Not everyone who knows me would know; I struggle with anxiety. I try to deal with it, but I will confess, I'm not good at handling my anxiety every second of every day. There are days I just can't, it consumes me. It drains me. Living with anxiety is hard. It's sneaky and hard to detect. You can have it for years and never realize what it is. The best way I can explain anxiety is sort of like this quiet voice in your head that is constantly whispering all of your insecurities and your deepest and most irrational fears. You may not hear where it's coming from or who is saying it, but you hear it constantly and you start to believe it. Anxiety may not always be there all the time, for everyone. For me, there are times it's worse than others. Then there are the times I feel the doubt creep in and the darkness all but swallows me up. I can barely breathe. The previous "what ifs" suddenly turn into "when".
"When will those I love realize how much of a mess I am, and stop loving me?"
"When I try, I'll just fail."
"When is she going to see how unlovable I really am?"
"When am I going to lose it all?"
Suddenly, I am my own worst enemy. I beat yourself up about everything and a simple criticism or someone pointing what I'm doing wrong turns into tears. Sometimes, I even hate myself but I don't tell anyone because they wouldn't understand. So, I just leave the overwhelming chaos and illogical fears and that whispering voice in my head and carry on. I keep the anxiety bottled up until the next time it overflows. But, despite how deep the darkness takes me, I always pull myself out.
I tell myself all situations are temporary. Nothing lasts forever, change is inevitable.
There is no wrong decision. There are a million different decisions that all have different outcomes. The best thing is just to choose one.
I think about all the difficult moments from my past, I survived them and I'll survive this too.
I seek stillness. Sometimes this is running miles, showing up for yoga or a lazy night in. But I have to choose to focus on one thing at a time.
I stop and think of what is going right in my life.
If you think you are living with anxiety, seek out a therapist. There is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. Everyone needs help sometimes. Your mental health is just as, if not more, important than your physical health.
All those years ago you found a girl who was empathetic, gentle and kind. You knew she just wanted to make others happy and avoid conflict and you fed on that like the manipulative narcissist you are.
But, I have limits. You have seen those limits, the night I told you I was done. The night you probably remember often. The night I was done with the controlling, lies and manipulation. I was done with doing everything, all the time, always. You had compromised my peace for way too long. I was finally done. I dismissed you from my life. It was simple. The little girl who was scared to take the leap, jumped like a fucking gymnast and never looked back.
Now, even though time has passed, your lies and stories still rear their ugly head. But, you telling false truths and spreading lies and bending the story to benefit you means nothing to me. You mean nothing to me. The people who believe your shit, their prerogative. You are toxic and what toxic people do when they lose control is they try to control the way others see you. That's fine. They will see it, eventually. Or they won't. I don't care. Because I have given you a taste of your medicine and you tell everyone I poisoned you. Funny how that works. But, I give no fucks now. I will never give a fuck anymore. I will not react, because that's what you seek. You seek response and pain and in that gives you power. You have no power. You are insignificant in my life. I have grown, unlike you. I was broken for a long time, you did that. You did it every day, with every comment, every put-down, every manipulation, and every lie. You made me believe for so long I was worthless and powerless and nothing but yours. Lies. It took me a long time to pull myself out of the fog, to figure out who I was. But, I did.
So, I ask now, what have you accomplished?
The toxic lies you have spewed.
The hateful things you have puked out.
The disgusting and false stories you've told.
What did that get you? Not me. What did it help? You are just as wrong and bad and hateful as always. You have accomplished nothing. You continue to be nothing in my life. You have scurried for power. You have scraped at pieces of the past trying to grasp at something. But you are the past. And now you know, I am not on this earth to be your punching bag. I no longer have to walk on eggshells or say things to keep the peace. That's not my job any longer. You are not my concern any longer. You are a business transaction and a blip on my radar. I speak with you only when necessary because even on the best days when your words aren't venom, don't think for a second I will ever forget or see through you. I know you more than most, I know the narcissistic ass hole that is hidden beneath the surface. But, I have learned to let some people believe their own lies and stories they make up in their heads. I have also learned one of the best lessons in life, stay away from ass holes. You and the ones like you.
Talking about sexuality is a conversation that makes folks a tad uncomfortable.
Sexuality is always some big dirty elephant in the room, it’s there and obvious but everyone avoids talking about it. That's because sex has been taught for generations that it's a dirty thing we keep to ourselves. Whether the stigma of sexuality is rooted in religious teachings or just the absence of knowledge we sort of come up short as a society where sexuality is concerned. There are countries and even some existing tribes where talking about sex is as common as talking about the weather but, most places sexuality is still a very taboo topic. We offer sexual education in some schools, we talk to our kids about the birds and the bees but beyond that, how often do we ever really talk about sexuality?
Our own sexuality is such a personal experience.
But, the thing is, we live in a society where labels are the way we learn about everything; male, female, gay, straight, trans, queer, and so on. These labels are not only how we put sex out in the world; it's how we put sex into a box. If what you are or do is outside of that socially accepted box, we as a society have this insatiable urge to label (again there's that word) you an outsider. How dare you not like what "everyone" else likes? My question is, how do you know what everyone else likes if you don't like to talk about it? I think that's what really baffles me about discrimination involving sexuality of any kind. How it's possible for discrimination against sexual orientation and gender to even exist. The heteronormative lifestyle can be such a private endeavor but it's a bit hypocritical to be completely okay to focus on the way someone else has sex or who they are attracted to or what they want to do with their own bodies? Let's talk about what happened in your bedroom the last time you had sex and see how you feel about it? The double standard is there whether anyone admits it exists or not. Example, I see articles often about what happens in a lesbian couple's bedroom, why? I don't see any lesbian couple chomping at the bit for a play by play of what happened in Sue and Dan's bedroom last week or last year or what have you. If you want to talk about sexuality then I think it's fair to talk about the whole gambit. Don't you agree?
