You Have a Right to Be Here

Hello, and happy Monday friends! Yeah, I know, I know, Mondays aren’t exactly happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed. I know.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, a reset of sorts, every single week. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.”

― James Baldwin, Collected Essays

I’m working on being honest about all the bad things I think about myself and how damaging those thoughts are. It’s taken a lot of work, but I’ve gone from the bad thoughts occurring to me and me just accepting them as truth, to being able to see them for what they are. They are thoughts that come from somewhere that is not me, somewhere in my mind where I have less control and so, and am less responsible.

Understanding that has made a huge difference. What I hear in my head is an echo of my past that has become a habit, a habit so ingrained that it takes real effort and strength to fight. The more I remember this, the more I fight, the easier it gets, but old habits are hard to break and sometimes, I still believe that I have less right to life than anyone else on this Earth.

When I was young, I was told I was stupid a lot.

Now, as an adult, I believe that my mind works in some defective way and that the ways it is defective are somehow my fault. If only I would be better, think better, learn to grasp something obvious and easy then I could finally stop being such a burden and a hindrance to everyone around me. I believe that I am the reason that the people around me are frustrated, angry, sad or stressed. I believe that my stupidity it the cause of all the problems around me, even the ones that aren’t mine.

I believe that this, and my many other flaws and deficiencies mean I don’t deserve to be here. I don’t deserve to be loved or to love myself. I don’t deserve to be successful or to feel pride in my accomplishments. I have no right to look another human in the eye or to demand respect, to be heard, to be counted among the beautiful, the intelligent, the “normals”.

These thoughts live in the back of my mind and subtly influence the way I walk through the world, the way I carry myself and speak to people. These thoughts make me small and quiet and cautious. They make me feel sad and serious, and constantly anxious. I worry about overstepping my place or lowering myself further by saying or doing more stupid things every day.

It’s hard to live this way, and it’s wrong.

There is part of me that knows none of this is true. There is a part of my that genuinely knows that I am smart and good and worthy of all the good this world has to offer and so much more. I am strong and talented and capable. I am loved and deserving of that love. I am something special, and I am just as normal as everyone else.

I have the right to live and breathe and make my life into something I can go to my grave satisfied with, same as anyone else. No one else has the right to hinder that, but we often forget the ways we can hinder a life and a pursuit of happiness. We put our shit on other people and forget how our own wounds never closed and how a few words can break a person.

I have been a victim of other people putting their shit on me when I was vulnerable, like many of you.

So many of us carry around false ideas of who we are and what we are and are not worthy of. So many of us were told by someone who’s opinion we held dear that some part of ourselves was “bad”. So many of us have internalized this filth, and we are having the damnedest time letting it go.

We think we are ugly and stupid. We think that we never have and never will get it right. We think that we are broken and beyond repair. We think that we were set apart and built wrong from the beginning. We spend our lives hiding, making ourselves small, putting ourselves lower than anyone else because we think it is our place.

We all have it so wrong. I’ve never met a person who wasn’t fighting a battle, who hadn’t been hurt, who was suffering and struggling same as me. Every person I have ever met, even if we had nothing in common, even if I didn’t like them, even if I thought they were mean, or hateful, or toxic, I have never met a person who I thought didn’t deserve to be on this Earth.

This week, I want you to know that you that you deserve to be here, and I want you to practice saying that to yourself.

Try talking to yourself like someone you love and respect, someone you think the world of, or simply someone who has done you no harm and whom you have no desire to do harm to in return. Remind yourself that no one is perfect, that no one has all the answers that not one of us is inherently better than any other. Each and every one of us is lucky to be here and that lucky accident should never be wasted on believing such filth about ourselves.

This week, I’m asking you to tell yourself that all the bad things you think about yourself are not your own thoughts, they are the result of other people being people and forgetting that their words can hurt too. I’m asking you to remember that every person matters, and that means you too.

It isn’t easy but I’m asking you to believe, a little more every day, that you have the right to every breath, every step, and every bit of happiness and peace you can get your hands on because it is the truth.

***

If you like this post heck out my weekly-ish newsletter for some existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering + some interesting reads from others. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image via Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // It Feels Like Fighting Winter

“What do you want?”
“Just coffee. Black – like my soul.”

― Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

Hello dear readers and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and a chat. The weather is looking much better than last week but I will be honest with you, my mood is much worse. It’s been a long week and not just because of that man living in the White House now, though most of it is. It’s a combination of hopelessness, anxiety, and stress about huge and worldly issues and some tiny and personal ones too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am still in a state of shock over the new president. I watched the inauguration events most of the day, and through it all, I still couldn’t believe it. I understand that Obama was not a perfect President and that are some valid concerns over war and deportation over the last four years but he was such and optimistic and hopeful leader. He made me feel safer. He made me feel like progress was always being made.

Trump, on the other hand, makes me feel very anxious! He makes me feel like everything we know is going to be disrupted. There is no certainty under him. We don’t know what will happen from minute to minute. I am preparing for a life where I have to be glued to the news to find out what new and horrible ways he is affecting my life and future. It is exhausting! I am trying my best to prepare for the next four years, but emotionally I don’t think I, nor the country at large, can continue at this pace.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I was so proud and happy to see so many people all over the world protesting together, I did not make it to my local Women’s March yesterday. I thought about going, but I just don’t know if it was right for me, or maybe it just wasn’t the right time.

I realized yesterday that I am still very angry. I feel betrayed, but my fellow Americans and I don’t trust the word of its people right now. I don’t trust that everyone who says they are fighting this administration is really doing so at heart. I don’t trust that the person telling me that they don’t agree with the new President’s words didn’t vote for him. I feel like I was abandoned and it will take a long time for me to trust again.

So, I spent the day with family, which is what my soul needed and sometimes I have to put my soul first. I will fight my own way for now, and I will join that public fight when I am ready. In the meantime I assure you I am watching, I am rooting for us, and deep down  I am so happy to see you all coming together.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am not giving up I am simply changing my perspective. I think fighting this administration feels a lot like fighting a hard winter. We can fight all we want, but it is still going to be winter.

It will hurt, and it will be cold. It will be so cold that people might die of exposure and we will mourn and cry, and still it will be winter. It will start to feel pointless, but we still have to fight, not, because we might stop winter, but because we have to keep warm to keep alive. We have to fight because winter can live in your heart and follow you into spring if you let it. We have to fight so that when the season changes we can meet it with warm hearts. We must be ready to get out there and plant beautiful flowers and trees. We have to get out and repair the damage.

I am doing my best to remember that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope the damage won’t be too great.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my doctor’s appointment Monday went well, but I was so worked up over it that afterward that I was exhausted and stayed tense and nauseous for a full day.

I will need more testing and more appointments but so far I have anxiety, migraines, a problem with my right kneecap, and something is going on with my colon, maybe. For the anxiety, I am working on learning how to sleep better, since that is the area of my life impacted the most right now. For the migraines, I have a prescription to take as needed. For the knee, I have exercises and will need future x-rays. For the colon, they will have to take a look. Too much information, I know, but imagine how I feel! I am terrified!

I’m glad that I have finally started to figure out what is going on with me, and I feel a bit better knowing that whatever is going on I am not knocking on death’s door or anything, yet. I am okay for now, and soon I will be doing even better and knowing that feels so good.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had to put down Plato’s Republic this week. I know that book is a classic and a cornerstone of Western philosophy but so much of it sounded, well, dumb. I wish I could have lived back then and argued with Plato, the world might be a very different place today. Before anyone lectures me, I am trying to remember that those were very different times and in the context of history, Plato was a forward thinking man Still, it was frustrating.

So, I took a break and picked up My Ántonia by Willa Cather, who, it turns out was a lesbian. That, of course, has nothing to do with the story and no impact on whether or not this is a good story, I’m just trying to read more books by women and by women of color or queer women. It’s nice to make progress on that front even if it was only by accident.

So far the story is good. It’s different. I haven’t read much on the early American West, so it’s refreshing to explore a new world. I’m hoping to read this one quickly, I’m behind in my reading challenge already!

I’ll get back to Plato eventually.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had better get going before time gets away from me, and I don’t get anything done. I have laundry to wash and fold, a kitchen that is a shameful mess, and shopping to do for the pets. I hope to get a jump on a few post and look into starting a “life audit” later in the evening.

