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kindness

Let me tell you a story

I usually live an extremely busy life. I love it and I know it will never change. It’s part of my personality; who I am. I get restless quickly and keeping busy is fun to me. However, it’s only natural that every once in a while I need to take some time for myself and just be. I don’t usually realize how busy I am until someone points it out to me. I also don’t do it on purpose – I just love using all of my non-working time to do things that I love. This to me is living life to the fullest. But it’s not always so easy.

When I take time for myself it gives a chance for some weird emotions to surface. It’s also when I’m even more hard on myself than normal. I’m sitting here writing this in what feels like a super weird emotional state – almost ready to cry, a little inspired, angry at myself, laughing at myself, but also relaxed and a little anxious.
When I have “lazy” days, evenings, afternoons, or mornings, I get really anxious even if there are no apparent triggers. Aside from being a very energetic person, this is a huge reason why I stay busy – as much as I want to, I won’t pretend it isn’t. But it also makes sense, think about it: when you go through something traumatic like a break up, or death, advice that’s almost always given is to stay busy and it will help you get through. This is true. It works. But only temporarily. It only works until you need that few hours of chilling on the couch – and then your brain has the opportunity to go nuts!
I’m sure we all know by now that anxiety is a daily struggle for me. It’s part of who I am, and I accepted that a long, long time ago. But this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with or handle. Much of what makes me anxious is a mystery, but a major trigger for me is relationships. Because boys are dumb.

Ha! I wish that was why. The real reason is that I’m terrified. I’m terrified all the time about a lot of things. Like relationships – mainly with potential boyfriends, but also with friends and family members.

Let me tell you a story. About three years ago, I was talking with this guy online (from one of those many apps we all know of). We talked for a while and I avoided meeting up with him twice. My anxiety was so bad that when I even thought about meeting him I couldn’t eat, and I felt like I was going to throw up. I gave in on the third ask to go out, and my thoughts going into it were this: “This guy seems like someone I would like. He’s athletic, smart, seems potentially funny, and he’s cute too! I’m going to make myself go on this date with him so I can prove my anxiety wrong, and win.” I’m not sure trying to beat my anxiety like it was a game was such a great approach, but to this day I’m proud of myself for following through.

On the day of, we were to meet at a restaurant at 2pm and I was great with this time knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to eat, so I could say I already had lunch and wasn’t hungry. Already planning and worrying ahead. I stayed in bed all morning because my anxiety levels had shot through the roof. The date was fine, nothing amazing and nothing awful – and it turns out I wasn’t really attracted to him after all. However, mid-date he asked if I wanted to walk around… I said “Sure” – no emotion because moving sounded like an awful idea to me since I had JUST shaken my nausea. Not for long though! We proceeded onto the escalator and along came a huge wave of nausea. As if it were in slow motion I had this full vision in my head of me throwing up right on him, in front of tons of other people and being completely mortified. I stepped into the escalator, stepped off, and when he asked if I was ok, I stepped back on and said “yeah!”. We both (I’m sure) knew I wasn’t exactly ok. I immediately asked where the washroom was and beelined to it as soon as I stepped off the escalator.

Well, it was a good thing I didn’t have an appetite earlier because I threw up the contents of my stomach and then some, and came out pretending to be freshly powdered, if that’s a thing. To this day I have no idea if he thinks I was running away from him, if he knows I threw up, or if he thinks I took a poop.

I couldn’t handle any more of this and after another 10 minutes I (more bluntly than it sounded in my head) asked where he parked. And thus ended the first date I ever puked on.

Maybe you relate. Maybe you’ve been through this exact thing. Maybe you think this is hilarious.

I’ve told this story plenty of times before and every time without fail it comes out like I’m a comedian standing on stage telling a funny story to the crowd. That’s how I want it to sound. Might as well make it funny, right? I truly do believe that laughter is the best medicine, but this digs a little deeper than that. So this version is more matter-of-fact than funny.

I joke all the time that I’ll just be a crazy dog lady and travel the world whenever I can, and eventually build a life with adopted kids. In all truthfulness, this is the worst case scenario of my future that runs through my head to make myself feel better when I’m feeling down or off or out of sorts. It rolls off my tongue like a well-oiled joke when I say it out loud, but in reality I’ve thought this through and come up with the idea that this wouldn’t be such an awful life so I need to chill out and stop worrying that I’ll puke on every potential suitor. Easier said than done.

I share this because I was just sitting here thinking pretty negatively about myself and then the angel on my other shoulder chimed in and said “Hey! There’s NO WAY you’re the only one who is a) going through what you’re going through, and b) struggling in the same areas of life.” And I think the angel has a point here. So rather than sitting here dwelling on things that I wish I could be courageous enough to do, I choose to share my thoughts, feelings, and struggles with the hope that someone reading this will relate. And whether you relate with a grin and a nod as you exit this webpage, or whether you relate with a message to me, it is a relation nonetheless – and that is two thirds of ‘relationships’.

At the least, enjoy the things you may find easy or stress free. These are the things we take for granted and it may not be so easy for others.

What the actual fuck

What the actual fuck is going on in this world. I’m just over here in Canada sitting on my couch with my favourite blanket missing my cat – and the world of social media is exploding.

Of all the beautiful and awful articles I’ve read about the election, the thing that has been repeated many times and has stuck in my mind is “hate won”. Hate can only win if you let it win. Sure, things went awry, not the way a lot of people wanted it to. It’s truly sad, and emotions and feelings are more than allowed. But hate will not win unless hate is given the chance to prosper.

