Why I’m afraid of love…

31. Single. BARELY dating. I ask myself at least weekly “what’s wrong with me?”.

I’m sure it’s a combination of being in a city where no one wants to settle down and me not wanting to waste my time, but something this week caught my eye. There has been this article going around the Facebooks recently that talks about each zodiacs reasoning for being scared of love. It makes some very strong assumptions about people (because that’s how zodiacs work). We all know that it is more coincidental than anything else, so you take it with a grain of salt. However, after reading about “myself” and why I am afraid of love, it makes some good, or at least interesting noteworthy points.

It starts… “LEO – Ruler of the fifth house of lovers, romance, and self-expression, you adore everything that has to do with love. It’s one of you favorite things, you love falling in love, you love talking about love, you love love. You fall in love easily…”

Now, I’m not saying that this is completely untrue, because I do enjoy the idea of love, but this makes me sound kind of obsessed. I think more than anything, having a companion right there for me day in and day out is what I adore about love, but not necessarily the idea of love itself. I don’t dream about love. I think about it sometimes, more because I would like to be loved, but I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed. So in a sense, this could be true, but I don’t necessarily fall in love easily due to an obsession.

The article goes on to say that I’m unable to stay in love because I’m scared of disappointment. I’m picky. I have high standards. It causes me to push people away. And you know what, this is true. I’m at the point in my life where I’m trying to not settle for the sake of just being in a relationship. I’m not sorry that the people who are hugely interested in me send me “wyd” texts 5 times a day. I’m not sorry that texting me every day to just to say hello isn’t enough. I want someone who actively wants to spend time with me (off the phone) to get to know me and that can at least help carry a conversation. Someone who’s about more than brunch. So yes, I’m picky and that may make it harder for me to find a mate, but I’m sure it will pay off in the end, rather than being with someone who solely just gives me attention.

You’re the most generous of the Zodiac, Leo, and you’re more comfortable with giving than you are with receiving, but you need someone just as giving as you are. You’re not as interested in gifts as you are with affection and emotional connection. You’re afraid of your emotional needs not being met and you know that will cause you to fall out of love just as easily as you fell into it.”

This is my love language, point blank. I couldn’t care less if we go on fancy dinner dates, or trips. I have to have a mutual emotional connection with you to love you. I crave this and affection. This is how I love and how I want to be loved. If I don’t feel that i can satisfy your needs in the love department and you can’t satisfy mine, there’s no chance of us being together.

The article goes on to say that I have a fear of people falling out of love with me. While this has happened before, I don’t necessarily have that fear. It may be because I don’t think I know what it feels like to be in love anymore. It’s been a long time and I’ve started to wonder if the love I experienced in the past was real. I started to wonder if it was enough. I think this is my problem, I don’t want my next relationship to feel like my last one, I want it to be better. So it takes me some time to feel this out.

The article tends to lay out some other points that don’t necessarily align with my personality. It makes Leos seem a little like control freaks. While this and being the “life of the party” or the “center of attention” themes are always mentioned with Leos, that’s not me. However, it does say that I rely on my independence a lot. This is true. I haven’t kept from trying to date because of it, but it is a thought that I have often about sharing my life with someone. Do I want to give up my independence to be in a relationship or be in love? I guess the better question is, who out there is worth me giving up my independence for…

You guys can read up on your own love flaws here: https://thoughtcatalog.com/natalia-vela/2018/11/this-is-why-youre-afraid-of-love-based-on-your-zodiac-sign/

What it’s Been Like for Me to Write in this Blog for a Year

We recently celebrated our first anniversary of our blog (like a few days ago). Happy birthday to us! Writing in this blog has brought up quite a few things for me over the year, and so I thought I’d post what it has been like to write a blog for a year, and as such, what it has meant to me.