I hope you had a great week. Please, leave a love note below and let me know how you are holding up.

Until next time :)

Life lesson.

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter on life, love, and suffering (:

Written in response to Part-Time Monster’s weekly event, Weekend Coffee Share

Featured image via Unsplash

Short and Sweet Reviews // Small Ghost by Trista Mateer

because she’s nothing
because she’s nothing
because she’s nothing

but it takes an awful lot of work to be nothing sometimes

Trista Mateer, Small Ghost

I’ve been following Trista Mateer on Tumblr for a while now, and when she announced that her newest chapbook Small Ghost was free on Amazon for a limited time, I dropped everything I was doing to download it. I was not disappointed. This little book is packed with a ton of raw and real emotion. It left me in tears, both the sad and the happy kind.

Small Ghost is a collection of poems that tell the story of a girl, Small Ghost, who is coping with depression and anxiety. Smal Ghost has an apartment she can’t keep clean. She has shopping she can’t get done. She has emotions she can’t process. Small Ghost struggles to feel real. She wants to get better, but she isn’t sure how. She isn’t even sure exactly what is wrong. She is sad, but she is also kind of funny, kind of cute, and deep down, maybe a little hopeful.

she does something close to pacing in the fruit juice aisle
starts crying next to the cranberry concentrate
doesn’t remember why

Trista Mateer, Small Ghost

Throughout the story, you will recognize a lot of Small Ghost’s feelings and predicaments as your own. You’ll remember all the times you felt lost and alone, and you will cheer for Small Ghost. You will want to hug her and tell her it will be okay and by the end, you will realize you want to do that for yourself too. You won’t feel so lost or alone because Mateer will have you feeling hope for yourself too.

for anybody who feels like they’d rather
pull the sheet over their head and play dead
than get out of bed in the morning

Trista Mateer, Small Ghost

***

So yeah, I have a newsletter. Sign up, k? :)

Ask For Help, and Keep on Asking Until You Get It

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s imagine that Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. Let’s imagine all the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore and that we’ve been given a second chance to do it all again, and this time, we might even get it right.

From now on Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves, and for thinking about the changes we want to see in the world. Monday’s are our new favorite days!

As for me, this Monday is a bit stressful, but I am proud of myself for keeping a cool head. My driver showed up half an hour late, which means not only were we late picking up our kids, and the parent was mad, but everything else I had to do today has been pushed back too. I am doing my best to catch up, but I fear it may be a lost cause. I’ll be late to everything until lunch.

“It’s never overreacting to ask for what you want and need.”

— Amy Poehler

My childhood wasn’t a particularly good one, and I have grown into an adult who struggles with depression and anxiety, and more specifically issues with boundaries, trust, and relationships of all kinds.

I do not like to be close to people, emotionally or physically. I fear there is always an ulterior motive, even with friends and family. I have a perpetually feeling of embarrassment and confusion around social norms and etiquette. I feel ashamed and afraid most of the time, and I am sad nearly all of the time. I suffer from panic attacks and bouts of depression, flashing rage, and uncontrollable crying. In my own mind, I am worthless, weak, ugly, dirty, and pathetic. I am a failure and a waste of space.

Some days I feel like I am swimming upstream and close to drowning. Some days just getting out of bed, and putting one foot in front of the other is the very best I can do.

There have been days where I wondered whether it might be better for everyone if I were to never wake up again.

I’ve had some therapy, but for most of my life I couldn’t afford it, so I’ve taken the unsure and unstable route of “self-help.” I have improved a lot through self-awareness, honesty, and forgiveness. I still think all the things I always have, but now I recognize them for what they are, symptoms of my past.

 

Getting there has been a lot of hard work, but it all started with one very small, but very big, step. Simply telling myself, and everyone around me, exactly what I needed.

I may need to be heard, be hugged, or be left alone. I may need to hear that I am understood, forgiven, and loved. Maybe need to be told what I am feeling is okay and I may need to be given the space to feel it. Maybe I need someone to hold my hand. I might need to gather my thoughts, to get away, to figure out how I feel. I might need to feel needed. I might just need food, medication, or water.

I might need help, and that is okay.

