career as a doctor here—or another profession—and you could make enough that you could donate money to charities that would pay for the work of 10 or 100 of those doctors. You might not be the one doing the actual labor in the field, but the positive effects you’d be responsible for would be realized on a much larger scale. Does that make sense?”
And, as much as I hated to admit it, it did make sense. I went to a school whose alumni fund projects that promote scientific achievement, medical work, technological advancements, and much more all around the world. While a lot of our alumni do the work themselves, a huge number have other means of employment and use their profits to fund the work. And even my idealistic 20 year old self had to admit that the effects of both acts were equally important.
So, at this point in my life, it makes more sense to be the kind of person who builds up an empire and then can fund the good work of other people; and I’m ok with that. I’m resigned to it. And, I’d like to think that the books I’ll end up publishing one day will also be a kind of pick-me-up escape/inspiration for the populace, so maybe I can have a more personal effect in that way at least.
But I’d be lying to say it doesn’t bug me from time to time that I didn’t follow through with my original dreams, and that I don’t currently have a career where I am having a positive impact on humanity every single day. And it especially has been tormenting me right now when I could otherwise be helping out in a time of great need for the entire planet.
And I guess that might help explain why I’m not currently practicing law and why I waited a few years before taking the bar exam. I was never sure I wanted to be an attorney. In fact, I had been set on being a doctor since about age 13 when I bought my first book on infectious diseases. I know this might sound weirdly coincidental given everything going on right now, but I originally saw myself being the one who tracked the source of the most deadly infectious diseases and coming up with their cures—that was my fantasy career as a middle schooler. I wanted to be the one in the caves of the Congo tracking down the source and then later in the lab, figuring out the solution. Later I considered other routes in the medical industry, but it never changed from that industry. In fact, I was so passionate about becoming a doctor, that in high school, I scored such high grades in my honors Anatomy/Physiology class that my teacher told me I could not show up for the final and would still end up with the highest grade in the class. I thought she was joking, so of course I showed up for the final. And when I sat down, she said, “What are you doing here? I told you you didn’t have to take this test. You can get a 0 and it won’t affect your grade.” I took it anyway and aced it, but I just threw myself into that course in particular because that was where my heart was. And then later in college, I specialized in infectious disease research and I realized my dream of doing that work in Africa. I also tailored my education when I returned around medical and economic development in sub-saharan Africa because I always intended to go back to the region as a doctor and implement wide-scale change.
I chose law school not really for myself but for other people in my life, and I wish I hadn’t. Right before my second year, I sat down with my parents and I told them law wasn’t for me and I wanted to drop out and try to go after one of the publishing or entertainment writing internships I had been offered after college OR I wanted to take the MCAT and go to medical school. But my dad urged me to give it one more semester, and I did. Of course, I got an academic award in one of my law classes that semester, so my dad and I agreed I should stay. I got to be honest though, I think it would have been better if I had just dropped out and pursued one of my true passions.
And, I’m just kind of bringing this up because I know a lot of my law school classmates don’t understand why I’m not practicing law. And it’s just, unlike most of them who knew since they were young they wanted to be an attorney, I have never actually deep down wanted to be an attorney. And nothing against them for wanting that, it’s just how they feel about being an attorney, well, that’s how I always felt about being a doctor, writer, and entrepreneur (the last of which I’m not going to go into the story of how I got into that, but I did around my senior year of college and it always stuck). And I think IP law works for me because it combines elements of all three of those industries, so I can find ways to be fascinated by it and passionate about it; and if I ever go back to practicing law, I think I could be happy with that kind of work because it’s adjacent to what I really love. But law’s never going to be the thing I live to do, and I’m ok with that. We all have decisions we regret. And it’s not a bad thing to be a lawyer at the end of the day, it’s just not my number one choice and it never really was.
Ok, so sorry, I guess I did go into a depressing tangent a bit. But now back to the story and I promise I’ll end it on a fun one.
Ok, now back to it:
So, I couldn’t help but feel judged, found wanting, and rejected when those three people I considered close started pulling away around May. And their level of distance just seemed to increase month by month. This was also coming on the heels of me losing another one of my best friends due to his just pulling away and disappearing out of the blue around October of 2019, so… I was already a little sensitive and anxious about this very issue.
I felt really helpless, because I had long since learned that if people want out our your life, you just have to let them go. And if they come back, they come back. And that’s kind of the way I’m programmed anyway. I’m not big on manipulating others to get my way, because if someone is doing something because they’re being somehow cajoled or incentivized to do so, then they probably didn’t want to do it in the first place. And I don’t need that kind of inauthenticity in my inner circle. I’ve been burned too many times by people who never really cared about me to risk keeping people close who aren’t true friends just for the sake of optics or numbers.
But… on the other hand, I’ve also learned in the past few years from having talks with both ex-relationships and ex-friends who have come back to explain why they disappeared--and ask for forgiveness in some cases--that in some of these circumstances, I could have and perhaps should have reached out as opposed to just letting them go. First of all, they explained that their leaving had nothing to do with me personally, it was honestly a “them” issue. And, part of why I’m hesitant to chase after people who are pulling away is because I just assume that it’s because they don’t want my company; so why would I go after them if the reason they’re leaving is because they want less of me in their life. So learning that it had nothing to with me and I was taking it personally when I shouldn’t be was a revelation. Second, a lot of them have said that they wished I had reached out more, even when they were pushing me away, because when I had done that previously and they finally caved and told me what they were actually going through, they felt like I was one of the only people who cared enough about them to fight for their friendship and sincerely check up on them. And I realized i was having a huge disconnect with a lot of my friends and relationships because I thought my fighting for them would push them away when really they needed to feel like someone cared enough to fight for them.
So with these two conflicting ideas and three of my friends pulling away… this conundrum had my anxiety through the freaking roof. Not only was I worried about the possibility of losing them, but also I was faced with this decision where I just didn’t know what the right answer was… Should I just let them go because it really was me they were trying to get away from? And maybe if I let them go they’d realize I wasn’t that bad and come back eventually? Or was there some magic thing I could reach out and say to fix not only our friendship but whatever it was they were struggling with?
Was I doing what I always do where I minimize my own importance in the lives of the people I care about and in so doing, distance myself before they can reject me (when it’s very possible they weren’t trying to reject me and in fact would have been relieved to know that I really cared)?
Because deep down I convince myself they couldn’t possibly care about me, so why bother them by fighting to keep them in my life? I guess on some level, I’m not convinced that people who are not related to me by blood would choose to keep me in their lives. And this is another conundrum. I really really like myself. Like, I love my own personal brand of weird. It’s never difficult being alone with myself, I’m rarely bored, and usually I’m quite content and entertained and generally very fulfilled by my own existence (except on the rare occasion my demons decide to have a little Monster Ball of their own). But I’ve been told from a young age by friends and family alike that I am an oddball. And, even though those people say it warmly and from a loving perspective, the fact that so many people like to tell me how different I am--constantly-- and remind me that I don’t quite fit in with everyone else; well that point has stuck in my mind. Especially when I keep losing friends and relationships with no explanation seemingly overnight. I deeply love myself, but maybe it’s impossible for anyone else to truly love my special brand of strange.
People like to say you have to love yourself before you can accept the love of another person. And that is true, but it’s almost more complicated than that. Because I do love myself—maybe too much sometimes. I’m hard on myself, but I still adore myself. And yet that doesn’t mean I think others will feel the same way. Again, I always feel like the bright shiny object. People love me when they first meet me and for a while afterward. I usually get put up on some kind of pedestal, in fact, which as flattering as that can be, is ultimately awkward, isolating, and annoying. But once I’ve been in their life for awhile and they finally glimpse what’s under the hood, at first they get stuck deep in, but then eventually they just disappear. I have my own theory concerning the whole pedestal/perfectionism effect, but I’ll get to that in a little bit. Anyway…
And you know what really sucks? When you are so confused over how to salvage or save a friendship/relationship and because of the other person’s complete lack of communication, you have no way of knowing if they would even care to do the same with you. And the insecure part of you goes, well they seem to be leaving, so clearly they don’t care… But I know that’s not true, because even now a few of these relationships have mended or are in the process of mending. And, I have to be honest, the two that I kind of just let go, well those seem to be on the faster track to getting back to normal. But the one I kept trying with? I don’t know, it just seems like it the same old BS over and over again with him.
But anyway, point is, feeling like I was about to lose these people combined with all this deeper work I was doing as a result of leveling up was also a trigger into this spiral period.
But here’s where it gets tricky… I can’t just stop doing this work (and by “this work” I mean clearing all the next level emotional baggage I’ve unearthed by leveling up). In fact, this work is clearly very necessary for me to do. I’ve already continued to do this work with my friends, in that I’ve tried to just be more easy going about their going’s and comings and not take it personally or let it affect how I feel about myself or my self worth when it comes to how others view me; and so far, that's worked out great. Usually, the more I let someone go when they pull away, the faster and more resoundingly they come back. And that’s awesome. Honestly, it’s way less work for me to do.
Of course there are some friendships where they haven’t come back yet, and those weigh heavy on my heart. And this is kind of my white flag to all my former friends--or for one more-than-friend-- out there—just because we haven’t spoken for awhile, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about you or miss having you in my life.
Even if you were the one who pulled away or ghosted… I’m still here and I still care. My feelings are definitely hurt, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t forgive you for the sake of our friendship. I know right now is kind of a crazy time, but I’d still welcome a call or text from you; and I’d definitely be down to grab a drink after everything is over. I don’t have a lot of friends I’ve fallen out with who I would never consider being friends with again. So… if you’re wondering about me, I’m probably wondering about you. But… if you were the one who left or if you forced my hand, then I’m probably not going to do the reaching out because I feel like you made your position very clear concerning whether you want to keep me in your life. But that doesn’t mean if you reached out now I wouldn’t welcome you back with open arms.
So… to be honest, the friend thing is a little easier to navigate than the other side. But there’s another part to this equation where things get really tricky. Part of my leveling up has meant I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I have built quite large walls around myself especially in the love department. These walls are so high in fact that I feel like in some of the more-than-friends relationships I’ve had since my breakup with my fiancé, I honestly can’t tell if I’m the one pushing these people away or if they’re pushing me away. I think part of why I lead with my weirdness now is because it just keeps the wall around me higher. Because I’m really scared of getting hurt again. I’m honestly terrified to get really close to anyone again.
The last time I was broken (my ex, Dario) I almost didn’t recover from it. It took me a good year and half to even start getting back on my feet. It took me out in almost every arena of my life. I mean, I had a major glow-up on the outside, but I was wrecked inside. And, the bottom line is not only can my heart not take a major beating like that again (not on top of everything else it’s already gone through) but also, I can’t afford to get taken out like that again. I have worked too hard to recover and I have too many irons in the fire right now. I have too much of my life going exactly the way I’ve always wanted it to go, and I’m so close to achieving the next level of personal and career success I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid. I can’t afford for some guy to swoop in and sweep me off my feet only to betray me or leave me out of the blue and break my damn heart to the point where I lose everything I’ve spent the last four years building. I refuse to do that to myself or to allow someone else to do that to me.
But then again, there has been one person in particular with whom I don’t see that happening with. There is someone out there with whom I share such a strong, intense, inexplicable bond that I almost can’t afford NOT to give things a shot with him. I feel like the bond is so rare it’s an equal kind of loss to be had if I keep operating from a place of distance and fear.
But when it comes to a falling-in-love kind of relationship, the fear, insecurity, and trust issues concerning abandonment and betrayal is just on a whole different level. And, I’m worried I’ve been sabotaging myself because of that.
Sure, for a long time it was super easy to bury all this stuff down so I could keep achieving my dreams, but I’m hitting a point where I have to accept that if I want to heal these wounds, I have to do some work—a very specific, scary, and painful kind of work—before I get into a relationship. At the very least, I have to be honest with myself about these still-open wounds and the feelings I’m having about wanting to let someone in and how that scares the shit out of me. And I’m going to have to have more transparency with myself and the person I want to trust if I’m going to get through the muck and out to the other side. Because unfortunately the muck is not just going to go away on its own. It’s going to take both my effort as a high-functioning single person and a joint effort in my next relationship to get through it all. And… that’s an equally scary realization because it’s hard for me to be vulnerable even with myself let alone with others. Just the thought of sharing with someone I have romantic feelings for these vulnerabilities makes me cringe because my assumption is it’s all too messy for them to deal with and they’ll just want to leave for someone with less “baggage”.
So… I build walls and I keep people out because I’ve already played out that next level of opening up and being vulnerable again in my head and I’m not sure I can do it.
Except… I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to believe that I’m stronger than that. I want to believe that I’m not going to backslide, and I want to believe there is someone out there that I can trust with these wounds, just like I would want them to trust me with their wounds.
And this is why this is a difficult subject to write about because I’m still really confused about how I feel concerning these topics and I go back and forth every day, and it’s also something I know I can only confront and resolve to a certain extent at the time being and the rest I’m just going to have to have faith that in the right situation with the right person, I’ll be able to tackle the rest.
I really wanted to do all the work on my own. I really wanted to believe that given enough time and enough success and self-love that I could just heal myself. But I know now that kind of thinking is an oversimplification and over-optimistic view of the process. Because, you can’t relearn to trust people when it’s just you and you’ve had to adapt to not trust or rely on other people and only really count on yourself.
When you’re on your own, it’s really just a matter of do I trust myself? And, of course I trust myself. But do I trust others? That’s not an issue I can sort through without having the other end that would back it up. Without having empirical evidence that I can actually trust someone, it would be foolish to just blindly put my faith in others after what I experienced. I’d be asking to get hurt again. But also, I can’t continue to preemptively shut people out and just assume they’re all untrustworthy as a way to avoid heartache.
Yet another conundrum. I have to actually let someone in to learn how to trust again, but I haven’t learned how to trust again so how am I going to feel comfortable letting someone in? I guess this is going to require a whole heck of a lot more faith than I originally imagined.
And, I also have to accept the fact that I want seemingly conflicting things in a relationship, and maybe that’s ok. Maybe I don’t have to know exactly what I want to have the perfect relationship. Maybe I don’t have to fix all my ex- relationships in my mind and see exactly what went wrong and do the same for the other person to ensure we have an absolutely fail safe plan so it doesn’t go wrong between the two of us (like it did in our previous relationships). Maybe we can’t figure that shit out until we actually give it a shot together. And maybe it’s ok if it’s not all black and white, right and wrong. Maybe with the right person, the shades of grey become less cloudy/troublesome and easier to navigate. Maybe with the right person, I’ll have the ideal partner to figure this shit out with.
