Category Archives: Affirmations

Phase III of “30 and Dirty, The Makeover”

The end of my second decade has been a time of transition. My previous relationship’s end spelled many uncertainties for my future and spun my mind and body down a spiral of confusion, depression, and deep introspection. Luckily, I am made of star stuff. My confusion worked itself out through careful attention to my thoughts, needs, and feng shui, and I emerged fully prepared for 2017. Looking back, my self-care journey had three distinct phases.

 

Phase I. Looking Outward

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I didn’t know what to think or feel. So, my therapy began with working on my outward appearance. Tale as old as time, right? What a cliche. Well, I completed 5 months of Invisalign and a series of teeth whitening treatments to finally get the perfect smile I’ve wanted ever since I was child. I also lost some weight, fixed my hair style & maintenance routine, and changed my make-up.

Akin to changing my look, I also changed my room. I got rid of everything of his that I could and reclaimed the space, cleaned religiously, and began reorganizing and downsizing in preparation for what I knew was coming: an eventual full-scale move to another home. No matter how depressed or confused I might be, a clean and thoughtful feng shui begins to treat my woes.

Towards the end of this phase, I also invested in bikram yoga again–a repetitive and thoughtful activity that gives me great pleasure at the same time that it tones and burns calories.

 

Phase II. Looking Inward

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The hard part, but also the most important: I began an introspective journey through my decisions, my realities, my experiences, and my ultimate goals. Many late nights alone, conversations with treasured friends, and comforting media made Phase II of my therapy successful. I don’t want to linger here because I’ve made a few other posts about my thoughts from this time, and there’s no need to beat those dead horses. Suffice it to say, these months were hard but peaceful.

 

Phase III. Launching My New Life, Separate from the Old

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Phase III has been in progress for some time now. I could argue that it began when I started dating my new guy seriously. However, I recognized it by name today when I signed a lease with a luxury apartment complex. It occurs to me that I naturally moved into new life adventures once my emotional health and world outlook (Phases I & II) finished playing out. Phase III can be summed up by the following unique additions to my life this spring.

  • New trips:  I spent two weeks in LA at the beginning of December, doing what I love to do and training new staff for my company’s projects. During that time I drank wine, ate sushi, soaked in hot tubs, met fabulous strangers, and wandered the neon urban lightscapes alone. There are few things so therapeutic as time away on company dime. When I came back I knew I needed to take a trip just for myself. So, I planned a solo adventure to Key West, a locale to which I’d always wanted to go. Traveling with an incompatible companion can be misery–never wanting to do the same things, finding differing sights uninteresting, complaining about driving, complaining about the sun, arguing about food…. I didn’t want any of that garbage, and for the first time I went into a luxury trip with zero inhibitions because I knew I could do whatever I wanted, however I wanted to do them. Traveling alone is simply the greatest way to travel. Key West was the most freeing, beautiful trip I’ve ever taken in my life. I spent too much money on all my spa packages, but I have no regrets about it.
  • New dude: I had my emotional alone time over the winter (and most of last summer and fall; let’s be honest). Then, this spring I met a lovely fella who shares a variety of my interests and personality dispositions. While I don’t know where we’ll go yet, I look forward to our journey.
  • New digs: In a few weeks I’ll live alone for the first time in my life; no family, roommate, flatmate(s), or housemate(s). Just myself, my fish, and my garden. Of course, I’ve never done this because I couldn’t afford to live alone; not by a long shot. Surprise, I still can’t. However, I want this so badly I can taste it. In order to achieve solitary living in this mecca of safety, comfort, amenities, and convenience, I’ve been working a second job in the evenings driving for Lyft. With the help of my second job and my careful tracking on expenditure/earnings spreadsheets, I am making it work.
  • New job responsibilities: From assistant to analyst to study manager. After nearly a decade with my company, I’m pleased to see my trajectory becoming clear in more eyes than just my own. I will not be taking these new duties for granted and am looking to impress and continue to climb (especially for the financial perks; I don’t want to need that second job, after all.)

 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The last twelve months and my transition into my thirties was difficult, but it’s brighter on the other side. I’ve regained my personhood, my freedom, my living space, and begun fabulous new adventures. I’ll be sure to post ample pictures and updates from the new digs this summer.


Objection!

When law-bae sends you updates from the courtroom.

lafayette


I’m not afraid of trying new things; I’m afraid I won’t like them

With every new relationship one fights the inner battle of “be yourself” against the opposing impulse to please a partner. For over thinkers, a meta-battle also wages behind that; the question of which side is more true to the situation? Are these my true feelings, or have I convinced myself of something in an effort to please?

