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.

My first NYC Pride.

Credit: NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Facebook page.

Up until 2014 my experience in the LGBTQIA+ community was limited. I met my wife on MySpace. Some of you may have even been Tom’s friend too. Our presence in the community remained mostly digital even after meeting in person. There weren’t many resources in our youth, beyond Hillary Duff defending our identities as more than a slur. June 2014 marked our first Pride together. It was one year after Edie Windsor struck down DOMA. History was alive and witnessed before our own eyes. We were both eager to be amongst the community to celebrate history being made but also the intense love that was growing between us. The last Sunday in June came and we got up early to get a good spot to see the parade in Midtown and waited for it to begin. Our experience quickly started to turn from a patient waiting moment to immediate excitement. while we stood waiting for the parade to begin. 

The Grand Marshal’s that year were Laverne Cox and Jonathan Groff. I am a huge fan of both so when my wife asked Jonathan Groff to take a picture with me I was speechless that he agreed. He was as handsome and good natured as I imagined and I was on cloud nine. As a millennial and Gleek, my heart exploded at the encounter and the day only continued to get better from there. 

The parade started and we were engulfed by the community and its openness. The streets were packed with people like we have never seen before. Despite being out both of us remained passive in public in fear of being hassled for being openly affectionate with each other. To see so many people simply being free was a life changing experience for me. It gave a younger me the strength to live her truth as openly and as often as I could. The fear still presides but the memory of literally THOUSANDS of people walking up and down the streets of Manhattan with confidence in a parade of love of themselves and each other remains the North Star to me every time I want to question my ability to be open. My relationship has always been something to celebrate and be proud of and that experience will always engrain a sense of bravery and pride inside of me.

Today is the 51st annual Pride Parade in NYC. While I’ve decided not to go, my heart is with those young, old, and closeted and all, who could have the same experiences as I did that day. Whether it’s meeting your favorite LGBT celebrity, or finally being in person doing all the things you never thought you’d have the guts to do. Enjoy your time, be kind, be respectful to each other and HAPPY PRIDE NYC!

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.

What now?

It’s been six months since my last appearance here and truthfully, I didn’t think I’d ever get the urge to come back and continue to tell my story. October 2020 felt like the end to a burden that I had been facing for a long time. The physicality of anxiety plagued me for longer than anyone knew and now that I had the tools to get past it, I felt healed! A lot of my journey in my mental health had been about completely eradicating the issues. I took on my mental health in the way one would take on their physical health; sleep, rest, and do what you’re told, and you’ll feel better. I did that and the desired result came. I felt better, I was no longer terrified to move and function; I had everything that I thought I wanted out of the work I had done in my CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) therapy. What could possibly go wrong?

November 2020 began a journey into acceptance. An acceptance that this journey was no longer something I could fight away or wish away. My mental health would need to be tended to with the same love and consistency that I had shown for my physical health. Stress began to pile on and I had a setback that hit me like a freight train. I had a very disturbing dream which I now know was an intrusive thought. These disturbing thoughts and fears began to surface while waking and I was thrown back into the spiral that I thought I had escaped. The details of the dream and thoughts are something that I don’t feel comfortable sharing online. If you’ve had this type of thing happen, I’m sure you can assume that the gravity of these thoughts can be very jarring for anyone whether they have experience with this or not. I was forced to come face to face with the mental portion of my journey that I had long been avoiding. I lived my life very one-dimensional. If there was a problem, it was meant to be fixed and moved on from, but this wasn’t going to work out that way. 

CBT had taken me as far as it could. There was only so much I could rationalize before I had to go deeper. Emotions that I had been avoiding needed to be dealt with. A change in therapist was necessary. I found someone who specialized in psychodynamic and relational approaches. At first, I had no clue what that would mean for my new journey through therapy. It all seemed new and scary. I had done CBT so many times in years passed without really touching on the actual feelings and emotions that I was carrying (directly in my body I might add). Through this new approach, I was able to dig further and start to grow beyond just rationalization and realize that every emotion and feeling had its purpose and it was something I no longer needed to be afraid of feeling. There are no good or bad emotions/feelings, they just are. Each one holding its own individual message for me to listen to and embrace as needed. Am I perfect at this now? Absolutely not. I’m still struggling with the fact that I will always have some form of anxiety. I would love nothing more than to wish it away and never have to deal with it again. However, just like my physical health that I spent so many years obsessing over, I am going to have to give this the same level of care (maybe not obsession). 

So what now?

Well, I am down to seeing a therapist one time a week. It’s a new schedule and one I’m still getting used to. I am slowly realizing that sometimes putting down the self-help books, putting aside the therapy homework and just living for each day as it comes is needed. The bigger acceptance is, we’re all works in progress and I will never achieve some pinpointed level of perfection where work will no longer be needed. Change is good and it’s taken me 31 years to come to terms with it. I have spent the last year in fight or flight and I’m hoping to wind down to a place where I can still work on myself but take my life back to some of the passions I set aside to face this journey head on. I miss writing, I missed this blog, I have a novel that’s sitting in the vault that I’d love to get back to. I think the fresh perspective of not having my emotions on level 100 will take me back to the safety of writing again. Writing has always been my way of handling things. I would either take the time to write the words my brain was too shy to say, or I would create the worlds that my brain would daydream about. I am a creative being and I am very excited to play around with that again. 

As for the fate of this blog, I really can’t say what a definite timeline would look like for posting. I’m leaning toward more letting this go and letting it serve as an archive of my journey but I also know how inspiration works and sometimes keeping my mouth shut is utterly impossible. I want to help others. It’s another passion of mine and after the experiences I’ve had in the last year, I want to use my new voice and hopefully reach people who don’t feel like they have their own. I am blessed with health insurance for therapy, I am blessed with a steady income, and most of all I’m blessed with a steady support system to nudge me along when I need it. I know that it’s not everyone’s fate and I hope that by sharing my story, I can reach as many people as I can. Being inside of your thoughts isn’t always a creative means. Sometimes it’s downright scary and if I can pay it forward by being a source of comfort in some way, I want to. Next to writing, helping others is something that I love to do. I’ve gotten myself into some new non-profit work this year that I’m very thankful for. I’ve begun writing letters for The Letter Project, a faith-based nonprofit organization that writes letters to women of all ages whose family members or themselves ask for extra encouragement. I’ve written letters to people in the U.S. and beyond and I have received my own bundle of encouragement that I will cherish forever. I am also participating in a local community program where I will have virtual (for the time being) visits with a senior citizen very soon. I want to be of service to others in any way that I can and I am very excited to be a part of this program and hopefully forged a bond with someone who can use the friend just like I could at times in my life. 

To those who got to the bottom of this post, I thank you. Anyone who’s ever taken the time to read what I have to say is very special to me and I hope that I can continue to tell my story in some way and share with you all down the road. Please feel free to leave a comment on how you’re doing. I’d love to hear from you.