Because this is my fear you guys. I had what most people would consider to be the perfect relationship; and compared to a lot of the married couples I know now, it was an exceptionally good one. The problem was, it wasn’t good enough for us; or at least, it wasn’t exactly what we needed.
And part of the devastation after that particular breakup was in wondering how I could possibly create a more perfect relationship than the one I had before (you know, one that would be perfect and last); and I felt so defeated and hopeless because I didn’t see how that could be possible. It was hard to poke holes in the last one because other than the breakup, everything else was amazing. I think I understand now that the reason we broke up was because of how good the relationship was, because it was impeding our growth in other areas. It’s not that we needed to be in an unhappy relationship, it was just that it wasn’t the right timing for us to be in such a good relationship. We both needed something to light a fire under our butts to get us to the next level of achievement in our lives and we couldn’t do that being so happy in our relationship because it was dulling our aspirations.
But, unlike my other breakups where I could look back and do an autopsy and find where the infection was and know what to look for in my next partner to not have that same problem, I couldn’t do that with this relationship. So, I was really at a loss for how on earth I was going to create something better and more perfect and something that would last with some one else.
Except now there is someone that I can see creating that with. And it’s not because he’s more perfect than the last guy, but it’s just that we happen to fit each other better. And I think we both have the understanding that we have to keep ourselves honest and focused in our careers/passion projects, because that’s integral to keeping us happy and all-around fulfilled. So I think with him, I wouldn’t make the same mistake of letting either of us get too content in the relationship and not pursue our dreams to our fullest ability.
And you know what? Maybe I don’t end up with the guy I feel this way about, but maybe if I start doing the work now—honestly giving it a voice and not just burying it deep down—maybe if I meet someone like him one day, I’ll be ready to really give it a try then.
And, before I get into this demon-exorcising exercise, I just want to mention that one of things I’ve been trying to work on—really really trying—is not always assuming the worse out of my interactions with people and in situations. Let me explain what I mean.
I am very positive about almost everything except the people I really care about, both romantic and otherwise. And, I want to stop doing that. I realized the other day that when guys I don’t like text me or call me or talk to me, it’s very easy for me to recognize when and how they’re flirting with me. But put a guy in their place who I actually have feelings for, and he says the exact same thing, my head immediately goes to rationalize how he couldn’t have possibly meant what he said in a way that conveyed that he cares about me. And, for a girl who generally feels very confident and comfortable with herself (when her demons aren’t having a little BBQ together), that’s a super strange thought. I know on a logical level that the men I like are great matches for me and would be lucky to have me and vice versa. But for some reason when we interact, I am putting negative spins on everything.
So there is obviously some part of my consciousness that doesn’t believe I’m worthy of the love and affection of the people I have love and affection for (see the bit above about how weird I am). So… I’m definitely experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance in this area. But since there is a part of myself that is deeply empowered, content and confident in myself, I’m been trying to tap into that part to overcome this weird dissonant, negative voice. You know, the traits or quirks or experiences that make me feel extra bad ass. The self-affirming beliefs or proof that I have to feel amazing not only in my own eyes but in the eyes of others. And, every time I find my mind going somewhere negative in regards to someone I care about, I try to stop and figure out why I’m doing that, and then I focus on reworking my conception of the situation into a positive takeaway.
And this happens all the time. Like, the fast few weeks, I’ve been low-key working on mending one of those broken “friendships”. And I’m over here trying to manifest this reconnection, and the next day, the person will do exactly what I wanted them to do and then some. But somehow, after initially feeling good about what happened, I’ll spin it in my head. I’ll start to narrate what happened with a negative voice and reverse rationalize that just because they did was I was hoping they would doesn’t mean they don’t dislike me.
And that’s fucking crap. So in those moments, I’m consciously stepping in to remind myself to shut the fuck up and be happy for the blessing. I remind myself that the person did what I wanted them to do out of affinity not rejection—because the second option just doesn’t make sense. It’s kind of an Occam’s Razor scenario. Like, if I have to jump through so many mental hoops to come up with an explanation that satisfies this sick urge I have to convince myself that people don’t like me when the simplest explanation for their action is that they do like me, well, that’s not a very sound or logical manner of thinking. So next time someone I really care about but I’m not sure how they feel about me says or does something positive, I’m going to do my best to interpret it as positive and not overthink it (like a jackass).
And, listen, I’m no where near perfect with this habit, but I’m getting a little better day by day. Just like I trained myself to believe I can accomplish any career goal, I’m retraining my mind/heart in this arena as well. I’m already seeing results, so I hope if I keep doing this, I will retrain the way I interpret communication which will in turn affect the way I communicate back with the people I care about the most. And, for that one person who I know has experienced this difficulty with me for over a year now (maybe two), I’m fucking sorry. I really care about you, which I know you know by now, but I also know how much I pushed you away slash lashed out and said things I didn’t mean, and I’m sorry about that. I wish I could go back and change it and not handle things like an insecure idiot.
So.. this next part is going to be kind of weird, but I feel like I need to get it out.
And before you read it, I just want to say one thing, for everyone in a relationship, married, engaged or just dating, I want you to step out of your all-knowing, I’m in a relationship so I don’t struggle with these issues mindset and take a step back and really think. Because almost everything I’m about to address right now is something that was a problem in a previous relationship that I either didn’t recognize or didn’t accept at that point in time, and it wasn’t until I was outside of the relationship that I was brave or clear-sighted enough to say fuck, this is not ideal for me, and this needs to be changed.
Because this is one of my biggest fears of getting into another relationship, and all of you who are in relationships and think you are immune to this stuff now is just proof that my fear is a reality. When I’m in a relationship, especially a really good one, I start to lose my grip on the truth of my experiences. I start to lose my grip on what I really want for myself—in all categories. I start to make so many concessions for the relationship—slowly, but they add up over time—that by the time we breakup I don’t even recognize myself anymore.
And, I’m not saying you shouldn’t compromise in your relationship. You obviously have to to a certain degree. But, if you’re going to be a truly successful and fulfilled person AND have a happy relationship that lasts, you need to have some fucking great introspection and you need to be able to be brutally honest with yourself. You can’t hide your true feelings/wants/desires in the fact that you’re married and/or have kids and just let everything else crumble because you have the two main things that the world/society/your social circle validates you for. Because, at the end of the day, most relationships and the majority of marriages end. It’s a sad but true statistic. And if you gave up everything or most of the things that were important to you for the two validators of kids and marriage—and then your marriage dissolves… what are you left with? You have your kids, of course, but what else do you have to build a truly strong and fulfilled life for them and for you? And if you previously got the bulk of your self worth from your marriage and your nuclear family, what are you going to be left with when that’s gone?
So, if you’re in a relationship but you’re not going to read the next part with any sort of introspection for your own life—let me just stop you here. This post is done for you now. Thanks for reading. Catch ya later when I post the ghost stories.
But, regardless of relationship status, if you’re ready to deep dive with me and with yourself and be really brutally honest and at least start to ask yourself some difficult questions with the hope that afterward you and your relationship (or future relationship) will be better for it, well then, let’s go…
As I said, there is someone I have in mind who I think I could have an even more successful relationship with that my previous ones. I think we have this crazy bond, and a very strong, genuine friendship. I think for the first time in a very, very long time, I know what unconditional love feels like. And that’s kind of scary, because I don’t like to believe in unconditional love--at least, not in romantic relationships--because my experience with it hasn’t been so great in the past. So, take this as me just stating the emotion, but not exactly agreeing with it.
I think we would understand each other in a way that neither of us has experienced before. When we first met, I thought we were kind of opposites. And on the surface we are. But the more I’ve grown to know him, I actually think we are kind of creepily alike, and from what I’ve gathered, we’ve experienced a lot of the same events—both good and bad—in our previous relationships. And I only mention this because it’s due to all of our commonalities and shared though separate experiences that lead me to believe that maybe we could figure out something that would work for us.
We’re both fiercely independent and too hard on ourselves. We need our alone time and space. We’re not just weirdos, but we’re creative weirdos; and I think that lends to an understanding of each other that I’ve always found missing in my previous relationships. I think in many ways we live very parallel similar lives. We seem to have walked the same footsteps—just separately and perhaps at different times--through the same places and experiences. And these facts have not been lost on me. The duality of our existences weighs heavy on my mind and heart because of all of the implications there—both desired and otherwise. But there are certain fears I have… and I’m not sure yet whether these are very real concerns to have or if these are issues we could easily navigate. And I’m scared to find out.
One of my fears revolves around the pressure to be perfect, as I mentioned previously. I feel that in the past my partners have always placed me on a pedestal. And I never represented that I was perfect nor have I ever asked them to be perfect in return. But inevitably, I fall off that pedestal in their eyes, and I feel like that always inspires vitriol on their parts and it’s super fucking painful. I don’t know if this is just a male or human trait or if there is something about me or my personality that inspires this cycle in my partners. I just know in the past I’ve gotten shit from them for being too perfect—i.e., better than them at something that tugs at their insecurity or always being accused of being on the precipice of leaving them for someone “on my own level”—but I’ve also gotten shit for not living up to some perfect ideal in their eyes. And either way, I just get handed out a lot of spite that I don’t think I deserve as well as pressure to meet ridiculous expectations that are impossible for anyone to achieve. And, I feel like I never get communication or feedback about these things until my partner is already at their breaking point or, even worse, they lash out at me with a comment they know will hurt but it’s about something they never brought up in even a kind way to just discuss before. I wish people would see me as a real person and not an idea of something they want to possess or embody. And I wish people would communicate with me more when I’m not meeting one of their expectations. I’m not a mind reader. And I’m also far, far, far from perfect. So… if that’s why someone falls for me in the beginning, then they’re operating under a false delusion; and I’d just rather not engage in that relationship at all.
I face this problem with friends as well, but it’s usually the hardest when it comes from relationships. And, I’m not sure what the solution to this issue is, but it’s definitely a fear of mine. Is the next relationship going to be yet another one where I’m expected to be some perfect version of myself that doesn’t exist? I don’t know.
This harkens back to my discussion in the third part of this post about people projecting on their loved ones the goals and dreams they truly have for themselves. To be honest, I don’t think the problem was that I wasn’t perfect enough. I think just as women can with men, men often project ideals on women that they wish they could embody but it’s too difficult for them to do so, so they try to find that perfect angel/devil combination of a partner who can do it for them. And men and women would both do well to learn that they got to do the work for themselves. It’s just too much to ask from a partner to read your mind and make you wildest dreams and fantasies come true, especially when you don’t even know what they are and/or can’t verbalize them and/or are willing to play zero role in making them come true for yourself.
I think men and women develop these very unhealthy fantasies about their partners from a young age that just get more ingrained over time due to societal constructs, and it’s really not constructive at the end of the day, and moreover, just point blank toxic for anyone involved. Be real with yourself. Be the hero in your own story and let your partner be the hero in theirs, and then join your powers together to build one friggin’ awesome empire. Don’t expect or settle for someone else to save you and put you on the throne next to them as nothing more than a decorative piece and conversely, don’t expect someone to be the perfect mix of guiding light/mother figure/and sexual fantasy who’s going to somehow simultaneously guide you to your destiny and enable you to fulfill it, make you feel like a real man, and validate your masculinity to others. We gotta figure all those things out for ourselves at the end of the day; otherwise you’re living in a fairy tale, and trust me, those are pure fiction.
To be continued…
Ok, light-hearted tangent time again. I’ll finish this post with Part 5 that I will actually be putting up tomorrow because it’s already written. I’m just trying to make each of these posts about the same length for the sake of not exceeding my readers’ attention span. Warning: Shit gets heavy in Part 5, but I will also have the light-hearted tangents as bookends.
So… recently I started watching the show New Girl again, because, well, I think I just wanted to watch something familiar and light-hearted that would make me laugh; and the button for The Office was starting to smoke from being clicked so much, so I decided to give it a rest.
And there’s this one New Girl episode called “Quick Hardening Caulk” and I remember it was one of my favorites when I first saw it years ago, but I don’t think I related to it quite the way I do now.
So, on this show, one of the storylines concerns the sexual tension between two of the main characters, Jess and Nick, who start out as roommates and then become friends, but as time goes on, it becomes more and more evident that they have serious romantic feelings for each other. And even though they’re both aware of how they feel for the other one before they end up discussing it with each other, they kind of both convince themselves that it’s just a superficial crush and/or the other one wouldn’t be interested anyway. And in this way, they are able to minimize their own feelings so as to avoid unnecessary drama in their apartment and friend group because they all live together.
But in this particular episode, Nick starts changing, and mostly in the ways that negate Jess’s reasons for telling herself she can’t like him. And it’s like every little or big thing he does this episode just makes it more difficult for her to hide the fact that she is seriously attracted to him/crushing on him. You should just watch the episode if this isn’t making sense (it’s on Netflix, Season 2, Episode 19), but not only does this particular episode move forward the romantic storyline between these two characters, it also is hilarious when the audience is let into Jess’s mind and lady parts to see what things—sometimes typical, sometimes ridiculous—she finds panty-dropping about her “friend”.
So… the reason I’m mentioning this is because upon the rewatch I’m realizing that now I can totally relate to Jess’s dilemma, because I also have a “friend” with whom I share a similar dynamic. And I think it’s a shared dynamic like the one in the show, but I’m not really positive.
But anyway, this friend of mine is someone I found incredibly physically attractive when I first met him, but I had my eye on someone else at the time and also, not that I didn’t think he was attracted to me when we first met—because I definitely did get that impression—but now that I live in LA, most of the connections I make with guys I meet kind of fizzle out very quickly after they realize that I don’t do random hookups so I’m not going to just go home with them. And, to be honest, I kind of figured he would be the same deal. And I don’t really mind because typically the kind of guys that end up being my boyfriends make it incredibly apparent from night one their deep level of interest regardless of whether anything is going to happen or not happen, so I just kind of feel like if they’re not into it at that level, then it’s fine if I don’t hear from them after our initial meeting.
But, this one actually did stay in touch, and over time we’ve become fairly decent friends. But… I feel like the more time goes on, the more I can’t hide from myself how attracted to him I am. And, it started off with just little things in the beginning, like the more I found out about his taste in books and music, and all the things we have in common which usually for me I’ve never had in common with the men I date, and not only didn’t have in common, but they’re things my exes have found really strange about me. So the fact that he and I have these shared interests and I can pretty honestly discuss 99% of topics with him definitely made me reevaluate the category I had put him in. Because again, he’s smoking hot. But, like Nick and Jess, we also have mutual friends, so for the sake of avoiding drama, I always tried to think of reasons why I should keep our friendship at arm’s length.
