The World’s Cutest Staring Contest

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In the middle of my day at the Del Mar Dog Beach (yes, that is a thing and it is glorious), my friend’s dog Scout (on the left) who is a bit shy, finally got up to explore a few feet from our towels after a couple hours of hiding behind his mom. A few minutes in, another dog approached, but maintained some distance. They looked at each other and then both laid down at the same time. They made eye contact for a while and then accepted each others’ presence, and just lay there enjoying the beach. Pelicans flew overhead, waves lapped, and dogs ran around us, playing with their owners or other dogs. Two shy dogs, putting themselves outside of their comfort zone.

This day reminded me of my long term goals. One of them is to be able to afford a dog of my own, that I can take to the dog beach and watch socialize and put himself out of his comfort zone to make new dog friends and get the full dog beach experience. In order to do that, I need to put myself outside of my comfort zone in treatment and work hard to take back control from my ED.

My future dog depends on it.

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the line is a dot to you

Food is everywhere

On Facebook, Instagram, TV

I scroll past it daily

Recipes, photos, how-to videos

Each time a small reminder that

My relationship with food is

different

I am bound by my eating disorder

It consumes me

Even when I will it not to

I hope someday I will scroll through my feed

And not cringe

Recovery road is longer

than I ever expected it to be

I can see no end

Only a dot on the horizon

Yet I keep walking

Each step brings hope I absorb

Like the sun’s rays

Sasha, Interrupted

Allow me to share a brief lesson in DBT, aka Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I’m pretty well-versed in this modality, mostly because in both treatment programs I’ve been in for various mental health concerns, this is what I was taught.

So, all of us have three states of mind: Reason Mind, Emotion Mind, and Wise Mind. 

Reason Mind is where your logic lies; all of your objectivity, fact-based thoughts/evidence resides here. As you can imagine, Emotion Mind is on the other end of the spectrum- it’s the part of you that hold all of your emotions, your gut instincts, your subjectivity. And finally, Wise Mind is the intersection of both Emotion and Reason Minds. This is the headspace you should primarily reside in, though not completely. When making a decision about moving to a new city or selecting the college you will attend, maybe your Reason Mind takes the reins a bit. When you’re working on a passion project that you’re excited about, your Emotion Mind might jump in. The thing is, if you spend all of your time living in Emotion Mind, you become mood dependent, impulsive, or reactive. Same with primarily being in Reason Mind, you might be disconnected in relationships, be more rigid, or ignore your feelings.

Wise Mind is where you get your intuition. It’s the happy medium where you are the most aware and effective. For folks with mental health struggles- and even those without- Wise Mind can be particularly difficult to access. Wise Mind was first described to me as being deep in a well. And that well is full of trauma, grief, financial stress, relationship struggles, etc. so your Wise Mind is harder to access. And sometimes, using your Wise Mind doesn’t always feel good initially. At the same time, it’s usually the most effective, even if your Emotion Mind tells you it’s not.

This is also tricky because your Emotion Mind is really good at impersonating your Wise Mind. It thinks it’s telling you what you need to hear, when really it’s just telling you what you want to hear. In the end, your Emotion Mind tricking you into thinking it’s your Wise Mind is more reactive than responsive. I had a therapist who helped me with this a while back. She said, “Your wise mind would never tell you to hurt yourself.” Boom. Life changed.

Now, with the lesson out of the way, I wanted to share a bit about my personal journey with the three states of mind. As many artists tend to do, I often reside more in Emotion Mind. She’s a sly one, that Emotion Mind. And she’s gotten so used to being in my head, she set up her own personal bedroom there. Because of this, I personified her, to help myself separate my Emotion Mind from my Wise Mind.

Her name is Sasha. She’s a badass- usually dressed in black with long dark hair, with sass and swag that goes on for miles. Sasha often thinks she is protecting me, or caring for me, when in actuality, she’s creating unhealthy coping habits, difficulty managing mood, and dependency upon things like perfectionism and people-pleasing. In fact, Sasha had a pretty good handle on me tonight; I almost didn’t write a post for today. She told me that no one cared what I had to say, and staying in bed with Netflix was the best thing for me. It took me a while to realize it was her. She loves disguises, that one.