Chronic people-pleasers deal with this phenomenon, and I’m sorry to have counted myself among their number in the past. Recently, a longtime friend said these words to me over dinner: “I’m glad [prev. relationship] ended. It seemed as though you’d lost something of yourself, but I’m happy to see you’re yourself again.” My friend had thought for years & easily recognized what I had only just then begun to consider: I had said yes to everything that was Him and held on to precious little of what was Me.

Knowing this, whenever I’m with my current person I am conscious about maintaining my identity against all influences, perhaps to a point now where I’m getting paranoid and questioning every detail. “Am I actually interested in this? Would I actually try this? Do I care? Am I being honest with all parties, including myself?”

The paranoia might seem extreme, but I think it’s a natural backlash from people-pleasing, a behavior of mine that was so rampant with [prev. partner] that I can barely stomach to think about all the ways in which it manifested. I could not possibly archive all my people-pleasing sins I committed with him, but a simple and quick example to paint a picture for you would be music. He always played his music. He’d sometimes offer for me to play mine in the car, but I honestly preferred silence to hearing negative comments and/or sensing the lip curling that went on during mine. I am very empathetic, and so if I perceive any disapproval, I get anxious and just want to escape the situation in the easiest way. So, I went nearly four out of our six years together never playing music. I held keeping him pleased above most of my own desires, and he was more than happy to accept my deference to his whims. (Of course, the gaslighting reality of why there was lipcurling whenever I played my music in the first place is a whole other topic worthy of its own post….. let’s not touch that right now.)

After a while though, as my friend alluded, identity degrades under such pseudo nonconsensual weight, and our lack of connection (him being so boldly outward with his identity and me becoming so inward with mine) morphed into permanent boredom and loss of communication. There was nothing to discuss–our relationship was us both enjoying his identity and hobbies. There was no I, only he or us. And I allowed it; often encouraged it or was its architect.

So, eventually I dissipated into space: fantasizing about made up characters, writing fan fiction, creating tumblrs, binge television, watching porn…. anything unreal was a thousand times more interesting. And, again due to his natural selfishness, he kept to himself and devoted all of his time to his own hobbies during that era, only to be alarmed and disappointed at how I “didn’t talk to him anymore”. Talking requires two parties, of course, but selfish people don’t think this way. We didn’t talk; ergo, I was ignoring him, and it was my fault. Simple. He surely doesn’t remember all the times I asked him questions in the car or at the table to a resounding silence as he scrolled through his phone not hearing me. Oh, how I hated his phone the first few years. I fantasized about lighting it on fire, hitting it with a hammer, beating it to a battery acid pulp, throwing it under bridges…. You name a violent thought, and I can cite you a phone-related fantasy I’ve had about it. Eventually, though, and perhaps in defense of my sanity, I gave in and stared at my own phone in return.

I don’t want to imply poor things of [prev. partner] as a person, because–as I’ve written before–the crux of our issues was our incompatibility; he was a naturally selfish person, and I was an emotionally subordinate pleaser (keyword was). That combo had Bad News written all over it, but I was too emotionally invested to ever rationalize a breakup. He’s not a bad kind of selfish, per se. Rather, he is the kind of selfish that requires a particular kind of partner–one that is not, for example, an amiable doormat, but instead someone who will openly and proudly challenge him and bullhorn him back with her own demands and her own gaslighting; someone to act as a mirror and who can lead to self-evaluation. I was not capable of this. My stalwart silence and bending to his whims were not capable of this. A selfish person thinks “(cause) she’s not talking to me, so (effect) I am on my phone.” An empath thinks, “(cause) he’s on his phone, so (effect) I won’t talk to him.”

The challenge with romance is staying true to every important aspect of my identity while simultaneously being open to exploring someone else’s. This is a dance I will need to dance with eyes wide open going forward.

Which…. brings me back to my original impetus for this post. I am not afraid of trying new things that are important to him. I’m afraid of not liking them & the fallout that ensues. While I’m dancing in the empty space that comes beforehand, I can relish the idea that maybe I’ll like it. There’s an excitement in the possibility of it all. But, I know that in protecting my identity’s validity I won’t hide my reactions, which means that once I try things and hate them, it’s over. He’ll be gone. And that makes me very melancholy.

In my quest for perfect compatibility, how many potential partners will I drive away? What’s a true red flag and what’s just a red herring to a paranoid, ex people-pleaser?


