support yo self sunday | a winter breakup, vol 22

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

I was in a relationship for eight months that ended over the holidays, but officially…a week ago. With the support of my dear friends, family, and therapy, I’ve been able to see it for what it was. I share the following because that’s the promise I made to myself when I started this blog. I also share because I know how many people out there suffer from this same sort of relationship dynamic. You are not alone.

Here is what I know. I dated the person they told me they were. Someone who had ended an almost decade long relationship two years ago. Someone who processed and healed from that relationship. Someone unemployed, but in school. Someone without addiction problems. Someone ready for a serious relationship.

None of this turned out to be true. I made exceptions and rationalized many situations, but when I realized this…it was too late for me. I had attached myself to him. His behaviors early on created the belief we would have a healthy relationship. It makes sense why there was lying – I wouldn’t have dated him if I knew the truth. Or, would I have? He is a good person. I just wanted the choice.

Being lied to and deceived by someone you think you love is a situation no one prepares for. I never expected to be here. The biggest conflict with deceit is between the head and the heart – what we know and what we feel. They often don’t match up and can cause a lot of stress, confusion, and frustration.

If I have confirmed anything about myself, it’s that I am anxious. My anxious attachment was less concerned that something was wrong, and more concerned I fix the problem to stay together. It should have been a red flag that my anxiety was acting up. That I constantly felt compared to an old relationship(s) and I wasn’t allowed to be my own person with feelings. I was experiencing a build up of hurt, frustration, blame, shame, and more too early on in the relationship. I stopped trusting myself.

I allowed myself to become my WORST self in many situations. I exhibited a lot of unhealthy behaviors that I take full responsibility for. I am never entitled to invade someone else’s privacy. I cannot control other people’s actions. How someone chooses to prioritize their time is their right. You cannot change people, no matter how good your intentions may be.

But hey, I forgive myself. I forgive him. No one is evil here. The cycle of shame will destroy you if you let it.

That still doesn’t mean that lying is ever OK. That doesn’t mean you can’t challenge people’s behavior. Lies are never told for your benefit. Lying in relationships deprives a person of freedom of choice and informed action. Lying violates your partner’s right to make their own decision about whether this behavior is acceptable or not.

Healthy relationships are possible. They exist. Healthy means you recognize you are building something together. You are two different people. You have two different life experiences. You are entering something with two different sets of wants and needs. If you can understand and respect that – you are so ahead of the game.

I’ll end this with a reminder to YOU (and me, of course). You deserve a partner who cares about and respects your feelings. One who considers their choices and how they’ll affect you. One who takes responsibility when they hurt you. It never feels good to hear you’ve hurt someone! We are human and make mistakes. That discomfort NEVER gives anyone the right to refuse to acknowledge their behavior. We have to take responsibility for the decisions we make in this life.

I am. I hope you can too. Never let someone steal your light or take advantage of how much you have to give. You are more powerful and magical than you’ll ever fucking believe!

xo

Advertisements

support yo self sunday | you have something to offer, vol 21

*This post is part of a project for Trade School Coop, a co-op I organized from 2012-2017 that will have a book published June 2019!

Many years ago as a nineteen year old bored to death in Indiana, I signed up for a food swap. The idea intrigued me. You make food and trade it for other homemade food, what’s not to love? The day quickly came, and I hadn’t made anything. What do I have to offer? Nothing came to mind. My skills in the kitchen were lackluster. I had no business attending a food swap other than I loved food. I was mixing lavender buds and crushed pineapple for some sort of drink an hour before the swap.

I showed up, ashamed of my creation, setting out mason jars of this sad “juice”. I had walked into a community of makers and I felt very out of place. These were people who knew what they had to offer. Fresh produce they grew from their garden. A family pie recipe. Preservation and canning masters showing off their pickling skills. The packaging, the details, the intricacy of it all…I was intimidated. I was excited.

At the end of the event, swappers made quick announcements. Someone mentioned a project they were starting called Trade School Indy. This idea also intrigued me. You attend classes and trade goods and services with your teacher rather than pay money? What? I went home with most of my “juice” that day, but also a promise to myself that I would follow this newfound curiosity.

The idea of bartering for knowledge stayed with me. I connected with Blaire, the organizer, and asked if I could volunteer for Trade School. She said she needed people to teach a class. Anyone could teach a class. What do I have to offer? Nothing came to mind. She said I could help organize classes instead.

