My Sister

For those of you that don’t know, I have a younger sister. She will be 21 this July. We aren’t distant, but I wouldn’t say that we are super close either. We are definitely closer now than when we were young children, though. The fact that we can eat together or be in the same room is huge progress.

I’m not sure when our relationship improved, but it was definitely post high school (2015ish). I wasn’t an angry teenager anymore and she had matured enough for me to feel like she wasn’t a baby anymore.

My sister and I are very different. but I have noticed more similarities as we’ve gotten older. I have always been a super introvert, and while she has become one more as she’s gotten older, she used to be quite extroverted. I suspect that a depressed and emotionally exhausted extrovert might present as an introvert, though.

She’s currently living in Florida with another person she was recently in a long relationship with. I don’t think they’re good for each other. When I was in a questionable relationship I wished that my mom or my sister would have said something about what they saw and felt. I see my sister now in what I see as an unhealthy relationship and I try to tell her what I wish she would have told me: this isn’t good for you and you need to leave. Fortunately, she is temporarily moving back to GA in July. We’ll see what happens.

My sister had difficulty with our parents. It wasn’t entirely her fault. Personalities were all over the place and everyone was always yelling and not actually listening to one another. I tried to stay out of it and only interfered when I was fed up.

She struggled with making trustworthy friends and I disliked most of them because they ended up treating her like trash. She made some unwise decisions over the years and her life in general seemed reckless. I didn’t know how to help, so I just always tried to be there when she felt like talking. I also made sure not to contribute to any internal issues I felt she had: comparing herself to me and putting me on what seemed like an unattainable pedestal.

School was easy for me. School was not easy for her. I had great luck with friends. She did not. I never had any body image issues and I rarely got shit from family (other than the “you need to eat a sandwich” comments). I would say that she was made fun of and ridiculed for the way she looked by people we cared about. Even when I was at my most frustrated and angry with her, I refused to stoop so low as to make fun of her for the things she was most insecure about.

Anyway, the point of this post was to share Noah Cyrus’ new song:

I think this song resonates with things my own sister may have been feeling when she was growing up. As soon as I heard this song I thought of her.

I know I didn’t encourage the comparisons between me and her, but I still feel guilty. I wish things had been easier for her and I wish we were closer and I could’ve been more of a friend, but it is what it is. I can’t change the past, but I will try my best to be there for her when she moves back home.

Sharing My Story

My therapist recently contacted me to ask me if I would participate in an interview about my experience in therapy. He would then want to use bits of that interview in a promotional video for his practice. I said sure. That interview was last Friday at 11 am. I wore jeans, converse, and my Ellen sweater that says “kindness” on it.

When I arrived at the little studio on the westside of Atlanta, my therapist was just finishing up a photo shoot with the two other therapists he works with.

Once they were done, the helpers moved the furniture and replaced the couch with a glass table with a chair on either side that were facing each other. I was also given a microphone to clip on my sweater and on the back of my pants.

Now, days before the interview . my therapist sent me an email with a list of possible questions. I, of course, typed out answers to all of them just in case I got tongue tied during the actual interview.

Here are those questions:

Thoughts leading up to therapy. 

“Man, I hope this works.”

Why did you choose therapy? 

I was unable to “deal with it” alone anymore and I wanted another opinion. It had also been 10 years without significant progress, so I figured therapy wouldn’t make it any worse.

What were you looking for?

Initially, a cure; however, I recognized that that was unrealistic and unlikely, so I adapted it to “new ways to get through anxiety without making me stop living my life.”

What did you think about the phrase “all of you is welcome”?

It gave my “undesirable” parts an invitation to participate and be heard. I never invited them.

Do you remember me saying let’s “unbraid your narrative” or paying close attention to how the “researcher” was managing anxiety? —what changed (realization that I was capable in chaos)

I heard, “start from the beginning”. The realization that I excelled in chaotic parts of my life was validation that I could get through anything and that I would continue to get through anything.

How did kindness help/facilitate this process?

The act of being kind to myself opened many emotional doors. It made me feel more vulnerable and exposed because I think I knew exactly what parts I had been suppressing and invalidating; I didn’t want those parts to make all the parts I was so proud of look bad.

Where you afraid to talk about the parts of you? Did you think this would mean you were crazy?