1. It’s often changed the way I think about events or experiences. Especially at the beginning, but even today (like literally today), I’ve thought in blog terms. I’m not sure if this makes sense but my point of view or “author voice” has popped into the way I’m viewing my daily life. I sometimes think in blog posts. I think that makes me a better writer and more reflective about the meaning of experiences at times versus just going through the motions.

2. It has been frustrating at times. The hardest part of writing a blog is my desire to be authentic and wanting to write about what’s hard. There are still many things I haven’t written for fear of context. There have been things that have been taken out of context. I have had to deal with family and friends questioning what and why I wrote what I wrote. I sometimes write posts and delete them for fear of what others think. I sometimes have great posts in my head that don’t materialize into a post because of the same reasons. The thing is, the more your audience grows, the more impact you potentially can have – which is both a blessing and a challenge. If I have a wish of what the next year will bring, is caring less about what others think and more trusting and caring for myself! And yet at the same time…

3. It’s been so damn liberating at times. Although, there are times I “censor” myself, for each of those times, there is a time I wrote about what hurts and what is joyful and what is me, despite what others may think (although sometimes I do things to decrease the reach of a post). I’ve been able to put into writing abstract thoughts that are hard for me to sometimes say to people. I’ve shed some of the mask and have been vulnerable. I have written about things that make me human, but bring me shame. Sometimes that shame disappears or decreases after writing. That is liberating.

4. I’ve reconnected more with one of my first loves – writing. Many people who know “post high school LeAnna” do not know that I wrote poetry and short stories all through grade school and won a few district wide prizes. Few people probably know that actually. I’ve always wanted to publish a book, I’ve always wanted to publish my poetry. I think in poetry and flowery prose. But due to unfortunate circumstances and some shame, I tucked those dreams away. Writing here as made me write more and want to write even more. It woke up that sleeping dream, tapped me on my shoulder, and my pen has found a voice again.

5. I’ve had the ability to connect with other people on a different level. The best parts of my blogging experience are “me too” texts, “you get me” inbox messages, and when people tell me to continue writing my story, that my vulnerability makes them feel less alone. I have a few purposes in my life, but I know one is to connect deeply with others and to help them through various parts of their journey (often not through a very specific piece). Counseling, teaching/education, and activism, have all been vessels for this purpose, but never did I think my writing could be. Those comments make me want to write more and boldly. They make me want to not censor, to be fully human in order to connect with other humans.

6. It has made me reflect and connect more pieces of the puzzle known as myself. I started out only thinking I’d talk wittingly about my dating escapades. That quickly became something else – about who I am, my spirituality, the way I see the world, the toughest things I deal with on a daily basis. Writing here as made me think about and explore the angels and demons of what makes me. It’s made me evaluate what’s important at times. Writing for me is a process of discovery, and each time I write something here, I discover a little more about me. I’ve always been this way (see above) but I somehow lost this as an adult. I’m happy to be returning.

Blogging has been a fulfilling, but not perfect experience. I have had so much fun, and sometimes doubt, sharing a little more in depth piece of my soul with you. We have grown to over 75 followers, and tbh, that’s more than I ever thought. I hope you enjoy our thoughts and continue to follow us. I’m excited what two years of blogging will teach me.

Happy birthday A Tale of Two Cities followers!

The Anxious Case of Malcolmin Button

$

So for most of you who really know me, you know that I suffer from social anxiety. I used to mask it a lot by just calling it being introverted, or shy or whatever, which I am introverted but a tad on the extroverted side (when I’m in a “safe space”) and a lot of people tend to not understand how that works. So when they see me out here on Instagram living my “best life”, they think “oh, he’s such an outgoing guy. What does he mean he’s ‘shy'”. Well, it’s a very multifaceted thing, and it has layers. So I’m going to try and outline how my brain works for you all.

