journal

Sharing

A CANDID NEW YEAR POST


No Comments

Today is January 1st, 2019 and I don’t feel anything like they say you are suppose to on this day…

I don’t feel like I’m filled with hope or positivity. In fact I feel the opposite. I feel hopeless and a whole lot of anger. Hopeless to my current circumstance and angry at myself for feeling this way on this day dedicated to new beginnings! Angry that I’m here. Angry that I’m not better even in this moment. Angry that I don’t feel like giving to those around me. Angry that I’m mad at them for not being there for me the way I want them to. Angry that I’m still needing the external validation despite knowing better. Angry that I’m taking this life for granted in this moment. I am just so angry for being HERE.

I felt moved to share these not so festive feelings so that those of you that are feeling the same way know you are not alone. Maybe these words will bring an unexpected comfort to a stranger half way around the world or maybe even to my neighbor next door masked in anonymity. I know putting them out there has somehow transformed the feelings inside me just now. Brought me an inch closer to feeling peace in the raging storm of my mind.

Just don’t give up on yourself. Not this year. Not today. Not yet. You are not alone.


Sharing

The Double Standard


No Comments

I was introduced to the concept of feminism years ago. Although, at the time I never really gave it much thought. Probably because I was in middle school and I had greater pressing problems on my mind like deciding between team N’Sync or the Backstreet Boys (obviously N’Sync) or how my friend was dating my soul mate and sucking face right in front of me allll the time.  Anyway, I didn’t understand why I needed to declare I was a feminist. I mean wasn’t just “being” a woman enough? Like why did I need to go and label myself as super woman? And why the F did it even matter? Life is just fine for me…

Thankfully I grew out of my adolescent understanding of the term and grew into my big girl shoes. Looking back now I can see that I started to fight the “good fight” even back then. In my naive state of mind I didn’t understand the labels, I didn’t understand the political/social implications of my mighty meek attempts to stick it to the man (literally my father). However, what I did understand was the feeling of being treated like the lesser or the other. It wasn’t a good feeling and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut like a “good girl”. All of a sudden I realized life was just fine… and I wanted more.

I grew up in a comfortable home. My parents had built a financially stable home life for for us. I can even safely say I don’t recall ever wanting something and them not providing it for me. We were involved in school activities and sports and they always wanted us to have the best of everything. They wanted us to have the best they could provide to insure they did whatever they could to give us the best chance at succeeding in life.

But for some reason I still felt like there was some sort of difference between my brother and I. I never really could put my finger on it. For the longest time I thought it was because he was the baby of the family and that’s why he got favored in many ways. He almost never was made to do chores and somehow he always got away with everything. I on the other hand was always assigned to do some ridiculous chore and somehow always managed to find myself on my fathers unfavorable side despite my far superior manners and behavior in comparison to my little bro. Clearly there was a lot more going on here between my father and I that can’t all be explained by sexism. Buttttt there was definitely a lot of that going on in the  background that added to the dysfunction between us.

You see I come from a culture that is oppressive towards women in many ways. Woman are expected to be subservient to men. If you are a good woman you know your place and that is second to the men in your life. Growing up you learned this in subtle ways. No one ever sat you down and explicitly recited this hierarchy to you as a young girl. It was just something you learned; much like socially acceptable behavior and cultural mannerisms like keeping your legs shut when wearing a dress or in every context ever. Growing up this sexist perspective was incubated in every plausible social setting imaginable.

At house parties you always saw the men sitting separately from the women, drinking, chatting and acting a fool like drunk people do. Meanwhile the women always seemed to find themselves socializing in the kitchen. A simple hand gesture or call from the men would get them whatever party food they were running low on. God forbid they get up and walk 10 ft to the kitchen to provide it for themselves. The women on the other hand always seemed to be content socializing and cooking away in a frenzy to make sure everything was just right. I was always so perplexed by this social “norm” in our culture. I was always beside myself thinking how is this ok? And why is no one bothered enough about any of this. Why the hell aren’t any of these women visibly mad! I never once saw any of the men come help in the kitchen (except for the rare woke uncle) and I never once saw any of the women join the men in the convo or a drink **gasp**. I remember thinking  “umm pretty sure the women are adults too, why the hell don’t they get to drink?” Shortly after I turned 21 I even remember asking my mom about these differences I observed, yes it was mostly prompted by a grand scheme to be able to drink w/out being chastised, and her response was disappointing. She laughed a nervous laugh and responded, “because that’s just not something our women do. It doesn’t look good”. It made me so sad. Mostly because I realized she didn’t see herself the way I saw her; as an equal to my father… actually I saw her higher up on the totem pole. Always have and always will. That sadness quickly shifted to another noxious feeling.  I just kept thinking ” What?! Seriously you’re really 100 with that explanation to yourself? To me?” Having a good time isn’t appropriate for women but it’s ok for the men? Since that day I found myself making little strides for myself, for the feminine in me and the younger generation of women in my family. Even if the act was super simple like ordering a drink at dinner or wearing something that my father didn’t approve of. Yes I realize these all sound like acts of teenage defiance. But that’s exactly my point. The women in my cultural circle were not being treated as equals or even full-fledged adults with their own wants and opinions. And that simply would not do.

