Unpacking (Another Kind of) Weight

When an anchor feels like a sinker
And you can’t seem to ride the wave
Insecurities, overthinking
Creating a ball and chain
Do this
Be that
What the world doesn’t take it account
That it takes two to make a mess or a miracle
And it’s not on you to have it all figured out

Let go of the blame
Reframe the shame
What’s meant for you is yours
Consider it a victory that you showed up
Being nothing but yourself
It’s heavy, that’s clear
Embrace the tears
But remember one thing for sure
You’re not meant to carry the weight of the world
And sure as hell not all of yours

Another rejection, another hurt
What the blank happened and why
Reasons are complex and layered
Don’t run in circles trying to justify
Take and step back and keep your feet flat
The sun will rise again

Remember that you are loved, valued, and wanted
Even when people try to tell you otherwise
You do not need everyone to see you or understand you
Though acceptance is enough when understanding isn’t always possible

Get out of your head and into your heart
Blank spaces will be filled when they’re meant to
Focus on the truth of who you are
What you were made for
Use your energy wisely
And don’t let ever changing culture dictate your heart or your eyes

When You Need A Little Extra Help

I wrote this as I was holding space for someone whom I’m care about very much. This kind of decision should not be made lightly, and should always involve professional evaluation and input. I wrote this based on my own personal experience, and ask that it do not be taken as gospel.

I take a little pill each day
And I was scared at first.
Would it change my personality?
Would it make things even worse?
I had a lot of questions, which were answered with patience and care.
Follow the instructions
Pay attention to your mood and feelings
And then take it from there.

So I took that little pill each day
And it took a couple of weeks.
Over time I noticed that there was a change
But a change involving good things.
I wasn’t crying as much anymore
And the chest pains went away.
I had the headspace that felt lighter and brighter
And the motivation to go about my day.
Some people say I mellowed out
“You’re not as bubbly as you used to be!”
My friend, it’s called the typical stresses of adulthood
Hormones and PMSing.

Haven’t you heard of puberty?

It’s not always magic and instantaneous
I still have to do the work.
Reframing anxious thoughts and coping with uncertainty
But I stay off the edge, for what it’s worth.

It can take some trial and error
Many options, and not all have the same purpose or results.
But it’s better to try and try again
Then to strive for mental wellness
And yet do nothing at all.

What works for me, may not work for you
That’s entirely okay.
But if you’re not a doctor or professional
Please be careful with what you say.
Some people need that little pill, but avoid it due to fear.
Fear of stigma
Fear of criticism
Wanting to be superhuman in the eyes of strangers
But especially to those they most hold dear.

It’s not a lack of faith
Or a desire to numb out.
I’d rather not get stuck inside the prison that is my head at times.
To be able to connect and build relationships.
To seek and experience joy
Is what life is all about!

So if you need that little pill
There’s nothing wrong with you!
Human beings have complexities
Who need a little help, that much is true.

I think it’s brave
I think it’s wise
And who is anyone to judge?
If you take a little pill
You have my support and love!

Take Me To The Water

When the new dawn broke

So did I

A movement

A leaning in

Beyond books and quiet morning prayers

Becoming a face of what I had once avoided

Perhaps even feared

Quenched in me what I didn’t know I needed

 

Connection

Conversation

And Community

 

But something popped up

Which has me at a loss of description

A cloud? A fence of thorns? Surreality? 

Unprecedented circumstances keeping human contact at bay

Unable to open doors, exchange greetings, or even touch

 

Technology, having been soured by old-fashioned rhetoric

Has now become a lifeline to our loved ones

And to the outside world

But so many

Already weary

Stuck between “new normal” and “temporary reality”

 

More recently, on a walk

The rain came down

And I felt it seep to my bones

But I wasn’t cold, or discouraged

I welcomed it

A washing of current anxieties, grief, and fears

 

And I began to envision again

The new dawn of a new season

Not by a calendar year, but one of hope

Where distance is not bound by six feet 

Gathering freely

Dancing, singing, and embracing

Lingering for a little longer

Not rushing from point A to point B

 

Until then

Lead me to the water

Where peace lives, in my mind and in my spirit

Cascading on my like the falls

Sprinkling like rain

Filling my soul

Again and again

And regardless of what happens, or when

May the well within me

Not dry up

A Virus and A Reckoning

 

There were initially whispers of warning

Something is coming, sickness will spread

That were largely quieted by selfish ambition

Self-preservation  over people

Stocks over saving lives

Drowning out concern with cries of “hoax!”