But every time I see him in person or every time we talk or he posts something on social media, it’s like he knows all my little triggers that would make me more and more attracted to him. And they’re weird things, too. So weird in fact, that I have low key said flirtatious things to him about them (like Jess does to Nick in this episode) just kind of unable to help myself because I’m so increasingly attracted to him every time he does one of these super random things, but they’re such off the wall things that he thinks I’m just giving him a hard time or he does not get what I’m implying (much like Nick with Jessica in this episode).
And, in the episode, Jess is getting increasingly frustrated with herself and with Nick because she hates that she can’t control the reaction her lady parts are having to the random things he’s doing and also with Nick for doing all the things that happen to be the perfect combination to turn her on/make her fall for him. And I feel the same way about my friend. Like, every time I see him wear something that most girls wouldn’t look at twice but for me that’s my kryptonite, I’m like oh for fuck’s sake, why? Like the last time I saw him, holy shit, he was dressed and styled like literally my dream guy. And I already think he’s hot, even when he’s dressed down and his hair’s a fucking mess and he’s got bags under his eyes—like he’s already pretty irresistible. But the last time I saw him, I might as well have been an awkward middle schooler looking at the most popular guy in school because he literally made me weak in the knees.
And recently he’s been posting three kinds of content on social media that are my absolute fucking kryptonite. And it’s crazy because I know there is part of him that feels insecure about what he’s posting, but I swear to god he knows that I find him so sexy when he does these specific things and he’s killing me every time he posts one of them because I’m trying so hard to keep him in the “friends” category, and not make things messy or complicated or risk getting rejected and ruining our friendship. But I honestly don’t know at this point.
So… anyway, that’s it. Basically I could totally feel and relate to Jess’s frustration and reactions in that episode because that’s exactly how I feel about my “friend”. And I have a lot of guy friends, and I usually never change the categorization I have for my male friends; but I don’t know, this one has decidedly gotten under my skin--for awhile now. I think he knows it, too. And, I really do think of him as a good friend, which I think makes things even harder because as much as it seems like it would make sense for me to want to date someone I’m attracted to on these multiple levels, I’m also scared that if we fuck it up, I’d lose the friendship. Also… I’m not sure how he feels about me. So… whatever.
Just go watch the episode and have a laugh. Also, btw, Nick Miller is one of my favorite characters created EVER. Obviously, Schmidt is the funniest character, but Nick is more my kind of humor and like the voice in my head sometimes. I just love him. Ok, part 5 will be up tomorrow. See ya then!
Side Note: So I’m writing this little note as I edit Part 3 for posting. I’m currently in the middle of an anxiety attack. It started late last night and is still underway right now. I’ve noticed with being stuck inside and all the stress of the moment, my anxiety attacks are lasting a little longer than usual :(
Basically right now I can’t breathe and my chest feels really tight. But don’t worry, I’m not sick sick. This is par for the course when my anxiety acts up. I keep trying to take deep breaths and I’m going to do a creative visualization exercise in a little bit in the hopes that some escapist fantasy writing about where I wish I was in this moment instead will help settle my nerves. I’ll also be going for a run and doing a rebounder workout later today which should get rid of the anxiety completely, but I still have some writing work to do before I can get to that so...
I’m feeling anxious about a few things right now. First, I’m not happy with my weight. I saw some old pictures today, and I’m probably just a few lbs off from my goal weight, to be honest, so I really should be congratulating myself on my progress, but seeing how defined my jawline and overall body structure was in those old pics has me bumming a little bit. The workout later today should also help with this; and I know I haven’t eaten a lot this week due to stress and and anxiety, so I will probably be seeing some good results in a few days, which is comforting. But I’d be lying to say my weight isn’t on my mind right now. Maybe I’ll just have soup for dinner and save cooking for another night when I’m feeling less anxious about my body...
And yes, this is totally embarrassing to talk about and address. I’m only doing it because I think a lot of people struggle with this, and I just want you to know, you’re not alone. My days/headspace are largely determined by how I’m feeling about my body/face that day. Luckily, my body dysmorphia with my face is not present today, so I don’t have to worry about that *phew*.
Ok, then I’m also pretty anxious about work stuff. I just feel like I have SO much work to do, and because of my random anxiety attacks, I’m just not knocking shit off the to-do list like I need to. I’m super behind on Belle + Day and Prey work, and it’s DRIVING ME NUTS. The good news is once I finish these last two posts, I’m going to go back to Belle + Day and Prey exclusively, so I won’t be posting the Haunted ghost stories (Part 1 and Part 2) until later next week. Hopefully, that is. I have this weird quirk where it’s really hard for me to start a different project until I’ve done the first one TO COMPLETION. Even if it’s not necessary to do or finish the first one, once I start it, I have to get it done.
And I think that lends to the anxiety with Belle + Day and Prey. There is no part of my mind that is like oh it’s ok if you need to take a week off of those and work on the blog. To me, those are unfinished projects just looming over my head. There is always a good amount of relief from that pressure when I accomplish a milestone--for example, when I finish and post a blog post (since those are usually at least 10 pgs, that feels like a good amount of work to accomplish) or when I finish 2-3 jackets or mockups for new designs or when I write at least 10 pages of Prey. Like, I felt pretty productive with the blog, so I took Tuesday off to hang out by the pool and throw back some drinks, but after I didn’t get done what I wanted to yesterday (oh, I still got work done, just not with the blog, this time it was legal work), so today my anxiety is literally through the roof today. It will get better once I finish editing this part and post it, and once I finish Part 4 and get it up, it will be a light and day difference in my mood... and ability to breathe.
And, I’m not going to lie, everything going on in the world right now has me really questioning my plans for the future. Especially concerning my career. When everything is unstable like this, it does make me pause and wonder if I should be giving myself a shorter timeline to see my creative pursuits through and instead get back to law or consulting work. My dream is to be able to do Belle + Day and write books exclusively, and I’m lucky enough that right now, I have the ability to mostly focus on that. I believe in Belle + Day and my writing; and a huge part of me is urging myself not to give either up. But the scared, risk-adverse side of me wants to be able to rely on my own preparedness and not that of others during times of crisis. And I know that I could more steadily and stably build that up if I chose to go back to the “safe” career.
I think that’s part of why I feel so much anxiety to get so much work done right now with Belle + Day & Prey. Now that circumstances are potentially going to change, I might have to come up with a new timeline for myself and my passion pursuits, and I’m very aware of this.
The crazy thing is, I’m getting less external pressure to change my plans and more internal. Because... anxiety... and expectations for myself. There is a part of me that feels like I am letting down other people by pursuing by creative leanings. Because, next time there is a crisis, I’ve been more than primed to be the one in the family who steps up and takes care of everyone else. What the fuck did I go to Princeton for and become an IP attorney for if not to be the next power player in my family and do so AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE? Isn’t it so irresponsible and ungrateful of me to spend my time pursuing risky alternatives that also don’t generate revenue as quickly as an hour of legal work (at this point in time at least)? I’m fortunate enough to have more leeway than most people to go after my creative dreams, but even if I’m making money with it, if I could be making twice as much doing something else... I don’t know. It’s just a question of where to draw that line. The hard thing with the creative stuff is I don’t want to give it up, because you never know at what point it might do very very well. And to be honest, Belle + Day--prior to this crisis--was having that kind of upward trajectory, so I felt safe investing in that and giving myself the time to see that through--for awhile at least. But I’m not sure what kind of world we are going to emerge from this period of stasis into. And I’m really scared that I might have to make the choice to leave behind my creative pursuits sooner than I want or planned.
On the other hand, I’ve been doing some random legal work this week, and I don’t know, there is a whole different part of my mind/soul that gets satisfaction from that. It’s definitely not as fun, but I’d be lying to say it’s not very fulfilling to use my more analytically advanced skills to profit (i.e., kick ass and take names) in that field. Especially given that I’ve always just wanted to prove that I can hang with the “big boys”. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve seen how successful my parents are and what that’s given them in life. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder to make it to their stratosphere. And now, it feels like I’m so close, and I want it more than ever. And, I know the road to that would be shorter if I stuck with law right now; and really gave it the good ol’ college try finally.
Anyway, I’m still thinking through all of this. I think I’m going to throw everything I have at Belle + Day and finishing Prey right now, and I’ll take the other stuff day by day. I have a sneaking suspicion that once I get back to Belle + Day work and once I get something solid going with Prey, then I might have a very different perspective on these things. The bottom line is, and I know this, this is not something I can make my mind up about right now. I still have too many irons in the fire; and I still need to hit some milestones with both Belle + Day & Prey before I can have a better idea of how they’re going to pan out. And I don’t want to make any decision regarding those two too prematurely because it would suck if I pulled out now due to fear but in reality, if I had just stuck with them 6 months or a year longer I could have turned them into equally stable and profitable careers. So... anyway, I’m going to stop with this right now because like I said, I don’t have enough information to make a decision and I won’t have enough information until I do a butt load more work on both. I’m just going to keep a positive outlook that both will turn out to be the successes I dream of them being so I’ll never have to make the choice to quit them, and maybe in fact, one day, I’ll figure out a way to do a little bit of those two and pratcie law, or most ideally, my creative pursuits will do so well and take up so much of my time and be so expansive that it fills up that analytical side of my brain as well and I’ll be wholly satisfied and successful just doing just those two.
Ok: Back to it now... (we were talking about why I had that little downward spiral the last six months or so of 2019):
Another issue was that I stopped writing… which is always a very bad idea for me. My primary anti-anxiety remedies are working out, writing, and traveling/adventuring (when I have the time/opportunity to do so, that is). But since the last two are not something I can do every single day, I know I have to at least write and work out the majority of the days of the week. But I fucked up and I slipped. And the shitty thing was I really really really wanted to write. I wanted to finish the final draft of Prey sooo bad. I have two more books I’m dying to write in that series, for fuck’s sake, not to mention a whole queue of other would-be novels to get to. But Belle + Day was doing so well and I had immediate money to make and orders to fill, so I let it fall to the wayside. And, I shouldn’t have because not writing—like not working out—is just a constantly expanding rubber band of anxiety in my mind that pulls and pulls at me until it painfully snaps. And, in this case, it did snap, but I just kept going ignoring it and so the anxiety and unrest over not getting it done just kept building, and I’m sure it was one of the factors that led to everything else bubbling up at the same time.
So in January, I resolved that in one way or another, I would get some story-telling work done. And once I started working writing (or even those random videos that I post where I talk about the character or the plot) back in my schedule, my anxiety levels totally dropped. So, that’s why I still make those videos—on days when I can’t just sit down and write. I know that if I can at least record part of the story and go back and take notes later, that still satisfies that creative itch to story-tell and write for me; and it helps with my anxiety levels and overall feelings of contentedness.
Now, concerning these anti-anxieties, I’m not bringing them up because I think everyone should do exactly what I do. But I do think that everyone has one or more things that really make them feel happy and fulfilled, and when they don’t do those things on a regular basis, shit can go kind of wonky. I think it’s a contributing factor to a lot of people’s unhappiness or dissatisfaction with their lives, which they usually blame on their relationship or partner or family, but I’m pretty sure that it’s an internal dissatisfaction they are feeling, because usually even when they dump that partner/family and create another one, that problem usually inevitably rears its ugly head and the cycle begins again unless/until they figure out what the problem actually is.
In fact, I think a lot of people would do better to look internally for problems as well as solutions as opposed to externally. I’ve been working on doing that for a few years now, and it’s really changed my perspective and also been quite empowering. It’s made me take accountability for my own life and learn that if there are certain things I want, then it’s up to me to go get them. The world isn’t just going to hand them to me, and I’m definitely not going to meet a partner who’s going to be the embodiment of everything I think it’s going to finally take to leave me fulfilled. First of all, that’s a big ask of someone else when they have their own shit to figure out. And second, it’s fucking impractical. No one else knows your deepest desires. It’s up to you to figure those out and give them to yourself. Even if you do happen to meet someone who is the embodiment of everything you want to be, guess what? You don’t gain their life just by being married to them. In fact, as the years go by, you’ll probably end up resenting the fact that their accomplishments and resulting self worth didn’t magically transfer to you. And they’ll resent you for never being introspective or brave enough to figure out what you want and go after it yourself.
Someone told me once that the people we super attach to—the ones that we call “the ones that got away” or the ones we’re in relationships with where the power dynamic is totally flipped in their favor because we are so besotted with them—it’s not because we’re actually that in love with them. It’s because we admire them—we’re in love with what they are. We want to be what they are, but instead of doing the hard work, we choose to date them instead. And then when the relationship ends and we can’t get over them (or if you stay married to them but realize over time that you never got the happiness/self worth out of the relationship that you thought you’d get), you feel even more bereft and far away from your goals/desires/dreams than you did before you got with that person.
And that TOTALLY resonated with me. I have done that before. I have been that naive in relationships before. And I definitely fall for the men that I admire. I always says, I like humble, low-key men who also happen to be larger than life. Because I want to be humble, low-key, and yet larger than life. Hello, haven’t you heard me mention my hero complex casually a hundred or so times before? In fact, when I was born, I have been told that my particular star chart was that of someone with a hero’s journey. And even before I found that out, I have said to my friends and family over the years that there was a big possibility I was going to forgo a lot of the “norms” in life like settling down, having a family, getting married, living where my friends and family live because I feel like I have a higher calling to live up to my destiny, use every single one of my gifts and make as big of an impact on the world as I possibly can. In fact, if you asked me when I was little kid what I wanted to do, I would literally say, “I want to make a positive impact on the world.” And what I didn’t say, but I thought, was “I want my name to live on after my body dies.” I shit you not. I’ve known for a long time who I want to be and what I was born to do.
And I’ve noticed over the years that I gravitate toward a certain kind of male who is all of those things. Or, at least, I think he is all of those things in the beginning. But the best and most empowering lesson I learned in the last four years was that finding a guy who was larger than life and then becoming larger than life myself was not a path that worked for me. Because when I focused on my relationship first and put my dreams second, nothing fucking got done. I sacrificed way too much for my relationships for men who had their priorities swapped—they were going to do their dream thing first and then figure out their relationship. And you know what —and here I’m talking to the females out there—the guys got it right!
I made a choice after my last breakup. I would never come out of another relationship and return to an unfulfilled life. Before the age of 18, I never dated anyone and guess what? I was accomplishing my dreams left, right ,and center. But relationships messed with my priorities, and I never truly realized why before until I heard this theory about why we fall for the people we fall for. And then I finally figured out why relationships blunted my aspirational edges and abilities in the worst way possible.
