for-sale-sign

I’m sitting in the living room of my childhood home. My family dog, Wayne, is snoring to the left of me, and the wind makes a familiar whoosh sound through the open back door.

Just three more days until I head back to school, and I’m in denial that I’m going to be a junior in college. I look back and realize how slowly the days go by, yet how quickly the years fly. And here I am, back at home, just days before a new school year, packing up my childhood bedroom.

My mom’s selling our house. It’s a long, complicated, and sad story, but it’s time to let it go. I’ve known all summer. And I live on my own now, in the city, somewhat distanced and removed from the suburban life I grew up in. I still have enormous amounts of stuff in my childhood bedroom. It’s ridiculous how much one can accumulate in a mere 20 years. I feel like a hoarder.

I’ve told myself time and time again that I’ll come home and clean out my room. It’s a daunting task, true, but for more emotional reasons than anything else. I’m packing up my life, letting the stagers come in and take over my bedroom, so they can turn it into something entirely different to sell it to some new family. So they can build new memories and new stories in-between these four walls.

I didn’t have the perfect childhood, but I was a very happy child. I saw a lot of pain and struggle, but I was a very happy child. I witnessed a lot of neglect and abuse, but I was a very happy child.

As I put years of elementary, middle, and high school into boxes, I think about how lucky I have been to have a home to create so many memories in. Good or bad, these memories have shaped me. And I think I’m starting to like who I am.

I’m feeling grateful for not only this home, but my wonderful, eccentric, and slightly disturbed little family that made this house a home. As I grow and learn and begin anew, I’m starting to realize regardless where I rest my head at night, my home is always with them.

ghosts hand

Dear you,

Yes, you. You know who you are. And I know that you’re reading this.

What a sad thing that this is our only form of communication now. You checking up on my life over the internet instead of having the decency to ask me directly how I’m doing and what I’m up to.

You hide behind your computer, your phone, your lies. You hide behind the version of yourself you give to the world, hoping nobody catches on. But I did. I caught on. And you ran –  far, far away.

By far, far away, I mean about 10 blocks. On the corner of fearful and immature. On the corner of closed, quiet pain, and self-told lies. How is it there? How does it feel to be you?

You’re broken, fragile, fearful. You’re dishonest, cowardly, hurtful. You’re nowhere near the version of yourself that you present. You’re nowhere near the man that you pretended to be. You’re a little boy in a man’s body. How discouraging, how disillusioning.

For a long while, I felt pretty claustrophobic in there, in the box that you put me in. The walls were airtight and it was pitch black. I could barely breathe, barely see, barely remember how things used to be.

I wonder sometimes if you’ll ever open the lid again – to apologize, to say hi, to say anything. 

Because you came and went so fast. I blinked and you were gone, and it’s been three whole months without a single call, text, word, concern, thought. Nothing.

It hurts to hear about the other girls. It hurts to know that you’re moving from one to the next, knowing that I was just one of the many. You cling and connect with someone, but you flee at the first sight of their flawed humanity. How cruel of you. How hypocritical.

But regardless of who you’re dating today, tomorrow, next week, nothing hurts worse than the silence. Nothing hurts worse than the unanswered questions.

Didn’t you ever learn how to truly respect another person’s humanity? Didn’t you ever learn how to love?

You have so many friends and acquaintances. A quintessential social butterfly you are, as people pine and admire you from afar.

You don’t let anybody close enough to see how incredibly disturbed and alone you really are. And when I came along, when I was the one person you let in, you made me believe in you, you made me believe in us. And then you sucked the life right out of me.

I’ve built a beautiful castle from the ruins you left behind. I’m the queen in my life, completely independent and happy without you. Free, honest, alive.

But I can’t help but wonder how it’ll be in just a few short days when the memories of the past are in the present once again. In your smile, in your laugh, in your eyes.

I wonder what you’ll do when you see me. I wonder what you’ll do when I’m around again. I know you once loved me, once cared for me. I know because of how distanced you’ve become. How much space you’ve put between you and I. So it makes it easier for you to pretend. But the space is closing in on you now, stranger, and you must now face the damage you’ve caused.

Dear stranger, you’re not a stranger to me. I know you. I see right through you. I understand who you truly are, and what you’re truly capable of. And one day, so will the rest of the world.

Truth always has a funny way of revealing itself. And you know what it has revealed to me? You have taught me far more than you could ever take from me. Thank you.

heart-breaker-1314312

There’s nothing in this world like falling in love. There’s nothing in this solar system like meeting somebody you have instant chemistry with. There’s nothing in this universe like receiving affection and attention from someone you admire. I’ve been there, and it’s wonderful and magical and beautiful.

