the art of moving on

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To the grieving and broken-hearted:

I know how hard it is–to have your heart smashed into pieces, to have that large void growing in your chest where your loved one used to be. And the struggle of every day, every minute, every second. Then the people on the sidelines shout to you from the comfort of their seats, “Just get over it. There’s more fish in the sea. Don’t think about it anymore. They’re gone, but things will get better.” Platitude after platitude falls at your feet and your find yourself tripping over the how-it-should-bes.

But listen to me. It’s not a matter of knowing it will get better–I’m sure, deep down, you already know that. And it’s not a matter of “getting over it” or not thinking about it–surely if it were that easy, we wouldn’t be struggling so hard in the first place. If I could burn those cliches in a glorious bonfire, I would… why? They have it all wrong.

Because it’s not about the destination, or quick, imaginary fixes. But instead, it’s about steps. One step, two steps, ten steps, twenty, hundred, thousand steps… one at a time. Slow, slow, eyes up, moving your body forward, even when you don’t always feel it. That’s it. You got it. Rain and hail pellet you, it’s hard for you to breathe, tears stream down your eyes and you can barely see, but still, you take one tiny step forward, you push through, you don’t give up on the forward motion… it’s your solace, your last thread of hope. That’s right, the rain won’t last forever, just move forward. You can do it. One step. One more step. See how they all add up? There you go, look up, the sun is peaking out from the clouds. But don’t stop moving. One step at a time.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick. Take it from someone who has experienced a myriad of grief and loss experiences, from losing boyfriends and close friends, to losing her own father. There will be days that will be dark indeed, and you’ll forget what you’re living for. But if there is one thing to put your hopes in, it is not that you will “get over it.” No one “gets over it,” and if anything, we must honor the love our loss reminds us of. Yes, it’s tough, so tough. But the day will come and go, and at the rising of the sun, you’ll have an opportunity to start fresh again. And again. No feeling is final. And all things will come to pass.

Soon, on your journey forward, you’ll find yourself somewhere you would’ve never imagined. New people. New opportunities. New skies. New scenery. New feelings inside you. Yes, that grief may come to visit you along the path, but instead of devouring you as it once did, it will walk along side you, like a mournful companion–but then you keep moving, and he leaves once more.

If there is one certainty in this world, it is its impermanence. The world is always changing. So are they. And so are we.

coping through life’s ripples

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I woke up today an emotional mess, bombarded with static thoughts–but the one thought that stuck to wall was, look how much he fucked me up.

At that point, my mind boarded on that thought train. Before I used to be so open and willing to show my emotions and love. But after my ex scarred me the way he did, I’m so scared to. I’m so on edge that every guy that comes along will do what he did–take advantage of me, blame me for everything, shame me for who I am, emotionally abuse me, disregard me. Now at the get-go, I’m distant and hesitant. He totally fucked me up.

But then, my wise mind challenged me. Is the blame all his though? Certainly he is still at full fault for his actions… but look how far you’re internalizing how he treated you. It’s bled into your whole worldview. But is the whole entire world like your ex?

The answer to that is pretty clear.

Today’s emotional roller whirlwind has shown me how much pride I take in keeping myself contained and together. How much I play the counselor role, the old soul everyone goes to for insight or advice. I am uncomfortable with my own emotional gunk. I provide everyone with love and acceptance for their gunk–but I cannot say that I do the same for myself. That’s perhaps why I had put up with my ex for as long as I did.

At this very moment, I feel pushed up against my own humanity–against the part of me that is scarred and in deep pain from the depths of my past, from my recent ex to my childhood. The part of me that is a bundle of anxiety and a dense well of depression. The part of me that wants to know right away and figure everything out now, rather than submit to the unknown. The part of me that needs human connection so bad, it hurts. The part of me that fears that need, of getting hurt, or losing what and whom I love.

Although I understand that people are not perfect, that those we love can and very well will hurt us, that we will all experience grief and loss at some point, it does not dull away the pain. It does not take the pang of its influence away. It does not still the ripples as it rolls across the surface of our hearts. One of the books I read said that grief is the most complex and difficult human experience. I completely understand why. I am always looking for resolutions to things, but this is one arena where resolution struggles to come to light. I’m beginning to see that maybe the goal in grief is not necessarily to find resolution.

