Silver Linings

In efforts to use my cellphone more purposefully, I recently downloaded an app that sends me daily positive affirmations. I use these positive statements to jump start my day, allowing my soul to consume and interpret it as needed for my well-being and that particular space in my life. The affirmation for today was “I appreciate the ones who have helped me, as well as crushed me, for I am stronger and better because of them”. This made me sit back and think about the many different people we encounter over our lifetimes. Some people make such an impact on our lives, either in a good or “bad” way, that we are transformed forever.

When I think about the people in life who have helped me, the list is long but comes to me quickly: foster parents, adoptive mother, my partner, certain teachers/professors, friends and family, Sorors, and colleagues/coworkers/employees. So many people have helped me by pouring into my life, creating with me an experience that shaped my thoughts/views or taught me something valuable simply by living an admirable life. I have always had help, whether I wanted it or not, despite if I asked for help or it was simply given. I acknowledge that I would not have been able to see thirty years without the help of people who love me, want the best for my life, and treat me as though I am worthy and important. I am eternally grateful for those helpers in my life. It is because I have always had the help of others, that I became a professional helper, a social worker.  I will never underestimate the power of extending a helping hand to someone in need; even if they have not recognized the need themselves.

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Recognizing who has helped in our lives is relatively easy. To think about and thank those who have helped us is no challenge. Pointing out who has helped us become stronger and better through their help, good deeds and well wishes, is simple. What is often difficult, though equally as important, is to think about who in our lives have we viewed as someone who hurt us and is it possible that through their hurtful actions, they gave us something good and positive? When we think about those who have helped make us strong and our best self, we tend to omit those who have crushed us; thinking they gave us nothing but heartache, pain, traumas, and negativities. However, we should take time to consider the good things crushing people gave us. What are the silver linings in the clouds and gloominess of our most painful relationships/experiences? Making the list of those who have done us wrong, abandoned or disappointed us, mistreated and abused us, searching those circumstances for the lesson or good there and then being thankful for the tenacity we’ve developed because of all of this, is a key to growth and change.

When we think of those who crushed us, it can be hard to find the good in them. This skill to see the good in all situations and people does not develop overnight; it often takes time and true self-work to begin to view our most difficult or painful times as anything but hurtful. Being able to truly see the silver lining in the situations means asking ourselves,”What qualities would I not have developed without being hurt by that person? What experiences would I have missed out on without going through that tough time?”. Maybe the parents who weren’t there for us, encouraged a spirit of independence; consider that the teachers who did not believe in us, maybe they each fostered drive and motivation to always give 100%. Perhaps the failed relationships make us available for when real love arrives. It is possible the friends that betray us teach us how to build trust with others; it is even conceivable, that the company that lets us go is the jump start to discovering our purpose in life.  

Each “bad”, (though I’m learning to view no situation or circumstance as bad, only as challenging and life-changing), experience in life has an underlying gift. It is up to us to intentionally and purposefully search for the good in every not-so-good person and situation when presented. When we can look at each “crushing” experience in life and find the lesson or blessing, we then develop a spirit of resilience that guides us to triumph over the trials and challenges we will inevitably face in our lives.

Take time this week to reframe the people or circumstances that may have crushed you at one point. What have you learned from that? How did that make you a better person? How did that make you better and stronger?

Man I Miss My Dog

It’s been exactly three months since my dog, TJ, went missing. It honestly hurts more than I anticipated, it truly feels like a piece of my life is gone. Pets become part of your family and the loss can feel just as deeply as losing a loved one. TJ was a gift, adopted just like me, loved unconditionally and honestly the best dog in the world. TJ represented more than a pet to me. He was a sign of me growing and maturing, committing to the care of another living being. TJ was our baby, a comfort in the face of loss. TJ was accepted by all, even those who say they aren’t “dog people”. TJ was quiet, yet lively. I often bragged about how he never barked, was fully trained, and was a good dog. I miss the person TJ made me, more responsible, more nurturing, motherly. To me, TJ was my practice baby and I was getting the hang of being selfless and taking care of someone. My second chance at this; my first pet experience ended with me basically abandoning the dog after a really frustrating break. This is likely karma. I feel guilty that I couldn’t protect him or find him. I miss him exponentially more than I can bear sometimes…

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feeling You

Spending time with the one who truly knows you, feels you, gets you, is therapy. Just what you need to get through tough times, giving what you didn’t even know you needed. Being all you wanted, and then some. Worth more than any thing you could obtain; grander than any acclaim. Others only see you with their eyes; however, my soul has never seen a picture more perfect. You fulfill all the roles I need and check every box. You give me space and comfort simultaneously. Though I alone am enough for me, you add blessings and eliminate all pain. You belong to yourself, but I’m glad to call you mine. Love.