Now, in some of those relationships, I did attempt to reclaim my power. Most of time, my boyfriends, as supportive as they pretended to be when they we got together, didn’t like it when I started to put my career first. But also, they didn’t seem to like when I wasn’t fully in my power either. I have been told by the same ex in the same breakup that I was both a) too busy and focused with my career and b) never going to be successful because I lacked followthrough… So… what the actual fuck? I’ve also been critiqued by ex-boyfriends both for being too independent and not needing them enough and for being too dependent and not enough of a risk-taker. So riddle me that?! Actually, I’m going to address all of this a little later. This isn’t really the thesis of this section.
To get back to it, I think it’s really freaking important for men and women alike to figure out what their deepest passions and dreams are and make plans for achieving them all on their own. I think a lot of people—especially women—try to live vicariously through their boyfriends/husbands/families/children and you know what? It’s never fulfilling for them. And I know this because they tell me so. Whether it’s emails or DM’s or whispers from friends, people read my blog or IG rants and come tell me the truth about their regrets and their dissatisfaction.
And I get it! Because that was me just four years ago and for the last 10 years before then. I know what they’re talking about. And I know they didn’t mean for it to happen that way and I know most of them had the very best intentions. Anyway, I don’t want to keep rambling about this, but just bear in mind, whether you are single or committed, there are certain things you need to do and provide and accomplish and achieve for yourself. I don’t care if you marry your celebrity crush or a fucking Prince tomorrow—it’s not going to fill the void inside of you if you haven’t done the work you need to do. And same thing goes for guys, too.
What to do after you’ve done that work and achieved shit on your own and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself and you still want to be with the person you super admire but you don’t want to fall down that slippery slope of resting on their laurels (and not your own)? We’ll get to that in a little bit…
Before I get to the last complicated but major issue, I’d be remiss not to mention that my stress levels were definitely elevated during this difficult June-December period. However, my stress levels are normally higher than average, so I don’t think that was a huge contributing factor to what was going on with my demon ball, but it definitely wasn’t helping things. I am working now on figuring out a better balance. Between my day job, Belle + Day, my writing, my working out, my adventuring, and my manifesting, there are never enough hours of the day to get everything done. However, instead of working myself to the bone and stressing over only crossing off a few things on my massive to do list each day, I’ve started to organize my to-do list differently. I now make a weekly list. Then each day, I pick 1-3 (maybe up to 5 if they’re small) things I really want to get done that day, and the rest I leave for the remaining days of the week. It’s definitely taken a lot of stress off of my shoulders and it’s allowing me to have more balance in my day-to-day life. That might sound obvious to a lot of people, but I’m an anxious lister and I'm always so worried about forgetting even one thing. In the past, not making more headway on my to-do list was a major source of stress for me. But I’m trying to chill about it all little more. I actually think it’s helping me be more productive. When I had 20 things to do, sometimes I’d be so stressed and anxious about getting them all done in one day that I would do something counterproductive to lower my stress so I could just get in the right mindset to start working, and then I’d find myself with most of the day gone and my to-do list as long as ever.
But now, with a much smaller daily list, the schedule seems much more manageable and it’s easier for me to tackle projects one by one and get sh*t done; and also not stay up so late because I already got enough done, so I feel good going to bed early (which for me is still like before 1 or 2) and that just helps me get up earlier and be just as successful the next day. It’s a positive snowball effect.
The other thing I want to mention is that throughout it all, both during my stressful spirals and pulling myself out of it, my dog, my sister, my family, and my coworkers have been an amazing constant. They’ve been there for me when I”m at my worst, and they all help me manage my stress, and see the forest through the trees. I’m so lucky to have them all in my life, and I just wanted to mention that their support was instrumental for me conquering this past difficult period.
So… I lied. There are a few more things I’m going to touch on before that last weird “issue”. First of all, for New Year’s Eve, I could feel myself getting sick, so I knew it wasn’t a good idea to go out in LA like I usually do. But I also knew that come midnight if I was just holed up in my place hearing celebrations around me, I would probably feel a little down. So I decided to do something I knew would be low-key (just in case I really was coming down with something bad—spoiler alert, I was) but also that would make me very, very happy by the time midnight rolled around. I decided to go to the late night showing of The Rise of Skywalker. And holy crap, was it exactly the medicine I needed! I was feeling really really low that night, until I saw that freaking movie. I even took notes during it, I was so into the messages I was receiving.
Listen, I know a lot of people don’t like Star Wars or the sequels or the latest movie, and honestly I think you’re all insane, but I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. You’re allowed to like what you like and I’m equally allowed to be obsessed with what I happen to take pleasure in. The point of this is, sometimes I think it can be really helpful, especially when you’re feeling down in the dumps, to immerse yourself in something that is generally “feel good” for you. Now, I don’t mean go and binge something on Netflix or Hulu or HBO that is very entertaining but is overall low-vibe so when the whole thing is over, despite being entertained and distracted throughout, you feel worse than you felt before you started watching the whole darn thing.
I mean, think back about the books, movies, tv shows, etc. that made you feel genuinely good about yourself. The pieces that were chicken noodle soup for your soul. The ones that made you feel like anything was possible—that made you feel inspired and powerful and ready to incite change. For me, that’s Star Wars. This is a series about how seemingly, tiny, insignificant characters from the fringes of society (smugglers, orphans, rebels, criminals, really weird aliens) unite for a common cause, become the best versions of themselves, and end up saving the entire freaking galaxy. On top of that theme, there is this totally dope type of warrior that lives a very aesthetic lifestyle but because of their discipline, they are able to tap into this universal power that basically transforms them into the coolest kind of ninja/wizard/knight combo. And yes, if you haven't already gleaned, I am a big advocate of living a more disciplined life to reap greater rewards; and I’m pretty obsessed with the idea of being the best version of myself. I also like to think that there is a universal power we can all tap into AND I’m not afraid of a fight. So… yes, this series was made for me. Not to mention that it’s set in space—I mean, come on, if you haven’t been obsessed with the idea of outer space and all it’s limitless possibilities since you were a kid and first learned of its existence, well then honestly, I’m not sure we can be friends. Throw into the equation that it is the quintessential battle of good versus evil but it also is nuanced enough to highlight the shades of gray that exist in between the two and illustrate the temptation that lies in those very shades… jeez, I mean I don’t see how anyone could not only not like Star Wars, but not freaking LOVE Star Wars. I gotta be honest here guys, when I hear that someone doesn’t like Star Wars, they might as well have just told me they don’t like dogs, because all I hear is “I’m a psychopath” coming from their mouth.
But again—no judgment. This isn’t about liking Star Wars. This is about finding something that you love and that inspires you as much as Star Wars inspires me. Anywho… having my little Star Wars moment on a night when I was feeling really low was definitely helpful, and I feel like it solidified my coming out of my negative spiral and kicking the new year off on a positive note. I’m sure it sounds so effing silly. But I don’t care. I think sometimes it’s important to indulge our inner child—it’s good for the soul. It’s good for my soul at least, and that’s good enough for me.
*Side Note: I just watched the Rise of Skywalker last night with my parents, and once again, I cried at the end (The Force Awakens, The Rise of Skywalker, A New Hope, and Return of the Jedi get me every time. EVERY DAMN TIME). I’ve said it once and I will say it 100 more times, Rey is my personal hero/icon. You know, I think the impact Star Wars always has on me—and one of the reasons I turn to it in difficult times—is because it never fails to remind me that I have a responsibility to be the best possible version of myself—both for me but also for the world. I think it has a very powerful message about all of us living up to the greatness that lies inside of us. The heroes in Star Wars are usually outcasts—people from whom nothing is expected and nothing is given. And yet, they have a calling and a destiny, and it’s something that they can only reach through listening to their intuition, digging deep, believing in themselves, tapping into their personal power, being brave, AND relying on their friends. Once again, find me a movie series with more inspirational, feel-good, and empowering overall messages than Star Wars—I’ll wait.
I’m not ashamed of how much I love Star Wars, and I hope you have a Star Wars of your own. Something that makes you feel happy and believe in yourself. Whatever it is that inspires you to be the best version of yourself, that’s what you should tap into during times of need. I even have Star Wars artwork in my house that I ordered when I was going through one of the darkest seasons of my life—and the physical reminder helped me get through my toughest days then, and it still does now. In fact, I think I’m going to buy some more Star Wars artwork. Right now.
Seriously though, I turned to Star Wars during my darkest hour about 4 years ago and I did it again in January and last night, and it has always helped. So thank you Star Wars for always being there for me, and may the force be with you in realizing your equivalent.
Also, btw, if you’re on a twin flame journey (like I’m oooh 89% sure I am), Rise of Skywalker is all about twin flames. Han and Leia might also be twin flames, but Rey & Ben are FOR SURE twin flames. So… interesting food for thought there.
Beyond Star Wars, there are certain books, music, movies, and tv shows that I know to put on or read or listen to when I need a pick-me-up (by the way, I think physical activities should also be on this list for you--i.e., running, hiking, volleyball, etc., but given the Netflix generation we’re in right now, I’m going to focus this list on media). And again, it shouldn’t be something entertaining but that will ultimately leave you feeling low or in a dark mindset by the time the credits roll. I think in modern society where the majority of people just consume media all day and all night, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of exposing yourself to low vibrational material. And that stuff affects you—seriously, they’ve done studies on this. People are always asking me, “Did you watch this show? Did you see this movie? It was so good, but it was so sad/intense.” And most of the time I’m just like oh no, but I’ll catch it later. First of all, I have too many passion projects and irons in the fire to watch much of anything. I always have been like this and hopefully always will be too busy to consume much media (seriously, my pop culture knowledge is not expansive). To be honest, when my tv/movie consumption is high, that usually marks a period of my life when I am massively underachieving. So for me, that doesn’t work. However, I know I’m not the norm when it comes to work/life/pleasure balance so onto the second point.
I am a very conscientious and conscious consumer. I only watch shows and movies that I know will affect my mental and emotional state in a positive way. When I carve out time to consume, it’s usually books, movies, music, or tv that either serve a career/passion project goal and/or something that will make me genuinely happy and leave me inspired. Once in a while, I will give in to darker temptations, like true crime or supernatural shows, but I only let myself consume these in small doses. I try to stay away from shows with too much/gratuitous/over-the-top violence or sex because most of the popular shows these days with sex show sex that’s more akin to rape, and it just leaves me feeling depressed and icky and violence is just violence at the end of the day. And honestly, if that stuff doesn’t make you feel depressed and icky that means you’re already desensitized to a certain level of violence (again, they’ve done studies on this) and I’d be very careful about slipping down that slope any further if I were you.
For the record, I have gone down that road before in very dark ways and it does not lead to a good place, so… not only am I talking studies here but also I’m speaking from personal experience. Again, not here to judge—tbh I don’t give two shits about what most other people do in their personal lives. This is just my advice for what helps balance me out and what gets me achieving at my highest level and also that’s just helps me be the happiest individual I can be. You guys (ahem, GUYS) would be very surprised how much the material you consume affects you neurologically and on a deep emotional level. You want to know where a lot of those darker thoughts toward other people (and especially women) comes from? Take a good hard look at the kind of material you consume (also, the conversations you have with your friends) my man.
Ok, I’m off my soapbox for the time being. I don’t really need to worry about this sh*t until I start seriously dating someone again. And, to reiterate, I’ll get to that later.
Point is, try to consume more high vibe shit. Especially when you’re already feeling down in the dumps. If you want a list from me of what else I recommend in the high vibe category, just DM me on IG or txt me if we’re close. I’m happy to share more of my go-to’s.
Hokay… onto other important small things that help when you’re bummed out. So, one of the activities I alway try to take the time to do kind of all of the time but especially when I’m feeling down is what people like to call “self-care”; although, I just view it as a part of my daily and weekly rituals now. Guys, you can skip this part, although I have to say, I’ve introduced my exes to this stuff and they all loved it so… maybe read on idk.
So, I’m a big advocate of face masks (I use at least 2 if not 3 to 4 different kinds a day), bubble baths (or bath bomb baths), lighting candles (I recommend the focused ones from HOI), and putting on the kind of music that makes you want to sing and shake your booty. Never underestimate the power of giving something back to your physical and mental wellbeing. There’s something about putting on a face mask, lighting a candle with intention, and taking a bath that reminds me to breathe a little deeper, and it’s like this automatic physical signal from my body to my brain to my heart to just relax and feel content to not have to do anything else for the time being other than just chill and feel the warmth slide over ever cell of my body. And the music—the kind that just makes you feel good and lifts your mood—well that just speaks for itself. I find that putting on the right music can change my vibe in a matter of seconds, and I think it’s important to listen to your pick-me-up jams at least once a day.
Is there one song that when it comes on you just feel unstoppable? Like as soon as you hear the lyrics a movie starts playing in your head of your dream life where you are getting everything you want and you are being the person you’d die to be, and the song just makes you feel like not only is anything possible but you are already living the exact life you want (even if you can only feel it or see it in your head when you listen to that song)?? Good! Freaking great! Put on that tune and sing and dance and workout while listening to it at least once a day. Put it on repeat. Pour yourself a drink in the evenings and unwind with it. Better yet, whip out a journal and put that song on and write the story that the song makes you see/feel/think about your own life. Welcome to the wonderful world of channeling high vibes and manifesting my friends. It feels great and can be a lot of fun.
I’m also trying to incorporate a little more of this kind of thing in my schedule, especially right now when I can feel the collective stress and anxiety levels slowly rising more and more each day. I’m trying to make stretching and pilates part of my routine, because my body needs the rehab and injury prevention of extra flexibility. I also want to start throwing on some dance videos on youtube in addition to my normal workout activities—just because I can’t shake it on a night out doesn’t mean I can’t shake it in my apartment.
I would also love to start playing volleyball in my parent’s backyard again, hopefully with my sister. And when this whole thing is over, I want to start treating myself to a massage at least once a month (I don’t get facials or get my nails or brows or lashes done, but my always-sore-from-working-out muscles could sure use some extra love). I usually only book a massage once every two to three years not because I don’t want to get one (I am always DYING for a massage—back, leg, shoulder, neck, foot, literally anything because everything is always sore) but because I don’t prioritize it—because I haven’t been prioritizing giving back to my body-- I just don’t get it done. I’d like to change that.
I also would like to work in specific treat/cheat days in my schedule… nothing crazy, but for me, the most special treats I can have are frozen yogurt, boba tea, Pizzamania or In-N-Out, but I don’t often let myself indulge. I usually let myself have one of those four once a month, if even that. But that’s stupid, because there are other indulgent calories I don’t enjoy nearly as much as those that I could happily cut out and thus create room in my diet to enjoy some of my faves more often. Soo… I’m going to try to make sure I always have steel cut oatmeal and green tea and other healthy snacking options on hand during the week for when I feel peckish, so that I can have one meaningful cheat meal every week that makes not only my mouth happy but also my soul. It probably seems simple and basic, but I have such positive memories associated with those four types of food, it just feels different consuming them.