Denying experts the right and necessity to speak

And hiding the truth from all who needed to hear it

Not a big deal

It will go away

 

But it hasn’t, and now hear we are

Hunkered down to ease the rise and chaos

Daily life, collectively, has come to a screeching halt

Like misbehaved children, we are forced to think about

What we should have done 

In terms of heeding the cries of science

Weaponizing faith and privilege instead

Of being mindful and prepared

 

For extroverts, a new territory

How long has it been since I last stayed home this long?

No social gatherings, church, or bopping around the city

Like living in an alternate universe

How the actual hell did we get here?

But I welcome the resting, reading, and reconnection

 

And from this I’ve seen

That connection is essential 

To the human experience

Conversation, vulnerability

And physical touch

The latter which I crave

And miss the most

 

But where do we go from here

When a lack of leadership and transparency

Have brought us collectively

To such a dark place in history

A legacy stained by lies, corruption, and sickness

Those on the right side of history trust facts and science

More than blubbering buffoons 

 

I pray for healing, restoration, and protection

Accountability for politicians that looked the other way

That we may learn from this devastating season

Taking a damn good look at ourselves

What many have enabled

 

There might be dollars and so-called power in big business

But solidarity in the small and local

Heroism belongs to the every-day workers who cannot stay home

God go with all of those on the front lines of this crisis

Let us support them, honor them, and lend them our hands

For there is speaking truth to power

And power in speaking the truth

 

I anticipate the day

When I can wrap my arms around the people I love

Dance in public

And worship in community

A celebration unlike one I’ve ever felt or seen

Until then I pray for peace and ease

Waiting and expecting

Let it be so

Coffee and Tea

Beans

Such bitter beans

I tasted at a tender age

When sleep stopped coming easily

And make-up nor heels

Didn’t make me feel grown up

One for waking, another a jolt of energy

With more cream than brew

A bittersweet blend

Of deliciousness and sophistication

Carrying me through

Early mornings, long lectures

A welcome reprieve from a boozy headache

Designated mugs for different days

 

Leaves

Scented but seemingly tasteless

Reserved for sickness

In the cabinet my mother kept

A sore throat in winter snow

Or icing in a pitcher on a sunny day

Ease and wellness, not productivity

 

Rising before the sun

A train to city for work

Anxiety: Can I? Should I? Would I? Would they?

And wondering what the day would hold

A knotted stomach

Could only be untied by sipping chamomile flowers

And perfectly hot water

Mint, plantation or refresh

Sometimes chai

Rarely green

Never black

Cozy comfort

Sip by sip

Reading or watching

No headaches

Just warmth

 

This or that? So it goes

Either one extreme or another

As if choosing somehow locks you in

A requirement of narrow-minded opinion

Perhaps an element of priveledge

But not life itself

 

For such ebbs and flows

Light follows darkness

Feelings come and go

Twist me into what I’m not

And I’ll just reshape again

Discomfort only fazes the ignorant

The ones who can’t reflect

Or face their own shortcomings

 

Each day is different

Good and bad

A sight to behold

But not always necessary to decide on

Selectiveness doesn’t apply to everything

Especially stories

Especially if anyone wants to tell the truth

A Dilemma

For the last several months, I’ve been trying to keep up with working a full time job while simultaneously growing and maintaining my personal brand. It’s been a challenge, having little to do with time and more so with having energy. I knew that I would only be able to blog at least once or twice a month, and for the most part I’m okay with that. Most of the (self-imposed) pressure comes from trying to be consistent with Facebook and Instagram, though lately I’ve felt insecure and even afraid to post certain things:

Pushback (“Why are you always so dramatic? Can’t you ever say something positive about life?”).