We live in a society that tells us to be strong we must hold our own. We are told that needed help is weakness and asking for help is something to feel shame for. It is so deeply a part of who we are now, especially as Americans, that I still have trouble asking for help and I still have thought that those who asked were weak. It’s a lesson I have to keep learning, and I wish more of us were learning it too.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. You have found it in yourself to reach out toward another human being and trust them to hear you and help you. It’s scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Each of us would love to help a friend who needed us and each of us would love to be helped too. To feel needed, understood, and cared for are all feelings we are looking for, no matter what our mental health status. We crave that closeness, and long to be that vulnerable.

Being open about my needs, and asking for help, helped me build relationships and learn to trust. It helped me recognize the ways I was hurting myself by not getting what I needed and allowed others to feel close to me and show their love. It gave me a chance to feel in control of my mental state. It gave me the chance to learn to cope and to heal. Asking for help opened to door for me to be able to do everything else I needed to do to get to where I am: happier, healthier, and functioning. I could never have made it this far with the help of others. None of us can.

This week, tell yourself, and a few people you trust, what you need.

There is a lot more to healing and coping with mental illness, but it all starts with the act of openness and asking. Ask for help, ask for what you need, and keep on asking until you get it, and then ask again whenever the need arises. Offer help when you can and let everyone you know hear that it is okay to do the same.

The world needs so much more of that.

***

If you like this post, consider signing up for my newsletter :)

Featured image via Unsplash

 

Let People Know Where You Are, Emotionally

Hello and happy Monday dear readers! Welcome to the beginning of another work week. For most people, including me, Mondays are rough. It’s not easy to get back on track after a couple of days lounging in the sun and staying up late. Yeah, we’ll miss the weekend, but let’s not write off Monday just yet. Let’s try to see it differently.

You might feel sad and disappointed, but that’s no way to live. Instead, let’s try something new. Let’s think of Mondays, not as the first of five miserable days but the first of five days we get to make all the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world around us. Mondays are a new chance to get it right.

My Monday is off to a rocky start, as my Mondays usually are. I’m not too mad about it, though. I’m on an easy schedule this week just before I go on an even easier schedule next week.

This past weekend I was happy to see the hashtag #MyDepressionLooksLike trending on Twitter. Social media isn’t always for sharing pictures of your lunch and trolling. Sometimes you can find a community who understands what you are feeling or can offer advice to get you through your tough times.

I have struggled with depression on and off my whole life. I sometimes think it never really goes away, there are just times when I feel better and times when I don’t. No matter how I am feeling the demands of life never change. I am still expected to get to work, take care of my responsibilities, and conduct myself in a professional and friendly manner. I have always felt like I couldn’t let people know I was struggling because then they would know I was weak.

What if we did tell people how we were feeling? What if we let our coworkers, friends, and family know when we weren’t doing so good? You don’t have to give them your whole life story, just let them know that this week you aren’t in a good place. Let people know when your anxiety was a little worse. Let them know that you’re getting used to new medication. Let them know that the stress is getting to you and you may need a little space.

They may be able to take a little of the load off of you. They may be able to help. If nothing else you could at least stop pretending, even if you couldn’t get a break from life’s demands.

I’ve done this with my coworkers and they’ve offered to help out, let me go home, or to just keep the volume down in the office for me. Of course, I never take them up on any of it, but they do understand why some days I just need put my headphones in and enjoy some personal time while I work.

Never once have they made me feel like I am any less a part of the team. Never once have they made me feel weak or whiny. I think if I hadn’t told them what was going on they might think I was lazy or mean, or both. Or maybe not, that might just be my depression overthinking everything.

Either way, it’s nice to know that the people around me understand that I will have bad days where I can’t make decisions or complete tasks as well as I normally do. They know I may not be as social and I may be easily frustrated or irritated. They know the problem isn’t them and they know it isn’t personal.

They know the Lisa who gets shit done and makes the workplace fun to be will be back.

She just needed a little break.

P.S. Hey guys I’m still looking for a few people to check out my Spring Writing Contest entry, It’s Never Too Late, on the Writing Cooperative. Please read it, hit like if you feel I’ve earned it, and leave a note letting me know what you think. Thanks a bunch!

Featured image via Harsha K R