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#TruthTellers

Why are we so afraid to tell the truth? Isn’t honesty the key to any successful relationship? It doesn’t have to be romantic relationships, it can be relationships with friends and family members. Instead of being honest, we tend to tell “white lies” and justify them by convincing ourselves we were just looking out for those around us. Half of the time we don’t see white lies as lies at all, so the conscious backlash we feel towards ourselves is minimal at best. Maybe we even start to be honest with those closest to us, but never really give the whole story, out of shame or fear. Again, there’s less guilt attached to this because technically we didn’t lie, we just didn’t tell the whole truth.

But what good does lying or covering up some part of the truth do for us? Trust me, I used to be (or at least I like to think I was) an expert half-ass truth teller. In the moment where your kind of lying but not technically lying, it may seem worth it to keep that arms-length distance. Nobody gets hurt, and your real pain, the shame or the guilt is still protected in this nice little cocoon of deception. Do you want to know what I believe is the number one reason for why we lie to those around us when we’re walking through some hard situations? Ok even if you don’t want to know, you’re here reading this so there’s a 99.99% chance you’re going to hear it anyways.

We don’t want to be vulnerable

That’s really all there is to it. I remember when I was in the depth of my eating disorder and self-injury I would half-ass the truth constantly. Someone would ask me if I was eating (because apparently I was looking like I was losing weight fast, even though I couldn’t see it through the funhouse mirrors that were my eyes), I wouldn’t lie but I wouldn’t tell the entire truth either. I’d tell them “of course I’m eating! I’m just watching what I eat and working out more”. The truth is, what I was eating was more like what I wasn’t eating. I was also working out so that wasn’t a lie either, but the amount I worked out was enough to cancel out the miniscule number of calories I consumed that day. I felt this strange ownership over all of this too; it was mine to have and I’d be damned if someone wanted to take it away from me. To put it simply, it became my entire identity. I was no longer a daughter, a student or a friend; all I was, was that number on the scale that was always too high and the number of calculated calories I consumed and then disposed of. So when I got asked about it, I didn’t want to be vulnerable so I hid behind deception and half-assed truth.

Sooner or later, however, I did start telling the truth and boy was it painful. But I didn’t start being a truth teller until I was on the other side of those things. The “shame about the pain” was too great for me to face when I was plummeting towards rock bottom. I remember the first time I was able to tell the truth and be vulnerable, I was in a room with a bunch of people who were broken just like I was, and man did it suck. The ironic thing is, I had been in therapy for a couple of years before all of this too, but I never once told the honest to god truth. I was 23 and in a residential treatment center, and then again at 24 in an outpatient treatment center (which sucked so much worse than residential! I actually had to deal with real life… ew). Truth telling felt fake at first, because I realized that even I was starting to believe my own crap. The sick part of my mind made up the lies to begin with, but soon they became who I was in a way. But when you’re in a room of broken people who are just like you when you’re being honest and vulnerable, you get a lot of head shakes and “me too” as feedback.

Yet truth telling in treatment is so much different than truth telling when you’re placed back in your life. Like I said, I didn’t start really telling the truth to my family and friends until I was certain I was on the other side of most of my crap. I was ashamed if I was struggling and I was “just wanting to protect them” (another lie my lovely sick mind created). There’s a phrase one of my therapists in outpatient always used to tell us; she’d say that sometimes we just need to sit in it (the “it” being the discomfort and everything else we were avoiding by using our eating disorder). Well, I didn’t want to sit in it, because sitting in it requires facing life and feeling vulnerable. So instead of sitting in it, I’d lie and tell people the half-ass truth so I could continue using the one coping mechanism I found to be most successful in avoiding vulnerability. Yet I realized that not telling the truth to those people in my life when I really should be not only hurts me, but it hurts them as well. I like to think of keeping up those walls and giving the half-assed truth as a nonverbal middle-finger.

