St. Patrick’s Day was one of the many holidays that took the face of what tradition means to me. Every year, my mother’s family and ours would share the Americanized meal of corn beef and cabbage with soda bread, and our green “beer”. As a child, all of this felt so regular. It was just something that was supposed to happen. It wasn’t until the tradition was gone that I realized just how special the time was. Since the loss of my Grandparents in 2009 and 2015, every holiday feels a little emptier without them. The further I age, the more I appreciate each memory because it has shaped me into the woman I am today but it also given me guidance for the future family I’ll have someday.
While I’m sad to not have my Grandparents around, I am so very thankful for the foundation they helped build in me as a person. I miss them every day but this year I find that gratitude is overriding the sadness. Without them I wouldn’t have the personal standard set to reignite the tradition into the next generation. With my pending marriage so close, I am looking ahead towards a lot of things in my life. I hope that I am able to have the same traditions and many new ones with my future wife and our children. I want to create a family based on the same amount of unconditional love I had growing up and leave my children with the same gratitude for the fond memories that we’ve made together.
Thank you Gram and Pop, I miss you every day but it’s your example that has given me the hope I need for my future. I hope to make both of you proud in the next chapter of my life. Both my wife-to-be and I have felt your impact and are much better people for it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all who celebrate. May all family traditions carry on for you and yours through every holiday that passes each year and may your family get to relish in all of their special times together.
By definition normal is conforming to a standard; the usual, typical or expected. Normal could also be defined to gage a state of condition. Normal by definition is pretty clear cut when it’s applied in the right way. However, normal in society starts to get these patchy gray areas of falsified perfection which can be problematic for people’s self-esteem and mental health. Society places a lot of pressure on what’s normal and what isn’t. There’s a certain size you’re supposed to be, a certain way you’re supposed to act, a certain standard you’re meant to uphold. In the age of social media, we are setting ourselves up for disaster finding any kind of measuring stick in what we see online. It’s a horrible feeling to scroll past these things and feel like you’re the outcast in the room. Normal is a relative term. Other than the actual written definition, the term normal is what you make it.
In my journey through mental health and life overall, I have found that it’s important to find a normal that works for me and accept it fully. I first discovered the term radical acceptance in therapy and applying this term to self-love has been truly beneficial. Leaning into the positive aspects of my life has been helpful to my process. In my radical acceptance of myself it’s given me a place to feel grounded and no longer distracted by social media, corporate environments or women/men around me. I am now the decision maker for my normal. My normal is curvy, my normal is comfortably dressed, my normal wears little to no makeup, my normal curses like a sailor, and that’s okay because I have finally come to terms that I am enough. Three words have been the gatekeeper to my process of acceptance and fully loving myself. Like everyone else, I have bad days but I hold onto tight to those words and repeat them as many times as I need to, to remember my mission.
I challenge all of you to figure out your normal. What’s it look like? What’s it sound like? What’s it feel like? There is no right or wrong answer to the question, there is just is the radical acceptance that no matter what you come up with, you are enough.
Mental Health is a slippery slope to navigate in general. But, when it comes to treatment it gets even trickier. No one case is the same so what works for somebody else may not necessarily work for you and guess what? That’s okay! There are many different positive ways to deal with mental health and no one way is right or wrong.
As a child and teenager, I was always the awkward kid; the bullied, quiet, keep to herself kind of girl. My mother for many years thought therapy was the answer for me to help me deal with issues but each experience ended up crazier than the next. I had guidance counselors who deemed me crazy, I had multiple therapists blame my parents, and I had some dude who could easily be mistaken for the janitor of the building. Each interaction did more harm than good and every time she further suggested it, I found myself more in a reclusive state. I wasn’t ready to talk to a stranger about my problems. I wanted to handle things by keeping myself close to family, friends, and people I trusted. For years, I denounced therapy because each time felt like more of a burden than the issues I was dealing with. Talking to people I trusted was hard enough, talking to a stranger felt impossible.