No Fear Factor

“Anything Rooted in Fear Will Not Manifest”

These are not my words, they’re actually from Ayanna Molina better known as Mama Fiyah, founder of True Love Movement, from her book “Keep It High: Thoughts in a New Light”. When I read those words, they resonated within me deeply. Although I had not been searching for a mantra or affirmation, it came to me right as I needed it. The phrase has been one that’s guided and comforted me for the past few months. I often repeat or write this daily for reassurance and as motivation. 

The first word of the statement that struck me was “fear”. Fear is such a familiar emotion for me. I have often been trapped by fear; fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of uncertainty, and more. For so long I’ve allowed fear (and inertia, go back and read that post) to stop me from pursuing my goals, having new experiences, and making potential connections. Fear oftentimes places an unnecessary halt on the forward moving processes of our lives. We can become frozen with fear, unable to create change within ourselves and our circumstances. Fear is the reason we can live in cycles, repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Fear keeps us being all that we can become. Eliminating fear as an emotion I don’t know is possible; however, I believe that managing fears, determining if the fear is relevant or valid, and overcoming fears are essential to manifesting the blessings in our life we desire. 

Which brings me to the second and most impactful part of the phrase “anything rooted in fear will not manifest”: MANIFEST. To manifest something can be described as the act of focusing the majority of your attention, emotion, awareness, and energy on is whatever you desire and it will become your reality. Others might say to manifest something is to simply speak it into existence. Whether we are manifesting love, success, financial abundance, or peace, we must be sure the spirit of fear is not present. Fear whispers “it’s too hard, too costly, will take too long, or can’t be done”. When we consider the relationship between fear and manifesting, it’s important to know that the two cannot coexist. When we have fear within us, we don’t have the capacity to even fathom that the things we desire are possible, much less see them come to fruition. We are sometimes so full of doubt that we spend no time focusing on our goals; sometimes we don’t even have the capacity and energy to set goals. 

Working to decrease and quiet our fears is essential to goal achievement and manifesting the life we desire. What fears are hold you back? What are you manifesting for your life? Share and comment! 

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Give Thanks

It’s common knowledge that gratefulness helps foster a positive mindset. Practicing gratitude regularly helps improve emotional well-being. Gratitude shifts our focus to what we have, instead of focusing on lack and what we think our lives are missing. Exercising gratitude makes us less fearful, enabling us to see beyond things that make us anxious or uncomfortable. Being grateful makes us feel happier, improves self-esteem, and allows us to be more optimistic.

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I recently received a gratitude journal that not only encourages me to list things I’m grateful for, but also prompts me to list tasks I plan to conquer, people I will love, along with a place to note scriptures or reflections. Expressing what we are grateful for on a daily basis will have a positive impact on our interactions with others and improve our perceptions of life.

For today’s #writenow, I’ll share my gratitude journal entry:

Reflection of the day: “change is not always easy, but it is always possible”.

Today, I am grateful for a spirit of resiliency, which allows me to confront life’s hardest challenges and difficulties with as much grace as possible. I am grateful for valley situations, which are unequivocally preparing me for mountaintop successes. I am grateful for a loving and supportive partner, who understands and accepts me, despite my shortcomings and because of my uniqueness. I am thankful for friends and companions who appreciate my voice, respect my boundaries, and show me that the best family is one you choose. I am grateful for my skills and abilities, which help boost my confidence and self-esteem. I am grateful for my mother, who continues to show me how to love others unconditionally and always encourages me to be a better person. I am grateful for a stable home, equipped with the amenities I deem necessary to live a harmonious life. I am grateful for the people in my life who always have an uplifting word of advice. I am equally as grateful for the people in my life who believe in my words and accept my advice. I am grateful for the children and young people surrounding me who constantly remind me that we never stop learning/growing. I am grateful for knowledge of self, which guides my every move. I am grateful for the constant spiritual/cosmic messages I receive daily to remind me that nothing in life is happenstance and encourages me to continue to move forward.

What are you grateful for today?

Inertia Will Hurt Ya

After taking a personality test, I learned that my “type” was the Peacemaker, whose greater strengths include being accepting, creative, and optimistic but main “weaknesses” are being stubborn and  struggling with inertia. Stubborn, I can admit and like to think I’m simply headstrong and opinionated. Inertia, however, was a term that I only vaguely recalled at the time and had to look it up immediately. The definition smacked me in the face: inertia is simply the tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged. After learning what it was, and having an honest conversation with myself, I had to admit that I do indeed have issues with inertia. 