A lot of it too has to do with how we feel society wants us to be. Go on Facebook or Instagram and people have their lives displayed like it’s a freakin’ Hallmark movie where everything is just peachy. I’m pretty sure we all know that that is a load of B.S, but that’s how we feel like we should act and portray ourselves even offline. Everyone has their crap, but we put our stage lives out there to hide the behind the curtain reality of what’s really going on with us. We get this feeling that people don’t want to hear about our struggles so we bottle it up and say nothing, only revealing the scars after the wounds have healed. Is that fair to those who love us unconditionally? Nope. Is it fair to us, who deserve to be loved unconditionally, supported and valued for being who we are? Nope. So here’s what I’m learning lately:

  • Being vulnerable sucks
  • Hiding behind shame and fear is easy
  • Being a truth teller is hard
  • Covering up the truth with lies is easy
  • Shame only amplifies the pain
  • People closest to you in your life won’t judge you for being honest, and if they do they’re not the people you need walking the path with you
  • It’s better to be vulnerable with others when you’re going through hell than to be vulnerable alone
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When You Have Nothing to Say

I was never really that good at writing, but it was always something I found to be therapeutic. For me, and I’m sure a lot of you reading this as well, being vulnerable was never something I was really good at either. But whenever I would journal I was able to let down the mask of “I’m fine” and expose the “for the love of God please somebody help me” side that was shameful for me to verbally express.

Now it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and it’s because I always feel as if I have nothing of importance to say. Even writing this, all I can think is, “Ok Jess, where the hell are you going here?” So without trying to do linguistic acrobatics and paint a nice pretty picture for you all, I’ll just get right down to it.

It’s not that we never have anything to say, I think it’s that small little voice of insecurity that makes us believe what we have to say isn’t worth saying. I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts by one of my heroes, Glennon Doyle Melton, lately. She always talks about being vulnerable, authentic and being a truth teller. If you haven’t heard her speak before I really encourage you to go find her TEDx Talk she did. Writing for me was always my way of being vulnerable. If you’ve read this blog for some time now you know this is the place where I can lay it all out there and say “here is my pile of garbage I carried around for years, I hope you like it”.

So lately, being in one of the most vulnerable states I’ve been in in my entire life (I guess living in a foreign country does that to you), I’ve been really struggling to find anything to write here. But really what it is, it’s that stupid little voice in my head saying “what you have to say doesn’t matter or isn’t important”. Ok so here’s where I get all knowledgeable and preachy. You can stop reading now if you wish….

Still here? Ok brace yourselves……..

We were all born with a voice, an opinion, a personality, and insurmountable value. We all have things that stir us up, get us excited, anger us, make us question things, and so on. So going back to being vulnerable, when we feel these things and they don’t fit in with what is “normal” to those around us, what do we do? We shut up. We don’t say a word, and we walk around making ourselves believe that we don’t have anything to say. But we do have so much to say, it’s just one of two things. Either we’re too scared to be vulnerable out of fear of being judged, or it’s because we know what we have to say isn’t something others want to hear. It boils down to those two factors.

Some of the greatest movements started and changed the lives of so many because someone took that chance to be vulnerable. If MLK never spoke out against civil rights, who knows where our country would be today. Imagine what voting rights for woman would look like if people like Susan B. Anthony never spoke up. Mental health awareness movements would be nonexistent if people let vulnerability hold them back.

Ok so I feel like I’m running out of steam here for this so I’ll wrap this up and you may continue on with your days. I probably could have just used the next sentence as my entire post:

It’s not that we don’t have anything to say, we just have that small voice we listen to that is scared of being vulnerable and authentic.

An American in Poland

About two weeks ago I arrived in Warsaw to begin my semester abroad. The first night, I was all ready to pack my bags back up and go home. I was not prepared for the culture shock, but as the week went on I found myself once again becoming more emotionally stable. 

Before I even left home, I knew being here was going to be a challenge but I didn’t realize to what extent it would be. 

My entire recovery is being challenged. Those eating disorder voices in my head are becoming louder, and I really don’t understand why. Maybe it’s because of the food here & not knowing what it is I ate. There’s a lot of carbs and meat here and I’m struggling to find things that I will actually eat without the anxiety rising in me. I am not counting the challenges over the past two weeks as a failure, but I’ve noticed others here find my eating habits odd.

The family I’m staying with have been pressing me to eat every meal ever since I got here and I felt awkward denying their offers of food at first. I didn’t know if not accepting food when it’s offered was a sign of disrespect in Poland, but I learned that a simple “not right now, maybe in a little bit” satisfies them. 

