Mirror

Everyone’s a walking mirror that doesn’t know what we reflect until we see a reflection unlike our own.

Weak people fear lives that don’t resemble their own. The weak manifest fear as hate and to manage the terror they push away the people that are too different for them to bother to understand because when you surround yourself with your one category of human and only that one category, you get the illusion that you are significant and enduringly so.

Is there anything more egotistical and sad?

With the ever growing rash of violence, hate and racism in the US a feeling of extreme divisiveness has taken hold of our societal psyche. Shootings, campus rapes and racial profiling combined with the toxicity of Trumps presidential campaign have cast a shadow on my soul. I know I’m not alone in this,  yet with each day I feel as though my sentiments on the current state of our society become increasingly outlying.

I live near a public city elementary school. Every morning on my walk to work I pass the school. I see parents dropping off their children. Out of a shiny new Lexus a boy hops out quickly with a short wave goodbye. An East African mother with two small kids walks them to the entrance of the building. A dad who looks way too young to be the father of his six year old daughter hugs her goodbye. Around the corner of the school the special needs bus is greeted by the teachers of the children who are spilling out onto the concrete ramp that leads to their class room. These kids always seem absolutely thrilled to be arriving at school, all smiles and bouncy laughter. Families, kids and teachers of all races and economic situations join every day. They do the same things at the same time at that same school. Different people all simply trying to start off their days right. This ritual I witness each morning reminds me that we are all just trying to get by and the differences we perceive are often times superficial. We all wake up in the morning and face ourselves in front of a mirror we just have to stare back intently to see our humanity reflected in all of those around us.

Don’t Be A Doormat & Learn To Say “No”

Ever find yourself taking on side projects at work that won’t benefit your career whatsoever? Do your personal relationships feel one sided – where you are always the one putting in effort to appease friends, family and partners? Are you constantly kicking yourself after you overbooked another weekend because you couldn’t bring yourself to simply say “no”. People-pleasing is toxic, it’s also a tough habit to break.  Why do we do it? Because people-pleasers want everyone in their lives to be happy and they will do whatever is asked of them to keep it that way. PPs are almost addicted to being needed in a twisted way because saying “yes” to everything makes them feel like they are playing a part in the lives of others.

PPs tend to believe that they will be well-liked the more they say yes to others but often times they’ll end up feeling like doormats.  One thing I know for certain is that if you allow others to treat you like shit, eventually you will start to treat yourself like shit too. Also, saying “no” to favors or engagements you’d rather not attend does not make you a demanding jerk and if anyone on the receiving end of your “no” gives you a hard time, its likely that THEY are the demanding jerks not the other way around!

What many people-pleasers tend to forget is that constantly saying yes to others is to constantly say no to your needs. Not only does it put a lot of pressure on you, but it can literally make you sick by stretching yourself too thin in order to accommodate others. You are depleting your energy sources and this unhealthy behavior will eventually leave you feeling exhausted, used and stressed out.

Here are a few tips to help you be better at saying NO.

 

  1. Remember you have the option to say no.
  1. Think it over. If someone asks something of you, take a minute to think about it. Ask questions and get the details on this particular commitment. After you get all the info ask yourself the following: “Will this be too stressful for me?” “Do I have time for this?” “ What would I be giving up?” “ Am I being pressured into this?”
  1. Have boundaries. Is the person asking something of you being disrespectful in their approach? Is the favor inappropriate? Is there any benefit for you and if not is this a pattern constantly playing out with you and this person? Also, feel free to set constraints on a particular commitment for example if you can only attend a friends bridal shower for an hour because you had already made plans far in advance. Don’t cancel those prior plans! Just let your friend know you can attend their event but for only a certain amount of time.
  1. Try not to feel guilty for saying “no”. It takes time to get comfortable with saying no,  and feeling guilty about it will make it much harder for yourself. Your time and energy is yours to manage!

 

The Anxious Mind

“Hello and good morning. Time to gear up to internally defeat yourself until you are too exhausted to function! To begin, let’s think about everyone you are fairly certain hates your guts and is out to get you. Next, go over everything that is wrong with you. Take your time with this one. There is a lot wrong with you. I’d like to remind you of everything you don’t have and how with each passing day your desires to accomplish your dreams increase while the likelihood of you accomplishing said dreams diminishes. Now, lets obsess over each worst case scenario that could possibly happen, ever. Like your seasonal allergies actually turning out to be some leaky brain disease or your apartment building burning down in a fire with your dog inside. Continue each step until you have convinced yourself that nothing matters and you might not even be real, just some fever dream a five year old in a vegetative state is having until the family decides to pull the plug.”

