Affirmations, Faith, General, Life Talk, Real Talk

You’re Right Where You’re Meant to Be

My most recent therapy session was the first one in a while where I felt that I had only positive things to say and it was going really well. I was in a good place, and feeling pretty solid about where I’m at in life; I was at one of those ups in depression where you feel really awesome about the world and where your life is, and all parts of my life were falling into place. Finally, the subject of my love life came up, since there’s a new guy in the picture and I wanted to get her opinion of him before I stressed too much about whether he was going to be worth my time or not (by the way, he is).

Anyway, I was sitting and talking to her about how I was finally casting off the social media goggles that I am always wearing, the ones where I look at the people that I graduated from high school or college with who are in different, seemingly more advanced, places in their lives and think that I’m somehow behind because I’m not engaged yet or in a long term relationship or running a company at almost 24 years old. I was talking about all the people in my life who constantly remind me that I’m “only 23 years old,” and shouldn’t be in such a rush, and that I was finally coming to terms with that and accepting it as a truth in my life. And that’s when she said something that I’d heard before, but at this time in my life really struck me: “You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.”

Those words have stuck with me this time, all the way to today when I am (finally) writing this post. They are so simple, yet so powerful, and cannot be any more true than they are right now. Here are some of my reasons that it’s true:

  1. I’m working only one job and finding my niche in the industry
  2. I’ve been writing more and developing my craft, while also looking to build a portfolio and look for freelancing positions
  3. Despite my young age, I have been able to hold down a job for almost 2 years, the first years out of college
  4. At just 23 years old, I am (almost, with a couple married roommates) living out on my own
  5. God has my plan in place, and He’s constantly sending me signs that I am on the path that He wants me to be on in this life

Despite all the feelings that I don’t belong, that I don’t know what I’m doing in this world, because of my age, my degree, and sometimes I even feel like my depression throws up walls that I can’t climb, I am exactly where I’m meant to be. The only timeline that I need to be following is my own, the only standards I need to live up to are the ones that I set for myself and the only expectations that I need to satisfy are mine, designed by me alone. No one else can dictate what I should live up to, and no one else should. The only person who can make my life rules is me, and I am in charge of how I feel. If I don’t like it, I can change it.

Every person, place and thing that I have encountered on this journey has led me to this moment, to typing these words, to my finger hitting each key as I sit in front of my MacBook Pro on a Monday night. I am exactly where I am meant to be, writing these words for you all to read. The people that I have come across that have hurt me, broken me, pushed me down, those are the people that I have the most to thank. They are the ones that showed me where I was going wasn’t where I was meant to be, and sent me off in another direction. God puts those reminders in your life and in your heart, as His way of talking to you and telling you that He has a plan for you that’s bigger than what you’re going through, and right where you are, is where He wants you to be.

Remember this: If it feels right in your heart, it’s what you’re meant to be doing. If it makes you feel strong and powerful, right and belonging, then you’re right where you’re supposed to be. If you can wake up in the morning and breathe deeply because you are ready for the day ahead, then you’re doing okay in the world. Society might have set some timelines for how people are supposed to act and when things are supposed to be done, but it really doesn’t matter. Your heart is the timeline, your soul is the clock and your path is your path. The people who are there along the way are all meant to be there, for some reason or another, and the challenges that you face will make you a stronger person. Every time you veer off the path you think you’re heading down, you’ll stumble into a place where you’re truly meant to be, and before you panic, take some time to enjoy the ride.

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The only person who can decide your life and your timeline is you. Even if you feel like you’re moving slower or faster than other people in your life, if it feels right and comfortable for you, then it’s exactly right, no matter what society says. To paraphrase William Ernest Henley “[you are] the master of [your] fate, [you are] the captain of [your] soul.” It’s all right for you, and it’s all right in the grand scheme of things.

Daily mantra: I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

Stay fearless, friends (3)

Faith, Life Talk, Real Talk

I Wore My Illness: A Note on Mental Health

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I was honored to participate in The Heart Project, a project intended to end the stigma surrounding mental health. I decided to wear my illness and show it to the world, because I wanted to show what I am fighting each day, and come out from behind my mask of fineness and share my struggles, being honest with all of you beautiful people out there.