I don’t think I was afraid per se, but I did have to make a conscious decision to share very personal accounts and thoughts about my life and myself with a complete stranger. I was hoping that I would be pushed to think about things differently than I had been. In the end, I think the reason therapy worked so well with Jon is because we are fundamentally very different personalities; I can’t say that I would’ve been as successful as someone who was as logical as I was. Jon challenged me to welcome and embrace the “softer” sides of myself and this was very helpful in the healing process.

There was never any concern about me being “crazy”.

What did you think about the 3 steps: Tell the Truth, Set Intention, Tell a Different Story?

I am honestly drawing a complete blank.

Being kind to self? Was that something new for you? 

Are you still using kindness today? 

Being kind to myself in the way Jon wanted me to be kind to myself was new, yes. I thought that I was kind, but I quickly discovered that the standards I held myself to were significantly higher than what I held other people to. I was also more forgiving of other people’s emotions; for my own emotions, I limited myself to an allotted slot of time for me to be sad, cry, and wallow in grief or whatever other emotion/feeling I deemed to be negative [for me].

Today, I am kind to myself. I don’t really have to think about it anymore, my body and mind now know that they are free to feel whatever they want without punishment.

Thoughts leading up to therapy. 

Man, I hope this works.

Why did you choose therapy? 

I was unable to “deal with it” alone anymore and I wanted another opinion. It had also been 10 years without significant progress, so I figured therapy wouldn’t make it any worse.

What were you looking for?

Initially, a cure; however, I recognized that that was unrealistic and unlikely, so I adapted it to “new ways to get through anxiety without making me stop living my life.”

What did you think about the phrase “all of you is welcome”?

It gave my “undesirable” parts an invitation to participate and be heard. I never invited them.

Do you remember me saying let’s “unbraid your narrative” or paying close attention to how the “researcher” was managing anxiety? —what changed (realization that I was capable in chaos)

I heard, “start from the beginning”. The realization that I excelled in chaotic parts of my life was validation that I could get through anything and that I would continue to get through anything.

How did kindness help/facilitate this process?

The act of being kind to myself opened many emotional doors. It made me feel more vulnerable and exposed because I think I knew exactly what parts I had been suppressing and invalidating; I didn’t want those parts to make all the parts I was so proud of look bad.

Where you afraid to talk about the parts of you? Did you think this would mean you were crazy?

I don’t think I was afraid per se, but I did have to make a conscious decision to share very personal accounts and thoughts about my life and myself with a complete stranger. I was hoping that I would be pushed to think about things differently than I had been. In the end, I think the reason therapy worked so well with Jon is because we are fundamentally very different personalities; I can’t say that I would’ve been as successful as someone who was as logical as I was. Jon challenged me to welcome and embrace the “softer” sides of myself and this was very helpful in the healing process.

There was never any concern about me being “crazy”.

What did you think about the 3 steps: Tell the Truth, Set Intention, Tell a Different Story?

I am honestly drawing a complete blank.

Being kind to self? Was that something new for you? Are you still using kindness today? 

Being kind to myself in the way Jon wanted me to be kind to myself was new, yes. I thought that I was kind, but I quickly discovered that the standards I held myself to were significantly higher than what I held other people to. I was also more forgiving of other people’s emotions; for my own emotions, I limited myself to an allotted slot of time for me to be sad, cry, and wallow in grief or whatever other emotion/feeling I deemed to be negative [for me].

Today, I am kind to myself. I don’t really have to think about it anymore, my body and mind now know that they are free to feel whatever they want without punishment.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about going therapy but is unsure?

It never hurts to get a second opinion. Maybe this isn’t as good as it gets- go find out. Except for the co-pay, you’ve got nothing to lose.

So, the actual interview went well; it was a lot shorter than I thought it would be. I don’t know when the final version will be completed, but I was told I’d be sent an email.

They gave me flowers, a candle, and a bottle of red wine for my time. There was also a thoughtful card from my therapist.

I guess I feel fine about the interview. I was nervous about too much personal information being released, but it was actually very surface level. Whenever it is released, I’ll put it on here or at least share my thoughts on it.

Date Night: The Science Museum

My girlfriend and I are going to the local science museum for a 21+ experience involving volcanos, so I am thoroughly pumped. I’m told there will be alcohol, music, movies, and “adult” experiments. I really don’t know what to expect.

I shaved my legs and armpit for the first time since October 2019 and I think I might have clogged the drain a little.