Then it ends.

Love is a living thing – it ebbs, flows, breathes, falls in and out, and can cause some major damage. But there’s a type of love that never goes out of style. There’s a type of love that lasts through the thick and thin, the ups and downs, the valleys and peaks. There’s a type of love that will never leave your side if you treat it right. Since you’ve just gone through a breakup, it’s your job and your only job to nourish it back to life.

I’ve felt the kind of pain that only a heartbreak can prescribe: that pit in your stomach, the inability to control your seemingly overactive tear ducts, the questions and concerns and confusion and frustration of it all. I’ve been there, and it’s one of the darker experiences we face as humans, but it’s necessary. It’s part of the game, and it often times wakes us up to the important parts of life that we weren’t paying enough attention to. Don’t run away  from heartbreak, embrace it. And embark on the most important love story of your life: your own.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to re-establish self-love when you’ve lost love from someone else. These are the tips and tricks I stick to when going through a break-up, and it’s proven to not only be the most effective and the most healthy, but it’s also proven to make me a far better person than I was prior to the heartbreak. It takes some work, patience, and time, but so does anything that’s worth it.

Date yourself.

  1. Date yourself. Just because you’re no longer dating somebody specific doesn’t mean you have to stop going out. Take yourself out!  You don’t need anybody else to do that for you, and it’s time to remind yourself of your own worth without the constant reminder of someone else. See that movie you’ve been wanting to see, try that restaurant you’ve been dying to try, go on that hike or take that trip you’ve had one your bucket list for years. Do it. Date yourself. Treat yourself right.

Spend time with those you love.

2. Spend time with people who make you feel good. Spend time with those you who remind you who you are. You are beautiful, fun, intelligent, and authentic! What a blessing it is that you have more time now to explore yourself outside of a relationship. It’s important to surround yourself with a strong community at all times, but especially in times like these. So call your friends, your family, your coworkers, and see how much of an opportunity this is to spend time with the many other people you love. Those people will remind you how wonderful you are, too.

Remind yourself why.

3. During those moments of doubt and sadness, remind yourself why you broke up in the first place. Perhaps it was your choice, perhaps it wasn’t. Either way, the person you’re meant to be with won’t question your worth and you surely won’t question theirs. Write down all the reasons you’re better off out of the commitment, and read through it as often as you need to. Write down all the things you seek in a relationship and all that you have to give, and have faith that that relationship will come your way if you leave room for it.

Feel what you need to feel.

4. Sit with your grief. Allow it to pour over you in the moments that it needs to. Give yourself time to feel. Acknowledge the importance of your last relationship, even if it stings. It hurts because it mattered, but even very important experiences are meant to end at some point. Remember that ending this chapter in your life is just allowing your to start a new one, and as long as you decide it to be so, this new chapter is going to be so much better than the last.

Give yourself time.

5. Do yourself the biggest favor of all, and do not jump into the dating scene until you are completely over your ex. Don’t seek a new relationship to distract you from your last one; that will mess up all your hard work and defeat the purpose of allowing yourself to move on authentically and naturally! Do your own thing and stay away from dating for a while. Your next partner will come when he or she is meant to, so spend your time doing things you love with people you love. Give off the energy of positivity and light so that you attract the type of person who gives the same.

All right, so let’s be honest. You just finished reading these 5 steps, and you may feel a little bit better than before, but there’s still that stinging feeling in your chest that you can’t shake. I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t a quick fix. Processing your heartbreak is going to take time, and these steps can take anywhere from one month to one year. Give yourself the time you need. Your peace will come again, and you will be a better version of yourself for going through this pain now. You are now headed towards the rest of your life, and let me tell you – it’s going to be AMAZING!

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Happy Monday! What better way to start the week than to consciously decide it’s going to be a good one? I have so many incredible things to be grateful for today (and every day) but I’ve been sitting with something in particular that I want to share in this post. I’m feeling especially thankful for the struggle and pain I’ve been going through the past year or so. Especially the past 6 months, I’ve faced a lot of demons and hardships that have seemed to knock me down over and over again. I’ve battled extreme depression and anxiety, personal heartbreak, and an overwhelming amount of grief within some family-related situations. This has been by far the most difficult time in my life and there were some days when I just didn’t know how I would get through.