Then there’s the fact that I feel like an outsider here. I am the only student from America here and it’s a little isolating. The language barrier is not only frustrating but disappointing to me because I struggle to express simple things to a majority of those around me. 

The things I’ve been feeling aren’t being expressed, because how can i? I’m supposed to be having the time of my life here, but so far it’s been more challenging than exciting. 

My hopes for the coming weeks is that it’ll get easier & more relaxing. Hopefully I will become more comfortable with the culture and the food situation. I just miss home and the familiarity, but inside I’m so happy I took this opportunity to live in Warsaw for 3 months. 

IM GOING TO POLAND! 

I’m so excited for the next month. I’m going to Warsaw, Poland to study abroad for a few months… Oh and the cool thing? I’m going for free! 

I applied for a grant that was given to my schools psychology department by the university I’ll be studying at. I didn’t have anything to lose so I filled out the application, submitted it, and a few days after it was due I found out I was the student who was selected for it. I may or may not have jumped up and down & screamed when I received the email from the department chair saying I won it. 

So come October I will be living in Warsaw, studying psychology and having opportunities to travel Europe! 

I do have to admit I’m terrified. I have never been out of the country, and the fact I will be over there all by myself is giving me anxiety. That, and the food part.

I’m scared that I won’t find any foods over there that I can eat comfortably. It’s going to be a huge test of my recovery and I’m absolutely terrified. But I can’t let that get in the way. Life is too good to fuck up. 

I haven’t updated this in a bit so I just wanted to give my followers an update on my life! 

3 Years

Today is kind of a weird anniversary for me. I was scrolling through TimeHop this morning (people still use this app right?) when I came across a post from 3 years ago today. I left for treatment for an eating disorder/self-injury that day. I remember (vaguely, however) being terrified to go out there and have all my vices of coping and not feeling stripped away from me. I was incapable of feeling anything besides numb. There were no plans for a future in my mind, no hope of things ever not feeling as if though they weren’t going to get better. All I remember is being exhausted 24/7; emotionally and physically.

I was vulnerable to the voices in my head telling me that if I only lost a little more weight I’d be happy, I’d achieve that goal of wanting to disappear, to live a life unnoticed. Only the thing is, the more I tried to disappear the more I stood out. That’s where the lies came in. I lived a life of lying, skirting around the truth that I was slowly killing myself. My closest friends would ask what I was doing to lose the weight I had, or if I was eating. I didn’t exactly lie to them, but I wasn’t telling the whole story. I was simply working out daily and watching what I did eat (although a piece of toast with a very miniscule amount of peanut butter isn’t exactly eating). I hid my eating disorder so well and didn’t disclose information about it that my therapist I was seeing at the time didn’t even catch on to what was going on with me (which led to a lot of misdiagnoses, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder) until a month or so before I was sent to treatment.

All these memories came back when I saw those posts from TimeHop this morning. It’s still kind of mind blowing to me that it was 3 years ago, because it honestly feels like it was yesterday. I have come such a long way in my life since going to treatment.

I feel content with my life and where it’s going. I’m now a senior in undergrad with a pretty killer GPA. I’m graduating with research honors next May and hopefully will be going off to grad school after that. Yes I still struggle with my weight, appearance and eating disorder thoughts sometimes but I don’t let them consume me anymore. I have so much to offer the world (that didn’t sound conceded did it?) and after years of struggling, have a pretty good sense as to who I am. The areas of my life which I lost to my eating disorder and mental health struggles, I have either gained back or am working on gaining back. There’s relationships I’m hoping to still amend and the friends I still do have I appreciate them and no longer take them for granted.

There is so much that I have gained over the past 3 years, that it’s incredible to think about how my life has changed for the better. The road here absolutely sucked and was painful. One psychiatric hospital stay, a month in inpatient treatment and a year in outpatient treatment (which sucked more than the hospital or treatment center) are now on my track record. I hated the things that beginning recovery entailed, but if I got my life back in a better way than I could have imagined, I guess I’ll take it.

So today is the anniversary of the day I began the long journey of getting my life back. It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve last self-injured which is huge after engaging in it for 10 years. Being in recovery from an eating disorder is something I feel like I’ll always have to deal with. Every day I have to make choices and check in with myself some days to make sure I’m going down the right path because it is so easy for my emotions to take over and run the course of my life. But I genuinely love my life right now, and I’m so glad I am still alive to have these experiences.