My mouth (FINALLY!!!) does not hurt anymore. I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen every day for the past week as well as rubbing clove oil on my gums every morning and night. I didn’t attend classes on Monday and Tuesday and was unpleasantly surprised with a test when I returned to campus on Wednesday.

Today is Valentine’s Day, yes, but it is also my coworker’s birthday, so a few of us brought baked goods. I made vanilla macarons and vanilla cupcakes. My coworkers brought a chocolate cake with coconut frosting and raspberries on top. It was delish.

I had a meeting with my advisor and I will officially be graduation in May 2021. My body is ready. I will also be starting full-time at my current job this summer, so that will be nice to have a little more income.

For those of you in school and for those of you that haven’t done your taxes: make sure you or your parents claim the American Opportunity tax credit if you’re in your first 4 years of college. It could get you $1,000 and I know ya’ll need it.

I am currently baking sugar cookie bars. I’ve attempted to dual color the icing, so we’ll see if it turns out as I hope it will.

But What is a “Date”?

My girlfriend’s sister brought up an interesting question the other day: Why don’t Chelsea and I go out on dates? I suppose that’s what it seems like- that we don’t “date”. I would say the opposite, though.

After thinking about it and talking with Chelsea about it, I’ve concluded that we do date. We may not go out, but we make time for each other.

Both of our love languages are Quality Time, so it doesn’t require us leaving the house or spending money to have that fulfilled.

I do enjoy going out occasionally, but I don’t need to go out in order to feel like we’re being “productive” as a couple in the world of dating.

Here are some favorite ways that I like to spend time with my partner:

  • Watching movies and TV shows together
  • Cooking/baking together
  • Eating my cereal on the toilet while she brushes her teeth
  • Walking together to the mailbox [almost] every evening
  • Carpooling to the grocery store, events, my parent’s house, friend’s houses, etc.
  • Eating meals together

It doesn’t take much for me to feel happy in my relationship. Neither of us care for elaborate plans and as long as we’re together, anything can feel like quality time.

What’s your love language and how do you make sure your needs are met? How do you make sure your partner’s needs are met?

Turkey Day is Rapidly Approaching

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This means that most of us will be returning home to see family that we only see specifically during this time of the year. For me, this year is different because I am bringing someone with me.

I actually introduced my girlfriend, Chelsea, to various family members over the past 2 months and it all went surprisingly well.

In my last session, I spoke with my therapist about the holiday season and my own expectations regarding family and my obviously gay relationship. He told me to have minimal to no expectations and to be open-minded. At first, I reacted with, “WhAt?! You want ME to be open-minded??”

Buuuuut, then I realized that he was right. I was already anticipating the homophobic comments, questions, and uncomfortable stares months before actually being around family. I was making assumptions. I was judging. If I were to enter their homes with this attitude, it was going to be obvious and rub off on them.

In order for this to be natural and comfortable, I needed to let go of anything I thought before. I needed to act natural and comfortable myself. There is nothing weird or abnormal about my relationship and the more normal I act, the more normal it will be to family.

I’ve worked so hard to be 100% myself. I feel like I’ve only fully achieved that in 2019. I am ready to just have fun and enjoy this holiday season.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Searching for Chaos

I’ll get right to the point: My romantic relationship that I am currently in is going very well. Chelsea and I just moved in together and I’ve even told conservative family members about us. She makes me feel like I’ve got nothing to lose by being 100% myself.

We’ve been seeing each other for about 3.5 months and this is right about the point where things start to look questionable (I’m speaking about my past dating experiences). Three months always seems like the perfect time for people to give up the “I’ve got my shit together” act and then things go south from there.

I have not had this suspicion in this relationship. Like I said before, things have been going great.

This scares me.

My body and brain are just used to chaos. I’m used to chaos at work (this has changed since my new job), at school (mainly concerning class-load (my fault)), with family (it’s complicated), with friends (I am not involved in it, I just am surrounded by it), and, unfortunately, my romantic relationships have not been absent from chaos either.

Over the years, I’ve developed mad planning strategies to help me navigate my own busy life. In the cracks of free time, I was doing household things, school things, or helping friends or current romantic partner through their issues- all the while, of course, I was ignoring my own need for peace, quiet, and some time to deal with anxiety and past events.

Right here, right now, I am in the best mental health I’ve ever been. I can say that without doubt. But old habits die hard and my body is in defense mode in this current relationship because it just can’t be real. Or can it?

My fear is that being in a healthy and “normal” relationship will start to seem so foreign to me that I will unconsciously search for reasons to doubt it and an out in order to avoid repeating past experiences.