Depression: I was diagnosed with depression when I was in high school. It was my senior year, and I was struggling in so many different ways. Moods were constantly changing and I was more down than up, friends were worried about me, and scheduling meetings with school counselors to try and figure out what was wrong with me. I couldn’t pull myself out of the deep hole of sadness and uncontrollable moods that were constantly swirling around me. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and I could barely stay in school some days. It was hell, and I had no relief.

The diagnosis was the first hint of relief for me, the first sign that I had a light at the end of the tunnel of unknowing. The thing that I was fighting had a name, had a face, and had a community of people that fought to combat it every day. I had a support system, and a place to turn when I needed an ear, none of which would have been possible without that first trip to a therapist and a psychiatrist and trying to find a name for the beast.

Now, I have been on Lexapro for 7 years, been in therapy on and off, and am constantly working on my coping skills. By talking about my mental health, and the struggle I face every day, I am normalizing it, giving it a name and showing depression that it can’t beat me. Some days are better than others, as it is with all struggles, but I know that I can face each day confident that I am going to beat it because I have beat every day before it. The monster in the closet has a name: Depression, and I have a plan to defeat it.

Self-Harm: It was my number 1 coping skill for a long time, my way to escape from the world, and to give something physical to the pain that I felt inside. Too long I felt the pressure building up inside me, and taking a knife to my wrist was the only way that I could let it out. Hurting myself was how I expressed my pain; being mean to my body was how I felt better about the life I was living and the choices I made.

You don’t have to have a knife or a razor to self-harm. Even when I wasn’t cutting, I was calling myself stupid and worthless, wondering why I even deserved to live. Putting my body down, putting my choices down, and putting my life down every day, when I feel like I didn’t belong somewhere or my work hasn’t been up to snuff lately. Hurting myself took many shapes and forms, no matter if I had a sharp object in my hand or not.

March 13, 2015. The last day that I cut myself, put a knife to my wrist and opened it up. Not the last day I told myself something hateful (that was more like the night before last), but the healing journey is not a straight one. It has lumps and bumps like any other road. Every day I don’t cut myself is a victory for me.

PTSD: Was the diagnosis I got after leaving an abusive relationship. I was constantly having flashbacks of the torment I experienced, and once even thought I saw his car on the road, even though I now live 2 states away from him. He still haunts my nightmares occasionally, usually kidnapping me or looking for me no matter where I am. But I have moved on from him and his insanity, his putdowns and his insecurities. Sure, I am not perfect, but the flashbacks and nightmares have calmed down now, and I have learned new ways to combat them when they do arise. Of all the demons I’m fighting, his is the one I am best able to keep at bay.

Support: Here’s to all the people that are out there, struggling just like me. The people who feel they have no one else to turn to, who feel encased by the darkness, desperately looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s to the people who have monsters in the closet and inside of them, and who are seeking a way to fight them. Here’s to the people who get through just one more day, take life one day at a time, who hold the blade to their wrist and wish that they had the courage to open it up and let the blood flow freely, but make the decision to try to make it through just one more hour. Here’s to the people who hit a bump on the healing journey, who got off at a detour, or are just taking a pause while they recollect and try to see what happens next.

The semicolon that I have tattooed on my wrist demonstrates a reminder that a pause is not the end, only an invitation to keep going in a new direction. Just because there is a bump in the road, doesn’t mean the journey is over. There is no shame in taking a breather when you need to figure out what step to take next. The road is rocky, the journey is long, but it’s flanked with love and support along the way.

I’m here for you… You are not alone… I love you… You are strong… You are a warr;or, darling. Things will get better, just take it one day at a time. ♥

Stay fearless, friends (3)

 

P.S. I have joined a group of bloggers looking to put together a mental health awareness collaborative project. Have something you want to see? Have ideas? Fill out this survey and tell us! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HQ826JK