However as an adult that changed for me. I was working for a job that kept me stressed every day. I was learning but I wasn’t happy. The work culture was toxic and nonproductive and it started to take a drastic toll on my mental health. I could feel the weight of my anxiety for the first time since getting let go from college and I knew if I didn’t do something about it, I was going to be in bigger trouble than just the stress was causing me. I found myself a therapist close to my job and that luckily took my insurance. The fear for the first appointment was intense. What would I talk about? What would she think? Would she tell me I’m crazy? Worse, would she blame my parents like everyone else did? I had a ton of anxiety about the appointment but I pushed myself to try. I was tired of exhausting my venting sessions with my inner circle. I needed an unbiased opinion so therapy was the best option.
The first appointment completed shattered my fears. The woman I saw reassured me that I wasn’t crazy, that everything I was going through was a lot more common than I believed and I would be okay. For a few months, it felt as if I was talking to a friend or an oracle who had a lot more advice to offer and a much bigger ear to lend than most people. I spent six months in therapy before they no longer accepted my insurance. Despite, its untimely end I know I’m better for it. Having the time to talk to a trained professional and obtain tools I didn’t know how to use prior was a great help to me. With the combination of the tools given to me in therapy and the self-help outlets I’ve found, I manage my anxiety a lot better than I ever have.
At the end of the day, I was going to get anywhere without the will to do it. The first step to getting a hold on any situation is actually wanting to. I came to a point in my life where I could no longer be stubborn and blame past bad experiences on why I couldn’t help myself in the now. I took the bull by the horns and did therapy on my own terms and I am much better for it today. You control your recovery entirely. It’s very important to do the positive things you want to do in an effort for a calmer and peaceful life.
In almost every way my fiancée and I were different when it came to how we’re mentally and emotionally built. I was upfront with emotions especially in regards to her, family and friends and she was reserved. I was eager to communicate to solve problems and find compromise and she tended to bottle her feelings or ignored them until she exploded. In the early years of our relationship, we often fought about how our relationship should work. Admittedly, I came into my relationship with immature ideas. I was still stuck on the puppy dog phase of love where I wanted to spend every waking second with her in person or over the phone and she relished in her alone time.
Years ago when I was ranting to my friend at work about a fight my fiancée and I had and she told me about the idea of love languages. Being young and foolish, I didn’t put much thought into it. The hard way isn’t always the best way but it was the road I was on. But, with time came wisdom and desire to grow. What really put us to the test was my being unemployed. It was one of the bigger tests in our relationship. We were living together, sharing finances and terrified that things wouldn’t get back on track. Tense situations like unemployment can either make or break a person and I chose to benefit from it. Money makes every couple edgy and we were no different. However, instead of pointing fingers and worsening the situation I chose to really think about what we both needed in terms of the foundation of our relationship: our love for ourselves and each other. I revisited the love languages model and started to apply some of what I was reading to my everyday behavior.
Further research on the basic understanding of the love languages was needed and I came across The Five Love Languages by Larry Chapman. With a very generic internet understanding of the book, I was able to get further detail on each language. Chapman’s explains the five languages in great detail. His version of the Love Languages presents five languages: Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Affirmations and Receiving Gifts. Instead of having just one love language Chapman explains that each of us has a primary and a second love language to fulfill our figurative love tanks of emotion needed to thrive. Makes sense that you need to feel love and love yourself to fuel your relationship. He also details experiences of uses of these languages with his name protected patients and how they applied them to their own relationships.
After reading the book, I was able to pick out her love languages rather easy after applying my knowledge of her past and my knowledge of what made her happiest in the present day. Without going into too much detail about her past or our present together, I concluded that she fell under the languages of Acts of Service and Quality Time. Once the conclusion was reached I started to apply them accordingly. I began to do things without her asking, I began to put my phone away (more often, because I’m not going to pretend to be perfect) when we were spending together. I began to thoroughly pay attention to our interactions and saw a noticeable difference in how we operated. Fights were far and few and communication was at an all-time high, an accomplishment indeed! With a lot of trial and error, I’d like to think that we’ve found some sort of clarity on how we need to be loved and how we need to love each other.
I’m not saying by any means this is a cure-all to anything. Sometimes love just isn’t enough. Also, you don’t necessarily have to be in trouble to enjoy a little light reading on the betterment of your relationship. To me, it’s interesting to find the little blanks you might miss in your relationship because ego and self-interest get in the way. I definitely recommend it.
