Emotional Healing. Child of an alcoholic. Young adult depression. Inspiration.

I was once told by a wise woman that emotions are a strong force to be reckoned with. They breathe their own life and have their own destructive force. If one does not allow their emotions both happy and sad to escape and feel acknowledged, they will eat away at the life they live in. My journey in life has been a road filled with many peaks of happiness and many valleys of depression. But through it all I have held those words of wisdom with me. I have always found it easy to release my anguish, my depression, my sadness, and my happiness to those around me who love me and to my best friends “pad and paper.”

With this blog I hope to inspire others to write their emotions on paper, let the forgiving page hear all the words of hurt, pain, contentment, joy. With this blog I hope to inspire myself to forgive all that hurts in my life, to let go of old grudges and to grow, from the inside out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Terrific Turkey Tanya

For as long as I can remember I’ve never had one of those tame families that you see on T.V. that sit quietly at a long banquet table all eagerly awaiting the head of the house to carve the turkey and once the first bites of their thanksgiving feast are taken everyone applauds and says “Terrific Turkey Tanya” or “You must give us your secret.” Never!
Instead my Thanksgivings are loud and boisterous. Lively music plays and a cacophony of voice create a beautiful Thanksgiving Day Carroll. We don’t pass around the mashed potatoes and wait for the person to our left to finish filling their plate. We eat buffet style, serve yourself and everyone then sits at one of the many tables set up to accommodate our large clan. But instead of digging in right away, we all wait for everyone to serve themselves and sit down. We wait to pray and share with all what we are thankful for. And we appreciate that moment. That time that we are all together as one big crazy, happy family.
This year unlike many others, I don’t know what to say. Not because I don’t feel that I have anything to be thankful for. Quite the opposite, I am overwhelmed with thanks. And how could I not be? I am so thankful to my whole family for all the love and support they’ve shown my mom and myself. I truly don’t know how I would have survived with out it.
I am thankful for my Tia Lupe, who has inspired me to write. She has pushed me to realize my passion and take the reins in my life. This blog would never exist if it weren’t for her.
I am thankful for my Tio Mario, who with no questions asked, jumped into action when my mom and I were in need.
I am thankful for my Tia Norma, for making my mom laugh. My Tio Fernando, for always being a listening ear. And my Tia Rosie for her continual love, prayers and support.
I am so grateful for my Uncle Gary and Aunt Janet. For taking care of my dad, and giving him the love and support he needed when my mom and I couldn’t give him that. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say thank you enough.
I am so grateful for my Uncle Larry and Aunt Betty for always being ready to help my mom and I with anything we need. And for being there for my dad. It means so much to me.
I’ve had amazing friends who have been so understanding of everything I’ve been going through, who have been my shoulder to cry on and have allowed me to breathe when I am with them, Matiana, Daniel and Ellie, I am thankful for you.
I am Thankful for my dad for finally positively focusing on himself, and taking the steps he needs to help his family. I am so grateful to have my hero make his comeback.
But most of all I am thankful for my mom. I’m crying as I write this, because the constant love, support and smiles she gives me everyday help me know that no matter what everything will be okay.

We all have something in our lives to be grateful and thankful for, no matter how hard things may seem. In this season of giving and thanks, I ask you all to give me one thing, and that is to let someone in your life know that you are thankful for them.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sweet Surrender

I surrender.
I surrender to powers greater than my own.
I surrender to knowing that I don’t know everything
I surrender
I surrender trying to be the best
And will allow myself to be me
I surrender trying to make others happy
I will make myself happy first
I surrender control over every aspect of life
Please, spontaneity, hit me like a ton of bricks
I surrender
I surrender my self consciousness
I surrender my anger toward the past
I surrender
I now throw up my white flag on all of the negative in my life.
Universe, it is now yours to take.
Bury it in the bottom of the ocean
Or send it high into the sky to join the stars
But no longer will they be mine, or a part of me
I surrender it all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Right & Resistant