Crap… should I go get some In-N-Out right now? It’s past my eating window for the day, but I went super light on dinner… ooh decisions, decisions… This is where I miss having a boyfriend because if I asked a guy if he wanted to get In-N-Out right now, he’d say “hell yes” and not “ooh, I dunno Tor, I need to make sure it fits into my calorie count for the day”. But this is also why people tend to gain more weight when in relationships so… maybe it’s for the best. I’m just going to make some oatmeal… :(
Anyway, back to it—I’m sure this sounds totally off the wall to a lot of you who don’t have a strained relationship with food, exercising, your body, etc., but in an effort to give back to myself without sacrificing the weight I’ve thankfully taken off in the last few months; I want to be more cognizant about how I cheat in my diet, so I can really, really enjoy those treat days. It sounds like a small thing, but some indulgences just resonate differently than others.
And for me, it’s a huge act of self love to not only allow myself a treat day here and there, but also make sure I’m strict with myself the other days of the week. I’ve already explained that I don’t do well when I fall off my own personal health/fitness wagon; so it’s equally a show of self care and love for me to make sure I stay within the diet/exercise parameters in the ways that I need to as much as it is to allow myself a treat once in a while. I think this is just one of those things where if you’re like this, you’ll get what I’m saying.
Another thing I’m trying to implement now on an every other day basis (at last) is creative visualization. I’ve tried various types of manifesting and spell work, but I have consistently noticed that writing—and highly imaginative scene/storytelling writing, more specifically—is the NUMBER ONE way that I bring magic to life and realize my dreams.
Thus, to me, writing is magic. Because when I write, I not only get closer to achieving my dreams (say of being a published author when I do something like work on Prey), but I also blessedly decrease my anxiety levels AND somehow create magic. I know this sounds crazy if you don’t believe in this kind of thing, but three kinds of magic happen when I write. First, I just feel GOOD about myself. I feel better, it’s a huge emotional release, and it just feels like I’m doing what I’m meant to do. I know some people haven’t found what they’re passionate about in life yet, and that’s totally ok; but for those of you who have, you know the level of satisfaction you get from doing the activity it feels like you were meant to do is just unquantifiable and incomparable. For me, writing, playing volleyball, and traveling/exploring would be the three things that leave me higher and happier and more fulfilled than anything else. But writing is really the top of the top. So, the first kind of magic is that I feel freaking unbelievable.
The second is that when I write, usually what I write—at some point in the future—comes to pass. And it’s usually the things that I really, really, really want to happen. This is kind of a crazy side effect of my writing, but it keeps things fun and full of mystery. Like, out of all the cool things I breathe life into on the page today, which of those is going to manifest in my own life in the future? I never know, but it certainly never gets boring, and it’s always cool to see your power manifest in the real world from engaging in your own special brand of magic.
**Real Time Editing Note: My sister literally just called me and asked what I want from In-N-Out because she and my dad are heading there right now. Now, on the scale of what I’ve manifested from my writing, this is admittedly on the smaller end (I’ve literally conjured entire scenes out of thin air before just by putting pen to paper) BUT it’s still a desired manifestation and I will happily take it**
The third thing that happens when I write is that little or big things in my life that I’ve been hoping will change or hoping will happen—all of sudden, they just happen! And it will be something that I’ve maybe even given up hope on because it started to feel/seem so bleak, but then I take to my computer or typewriter or notebook and *poof* it happens. It’s crazy magic in the best way possible.
So… one of the reasons I think I fell into the hole I fell into before is that I stopped writing. I was so absorbed with Belle + Day that I forgot how necessary writing is for me on SO many levels. But, as I mentioned earlier, part of getting back on track was to make sure I write or create something in the storytelling sense every single day. And in addition to taking up my metaphorical pen again, I’ve decided to give creative visualization a la writing a real shot.
I’ve done manifesting via writing before, but I haven’t found it that helpful. And I’ve tried to do creative visualization by mediation, but I usually end up falling asleep or my mind is racing so fast that I lose my train of thought. But when one of the life coaches I follow mentioned that she writes out her creative visualizations, the light bulb went off in my head. In fact, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of doing this before. Actually I used to do this all the time, particularly in college and law school, I just didn’t know what it was or that it was called that at the time. And I guess I forgot that I used to do that. I was wondering why my manifesting seemed stilted as of late, and I think I’m now figuring it out.
So now, I’ll be focusing more on creative visualization writing AND storytelling writing every day. I’ll still be lighting my candles and playing with my powders, crystals, oils and all that good stuff, but my primary mode previously was meditating and meditating with music and while those techniques have both worked for me at various times in my life, I think creative visualization with writing has always been the strongest form for me. So… yes, I’ll be doing that now, and I’m really excited for it. In fact, I’ve already started, and despite everyone being in lockdown right now, shit is already happening.
Ok, soo, now it’s finally time to get into the heavy shit. I was kind of holding this off for the end because this is where I get a little uncomfortable (primarily because I have a lot more work to do in this area) and my emotions are the highest concerning this and my thoughts get very jumbled and confused and I'm worried that as a result I’m not going to express what I want to do express correctly.
But whatever, I think I do need to get this out—in one form or another. So… one of the flip sides of leveling up—you know, of all that work I described in annoying, overly-confident detail in the first part of this—is the same thing that happens when you level up in a video game.
You get all excited that you finally got to the next level—that coveted next level you’ve been working so hard to get to. Because at that level, you’ll get to experience a new world, it’ll be a new chapter, and the version of you entering the next chapter is stronger, smarter, and probably better equipped with a number of extra weapons and remedies for whatever problems arise. And you really think this is it, now I’m finally strong enough to defeat whatever opponent I am faced with at this level. Now it is my time to beat everyone else and be the supreme leader of this universe.
Yes… that’s the fantasy we all harbor, until we actually start playing that next level, and do you know what more often than not is waiting for you at the next level? It’s not that room full of treasure that we were hoping for… Nope, it’s even more horrifying monsters and adversaries that even with our stronger bodies and longer lives and more advanced weaponry STILL RESOUNDINGLY kick our ass. And that treasure that seemed so much closer when we first leveled up—oh honey, it seems almost impossible to get to that now. How can I get to treasure when I can’t even defeat the first horrifying, unstoppable, seemingly unbeatable villlain of this level that can literally kill me with one punch?
To be fair, those of you who haven’t played a lot of video games (gameboy and PSPs have always been my vehicle of choice, btw, arcade games are chill, too), all the layers of that analogy might not have sunk in, but hopefully you get my meaning.
Once you level up, shit can be even harder than before. Because when you’re working to clear a lower level, the shit you have to clear away isn’t nearly as dark or deep. But the more you clear away those top layers and you go deeper and deeper and deeper, well, that’s when you encounter everything you previously repressed because it was too hard to deal with in your “powered down” form. But the more you power up, the more those skeletons demand to be faced (like in say, Castlevania). You can’t hide from them anymore. It’s now or never to defeat them once and for all. But like any good video game, it’s probably going to take you a few dozen tries to get that key code to get to the next level. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
At least, that’s what I found in my life. So here I am, working with my life coach, really sorting through these career and passion projects goals that I had had for myself forever, and felt like I needed a jump start in doing. But then, with just a little push on her end, I was able to throw myself into that work and doing the work in those areas became more like a knee jerk reaction, and less of something I needed to be pushed into doing. Ok… so if I was getting my career and creative goals accomplished easily, what did we need to work on next, then? Health and fitness of course! But then, the same thing happened with those areas. It was just really easy for me to put the plan in action and meet my goals.
And like any good life coach, mine was able to go so much deeper with me. She would get me to talk and she never took, “I don’t know” as an answer. And because of that, we revealed what the bulk of my hangups in every category—career, creativity, health, personal life, mental and emotional health, etc—stemmed from. And it wasn’t at all what I thought it was.
So basically, I figured out through my life coach, that my abandonment and trust issues with the people in my life is the main cause of discord for me. It’s the source of almost every insecurity and hangup. It’s the issue that spawns many, many other issues. I’m not going to go through exactly how we traced almost everything back to this because it would get way too long, but suffice to say, it was very illuminating to see how much insecurity I have built up around the fear of not being good enough and thus ultimately either losing the people I love and/or experiencing the the people I love betray me.
But, you know, when I think about it, it really makes a lot of sense. I’ve felt abandoned and/or betrayed (and overall, just not perfect enough) by a shocking number of friends and relationships. So… I can see why this would be such a difficult area for me. But what I didn’t realize—what wasn’t so obvious—was how it was affected me on the level of micro-decisions in seemingly unrelated categories. Like, I had no idea that I was scared to sit down and just let myself be creative and write because deep down I was nervous that my friends/crushes/relationships wouldn’t like it (they’d judge me and find me wanting) and leave and/or they’d be resentful of me for not spending my spare time with them in favor of creating and they’d leave me because it. Or that I was afraid to pursue my creative passions because I was worried my family would judge me and find me wanting for it and they’d also leave me.
And this was a HUGE realization for me because I’ve always had these nagging, hurtful insecurities about my relationships with other people, and what being true to myself would ultimately result in concerning these relationships. But I couldn’t ever really figure out why because there’s a huge a part of me that just LOVES flying my freak flag, and around certain people I have zero problem doing it. So, it wasn’t like I felt like I didn’t love or accept myself or that I was afraid what other people would think because in the most obvious ways, I don’t--or just not enough for it to really affect my behavior in a significant way. I always loved and embraced the fact that I was different and weird. And even in most of my serious relationships, I was still very up front about that—I didn’t really tone down that side of my personality. And in my current whatever-kind-of-situation-it-is with the person I think is my twin flame, we bond over our shared weirdness. So with him (or, on the rare chance we do communicate now since we’re not really talking anymore) I felt the most free to be myself than I ever felt. So, I just couldn’t warp my head around the fact that it was my insecurity over being me that made me feel like I might lose people, because it was something I just kind of did anyway.
But through talking with my life coach, I was able to uncover that even though I was allowing some of my weirdness to show, I was still apologetic about it. And, I was still sacrificing my time by not doing what I really wanted to do in order to make sure other people judge/be disappointed and leave me for it.
I don’t know, I guess I was just forced to be really honest with myself. Like, yes, even though I was proud to be a creative weirdo, there was still a part of me that got so embarrassed for every single poem I posted, every blog post I announced. I was so afraid to put up the scene for Prey, and I’m nervous even down to every freaking weird selfie or video I post.
But then Amy (my coach) asked me what usually happened when I put my creativity or weird side forward and/or sacrificed my time to work on my passion projects as opposed to hanging out with the ones I loved. And I had to admit, with the current group of people I had in my life, I might get the occasional comment from someone that it was embarrassing or too personal to post, but the vast majority of people I know came out of the woodworks to tell me how appreciate they were. They loved it and/or they related. Or they just could relate to the battle of getting your creativity out there and they were there to cheer me on—and vice versa.
So in a weird way, what I was really afraid of—that people would leave me and judge me for putting my most vulnerable self out there for all to see—ended up being the opposite of what happened. At least for the most part.
Like I said, I still have a few good friends and family members that do occasionally make a negative remark. I think they think I’m doing it for attention; but what they don’t realize is it takes every ounce of courage I have to put any form of creativity out there. Because I don’t want people to think I’m attention seeking. But at the same time, I feel compelled to create. And a lot of people seem to like what I create… So what’s the harm?
But then, I felt around May/June of last year, two of my good friends and one person who was becoming a little more than a good friend, well… all three of them seemed to be doing everything in their power to ghost me. Like, they were all being friendly on an acquaintance only level, but they seemed to be dodging spending any real time with me. And… that really hurt. And it scared me. Because I felt like I was seeing the same old pattern play out again.
Because in the past, I have had so many friends or relationships—deep, serious ones—just disappear seemingly overnight. Some of them I heard from years later and got the reason why they disappeared, but others I’ve literally never heard from again.
And even though everyone who has come back has said the reason they bailed had nothing to do with me and everything to do with them, and they were sorry and regretful over what they did; there was always a part of me that could not be talked out of believing that the reason why they left (or worse, betrayed me) was because of something inherently wrong and deficient with me. I mean, wasn’t I the common denominator in all these threads? I’ve had more than 20 people I’ve considered to be close, close friends abruptly walk out of my life or hurt me and then walk out of my life and I’ve had that also happen with more than 10 relationships or would-be relationships. So… in my lifetime, 30 people I considered inner circle in one way or another had either abandoned me or betrayed and then abandoned me. How does that not mess with a person’s head?
And, the thing that sucked the most was that it was the people who I let get the absolute closest—the ones I would have died for and I thought vice versa—who betrayed me the worst and left the most abruptly and have never ever for one second turned around said one word to me about it.
So… I don’t know. Some wounds just run really fucking deep. And there is definitely a part of me that thinks there must be something really wrong and really terrible about me on a fundamental human level which is why most of these people just run away from me.
And you know, thank god for my good friends and family that have stayed by my side no matter what over the years. Because they at least give me some hope that there isn’t something terribly wrong with me.
But in all honesty,I think that’s why I’ve gotten seemingly so much overtly weirder over the last several years. Because if people are going to find those parts of my personality and leave anyway, than I might as well just lead with them. I might as well just get rid of that initial cut from the get-go.
But still, even when I am being confident and weird and true to myself, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that didn’t feel a little judged. Because I’m not an idiot. I know what people are saying about me. I know there are people who don’t like me (and yet they consume my posts/content all the same, it’s really fucking fascinating). I can see with my tracking mechanisms on my account that way more people click on and read the links and videos I post then click the like button on the post. I mean, I guess they couldn’t make it more clear that even though they don’t like me, they’re still going to consume and judge what I post. It doesn’t really matter, they’re consuming it never the less, but I just find it fascinating the number of people masquerading behind a veil of ambivalence that tend to be your biggest trolls—and they’re usually people you actually know personally.
I mean, those people don’t bother me so much. The ones I worry about are the ones who masquerade as your best friend, your boyfriend, your crush—but who ultimately are faking the emotion they pretend to have for you. And we’re going to get more into exactly that...
Before I delve into my theories, I wanted to describe in a little more detail my specific experiences with the aforementioned disorders, primarily so you guys can see whether you relate to any of these feelings. Because if you do, then maybe a little later when I talk about the methods I used to pull myself out of the hole I fell into, you might be able to utilize some of those techniques in your own life should you ever encounter a similar spiral in the wrong direction
I already went into the body dysmorphia as much I as I care to at this moment in time earlier, so up next is the eating and exercise disorder. So, I think I mentioned this in “This Is A Story of Endings”, but I’ve been a restrictive eater since I was about 14. When it’s been really bad, it’s bordered on starvation. Luckily, I’ve been a competitive athlete for the majority of my life, so I could never sustain starvation periods for too long because not passing out in the middle of practice or god forbid, the middle of a match, was even more important to me than my obsession with my body. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it to everyone in my life who likes to tell me I’m too competitive at sports because that little trait definitely helped me not sink too far into this particular disorder.