Wondering if I’m oversharing, period.

Disliking how my voice sounds on recordings (why I’m hesitant to dive into Instagram stories and Youtube).

Not wanting to live life entirely through a filter, spending present moments wondering whether or not it would make for good writing or some kind of posting.

And not feeling entirely ready.

Yet there’s a nagging voice in the back of my head, one reminiscent of my first professional venture in marketing: Be one with social media. If you’re stats aren’t going up, you’re not doing something right. You’re supposed to get better and better!

What is better, if it makes you feel like you’re just a voice in one respect, and a face in another?

Do followers, shares, and engagement really matter if the numbers behind it are constantly going up and down?

And if you succeed at something, whether it’s ending up on a best-seller list or something going viral, do you keep at it while the going is good, or do you take a breath and collect yourself first?

The answer is different for every artist, but it comes down to this: tell the truth, and the rest will take care of itself. Be genuine. Engage when you feel led to do so. But don’t get so caught up in the neon glow of internet fame where you start to slide from creation to production.

Creativity is an expression from your heart, for yourself. Production is making things pretty, and it becomes more about the masses. Yes that first part is important, but not at the expense of feeling like you’re feeding into a machine for the sake of keeping your audience happy and fed. You are a human being before you are a brand.

Deadlines are there for a reason, and discipline should be cultivated. But there is grace for those who don’t post exactly the same number of times per week, as well as those who love to write but seek to balance living life as much as they write about it. There is power in not letting stats and strategy dictate how you use your gifts, and there is power in refusing to apologize for rest and figuring out what truly works for you.

I know I am; I would love to find a mentor and attend events where creatives can encourage and help each other out. As much as I love pouring into people, I need to have those same things being done for me too.

At the heart of it all, I’m a storyteller, and I want to be able to tell my story with as much truth and love as possible. If those things are missing, and if this so-called pressure becomes too great, then I’m obviously not doing it for the right reasons.

Dig. Sift. And then speak.

Light From Glass

 

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Unexpected words

A sharp sense of disbelief

Letting Go

Termination

Fast and Unforgiving

No Time

But I was just getting started!

Crack

 

I’ll never touch you like that

You can trust me

He said to keep me from flinching and cringing

You’re so beautiful

They’re crazy not to want you

I was suspicious and skeptical

And rightly so

As the first goodbye was the last

Crack

 

Grief and reflection followed

But so did instinctively grabbing a shield

 “I feel a little bit guarded” permeated every-day language

Unusual for a believer in vulnerability and connection

But it’s natural for a bruise to want to heal

And to seek shelter when the bruising becomes too much

Too many bruises leads to too many cracks

 

Fear is not the central concern, or even avoiding pain

For heartbreak is proof that you’re living life

But you can’t live if your health is in a detrimental state

As I became aware of once before

 

Discouraged and unmotivated

I allowed the familiar urges to rise and regurgitate

Until I felt empty and nothing else could come out

Fuck it, my tired self said

Who cares what happens?

I cried tears of confession

Praying for mercy and compassion

In those moments I felt unlovable

Slip up and backtrack

Crack

Relapse?

 

Brokeness is not a sight to see at first

And a caution to touch

It’s not a burden to bear alone

But not everyone can walk that road

Yet when the light gets in

When connection happens

When truth is spoken over lies

There is an unmistakable beauty

In realizing that humanity still exists

 

It’s like a prism of color

A story

Not a cautionary tale

But one of Grace and redemption

So let the black cloud come

Yet it will not overcome me

Let the voices speak

May that be tender and gentle

Let love be known

The kind of love we all need

And I will stand unashamed

Knowing that I will grow, evolve, and become

Go where the light is

Even if it’s just a little bit

Taking My Body Back

 

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Dear Al,

2017 has been a long year for you, hasn’t it? It’s been a lot at once, which is what you normally tell people in order to keep yourself out of the pity pit. It’s not hard necessarily, but it has been a lot.