So, here I am, telling Sasha to go back to her bedroom and knit herself a sweater, because I’ve got a life that’s worth living, and a blog that I’m excited about.

Our brains are pretty wild, as are our emotions. Now that I’ve identified Sasha, she’s become a bit easier to spot. And if all else fails, I can always remind myself that my Wise Mind would never tell me to hurt myself. In whatever capacity that may be.

Thanks for trying to protect me, Sasha. But I got this.

just the beach and me

I have grown up in a constant state of change. My family moved a lot, so I was forced to adapt to a new city, school, and home every few years. Many people often express pity or apologize that I had to move around so often, but I actually enjoyed it. I got to start fresh, meet new people, and experience more of this country. Not to mention, it gave me a lot of skills that I still use in my professional and personal life.

Whenever I moved, I made friends quickly- another skill, I suppose. (Or perhaps just luck.) It helped that I was usually in school, so finding new friends was easier because I was always surrounded by people my own age. Then, when I moved to Los Angeles after graduation, I got lucky; I moved in to a co-op- an intentional community- where I shared a house with roughly twenty people. The Technicolor Tree Tribe was everything I needed after moving across the country on my own. I had built in friends that I happened to live with! And I loved each and every one of them. They quickly became my family. And once I started working, I had friends outside of my house, as well.

Flash forward to about six months ago, when I accepted a new job and moved from LA to San Diego. Suddenly, my world turned upside down. Everything I had once relied on to find friends no longer worked for me. I became friends with my roommate pretty quickly, but aside from that, I was having a tough time. I have been lucky to grow up with a handful of close friends in every city I’ve moved to. Now I felt empty. Alone. Lonely.

I realized I had never dealt with loneliness like this before. And when I started treatment, I stopped working as much; limiting my opportunities to make friends. Now that I’ve got the feeling of loneliness more or less sorted, I’m not quite sure what to do. How do adults make friends in new places? I have mad respect for my parents, who had to face this every time they moved us to a new place.

In some ways it’s nice, a fresh start. And I’ve learned who I am, and have stayed true to myself throughout all of these transitions. There was no “new city, new me” mentality…I always ended up being who I was, regardless of what a new setting meant. But now that I’m older and no longer in school, I don’t really understand how to do this.

There’s a lot of shame that I experience when I see the friends I graduated with making new friends in their respective cities. I often wonder what I’m doing wrong that I can’t seem to figure it out. And of course, challenging my perfectionism because it isn’t simply black or white.

I love San Diego. More than I thought I would. But the move was harder than I ever imagined. And the loneliness makes it that much harder. I’m very fortunate with the friends I have made in San Diego, and for the friends in LA who supported and encouraged me to pursue my dreams and take the leap down here. Life isn’t completely horrible because I’m lonely. It hurts sometimes, and not so much other times. After all, San Diego is not a bad place to be lonely…

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If anyone reading this can relate, or can offer advice on how you made friends in new places, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me a message. 🙂

#MentalHealthMonday

Happy Monday, everyone!

I wanted to give a preface to what I’ll be doing every Monday on this blog: #MentalHealthMonday! Every Monday I will be exploring/sharing my relationship with mental health.

Why would I do this? Who really cares about my mental health? Good question, Interwebs! I am a huge believer in ending the stigma that surrounds mental health. I’m tired of keeping it hushed up when it plays such a major role in my life. And I hope that by discussing it openly, I can encourage others to seek help and know that progress is possible. I’m living proof.

Mental health is just like any other illness. We need to start treating it as such. I am not any less of a person because of my anxiety or depression. In fact, I think I’m so much more. If you are struggling with mental health too, you are not alone. Even if you think your symptoms are 100% unique…I promise you, they’re probably not. I felt alone for a long time until I realized that so many people have experienced the exact same things that I do. So, welcome to the club!

If there are any particular topics you’d like me to try and tackle, or have a question about the things I bring up in these posts, leave me a comment or send me a message via my Contact page. This invitation extends to all #MentalHealthMonday posts.

Stay tuned for my first post next Monday! Meanwhile, feel free to check out my other posts- I’m here every day.

-K

Perfectionism and the Creative Process

Nothing is good enough.

