No Resolution This Time

I usually write these posts with a purpose or a solution in mind. I don’t often write just to write. I think that’s perfectionism convincing me I need to have a pretty, polished result in order to show it to the world. I can’t ever be a work in progress.

Women aren’t typically allowed to be a work in progress.

I’m doing so much reading and thinking lately about what it means to be a woman. I haven’t thought much about it before, not until recently. I’ve also started reading, among many other books, Glennon Doyle’s Untamed. (I told myself I had to finish at least one of the other 10+ books I’m reading right now, but I just couldn’t resist!) I don’t think I could’ve picked a more perfect time to start it, though, and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest it. I can confidently say it’s worth the hype, and I’m only 13 pages in.

Each page I read I think to myself “Why aren’t women raging mad all the time?!”

We’ve had the very essence of our being stolen from us, and the accomplice to this robbery—the instigator, in fact—was this patriarchal, capitalist world we live in. Anything about us that is even slightly feminine we are taught to stifle, to hide, to be embarrassed about, to feel shame about, to silence, to plaster a smile on, to wrap up in a pretty, perfect, pink bow.

Don’t show your emotions, you’re being irrational. Yeah, she never smiles or anything, she must be made of stone. You act like you don’t care! Jeez, you’re so sensitive. I’ve heard that chick sleeps around, she’s such a slut. Wow, you’ve never had sex, what a prude! Don’t wear a top that shows too much skin, you don’t want to distract the boys in class. Why are you dressed so modestly for a date, he’s never going to want to sleep with you. Aren’t you angry at how he spoke to you? Stop overreacting, you’re embarrassing yourself! Girl, you’ve gotta stop throwing yourself at him. Why don’t you wanna go out with him, he’s clearly into you! Well, of course they didn’t want to hire someone who’s pregnant. Don’t want kids?! Don’t worry, you’ll change your mind and want kids someday. You really need to stand up for yourself. God, she’s so bossy! Damn, your boobs look great in that Victoria’s Secret bra! Why is she breastfeeding in public, no one wants to see that! Gross, she looks like a skeleton. I’ll sign you up for a gym membership, you can’t gain the Freshman Fifteen. I don’t care that you have to go home to your family, you need to meet this deadline! Why would you consider this job, who’s going to look after your kids? You’re gonna be hot if you leave the house in sweats and a sweater! You were basically asking them to cat-call you by wearing shorts that short. You don’t need all that makeup, you’re so pretty! You sure you at least don’t want some blush and mascara, you don’t look very professional.

I could go on. I mean, holy double-standard, Batman!

We have to change the way we speak so we’re not as threatening. We can’t show our emotions without being seen as weak, irrational, dramatic, or crazy. We can’t be ambitious and family-oriented. I’m so tired of fitting into such a small box.

I still don’t know what to do with the anger that keeps rising in me. I don’t know how to quell my guilt and shame for defaulting to ignoring my power and making myself smaller for others’ benefit.

It bugs me that I’m going to publish this without any resolution or conclusion, but I don’t have any answers just yet. This is only the beginning…

Shame, That Cunning Bastard

Earlier today, after frustration over a search for socks snowballed into anger and I sent clothes flying all over our bedroom, my partner came to check on me. I was balled up on the floor, sandwiched between the bed and the wall, and my head was tucked below my knees. Anger, not being something I’m particularly used to yet, had left me feeling humiliated. As my kind and compassionate partner sat next to me rubbing my back, I didn’t want to admit to allowing socks (or lack thereof) to cause such a tidal wave of ferocity in me.

In the past, I wouldn’t have said anything. I would have remained silent and let my emotions consume me, driving away the person I desperately wanted to stay by my side. But see, I had made a promise. A promise to my partner not to shut him out. Not to make him think that my anger or moodiness is directed at him, or the result of anything he did or didn’t do. A promise to communicate.