First came the tidal wave of depression; you were let go from a job unexpectedly, after only working there for a month, and in the same week were emotionally blindsided by a personal decision that hurt more than you thought it would. You didn’t want to get out of bed, your mind either in the twilight zone or going completely blank. You knew it was bad when you didn’t even want to write, but forced yourself to in order to keep track of what was or wasn’t going on inside your head so that you’d be taken seriously.

Then came the diagnosis: a combination of clinical depression and anxiety, which you were given medication for by a caring and helpful psychiatrist. Simultaneously, you got real with your counselor and admitted that you’ve been battling an eating disorder since college (or perhaps even longer than that). Definitely bulimia, and you’re not sure if it’s anorexia or something called Restrictive Avoidant Food Intake Disorder.  Labels aside, you haven’t been healthy for a long time, although I know you’re hesitant about calling yourself “sick” or saying that you have a disease. You’re afraid to refer to it as “my eating disorder” because you don’t want it to become your identity, even though you might struggle with this for the rest of your life.

Saying it out loud was more than a relief. It was comforting to finally know the exact nature of the battle you’ve been fighting, though admitting that you wanted and needed help was only half of it. A lot of people don’t realize that properly addressing mental health struggles isn’t just about overcoming stigma. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking medicine, getting counseling, or going into a treatment program, because it’s no one else’s business how you choose to take care of yourself. But what happens if you get evaluated, only to be told that no hospital or recovery center in the state will take your insurance? How should you respond when the initial hospital tells you “oh, we don’t do charity” when inquiring about scholarships? What if heaven forbid, you just can’t afford certain things financially, but aren’t sure how to make the most of the resources that you do have?

It takes one hell of a person to keep fighting when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, and you did just that. You went to, and continue going to meetings despite being terrified of the judgement you might face because of the unconventional way you go about the recovery journey. You asked for guidance, but trusted your intuition enough to set boundaries when you sensed that people were either trying to oversimplify what you’re going through (“just eat more and you’ll be fine!”) or trying to fix you to the extreme (unprofessionally diagnosing, imparting shame instead of grace, and insinuating that their way of recovery is the only way). You’ve grown in your relationship with God because of how you’ve had to lean on Him in the tough moments: crying out during a coughing/gagging fit, learning how to breathe and meditate after a large meal when your stomach feels weird, and allowing yourself to rest when your body is tired, rather than force it to work out.

Asking for support is challenging because you’re not entirely sure what that looks like. Six months ago you asked friends and family to be patient with you, allowing you to be human and imperfect as you navigate this path. Sometimes you need to vent and get your feelings off your chest so you’re not isolating yourself emotionally. Sometimes you just want a hug or a hand on your shoulder while your grit your teeth through the urge to engage in behaviors. But it’s also nice when people take the initiative and offer to attend a meeting with you or ask questions in order to learn more about eating disorders, anxiety, and so on. Education over ignorance always, even if it starts with, “I have no idea what this is and I want to learn more.”

Honey, I am so unbelievably proud of you, both for who you’ve become and who you’re growing into. You might have been through hell (and sometimes it still feels that way), but at the same time you’ve embraced who you are and feel more like yourself than ever before. You’ve learned that it’s not just about loving your body and the amazing things it can do, but recognizing you’re more than that. You have a big heart, filled with compassion and love and kindness. You have a curious mind and a sense of adventure, always wanting to explore new places and create new memories. You’re deep, genuine, and real, willing to talk about life in a way that is actually a gift. And you have so much to give beyond what you’ve been told or taught.

It’s hard for me not to get emotional as a write this; you’ve spent most of your life not wanting to believe these things for the sake of being humble, but there’s a big difference between humility and not giving yourself enough credit. Doing the best you can doesn’t mean that you’ll always do the right thing, but give yourself permission to make mistakes, and then you do the next right thing. One at a time, one foot in front of the other.