I think as a society we miss this huge neon sign that’s obviously flashing in the foreground, we are all different. We may be aware of that in some capacities but then forget in others. There may be commonalities between people but those should not be the standard. Every person experiences life in their own way. Every person lives, loves and plays in a way that's unique to them. Sexuality is no different. It's a personal experience. As a society, we have a hard time even having conversations about sexuality. We avoid the uncomfortable at all costs. I think if those conversations existed, there would be a lot less tendency to banish one behavior or trait or difference to the outside. We would then understand there are so many differences in what happens in the bedroom or what doesn't. Maybe there would be less of a desire to compare others to what is perceived as the norm and more of a desire to accept and be more open.
I'm not an expert, but I have been on two different sides of the fence as far as sexual orientation goes. So, I see sexuality a little different than most folks on either side. I believe sexuality goes beyond gay and straight. I think gender is beyond male and female. We are born with a million different physical and personality traits, I don't think it's unrealistic to believe those differences are found in our own sexuality either. What is unrealistic is to oversimplify sexuality. We are far more complicated than that. Stop being scared of sex. Stop being afraid of what's different.
The strength that comes from that fire is intimidating. The strength you have is unmatched. That's why, for as long as we have existed the world has tried to extinguish our fire. To make us lesser than, and weak. Simply because the world fears us.
You can see the fear when you stand up for yourself,
when you raise your voice,
when you tell a man no,
when you do something that's not ladylike.
Most of us are taught when we are little we are supposed to "act like a lady". All the way back to the nursery rhymes, "girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice." We are watered down from birth, taught to play with dolls and pretty things. We are convinced we need someone to make us whole whether that’s a husband, kids, or shiny things. As women, we are told we are pretty or beautiful or a dozen other superficial compliments. Men are complimented on their strength, their drive or determination. They are taught through school to build one another up. They are taught teamwork and camaraderie. Girls are implanted with competition and cattiness. We are infused with jealousy and mistrust of other women.
How amazing would it be if girls were taught to lift each other up and celebrate their ferocity? Instead of bitterness, girls should be taught their self-worth has nothing to do with their thick or thin thighs, the curves they do or don’t have or the color of their skin, hair, whatever. Maybe then, women would stop fearing whether another woman was going to take her man, and instead, she would realize the man was not worth keeping if that was her fear? We are not a bunch of sleeping princesses waiting for our prince to arrive and awake us with a kiss? We have our own damn sword.
I'm a feminist. I'm that other F-word most folks get squeamish about. The thing is; I have not always been the best feminist. I don't really meet the stereotype everyone pictures. I don't hate men. I'm not some angry, bitter lesbian who refuses to shave her pits and wear a bra. Well, scratch that I guess, I am a lesbian but definitely not bitter or angry, and I do shave but the bra part is iffy depending on the time of day. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I have just learned over time that women are sorely underrated and taken for granted. In my lifetime, I have been too loud, too pretty, too smart, too strong, too much of one thing or another to some man. I have been made to feel less than because the man I was with felt less than a man. I have watered myself down to make a man feel better about himself. Never realizing, my strength and my intelligence is not a fault. Just like feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism does not have to look a certain way. It just starts in small increments, the things we teach our daughters and even our sons.
There is a school of psychology that teaches the concept that every person sees the world through their own perceptions. So essentially, two people can see a single event and it mean completely different things to them and affect them in different ways. The world is all about perception. How we perceive things is reality for each and every person. Whether it’s assumptions between exes as you climb the summit of co-parenting; relationships with two people blending their lives and baggage together or even co workers struggling to reach the same career goals. It’s these assumptions and perceptions that inevitably lead to conflict.
Let’s take the everyday personal conflict one step further, assumptions can be a slippery slope to discrimination. How many cruel words have been said, feelings hurt and rejection felt from questions that could have been asked or words spoken? How easy is it to assume you know what someone’s life
is like? Why not take the time to ask or learn? Nothing is harder than asking the awkward question or open that line of communication in a real and genuine way. I promise it’s received so much better than a crude joke or behind the back laughter or bible verses tossed at someone misunderstood. Don’t make up a story for someone’s life because you don’t know. It’s always easier to create a picture or image out of simple ignorance or lack of knowledge than take the time to understand or talk. Take yourself out of the small world you live in and consider the possibility of a whole world existing our there beyond your door.
So I’ve read about a monastery that has a weekly meeting that just spends a couple hours every Tuesday as a sort of briefing for the week. This simple meeting is the place where communication is utilized without judgement. If one guy didn’t do his chore and another is pissed off, they talk about it. Often times it’s as simple as someone assuming the other person had it and they thought the same. That miscommunication led to a week of unnecessary anxiety and possibly even turmoil in that persons life when it’s was something easily solved with words. So that one night a week they hash it out, and the harmony that ensues after is magical. Everyone leaves the session without regret or any resentment that typically result from words not said and assumptions made. Resentment is the direct result of words not said compounded over time. I know it’s a silly concept but how much awesomeness could come if you spent an hour or two each week with your loved one, your spouse, your co-workers and just hashed things out? Okay maybe hash is too gruff of a word, maybe talk. Just a few minutes to see things from their perspective or just consider that they have a completely different perspective? Get uncomfortable and say the hard things.
Communication isn’t easy, it’s uncomfortable and hard but essential. Don’t assume you know. Talk.