I tend to stop and start things frequently. Even on the third day of my self-imposed #writenow challenge, I wanted to do nothing, did not feel like writing and thought I had nothing to write about. I love ideas but struggle with action. A few of my close friends know that I recently made a list of over 30 projects/businesses that I would like to take on one day. I wrote that list on April 29th; as of today I have executed NOTHING! I oftentimes lack motivation or drive to make shift happen in my life. It is my greatest flaw. Inertia stops me from achieving my goals, making a significant difference in the community and creating changing within myself. I struggle with self-deprecating thoughts and often feeling like I can’t do the things I dream to do. But I also know that the universe will not bring you any dream that cannot be accomplished. 

Writing this entry is my effort at combating and eliminating inertia in my life. I know that taking daily steps towards actualizing my goals, no matter how small, will create forward change. 

I’m open to suggestions, tips and advice on how to keep moving forward when it seems like you’re standing still.


This Happened Tonight

“Change is the only constant in life”

Change is inevitable. Change is the rule, not the exception. Each living thing goes through changes. Humans are not exempt from the change process and each of us is somewhere in one of the stages of change each day. Acknowledging and accepting that fact will aid us as we grow, mature, and experience new heights of life. Despite the wrongdoings, mistakes, and errors we may make, we all have the potential to change. That is the most wonderful fact about life. If we have the desire and capacity to change, we can. Change can be a slow process, taking months or even years, of replacing poor habits, attitudes and thought patterns with intentional actions, improved behavior, and healthy thoughts. We are all typically in some stage of change each day. And leaning on that fact, we should operate with each other with empathy and consideration.

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I recently had a heated exchange with someone on whether or not you should judge someone based on past decisions/actions or on the improved behaviors presented currently. I believe that we all can change, and despite our past behaviors, we can become better people. I argued that the way a person operates today matters more than things that they may have done in the past that you disliked or disagreed with. My friend stated that they will always treat people as their past behaviors deserve, basically allowing no consideration that people learn new ways of thinking/acting. Because my friend does not think the person can change (or has changed, despite facts proving otherwise), they will perceive or find a way to interpret anything the person does as negative or wrong.

That narrow view of others and their ability to create change within themselves is what creates disconnect, chaos and grudges among us. Choosing to see only the bad (even when the good is staring you in the face) creates no forward movement in our relationships, families or communities. Being honest with ourselves about our past flaws, poor decisions and mistakes will allow us to walk in love, learn to forgive and truly see the best in all of humankind. I know I have made mistakes, but I’m growing and changing daily. I simply extend that same compassion and understanding to others, knowing I’m not perfect. And neither are you…mama. 😊

Writers, Write

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“Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on”. Louis L’Amour

Painters paint. Actors act. Singers sing and dancers, dance. So following that simple logic, one would concur that: writers, write. 

I cannot call myself a writer, if I do not write. I sometimes allow the negative thoughts in my head, procrastination, and challenges of daily life to interfere with my writing. I use excuses and self-doubt to stop me from engaging in my most therapeutic and relaxing form of self-care. I worry about judgments and opinions of others and what they’ll think of me when they read my words. I started a blog but often felt like it was a waste of time or that it wasn’t well-received. I let those feelings (along with a dash of laziness) prevent me from writing consistently. Subconsciously, I know I have to share my words regardless of “likes” because, though our lives are unique and spectacularly different, we all have similar life experiences that can help, encourage, guide and sometimes, save others.

Reading about the trials, challenges and triumphs of others helps us to feel more heard, understood, and less alone. I have never underestimated the impact or influence of someone else’s journey on my own. My life has not been perfect nor easy, but I feel it is my responsibility and purpose to share my life so that someone who happens to come across my words knows that they aren’t alone in their thoughts, struggles and quirks. I vow to take my responsibility of writing about relevant and real topics more seriously and be more consistent.

#writenow starts today. I’m challenging myself to daily writings, which I will continue to share publicly, regardless of feedback, views, or likes. 

What healthy and productive practice will you commit to implement daily? Comment and let me know!

(Un) Happy Birthday

At 30, you're old enough to look back, and young enough to look forward. -UNKNOWN

 

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June 18th. The date I silently dread every year. A nagging reminder of my personal short-comings and failures. The one day of each year that I hope comes and goes expeditiously. June 18th is my birthday, and today happens to be that day. Moreover, today happens to be my 30th birthday and surprisingly, I'm not "in my feelings".  Correction, I am in my feelings, but there are more positive emotions than in previous years. Usually, despite the efforts and affection from loved ones, I am overwhelmingly sad on this day.  The societal expectation of instant happiness for your birthday is typically too much pressure to bear. Most times when my birthday approaches, I am inexplicably depressed, speaking/thinking negatively about myself and life and revisiting my flaws and imperfections.  However, this year, I'm at a place of peace in life; I am more confident; I've accomplished some goals; I have genuine love in my life and most importantly, I can say "I love myself" and it is the truth.  This birthday brings reflection and self-evaluation in the most welcome way. 