On my twentieth birthday, I celebrated at Trade School. Blaire had organized a class on making natural cordage. We learned how to make rope with hair by a survivalist expert that now has a show called “Fat Guys in the Woods”. People brought him large yucca plant stalks in exchange for his knowledge. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve had.

I spent the next five years organizing Trade School and asking myself that same question…“What do I have to offer?”. When we take money away, what’s left? Barter allowed me to explore that question in a unique way because it focused on what I already had. It also allowed me room to grow. “What do I have to offer?”, turned into, “What do I WANT to offer?”.

Thinking about our offerings, what we have and what we want to be able to give, sets us on a path of generosity. I wanted to be able to offer others knowledge, good food, hospitality, and a helping handy hand. What I never realized was I already had enough to offer. That we all have so much more to offer one another than we realize. That our most important offerings exist outside of the traditional economy. Time, skills, knowledge, connections, resources, friendship, support.

I have attended over 200 Trade School classes on topics from cheese making to jazz music, creative writing to building computers, constitutional law to cuddling. A lot of teachers asked for nothing more than a hug or a joke. While they often left with more – food, beer, small gifts – the desire to connect was what brought many of us in a room to learn from one another.

So…what do I have to offer? Too much comes to mind now. I can teach you how to unclog your sink, change a bike tire, or hang just about anything. I can make you a home-cooked meal or bake you a three layer cake. I can help you organize an event or declutter a room. I can share my passion of letter writing and homesteading. If none of that appeals, I can always offer you friendship, a hug, or a listening ear.

I often wonder how many lives would be changed if more people were told they had something to offer. That they mattered. That they had something valuable to contribute to their community and relationships.

I know it changed mine.

support yo self sunday | slow & mindful holidays, vol 20

I finished reading a book called SLOW. Basically, it’s a book for crazy people who keep hearing the term “mindfulness” and are curious because mindfulness is something that people say makes you feel less…crazy. I know there is truth to this. Mindfulness, in its simplest form, is PAYING ATTENTION. I’ve done a lot of things under the mindfulness category that I attribute to living a healthier life. Things like…

  • decluttering
  • buying less bullshit
  • taking regular social media and technology breaks
  • practicing solitude
  • being creative
  • doing nature things
  • exercising
  • putting away the damn phone around other people

…yet true mindfulness still seems out of grasp. I am still a deadly combination of anxiety and depression. I am still overwhelmed and trying to love myself. I still react and live in my own head. I still avoid responsibilities and fear confrontation. All this shows itself in my relationships with myself, my partner, my friends, my family. I spend a lot of time ugly crying and it’s not pretty, ya feel?

I’m ready for the moment I don’t dread the sound of another day and can engage with the world in the way I want to. How do I get there? I have to pay attention. Reading books like SLOW remind me that growth is good, but contentment might be better. Trying to be better…all the damn time? Exhausting. The perfect person? We all know they just don’t fucking exist.

I am learning. Learning that not everything has to be so rigid. Will the world end if I don’t change my toothbrush every three months? Sometimes it feels that way. I could get an infection! But, bacteria! And that’s just how rigid I am about a toothbrush…

lost-in-translation

It’s the holidays. I want to go slow. I deleted all my reminders on my phone. My to-do lists. This is akin to what I imagine abandoning a religion is like. I don’t know who I am without a list of things governing my life and days. Not every day is going to be my perfect ideal day. I’ll have to learn that balance must be fluid and flexible. That I can’t do everything and be everywhere. That being organized is great, but rigidity is problematic. I want to experiment on giving up on the unrealistic scrolls of to-dos, and just…BE.

Contentment feels like peace. Dear lawd, I need some inner peace these days. No competition, no constant striving to be better, no unrealistic expectations. Of course, I still desire improvement and crave change. But, I want to learn to appreciate the beauty of those changes happening slowly, gradually.

mimosea

Who knows, you might see me practicing deep breathing and meditation soon. For now, though, I’m going to focus on paying attention. I’m gonna enjoy the holidays with my cute AF boyfriend and do lots of cheesy couple things. MAY YOU GO SLOW & PAY ATTENTION, friends. Happy holidays!

support yo self sunday | goals fall edition, vol 19

There are no GIFS in this post. I just needed to write words. I hope you forgive me…

What I often forget is that a lot of us are tragic, complicated, messy human beings. It’s a miracle if we can keep it all together. I have never been someone who pretends that I can.

I know that I will not find the answers to life in a book or under the covers or googling HELP ME on my phone. Sometimes I convince myself I can. Sometimes that seems easier than putting yourself out there and living. Living hurts. Like a motherfucker. But then I remind myself that I can make the choice to feel everything…or feel nothing at all. I choose everything.