I don’t see red flags. Things are great. I am happy. I am so happy. I don’t want this to end. I don’t want my brain to get weird. In order to combat this particular fear, I’ve already discussed it with Chelsea, my therapist, and I will continue to check in with myself and make sure that I am not just creating chaos to have chaos.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy almost Halloween!

Therapy is coming to an end.

My first therapy session was 166 days ago. I have had about 20 sessions. I started in sit-down therapy, a variation of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and I shifted to exposure/exercise therapy about 7 weeks ago.

While I came to therapy on my own accord, I was still hesitant to fully expose myself to a stranger. I knew that I needed and wanted help, but because so much of the process was unknown, I was nervous and withholding.

I remember how uncomfortable I was when talking about difficult times and then feeling my eyes water. I remember how I started to sweat when my voice started to shake. I remember adverting my eyes to the floor and pinching my thigh with my fingers to distract myself from the emotions that were bubbling up.

4 weeks ago, I cried my eyes out in front of a mirror in the downstairs gym during a session with my therapist. I didn’t love it, but I was more accepting of my tears and the [good] reasons behind them.

By the end of 2019, I will be done with therapy. It feels good. The progress that I’ve made was not recognizable overnight; my progress pops up randomly throughout my days in between all the little tasks I do. It’s a slow crawl towards mental liberation, but the [long] journey has been well worth it.

Dating with Intent

I did not come up with the title of the post. My friend told me about her recent dating experience and the topic of “taking dating more seriously” came up. We didn’t like that “title”, so she suggested “dating with intent”.

So, in regards to my friend, she explained that during her early college years she was partying, dating around, and not very focused on long term relationships/dating. Fast forward 5 years and she is now taking dating more seriously; she’s putting more thought into who she goes out with and she’s looking for someone to spend years with, not one or two nights.

I feel like I experienced a similar shift recently. I haven’t done a lot of short term dating. In fact, I’ve only dated one person for short term: 3 months. All other relationships have been 6 months- 2 years in length. However, I feel like my mindset through all of these was very scattered.

I’ve addressed my commitment issues before. In addition to those, I also had feelings of just not wanting to be in something long term. I just didn’t want it, so why did I keep falling into these things? I don’t have an answer for that.

My point is that even though I was in [mostly happy] long term relationships, I didn’t initially go into them wanting that. And, as the relationship progressed, I often found myself wanting to exit the situation for a variety of reasons. My body and mind is always go, go, go, and on to the next.

I’m not sure when the change in mindset or desires happens for people, but I think my own brain experienced a shift in the last 6 months. What I’m referring to is the “I wanna run around” mindset versus the “I want to settle down” mindset.

All of sudden, following the whirlwind that was my AmeriCorps NCCC experience, starting therapy, moving into a new house, starting a new job, and resuming my studies, I had the sudden and strong craving for stability and security.

I had moved countless times during 2018. After moving back home, I experienced daily anxiety and panic attacks caused by the simplest things. I entered a new work environment and stepped onto a changed university campus. And I kept up with it all, but I was tired. As the weeks went on, I accepted even more tasks and activities into my schedule, but it was exhausting.

Unexpectedly, I longed to slow down. I didn’t know how (that’s something I’m still working on), but I knew I needed to for my own mental and physical well-being. With this new feeling also came a daydream of coming home after work to a cozy house and to an unknown, blurry-faced, long-term partner.

Don’t ask me when, why, or how, but somewhere between May, June, and starting therapy, I was no longer interested running solo or running away.

Of course, those who read my blog know that I have since found a beautiful and amazing partner who is making all of my daydreaming come true. I feel differently within myself when I am with her and I think a large part of my current mindset is thanks to therapy. I also think there’s the natural maturity and growing older that makes people crave security. Whatever it was, I’m happy it happened.

Do you really know, though?

EDIT: I actually wrote this in a month ago and hit pause. I figured I should upload it.

I’ve been reading articles for weeks now about other people’s experiences with “finding their person” and the whole “when you know, you know” thing. I started researching this topic because I felt crazy and doubtful that this phenomena could ever happen to me, yet what I felt was what these people described: a silent knowing that this person just is the person you want to wake up next to every single day for the rest of your life.