Over the course of the past year, I have done a lot of soul-searching to actively change my life and way of thinking. I have learned to be patient and more understanding. I try to treat people more kindly and use my words carefully and with the best intent. I try to be selfless and a source of light to others. I am learning that forgiveness is a process and pain is most times, temporary. Now each new day brings new chances, and not new problems, which once was my perspective.  As I grow, I accept that mistakes and failure are a part of life and not an indication of my inability to succeed. I am accepting of others and their personal struggles and more compassionate and empathic than ever. Moreover, I attempt to walk in love and positivity, always looking for the silver lining and the lesson in all of my challenges and trials. 

As optimistic as I am feeling about life these days, it'd be less than honest to say I welcomed the day with open arms. I  spent the days before in deep introspection, allowing myself to cry, and battling feelings of ambivalence about my birthday. As usual, I choose to spend most of my birthday alone, but this year, I've replaced the typical emotions of sadness and hopelessness with solitude and expectancy. Instead of focusing on what I have not acquired or accomplished,  I am taking time to acknowledge my strengths, redirect my energy, and re-establish and realign my goals. This birthday, I am counting my blessings and embracing my new year instead of viewing the day as a burden and inevitable albatross in my life. 

What's Your Problem?!

In my work life, I tend to encourage my clients to imagine that everyone they interact with currently has or has had some sort of problem in their life. These problems tend to shape our personalities, which include both the admirable traits as well as the flaws we ALL have. If we can first acknowledge the problems we've encountered, the character flaws we gained as an effect, and treat others as if they, too, have/had a problem, our daily interactions will greatly improve. 

With such a negative connotation, we must fully understand the word "problem" before assuming everyone has one (or several). A problem is " a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome." When viewed as situations that are unwelcome and harmful, we can speculate that at some point, in every person's life, they will encounter some problem that will impact their life, whether that problem is identified and solved or not.  As individuals, It is not our job to point out someone's problem, blame them for the problem, or even solve the problem; we simply must treat others with patience, kindness, decency and dignity as if they've endured something that has greatly impacted their life and blurred their outlook. 

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Just as our successes and triumphs tend to make us more determined and hardworking, our unavoidable problems have the power to make us unpleasant, rude, distrustful, jealous, obnoxious, mean, selfish, and even violent. For example, growing up without my parents made me doubtful that I could ever depend on anyone. Developing a "no assistance needed" attitude made me an overly-independent person who did not know how to ask for or even accept help when I truly needed it. Additionally, my problem leads me to subconsciously judge others who appear to be  continuously needy. Each day in my work especially, I'm reminded that everyone's life experiences cultivate different traits. My ever-growing ability to acknowledge the challenges or lived experiences that make us all who we are, (the good, bad, and especially the ugly), allows me to more effectively and positively interact with others. 

It is important to know that our problems are not an excuse for poor behavior or mistreatment of others and we all have issues we must deal with and overcome but we have to admit that we all have a reason for the way we are and the things we do. I believe that acknowledging the hurt in others makes us more compassionate, understanding and instills in us, the ability to see situations from multiple vantage points. In every part of our day, we have the potential to encounter someone with a problem they have not acknowledged and/or addressed, so it's important that we are not immediately dismissive of that person's unspoken struggle. Maybe the cashier with the attitude has been told she would never achieve more success; perhaps your micro-managing boss had an experience of people not being accountable and committed to the work, perchance that abusive partner  endured or witnessed abuse during their childhood. While we set the standard for how people should treat us, try to take time to think about everything that may have transpired in a person’s life. No matter the circumstance, we are bound to run into people with less than positive attitudes/outlooks so we must go forth and treat each other with empathy, understanding, and a willingness to understand that everyone is either fighting a silent battle, or lost a battle in the past and their demeanor is an unhealed wound. 

Things I’m Learning...A Running List

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1. Don’t be afraid to stand in your truth. The life experiences you have are unique and no matter how many obstacles you’ve faced,  these experiences have molded you into the person you are today. Use your life as a tool to help or change someone else’s life or circumstances.