Something to be basic and white about in the summer


The day arrived: unicorn frappuccino day. The marketing was pointed and strong, and I was Rainbow Pepe the whole week prior to product launch, pressing refresh on the home page and waiting for it like a 16 year old standing outside the movie theater (e.g., full of giggles and thirsty for a frappuccino).

What is the unicorn frappuccino? A preteen fantasy: a maelstrom of creamy, fruity sweet tarts topped with whip and colored sugar crystal sprinkles. It’s a liquid Fruity Pebbles, if you will. It’s a tropical dreamsicle push-pop, but in a cup. It’s Halloween candy, but none of the chocolate ones, and during the summer. It’s a Nickelodeon slime drop over your senses, but instead of slime it’s a tarty pink and blue cream. It’s like if a mango and a squirt of vanilla got lost in the creme frappuccino assembly line, but the baristas just went with it. It’s a sugary smurf poop. It’s like if Spengler asked sweet tarts and pixie sticks not to cross the streams, but they did it anyway because they’re candy and don’t understand English. It’s like if Starbucks had its own Master Chef Junior where the kids were the baristas, and this is what they presented to Gordon Ramsay. It is colorful and silly and sugary and whimsical but also kind of disgusting, and it will cost me 90 minutes of bikram in caloric intake. Someone on my facebook feed called it “mixed berry confetti cake”, but my taste buds didn’t pick up any cake. I might have enjoyed it more if they had.

This drink is not for me despite my love for both unciorns and fun beverages. I made it a grand total of five sips, and that’s only because I kept drawing new, curious flavors into the straw, and I wanted to be able to accurately describe it.

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Pusheen approved, though.

In closing, this was not one of my prouder moments, but I can’t turn my head away from amazing marketing.

 


Narcissists

Just a reminder that there is no room for your hopes, dreams, jokes, or problems in the headspace of a narcissist. Your words deserve more than to live in the vapid limbo where a narcissist is waiting to speak again.

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Life After 30

We enjoyed a decadent Saturday morning brunch at the Caribbean restaurant: fresh buttery cornbread, pulled pork, corn grits, greasy chorizo, and scrambled egg soft tacos. Now we lie in bed, lounging in fresh sheets and an afternoon sunbeam, our minds bubbling with the lingering buzz of mimosa and dreaming of the boundless possibilities for our day. The gardenia and balsam fir candles waft calming scents through the room, warm the carpet, and set the mood.

He cuddles me, I cuddle back. We roll over. I rub his butt in seduction, and then we hold each other close. Consciousness fades.

We wake up two hours later, groggy and confused.

Me: I thought we were going to have sex.

Him: *shrug*

We fall back to sleep.

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Darcy-ism As Personal Motif

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^ Yeah no. I saw this and sundry other doormat lifestyle posts today on the web about giving people chances and finding the good, and I arched a brow and made a pfft noise into my coffee. I don’t subscribe to the social requirement to abide toxic relationships. I am no martyr, I do not give of myself ceaselessly, and I see no reason why people should give back to those who hurt them. Those are the types of people who are chronically unhappy despite the smile they force themselves to wear while being stepped on. So, why take the wrong lessons from them? The biblical stories of Jesus are parables, but not in the way their devotees think. Give of yourself completely, and the world will take everything from you in kind; that’s the lesson of Jesus’ murder from the gospels, folks (but also, don’t be a political rabblerouser in classical Roman colonies?)

On a serious note, humanity is not all good, nor is it all evil; it’s a marbled mixture of millions of walks of life. You will not and can not be compatible with everyone. Some people are not meant for you, although you know them personally through family, friendships, romances, colleagues, clubs, or casual encounters. And I’m here to tell you that it’s fucking OK not to reciprocate interactions with toxically incompatible people purely because they want you to. It’s also OK to hold on to your bitterness about it (albeit in a way that doesn’t overtake your psyche) because that shit will evolve you for future endeavors. Never miss an opportunity for a teachable moment.

Want healthy social wisdom? Try these gems that I live by:

My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever. – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

Once you learn to be happy, you won’t tolerate being around people who make you feel anything less. – Germany Kent

Self-respect knows no considerations. – Ghandi

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I realize that happiness is a maelstrom of variables such as environment, privilege, skill sets, and other circumstantial items in addition to personal choices, but I firmly believe that regularly excising toxic people from your bubble (and then keeping them out) is central to your well being and happiness.