Anxiety affects people in different ways. My anxiety plays on some of my biggest insecurities. Be it, how I feel about the appearance of my body, my teeth, if I actually sound like an idiot when I talk to people, if I’m talking to much, if I’m actually interesting… The list goes on and on; and the basis of my being introverted is because these thoughts run through my head consistently when talking to friends, family, people I’m meeting for the first time, etc., so it causes me to shut down, and stay in my safe space.

Well, having social anxiety in a new city is not great at all, lol. And when I moved, I knew this would be a big thing that I’d have to encounter because even though I do have associates here that I can hang with, the dynamic of those friends/associates are totally different than what I’m used to. Another anxiety fueled thought I have regarding this is “those guys have their own circles and I don’t want to intrude…”. And I’m sure that’s beyond the truth, but I just can’t help it. My anxiety causes me to feel like I’m a burden to people sometimes.

So, with that said, I made a decision a week or so ago try and be better about my anxiety. Basically, I want to try and manage it better; and for those who follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed, I’m doing a lot more than when I first got here. And I won’t lie, the first two weeks I was here, I was a hermit. So much so that I lost 5 lbs because I didn’t want to go anywhere at all. Didn’t want to eat out at restaurants (the social gathering pastime), or go to a bar to party. But that is totally different now as I’ve been getting my feet wet being social with new people.

This is how I’m working to fight my anxiety:

1. Talking about it

Be it a therapist, or a friend, or even some of the new people that I’ve met, I’ve been super open about my social anxiety. One reason, is because I don’t want people to feel rejected or dissed when I do certain things regarding social situations, and two, it lets people get a better understanding of how I operate. Talking about my anxiety with people sets the stage on how comfortable I am when it comes to making certain decisions down the road.

2. Having a pet

OK this one depends. I know that everyone is not a pet person, or can afford a pet, but I thank whatever magical being responsible for my dog Sora. She’s very outgoing and playful and loving and she just makes getting out and doing things very easy. Even if I’m not necessarily being social, Sora has to go on her long walks. She loves seeing the other dogs in the neighborhood and enjoys the people too! So walking around with her allows me to get out of the house and enjoy the world outside which, in turn allows my mind to focus on other things and not my anxiety.

3. Doing things even though I don’t want to

So I was invited to a new friend’s place for a game night over the weekend. Knowing of my anxious tendencies he was understanding if I didn’t want to go, but he was also very pushy about it. Saying that I needed to go and meet people and whatnot (which, I mean, yeah ok). However, I was invited like on Monday, and the thing wasn’t until Saturday, and my brain was already processing the “questions” about how will people react to me even being there. I did go though, and I had a good time.

4. Not being afraid to say no

OK so I know this sounds contradictory, but just as much as you should let yourself step out of your comfort zone, you should also respect it. So when I find myself trying to “do the most”, I have to realize that I am an introvert that suffers from social anxiety first, and that I need to slow it down a bit. Take it back a few notches. Because when my social battery is completely drained, paired with the anxiety of being social, I tend to blow up and it’s not pretty.

5. Having friends who respect my anxiety and help me with it

Having understanding friends is key, because they should understand what you need when you need it. I know I touched on this before, but friends should be helpful when you talk to them about it. They should help you overcome it, as well as help you when you need to slow down a bit. This will be key in forming new friendships here in DC, and I can’t wait to get out there.

So yeah, these are the main keys of how I’m trying to overcome my social anxiety, and I feel like it’s working. For now, at least. I hope to continue to not look at this as a “problem” per se, but more so as another layer to my awesome personality. I may always have anxiety, but I am not going to let it run my life.

Advice for When You Feel You Have Nothing to Offer the World

Lately, I’ve felt that I have little to nothing to offer the world. That there is nothing of substantive value that I can give and that I’m more of a burden to the world, friends, and family than anything else.

It is not a fun place to be in. I’m also a ruminator, which means once I get that in my head, I spend hours and sleepless nights coming up with thoughts to support that notion.

Have you ever been there?

