Blogtember

I’ve been writing since I can spell. For as long as I can remember, writing was an emotional outlet that allowed to express myself in ways I didn’t know were possible to do. As a child, I wrote elaborate handwritten birthday cards expressing how I felt for loved ones because it was one of my favorite ways to say it without appearing too repetitive or not acting my age. As a teenager into my early 20s, I created an entire world in written roleplay on MySpace with my character as a way to experience life on my own terms and meet others who were doing the same. It was the ultimate escape and what would lead me to find the love of my life in the real world outside of the pages of writing. Writing has always fit somewhere into my identity in an obvious way and I’ve never questioned my place in it until now.

As an adult, life gets in the way. Anxiety flares up, I’m living experiences in real time and sometimes so swept away by it all I’m exhausted. However, the ember is still flickering inside of me and a craving for self-expression. I still consider myself a writer but I find myself getting lost in the comparison to others. I’m surrounded by such an insane amount of talent in the Twitter world and my tiny NaNoWriMo platform and it’s been a daunting task to try and keep up. Am I an author exclusively or can I be a blogger too? Am I up for the challenge of consistent publishing and marketing? Can I stick to a deadline? I’ve found I’ve had a lot of difficulty with self-trust and I want to be able to keep a promise to myself in one of the safest places in my world; my writing.

I’ve tried series on here and always somehow embarrassed myself along the way with some sort of excuse as to why or how I couldn’t continue. I want to make the change and train myself with Blogtember. I’ve decided to do this now versus December because as of this month, my life is going to pick up to a level of pre-Covid speeds. Am I crazy for trying this during that? Probably. But, I am eager to build this stamina in my writing. It’s who I am, it’s one of my gifts and I want to use it as a wisely as I can. I’m going to be creating a table of contents below that can be used to enjoy the entire 30 days of this journey. I’ve had some topics I’ve wanted to discuss and some personal journeys I want to document. All of these will contain links as each article becomes published so you can use this to follow along.

30 days of September:

  1. Introduction
  2. Once Upon a Penny
  3. My experience in finding the right therapist. (And breaking up with one too.)
  4. Covid Summer Vs. 2021 Summer
  5. Sugar, Butter, BROADWAY!
  6. The Pieces of Me – Acceptance Journey
  7. The Silver Linings of a Pandemic
  8. The realization of my people-pleasing.
  9. ~~~~DAY OF REST~~~~
  10. Connection for the disconnected: TLP experience
  11. September 11th – 20 years later
  12. I LOVE NY
  13. My experience with Headspace
  14. The Dare App Premium Access (Review)
  15. Hard decisions to make (Life during Covid-19)
  16. Dream Hunter: A short story
  17. My love hate relationship with Social Media
  18. My Mental Health Update
  19. The Truth About Self-Love
  20. ‘Twas’ the Night Before A Very Delayed Honeymoon
  21. Disney World: Travel Day
  22. Disney World: Day One
  23. Disney World: Day Two
  24. Disney World: Day Three
  25. Disney World: Day Four
  26. Disney World: Day Five
  27. The Disney Downs are Real
  28. My experience traveling in Covid
  29. Dear Me,
  30. Blogtember Wrap Up.

Self-Discovery in a digital age [My coming out story]

It baffles me when I hear some of the stories from people who bravely declare their truths only to lose everything they’ve ever known. Parents disown them, relatives not speaking to them, their churches turning them away; all because they had the courage to live as who they really are. To anyone who has had such a horrible loss, I am sorry but I am also incredibly proud of you for loving yourself in a way that no one ever could. I stand with you always.

My personal story of coming out was an exceptionally lucky one when it came to sharing my identity with my family and friends.

I was 17 years old when I first started to realize that I didn’t identify as a straight woman. At the time, I was heavily into on-line roleplaying on Myspace and began writing characters that were romantically connected to both males and females. My attraction was matched for both of the sexes which was a new thought to me. Experimenting on-line was my quiet way of figuring things out that didn’t require me actively going out anywhere or talking to anyone in person. I lived a very sheltered childhood so my ability to go out to different places to explore this idea in person would have been difficult. Being online was my own private world where I could be whoever I wanted without the need for anyone’s approval. After a few months of writing relationships with both sexes, I found myself needing to tell someone in my personal life. The first person I came out to was my-then boyfriend. He was understanding for the most part but quickly grew jealous at the potential of my leaving him for a female or him not being included in the scenario should I ever decide to try it. It was a hard thing to manage because at the time I was still very much in love with him but his jealousy was so prudent it was hard not to want to remove myself from the relationship in the search for more. We eventually split up. Young love wasn’t meant to last for me this time.