Whether it is a simple game of chess or a heated argument, no one likes to loose. It is human nature to play to win, you’ll never hear “Play to loose” from a coach to his team as they’re about to go play for the championship. And arguments are never settled by both sides giving up; unless the person playing or arguing is me. For as long as I can remember I’ve never liked to win. A part of me has always felt guilty winning against someone, as though I am hurting their feelings or making them inferior due to my win. That doesn’t mean I don’t play games, or that I don’t argue, cause trust me, my parents or close friends will tell you different. But the closer I get to winning a game or an argument, the more guilty I begin to feel.
I’ve boiled this resistance to winning down to my underlying issue of always needing to please others, and putting others happiness before my own. I feel that the person I’m playing scrabble with will get more joy out of playing if they gain the most points from their tiles than if I did. I don’t allow myself to enjoy the same happiness someone else may receive from winning because I feel I’ve stolen it from them, even if I won fair and square.
Doesn’t that sound absolutely insane? Well it does to me too. So now that I’ve verbalized my insanity I will change it. I vow to myself to feel the joy of winning. No longer will I let guilt get the better of me. I will stick to my stance in an argument, and I will play my hardest, cause I deserve to win just as much as the next person.
Any one want to play a game of Scrabble?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quitting Questions

Questions, I have so many. Some are silly and some may never be answered. But still these questions have taken up residence in my head. I can usually satiate my need to know the difference between “GREY” and “GRAY” by looking up the answers on Google, or if its one of those questions that has no true answer I just leave them behind like dirty laundry to be dealt with on another day. However sometimes I toss so much in that pile that it explodes. And when these questions won’t be quiet I am hit with a barrage of “hows” “whys” and “whats.” It is in these explosions that I am most vulnerable, because then the most deadly question is brought out of the depths of my mind, the “what ifs…”
My mind immediately fills with thoughts like, “what if I was thinner,” “what if I didn’t act like that,” “ What if I let him go when he wanted to leave,” “WHAT IF…WHAT IF…WHAT IF…” I could drive myself crazy with all those thoughts. And I do.  With every “what if” that enters my mind a new layer of insecurity seems to cover me, like a poorly designed blanket that makes you colder instead of warm. As these layers pile up on my mind I fall into a dark place, a sad place, a place I’ve seen to often in my mind. I lie there in my pile of dirty laundry questions and create my own worst scenarios for every “what if.” It is only ever when I am tired of thinking that I begin to ascend out of my collection of questions. Upon my ascension I always feel the same, relieved that its over, and confident that I never want to do that to myself again; yet somehow I always do.
But in a effort to slowly change aspects of my life that I am unhappy about, I will keep myself out of that hole of quandaries and deal with each question, no matter how difficult, silly or unanswerable it may be, as it comes, and no longer allow them to pile up and take me over. I will no longer allow “what if” to have control over me for I am now quitting those questions.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Painfully Perfect Part 2

I was recently sent a personal story from a reader, who has begun in their journey to heal from the inside out with her own letter. Her words fit so perfectly into this entry that I felt it was necessary to share it here.

KAB, thank you for sharing a piece of your journey. I hope this inspires others to do the same, because we are not alone, rather a community of thrivers. Let your story be told.