I’m learning that I default to shutting people out, or shutting down entirely, when I feel intense emotions because of the unawareness my family and I had around my high sensitivity and my emotional needs as a highly sensitive person growing up. So, now that I know that my nervous system feels things much more deeply than the average person, I have to work hard at communicating when I’m feeling big things.

I’m not saying that I’m great at communicating now that I’ve learned all of this and have made this promise to my partner. In fact, I’m generally pretty bad at it. Sometimes, it’s so hard to say what it is I’m thinking or experiencing that it feels like I’m prying my mouth open with a crowbar and reaching down my throat to physically pull the words out. Often I’m speaking so softly that my partner has to ask me to repeat myself.

Today, though, I recognized that I have made some progress. This past week was particularly stressful, and I recalled the moments where I managed to use my words. At first, I wanted to celebrate this. I remembered how often I had kept my mouth shut in my relationships with my parents, friends, and partners in the past, and knew that any step in communicating was a step in the right direction. But quickly, shame piped in (that relentless bastard) and reminded me how far I still have to go. Shame said “How dare you celebrate this skill that you’re only less than mediocre at? You have way too far to go before you can pat yourself on the back.”

At first, I believed it. Shame is cunning, and uses small truths to create big lies. While it’s true that I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what healthy communication looks like in my relationship, it is false that I have to wait until I’ve mastered the skill to acknowledge and celebrate my progress.

And, just because I’m not negating or discounting my success thus far, that doesn’t mean I can let up on the gas pedal. The fact is, I do have a long way to go before my communication is easy and open in those moments of moodiness or anger. But the more I practice it, the easier it will get, and I can celebrate the wins along the way.

“Too Much Feminism”

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, some of the first posts I saw on Twitter were telling women to hurry and get birth control now, before it gets taken away from us entirely. Other posts said to go purchase a few Plan B emergency contraceptives to keep stockpiled, just in case.

After I watched the film Enola Holmes this weekend—a movie about an intrepid teen defying the traditional path of a woman in order to make her own way in the world—one of the first things I was told about those already commenting and critiquing the film was “We get it…feminism!” There seemed to be eye-rolling about the creation of another film about female empowerment. This left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

It’s as if these critics are sick and tired of all the feminism they’re seeing on screen lately. As if women don’t need to see themselves represented as powerful, angry, ambitious, intelligent, career-driven, or any other characteristic that we are typically expected to stifle. As if women aren’t being denied the same basic human rights as our male counterparts. As if women detained at our borders aren’t being sterilized. As if the leaders of this country aren’t making it their mission to take away even more women’s rights.

Women need more movies and TV shows and video games and books and comics that represent us the way we deserve to be represented. Especially if what they’re saying on Twitter is true, and our rights will soon be flushed down the toilet. We need reminders to continue to fight. We need reminders that we are strong, and have accomplished change in the past, and we are capable of accomplishing more in the future. We need reminders that our emotions are not things to be ashamed of.

There are many reasons why I loved the feminism in Enola Holmes. Not only does the title character make a wonderful role model for all young girls growing up in this terrifying political climate, but the film also drives home the fact that feminism is about equality of all sexes. We see a male character who has embraced traditionally feminine characteristics, like having a passion for flowers and crying publically, while still being powerful and desirable. Additionally, our protagonist learns that she can forge her own path, create her own future, on her own, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a companion by her side to be an independent woman.

Lately, I myself have struggled with balancing my need to be a strong, independent woman “who don’t need no man” with my relationship with my partner, who happens to be a man. As I embraced the power of the female, as I described in one of my last posts, I found myself doing some all-or-nothing thinking. I worried that standing up and speaking out as an independent woman would mean I had to hide the fact that I was, happily and completely, in love with a man.

Upon reflection of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life, I remembered the example she set in her marriage with Marty Ginsburg, which proved that just because a woman stands tall and strong on her own, doesn’t mean that she can’t be holding the hand of another tall and strong person. Enola Holmes proved this, as well.