My friends and family would not be quick to describe me as spontaneous or “quick-to-trust-others”. I pride myself at being the most logical, analytical, and critical person I know. I plan EVERYTHING. I have four planners and calendars, as well as the calendars on my phone and laptop. I structure my days and weeks very carefully and strategically. I rely on my gut feeling a lot, but I back it up with good ole fashioned logic.

I started therapy in May of this year, 2019. Since then, my therapist has opened me up to relying on my logic less and trusting my heart more. Together, we broke down a lot of walls I had built up for myself for my own comfort and . I think I’m very open with friends, but I am not as open or as accepting to myself. That has changed.

I believe it is only because of therapy and my cooperation with the process that I was able to experience the feelings I felt towards Chelsea in late July and be okay with them.

When I met Chelsea, I had been in therapy for about 3 months. I accomplished a lot in those three months. When I interacted with her for the first time, I was nervous, but also excited and sure of my[new]self. I found that I didn’t have to filter myself. I didn’t feel pressured to act a certain way. I only hoped she enjoyed talking to me as much as I enjoyed talking and listening to her.

I walked away from the first date wishing I had kissed her; however, I also didn’t want to scare her, so maybe that was a good call on my part. By the second date, however, I was as good as hooked. And I felt something I hadn’t before.

The feeling was a mix of relief, security, excitement, and a little bit of disbelief and suspicion.

So, I don’t know what this is. I don’t understand it. I don’t know why now, why me, why this. I know nothing and I will be of no help to any of you trying to figure this out. I do apologize for that inconvenience.

The only thing I can say is that maybe you have to be in the appropriate and healthy headspace in order to allow yourself to experience things you thought you were previously undeserving of.

I had accepted that the kind of love I wanted just wasn’t going to be in the cards for me; however, three months of therapy later and I found myself in what currently seems like the healthiest and most promising partnership I’ve ever experienced.

You have to trust your partner’s words and feelings.

When I was 16, I wrote a letter to my future self. The letter was about believing my own children (if I decided to have them) when they say that they’re in love at 16. I wrote the letter at a time where I was madly in love with my first girlfriend.

Today, as adults, we have a tendency to look at young[er] love and laugh. “They’re not going to last.” “Little do they know they won’t end up together.” “How cute, they think this is forever.” Whatever your phrase is that you use when looking at teenagers in love, you can’t deny their attraction to each other. You can’t deny their hormones and their impulsive tendencies. It’s new, it’s exciting, and it may or may not last, but what they feel is real. I was there, I was 16, and I know that what I felt wasn’t made up.

16 year old Megan

When your own feelings and words are questioned or doubted, you are quick to get defensive about them- I am, anyway. “What? What do you mean you don’t believe me when I say [insert your words here]?” “Why would you doubt my feelings for you?”

However, on the flip side, I do completely understand the other point of view. The internal dialogue might go something like this: “There is no way that [insert name here] feels what I feel. There is NO way that they like me as much as I like them. They would probably think I’m crazy if they actually knew how often they were in my thoughts. I can’t believe how into them I am, but I’m not convinced that the feeling is completely mutual.”

I think that the above dialogue stems from simple insecurity of self. We are our own biggest critic. We set our hopes and dreams above what we think we will actually ever achieve. We belittle ourselves. We are hard on ourselves. We have a difficult time accepting ourselves as who we are as humans, so the idea that someone else has accepted us- an anxiously uncertain jittering human mass of unshaven limbs and hair that we think looks like it was ordered by the electric socket in our bathroom- can seem very unreal at first.

I’m being dramatic. Personally, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had minimal insecurities about my physical appearance; however, my general “it is what it is” attitude, my frequent use of sarcasm, and my very forward and blunt responses have gotten me into some trouble in the past. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to terms with my personality and I think I’m hilarious. Finding a partner who feels the same way about the things that come out of my mouth has proven to be challenging.

So, when mutual romantic feelings were confessed between me and my now girlfriend, I did have a momentary lapse of thought that went a little like this: “Does she really think that’s funny, though? Is she really okay with what’s happening? I hope I didn’t just insult her. I also hope that she doesn’t think that I sound like a prick. I hope she can tell that I’m not as arrogant as my words make it out to be sometimes.”

In conclusion, humans are all insecure in some way, shape, or form at some point in their lives. We all have issues. We all doubt both ourselves and those around us. For the sake of your relationships, though, do your best to take what your partner says at face value; don’t look too deep into it. Believe them, trust them, and enjoy the ride. If they weren’t into you, they probably wouldn’t be dating you.