I spent last night and the night before engulfed in nightmare after nightmare (some real horror shit too) in which I just failed person after person. I saved no one and in many cases caused their pain or demise. In one, I even ended up becoming one of the monsters after being unable to save them from an inevitable death, because I realized (the monsters reminded me), “you’re just one of us anyway” as they casually played video games.

I was definitely in a bad headspace. I went into work today, to meet 8 college students that will work in the department I direct, thinking I ultimately fail everyone, how can I ever provide them anything? I felt hopeless and empty.

I walked in ready to fake it, and my office manager tells me how much her teen daughter loved meeting me for a brief 15 min this weekend. She told me that she thought I was funny and beautiful and really cool.

And then the 8 pairs of eyes and my two professional staff eagerly awaited my opening remarks this morning. I made them laugh. The staff enjoyed the breakfast I brought in. The students warmed up to me. Slowly, the day became a little brighter and little more hopeful. I laughed. I didn’t fake a single thing. I was in my element even for a few hours today and it felt good.

I am not sure if this is the last time I will like I have no value, but even the thought that I could impact a young woman with a simple interaction or serve as a good leader to my staff helped me to find a little ray of sunshine today. The universe knew I knew I needed to feel valued and loved. The universe delivered. She hadn’t forgotten me. I rejoiced at knowing that.

If you feel sometimes that you have nothing to offer, I challenge you to look for small incidents that can affirm that you absolutely are where you should be. Don’t be afraid to relish in those moments a little longer on days you need it most. Forget what people say about pride or boastful ways – sometimes it is an act of absolute survival to really enjoy every single affirmation of circumstance and belonging, no matter how seemingly small they are. None of this is a coincidence; you are here for a reason, exactly where you are, as you are, as imperfect as you stand.

And maybe that reason is for a 14 year old girl to look up to you and think you’re cool. And as seemingly small as that is, it could be inspiring the next generation after all. You are part of something bigger than yourself and you were no accident. You’re not a burden. You have so much to offer and you offer it all the time. You are time and place imagined today, at this moment. Do not give up.

With love always.

My Dirty Little Secret

I’m going to share a terrible secret with you all that I’ve tried to share in 3-5 different draft posts and have not gotten far. When I try to write it, it never seems worded right and I can’t tell where I am going with it. So, it’s possible this post makes zero sense and I guess that’s ok.

I’m a really jealous person. And especially around love, but it shows up in other areas too. But when people close to me are going on dates, getting laid regularly, meeting nice men, getting flirted with – I feel devastated. Like a complete failure and I dont understand. I just don’t.

I know. This isnt what good people do. You support your friends unconditionally, you are happy for their successes, and you wait your turn, but never enviously. Thing is, I’m so tired of waiting my turn. The jealousy thing I’m sure is a by- product of being utterly tired of it. I wasn’t always this terrible of a human.

I decided to examine my jealousy, get to know her, and understand why she is present. When I get close enough to her, she tells me we are very wounded by the world and universe. Y’all. I try hard. I might be a terrible, jealous human, but I really try to be the best human I can be despite my flaws. I try to give selflessly, for many years I’ve been the supporter and cheerleader (without jealousy), I’ve worked on myself, I try to be the kind of woman someone would want to date and marry that isn’t absolutely crazy, I am extremely self aware, I put myself out there, I’ve endured being cheated on, I’ve helped exes get better, I have forgiven, I’ve made no excuses from my past and each day, I renew a commitment to myself and the world to thrive despite any trauma or abuse that has happened to me. And you know what, I still lose sometimes. Life is like that. But there are those that only of the half work, or do the same work, or no work, and they win. Every time.

They barely work out and don’t exercise – no or minimal health issues. Put in a reasonable amount of work or minimal – either way, get promotions. Treat significant others like crap – get into relationships with the most amazing people and are happy. Lie, cheat, and are wholly awful people – get rich and run an entire country. Do half the work, put themselves out one time, make stupid choices, exist – find relationships, get laid, and/or find people who aren’t insane who want to share their time. There is a meme floating around the internet that asks, “what is the hardest lesson you learned as an adult?” One answer was something to the effect that you can be a good person and do all the right things, and life still not treat you well. I cried the first I read that.