I don’t believe there can be “too much feminism.” I believe feminism will exist as long as human beings exist, and we should continue fighting for the rights of all humans, no matter their gender expression, skin color, or economic status, in order to be seen as equals on the same playing field.

I encourage everyone to go watch Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes, on Netflix now. Feel free to share your opinions on the film in the comments below!

Her Legacy, A Revolution

Oh, RBG.

Devastating news tonight. The incomparable, powerful, notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg is gone. Gone from this Earth, and gone from the Supreme Court.

What I felt tonight was reminiscent of what I felt when I heard Hillary lost the election. I felt the wails of women everywhere cry out in disbelief that this pioneer of gender equality was simply gone. I believe I said to my partner, “She was supposed to live forever!”

As I lit a candle for RBG, two thoughts kept vying for my attention:

1) The future seems scarier than ever with her absence on the Supreme Court, and I fear for the future of this country, its citizens (of all races and gender identities), and the immigrants who sought a better life within our borders.

2) I am so grateful for the strides Ginsburg took so that I may recognize the power in my gender, even when I am treated unfairly on the basis of sex. I am grateful to Ginsburg for setting an example of what a healthy relationship looks like between a man and a woman, and that I can stand on my own two feet while my partner stands on his and still be holding his hand. I am grateful for her legacy, which fan the flames of revolution for women in this country.

I’ve done a lot of reflecting in the last few hours, ever since I heard the news. Nearly two weeks ago I shared that I had finally accepted the feminine part of my identity, and that I’m ready to stand and fight against the dismissal of the feminine by our current culture. I wonder if I would have written that post had Ruth Bader Ginsburg not persisted? Would I even be writing on this blog at all? Would I have these thoughts of identity? Would I be as free?

I hope that we don’t gloss over our mourning period in favor of fear for the future of the Supreme Court. I hope that we take time to celebrate this incredible woman’s life, and steep in our gratitude for her existence in our country and in our hearts. I hope we pick up where she left off, and continue to dissent from those who work to ignore or silence us. She may be gone, but she will never be forgotten.

When asked if she ever reconsidered stepping down (after liberals urged her to, so that President Obama could name her replacement), Ginsburg said firmly, “I have said many times that I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam, and when I can’t, that will be the time that I will step down.”

May we all aim to keep going, full steam.

Rest in Peace, Rest in Power, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Judgment-Free Zone

I’ve noticed that when things get particularly difficult in my life, I want to hide them away. I don’t want to write about them on the blog, and I don’t even want to write them in my journal. I censor myself in case some future me looks back at the entries and… Well that’s the thing. I don’t know how to finish that sentence. What am I so afraid of?

I think the answer is judgment. Subconsciously, I recognize that I am my own worst critic, so I try to deny my future self the ability to judge my past choices or actions. But what good is that doing me?

By keeping my pain inside, I’m denying the opportunity to heal. I’m also denying myself the chance to grow through authenticity. Who knows, someone else may relate to my experience and offer support or guidance. And by writing down my struggles, perhaps it will get me out of my own head and shift my perspective.

So, here goes:

Quarantine is really getting to me. Being stuck at home since March without even the ability to go to the grocery store or run a quick errand is weighing so heavily on me. The other day all I wanted to do was give myself a manicure, but I don’t even have the luxury of running to CVS to browse the nail polish colors. I’m bored most of the time, and am losing interest in the things that usually keep me busy or distracted.

On top of all that, my unemployment benefits have run out and the leave/furlough option I was using with my employer has ended, so I’m staring down the face of termination and unemployment. Uncertainty surrounds me, and loneliness is ever present. I’m scared.

If anyone can relate (or even if you can’t) and has activities or ideas that might help the boredom and restlessness, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.


For those in similar situations, I’d love to create community with you. The comments of this post (or any post on my site) are a safe space for you to share your experience, and please know that I hold space for you to be yourself, even if you’d prefer to do it anonymously. This is a judgment-free zone that is shrouded in love.