General, Life Talk, Real Talk

I Learned a Life Lesson at the Beach

This past weekend, I spent some time on Tybee Island down here in GA, with some friends. It was a typical summer day down south, which means that it felt like 110º in the shade, and the sun was blazing from the time we got there at 8:30am to the time we left at 2:30pm. Now, the beach is not my favorite thing in the world, but I love spending time in the water, and I was hoping to read an entire book, so I went along for the ride.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a proud BBW, or fluffy, woman. Extra stomach rolling over my waistband, a couple of chins in most pictures, 1.5 chins on a good day, some arms jiggles and thighs that spread like water in a pie tin when I sit down. I have since come to terms with the fact that I will never be a size 2, and have even come to realize that it’s not an obstacle in my dating life, which I long feared that it would be. I am always upfront about my body type, and if men don’t like it, they don’t have to talk to me. It’s really that simple. Still, as much as I have accepted my appearance and who I am, and am still working on body positivity, I sometimes worry how I will be perceived in the world because of my weight.

Hence why this weekend was such a major win for me.

How to Have a Beach Body-

Going to the beach, I was wearing a sports bra, athletic shorts and a long t-shirt that I sometimes use as a sleeping shirt. When we got there, I was determined not to take my shirt off, even though I knew it was going to be hot and everything that I was wearing was designed to dry quickly. As far as I’ve come with comfort with my body, and can even take my clothes off and have sex with a man, I didn’t want to expose my naked stomach to a bunch of strangers and beachgoers. I had images of men, women and children, even the lifeguards pointing at my large stomach and yelling “ewww!” and “gross!” and all over varieties of things that would make me feel self-conscious and not welcome on the beach because of my weight and would send me running back to the tent we set up in shame and disgust.

I got hot, wanted to go in the water, and still wanted to have something to wear for the car ride home, so I decided to take my shirt off and go in the water. As I walked to the water, I just had all the words of hatred and disgust in my head, people screaming and yelling “ewww! why don’t you cover yourself up? there are children here!!” and other kinds of nasty things at me. There were moments when I wanted to turn around and run back to my shirt, just to silence the voices in my head. (And by the way, this was not a long walk to the water.) While I loathe saltwater, I wanted to hurry up and get covered so that everyone would stop staring at me (all in my head, remember). Every step I took, the farther away I was from the water or my shirt, was another opportunity for someone to notice me and be disgusted.

But no one said a word.

I walked to the water undisturbed, unharmed, and possibly unnoticed, just another beachgoer who wanted to beat the heat and hang out in the ocean. No lifeguards screamed at me for people at risk, no mothers attempted to shield their children’s eyes, and no men came up and spat in my face and told me they were never going to date me. Just a young woman, who wanted to hang out and swim, and enjoy her Saturday at the beach, and not bother anyone. I wasn’t told to leave the beach and get my disgustingness away from everyone, and I had a relaxing time in the ocean and on the beach with my friends. And, I’ll tell you a little secret, I actually enjoyed how my body and fluffiness felt in the ocean waves: all free and easy, flowing with the movement of the ocean, and just doing whatever it pleased, taking a day off for itself too, just like me.

This experience was an eye-opening one for me, in a different way than normal. Everyday, I walk around with this body type, in clothes and dresses that make me feel beautiful, and people usually notice the confidence that I have, if they notice me at all. However, walking on the beach, with nothing on but a sports bra and some shorts, I felt exposed and open in a whole new way. But still, no one said anything. I realized that people have their own lives, their own families, and their own things to focus on other than one person walking down the beach leading with her stomach. While looking at the internet, you see people shaming large people all the time, most people in their daily lives don’t really care all that much whether or not the person walking past them is overweight or not. The voices inside my head are the things that hold me back the most, not the people on the street who make comments about my weight because, honestly, most people don’t care. I spent so much time worrying about whether or not people were taking time out their lives to look at me, when I should have been concerned more with myself and how I was feeling. I was taking a huge risk by exposing my naked stomach to the world, and I should have been proud of myself for that, and only thinking of the positive things. And, after realizing that no one else really cared but me, I was proud of myself. I took myself out of my shell a little bit, and I was ready to show the world how confident I was.

Size doesn’t matter as much as I think it does. Weight is a personal choice, and a personal thing. People have a lot of other things to worry about than what I look like. I am proud of myself, and proud of who I am. God gave me a big personality and He gave me a big body to hold it all in. And I thank him for it every day.

Stay fearless, friends (3)