I am sure at times that my jealousy now keeps me from being or getting certain things. Part of me truly believes that… it motivates me to want to change that and then just die from the fact that it is still there. I keep doing the work though. I know I’m incredibly lucky in some ways. When I think about how unfair life is to some people, I think about those who can’t climb out of poverty, who’s governments are murdering their family & friends, who can’t catch a break, and that many of them likely have purer hearts than mine. Trust me when I say, I know my life is so charmed at times, although by no means has it been an easy life. I feel a bit ashamed, but later, I’ll see a smiling friend engaged, on a date, with their s/o, and I know I’ll be crushed. I know how stupid this sounds. This is my dirty little (not so much now) secret. I know how it sounds.

I am continuing to sit with my jealousy. Trying to figure out what she wants me to learn. It’s hard because she brings me back to the pain and I’m not exactly sure how she wants me to address that yet. The pain is connected to an underlying feeling of being inadequate, not as good as everyone else, and that I am broken in some way. I’ve been working on that – it’s tied to some deep shit. As I write that, it makes me think – maybe I just have to go through these feelings. Endure them. Check them. Try not let them ruin me, but instead build me. I don’t know.

But what I do know, is now you all know, my dirty little secret. I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, but I hope someone else doesn’t feel so alone. I think we can figure this out. We can be better and ok.

The Number

***

The number those asterisks represent that had me almost in tears. The number of failure for me this morning. The number I avoid purposely (I’ve thrown out all scales in my home). The number that brought to this page, to my pen. The number that made me feel defeated. The number that isn’t that much different than it was 3 months ago, but enough different that it feels like a knife shearing through my heart. The number that represents my relationship with gravity. The largest relationship I’ve ever had with gravity. The number that I’m not even sure I can share with you all.

Today is a bad body love day. Today may even be a bad self-love day.

I consider myself a body positive advocate. I no longer post pictures about my workouts, runs, weight loss, before and after pics, or dieting plans. I think this is damaging. It makes women, young, old, accomplished, and everything in between, doubt who they are, think themselves less, and wonder why not me. It is also is quite boring to me. I’m tired of talking about diets, exercises, thighs, fat blasters and all in between. If that is your thing, go ahead! I don’t care what you do. Just don’t do it with me please. I also suffer from a history of disordered eating patterns, distorted body image, and likely undiagnosed body dysmorphia and an exercise addiction in the past (and I can diagnose myself because I’m a licensed counselor J). So, participating in those conversations are triggers for me and bring about serious self-doubt and pain. Like you have no ideas how many hours I can spend dedicated to speaking about that. According to my past therapists and researchers on ACES (adverse childhood experiences survey), it is also all likely a symptom of PTSD. Isn’t that bitch? Haunted by things that are not my fault and yet I still try to find it ways to make it my fault – enter all of the distorted images of self. Well, fuck. Either way, because of my experiences and experiences of my clients, I’ve realized that for some people, these images and talk are highly damaging, or at the very least demoralizing. It’s made me feel like a personal failure many times (me: why can he/she/they lose so much weight, and I can’t? brain: Must be a person defect.) So, I usually don’t any more.

Today is different. I took this picture below of me because I was disgusted and disgusted I was disgusted and needed evidence for this blog. I needed everyone to see an unflattering picture of me. I needed you to see some of the blooper reels. And then I needed to post it because I needed proof that I’m still human and loveable and all those things. And that fat people work out too, to be perfectly honest.