Ever since I was a little girl, my role was to be the perfect one and my family’s saving grace. The hero. The one who was always put together, always social, always presentable, always involved. I did what I thought I had to do – got good grades, had good manners and went to etiquette classes at our beach club, did my hair, wore the right clothes and smiled A LOT. Too much. I even won “Most Put Together” in Kindergarten and this is something I would brag about for years to come.
My mom is a recovered alcoholic who has seemed to trade her drinking for relationships, and my father is still active in his addictions, especially gambling and alcohol. When my mom got sober, I felt like I lost a friend. I loved the mom I grew up with and when she got sober, I felt like I had a totally different person in my life. I still do.
My dad’s addiction to money, gambling and alcohol has completely paralyzed me in different areas of my life. Growing up, I was completely surrounded with opulence and excess, or the opposite. More than anything, I craved stability. My dream was to live somewhere in the middle and have that “happy family” that I saw everyone else surrounded with. My dad comes from an old wealthy Pasadena family who to this day believes that appearances are everything. My grandma now lives on the East Coast and she has a kitchen filled with Williams-Sonoma kitchenware, but the only thing in her fridge is vodka. Totally normal, right? I acted on this pressure to be perfect (and still do), and fought like hell to prove to everyone that I had it all together. I grew up thinking that image was everything and it is still something I struggle with. A smile hides everything, and over the years I have gotten so good at this that I totally fool everyone around me and myself. At a certain point, you get way too good at this game. I was the surrogate parent who took care of my sisters and continues to take on the role of the second mother. It is a role that I both resent and protect at the same time. I became so perfect that it started to kill me internally. I became the neurotic type-A perfect oldest daughter… so hell-bent on being perfect that I never slept and was always making to-do lists in my quest for sleep. Through this drive for perfection and filling this empty abyss in my heart, I developed an eating disorder – to be specific, binge-eating which progressed into bulimia. As the oldest daughter of an alcoholic, I love achieving and taking on the title of the perfect daughter. I became obsessed with achievements and being the “good girl”. I am learning more and more every day that there has to be a balance… we are neither good nor bad, perfect nor screw-ups. Right? It all sounds good, but I still feel the need to be perfect for them. Who are “they” anyway and where does this need come from? I am in recovery for my eating disorder, desire for perfection and my parents’ alcoholism but every day it becomes more obvious to me that what the experts say is so true – addiction is a family disease, and I am living proof of that.


Painfully Perfect

Brown Eyes. Artistic Spark. Caring Heart. Family Values. Genuine Laugh. These are just a few of the amazing traits that I’ve been so fortunate to receive from my mom. But there is one trait, that I am glad was not passed down to me, and that’s her need to always have a fa├žade of a calm, cool and collected woman. Through the toughest times in our lives, when uncertainty was all we knew she would talk to her brothers and sisters as if our family were a part of a sappy 70’s sitcom.  She could never let them know that things were slowly crumbling, or that maybe she couldn’t handle what was being thrown at her. Instead with a false smile on her face she would say that everything was Hunky-Dory and never allow her family to try to help her.
I don’t know why she never felt that she could let others in on everything in her life, the good and the bad. Maybe it’s because if its said allowed, then she has to admit it to her self as well. Or that she’s afraid of what others will think when they hear about what has been happening. In either case, it was not healthy.
Lately however she has started to turn a new leaf, partly out of necessities and partly because of my own loud mouth when it comes to such issues (I have no problem letting people know the good, the bad or the ugly in my life). And even if it was an unwanted change, it was a change that she needed. And I think finally she is beginning to see it pay off. No longer is she burdened with all her woes on her shoulders alone, she is starting to realize that there are people who love her and who are willing to help her carry it. And that in its self must be a freeing piece of knowledge.
So to all those out there who have a veneer of painful perfection, I ask you to please allow someone else into your life and introduce them to the skeletons you’ve been hiding in your closet. Because as soon as you do, it will no longer be just you against the world, rather a brawling bash filled with laughs and tears and most importantly, you being free.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Overcast & Overjoyed

No sun peers over the majestic mountains. And summer rays cease to strike the warm earth. Instead grey lays over head and the cool whispers of wind breath all around. People in the streets wrap their coats tightly to their shivering bodies to keep out the cold breeze which has triumphed over the warmth. Murmurs of discontentment with the shadowy sky and soft lighting escape so many mouths, but not mine. I rejoice a day that the sun sleeps in and takes a break from being a bright being. I delight in a day that I’m able to lie in bed staring out the window and let my mind wander as far as the damp clouds cover. I let my fears fall with the rain and my insecurities slither down drain pipes as the overpowering clouds cover me and protect me. It is in these rare days of California weather that I truly feel happy. So as the cool beads of heaven hit my window and the earth’s chorus of zephyrs and droplets chime together to form a harmony of sounds that lend so beautifully to a freeing dance in the rain, I leave all my worries behind, go out side and dance a beautiful rainy day boogie.