If it ever feels like too much for you to handle on your own, I encourage you to reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting “HELP” to 741-741. Lately I’ve been reaching out to them often, and it allows me to catch my breath and recall the tools I have within me to stay grounded and take these uncertain and scary times one day, one hour, one minute at a time. There is no shame in texting the Crisis Line, and you remain completely anonymous if you choose to reach out.

Allowing Anger

Content Warning: self-harm

At the beginning of this global pandemic I noticed an uncomfortable feeling starting to grow within me. As my friends continued going to work or to the grocery store while I remained at home, petrified of catching this largely-unknown coronavirus, the feeling grew from a small flame into a roaring fire, until I could no longer ignore it. I was angry.

Since I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease roughly 8 years ago—which was more than likely the result of the birth control pills I was taking at the time—I haven’t thought much about how different my life has become. Sure, I have to take daily medication for the rest of my life and I can’t unwind every night with a glass of wine, but generally things aren’t too different for me. It wasn’t until my life was threatened because of my compromised immune system that I began to think “Why the hell did this have to happen to me?!”

As I was wracked with fears of illness and death for weeks on end, this question grew louder and louder in my head. It suddenly didn’t seem fair that the pills I had been using to help regulate my menstrual cycle as a teenager had turned my immune system against me. And the longer I was stuck at home, the more anger I felt when I swallowed the meds that were lowering my immune system in order to keep my body safe.

Now, anger is not something I’m particularly familiar with. I’ve certainly experienced anger before, but, not knowing what to do with the feeling, it was often expressed through moodiness, passive aggression, or even self-harm. Or, like many other women who aren’t sure what to do when they feel anger starting to bubble under their skin, I suppressed it. Without knowing how to healthily let it out, or even that I can express it in healthy, safe ways, I stuff it down and close the lid as tight as I can.

This time around, however, I was having a hard time keeping it contained, and it certainly wasn’t going away. My anger was fierce, and desperately wanted out of the jar I had kept it stored in for all those years.

At first, the anger built into rage that exploded out of me in the form of self-harm. I didn’t know where to direct my anger, and I had enough shame lighting me up like a neon sign that I became an easy target. So when pacing and hand-flapping gave way, I released the pent-up energy the only way I knew how, at the only person in the room: me.

Of course, shortly after the energy had been expelled and the shame set in, I realized that this method of expression was not sustainable. Which is when I realized that I didn’t have a single solitary clue of how to safely express my anger. Nor could I recall any female role models who expressed their anger in healthy ways.

I started talking with a friend lately about this, and when I asked how she expressed anger, she had a hard time finding an answer, as well. She made the excellent point that systemically men are taught to be angry, but to stifle sadness because it’s a sign of weakness, and that women are taught to stifle anger because it’s not feminine. While I sat there wondering how I’ve managed to stifle anger all this time, she mentioned that these beliefs are so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize we do it.

It’s funny, because as I’ve learned more about the damage done by the patriarchy and capitalism in the last few classes I’ve taken in quarantine, the angrier I’ve become. How ironic that the notion of suppressed anger in women has caused me to become so angry that I don’t know how to express it because I’ve been taught to suppress it!

Naturally, I turned to my therapist for guidance. I knew there had to be ways of expressing anger that didn’t end up hurting myself or others, otherwise we’d all explode! She encouraged me that I can feel anger while controlling my behavior. In all those cases where anger has led to self-harm, there was always a moment where I could have chosen another option. I allowed those neuropathways to stay ingrained in my brain, until my therapist showed me how to flip that switch.

Now, I know to use my pillow at a punching bag, or throw some balled up socks or water balloons at the wall when I feel that anger grow into a big ball of energy that just wants to be uncaged. Even more important to remember: I’m allowed to be angry. It is a natural emotion, just like happiness, sadness, and even fear.

My anger has helped me clarify my values and beliefs. If I didn’t get so angry about the corporations who are making billions off of our insecurities, I wouldn’t know how much I cared about righting that wrong, of undoing the thoughts that they have implanted.