The majority of my experimenting remained on-line until the story jumped off the page and I met my now wife in person in January 2009. We went on our first date and I had my first experience formally dating a girl. It was nice for the most part but the date wasn’t much to write home about. She was still figuring herself out just as much as I was and we ended up parting ways as friends for the time being. Her on and off again relationship with a woman prevented anything from flourishing until she decided it could, when she finally broke up with the woman she was seeing. We started seeing each other more that summer and that’s when I knew that it was time to tell my family my true feelings because I could no longer pass her off as the girl, I met at college in an Anthropology class.

The first person in my family that I came out to was my mother. My Mom and I had a rocky relationship in my teens and early 20s. She was trying to mold me into what she thought was a girl and I was everything but the mold she had set up. My coming out only furthered that. I was never going to be the mold she set up for me and she was going to have to accept it. Despite, being in shock her love never faltered. We may not have always seen eye to eye but I’ve always known that there is no fiercer a protector than my mother. She is the living example of lifting a car off of her children if she needed to. Her protection and good intentions knew no bounds for us growing up. My new found bi-sexuality would be a challenge for us because she would continue to challenge my feelings and call them a phase but eventually, she realized my wife wasn’t going anywhere no matter how uncomfortable she was in the new found thought of my romantic relationship with a woman.  My mother grew into the idea of the possibility that I would marry a woman and ended up being one of my biggest supporters of my relationship always providing guidance wherever she could.

I’m forever grateful that we didn’t have the tragic ending which could have cost us our relationship. She loved me fiercely through it all and I’ll always be thankful.

My father was next for me to tell my truth to. My Dad has never been one for big ordeals or a scene to be made. We were driving in the car and Katy Perry’s I kissed a girl came on so I just went for it and told him. His reaction was minimal as expected but loving regardless. The only thing he wanted to know was if I was happy and I promised that I was. He went onto to continue to enforce that anyone I dated needed to love me half as much as he did and continue to treat me with the same respect I deserved regardless if it was a man or a woman. I was told that just because I had changed the rules didn’t mean any exceptions would be made for any of my partners. They still wouldn’t be allowed in my bedroom with an opened door. It’s a funny story to look back on but it proves the consistency that my Dad posessed. All romantic interests would be viewed with the same scrunity and watchful eye for his baby girl. It was a sweet notion and my bi-sexuality was something he never challenged despite genuinely not understanding the concept of it at times.

After I told my parents which were the most important people at the time, I moved onto my brother and eventually my best friends. My brother never cared about who I was dating as long as they treated me well. He also confessed he had already known about it and was glad that I had finally come to terms with telling other people. It was a relief to not feel like I had to go through a whole explanation of my new found thought. I just was his sister and there was nothing else to say. My best friends all welcomed the new idea and they all offered their reassurance that nothing would change between us and they were eager to meet my newest potential girlfriend whenever I was ready.

I realize how lucky I am that my story doesn’t have a tragic loss involved. My family and friends never once changed the tempo of our relationship because of my identity and never stopped trying to be as present in my life as they could.

I wasn’t shunned or turned away, I was given the floor to have open dialogue about what I was embarking on and loved just as much as I was before they all knew who I was growing up to be.

Acceptance is the foundation of our pride. Love is our bravery, even when it challenges what is considered to be the norm. Your family are the people who should accept you with condition. I am so thankful to have all of this in my family and friends as my strongest allies who supported me from the very beginning of my journey to my true self.

More than anxiety ridden [My journey to more]

The first case of Covid-19 happened in New York City on February 28, 2020. The disease was no longer something that was happening in the news, it had knocked on our front door sending my wife and I into a survival mode. We prepared for the worst and bought extra food, cleaning supplies and medication. We both thought it would only last two weeks’ time but less than three weeks later New York City had closed entirely. We both began working from home and started the 24/7 loop of what felt like a Groundhog’s Day of working and dwelling in our three-bedroom apartment together for the foreseeable future.