My last post about my goal-less summer of love reminded me how I was struggling to understand myself in a relationship. I was in a new world. One where I realized I had learned how to manage my demons as a single person…but now I had this other person in my life.

Where am I now? Heartbroken yet hopeful. Hopeful for what? I’m not sure. But these words meant a lot to me…

“Heartbreak is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control…

Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life.

Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life’s work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is an essence and emblem of care…

Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.

Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream…but heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.

There is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak.”

David Whyte on the True Meaning of Friendship, Love, and Heartbreak

In times where everything feels like shit, one of the only things that makes me feel better is to know where I’m going. What I’m working towards, how I am growing as a person, what I have to get excited about.

…and friends, this IS a time where everything does feel like shit. If you’re reading this, please reach out and say hello. I could use some support and stupid yet witty, relevant GIFS about being a sad, struggling twenty something WHO HAS NO IDEA WHAT SHE IS DOING.

~*~A FALL UPDATE OF MY VERY REALISTIC & ATTAINABLE 2018 GOALS~*~

DATING
I said I would never give up on love and dating. I was finally in my first adult relationship after almost a year of failed online dating. I fell in love. I made mistakes. I listened to my feelings. I tried to ask for what I needed.I also became self-aware about behaviors I never considered. It is true that you can only know certain things about yourself by being in a relationship. That is something to always be grateful for, no matter how things turn out.

My relationship has taught me a lot. I’ve taken the first steps in starting therapy for my anxiety and general WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING feeling I carry around with me most days. Wish me luck.

WRITING
It is more important to me now than ever to show up for myself through writing. It’s been ONE YEAR since I called my friend Shelby and said, “hey gurl can you help me do this blog thing pleasssssssse”, and she said, “YES OF COURSE YOU BEAUTIFUL BITCH”. I have a long list of topics that I’ll be working through and my goal is to still post once a week.

I finally moved on from my book publishing role for a project I had worked on since 2012. It was a hard decision, but one I needed to make for my sanity and ability to move forward. Creative projects can suck the life out of you if you let them.

My media lists as an experiment in mindfulness is working. It helps me notice patterns, interests, changes. I will have done this for a year by Winter!

BAKING & HOMESTEADING
I’m almost through Joy the Baker’s second cookbook. My favorite part of doing my weekly baking adventures is that I no longer fear the kitchen. I’m comfortable trying anything. I’m open to experimenting more. That’s what persistence does for you.

Before, I focused on what my ten go to recipes might be. Now, I’m loving the idea of being able to step into my kitchen without a plan and create something beautiful. That’s what having a pantry is all about! That’s my goal for this season: to be less rigid about recipes and enjoy the process.

HEALTH
I’m starting therapy, I exercise on a regular basis, and I can run without dying. That’s about all I can hope for and to continue on with through Winter. I haven’t thought about my eating disorder in months. For the first time in my life, I no longer feel controlled or obsessed with food or my weight. What a goddamn beautiful thing to finally be able to say.

Thank you for being here. Writing gives me a sense of community. I feel loved, seen, understood, and appreciated. That means everything to me.

support yo self sunday | to put in the work, vol 18

I often feel defeated, tired, worried, and…sore. Not from anything in particular, but from the mere act of living. You have to wake up, and move, and breathe, and think, and talk to people. It’s exhausting. All this to say it’s too easy for me to give up on life and throw my hands in the air whilst screaming, “NOTHING MATTERS SO WHAT IS THE POINT???“.

amy

But, I have this other side of me. The side that can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my dumb little life. One that understands everything matters. That waking up is a beautiful goddamn gift from the universe. That having a body that moves is not something to take for granted. That breathing and thinking are intrinsic and fascinating things human beings do. And people? They’re not so bad. Sometimes they say nice things to you and feed you snacks.

Grateful for life Brittany shows up more than existential Brittany. But existential Brittany is very much real and needs reminders about the beauty of life.

nick.gif

I am reading Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary. She writes about the concept of putting in the work for yourself. About uncovering your “Why” and establishing your personal philosophy, values, and priorities. I enjoy books that ask questions of you. I like to think about what inspires me and what I stand for. The things that move me deep in my core. These are the reminders I need to remember what matters to me.

Someone asked me the other day how I got to a point where I could share about myself online. I didn’t have a good answer. Now I know. I can share online because I DID put in the work and it changed my life. I put in a shit ton of work on things that I struggled with. All that work allows me to be here, now, sharing what I’ve learned in hopes that it can help other people.