I miss the good aspects of my ex, yet feel so much anger and hurt for the destruction he left inside of me. I thought I was done months ago, but here I stand, still picking up the pieces, still scrubbing his toxicity away. The whole world is not like him. All guys are not him. That I can absorb. But still, I watch the drops fall and the ripples fan across the water–feeling them shiver through my being.

Oftentimes, I try to leave my blog posts on an uplifting message or pearl of wisdom, but today, I find myself more inclined to end on authenticity. There are still too many pieces that don’t make sense. Too many parts that still need healing. I don’t have everything figured out. But I am, at the very least, willing to learn to be okay with that.

on feminism

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I get intensely annoyed when people assume that feminism is just a political movement, or something only for social justice activists. On top of all of the other negative stereotypes of feminists (“man-hater,” “a bunch of dykes,” the list goes on). Feminism is not about hating men; it is about the simple belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. That’s it. If you support that, then guess what? You’re a feminist.

I wasn’t always a feminist. I was shrouded in my ignorance of the inequalities and injustices and wasn’t sure “what the big deal was about.” Ignorance is sweet because we don’t have to attend to the immense pain many people hold in society. We can pretend everything is good and perfect and float away in bliss. But ignorance is also very damaging, because it is through our ignorance we unknowingly hurt and oppress others. When we invalidate someone’s pain or experiences, we invalidate their humanity.

My eyes opened when I was 24. I was sexually assaulted, and in my attempts to make sense of what happened to me, my close friend pointed the direction toward truth. “This is the reality of many, many women. But it’s not your fault.” I cannot emphasize enough how much I needed to hear that. Because I, just like many women, began to blame myself for what happened, that I should’ve been more careful, that I should’ve known better, as if I could be a fucking seer and see into the future. But after my conversations with my friend, I realized that I was beating myself up in that way because I had come to internalize all of the negative and oppressive beliefs we spout in society. Blaming women in every single way that we can think of for the violence that was pushed onto them. What was she wearing? How was she acting? Was she drinking? It’s as if I punched you in the face, and I and everyone around you blamed you for not ducking, or for not knowing better. It’s your fault for wearing that stupid t-shirt that made me angry, that’s why I punched you. Illogical, yes?

Yet people often fall to illogical arguments and beliefs in an attempt to resist change and resolve their cognitive dissonance.

People will also fight like hell to avoid taking responsibility and owning their shit. I see this all the time as a therapist. Thing is, we all have shit. There’s nothing wrong with having shit. But I would argue that it becomes “wrong” when you stop owning it and start pushing it on everyone else. I could go on about defense mechanisms and the psychoanalytic aspect of this, but that’s for a different post. My point in this post is, feminism is more than “a bunch of angry women.” Rather, it’s the acknowledgment of the deep pain in our society resulting from the denial of not only equal rights and opportunities, but of one’s humanity. Not only with gender, but with race, sexual orientation, and religion.

Even still, people have every right to feel angry. Because our current reality is, we live in fear every day. We have to be alert, yet we are criticized for it and told we’re over-reacting. But when we do experience violence, “well you should’ve been more careful.” Reality is, we live in constant Catch-22s. We are constantly treated by people, whether consciously or subconsciously, as less than and without respect. Our less pay for the same work is only a manifestation of this. You would have to be a robot to not be angry. To feel. You have every right to feel.

If you can’t see the issues here, or you never experienced them… well, your view is immaterial. Because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not true. No one needs your narcissistic perspective on this. This is reality for millions of people. Just because you never had to experience injustice does not mean injustice doesn’t exist. Not everyone is like you, or lives with the privileges you have. There’s a lot of shit in this world that people have to carry, and you’ve been fortunate to not have some of it. But don’t you fucking dare come in and say all the weight breaking my back doesn’t exist. At that point, I will respectfully tell you to fuck off.

On a personal level, my being a feminist is my physically, emotionally and spiritually owning my humanity. It’s my act in taking back the individuality that society has, and continues to, steal away from me. This is my striving toward empowerment. There’s more to me than my body or pretty skin and face. I have a spirit. I have a soul. I am human. No matter how much others may try to deny that, this is fact. This is truth.

I am human. And I have every right to feel, to be, to love, to exist. Feminism isn’t just a movement. It’s our empowerment, our dream, our reality, our lives.