2. Create boundaries. This applies to everyone from your partner to your parents. Establishing clear lines and limits in all of your interpersonal relationships is the key to maintaining these relationships. These boundaries are vital and can range from limiting phone/text contact to letting people firmly know that private and intrusive inquiries into your life are not permitted. You are entitled to allow people access to as much or as little of you and your life as you prefer.  

3. Be open. To everything. Sometimes we create rigid and ridiculous rules for our lives. By using phrases of totality such as “I ONLY do this, or  I would NEVER do that” we limit our opportunities for gratifying and life-changing experiences by being close-minded to new challenges, different people and revolutionary ideas. While keeping safety and morality in mind, try something new  and you’d be surprised on what you’ve been missing out on.

4. Say what’s on your mind. Too often we bottle things up because we can’t find the right words to speak, we’re worried about offending someone or even worse, we think no one will listen. Carrying around our heaviest thoughts and burdens can cause additional anxieties and worries. People who truly care about you will understand and appreciate the new-found expressive side of you. Speaking about things that upset or trouble us allow us to evaluate our lives and make informed decisions. Also expressing our inner-most thoughts gives us the power over self-doubt/self-hate.  

5. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Too often our trauma and hurt has forced us to build walls in our hearts and minds that block other pain, not realizing that our defense mechanisms or default coping skill of repression creates a hinderance to our healing. We have to be willing to be seen by someone trusted (homie, lover, friend, therapist) as emotional, broken, or damaged in order to truly address our deep-seated issues.

*Each day we are faced with challenges, dilemmas, hardships and heartaches. Searching for the lesson in all of the messes we encounter is imperative in turning our tragedies into triumph. Keep living and most importantly, keep learning.

Quitters Never Win

 “Call it what it is, it’s quitting”. Those are the words a close friend spoke to me recently while I was trying to sugarcoat my tendency to start and stop new projects before completion. 

“Hi, my name is Ronisha and I am a quitter.” 

I tend to have really ambitious plans and ideas. From business ventures and working out to even the creation of this blog, I tend to quit when things don’t go my way. I am my biggest barrier to success. Over the past three years, I was supposed to open a group home, create a child care network, and write a book. I’ve achieved exactly 0% of my goals.

The reason (more like excuse) for my quitting is mostly fear of failing. Fear of failure keeps us from reaching our greatest potential. Not being good enough or as successful as others doing similar things keeps us from even trying sometimes. The opinions of others, both positive and negative, oftentimes stop us from giving our all to ideas and goals. Personally, I have so many people who believe in my ability to achieve greatness that I am sometimes overwhelmed with a feeling of not wanting to disappoint anyone. So overwhelmed, that in my irrational mind, doing nothing is better than doing something that won’t make my loved ones proud. Alternatively, I am afraid of putting effort into my ideas because I won’t be as good, as popular, or as significant as others doing similar or related things. Sometimes I’m just lazy, if I’m being honest. 

As I work towards being the best me that I can be, I have to work extremely hard to get rid of the quitter’s spirit. One method I’m implementing is doing one thing, big or small, daily toward furthering my dreams. Some days it’s researching funding for my ideas, some days it’s writing a few pages that may go in a book or improve my writing.  I have to work diligently to fight against my own self-doubt and actively pursue my dreams. I keep the thought of dying without making an impact on the world around me as my new motivation to keep going. I am realistic and recognize that I will have days when I want to give up, but if I have more days of facing and overcoming challenges, I am hopeful that I won’t quit again. 

Me Too, Her Too, You Too.


     It started when I was about 11 or 12 years old. He was old enough to be my dad. He was family. The first time it was touching over the clothes. I felt dirty, confused, and like I had done the worst thing in the world. After that it escalated to under the clothes touching, making me touch his penis, sucking my adolescent breasts and included making me pose for the most vulgar photographs. I never told a soul for years. It lasted nearly until I graduated high school. I’m not sure why I didn’t tell anyone. Mostly I thought nobody would believe me, a foster kid, saying something so vile about a relative everyone loved.                                                                                    

I held on to this secret for years before I began disclosing to friends in college. I finally wanted to talk about what happened. Being a social work major caused me to think deep into my own life in order to effectively help others. I’ve shared my story and heard countless stories back. The victims are sisters, mothers, daughters; the predators are fathers, cousins, uncles, neighbors, teachers, and coaches. I’ve known for so long that it happened to me too, you too and her too.
   