We did little things to cope. We had zoom nights with friends, watched a lot of TV, played video games, and drank more than we should have. Every day we’d sit by the TV and watch Andrew Cuomo give the latest updates on the city’s status to a potential return and every day we became more disappointed and disillusioned with the outcome of his press conferences. We’d try to find the little wins in everyday but for me it began to be increasingly difficult to see. I was away from the routine of going to work that kept me sane and the family and friends that I missed desperately. I was always a hypochondriac, so being in a constant state of fear of catching this deadly disease felt crippling to me. None of the things that usually helped me cope were available, and I was drowning in the fear of the worst. Summer 2020 offered a little bit of relief. We began to capture whatever normalcy we could. We outdoor dined, we walked for miles around the neighborhood, we saw family when it was safe, and took a trip to Salem to see my best friend. The distractions were good, but they had only masked the unbearable mental pain I was carrying around. My mental state still took a downward turn. I knew that outside help was now the only option. I began therapy in early September 2020, after convincing myself I had gotten Covid-19 from a fork at a restaurant because it was metal and not washed by the staff properly. The general paranoia of sickness had become too much for my wife and I to handle on our own and we both knew that I needed therapy now more than ever before.

The journey to heal felt like it would be long one and would never come to a reasonable end. I thought something was inherently wrong because I was experiencing awful physical symptoms in my body. I was dizzy all the time, my heart raced, and I felt like it would pass out at any moment. I thought I was ruining my work and home life because I spent every day in a perpetual state of doom strapped to my couch in fear of moving at all. I was convinced that I was one anxiety attack away from death’s door and there was nothing that could be done. I went through a month’s worth of insomnia, more crying than I’ve ever done in 31 years’ time, and the unlocking of feelings that I never wanted to deal with to begin with. My first therapist worked with me through Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I began to learn the tools to rationalize the outcomes to some of my greatest fears and realized that physically I would be okay. I began to cling to the logic until I couldn’t any longer. January 2021 began my journey with the second therapist. This therapist was trauma specialized and explained that while the CBT was helpful that I needed to go deeper into what hurt me and really break a part all the lies that my anxiety had created. The first few weeks were hard, we’d have a breakthrough and I’d feel like a million bucks and then fall into a panicked state again and think the whole process was futile. It was those weeks that taught me that recovery in general is linear and won’t just heal like a broken limb. I needed to dig deep and do the painful work of realizing that anxiety was never the problem; it was the lack of acceptance of myself.

The initial weeks, I was being seen two times a week and working through all the nooks and crannies of emotions that I had long buried with distractions, writing, and finding love in my wife. I was vulnerable and terrified because I turned the light onto myself and looked inward to what was bothering me beyond the circumstances of a pandemic. Therapy was a long-time coming, but the pandemic thankfully broke me enough to put my best foot forward to invest in myself. Two times a week, became once a week and I found myself in a state of a baseline anxiety that my therapist taught me was a positive way to live. I was no longer paralyzed by the fear of my physical symptoms, I was navigating my fear of my mental health, and realized that I was never just anxiety ridden. Anxiety was not an identity but rather a state of mind that I wasn’t forced to be imprisoned into. I am more than my anxiety; I am so much more.

The last few months, I’ve come on here and gave little breadcrumbs of my journey out and a positive spin on all of it. Before I say goodbye to this version of my writing and embark on a new chapter as a blogger and writer, I wanted to tell the whole story of what led me to my conclusion and introduce my new identity to the followers that have seen me through the last seven years. I entered this blog also terrified and not sure of what to make of these feelings. I wrote about what came to mind, experiences I went through, and my metamorphosis outside of my parents’ child and being an adult. I made friends along the way and followed their stories and took inspiration from them into my own life. Specifically, Dawn from Tales from the Motherland. I read your letter to your adult children and your feelings on them leaving the nest and found so much comfort and understanding in your words. You gave me a window into my mothers’ feelings and an empathetic approach to our new world together. I will always be thankful for that. Not to mention, the clear name rip-off that you were always so graceful not to mention.

I am more than anxiety ridden and I cannot wait to show you the depth of my journey and the writing that comes along with it. The domain will be changing, and I will do my best to give this site a face lift to introduce the next chapter for me. Mental health is still going to be a huge part of the journey and I will always advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves but I am excited to show you a broader picture of my life as a writer, fan girl, wife, dog-Mom, New Yorker, and everything in between. 

Feelin’ 32.

On Sunday, May 23rd, I enter my 32nd trip around the sun. I love my birthday to begin with, but this year has me particularly reflective. Life inside of a pandemic has been a tricky one. My mental health has flopped around like a fish out of water, my time with family and friends was grossly limited and life in general was just uncertain overall. I celebrated my birthday last year in a very limited way and it bummed out. While I appreciated the absolute best efforts of my wife and my brother and my sister in law, I found myself with a serious case of the blues. I love people, that’s something that this pandemic confirmed for me so being without all my people on my special day made things a little heavier than I would have hoped they would be.