The past month or so has been an uphill climb, but I’m starting to see the peaks of my life once again. I am starting to feel lighter, more myself. I’ve been laughing more, loving more, and enjoying each day a little more. I’ve been connecting with people more authentically and honestly once again, and I can feel myself break down some of the walls I built for myself. Lately, life has been better – a lot better. And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m now processing and moving forward from some situations, but I also think it’s because I’ve made a conscious effort and decision that my life will be good. That there’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it… My life is going to be full of celebration and joy.

People will knock you down. Life will punch you in the gut more than once. What matters is that you get back in the ring, a little stronger, a little kinder, a little wiser than you were before. I find that a lot of the people I admire most in my life are people that have gone through some of the toughest pain, and I think that’s because experiencing deep struggle within oneself often teaches great compassion towards others.

In the moment, I hated the pain. I resented it. I was so incredibly frustrated with how much I was struggling that I couldn’t see yet see the upside to the experience. Now that  my head and heart are both a little clearer, I can see the incredible lessons I’ve learned in not only the way I treat myself, but the way I treat others. The way I treat my life – as a gift.

Today I’m meditating on this idea – the immense blessing that pain can be. The incredible Truth that can be found by hitting rock bottom, and then using that as the foundation in which to rebuild your life. Today I’m celebrating the beauty of pain.

dating deal breakers

L-O-V-E.

It’s why we’re all here, isn’t it? It’s what we all seek, right? It’s kind of the point of it all, correct? Falling in love – there’s nothing in the world like it. Staying in love – now that’s a whole other story.

I think about Love, a lot. I write about it a lot, too (click here, here, here). But my definition of Love has changed and morphed into something far beyond the romantic, sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of Love. Love has become synonymous with God, or the Infinite, for me. It’s taken a turn into my spiritual beliefs and practices now, and expanded far beyond what I initially saw it as. Love doesn’t necessarily mean romantic, and often times I think that those romantic relationships we have in our lives we mistake as the big L-word. At least, I sure know I have.

That being said, I am going to write about the romantic, date-y kind of love today. The sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g kind of love. I’m going to write about what stops love in its track. What makes me end a relationship. What I’m not looking for in a partnership. My dating deal-breakers. Duh duh duhhhhhh!

  1. First and foremost, my biggest and number one deal-breaker in any relationship is a lack of communication. If the person I’m dating refuses or doesn’t know how to communicate with me and/or I am unable to learn how to best communicate with them, it’s over.
  2. If there is a legitimate reason I have to fear trusting said person, then it’s nada. No more. Goodbye!
  3. If someone doesn’t want to know my soul, story, and mind before knowing my body, see ya!
  4. If our values don’t mesh well, if we don’t share a similar life perspective, then it’s done.
  5. If we don’t support each other’s goals and aspirations in life, nope.
  6. If we have completely different visions of our futures and what we want out of life, then it’s not the right fit.
  7. If we do not have authentic and raw chemistry, it’s a no-no.
  8. If we are not friends, first and foremost and beyond anything else, then it’s time to move on.
  9. Lastly, if we do not make each other better, if we do not bring out the best in each other, then that’s an absolute deal breaker.

Now I know this is a strict list, and I know that we are all fallible. It’s so important to recognize, appreciate, and forgive our own mistakes, as well as the mistakes of those we care about. I know that there are ups and downs to every relationship. But this list is more about deal-breakers that I look for early on in any relationship. These are things that I need to have a good sense of before becoming serious about anybody. This is my list of “no-no’s” prior to committing to a relationship.

I hope this list gets you thinking about your own deal-breakers when it comes to relationships. I think we often settle for companionships that aren’t necessarily of the highest Good for us, and I think that often has to do with the fact that we do not set up boundaries for ourselves prior to getting feelings for somebody. We don’t think we can find somebody who truly is the perfect match for us, the perfect ying to our yang, so we “take what we can get”, and worst of all, we rationalize those situations by saying that if so-and-so “loves” us enough, they’ll change.

We know our deal breakers, but we let them slide in most situations, and we let our demanding feelings lead the way. What is of utmost importance to remember is that there are billions of people on this planet. Finding the right companion for you isn’t a quantity problem, it’s a sorting problem. It’s a trial and error problem. It’s a patience and trust problem. Knowing your deal-breakers and sticking by them does a lot more for you in the long run because it weeds out the people that aren’t meant to be your match, and gets you one step closer to finding out who is. Time is our most valuable asset, so don’t waste it on people you’re settling on. Believe in Love in its Highest Form, and trust that it’s coming your way… But only if you leave room for it.