You’re Worth More Than A Like

The internet is a great thing, and we all pretty much are reliant on it. Don’t know the answer to something? Google it! Want to watch a movie? Hello Netflix! Want that new song you heard on the drive home today? iTunes is the go to. Then there’s the ever so addicting social networking sites. Long gone are the days of MySpace (seriously, Facebook totes should make our profiles a little more customizable… but that’s just my opinion). Now we are more connected than ever with our friends, co-workers and acquaintances than we were back in the day. With sites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and anything else I missed, we can stay connected and up to date with people.

These social networking sites give us a sense of being paid attention to, especially when one of our followers or friends press that Like button (which by the way, why can we now choose to react to a post, but not dislike one? YOU HAD ONE REQUEST BY ALL OF US USERS THERE ZUCKERBERG!). We all want to feel like people are paying attention to us, because why else would we post things on our profiles? That like button does something to us, where we feel good about what we posted and in a way we feel accepted or like we matter.

I’ve noticed a lot over the years that with social network sites there’s that need for acceptance and attention that can tear down some social boundaries. People will post almost every detail about their life, some to the point where it’s TMI. You see, now this is just my opinion, but social network sites have become more about how many likes we can get or how many of our friends/followers will comment on our posts. A lot of people will post things (sometimes a little too much information) that they know people will respond to. Our presence on social network sites shouldn’t be about striving for more likes/comments than the last thing we posted. Your self-worth isn’t about how many people like what you’re posting. It’s sad to see people post things which come across as wanting sympathy or attention, because let’s be real, we wouldn’t say half of the things we say online in real life. Hospital posts, marriage/relationship issues, fights with friends; all of these things can be seen pretty much on the regular. Somewhere along the line social network sites have turned into a sounding board for people to vent/rant, rather than sharing those moments in life.

It’s my hope that people will stop seeking the likes or the comments.

You’re worth more than a like.

 

Thanks for reading, feel free to like my post!….. Just kidding 🙂

Life After

With it being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I wanted to take the time out of my night to sit down and write something meaningful about this week. Reading post after post of individuals’ stories about life in the grips of an eating disorder and how they’re now on the other side, I decided I wanted whatever I wrote to be a little different. But how do you make your writing different from the thousands out there that are writing about the same issues?

I have noticed a theme over the week within those posts, however. There’s always that silver lining moment at the end where the writer describes how much life has gotten better since they entered recovery, and I have to agree that it’s a fucking incredible thing being in recovery and not having the obsessions about food and weight on your mind 24/7. But the posts always end there, leaving a sort of cliff hanger, especially for those of us who know what going through the recovery process is like. But what I want to touch on is something I haven’t read much of in the posts:

            The bad days of recovery.

Because guess what guys, it’s not always an easy task and some days those thoughts and desires to once again self-destruct come running back to you. People expect you to struggle while you’re getting back on your feet while in treatment, whether that be inpatient or outpatient. But what I’ve noticed in my own life is that nobody really talks about the struggle so many of us face after we’re discharged from a treatment program and are fully integrated back into our lives. That’s when, at least in my opinion, real recovery starts and is tested on almost a daily basis.

I’ve gone a couple of weeks without the intrusive thoughts about my weight and calories, but something I’ve noticed is that it always comes back. We learn skills to fight those thoughts out, as well as behavioral components to engage in to not fall back into the very thing we were once so comfortable in. My own therapist has told me countless times that yes it may be so much easier to just say ‘fuck it’ and go back into living a life of an eating disorder, but there’s so much more to lose at this point in your life now that you have experienced what living is supposed to be like.

Let’s be real here for a moment though guys, sometimes the idea of living this new life, for the rest of our life mind you, seems overwhelming. Some days I wake up and don’t want to continue living this life of recovery. Some days I want to jump right back into the arms of an eating disorder, because coping with the emotions that come from every day life experiences can really fucking suck. They talk about the ebbing and flowing of motivation for recovery in treatment all the time, but just because you’ve been discharged from a program doesn’t mean that ever really stops. It becomes less frequent of an issue, but an issue still nonetheless.