 #metoo is publicly highlighting what is one of the most unspoken but frequent crimes in society. Sexual abuse/molestation/harassment and rape are the silent killers that plague women, young and old, rich or poor, black or white. Some people are brave enough speak up and report the abuse; some have not yet made it to that place. Both situations are okay. I’ve learned that each survivor handles the aftermath of the abuse in their own unique way. Every survivor may not want to tweet out #metoo, it doesn’t make them any less of a victim. Some survivors pursue legal action, some choose not to take that path. Whatever choice a survivor makes, she’s entitled to. I never reported my abuse to any adults while it was occurring, I’m aware that I can still report the abuse. I struggle with what choice to make each day. I don’t know if I am strong enough to re-open the wounds, I don’t know if there would be enough evidence to convict. I once confronted my abuser as a adult, he vehemently denied the allegations, refused to give me an apology and stated that I am misremembering the past and I was a overly-sexual person; I was a child. He blamed the victim, I fear the male-led justice system may do the same. I choose to get justice for myself by living in my truth.
     

     We must do more to be more vigilant in protecting women from sexual assault and harassment. Men must be active in this change. We must must be willing to police the behavior of men, call out inappropriate treatment of women, be aware of men that pay special attention to young girls, speak of in defense of women being harassed in the workplace. We have to hold predators accountable for their actions, regardless of their status, power or money. We have to stop turning a blind eye to allegations of assault and rape simply because the perpetrator is the boss or is a "nice guy", or because the victim is a over-developed child, or is dressed a certain way, had too much to drink, or is involved in sex work.
 

   Every survivor has different lasting effects from their situation. For me being a survivor means a lifetime struggling to trust men, having challenges with intimacy, and having unhealthy views of sex. Also, for me being a survivor means speaking out about sexual abuse and harassment, not letting it be a secret that eats away at my soul, and doing everything I can to be a listening ear and advocate for survivors.
     

     Everyone knows someone who has been sexually assaulted, and it will take a collective effort to put a stop to the epidemic. Maybe it happened to you too, maybe it didn’t, but stopping sexual assault/abuse/harassment is everyone’s responsibility. 

Meaningful Silence

The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. It’s life's cruelest irony. Douglas Couplan

     Being alone will cause you to do things or spend time with people who add nothing to your life or serve any real purpose. Loneliness has led me down some unsavory paths seeking companionship. Avoiding spending time alone has led me on a search for what was really inside of me all along, peace. Meeting different people, only to realize they have nothing in common with me, no relevant conversation to engage in and nothing interesting about themselves worth inquiring about, has taught me a lot. 

     First, I’m learning that it’s rude and selfish to to use someone and waste their time simply because I do not want to be alone. Taking advantage of someone’s interest in me by spending time with them when I’m not truly enjoying the occasion is self-centered. I have done it more times than I’m proud to admit, and maybe I’m not the only person so afraid to be alone that I’d use someone’s time as filler for my own issues. Afraid to face my shortcomings and unwilling to be honest with myself has led me to seek out others to avoid the voice of my conscience. 

     Secondly, I’m believing the lyric from the SZA song Drew Barrymore “I get so lonely, I forget what I’m worth” more and more each day. Loneliness will have you scrolling through your phone, texting people you know you shouldn’t and calling people you have no sincere interest in simply to avoid being alone. Loneliness will push you to desperation sometimes, scrolling through social media, handing out double taps, heart eyed-emojis, and comments hoping the poster slides in your DMs or inbox, wanting to “hang out”. Sometimes you keep the fish, sometimes you throw it back. Most times, after I spend time with someone I really did not want to be with, I feel even more alone than before. 

     The third thing that being alone has taught me is how important and precious time is actually. We spend each hour and minute of the day doing something, communicating and working, planning and executing, sometimes we deserve to enjoy solitude and silence. We need time alone to focus on building ourselves up, improving our self-esteem, recognizing our self-worth and loving ourselves. Constantly filling the time with empty interactions works against us in the grand scheme of things. 

     I  recently ran across a quote that said “loneliness is the universes‘s way of teaching you what you can live without.”  I am learning more each day that I can live without constant company or entertainment.  I can live without nonstop communication. Most importantly, I am learning to embrace this period of solitude I’m experiencing. Enjoying and ensuring that I spend time alone has become a priority for me lately. I need time alone, I crave it even. I have had time to set goals, read and research things, and simply relax during my alone time. 

     The idea for creating a blog and writing about my feelings and experiences came from spending time with myself. I used to view being alone as such a negative, sad thing, but when done soundly and in moderation and within healthy limits, quiet/alone time is the best part of the day.  Each day I’m learning that I’m no longer experiencing loneliness; I’m living in a current state of solitude and I LOVE IT!