And holy shit, I’ve struggled and still do struggle. With body positivity, my relationship with food, eating disorders, loving myself. Communicating my needs and understanding my needs are valid. Managing anxiety and depression. Understanding how codependency, guilt, shame, and conflict avoidance show up in my life. Being a good partner with healthy mindsets around intimacy and trust. I mean, everything is totally fine…

tina.gif

But I can deal with this (now) because of the work I did and the things that inspired me. Everyone’s work will look different. Mine was A LOT of writing and reading and answering tough questions about myself. Moving to a new state and changing careers. Showing up in the kitchen to cook and bake. Creating this personal blog. Rebuilding my relationships with friends and family. Finding an exercise, like boxing, that excited me. Learning to apologize and communicate. Simplifying my life by decluttering and minimizing. Accepting that routines, order, and cleanliness bring me peace. Building a personal environment that feels sacred and comfortable and brings me joy.

A lot of this work started with reading. I read everything I could that I thought would help or give me new perspectives to work with. Here are some of my favorites. It’s a mix of self-help, psychology, and memoirs. Maybe they will speak to you the same way they did to me.

There is so much work left to do. There might always be work to do. That miiiiiiight just be the point to life? To work and grow and learn and love? I dunno, but we’re in this together, and I’m super stoked to be here with you!

support yo self sunday | the goalless summer of love, vol 17

imback

I HAVE NOT DISAPPEARED. OK, I DID, BUT I AM BACK. My last post was May 21st, 2018. I had finally came down from an adrenaline high of my first sparring event late April. I had trained and showed up and did the thing I said I would do. It took a minute to process what that meant for this chapter of my life. I had put so much energy into that one thing that I had no idea what to do next with my time.

But then, I started dating someone new. Someone a lot better than the asshat who stood me up but one that I continued to pine over. The pining ended once I finished this book on adult attachment theory and realized, IT ME. The anxious dater who thinks in extremes. Extremes like getting revenge. Oooops. The anxious dater who had only been dating people that made me feel even more anxious. But now, I was dating the opposite. Someone secure and loving and comfortable with closeness. Thank the lort, because I was this close to pleading insanity. Here’s a small part of the book. I am obsessed with this book and will talk to anyone who cares about it. I cannot recommend it enough if you are an anxious person.

IMG_0872.jpg

…that was four months ago. That dude is my real life tell-everyone-I-know boyfriend now and I couldn’t be happier. But, this entire blog was hinging on my SINGLE lady adventures of dating and self-care. Things change when you’re no longer single. I have been single most of my life. I have definitely been single all my ADULT life. So, yeah, I didn’t think about goals this Summer. I didn’t write a lick and I rarely checked in with myself. My daily five year journal is filled with, “I DUNNO FOOD BEER CHILLIN???”, and “PROBABLY HUNG OUT WITH BOYFRIEND”. What can I say? I’m obsessed with my boyfriend and I don’t even care.

obsessed

But, in a way, not writing all Summer meant I had lost myself, my direction, my inner compass. Writing has and always will be the one thing that keeps me true to myself. The one thing that allows me to check in and see how I am doing. By not writing, I’m avoiding something. I know that avoidance will send me to the hole. It will numb my spirit, and I will find myself right back where I started. But then I realized, this isn’t anyone’s fault. In fact, this might be exactly what’s meant to happen.

“Our need for someone to share our lives with is part of our genetic makeup and has nothing to do with how much we love ourselves or how fulfilled we feel on our own. Once we choose someone special, powerful and often uncontrollable forces come into play. New patterns of behavior kick in regardless of how independent we are and despite our conscious wills. Once we choose a partner, there is no question about whether dependency exists or not. It always does. An elegant coexistence that does not include uncomfortable feelings of vulnerability and fear of loss sounds good but is not our biology. What proved through evolution to have a strong survival advantage is a human couple becoming one physiological unit, which means that if she’s reacting, then I’m reacting, or if he’s upset, that also makes me unsettled. He or she is part of me, and I will do anything to save him or her; having such a vested interest in the well-being of another person translates into a very important survival advantage for both parties.

Does this mean that in order to be happy in a relationship we need to be joined with our partner at the hip or give up other aspects of our life such as our friends or hobbies? Paradoxically, the opposite is true! It turns out that the ability to step into the world on our own often stems from the knowledge that there is someone beside us whom we can count on – this is the “dependency paradox”. The logic of this paradox is hard to follow at first. How can we act more independent by being thoroughly dependent on someone else? If you want to take the road to independence and happiness, find the right person to depend on and travel down it with that person.”