I’m pooped. This week has successfully kicked the living shit out of me and I’ve reached my usual posting days and I’ve drawn a huge blank. Working, living, and planning a wedding I knew would from time to time would not be conducive for a muse for writing but I don’t want to give up. This page is centered on the different aspects of my life, my mental health journey and how I choose to handle it so I decided to go with the truth. Truth be told, I am pooped. This week has been long and busy and self-care is needed.
My self-care began Wednesday when I got home to my fiancée and I was able to vent, eat a big thing of my favorite soup and watch our Wednesday shows. Self-care isn’t just one routine for me. It’s a process that is situational. Sometimes I want to be alone and watch wrestling, sometimes I want to call my best friend in Boston and just check in. No relief to a stressful time looks the same.
I invite you to let me know what your self-care routine looks like. I also encourage you to make sure that something resembling self-care is being done. Too often we got wrapped in our daily lives and put ourselves on the back burners. We cannot be useful in any situation unless we have a ‘full tank of gas’ mentally and physically to do so. People forget to sleep, eat or just rest in general. Life is full on going rhythms sometimes the need to stop is more paramount than the need to continue.
I hope to return to full swing next week because I am enjoying this two-day posting schedule. Despite, not making an official commitment to anything I am making an unofficial commitment to myself. I’ve attached an article from Psych Central in regards to this topic. I realize I’m not a licensed anything to be preaching so in efforts to fact check myself and ensure credibility stays pertinent, have a look!
I almost missed this! Thank you to Dawn from Tales from the Motherland for the January 31st extension. The end of the year brought a ton of chaos for me. I was let go from my job of 4 years. It was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing for fresh perspective but a curse for the financial worry that came with the loss. 4 years was gone in an instant, igniting every job related insecurity I’ve had bottled up. October to December brought two months of soul searching, bad temp jobs, and finally a new job to settle into. January has been the light at the end of the tunnel so I am happy to be able to share positivity with the blogosphere. Please visit Tales from the Motherland to have a look at Dawn’s entry in this beautiful movement and use the instructions in her entry to write your own. Without further ado, please enjoy my list.
- Family – they are the foundation for everything.
- My dog.
- A clean house. Marie Kondo isn’t lying, clutter makes you crazy but maybe you don’t have to thank your things.
- Clean water to drink, shower, and cook with.
- A warm bed filled with love and comfort.
- FaceTime/Snapchat/FB to keep in touch with my parents and family out of state.
- My fiancée.
- My education – for success and for expression.
- A job that appreciates and wants to invest in me.
- My cell phone.
- A good sale at Old Navy.
- Professional Wrestling.
- Nerd culture.
- Comic-Cons and soon to be Wrestle-Cons.
- Friends, both digital and lifelong.
- My imagination.
- My DVR.
- A steady TV program line up that I love.
- Time well spent in good company or alone.
- Public transportation.
- My anxiety – It’s a weird perspective but it’s brought a lot of positivity to light and forced me to highlight the /good/ in everything.
- Being able to legally marry the love of my life.
- Cheap rent.
- All the self-help outlets I found this year.
- Being able to explore downtown Manhattan.
- Video games with good stories.
- My Fitbit versa forcing me to walk more.
- Having my parents’ home in Pennsylvania to escape to.
- My growing knowledge of technology.
- Good people to learn from.
- A roof over my head to shield me from the elements and keep me out of danger.
- My childhood on 61st.
- Working in retail this year and remembering the perks of making friends.
- Freedom of speech and expression – it’s a gift, believe it or not.
- The ability to freely think and the encouragement to do so.
- The news.
- The DARE book.
- The places I’ve traveled to.
- The places I will travel to.
- Boston Gay Pride every year.
- A good relationship with my mother.
- Sweet and savory foods, can’t choose one.
- My struggles.
- Being able to make this within the deadline and join a very talented group of bloggers.
This is the first year I’ve made 50 within the 15 minute timer so I’m very proud of that. Shutting myself up and keeping it simple has always been a struggle but I’m glad I did!