The really sad thing about my eating disorder (which I only started to seriously realize in the last few months), is the degree to which my body dysmorphia has spurred it on. I look at old pictures of myself—both from when I was younger to even just a few months ago—(and with the exception of when I put on a bunch of weight over summer/fall during this elongated spiral) I was always in the exact shape (or very close to it) that I wanted to be in. I remember being in such a dark headspace that the body I saw in the mirror always seemed so much bigger. But when I look at these pictures now, I can see that’s not the case at all. In fact, in some I think I was possibly too skinny at that point in time; but I know back then if asked, I would have said and meant I needed to lose at least five pounds. It’s just sad. I wish I could have seen myself in a more realistic light and had more love and compassion for myself, and confidence in my physique. I wish that for myself now, as this is still something I struggle with. It might be something I struggle with my entire life, and that really blows. Because not only does it make me anxious and unhappy, but it really impedes my ability to love myself.
And, if you’re wondering, yes, this has been a huge bone of contention in most of my previous relationships. I was always honest with my exes about my eating patterns because I knew they would figure out eventually that something was up; but even if we would start our relationship at a place where I felt like they loved and adored me the way I was, my anxiety about weight, food, and exercise would seep into the relationship and eventually affect not only the way they looked at me but also their own body image. Or maybe I just gravitate toward men who have the same issues. Who knows? This is very possible as I’m fairly certain the person I care about the most right now also struggles with his own body image in multiple ways that make me really sad because I think he’s perfect and pretty much always have. I wish I could tell him that, but I can’t. More on this later...
Inevitably, after every breakup, I would always blame my weight. And the absolutely psychotic thing was in most of these relationships, I was somewhere between a size 2 and 4, and always very physically fit. But because I’ve always had muscle from working out in areas where most girls don’t and/or because I can’t look in the mirror and see what others see the majority of the days of the week, I honestly thought my exes would go out and immediately date someone thinner and be so relieved and excited to do so. I was convinced of this toxicity even during my worst period of starvation when I dropped down to a 0 (which if you’ve seen my athletic, curvy frame, you would know that’s probably not a size my body was naturally meant to be). My clothes were literally hanging off of me, and my shoulder blades were protruding, giving me a rather skeletal appearance, and I was convinced I got dumped for someone more slim.
For the record, my disordered eating isn’t as bad now as it was in my late teens/early twenties. I definitely have periods when I slip back into unhealthy and restrictive eating habits usually corresponding to straight-up stress or weirdly, being really happy and excited. My appetite sometimes just disappears; like during this lovely point in time we are all collectively experiencing, my appetite has notably vanished.
However, sometimes it’s purposeful, I’ll be honest. But I’ve learned over the years how to be more aware of it, and how to alter my restrictive eating patterns in healthier ways. In law school, I decided I was tired of punishing my body and wanted a change, and that’s when I made a conscious choice to adopt healthier habits. No, the disorder didn’t disappear entirely, but it has been getting a little better year by year. And learning to cook was HUGE for me. I started dabbling in law school, but I really got into it the semester I spent in Switzerland when I shared a joint kitchen with a bunch of Italians and for the first time was shopping at grocery stores that sold fresh food only, so you had to cook every single day or every other day if you saved your leftover, because you couldn’t just pop in a frozen option (spoiler alert, they didn’t have them there and I didn’t have access to a freeze anyway). My Italian friends taught me how to both increase my culinary range and enjoy the process of cooking as much as the end product. In return, I taught them about calorie intake versus outtake and the difference between a good and bad carb.
Anyway, the point of all of this is my relationship with food and restrictive eating has progressed in a very healthy way in the last 7-8 years. But like I said, I still slip from time to time. When I did so last summer, it wasn’t so much that I fell victim to my disorder but more so that I was doing a lot of other unhealthy or less healthy habits that I didn’t realize cumulatively were having an effect on my waistline. And because I am susceptible to this kind of eating disorder, it was incredibly stressful a) to put on any kind of weight in the first place, since I already have such a tenuous connection with my body and eating habits even when I am my ideal weight and b) not to slip back into a super dangerous habit to lose all the weight as quickly as possible. Essentially, I was fighting with myself both against putting on the weight but also not taking it off in an unhealthy way. And the body anxiety over the extra pounds was not helping my self-esteem at all.
As far as my exercise disorder, this is probably where I’m worse now than I am with my eating disorder. But part of this is because if you look at my background, I’ve been incredibly active for the majority of my life. I started playing competitive sports at a young age (4). I did softball for a few years then martial arts, before finally finding the love of my you life, volleyball, at age 8. By 9 and 10, my team was winning the Bay View Classic, and by 11, I was playing with mostly 13 and 14 years olds and competing in the Junior Olympics for the first time. In middle school, I was able to play for club and school for the first time, which meant I played year-round. That continued to high school, where we not only had practice every single school day and played most weekends, but we started also having additional sessions with specialized trainers focusing on weights, cardio, plyometrics, you name it. And that schedule only intensified for college ball. And I freaking loved it! I loved all of it. Even the hell weeks or competitive volleyball scouting/recruiting camps when my whole body ached by the end of every day and I was icing at least several different injuries and taking a butt-load of Advil to counteract the pain. I loved the feeling of exhausting every single last cell of my body playing the sport that I loved. And in college, I added running to that already intense schedule. I would run 8-10 miles every single day IN ADDITION TO every else I was already doing. I called it “cross-training”; and it was kind of that, but it was also the start of my exercise disorder. I told myself that there were girls at the gym much thinner than me, that ran for much longer; and so if anyone had exercise bulimia (I don’t like to call it that because I feel like the name is misleading, but that’s what it used to be medically referred to as) it was them, and not me. That’s actually been a huge get out of a jail card for me with my disorders. Like I mentioned earlier, my natural body type isn’t build to be super skinny. I’m a mesomorph, which means I put on muscle fast and retain it. I also have a traditional hourglass figure, so there’s always some curve there as well. But because of this, it was easy to mask my unhealthy habits, because even when I was starving myself or over-exercising, you couldn’t see it on my frame unless I did it to a crazy degree for an extended period of time. Like, the time I mentioned earlier when I dropped to a 0, for at least a month I had switched to a diet of only eating several oranges a day plus 20 advil plus one cup of strong black tea and when I felt like I was going to pass out, a banana with some peanut butter. The advil was because I had a horrendous knee injury (one I still have) but despite having to limp everywhere across campus and going to physical therapy for it every day, I still insisted on fitting my 8-10 miles in on the treadmill. My athletic trainer wanted to kill me.
And for the first few weeks of doing this, most people were complimenting my shape--because I didn’t look sick, I probably looked like that ideal lean, skinny type we hype up. But I was being soooo unhealthy. And that’s actually been a huge rub for me in relationships as well. My poor unsuspecting boyfriends would always compliment my figure when I was at the peak of starvation--they just didn’t know it. But they’d say things like, “you looked amazing today, way more healthy than all those sticks out by the poo”l. And all I would hear is a) you look best when you’re starving yourself and b) even when starving yourself, you’re still notably bigger than all the other girls. They didn’t know what they were saying or what I was doing eating-wise when they made these comments, but the implications resonated with me all the same. Even now, I’m very aware that I can’t have the body I prefer--closer to a 2 than a 4-- and the body most men and women compliment me on without being in a pretty huge calorie deficit. Trust me, I’m still trying to figure out how to do it. With some of the new “tricks” I’m implementing now, I feel like I’m getting closer to achieving it in a healthy way than ever before. But I haven’t figured out how to do it sustainably without practicing restrictive eating at least two days a week.
Anyway, back to my workout schedule. It’s always been extensive, and it just grew more and more so over the years. And I think that’s partly why I’m addicted to the gym now. I need those endorphins. I crave that level of exhaustion. I like passing out, sore and tired and happy every single night (or most nights of the week, anyway). It just makes me feel good on a cellular level, and it makes me feel like my body did a good day’s work, too.
It’s very positive in that it’s kept me incredibly active and healthy into my adult years. Every time I have a physical, I’m incredibly proud to hear that my stats are still that of a competitive athlete. Even when I’m a little more muscly than I prefer to be (I bulk easily) and have gained some weight as a result, my doctor always reassures me that my vitals are extremely healthy and its basically all muscle so I don’t need to worry. And that’s awesome given that most women I talk to get the opposite talk at these annual physicals (i.e., they really need to take some weight off). So, I’m glad I have this addiction in that arena. And I’m glad that it gives me some balance when it comes to how I evaluate my weight. Because as much as I have my bulky muscle patterns sometimes, I LOVE the feeling of heightened strength and endurance. So, sometimes my exercise obsession tells my brain to take it easy on my body and give it a little more love and gratitude for what it enables me to do when otherwise a glance in the mirror would tell me to be unhappy and restrict. In this way, I’d take my exercise disorder over my eating disorder and/or body dysmorphia any day of the week.
However, it can manifest in unhealthy ways. For example, I often have trouble letting myself eat if I don’t feel like I burned a sufficient number of calories that day. And, it’s not just burning calories. No, I have to get a very specific type of workout accomplished. I have to do high-intensity cardio and sweat out a few pounds of water before I can feel like I did an adequate workout. And if I don’t, well.. my anxiety will just build and build and build and build until I end up exploding, either in anger or in tears, usually underlined by a good amount of self-loathing.
My sister knows by now that when I am irrationally testy or emotional it’s probably because I didn’t get my workout in, and instead of saying, “Is it your time of the month?” she knows to ask, “Hey, do you need to go for a run?” And the answer almost always is a resounding yes.
I just don’t feel good about myself when I’m not active. And my anxiety skyrockets with each additional day of inactivity. And remember, only super extensive workouts release that pressure valve at all, so just going for a walk every day doesn’t help. That does NOT count as an adequate workout for me. Nor does yoga. Or pilates. Or anything in the easy to medium challenge range. Even if I’m out of breath or sweating a little, if I haven’t sweat through basically my entire workout outfit, then in my warped perception, I might as well have fucking sat on the couch and ate a bag of potato chips.
I’ve always warned my trainers in the past that I’m hyper-competitive and super type-A about my workouts. They always laughed and said ok, but I knew they didn’t believe me. They probably thought I was saying that so they wouldn’t ride me so hard. It wasn’t until they would see me in action and have to come over to me multiple times during the class or session to say, “Hey Torri, your heart rate is WAAY too high. Please take it down a notch. I don’t want you hurting yourself. Or passing out,” that they would start to realize that my warning was completely serious. They’d practically have to adjust my machine themselves, bc I wasn’t going to take off any heat. When my sister and I used to do Orange Theory, sometimes we’d run into other guys in our class at Whole Foods afterward, and on a few occasions, they’d approach us, shaking their heads and saying, “Holy shit, you were crazy during that race. I wasn’t even going to try to compete with you.” I always laughed and took it as a compliment, but my sister was like, “Dude, you have a problem. You need to relax.” And she was probably right.
And while I tend to laugh it off, the truth is this disorder is not only psychologically dangerous but also physically dangerous for me. First of all, because of volleyball, I have several chronic and life-long injuries that flare up OFTEN because I always overwork those muscle groups. And then, I risk doing even more damage because I won’t stop working out even when I am injured. Only when it becomes a super serious and painful injury where I can’t take Advil and just forget about it while I’m at the gym, and the pain is preventing me from even just walking normally will I take it easy for a little. But not too long. I can’t NOT get my workout in for too long or I stew and go nuts and my sanity and self-esteem and emotional health just plummets.
Also, I have a little condition and the doctors don’t know what it is because every test has come back negative, but my theory is that it’s remnant from a bad illness I almost died from as a child that scarred my lungs and I think messed with my temporal lobe a little bit. Anyway, it causes me to pass out and have seizures when I get too hot, not enough oxygen, and/or experience an over-exposure to chemicals, and sometimes this in the past has resulted in SERIOUS injuries for me. I’m not supposed to drink red bull or any kind of inorganic energy drink, I don’t drink coffee or soda, I try to limit over the counter and not so over the counter drug use, or expose myself to too high of temperatures (one time I experienced heatstroke in relation to it). I also don’t drink hard alcohol because that has brought it on before; I have to be careful at high altitudes because that does it, too; and I have to be cognizant of what products I use on my skin but that also did me in one night.
Sooo… my body is not exactly great when it’s pushed to the limits. Which, unfortunately, is something I can’t help but do. In fact, I specifically tried to go for a several mile run after donating blood (and after they had specifically told me NOT to work out), even though I knew I was prone to passing out. I just HAD to prove that I still could. Thank goodness my dad caught me in the middle of my workout and made me stop.
I don’t know if it’s because deep down I believe that if I just get strong enough or fit enough, I can beat whatever this mystery ailment is. I do think that inane line of thinking has something to do with it. Also, my hero complex.
But anyway, from June-December, I ran into trouble with this little disorder because I was desperate to stop the weight and this led to too many days at the gym. I ended up hurting my ankle and foot, and that injury just got worse over time because I could never let it heal fully. I just couldn’t stay out of the gym too long, ESPECIALLY when I was starting to see the pounds pile on. And then at the end of December, I almost did myself in. I was finally seeing the weight come off and I was trying to see how many days I could do an “all-out” workout in a row. Also, we were on vacation at the time and I’ve learned in the past several years that I have to work out hardcore EVERY MORNING on vacation otherwise I will be anxious about every delicious meal or sip of Champagne I have and I won’t be able to enjoy it. So, on one hand, I was really proud that I was following through with this workout every morning routine even on vacation. I had done the same thing when in Maui the previous summer and it worked great so I wanted to repeat it. But then I started hitting 6, 7, 8 days of all-out gym sessions in a row with no rest. And I knew it was only a matter of time before I reinjured myself, especially given my chronic injuries. But I just couldn’t stop myself—I had to keep going! It’s like a drug for me, honestly.
Well, I ended up NOT getting injured, but instead catching that horrible B strain that went through California in January, and I was sicker than I had possibly ever been before (except that one time when I was a baby and almost died, oh and the time I had pneumonia when I was 14… also dehydration sickness in Kenya was no picnic either) and it lasted for a good three weeks. So… I got a great 8-day streak in, but then I was sidelined for about-- now I should be saying here I was sidelined for 21 days because that’s how long I was super sick, but guess how long I stayed away from the gym?) -- 11 days. I tried to go late at night so no one could hear me coughing and I thoroughly cleaned my machine afterward because I didn’t want anyone to get sick, and I’m sure it just made my recovery ultimately slower. But I couldn’t stay away. I just couldn’t.