You might think you’re not justified in sharing your story because it’s not typical, but that’s actually the opposite. Not only do you have every right to talk about it so that you don’t go it alone, but the world needs to know that eating disorders can and do tend to have many layers. They can develop regardless of gender, ethnicity, or size. They can stem from trauma and anxiety, where everything builds up and nearly consumes you.  And the root is often perfectionism, or the fear of not being enough. For you it was never about gaining or losing weight, but feeling like your body (and mind) had to be perfect because it was the sole focus of your life. And that’s why recovery is just as much about the emotional and psychological as it is about the physical.

But know that you can talk about it as little as much as you want, and you don’t have to do it until you’re ready.

Alyxandra Rose, know that you are LOVED. So loved more than you can even comprehend. You’ve got this, darling. Even on the days when you think you don’t, you’re strong and tough and capable. We’re in this together, you and me and everybody who has stepped up to root for you and support you.

With all that I am,

Alyx (the you on a good day)

Deep Skin

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To some degree

My life has been about my body

Fixing pieces with needles and surgery

Braces for my legs

Had me walking like a robotic contraption

Than attempting to perfect with the ‘right’ hair

Painting my face with acceptable colors

Wearing clothes that enabled me to blend in

Or at least try

 

A college student, naïve should have been my middle name

Rape culture seemed foreign and distant

I did not consider myself a target

Because I did not see myself as sexy or beautiful

I was just trying to be human, to be me

But my twenties showed me the difficulties

Being groped in dimly lit bars

One bragged about “ripping” me “in half”

If he could bed me

I never let anyone past my apartment door

But I beat myself up

For not standing up

 

Post-grad was another picture

Dating without reservation

Where hormones and desire took precedence

It feel natural and right in the moment

Always followed by doubts and questions later

I never voiced what I truly wanted

It felt silly at the beginning

Like forcing each other into a pressure cooker

So I let it roll, and eventually rolled into the deep end

Where I no longer had to wonder

Yet such experiences were anything but

Heat of the moment, nothing more nothing less

Where they disappeared like ghosts

Flinging me into depression

And debating regret

 

But I’ve kept going

And out of many, there’s only been a few

Who don’t beg me for some kind of stimulation

We talk like adults

I feel seen and heard

The others don’t really know me

And I question my responsibility

Whenever the same scenario plays out

We meet, we kiss, and then he leaves

Me asking, “What could I have done differently?”

I resent being the one to always apply the brakes

Or to have that role

When they have a voice too

 

It’s a lot to take on

As I work toward loving my body

And keeping my insides from destroying it

I need to openly communicate that I’m not just skin and body parts

I have them

But I also have a mind

A soul

And a heart

Which is challenging

When living in a culture that values what is initially seen

Over what is seen in time, and with patience and grace

I won’t fully blame myself

Or the guys that buy into stereotypical bullshit

But if I am more than just what magazines, media, and even doctors say I am

I have to stand my ground

And live that out

When I make mistakes

Grace upon grace upon grace

On Weakness

 

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“What’s your biggest weakness?”

I answer the usual: procrastination and intimidation

Anxiety that leads to impulsiveness out of insecurity

Second guessing myself

Overthinking and overanalyzing

Some will say compassion to a fault

And therefore, not knowing my own worth

Self-centered and stuck in my own head

 

The world practices individualism

A culture of being on your own

Don’t rely on anyone else

Chin up and buck up

Don’t let them see you cry

If you do, you’re not “man enough”

Or too much and not enough in general

 

Yet what is weakness if it speaks to truth

And your truth

Showing emotion

Being open and vulnerable

Sensitive and aware

Needing affection

 

What is weakness

If it means simply being human

To not be perfect, but perfectly flawed

It keeps you in check, a reminder that you don’t succeed without help

To change what you can, and surrender what you can’t

To grow, get better, and become stronger

So why is weakness so terrible?

Maybe instead of hiding in shame

One can focus on turning their weaknesses into strengths