Vitamins

health

My body has never held up well in the fight with nature. I think I’ve spent two weeks out of every month since this past fall with some kind of congestion cold. I’m sure that hanging out in a sweaty yoga studio doesn’t help. My colleagues keep telling me to go to a doctor, but I’m not in a hurry to waste trips and co-pays just to be told the obvious; “Yup, you’re sick. Drink fluids. Rest. Have juice. Eat healthy.” Thank you, oh wise health advocate. What would I do without you?

So, in an attempt at self-help, I’ve built a vitamin regimen for myself. I’m posting it here to a) help me understand what everything is and b) as reference for making modifications later. If you’re knowledgeable, please feel free to comment and suggest modifications too.

  • Women’s multi (miscellanous stuff, I guess)
  • Vitamin C (immune)
  • Iron (energy)
  • B-12 (metabolism [and to recover from my vampire draining, obvs])
  • B-100 (energy)
  • Magnesium (muscle health for yoga; also linked to migraine reduction)
  • Cayenne supplement (curb appetite, migraine reduction)
  • Metamucil (digestion assistant)
  • Probiotic (digestion assistant)
  • Melatonin (at night, to help my sleep patterns extend)

david


Closure

I didn’t want to write this. For as long as this has been going on, I’ve avoided discussing it, but I don’t think I could say I truly moved on without it. And I am ready to move on. Last year the longest chapter of my adult life came to a close; longer than college, longer than grad school, longer than any professional project. My relationship with Matt ended.

We were an It couple; a reliable duo always in tandem. Presidential campaigns came and went, a few nations were rearranged on atlases, and a rover landed on Mars, and through it all Mary and Matt were a unit of measurement. We were together long enough to acquire holiday traditions, accumulate years of running gags, and to travel the country. We survived three moves, nightmare roommates, two schools, multiple bands and albums, unemployment, crippling debt, two health crises, a family intervention, and even one breakup. You could say that I had faith in us for better or worse, in sickness or in health. I may be at a place now where I can sound clinical as I dissect its closure, but don’t let that minimize your perception of the impact this had on me. Losing my rock was a devastating reality regardless of how stable or unstable that rock may have been.

It’s not difficult to understand why we got together at first. There we were at 24 & 25, two single-and-ready-to-mingle musicians brought together by chance on an obscure project. We met twice a week to make art (already an intimate endeavor). Sharing little in common with our families, colleagues, and even most of our friends (at the time), we bonded hard and fast. We found each other attractive, sure, but we also shared intellect, nerdy interests, political leanings, brooding outlooks, and short term goals. It’s easy for twenty-somethings with this much in common to fall in love. So few logistics and long-term planning come into play. It’s not until later in a relationship–long after most tie the knot–that the hot burn of new love fizzles out and youthful optimism and naivete wear off; where things like long-term compatibility and partnership become real questions… And a testament to my faith in us: that it took so long for my commitment fog to dissipate enough to ask these real questions.

What constitutes long-term compatibility? At 30 I can’t say for sure. I can only relay what I understand in contrast to where mine failed. We looked good on paper. Our interests were similar. But, they were tangentially so; they never intersected. We would like the same music but never the same bands. We liked the same film genres but never the same movies or tv shows. We liked videogames but never wanted to play the same ones. We liked to travel but not to the same places. We liked to go out, but not to do the same things when we got there. We had strong attention to detail, but never on the things we each felt mattered. Most critical of all, I think: we had similar goals but never the same priorities.

With each passing year it should have become easier to fit into each other’s lives, not increasingly difficult. Time together was forced and often silent. It was a duty of schedule that we fulfilled before returning to our preferred passions and pursuits. It was a costume that we wore to events when we could hardly participate in the same conversations for want of differing company. Everything was routine, and dates were exciting things that you did Platonically with other people. Trying to make us work felt like throwing a pebble into a well and listening for it to hit the bottom, but I wanted to keep trying to rescue us because I loved us. He may even have tried too. I don’t want to know because it doesn’t matter now.

What made the breakup difficult to understand and cope with at first was that ultimately there weren’t any “he did this” or “she did this” to tip the blame. We were incompatible in the long-term through no faults of our own (although we worked long and hard on each other to find ways in which it was our fault). The fact of the matter is that sometimes two good people with good chemistry isn’t enough to sustain a lifetime together. Commitment alone does not get you over the finish line, and sometimes quitting the race before you hate each other is the right choice, as difficult as that choice may be to hear.