Ok so… next would be my anxiety disorder…. So I don’t have general anxiety—the kind that just makes you neurotic. Instead, I have anxiety related to all of the aforementioned disorders and then I have this fun thing where I get little sneak attacks of feeling super anxious. My chest gets tight and I can’t breathe and my mind gets caught in negative spirals and I feel really randomly depressed or I have a sinking feeling in my stomach like something really, really bad is about to happen and I feel like crying or just yelling and I try to keep to myself when this happens or grit my teeth and whisper to my sister or coworkers “hey, I’m having an anxiety attack right now, just give me 30 minutes of space”. Usually, it will dissipate in 30 mins to an hour. Often they are related to one of my other disorders getting out of hand. But sometimes they just come out of nowhere. When they are really bad, then can last up to a few hours. But luckily, I now know when they’re coming on so I just try to talk myself through it and just breathe and focus on something else until it passes. I think they’re just stress-induced, and honestly, they are so much better now than they used to be when I was younger (and had no idea what was happening) that I almost discount them (until on comes on randomly and then it's like fuuuccckkk, not this again.)
The last “issue” I’m going to wait and address in the next section because I think it’s something I didn’t realize was part of the problem until I started realizing I was having a problem; so I’m going to start talking about it when I address my theories on why all of my demons decided to have a party in my head and heart at once.
Ok, so let get to those theories now…
I think a huge factor in why all these demons reared their ugly head at the same time was, honestly, sleep deprivation. Starting in late May, I was working full-time during the day and then coming home and working until my fingers quite literally bled sometimes on Belle + Day. I usually am a night owl and go to bed between 2 and 3 in the morning, but with Belle + Day to focus on at night and orders mounting, I started going to bed between 5 and 6 in the morning. So, not only was I losing a good 2 hours of sleep from my already low number of total hours, but also, because my dog likes to wake me up around 7 every morning to go to the restroom, and then I usually have to get up sometime between 8 and 9 for work, this meant I was never hitting that full 4+ hours where you start getting that deep sleep your body really needs. I didn’t realize it at the time, because 4-5 hours of interrupted sleep didn’t seem all that different from 5-6 hours of interrupted sleep but it WAS different because I wasn’t making it to my deepest REM cycle states. So, I later learned that this contributed heavily to both my weight gain and also my anxiety levels—which means that not getting enough sleep and enough DEEP sleep seriously and negatively impacted by mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Once I realized this, I started to make a much more concerted effort to stop my work earlier in the night (even if I didn’t get everything done I wanted to) and just freaking go to bed. Now I make sure I get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night, and I can feel the results across the board, and I’m just thankful I did finally connect those dots, because, like everyone else, I had read those studies about how much sleep you should get but I always just discounted them. I won’t be making that mistake any more.
Another huge factor was the unbreakable cycle of being too injured to workout but needing to workout to lose weight and then getting even more injured. For me, being injured just doesn’t work because being in good shape/health (body image excluded) is a huge part of my identity and working out is a major part of my anxiety control system and stress release. Also, this working out too much and not sleeping enough was not only leading to excessive injuries but also excessive illnesses. So, I decided to drastically change my workout plan in January. Instead of forcing myself to do these high-intensity, high impact workouts until my body just gave out in one way or another, I did some research and found some high intensity, low impact alternative workouts that get my heart rate up and make me sweat without killing my muscles, joints, and bones. I also decided to very consciously work in stretching videos, pilates, and barre at least a few days of the week to increase flexibility and prevent injury. Also, these exercises help give a little love back to my body because I really put it through the wringer with my workout schedule otherwise.
So, I’ve changed my workout plan from endurance and high-intensity running the majority of days of the week to something much more feasible. While I’m healing my injuries (because yes, my ankle and foot are still injured, and yes, it might be a stress fracture, but no, I’m not going to get it checked out, I’m just going to hope it heals with my new plan) I’m also using a copper compression belt to get my heart rate, temperature, and sweat levels up while I do a modified run and a rebounder workout. I do that one or two days in a row and then on my off-day I do a resistance stretching or pilates workout. So far, I haven’t gotten sick and my injuries have been much more manageable. I also feel like my body in general just feels better from the lack of high impact and the increase in variety. So I’m glad I broke my addiction to running until I literally dropped and found other ways to get my rocks off while working out. Seriously that copper compression belt is AMAZING. I can take down both my speed and time spent on any particular thing and burn even more calories, which is good because my body needs a bit of a rest from so much high impact for a while at least.
Ok, so another big thing was my eating schedule just got sooo out of whack. I stopped cooking because I didn’t have time with all the jacket-making in the evenings. And unfortunately for me, my body is really different and what works for most women doesn’t exactly work for me. I need to maintain a pretty balanced, traditional carb/protein/fat intake (which seems like it would be what most women do, but with all the fad dieting today, it’s kind of the opposite). I also do really well with intermittent fasting. But I was told for years that protein and good fat was what I needed to consume and carbs (even “good ones”) were bad, and intermittent fasting would just stop my metabolism. So, over summer, I struggled with finding an eating schedule that worked and left me feeling satiated and switching to foods that seemed to be what everyone else was consuming—so lots of organic, raw, vegan, barely processed shit. But I was just putting weight on like crazy! It didn’t make sense, given what I was eating. Until I realized that because I was so heavily denying myself in so many categories and eating at times of the day when I normally didn’t eat/wasn’t hungry meant I was buying and consuming more cheat snacks. Also, I was not being as stringent with my grocery buying or consumption as I used to be because I was hungry and not getting the proper nutrients. I fell into that organic, raw, anything with fruits and veggies is good trap, and it totally messed me up.
So, I decided to go back to basics. Thankfully, intermittent fasting is becoming an accepted thing and going back to it has been such a godsend because that is what always worked for me before. Once, again, a big EFF YOU to everyone who gave me so much shit for intermittent fasting for years. I was right, it works and is sustainable, and it’s none of your goddamn business anyway.
So, having the freedom to intermittent fast has been a huge game-changer. Also, I decided to go back to cooking for myself. This time, I signed up for Green Chef’s “balanced living” meal plan. I still get to make DELICIOUS dishes, but they follow the high good carb/low protein/low fat/low sugar breakdown that really works for me. The weight started falling off, and moreover, I wasn’t so hungry all of the time. I could stop buying fatty or sugary cheat snacks, and I lost my appetite for most restaurant food because honestly, what I make at home tastes way better and is nutritionally more satisfying. The next step of this plan for me is to incorporate more green tea, homemade steel-cut oats, and chia seed pudding with fruit back into my diet as well. Those were always gut-busting, energy-boosting go-tos for me, so I definitely want to go back in the habit of incorporating them in my diet again.
Another thing that really helped in this arena was those Goli apple cider vinegar gummies. I had heard bout how good apple cider vinegar was for you for years, but I’m kind of a baby when it comes to “icky” tastes, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach it. But these gummies are delicious and I can tell they have also helped me drop some of those extra pounds. I also haven’t been sick since I started taking them a few months ago. So… yeah, I’m not missing a day of those.
As far as the body dysmorphia, there were a few notable things that helped. First of all, I have to say that when I started to get adequate sleep, the body dysmorphia disappeared really really quickly. I can’t tell you what a relief that was. And I do have to credit my friend, Cathy-Anne for helping me realize that my lack of sleep was probably a huge culprit in this regard, as she was the one who talked a very exhausted, emotional, teary, and confused version of me through figuring out what I had changed in my life before my body dysmorphia came back with a vengeance. So, thank you so much, Cathy-Anne, if you’re reading this. You saved me here.
Another trick that helps with not only body dysmorphia but almost all other types of insecurity is what I like to call the comparison game, both in memory and in practice. What I mean by this is one time, two of my girlfriends in college told me they had played the comparison game and I had won. I asked them what that meant and they said they would take our group of friends and pit two people against each other and decide would was prettier, and that one would move onto the next round, and they’d do that until they got through the whole group. They told me, non-ironically, that the last time they played, I had won. I was a little shocked because I wasn’t, in my opinion, the prettiest in our group, but they seemed sincere, and I was sincerely flattered. And in some of my most difficult times with body dysmorphic disorder, it does help to know (as superficial as it might sound) that these girls that I really love didn’t think I was a monster, so maybe I shouldn’t trust what I was seeing in the mirror.
But in a more impactful and less superficial way, I like to play my own version of the comparison game. This is what I do--what I see someone who has a quality I wish I had and I feel jealous or less than for a moment (whether it’s something about their appearance or their relationship or their job or whatever), I ask myself if I would trade everything I have to be them. Would I trade my life for theirs? And I do this in every category--face for face, body for body, job for job, life for life, relationship status for relationship status, etc. And the conclusion I inevitably come to in every category is a resounding no.
And it’s really comforting to know that at the end of the day, I clearly do love myself. So even if my mind is playing tricks on my eyesight in the moment or if my anxiety has got all my insecurities coming out to play, there is a primal, instinctual part of my mind that has a lot of love and value for myself. She may have my dream nose, but I would never trade my eyes. She may be tall and lean, but then I’d lose this ass. She may be engaged, but for fuck’s sake, she and her boyfriend fight all the time and they’ve both cheated on each other!
And the list goes on and on. And I don’t make this list to put other people down, on the contrary, these are people I usually really admire, that’s why they might make me feel insecure for a moment. But when I honestly ask myself if I’d switch my life, my body, my face for theirs, and I know on a gut level (*insert Selfish Gene theory here my nerds*) my answer is hell no, well--not only do I feel a whole lot of love for myself in those moments, but I KNOW I love myself. I know I place more value in myself than this disorder could ever take away from me. And that feels freaking amazing.
Another thing I started to do was film myself talk. I heard people don’t know what they really look like because mirrors and pictures only show still images whereas people are constantly in motion in real life. Also, mirrors were obviously showing me distorted results. So I tried to see if filming myself helped me get a better idea of what I looked like. And you know what? It was crazy and I hated it at first, but it actually has helped over time. I feel like whenever the body dysmorphia creeps in, the memory of what I look like talking on film comes into my head and it’s so much easier for me to remember, hey you’re just having a BD episode. But remember what you looked like talking in that video? that’s what you really look like. That’s what other people see. The monster you’re seeing in the mirror is not you. Just let this episode pass and you’ll see. I don’t know, I can’t exactly tell you the psychology behind it, but it really helps.
I also think we are so used to seeing other people’s faces that we tend to discount our own image. And, for me at least, I don’t see a lot of people who look like me on tv or in the movies, because I’m kind of a unique mix. And I always felt a bit of cognitive dissonance because other people gave me positive feedback about my looks but I always just felt like I looked different. Even when people would compare my looks to more notable people, others would pipe up and disagree--usually related to my race, either I was too brown or too Indian or too white to look like whoever was brought up. I always felt my conception of myself was invalidated because others had so many different and strong opinions about the subject. But after watching myself for long enough, it was like I got used to seeing what I looked like. Not in a way that compared me to others, but in a way that made me go, hey I kind of look different to most people but it’s not that different, and I kind of like it. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it has really helped me be more comfortable in my own skin.
One huge realization I had that majorly helped with both my kinds of body dysmorphic disorder was when I was thinking about the person I feel most physically attracted to. Like I mentioned earlier, I think this guy is about as insecure as we all are about his looks. I think, like me, he gets a good reaction from the opposite sex so he’s confident enough, but I don’t think he realizes how attractive he really is. I don’t think he sees it in himself, because he’s not what’s being touted today as the male standard. But to me (and a lot of people) he’s a total babe. And I was thinking (both in regards to him and to the other guys I’ve seriously liked in the past) that it’s crazy because when I fall for people, it's usually their “flaws” that get me so twisted. And I remember having this conversation with multiple of my male friends in the past and they said the same thing. Like, when they really like a girl, they know they’ve got it bad when they start idealizing their flaws, like say a prominent front tooth gap or the equivalent. Both my guy friends and I agreed that when we were super attracted to someone, you could show us someone objectively hotter and we would still make a sincere argument that our crush was more attractive.
And I thought about this with my current crush, because you could put me in a room with him and 15 other eligible bachelors that were 15/10 on the conventionally hot scale, and yet if you stood the two of them side by side, I would judge the other guys for not having his “flaws”. And I would tell you (and mean it) that I am 100 times more physically attracted to my “flawed” crush. And it’s not just because of his flaws, it feels more chemical than anything else, but the chemistry is so strong, the flaws become attractive rather than serving to deter.
I know they say men are more visual creatures than women, and that’s probably true to a certain extent (although, I think that’s getting less and less true, to be honest) but my guy friends all said the same thing I said, so I think to a degree, this is a trait true to both sexes. Obviously there has to be a strong initial attraction, but I think when we fall for people, we truly fall for every facet of them. It’s not like oh I like every feature of him that reminds me of Chris Hemsworth but these few that are different drop him down from a 10 to a 7. And the same thing goes for guys with their crushes. I’ve never heard a mature man say, “Oh yeah, I like everything about her that reminds me of Gigi Hadid except this one feature is a little off so I like her a little less because of it.”
No, when I’m hung up on someone, it’s generally their physical quirks that I have a hard time getting over. Perfection is everywhere these days and it’s so fucking overrated. And I’ve noticed that with my male best friends, too, it’s “oh but her smile it was a little crooked but it was so sexy, it stopped my heart every time she smiled at me.” I think it’s crazy we are all trying to fit into this tiny tiny box of the societal, Hollywood, IG, model standard when we all seem to fall in love with the traits of people that make them different than others--not the same.
And that got me to thinking-- if I love his “flaws” so much and the aspects of him that make him different to all the freaking cookie-cutter IG models and the Hollywood mainstream players, then isn’t it possible that these features of mine that I think I hate--that I think make me look too different and non-status quo--maybe someone out there idealizes those features as well? In fact, I remember a specific time years ago when one of my boyfriends started talking about a feature of mine that I was pretty apathetic verging on self-conscious about. But he just LOVED IT! Spoiler alert, he was talking about my nose. And he said he loved that it was both pointy and button at the same time--he thought it was the cutest fucking thing. And it stuck out to me because I had always felt kind of weird about the fact that it wasn't just one or the other. And this guy was probably one of the most superficial guys I had ever dated. But I remember he just couldn’t get over this trait of mine that I would normally classify as a flaw. And as I’m writing this, I’m remembering a slew of other occasions where friends, loves, and strangers alike have complimented me on the body and facial parts I’m the most self-conscious about... I don’t know. It just makes me question if we’ve all been hating the exact things about us (both inside and out) that make us truly unique and our own unusual, untouchable form of beautiful/handsome...