Anger can be liberating if we allow it. I’m not nearly done learning how to express it, or unlearning how not to suppress it. But I’d say it’s about time we free these gendered shackles of how women (or anyone!) are “supposed” to feel, look, or act, and use our anger as a compass to guide us towards empowerment, equality, and freedom.

Female Power

Content Warning: sexual assault (briefly mentioned, no details given)

I’ve told myself for a long time that I wasn’t cut out for female friendships. I never thought I’d have a Cristina Yang or a Lane Kim. I didn’t have the best track record with many of my relationships with women, so I didn’t see the point in trying to form new ones.

When I was in middle school I was bullied by other girls. My “best” [girl] friends turned on me, I don’t even remember why. In high school I was told I was selfish by a close girl friend. I felt as though I was competing or comparing myself with many of my female peers. In college I was raped by a woman, a friend of mine. I was called a liar when I asked for support from another close female friend. As an adult I had many female friendships end epically, awfully. I didn’t think I could maintain another close, healthy, happy friendship with another woman.

Recently I met a woman who changed that narrative for me. She allowed my vulnerability, and it brought us closer together, despite being an ocean apart. We became fast friends. I opened up to her about my history with women, and she recognized and acknowledged my fear. She saw me.

When I started feeling this fire in my belly about capitalism and the twisted narrative it feeds women in order to maintain its profits, I expressed my rage to this new friend. It unlocked something within me; sharing my frustration and anger about being a woman in 2020 with another woman was the key to embracing the female power within me, and feeling kinship and recognition in others. I suddenly saw all that I was missing by avoiding close relationships with women.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the friends in my life, regardless of gender. My partner and one of my closest friends are both men. And there is something to be said about sharing anger about an experience that is specifically female with another woman. My bestie and my partner both can empathize—and they do, quite well—but they will never truly understand my experiences without being a woman themselves.

I think I’ve subconsciously ignored aspects of my femininity for a long time. I spent most of my time with men, and never felt drawn to the interests of other women. I didn’t want to be like the women who hurt me. I didn’t want the feminine parts of myself that were judged or objectified to be seen by anyone, including myself.

I’m beginning to understand that hiding myself, any part of myself, is a disservice. Women have a history of being strong and powerful, and I am a contributor to that lineage. Now, instead of shying away from my feminine identity, I am choosing to step up and join hands with other strong and powerful women.

It’s time I step into my female power. It’s time I allow myself to share and listen and lean on women who are also aligned with my values and experiences. It’s time I channel my frustration and anger about the patriarchy and capitalism into passion, to enthusiastically lift up other powerful women and emphasize the strengths of being a woman that many in our dominant, patriarchal culture have ignored or dismissed for so long.

I’m proud to be a part of an amazing sisterhood of strong, beautiful, powerful women.


As I wrote this piece, I remembered a poem I once wrote about the women on staff at my eating disorder treatment center. Read it here.

I also want to recognize the amazing women I’ve met through Eat Breathe Thrive in the last few months. You all contributed to the inspiration for this post.

Authenticity over Approval

I’ve been experiencing a personal awakening lately. Some of which you read about in my Grey’s Anatomy post, and some you’ll read in future posts about emotions and activism. For now, however, I want to talk about authenticity.

I spent most of my life trying to be anyone but myself. In school, when I was bullied for the clothes I wore or the people I sat with at lunch, I spent years trying to fit into a more acceptable mold. I spent money I didn’t have on clothes that I thought would make me look cooler or more like “everyone else.” I spent time with people who didn’t share my values so that, if they accepted me, I could use them as a metric of my success or popularity. I posted content on social media that I told myself was authentic, but was really just a way to gain more likes, followers, or friends. I valued authenticity and independence above all else, but was too scared to actually live in accordance with those values. I was scared that if people saw the real me, they’d reject me.