I finally started to come into my own in my mid twenties. I started to actively take a stand for myself at these little family gatherings. At one event in particular I remembered seeing my younger brother (6yrs younger) being asked by one of my uncles if he wanted a drink and I was standing right next to him. But the thought didn’t even cross my uncle or my brothers mind to ask me if I wanted one. I wasn’t asked because I was a girl and girls can’t, don’t, and won’t drink. So naturally I asked my uncle, “why I wasn’t offered a drink?” And he had the most surprised look on his face that quickly resolved into a comical laugh and a challenging reply, “if you want one you can have one too.” To which I replied “captain and coke please!”.

I realized I could ask most of the family if they consider their to be a difference between the girls and the boys and most would respond with an adamant no. For most of the them it’s not sexism it’s just the way things have always been and how they are. The same as my moms answer to my question. It’s a systemic belief system that is otherwise left unchallenged. And people don’t really realize they have a belief system around something until it gets challenged and well makes them feel uncomfortable. It’s only when our internal alarms are triggered that way tend to focus our attention on something that otherwise appeared just fine to us.

This cultural sexism stems much farther than my culture. I learned the double standard extends far beyond the walls of my home, my family, and my culture. I have witnessed it amongst many many cultures and countries. Including ours. Good ol’ USA. The beacon of the free world. Yet it seems our culture is still having a hard time moving towards gender equality. Don’t get me wrong. We have made many strides. Just not nearly enough. People and women got comfortable over the past couple of decades but we are waking up again. We are realizing the women’s suffrage movement was never complete and will not be until women are truly seen as an equal to men. If, as a woman in the 21st century, I still have to make an argument for how and why I am being treated unequally; the movement is most definitely far from being over.

So if you are a woman and you feel like you are being treated unequally from your male counterparts at work, at home or anywhere, make a stand for yourself. The buck doesn’t just stop at women. If you’re a dude and witnessing the double standard you too have just as much of a responsibility to speak up. I’m not saying go stand on a street corner and picket (unless that’s what you want to do) or that you have to make some grandiose gesture. Even the smallest gesture can make a world of a difference: like simply raising awareness in your own social circles by having a conversation about it. Every bit counts. Even you just taking the time to read this and considering my perspective is progress. So thank you for your time 🙂

Peace, love and namaste,

Elysianish

 

WRITING LETTERS

DEAR DAD,


No Comments

The most important thing I have to say to you is I LOVE YOU. I’m not sure that you believe this or recognize it as the truth. But it is. Everything else below is just noise. Noise that matters. But still noise.

We have a complicated relationship… or at least it is in my mind. Im sure you find it frustrating too. I know it is very possible that I’m not the daughter you had hoped I would turn out to be. Mainly I feel like I am this huge disappointment to you. But to live my life the way you see fit would not be a life worth living to me. Not that the things you want for me are terrible and I’m not upset at you for wanting these things either. But it just so happens they are just not as appealing to me and I wish my preferences didn’t upset you either. But they do. And thats where the resistance comes from between us.

 

I like ME. My life is messy, yes its frustrating, but I understand how I got where I am. Could I have made things easier on myself by choosing different things at different times along the way in the past. Probably. But I take ownership of this messy life that I call mine. It’s not perfect. Im not perfect. And I’m ok with that. Im ok with not being a doctor. Im ok with not settling down at 25 and having 2 babies already. Im ok with still pursuing my dream job and being in school as a result of it; even though my piers have all the things mentioned above and are “on track”. Im trying to create my happiness. I realize that the way Im going about living my life could possibly be the biggest fuck up ever and I could wake up one day realizing what an idiot I was. And you are always telling me this is the case. But I am really hoping I get to prove you wrong. For both of our sakes. Because I know at the end of the day all you really want is for me to be accomplished and taken care of. And so do I. We just don’t agree on what those things look like or how I should get there.