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I'm Doing Me

Going through a transitional stage in life is difficult enough, but having other people criticize you for the choices you make during that stage makes it even harder to face. A year ago, I was in one of the worst places, emotionally, that I had ever been in. For the next six to eight months, I really struggled to find my place, to figure out who I was and what I wanted in life.  I am still searching for those answers, and have accepted that finding my purpose, peace, and passion make take time and might be very unconventional, but it's what I feel I must do at this time.

Deciding to leave a job that made me miserable, exiting a relationship that was not adding to my happiness and being at my heaviest, sent me into a state of depression. I was internally dying, spending nights crying, not getting any rest, pretending to smile when it was the last thing I wanted to do. I decided I needed a serious change, and I can honestly say that within the past three months, my outlook on life has improved greatly,  I'm feeling more optimistic about the future, I smile more and worry less, and I am willing to try new things to discover who I am. Even through some of my most "WTF" moments, I can say, today, I am getting to a more healthy and happy place. I'm discovering my happiness comes from inside and is not predicated on anyone else or a job. 

Since posting the first blog two weeks ago, I have received some of the most encouraging and uplifting messages, which I appreciate. I have also had friends express concern for me and the choices I'm making and the undertones in my writing. Reallyreaux is not a place of me to complain and gripe about the bad things in my life, but a way for me to express how negative experiences have impacted and shaped me, and the lessons I learned from those life experiences. I appreciate the concern and know that it is coming from a good place but I want to assure anyone reading this, that my writing is a form of therapy. I am finally being honest about the trials and tribulations in my life. Everything isn't always great; I do have bad days. I will share my ups AND my downs. I want to be transparent in telling the story of how I'm "getting to happy" and every path has not been rainbows and sunshine. There have been some rough times, I'm sure there will be more, but I'm learning to truly be positive and actually believe that trouble does not last forever. Writing about my challenges and victories allows me to confront my life head on; addressing my "demons" in a public way forces me to deal with the issues concretely. 

I don't want anyone to think that I am crying out for help or that I am in need of an intervention. Writing and sharing my experiences IS my intervention. I take solace in knowing that everything I went through (and am going through) is not unique to me. Seeing people comment that they've had similar life experiences, makes me realize that I am not alone in the struggle and there is light and love ahead for me. 

Making a choice to take a break from being a social worker was the best choice for me and my mental health. I was growing jaded and burnt out, failing to give my all to my clients, who need me to be at 110% to help them combat life's issues. There is a term call compassion fatigue that people in the helping professions can experience. It is defined as "an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper." I was that fatigued helper and before I literally drove myself crazy, I took a much needed break. Some people think I'm crazy, that I'm wasting my time and potential and that I'm not using my degrees and work experience in the best way; but I disagree.

Taking a break to preserve my mental health is the best thing for me, and if more of us weren't consumed with trying to make a job our life, more of us would probably take the same time away. If being a social worker taught me anything, it showed me that eliminating stressors in our life is the smartest move we can make. Choosing to find peace and happiness for ourselves is imperative. Ensuring my happiness is the best way for me to be the best I can be and be able to help others achieve that same level of happiness despite their turmoil and hard times. 

I know that everyone won't understand my journey, everyone won't agree with my choices but I do wish everyone would respect me as I navigate through this thing called life. 

Keeping Up With Everybody

Too often in life we try to keep up with other people. Whether it's our friends, families, or celebrities, we work so hard to gain things/positions that we truly only want so we can say we have it. I've known of people committing to life long careers just because it's what their parents wanted to them be or the two people who are so obviously wrong for each other in a ten-year relationship just so they won't have to be single. We all have been guilty of it; we all have, at least once, coveted the relationship, career, car, wardrobe, or even body of someone else. It took me a long time to start to grow past the silent competition I put myself in against people around me. I have always envisioned my life a certain way and when I began to see my dreams manifest in the lives of others, I started to work harder to achieve the things I thought were in the cards for me, not because of ambition, but for the sake of being able to say "look at what I did!" While  envy/jealously crept into my mind when celebrating the accomplishments of my loved ones, I still was genuinely happy for them. It's not that I did not want them to have success or happiness, it's just that I also wanted success and happiness for myself!