Too much punctuation

Not enough punctuation.

lowercase adds to the poetry

But looks wrong.

Stop.

Backspace

Not good enough…

Will people want to read this?

Of course not

they don’t care.

Change it so it appeases my

friends*

on social media who I don’t really

Know.

Wait.

Delete.

Distract.

Delay.

Wait for a better idea

something that is profound

that will get a thousand likes and

hundreds of shares.

What do my friends and family

want to hear?

Will they be proud of me?

[no]

Not good enough…

Wait.

why am I trying to appease

everyone else

but me,

the author

poet

writer

[fraud]

Move those words around.

They don’t make sense like that.

[Stupid}

Too many judgments

I can’t catch them all

They’re heavy

I’m

 

falling.

 

 

The weight

 

 

is too great

 

 

 

 

endless.

the pit is endless.

i can’t get back up.

too much self

judgment.

I’m tired.

Too tired

to try again.

 

put down the rope.

 

Her voice is in my head

Like a lighthouse

swinging it’s light

round and round

to bring ships home

to safety.

Put down the rope.

Let go of the judgments.

 

It’s ok

I know you can do it

[artist]

It will be messy

Art is messy

Art is not just for everyone

else.

Art is for you.

Put down the rope

Your hands are raw and bleeding.

There’s no need to be perfect.

[no one is perfect]

No.

No one is perfect.

Time to be messy

Put down the rope

and smear those bloody hands

on your canvas.

Delete the punctuation

do what is unconventional

do what is joyful

do what is creative

for you.

 

one by one

I let the judgments go

and I float

back to the start

the blank page.

open mind

open heart

open soul

 

I rise.

putting down the rope

I want to elaborate on the title of this blog, because I obviously chose it for a reason. So, I want you to picture a room. In one corner, there is a rope. In the opposite corner, there lies your passion, creativity, career, hobbies, relationships, etc. You can’t get to the opposite corner because you are always busy tugging on that rope, in a constant tug-of-war with whatever holds you down and tells you you’re not good enough. And when you’re busy yanking on that rope, you don’t have the freedom to do what you want because you’re so hung up on what others want, or how you might be perceived. Well, I have a lot I want to say, and I’m tired of fearing judgment. My arms are getting tired.

I am a queer woman who has more than one passion; speaks more than one language; has a diagnosed anxiety disorder and depression; is recovering from an eating disorder; has a chronic illness; is a daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend; yearns to travel; loves to roller skate; doesn’t regret the past. I am so many stories held together with skin, muscle, and bone. Much like you.

In the past I’ve often felt alone in my stories- I write to connect with others. To you. Human connection is the most important thing on Planet Earth, and I want more of it. I want others to not feel alone, as I did. I want others to find something in my stories they can relate to. I want you to put down your rope and live your life pursuing your passions. All of that can start with some words on a page.

I will be honest on this blog. I will share the successes and the challenges of my life. It won’t always be pretty, but life isn’t always peaches and roses. I value ending the stigma surrounding mental health, so that is the approach I will take here. Most importantly, I strive to make this blog unabashedly, and unapologetically me. I have fought social anxiety and perfectionism for a long time; I constantly worry about judgment from others, or how I can put others’ happiness before my own. It’s time I put down the rope, end the tug-of-war, and write for me.

 

 

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the journey that defies perfectionism

Hello all!

It has been a crazy long time since I have used this blog, so I decided to do a bit of rebranding. To those of you who have been here before, welcome back! To those who are new to my blog, thank you for taking the time to catch a glimpse into my life!

I’ve been doing a lot of work on my perfectionism lately. I love to write, and often I spend days- sometimes weeks- crafting a narrative essay or blog post. This is where I hope to lay that aside. To share my story, be myself, and not hold myself back. This blog is for me, and me alone! Though I am excited to be sharing my story with all of you wonderful readers. An important person in my life recently told me that I am often in a tug-of-war match with myself, my anxiety, my depression, my perfectionism; that I need to put down the rope and just be. So here I am!

The goal will be to post here daily; maybe that will mean I write a sentence, a paragraph, a 5-page essay. Who knows! The creativity is flowing and I am rolling with it.

So, welcome! And thanks for reading.

-K