You can go weeks feeling on top of the world and loving the life you worked so hard to get, but some days those thoughts and physical feelings can come back and come back with a vengeance. It’s in those moments though, that you really have to put all of those skills that were drilled into your head into use. It’s a struggle, because now you have insight. You know you can kick those thoughts’ ass, you know you can hold off on engaging in whatever behavior it is your head is telling you to do, and you know all of the things that you could lose by letting yourself get engulfed in those thoughts and actions for even just a day. Because I think we all know that a lot of the time, that one day is all it takes to flip that switch and you’re plummeting backwards.

But unlike the days you were in treatment, there’s not that team of people right there to catch you before you smash into the ground. So it’s all you, and you know you can do it if you choose to. It’s those choices that can either make or break you. It all comes down to choice. There’s this internal battle you enter into with your old self and the new, more insightful self. So what are you going to do? The guilt of fucking up and having to explain to either your doctor or your therapist as to why the scale says you lost weight when you go in for your next appointment or session can be overwhelming enough. To be honest, that has been something that has kept me on my toes a lot over the past year. Having to come up with some lie that seems like a legit excuse isn’t really worth it, because if your therapist is good at their job, they’ll dissect the shit out of what you just told them until they reveal the truth behind the fact you lost weight again.

But I guess I should probably end this post on a positive note, eh? I mean shit if I stopped right there we’d all be fucking depressed and not want to continue trying our best to live a life of recovery. So here it goes, that silver lining moment we all love:

Some days of recovery suck. I mean really fucking suck. But it’s only a day, or a moment or a thought. It doesn’t have to become the catalyst that slides you backwards. If you’ve made it this far to where you can say you’re in recovery, well dammit you can make it past the shitty days too. Without trying to sound like one of those cheesy motivational posters that are scattered all over the place, you’ve already proven to yourself that you can do this. So when you really feel like recovery is a joke and you can no longer keep it up, remember the way you fucking rallied to get to where you are now, even if in that moment it feels like you didn’t make as much progress as everyone around you is telling you’ve made. It’s always hard to see the progress you made for yourself, but you did it yourself. So keep calm and stay strong.

Up to MY Standards

I’ve always been a perfectionist, I mean just go ask anyone who is close to me and they’ll tell you just that. Maybe it’s because of my childhood (all the Freud lovers will give a fist pump at that) and living with that nagging voice placed in my head by those who bullied me and the teachers who never really believed in my abilities (High school guidance counselor, I’m lookin at you!).

So as I got older and became a young adult, I saw a shift in my mindset. I found things I was good at and considered it my pride to excel at these things. Some were healthy, such as my ability to play guitar and make music, and some not so healthy. Those who were seemingly better at whatever it was I too was good at, were seen as a threat to me. I know, it’s absolutely ridiculous to say out loud but it was the truth. But that truth has dangerous consequences.

Musicians around me became the enemy, a source of jealousy and viewed as yet another individual rubbing it in my face that I was in fact not as good at music as I thought I once was. I no longer wanted to learn from them, because when they tried teaching me new things, in my head all I could hear was them saying “look what I can do and you can’t”. Relationships that could have been so enriching never had the chance to grow because I pushed them away. I felt insignificant in who I was as a musician when I compared myself to them, even though a majority of these individuals had been playing music longer than I had even been alive.

Then there were the not so good things, body image being the main thing. I got sick in my early twenties with an eating disorder, after I decided I was going to go on a diet to lose some weight. Needless to say, that car soon spun out of control and took over my life. But there was something about it that made me feel so in control and on top of my world. Finally, I remember thinking to myself, I had found the one thing in my life that nobody else could be better at than me. I would listen to people all around me telling me that they found it so hard to stay in a commitment to the gym and stick with their diets. That losing weight was not as easy as I was making it look. That was all I needed to hear to give me that little extra push to keep going. Not to mention the fact that my perfectionist attitude always made me feel like crap about myself when I would finally reach that goal weight, because anyone who has ever had the misfortune of having an eating disorder knows that the original goal weight never stays the same. Once you get there you know you can go lower, and suddenly that number on the scale that you once would have killed someone to see, is no longer the number you feel happy with. There’s always more you can do to get lower. That perfect number just barely out of reach.