Only Happy When It Rains

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Needing Nana

My family is cast of characters, a cornucopia of individuals who other than a few key features are very different. But even through their differences my mom’s brothers and sisters have a bond so close that I, an only child, envy so much. My aunts and uncles all have a spark of genuine love, life and caring that holds them together like the binding of a well read book.  I attribute this connection they all share to their mother, my grandmother, my namesake and truly one of the most influential people in my life.
My Nana has had a life of heartache, pain and trials, but that never interfered with the way she raised her kids. Despite her husband leaving her, alone to raise their six children, losing a baby or working two jobs to keep her children in catholic school so they would have a chance to get out of South Central Los Angeles she made sure to raise them not to pay attention to the negative in life but rather giving them a life full of love, laughter and light.
I feel that it’s through the strength that my Nana gave my mom and her siblings and even myself that my mom and I have been able to survive the craziness that our lives have been for the past few months. I thank my Nana for giving her children the strength, love and wonderful sense of family that she has, because with out it I know our lives would all be so much different. And as of right now, I wouldn’t change my life for anyone in the world.

We all have that special someone in our lives that has helped shape it and make it what it is today, for me it is my Nana, who is it for you?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Moniker, Magnet

After a hectic day at work a co-worker and I decided to go get a drink at a local bar. This co-worker had recently gone on a spree of nicknaming our other colleagues, but had yet to figure out what fit best for me. In the middle of a conversation over our beer he had a “eureka” moment, “MAGNET” he exclaimed, “That’s it, your Magnet.” When I asked him why he decided this would be my name he said because of the strange people I seem to attract. Well that’s perfect I thought, a man that I’ve really only known at work already knows about my propensity to attract the strange in the world.
This however has been something that my family has known about me for years, they used to call me the Mother Theresa of the freaks, geeks and whores. My friends could have been described as a menagerie of characters ranging from the drama kids, to the outcasts, to the girls in school who gave “it” up to easily. And yet I didn’t fit into any of those groups. I didn’t have the dedication to be part of Drama, I was too much a social butterfly to be part of the outcasts and I was as pure as the driven snow. But despite that I still seemed to attract people from all of these different groups.
My aunt asked me once what it was about all these different people that I liked in them. After thinking about it for a while I responded to her saying that I think I like projects. We laughed at the idea, but then the realism of what I said set in. I did like projects, I have an ability to see the positive in people, glorify them and see their potential in life, and then I try to help them reach that potential, whether they want it or not. And that became a problem, because although I always had friends in my life, I never had them for very long. And in retrospect it is most likely because I did try to change them or mold them into what I thought they could be. Though this pattern ended years ago, I still try to keep a check on my high expectations of others, and understand that change can only come when it’s wanted.
So although my friendship projects have ended, that doesn’t mean my magnetism toward weird and wonderful individuals hasn’t. As my coworker said best “if there’s a weird-o in a ten minute radius, they’ll find you” now I just don’t try to make them my friends, or if I do, I don’t change them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Learn to Laugh & Love

Tough love, sometimes it’s the only thing that will snap you out of a bad place; sometimes even though we hate to hear or admit it to ourselves, it the only thing that will save us.
My mom is a warrior, a true fighter in every sense of the word. Not only has she dealt with my dad’s struggle with alcohol and mental illness for close to 20 years, but she has also dealt with watching her only daughter fight some of those same inner demons. From a young age I have battled depression and fits of anger or rage, to the point that I wanted to die. How hard it must be to hear your child yell about life not being fair, and not wanting to be a part of it. But I regrettably put my mom through that hell. Yet my mom, in a situation where others may have sent their six year olds to child psychologist, gave me tough love.
My mom would not allow me to go into a “woe is me” moment, instead my mom taught me to laugh. And laughing may not sound like tough love, but when she walked me to her second story bedroom window and told me to jump, I had to laugh. She taught me not to take the bumps in the road so seriously. Rather embrace them as another reason to smile. Because as one part of your life seems like it’s falling apart, you’ll surely appreciate the pieces of your life that aren’t. Those pieces that maybe you never appreciated in the first place. And the first step is laughter.

Mom, thanks for teaching me to laugh