I would love more than anything for you to adore the person I am. And I’m sure nothing would make you prouder than having me look up to you as a dad and as a person. We had that when I was younger. I miss my dad that used to be my buddy that would play with me in the park when I was 5. But somewhere, somehow things changes between us; not exactly sure when it happened. But since then we have been like two pieces of drift wood cut from the same tree, separated by a fork in a river, uncontrollably floating farther and farther apart. It seems as though we disagree on just about everything under the sun. But for what it’s worth I do try to understand your perspective. Im hoping someday we will flow back into a common body of understanding.

Please don’t think that the lack of substance in our relationship does not effect me. It does. I spend a lot of time and energy constantly trying to mend, understand or even just letting be. Know that you are not a passive figment in my life. Your life is important to me. You are someone that I care about very much. No matter the grand canyon worth of differences between us, I will always have love for you. Im stubborn like that. And I get that from you. I get my big heart from mom, so thank her for that.

I know most of the time I don’t make you feel loved even though deep down I do… This is especially hard for me to take ownership of. Especially since it is not in line with how I treat people in general. Showing compassion and love is actually something that comes easy to me. So it is especially hard on me to know that I have difficulty sharing this with someone that I care far more about than some rando person I met on the street. I try to show love and generosity to you. But it’s a frustrating experience when I try because it is never received or reciprocated the way I would like for it to be. And I know that doesn’t mean that you don’t feel love for me. I believe you do. And I am thankful for that. I am thankful for you.

 

WRITING LETTERS

DEAR MOM,


No Comments

Im going to preface by saying I will never be able to compose myself or articulate completely all the feels you make me feel. Also, every time I think about how you make me feel I legit cry. Uncontrollably emotional. I am turning into you!!!!!

It’s actually really frustrating because time after time I fail to fully convey all of the love and gratitude I have for you. But it is a wonderful problem to have 🙂 You are just sooo incredible Mom. You are my real life super hero, earth angel, guardian, or whatever you want to call it. And if all I had to show for at the end of my life was the relationship that I shared with you then honestly I would be content with that. I would go with a smile on my face knowing I was loved in the deepest and best way possible. And I don’t take that granted for one moment…ok maybe sometimes when we disagree…but the other 99.9% of the time I bask in the comfort of knowing I’m blessed to have you.

Maybe I have some unhealthy attachment going on here but I’m not sure Im actually interested in fixing that. Because I’m scared to let go. My instinct is to hold on to you as tight as I can.  Yes Im having a hard time standing up on my own two feet, and hopefully I WILL get there soon. But you are always there for me, perhaps even too much, but that is in your nature.  Your heart is a generous one and for you to operate in any other way would be a disservice to yourself. 

You are my lifeline… literally and metaphorically. In my lowest of low times I am able to think of you and your love for me and find my strength again. Honestly, your love for me is the only thing that has stood in the way of me and some pretty reckless life choices that would undoubtedly make you gasp. Trust me ya don’t want to know 😉 

You are the best thing in my life mom and I love you so much. I hope I am able to make you feel loved more days than not. And I say that because I am aware that as your child I am completely capable of and do operate in incredibly selfish ways that can leave you feeling otherwise at times. Just know that I am trying my best to show you love and compassion even when Im not at my best. 

‘Til next time,

I love you so much ❤

Sharing

IT’S JUST LIFE BABE


No Comments

So I am in an interesting head space lately. I just turned the big Three-O a few months ago and all of a sudden I’m beginning to feel all sorts of social norms and expectations being imposed on me. I am not sure if these feelings are entirely of my own making or if I am indeed picking up on social cues. I have a strong feeling it is a mixture of the two.

For clarity lets get acquainted  with some facts that are fueling this fire. By the way this is going to make me cringe while I do this. Because these facts are precisely the parts of me I am far from being proud of. Also, they are the source of the flattening of enjoyment I experience when I meet someone new (a type of experience that I adore(d)). Incidentally these encounters have also become the primary source of the feelings of judgment I am experiencing. But inevitably these facts are necessary points that we discuss with strangers. And often times these are the typical facts we use to size people up to some arbitrary measure of “worthiness”. Because ultimately they do mean something…right?