But where I really want to go in this is the recovery aspect of an eating disorder. Those perfectionist attitudes never really left, and I’m not sure they ever really will if I’m being honest. It’s a long road ahead of me, probably something I will struggle with for the rest of my life. Because I live in such a small town (we joke and call it ‘Smallbany’) I have run into people I went to outpatient treatment with at school, some of them in my classes. I remember the beginning of the semester someone who was in treatment with me, who I never really cared for, walked into my class. One look at them and I saw what I wasn’t any longer. They, in my mind at least, looked good. They had the features I so badly wished I could have because to me in the most fucked up way were what I consider attractive. Suddenly my body image was out of whack and I once again felt inadequate. Sure I have come a long way in recovery, but seeing others look the way that I never had the chance to look, really kind of triggered me. To me, they looked perfect. I, with some weight restored, did not look perfect.

Sure I had my schooling and the fact that I am really freakin’ good at it, but all of that was negated by the fact that I was no longer the best at the one thing I spent so many years being proud of. Someone else could lose weight and be thinner than I am. Suddenly, I was no longer up to my standards of perfect.

But what is perfect? I honestly don’t know if perfect even exists. I remember last week after taking tests I received the grade for one and it was below my expectations. I knew I could have done better, and kicked myself all day for the fact that I didn’t get that grade I knew I could have. My mind took over and I began hearing that voice in my head that told me I wasn’t ever going to measure up to the standards I once believed I could. But this voice carried over into every area of my life. I was no longer good enough at anything, whether it be school, the way I looked, or good enough for relationships (not romantic but friendships and the like).

I know this is all negative, but I think I finally found the silver lining. My standards for my whole life have been set at a place that is almost unreachable but not totally out of sight that I can’t see the end game. I can see it, and that only fuels the need to live up to my own standards. So I’ve been working really hard on giving myself a break, and it’s not as easy as you would think it was. It’s a daily internal struggle, and at times it’s absolutely exhausting. But maybe, just maybe, my standards can change, or I can at least give myself a break and some grace for not reaching that bar that is set so high. So I didn’t get a mark on a test or paper I knew I could have gotten, in the long run will it really matter? So I don’t feel like I’m the best at things I once did, who really cares? I’m not the best musician? At least I’m not the same as I was a few years ago. I’m not the best student? At least I’m not the same student I was when I was told I wasn’t good enough for college. I’m not the best looking? First of all, what does that even mean, and second of all, looks are the least of everyone’s concern at the end of the day. I realize that sounded shallow, and being the best looking wasn’t what fueled my illness. It was the need to disappear and not be noticed. But as I entered recovery, looking good, meaning healthy, became important for some reason.

I may not be perfect or up to my standards, but I realize now that nobody on this earth is perfect. We all have something that someone else wants, but at the same time we are all so completely different, and now in my life I’m trying to accept that and believe it. So maybe now I will try to set a new standard, a standard of giving myself grace.

 

2016: Questions, Faith & Reevaluating

I’ve written a lot on here, regrettably, about my anger towards the church over the past year. As some of you know who have been following this blog for a while, I actually ended up leaving the church about a year or so ago, because in those days I felt as if I was being judged not only for who I was, but how I was choosing to live my own life.

I guess with all of the anticipatory grief I was experiencing at that time, the feeling of being an animal cornered by its predator was starting to feel smothering. There was no way I was going to be told how to live my life or be molded into a person I wasn’t. So, I left. But something over the past month or so has been making me reevaluate my life and the choices I made over the past 2 years.

What I’ve come to realize is this: the people I spent so much time and energy rebelling away from, feeling hurt by and being angry at weren’t actually who I was mad at. These people, who I still love dearly by the way, were just the messengers.

Since I was 17 I considered and called myself a Christian. I served in ministry, devoted my life to the church and God, but I realized over the past month that those 6 or 7 years were never really faced with the amount of pain, grief and loss I experienced when I was 24. I can see now that during those 6 or 7 years the little bumps in the road that almost veered me into a ditch were nothing compared to the gigantic road block I hit once my Grandma had her stroke and heart attack. I don’t think I ever really knew the weight of the term pain and suffering up until then. So I did what I felt at that time I had to do once the doubts seemed like absolute truths and I was living (unbeknownst to me at the time) every day in fear, anger and pain: I left all of my beliefs in God at the door.