This time last year, I had already been away from my parents for three months, there wasn’t really a direction to when this pandemic would end, and no one really knew how to continue a daily life. Were we supposed to hunker down and stay totally inside? Could we see people we knew were safe? Should we see people at all? There were so many questions with very few answers. The end looked like it would never come but here I am a year later and there has been glimmers of hope that have left me grateful for time and perspective. While we are far from out of the woods, we now have vaccines available and much better testing protocols. My entire immediate family has been completely vaccinated, which provides me with the ability and utmost happiness to say that I will be spending my 32nd birthday with all my people once more! Huzzah!

I enter this upcoming weekend with much gratitude for the ability to do this and sheer excitement to have plans to look forward to. There have been a lot of growing pains in the last year and there are still more to come but I am learning to love myself in ways I never thought were possible. Compassion and patience have not been my strongest suits but I hope to approach everyday in my 32nd year with those two things in mind and a grateful heart to have the time back that was lost in the hellish year of the global pandemic.

Teachable moments.

I have been MIA for most of 2020. Words on the year just felt like it didn’t cut it. Expressing myself became impossible but I have finally hit the point where I’m able to talk about it, able to embrace myself and my world despite how uncomfortable it can be. I have been working from home in my new normal and the lack of routine has been jarring but the toss up out of my consistent routine turned out to be exactly the thing I needed to learn the most about myself.

I’ve talked about anxiety on this platform and explained my journey within the disorder. I’ve seen anxiety before but I have never seen anxiety of this magnitude. In late August, I hit my version of rock bottom. A low I’ve never touched before. I had a panic attack in what felt completely out of the blue. It was a normal summer day, I was home alone and I was working and cleaning up my house. I just finished cleaning my bathroom and went to put a fan in my bedroom window when the short walk between rooms left me with my heart pounding and in a sweat. I had never felt such a visceral fear like that. I was able to calm myself and wrote it off as lack of water and eating in the heat. I tried to bounce back but only found myself falling further.

I began to obsessively google my symptoms anytime I felt a pain, ache, or random feeling. My anxiety was taking control of my daily life and became the only thing I could think about it. In September, I visited the primary care doctor for the second time this year with concern I drummed up from another google search, and ended up having another panic attack in the office. My heart rate was 122 upon sitting down to be checked and all I could remember was feeling like something was very wrong in that moment despite nothing being wrong. The doctor ruled out any ailments and I was told I had General Anxiety Disorder. I had already found therapy but it was now needed more than I realized.

The entire month of September, I was in a rut. My anxiety started to increase depression symptoms and I hit lows I’ve never seen. I would go to bed anxious, or not sleep at all. I would wake up anxious and spend the entire day trying to run away from whatever panic attack would come my way. I cried more in the month than I have in my entire life. I was navigating not only the scary physical symptoms I was convinced were going to kill me but now the emotions of it all. I was convinced I was stressing everyone out and I was a burden to everybody around me. This episode was so disruptive, how could I not be? There were days I’d keep my Mom on Facetime all day long because I was terrified to be alone. Anxiety was no longer about just simple fear but very what like realistic scenarios that were trying to break me.

Health anxiety had always been an issue for me and one I was embarassed about. I was always the hypochondriac in the group, the one with the unreasonable fears and the overactive imagination. I hated speaking about these feelings but now I was forced to deal with them and other feelings I had buried. The year began with family struggles directly after getting married and went straight into Covid only 2 months after that. There was no break for me and as my therapist explains, the turkey that is me popped and I needed to take the issues out of the oven and address them all. Silly little analogy but it was the truth.

At the end of October, I can tell you I am doing better. I still deal with anxiety but I am learning to accept that I can do that in a healthy way. Anxiety doesn’t just go away, it’s a common human emotion I’ve learned and not something that I need to run from. I write this actually grateful for my anxiety and the episode over the last two and a half months. What began as a burden became a teachable moment. A moment that reminded me of my strength, that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that I needed to feel in a big way to fully understand my journey in mental health. Anxiety has a wide variety of ranges and most I’ve been fortunate to never experience. However, in the new experiences of 2020 I feel like I can better declare myself as a mental health advocate, I feel like I can use my journey to help others as well as myself. What I thought could kill me, actually made me stronger and not it wasn’t just the false sense of security stronger you get from reading a two second quote, it was actual strength within me.

I kicked anxiety’s ass. I did it once and I will do it as many times as I may need to along the way and I hope to help others do the same.