In the long-term, I need more than a buddy. What I need is a partner. That requires long-term compatibility, the definition for which seems like a moving goalpost as I get older and which of course is highly nuanced and subjective depending on who you ask. Whatever this mystical conglomerate of traits looks like for me, though, I am wholly determined now to demand it. I think real partnership requires an intersectionality of similarity, sacrifice, and general goodness. A partner should want to give of themselves to you, not just show themselves to you.


Atheist Monday

I definitely see the appeal of astrology. It’s kind of like Christianity, except instead of “the devil made me do it” it’s “the planet made me do it.” Mercury and the devil, in cahoots since the dark ages. Unfortunately, being an atheist means I can’t give myself any outs. If I’m an asshole, it’s because I am actually an asshole.Some think of atheism as a weakness, but I see it as strength: the strength to rely on your own abilities and convictions and acknowledge that they’re enough; that they stand on their own.

blackphillip


She doesn’t hear it

“Why would anyone pick that ugly girl over me?!” she publically decries from beneath the crushing weight of a thousand selfies and zero career.

How indeed, you beautiful, empty sack. How indeed. 🤗

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Men define “plus size” for us every time they look at us

I was part of a veritable row of can-can dancers on Elliptical Lane tonight at the gym. Like breathing cycles in a camping tent, we all began to sync and fall into each other’s rhythm. To add to the oddity, we all had the same body types. I suppose the elliptical speaks to us on a particular frequency.That experience brought back a whole slew of memories; one in particular that makes me laugh and cringe…  For some reason I felt strongly about penning it in the blog for posterity. Allow me to set the scene:

I was much younger and thinner. I was dating an egregiously unsound individual who needed help and who was looking for it in the wrong places (to be fair, I was in a similar boat). He always talked about his ex by whom he was recently dumped (before meeting me online). Obviously, he was grieving, and I liked him enough that I wanted to help and support that process. At the time, I was a good samaritan type of girl who saw red flags and rallied instead of running. Anyway, he painted her as a “big girl”. It always seemed important to him that I know she was a “big girl”. I wouldn’t see that as a relevant detail when regaling someone with tales of heartbreak, but he thought so (again, red flags. Whoooosh, and over my head they went).

One day while at his apartment he laid out a dress of hers that he still had. He planned to mail it back. He might even have joked about giving it to me & that I wouldn’t fit it because, again, she was a big girl. I agreed he should send it back. It was still pressed and clean from the dry cleaners, and it was laid on the bed at such an angle that I could clearly see the label.

Me: I thought you said she was a “big girl”.

Him: Yeah?
Me: ……This is an 8.
Him: …
Me: -_-
Him: Yeah?
Me: …
Him: …
Me: I’m an 8.I still laugh about this awkward exchange…. all of his absurd concepts of feminine beauty came crashing in at once as I put it all together. THIS, from a man so thin and Gollum-esque I was barely sexually attracted to him at all (but I thought he had a wonderful face and personality *snort*). It reminds me of the controversy over Amy Schumer’s being labeled “plus size” in Glamour last month even though she is a 6. A SIX!

Christ, this is why women have eating disorders, are constantly obsessive and upset about their appearance, and in many cases are pushing a body positivity movement. But that movement is difficult to get traction when so many women (and men like the one in the anecdote who reinforce these thoughts) think the quintessential feminine body is 90’s Kate Moss.

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Winter Break

The semester of doom is at an end, and the grades are rolling in. For the maintenance of my mental health and the successful attainment of passing grades during a time of great trial, anxious breathing attacks, and no truly restful sleep, I owe thanks to the following:

  • My rock, the manfriend. He calms me, keeps me grounded with humor, convinces me to sleep, and occasionally cooks me food.
  • The first three seasons of Scandal
  • Cape Cod brand sweet red chili chips
  • The Starbucks holiday spice flat white and the absurd abundance of holiday store hours
  • Cheddar cheese popcorn
  • Master Sword, whose persistent needs remind me to chip away at creative goals and maintain creative outlets, even during times of stress (scholastic duress???)

Thank you and good night.

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When the Internet Strikes

That moment when someone comments on your Facebook factoids specifically to start a fight and politely gets truthbombed back to the Stone Age… and then deletes her FB in a pouty rage because she didn’t expect to be called out for her pernicious bullshit. “Why can’t I spout harmful propaganda that I heard third-hand from a chain letter that my racist uncle sent someone without being oppressed and my freedom of speech trampled by know-it-all academics?!”

I hold that most of the time if you genuinely want to know about a subject, you’ll take the fifteen seconds to look it up rather than compose three haughty paragraphs of sociocentric nonsense. But then again, I’m just an academic.

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My name is Mary


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