Between the U.S. election, the first 80 pages of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, this cold I can’t shake, missing my little fluffy companion of 17 years, and other pieces of life’s haunting bullshit, I sit here and think “What the actual fuck”. No period, no exclamation point, no semi colon to finish the thought.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

That is probably the universe’s biggest fear of all – the unknown. You can only say that knowing is worse than not knowing if you know. But if you don’t know, the unknown is worse. There are no facts, no one to blame, no one to champion, nothing. Everything is in question. There are only possibilities, ideas, thoughts. Nothing is set in stone.

I sat here on this same couch a few nights ago with mint tea in hand and thought about my life and my future. It’s not an easy thing to think about – I think a lot of us (myself included) are guilty of keeping ourselves busy to avoid these ‘big questions’. Because after about 3 minutes of contemplating my choices, thoughts, state of mind, finances, job, friends, family – I thought “What the actual fuck”.

Then today happened. Which actually started yesterday because yesterday I woke up with a cold. It progressed throughout the day to the point that I taught an evening yoga class through a haze of Tylenol cold and too much tea, and hit the couch as soon as I got home. Today I stayed home from work because I felt awful and needed the day to mend. I forced myself to rest, forced myself to stop thinking about work, forced myself to consume all of the vitamin c, ginger, juice, tea, water, and soup.

Earlier today, I was laying on this same couch about to take a much needed nap when my phone dingled with a new text. This is what it said: “Hey babe, just wanted to tell you that I miss your face. It’s been a horrible two weeks here for me. Out of all the people I know you would understand most. Been having daily panic attacks, feeling so beaten down. I just wanted to let you know that thinking of you and your strength with your own anxiety is literally what has gotten me out of bed every morning.”

This text that dingled my attention away from napping, really got to me. Again, I found myself thinking “What the actual fuck”. How could someone so amazing, someone who everyone loves and wants be around, someone who is so strong and happy all the time be a) so down on herself and going through such a rough time, b) inspired by MY strength, and c) so oblivious to her absolute beauty through and through! I was so shocked. I mean, DUH we’re all humans and we’re all way harder on ourselves than we should be. But seeing someone who is basically family to you go through a rough time is just as hard if not harder than going through a rough time yourself.

There were many loving things shared, as this is one of my dearest best friends, but this last bit that I said to her is what I need to share with all of you:

“You’re the definition of a beautiful human, an amazing friend, selfless, hilarious, sensitive. Never doubt your own amazingness – it may seem (to you) to falter at times but it’s still there. It’s just hiding behind the fear, anxiety, uncontrollable awful that some of us, like you and I, have to deal with on the regular. As long as you believe your strength can pull your amazing self back through that veil, you can and you will. Every single time. Don’t forget that.”

Don’t Forget that! You’re beautiful because you’re YOU. You’re beautiful because you fight, because you’re strong, and you’re funny. You’re so much more beautiful than you think you are.

I know in my soul that that this beautiful human I speak of is being brought down by some sort of negativity around her. The same as this Western world right now since the election (perhaps it’s just my friend groups who are angered and sad and depressed by the results, but this is what I see). The same as women trying to live their every day lives in the “fair and equal” place we call home. The same as my cat’s passing after 17 years of companionship broke my heart and left me lonely. The same as society’s beauty standards (for males and females) existing. How can I help this negativity disintegrate?!

A few nights ago when I was sitting on this couch and thinking “What the actual fuck”, I proceeded to take a sip of tea, stare at the wall and think “I don’t know what this feeling is but I know I don’t like it and I need to fix it. I need to work on myself as a person so I can grow and accomplish and feel sure. So that is what I will do. I will work on myself. Starting now.” – Period. End point. Decision made.

And then today I receive a simple text message in the middle of my day that inspired me to be BIG. To think big. To do big. To want big. To make big things happen, to not settle. Because in that moment I received that text, I had accomplished a huge ongoing life goal of mine. I want people to feel genuinely loved. I want people to feel inspired. When found in a bad situation or experience, I want people to find the positive side of things. I want people to believe in themselves and their strengths. I want the definition of beauty to be about the whole person, not how much that person looks like a model from a (photoshopped) magazine.

Ultimately, I want to spread love, strength, and light.

And that happened. This person who I see as such a beauty – such a genuine, beautiful, intelligent, hard-working, funny, caring person – she believed in herself because she was inspired by me. She felt loved and never judged by me, and she felt the magnitude of her own strength.

And then I knew. I thought “What the actual fuck?! I did it!” Somehow I helped someone see their light. I couldn’t be more happy that she is coming out of this dark time and that I had something to do with helping her through it. I’m humbled and honoured, and still in shock but mostly just so happy I had a positive impact on someone who so completely deserves it.

I wouldn’t even know it if she hadn’t taken the time to tell me. I’ve always been a communicator. I write, I’ll talk your ear off, I’ll text you, e-mail you, always update you – and I know, oh boy do I know, that not everyone is like this. But if we could all take a little moment to share with someone our positive thoughts about them, I truly believe we can all benefit. In small ways, in big ways, it could save people’s lives in ways that we can’t begin to fathom.

By working on myself as a person – which I think is a never ending journey – I believe I’ll be able to inspire more, spread kindness further, help people believe in themselves more. I vow to reject hate.

This world needs a whole lot of things, but as humans, as a species we all need love to survive.

So let’s not let hate prosper but instead be beautiful, share your positive thoughts, always search for the brighter side of things, and let your light shine which in turn will help light up others.

In the meantime I’ll continue sitting here on this couch thinking “What the actual fuck” at life, at people, at this world. But most importantly, I’ll take a sip of tea, read a book and try to believe in my beauty as much as I want people to believe in theirs. And I will work on myself…whatever that means.

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