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment

So now, I enter a new life phase of, “the difficult balance of intimacy and independence”. One where I figure out how much solitude I actually need. A quick check in from Spring and I realize I am inspired by the idea of slowing down again. Of finding a new respect for solitude as a person whose solitude is no longer a given. It’s easy to practice solitude when you don’t have someone you want to spend every waking moment with. It’s hard when you now find yourself forcing alone time for the sake of your sanity and relationship. And then you spend your alone time anxious that every moment away from your new love is a moment wasted. Once you’re in deep, it’s hard to step away without feeling like space is a negative. But then I remember…SPACE IS FOR ASTRONAUTS.

space

Fall is almost here and I’ll be back to goal setting soon. Summer may always be goalless, and I am OK with that. But, for the sake of my relationships and my ability to function as a human being that can show up for herself and others, I must write.

That seems like the best way to finish Summer. With the goal of embracing spending as much time with others as I can…as long as I’m STILL writing. Thanks for being here friends. For noticing when I’ve disappeared. For your support and love and inspiration. You mean the world!

support yo self sunday | the after photo, vol 16

“This is what most girls are taught — that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it’s something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.” Roxane Gay, Hunger

3CLXV4S7E5DYDHAX45PKHMQHGI

I have spent a majority of my short-lived 25 years dreaming of my “after photo” moment. You know, that moment you put one photo of you, heavier and sadder and frumpier, next to the “NEW AND IMPROVED” you? Everyone oohs and ahhs at this hotter version of yourself and you feel like a whole person again. You realize all those color coded portion control containers you used and virgin’s blood you drank finally paid off.

I have fantasized of all the things I would do with my after photo body. Things I told myself I could never do in my before photo body. Things like improv classes, having an orgasm, wearing rompers, being in ANY PHOTO EVER. I have convinced myself that this after photo body would bring me the love and happiness I so desired. That by being a certain number on a scale, I would somehow have discovered the answer to life.

Of course, that is all total bullshit.

Life has nothing, (but also everything, according to society), to do with a number on a scale. Or the size of your jeans. Or whether you’re blessed with stretch marks, cellulite, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, inverted nipples. Are you ALSO a member of the saggy boobs matter movement?! Man, human bodies are fucking weird and beautiful.

boob

I have reflected and reflected and done more reflecting on my body ad nauseum. I have before photos. Tons of them. All various weights. Weights you could call thin, heavy, or my personal fav, “her face would be way more attractive if she lost 15 pounds”. As I write this, I am the healthiest I have ever been. I am not at my thinnest weight and I am not at my heaviest weight. I just am, and I am 1000% content with this.

I realize now that a number never mattered. It had everything to do with what I thought of myself. It turns out that when you hate yourself, you hate yourself no matter what number the scale says.

Listen. I don’t know jackshit. But I do know what worked for me when it came to being able to live and love and find peace with my body. I am finally comfortable in my own skin. Welll, for the most part. I still cringe at the idea of bikinis and am very pro boob job. Who cares. I AM FINALLY FEELIN’ MYSELF AND I WANT THIS FEELING FOR EVERYONE.

sam

It came down to two things…

One. I had to say fuck you to diet culture and learn to love food again. Diets and restrictions trigger my eating disorder because I want what I tell myself I can’t have. When you have something you’ve told yourself you can’t have you feel shame. Shame manifested itself in my life as a five year long eating disorder I am still managing today.

Confused about diet culture? Read Isabel Foxen Duke and avoid anything with the following words: meal plan, X day challenge, clean(se), whole, containers, shake, good food, bad food, paleo, elimination, beach, body, anything on your TV past 2 AM, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Two. I refuse to exercise with the goal of weight loss. Instead, I focus on what I want my body to be able to do and then train accordingly. Can I run for thirty minutes without stopping? Can I hike Glacier National Park without wanting to die? Can I go three rounds in the boxing ring? Can I grind on my partner without dog panting? Can I decrease my bike commute time? Can I lift heavy shit? Can I do manual labor for eight hours? Can I do one armed push-ups like Demi in GI Jane? DO I FEEL STRONG AND CAPABLE?

This moment, right now, is that after photo moment I always dreamed of. I knew I would get here one day. Here is a video of me getting punched in the face at the boxing gym to celebrate. Thank you for being here and sharing this moment with me.