For a while, I was the only one of my close friends who wasn't in a serious relationship. I felt that I deserved and was ready for a partner, not because I was in love, but simply because my friends had someone. The feelings (mostly jealously) only got worse when my friends began to get married. The fact that they were younger than me didn't make my envy any easier to deal with. I wanted a boyfriend/fiancé/husband so I entered into relationships that I subconsciously knew weren't forever. I rushed into cohabitation because I just assumed marriage would come sooner and then I'd be just like my friends and have marriage stories to bring to the daily dialogues. I accepted less than appropriate treatment in order to keep a relationship with the idea of marriage looming. I gave even less in the relationship because I was not emotionally or mentally prepared to be in an adult relationship at the time. I spent more time trying to convince everyone around me that I was in a perfect relationship than I spent actually trying to make the relationship work.  You never realize how much time, energy, and stress we spend trying to stay in unhealthy situations. In the end, the relationship did not work out and I spent months trying to make "fetch happen" all the while knowing I was unhappy. I finally broke up with my partner and moved out. The failure of that relationship really influenced the way I looked at love and I began to think that maybe I simply wasn't wife material. Although I am growing each day to know my worth beyond marriage, I still yearn for a partner. But now I desire a partner because I want a companion to share my ups, downs, and all arounds with; not because I want to compete with my friends. 

Relationships aren't the only part of life I tried to compete with others for. Becoming a home-owner and having a successful, meaningful career are points of envy in my life. I still am renting and probably won't be financially prepared for a mortgage until a few more years. I still feel a twinge of jealously when younger relatives and friends purchase homes, but I am learning that everything happens in your life exactly when the universe aligns it. Nothing is happenstance and rushing into things is the surest way to fail.

 I always imagined myself having a blossoming career but that has not necessarily been the case. I've had jobs that taught me valuable skills and lessons, but I don't feel as though I have had the best career opportunity that allowed me to fully flourish and experience true success.  Maybe it will come later in life or maybe I'll reflect back and realize I did have the job of a lifetime and did not appreciate it for the teaching moment it was in my life. I'm learning more each day that some people take a longer time to find their purpose and passion and when my time to shine arrives, I know that I will embrace it.  

The funny thing about life is while you're busy comparing your accomplishments to someone else's, other people are silently envious of the things you've accomplished. I have had people tell me how they wish they had achieved the academic success I've had, while I'm wishing I had the house and/or husband they had.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't look around at my friends and family and compare myself to them but each day I'm learning that what is for you, will be for you. We have to stop trying to perfectly design our lives and simply allow some things to happen naturally. That is not to say that we shouldn't plan and set goals, but we must accept that everything we desire may not be in the cards for us. Continuing to compare ourselves to others is detrimental to our well-being and sense of self-worth. We should spend more time embracing the things that make us different from others and less time trying to keep up with anyone around us. 

Intro

I’m such a liar. I lie about tons of things. I don’t lie about where I am, or where I’ve been. I don’t lie about people I’ve met. I don’t tell elaborate stories to make my life seem glamorous. I don’t lie about my age or my weight…well not unless I’m trying to convince the doctor or the DMV that there is no way I am as fat as I really am. No, I tell lies about my happiness. I lie about how satisfied I am with my life. I lie to cover the sins of others. I lie about not being stressed or worried. I lie about painful things that continue to hurt and haunt me each night. Mostly, I lie about how strong and resilient I am.

My life has not been easy or particularly stress free.  I’ve experienced abuse and abandonment. I know all to well the feeling of not wanting to live anymore. Some of the troubles I have faced are because of my own actions. Some of the more painful experiences come from pain, physically and emotionally, inflicted on me. I was in foster care when I was a child due to my birth mother having an addiction to crack. While in foster care, I was repeatedly molested by an older boy in one of my foster homes. I thought I was finally saved when I was adopted. While I am forever grateful to my adoptive mother, I continued to suffer from sexual abuse and emotional problems. It was during these times, I became a masterful liar, displaying an upbeat attitude and infectious smile most days while quietly suffering. I constantly questioned why I seemed to be the chosen victim for my abuser’s actions, what about me wasn’t good enough to be loved by my birth mother and absent father, and why I wasn’t beautiful as other girls around me. I began to try my hardest to work towards making myself the best, while inside; I continued to live in agony.

I went on to graduate from both college and graduate school, a feat that showed I beat the statistics and I over-exceeded the expectations society placed on me. On the surface, I fell into the act of pretending to be so proud of the woman I had become. I became so skilled in telling my story with such vibrancy and fervor, that I almost started to believe that I was such an inspiration to other children/people who were experiencing or had experienced life as I had. I was often told by people around me that I made them so proud and that I would go on to make a real difference in the lives of others. It was nice to hear that people believed I was capable of the impossible, so I continued to build on that lie. I began working with the most vulnerable populations. I volunteered for Girl Scouts, I became a foster care worker, I became active in church; I made myself into a person others would be proud of.

Yet it was all a lie. There was no truth to the person I portrayed to the world. I was not strong; I was weak. I was not an inspiration; I was a failure. I was not a role model; I was a fraud.

It is becoming exhausting living a lie. I recently made the choice to live in my truth and it may be the most terrifying moment of my life.