After all those years of shoving myself into someone else’s ideal of what I “should” look, think, or act like, I still don’t have the things I craved since I was young. I could never find happiness in the clothes I bought, or friends in the amount of views I got on an Instagram story I had so carefully curated. Yet, I’ve discovered happiness and beautiful relationships despite those things…so I had to ask myself: Why do I waste precious time in my life trying to be someone else?! I will never fit into any mainstream ideal of what a woman should be, and I’m sick and tired of making myself smaller for anyone else’s benefit or comfort.

Being immunocompromised in this pandemic has forced me to spend a lot of uninterrupted time with myself. I’ve been blowing through journals, usually filling one within 3-4 weeks, which basically represents the amount of self-reflection and growth I’ve experienced in the last six months. The more I’ve gotten to know myself in quarantine, the more I’ve realized I want to become the person I want to be rather than the person I thought I should be.

After all of the self-reflection and journals I’ve gone through, I’ve decided to challenge myself to run towards the things that scare me. If I don’t, I will never truly know what I am capable of. Authenticity scares me. Showing people who I really am—including the parts of myself I want to hide away in deep, dark caves—absolutely terrifies me. But I’m done seeking approval from others, because their approval doesn’t matter. I matter. I choose me.

Caught in Black and White

Last night, a friend of mine sent me a folder of photos from a portrait shoot we did last week. I needed a new headshot for LinkedIn and asked my good friend, who happens to be a great photographer, to take them for me. Normally I hate being on the other side of the camera, but my previous LinkedIn photo was taken back in 2016 and I looked quite a bit different then. I let myself have fun during the shoot; I focused on my friend and allowed my weirdness to take over.

When I saw the photos last night, I cringed. Not because the photos themselves were bad—they were beautiful, in fact—but because I immediately saw the flaws in myself. I couldn’t even look at them longer than a few seconds because I didn’t see myself as a whole, I saw myself as small pieces to be picked apart.

I immediately began judging myself for judging myself. All I kept thinking was that I had made so much progress in the realm of body positivity, yet had failed epically in a crucial opportunity for self-love. Suddenly, I saw this small struggle as the demise of my capability to love myself. Yikes!

Not long after, I was able to pull away from the situation and look at it from a different angle. Not even a week ago, my therapist and I discussed my penchant for All or Nothing thinking. This mindset, also known as Black and White thinking, falls under the “Cognitive Distortion” category, and can trap you into feeling like things are either staunchly one way or the other, without anything existing in between. Examples include, but are not limited to, “If I don’t finish this task by tonight, I am a failure,” “I tried something new and made a mistake, so I will never be good at it,” and “I’m feeling frustrated with the people I work with, but they did a task correctly today, so everything is fine.” Double yikes!

Aha, but this is when dialectics come into play!

Thinking dialectically means acknowledging two things being true at the same time. For people who struggle with mental illness and/or eating disorders, this can be difficult. It’s easy to think that if you relapse it hurtles you backwards in your recovery, or even worse, it negates any and all of your progress. Let me set things straight: hiccups in recovery do not erase the progress you’ve made.

I’ll say it again, just to drive it home…You can struggle and be making progress. These two things can (and will) exist at the same time.

Last night, I experienced struggle. I looked at my 2-D face on the screen and couldn’t see the amazing qualities I’ve been discovering about myself lately. Picking apart my looks is my default mode right now. But I know now that it won’t always be. I am learning and growing and coming into my power. And part of that growth and stepping into who I was always meant to be means that I will stumble now and again.

I can stumble and be strong.

evening gratitude

Honesty

I haven’t been doing my best

and that’s okay

It does not erase the progress I’ve made

The recovery I’ve worked hard on

I’m grateful for my awareness

and for the ability to recognize when it’s time to keep working

I’m grateful for my body and its strength

even when I think I’m weak

I prove that I am strong

Tonight I am grateful for my ability to trust

Trust in my body

Trust in my mind

Trust in my muscles

Trust in my breath

Trust in my power

Thank you

For holding me up

For keeping me safe

For brimming with love

Thank you for being my home