So anyway, this is something I definitely try to stop and remind myself when my body dysmorphia threatens to rear its head again.
Ok, to be completely honest this is really difficult for me to write. I have attempted to write this post so many times that I have literally lost track of the number of attempts. Initially, this post was supposed to be a collection of fun/interesting stories about my personal experiences with the paranormal, supernatural, magic, psychic, manifestation-related powers that be. However, to be completely honest, from around June 2019-December 2019, I found myself struggling with a lot of metaphorical demons I erroneously believed that I had already conquered. And the battle was manifesting in many damaging ways, but particularly in my writing. The stories became more of an essay series that touched upon not only actually hauntings, but also everything I felt was haunting me during those months. I wrote a lot—A LOT—about my struggles with anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders, exercise disorders, my recurring injuries from my exercise disorder, abandonment issues, and other relationship/intimacy (not physical guys, emotional, relax, ok?) related problems that a) I had kind of just repressed after my last breakup in the attempt to “be strong” and start achieving like a badass as soon as possible again and b) I realized I finally needed to face head-on before I could responsibly get into another relationship.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the extent of my struggle or why all of a sudden I was having to combat all these demons when the previous October 2018-May 2019 had been such a happy and successful time for me. And beyond that, most of what I was struggling with I hadn’t had to deal with on that level since literally my early twenties. I think I was so convinced I had grown beyond these issues that it honestly took me until December to realize/admit what was really going on and that there were problems in my life that had to be fixed otherwise I would never move out of such a dark, stressful, unhealthy, and unhappy stage of my life. Another complicating factor was that I was actually professionally having a very successful go of it. And I think that heavily contributed to me not understanding the depth of what I was struggling with because usually when I’m heavily achieving in one area of my life, the positivity and happiness and manifestation powers seep into all the other arenas. This was the first time that I can remember where I was insanely successful in my career but literally every other arena in my life was falling apart—including my physical, emotional, and mental health.
I mean, I’m a master manifestor (I don’t care if you don’t believe in “that stuff”, that sounds like a “you” problem to me, so you’re welcome to read someone else). That’s not the way I operate. When I get my manifestations going in one area, they spread around to the other corners of my life like wildfire. No—something was deeply, deeply wrong, and I was going to have to dig incredibly deep to figure out what.
On top of it, I was massively frustrated because my cards and readings were saying the same thing, which was essentially: “You are doing this to yourself. You need to stop. Once you get back on track, you’ll start manifesting properly again. Everything will fall into place. Just stop the toxicity. Stop holding yourself back. Stop hurting yourself. You will be unstoppable if you just can get past this one thing.”
The problem was, I wasn’t immediately aware of what I was doing to not only hold myself back but also severely affect my mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. But it was BEYOND clear something was wrong, even on a purely physical level. My skin looked tired. I gained about 10-15 lbs and it fucking showed and weighed on my self-esteem. I was constantly injured (and limping everywhere as a result—not a cute look). My normally steady emotions and positive outlook had shifted to an angsty see-saw with anger on one side and devastated, helpless tears on the other.
In fact, many of the essays in the original piece I was working on detailed the struggle I was having in the moment. The panic, the anxiety, the devastation, the OCD breakdowns, the inability to cope, to think through problems rationality—and an overall inability to effectually self-soothe. The inability to function like a fucking successful human being. I felt like I was losing my grip on EVERYTHING.
I felt like I didn’t know what I was anymore. And the people in my life kept telling me that I was wonderful and kind and intelligent and creative and beautiful and strong and that I should be so proud and confident in myself. But I was so sad because I could very vividly remember a time in my life when I was that confident and proud of myself. In fact, it had only been months ago in May when I felt that way. But if I was really honest, it was becoming more and more of a struggle to say kind things to myself at all, let alone mean them.
What had happened to me? My superpower was how comfortable I felt in my own skin, and how much I loved my own particular brand of strange. I proudly marched to the beat of my own drum. I loved my look, my brain, my heart, my wild, my spark, my life. I loved the experiences I had, the life I had already lived, and all the introspective work I had done in order to land myself in a relatively positive, optimistic, work-hard, achieve hard, be a badass perma-state of being.
But now it felt like that was all gone. And a huge component of that was how bad my body dysmorphia came back. To be honest, I really want to address my struggles with eating and exercise disorders, and body dysmorphic disorder one day. I started to in the original essay I was working on, but to be honest, it took everything in me to pull myself out of this black cloud in December and January, and I want to protect my regained much healthier state of mind; so I don’t’ want to directly jump back into that arena, even if I’m just writing about it. I’m afraid describing it too much might put me back there and trigger those demons again.
What I will say is that I know lack of sleep and stress snacking definitely aided the weight gain. The constant injuries from my exercise disorder that would sideline me for weeks at a time in a hideous cycle of trying to lose the weight, overdoing it, getting hurt, anxiety going through the roof, hating myself, being desperate to get back to the gym, going before I was healed, hurting myself even worse and starting the whole effing thing over again obviously was a huge part of it as well.
And, I remember describing my renewed battle with body dysmorphic disorder to my friends and sister with a few memorable sentences— “I used to always feel confident and attractive. In fact, maybe too much so—but I don’t think too much confidence is a bad thing, at least it never has been for me. And I used to be a harsher judge of other people. But now when I look around, I see how everyone else is so beautiful—so beautiful. Even people I used to think were average before, I see how gorgeous they are now. And I love that quality. I love being able to see the external and internal beauty in other people. I love noticing things that I would have considered average or sub-par before and seeing how fucking stunning they are. It’s like I finally get to see everyone with rose-colored glasses on and the outside world seems like such a beautiful place. But myself? When I look in the mirror? I see a troll. My face looks deformed. Everyone and everything else is glowing and I am hideous to my own eyes. I used to love catching my reflection in the mirror. And now it just reduces me to a panic attack and tears.”
In fact, I started to spend hours in front of the mirror in the bathroom again—a dark habit I hadn’t engaged in for years. I would find myself walking in 10-20 times in an evening (or even a few hours) to check my face, my features, my body. It felt like I was changing before my eyes. I couldn’t recognize the face in the mirror anymore—in a terrible way. Every time I saw my sister or best friend, I would ask them if they noticed the changes in my face, or if I was always so deformed and asymmetrical and I just had never noticed it before. I know it sounds like I’m being hyperbolic and making this up, but I’m not. This is how dark this disorder can be. It actually shifts your perception—the way you see yourself and other people. Where I used to see a beautiful, happy girl, I saw someone miserable and physically deformed.
And for the record, before I go any further with this, I want to say there is nothing wrong with being deformed or different physically or mentally in any way. I watch the special books by special kids videos and cry and think about how lucky and ungrateful I can be sometimes. I try to remind myself how much more difficult other people have it (which I know first hand from doing medical work in developing countries), and I always try to remember to see everyone as a human being first, and I do my best now to engage and talk to all scopes of people because I know all anyone wants is to be treated like a fucking human being. And 99.9% of the time, I am grateful. These experiences are sobering and grounding for me and make me a much better person. But when my body dysmorphia takes over, not only can I not perceive reality in the mirror, but I lose complete grasp on the logical portion of my mind. Everything just shifts into a highly anxious, highly depressed state. And I hate myself even more because it makes my thoughts go down a very dark, very ungrateful, very ignorant route. But I can’t control the overwhelming feelings of despair and inadequacy that path inevitably leads me to. And I hate it even more because my perception then becomes not only am I an ogre on the outside, but I am ugly on the inside as well. My thoughts, my emotions, my value system, my selfishness—ugly, petty, superficial, fucking terrible. And it just makes the cycle/descent even worse.
The crazy thing is, even though this has happened to me before, the last time it happened was around 8 years ago. So I forgot that this is a major part of my body dysmorphic disorder. I know that usually I look a little different to myself day to day, but I forgot that when I’m really battling it, I literally can look in the mirror and see a different face every time. When I finally (blessedly) realized/remembered what was happening, I started to remind myself that when I saw the troll face in the mirror, that it wasn’t really what I was seeing. I was having a bad day. I would have to avoid the mirror the rest of the day and check back in tomorrow, and hopefully, by then the anxiety/dysmorphic attack would be gone and I would be better. Thank goodness I realized this at the point I did because I had already started looking up plastic surgeons in my area by around November—I was so desperate for someone to fix me.
So, to be clear, I have both forms of body dysmorphic disorder. I have the textbook kind that applies to the face, and I have the one that applies to the body that people usually get when they have eating and exercise disorders (this second kind isn’t technically body dysmorphic disorder, but most laypeople refer to it as such and to me, it manifests in very similar ways, so I also refer to it by the same name). The latter I kind of always carry with me—some months it’s worse than others. But since it’s always kind of there, I am always aware that sometimes when I look at my body in the mirror, if my anxiety is bad that day, I will not see myself the way I really am. In those instances, once I make it through the anxiety and remind myself what is going on (no Torri, you didn’t gain 20 lbs in one night, you’re just having an anxious day), I know to tell myself to just avoid mirrors or form-fitted clothes that day and just check again in the morning. If I’m lucky, it will go away in a few hours and I’ll realize by the afternoon the attack is gone and I can once again look in a mirror without absolutely hating the way my body looks. Then there is that big sigh of relief and it’s like, ok, everything is back to normal now, I’m fine. And I literally tell myself I’m allowed to love myself again because I look ok. I know how messed up this sounds and unless you’ve actually been treated for body dysmorphic disorder by a professional, I don’t want to hear any feedback or advice on how to fix this because trust me, I’ve heard and tried everything, I’ve been dealing with this sh*t since I was 14 years old. Anyway…
But I forgot over the years that I also have the original type of the disorder that applies to the face. And I think that’s partly because I had never experienced it with my face before to such a drastic and terrible degree as I did from last June to December. And I have to be completely honest, every fucking influencer and celebrity and even a lot of my friends face tuning and photoshopping their imperfections on social media did not help. I am adamantly against face tuning and I only photoshop my pictures to enhance landscape or clothing details, but I know with my disorder that it is SUPER DANGEROUS for me to use anything beyond subtle lighting filters on my photos so I stay the fuck away from it. What I didn’t realize though was that the bulk of images of other men and women I was being exposed to on social media had been face-tuned, photoshopped, and moreover, filled, injected, or endured surgery IRL to get that look. Thank GOD I finally saw some videos on youtube that demonstrated all the work these people were doing to alter their pictures online and their faces and bodies IRL, otherwise with this last body dysmorphic disorder attack, I probably would have ended up on that surgery table as well—and to write that now brings tears to my eyes because back in my healthy mind and heart, I love each and every damn flaw and freckle and thinking that I almost lost some of the qualities that make me me makes me so damn sad and ashamed.
One time, in my early twenties, I went through a period where I spent hours obsessing over something I hated in the mirror—for months. But even then, I didn’t see a monster like I saw during this most recent downward spiral. Back then I saw an “almost beautiful” feature. But this past fall, what I saw literally made me start referring to myself as “the ogre”.
Not to make a play on words, but it’s an ugly, ugly sickness. It can be debilitating. Confidence-shattering. Soul-crushing.
By God’s grace, though, I finally realized that what I was going through was more than just a prolonged negative cycle. Something was happening in my life that was resulting in all of my demons being triggered at once, and most of them worse than they ever had been triggered before. And, at first, this was an incredibly devastating realization. I spent the better part of years 27-31 building myself back up again and becoming the best version of myself. I got over my asshole ex-fiance who left me SHATTERED, and I was stronger in almost every category than I had ever felt in my life.
I felt grounded and happy like I never had before. I looked and felt amazing, and moreover, I was accomplishing my dreams left, right, and center—it seemed like nothing was impossible. I felt like the golden girl again, a mantle I hadn’t successfully carried since I was 18. And then, I finally got off the waitlist and got my dream life coach from February-July 2018, and with her help, I was making even more ground-breaking strides in every arena of my life. In fact, I remember how much she used to compliment me on ALL the work I did before I started working with her. Of course, I had studied her teachings and methods for years (among other gurus/coaches) and had been hard at work bettering myself long before I snagged her as a coach. She said on multiple occasions that I was one of her most introspective clients who had already done the bulk of the leg work so in our work together we got to focus on the really high end of achieving because I had already gone through all the initial steps of leveling up on my own. And I was so proud of that. I was proud of everything I had accomplished on my own because I worked my ass off to do it, and I was incredibly hard on myself to be mindful, honest with myself, and diligent to get that work done. I didn’t allow myself the easy, in the moment gratification that I saw most people around me indulge in. I forced myself to go through the sh*t to get through to the real rewards on the other side of it. Point is, I didn’t take the easy way out. I did it rough, dirty, and freaking right. I got work done that was the kind that most people aren’t even aware of—or aren’t honest enough with themselves to recognize—and it showed in my mood and level of accomplishment compared to theirs. People I had known for years remarked how much I had changed. How much my mood had leveled out. How much more grounded and optimistic my mindset was. How much more I was achieving. And people, both those who had known me for years or new acquaintances and friends, started seeking out my advice and referring to me as an old soul. And for once, I just took the compliment, because I knew what they meant. I had made conscious decisions to live life, say yes to opportunities, learn from my mistakes, and constantly work on myself to improve my life in just about every aspect—health, career, emotional, existential, you name it.
I realized that in order to succeed and “level up” it would require a great deal of honesty and accountability on my part, and really going through the muck to figure out not only how to clear it out but also make sure it never comes back. But then the reward of leveling up and the dream realization/manifestations that came with that were so great, it was always worth it.
When I finished my sessions with my life coach, she even reaffirmed not only my growth but my power as a creator. “Torri—do you realize how powerful you are? Do you realize that everything you told me you wanted to accomplish when you first reached out to me to help you, you literally got done in less than 6 months time? You muse about doing something in one of our conversations—hard, difficult things—and then it’s like I blink an eye and you’ve already done it and not only that, you’re the best at it. You’re unstoppable and fearless and you never stop working (especially on yourself)—I can’t wait to see what you accomplish after this.”
It felt so good to hear her say it. I hadn’t thought about it before, but when she started listing all the things I said I wanted to do that I actually achieved—whether they were physical or emotional or mental or maturing or leveling up goals—I realized I actually was checking off all my dreams and achievements one by one. And I wasn’t even aware of it until she pointed it out. That’s how effortless my manifesting seemed. But the truth was, I was spending every second of every day figuring out how I could be better. I just loved doing the work, so I didn’t realize I was putting the work in. But I was, and that’s why my goals just kept getting realized. Also, I think optimism and luck and a little bit of magic were on my side as well.
So how the fuck did I fall so far in just six short months?