I wanted to describe how a conversation with my anxious mind would sound like and I can’t lie, I laughed while I wrote this. You might ask yourself what kind of monster thinks anxiety is humorous? Anyone who has experienced it, and works through it, that’s who! Because although anxiety is real and can be crippling it’s also incredibly absurd. It is outlandish, dramatic, pointless, lazy and selfish.

I haven’t experienced extreme anxiety like I used to in a very long time (thank goodness!). Meditation and living a more balanced life has certainly helped with that but I also believe that humor is vital. If you find yourself obsessing and you simply cannot escape your toxic thoughts; embrace them head on. Write out your anxieties. Next, go over each one and REALISTICALLY break down the anxiety. For example, does your best friend of 15 years secretly hate you and is trying to steal your boyfriend? If you can’t list at least 3 reasons as to why this thought could be true, you are probably just a neurotic sicko with trust issues, BUT who isn’t? Now accept the thought, break it down, laugh at your absurdity and move on.

When I was about eight I developed ritualistic OCD that I luckily grew out of shortly after. I was convinced that if I didn’t open and close the door to my bedroom a certain way the world would end, or my entire family would be murdered or both. I can look back and laugh at my young mind and see how pointless my wasted hours of hand washing, finger tapping, door knob turning and eye blinks were. If I can so easily see that now, why do I have trouble getting past any other current anxiety I may face? I remind myself that my anxious mind is a liar and is not to be listened to.

The anxious mind is like a mutant Frankenstein type combination of 50 percent evil genius, 50 percent needy pre-teen who watched too many movies. More importantly the anxious mind is hilarious so drown out its voice with your laughter! 

 

Home

Perhaps home is not a place but a permanent and binding condition. The mere idea alone of belonging, of being of a place, of having traceable roots to something that still exists and can be visited like an exhibit of your time on earth. Maybe it’s the pang of nostalgia felt when you realize the grass still grows in thinner in the spots where you played wiffle ball. Although you technically were just an extra body on the field used to round out the teams but you didn’t care because the boys let you play with them as long as you did absolutely nothing until they instructed you to because you didn’t understand the rules yet.

You feel pride in that your childhood summers literally wore out the grass and rendered the soil infertile.

It’s sleeping in your Disney sheets your mom hasn’t thrown out. It’s going through your old crap that is crap to anyone except you because those stickers were cool collectibles and those corny mystery books sparked your interest in reading. It’s the indentations in the carpet in the empty spot where furniture once stood but has long been disposed of, likely pawned off to you or your siblings.

It’s wherever you can feel, see, remember, hear, taste and smell the many experiences that are the threads that make up the rich tapestry of your story.

 

Despierta 2015

It’s instinctual. I could sense they were wrong for me before I even knew why.

My gut knew better.

I have this sad thought that makes me almost feel sorry for my younger self. I think I was used more than I was loved.

Desired more than I was respected.

And I did not care.

It’s remarkable how much a person can learn in their youth. We can be so painfully naive.

I don’t think they ever saw me as I am.

I don’t think they were capable of it.

But You are capable. The first and only man to be.

Too much of my youth spent in the company of weak men(?).

I, a silly young idealist, always barking up the all too ill advised tree, grasping to make something out of a something that was totally wrong before it even started as my instincts had predicted.

I had a nightmare and one of them, of my past was with me and I was furious with my dream self. I thought “how did I end back here?”

After behaving romantically he then quickly eradicated the seemingly calm facade that has initially been portrayed and he belittled me, called me names and made me small and I felt foolish.

His skill was being very good at being very bad to me. He made me feel as though my existence was some kind of a personal insult to him.

I was enraged because I’d rather not be reminded of how things were at one time, I was angry that I let it get that bad and I was repulsed that this person, this previous cancer to my soul could turn on a dime and be both sweet and evil and tear me apart and I didn’t know which one of their polarized personalities was their real self so I held out futile hope.

I was patient and supportive and I was betrayed and abandoned once and then twice and then one more time but not before he had infected me with the belief that I was nothing. It didn’t take long for me to see that he had been wrong.

I feel only indifference now and I have taken the good with the bad and share some of the blame and can now appreciate it all for what it was and what it never was. But nightmares sure have a way of reminding you of things that you don’t think much about but still fear. It seems I’m afraid of moving backward.

During the nightmare, despite it reminding me of how terribly I had once allowed a single person to make me feel, I was still acutely aware that it wasn’t my current life and I was happy that I would wake up.

And I did,

I woke up

I’ve spent the past year waking up.