20180425_063057

And after that picture here is a running reel of things going on in my head as I worked out:

  • Your belly, do you see and feel how full it is? That’s probably why he disappeared after making out with you; he was probably disgusted.
  • Your doctor is going to poke at you on Monday and you’re going to feel awful.
  • Speaking of which, no need to bring in the concerns of your digestive system or any other ailments – it’s all your fault anyway.
  • You look awful in that t-shirt. Remember when it was loose?
  • When you go home, everyone will notice your weight and realize what a failure you are.
  • Two months ago, things were fitting looser. You’ve failed.
  • You are not pretty
  • You will never find love.
  • Some people are larger when they are younger, they are allowed to occupy bodies and look amazing in whatever size; You are not allowed that, because this isn’t your body type.
  • Why can everyone else lose weight so much easily? Did you see all those summer bodies online last night? HA, not you.
  • Why are you reading this book on radical self-love? Do you really think you are allowed that?
  • Your walks around the park aren’t enough twice a week. You know better. You know you need multiple days of intense exercise for 2 hours to lose weight. We have been here before.
  • The wine. It’s the wine. Also, the birthday fun. Nope.
  • You’re not worthy.
  • You’re not sexy.
  • You will be alone forever.
  • You should be embarrassed.
  • You are not enough.

As, I listen to India Arie as the soundtrack to this blog post, and reflect on the words and thoughts I had today, I feel even more ashamed but then it moves to sadness. Timely, she is is currently singing “Just let it go. Set yourself free. Healing is in your hands.” If I reflect on the past few months, this has been the first time in maybe 3-4 months that these voices have been this strong. I suppose that’s progress, although they have transformed into other lies about my incompetence (my work, friendship abilities, partnership abilities, and my intelligence). Even so it demonstrates that I have the capability to heal, I just need to create the capacity.

Speaking of capacity, I haven’t had much of that lately. I have been traveling a lot for work for a few months now, spending the majority of most weeks out of town. In fact, I am writing this from a hotel room in Lansing, MI. I can’t say that it has been fun. It’s been difficult to find food that makes me feel nourished and is nutritious. Workouts are hard to come by. I’m exhausted and not sleeping well. And I’m so very bloated all the time or gastritis is flaring up all over the place. I have had little time for reflection, painting my nails, a social life, or just play. I don’t feel like myself. I’m moody, my patience is low, and I miss my “me time.” On top of this, I’m making some major life changes right now and managing feelings of inadequacy and incompetence isn’t easy. But it’s familiar. It’s my limbic system’s way of dealing with threatening or stressful situations. I’ve started drinking more ginger tea (stomach issues) and my favorite is the Yogi teas. The Yogi teas come with inspirational messages on them, and every single one has been about compassion. Reflecting now, I think that this is the universe’s way of telling me that the person who needs my compassion most right now, is myself.

“I am not the voices in my head. I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside. I am light.” –India Arie, I Am Light

Afraid.

You wrap me in your arms, stroke my cheek,

I feel weak

Safe

Beautfiul

Afraid.

You kiss me softly with your lips,

But also with your gentle words,

Touch

Patience

Quirks

Wisdom

And a smile that always feels

Exactly right

Safe

And bright.

It frightens me.

You feel like home,

Safe and comforting,

Yet easy and familiar,

But also like an undiscovered adventure.

Is this a mountain, ready to fling me down as soon as I climb up

Or a smooth river, ready to gently carry me to safety?

I can’t take the mountain anymore.

You disarm me,

I put down walls willingly,

Lay down my weapons of mass protection,

Hang up my armor.

I am raw,

Pure clay from the earth,

Soft and malleable

Yet strong and buildable

For you.

I don’t have the energy left in me

To be putty for an evil crafts maker or solider.

Please don’t be from enemy lines.

I am knowingly

Intentionally

Choosing

To

Melt.

It’s been a long time

Since I’ve decided to lose form

And be the soft, flowing, mess

That I am

For another

In attempt to find love.

You make me want to try.

I am afraid.

But also so damn ecstatic.

Capitalize on the ecstasy,

But please don’t exploit my fears.

Make me believe.