The people I loved became the enemy, and I would argue back and forth that this God I served for years was nothing but words on a page. I let that little flame of anger spiral out of control, and at this time in my life it served its purpose of having people leave me alone.

Yet like I said at the beginning of this post, I realize now why my friends at the church that I considered part of my family became the enemy in my eyes so quick: they were the face of the God I was angry with. It gets pretty old pretty quick yelling and screaming and arguing with a wall or a being you cannot see or reach out and touch.So the people in my life, subconsciously, became the faces of God and something I could lash out at. Looking back now I feel terrible about my behaviors, even though they were all a result of my grief. It’s still no excuse, and I take full responsibility for my actions and words.

Christmas eve I ended up going back to the very church I left. Something inside of me wanted to go, and I gathered up the courage to get myself there and sit there during the service. It wasn’t awkward or shame inducing walking through those doors. All of the people I had left seemed genuinely happy to see me, and it made me feel happy knowing that my actions and words did not cause an irreversible damage. This past Sunday, I went back. It was the same thing with those people. I’m not sure what it is about that place or those individuals that drew me back in, but I feel as if it was almost a fresh start.

I feel like in 2015 I lost my self in the pain, yet in a weird way I also found myself. Yes, I am secure in who I am now and am continuously learning to love and accept myself for the woman I have become and am continuing to become. Maybe I am learning how to cope with the things that life throws at me in a more healthy way than I had my whole life. I still don’t know what changed in me over the past month or so, but being able to reevaluate some things in my life has been refreshing. To be able to look back and see some of the things I did or said and realize that I no longer want to hold onto that is something I never really saw myself capable of doing. Yet here I am.

There’s still a lot of beef I have with God, although I’m not so sure those are the right words to use. I guess I have more questions than anything else. Walking through the pain of my Grandma being sick and then dying made me lose a lot of my faith in God and it also raised a lot of questions in my life. Now, I sit back and try to clearly find answers to things I want to know, yet I have yet to have these things answered.

I’m glad I have reached this point in my life of being able to feel ok with having questions and wanting to actually work through these things in my life.

2015 In Review

Seeing as how it’s almost the end of the year (I know, this year flew by!), I wanted to take the time to sit down and reflect on the past 365 days, even though we still have a couple more weeks left.

By far 2015 was one of the hardest years to date. It was filled with loss, pain and also a lot of self-discovery.

Losing my biggest influence, besides my own mom of course, was earth shattering. I still cry about my Grandma dying. It’s still hard and I have moments where I feel like it was just yesterday I got that phone call saying I need to get to the nursing home right away. Starting my senior year of college, the first semester without her, was brutal. There were so many times that I got a good grade on something and found myself wanting to call or stop by her place to share the good news, but then I was hit with the sobering reality.

I also lost my friend, Heather. We lost touch a bit due to the fact we were across the country from one another, but when we talked on occasion it was like we never really stopped ya know? It’s strange how some let distance come between a friendship, yet I always knew that if need be, we’d be there for each other. I miss you girl, and I hope you’re spending your favorite holiday partying it up in footie pajamas and making everyone around you laugh.

But I also found myself more this year. Through all of the pain and grief, I pushed myself harder than ever before to be a better version of myself. I made a promise to my Grandma an hour before she passed away that I would be ok, that I would stay in school and continue to succeed and graduate. Yes, that promise was hard to uphold, but I continued going forward even though everything in me wanted to just stop and drown in the crippling sadness I felt.

Through that fight, I began to recognize that I am capable of reaching my goals when I fight and work hard enough. I was never one to quit something I was passionate about, and I found myself this year putting my whole heart into the biggest dream I have: my future.

I began another research project, working with one of my professors, and in that I had another sense of self-discovery: I realized that I no longer wanted to work with eating disorders and young adults. Now, and I believe it has almost everything to do with what me and my family lived through for the past 2 years, I am pursuing a career in gerontology.

Even after all of the pain, my Grandma still continues to influence my life in more ways than I once thought she did. I discovered I want to work with older adults and their family members/ care givers who are in hospice/palliative care.

Although this year started out rough, and still continues to be, I am actually in a weird way thankful for all of the experiences I had. I became more thick skinned, mature, grew a stronger appreciation for the people I have in my life and more confident in my own abilities to go for dreams I never thought I was good enough to reach for and achieve.