  1. Age: I am 30.
  2. Housing: I have been living with my parents for the past 6 months.
  3. Occupation: Graduate Student/Misc. Job
  4. Transportation: I do not have a car.
  5. Relationship Status: Single.
  6. Financial Status: Broke AF

First of all let me say what a bizarre feeling this is to reduce myself to these categories. Like I really really hate it. Yes I would love to improve myself in ALL of these areas. Trying to do so is something I find gratifying. However, being measured up by social status indicators alone and not the journey, or the passion, or the effort that is being put into improving myself is truly disheartening. Looking at just the facts I amount to nothing short of a scrub (in the words of TLC). According to this game the only cards I hold are: I am pursuing a degree #ambitions,  and  my age is something I have no control over #life ;P. However, none of these external validators are constants. And to solely rely on them is detrimental to maintaining mental fitness. This is not a fun way to engage with myself or life. There is so much more to a person than there age, occupation, living arrangement, relationship status, and financial status. And these categories isolated out of the context of the life they belong to are far from the reasons we actually decide to build relationships beyond the first meet and greet with a stranger. That is exactly why even after knowing there is much more to me, I still struggle with shaking the feeling of inadequacy.

I have always sort of done things on my own time. Never really one to be motivated by external pressure. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely feel the anxiety pile up at times.  But that usually happens when I get caught up in the comparison game (the most pointless game ever). I guess meeting new people as of late forces the dialogue of comparison in my mind. And it does not resonate well with me at all. And that is because I am not 100 % happy with myself. I can admit that. And when I’m not at my best, like most people, I enjoy the occasional pat on the back in the form of an affirmation from someone other than myself that I am on the “right track”. Walking on the tight rope of external validation can be tricky though: it’s easy to tip right off into the deep end.

The more I look into this dialogue with myself I am quickly becoming very aware of the fact that no one can give me the validation I crave other than myself. People will have there opinions and share them just like I do. But at the end of the day the only two things that should be on my list of concerns in all of this are the following:

  1. Loving Me, Myself, and I.
  2. And showing myself compassion in the face of any perceived short coming.

The truth is you and I are already enough. I just need to remember that. Everything else is just embellishment. Do I think life would be more enjoyable if I improved all of the items mentioned in my list above. Definitely! And all I can do is try and try harder. Just not at the expense of loving myself. Loving myself is a much more fun and productive head game to play than the comparison game. And showing compassion to myself is key to healthy self-evaluation and self-improvement.  And when I think about it, I only want those in my space that want to bring more love than doubt into my life. As a result of this attitude I find my list of “close friends” dwindling and my social interactions shifting from quantity to quality. It was scary at first. But when I realized this pruning of people in my life was actually a marvelous space for growth I welcomed it with open arms.

I learned that I love myself and the possibilities in life way too much to allow myself to give these insecurities too much significance. I still have days and weeks where I really struggle with applying this mindset. I can only trust and hope that it will get easier. Sometimes I wonder if I will “wake up” in my old age and think “well S%&t, we really messed it up this time around!”. For now I’m hoping that learning how to focus my energy on creating and cultivating the most joy that I can for myself will in time help the rest of the pieces of my life come together in the best way. Let’s see shall we 😉

 

Sharing

GRATITUDE


No Comments

I realize that my life is not vastly different from others when juxtaposed to the big picture of life. It’s kind of like placing a black and white anatomical sketch of dendrites next to a sketch of trees. Ok maybe thats not the best comparison (better suited for a discussion of fractal time and self-similar processes)…but you know what I mean…Right? I know I will most likely never be able to relate to the ups and downs in my life solely from the collective vantage point of “we”. Therefore rendering me almost completely incapable of being able to go through life with total understanding and non-reactive to the moments I experience… I will always and forever relate to the good and the bad in my life from an inevitably framed mind set of “Me!”. It’s a simple truth. My life is about me. As much as I try to humble myself by acknowledging the hardships others endure or am just in awe of some random persons $2k per day lifestyle. Someone else’s ups and downs will never create the same magnitude of waves as my personal up’s and down’s. And you know what. That is more than just ok.

Recently I have been dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety due to various “issues” that have popped up in life. Some re-occuring (I should look into that) and some new. But in relation to these obstacles I have been minimizing my feelings and beating myself up for feeling stressed, anxious and depressed. I keep telling myself to SUCK IT UP because there are a ton of people out there that have it way worse than you… Or GET IT TOGETHER WOMAN (spoken in the most dramatic voice you can imagine) because there are people counting on you (like myself, family &friends etc.) But that never helps. If anything it just worsens my mood. Because it’s not about “them” it’s about me. What I’m trying to say is. Im learning it’s ok to feel crappy. It’s ok to make it about me. That’s the only way to heal. Because when you start making it about you, that’s when you find out what works for you and what doesn’t. And when you give yourself a chance to get in touch with you.. well thats when you begin to make informed choices on the next best move in the game of life for you. And when you “do you” you feel good. And when you feel good that’s when your able to truly give from a place of joy. And that is the best kind of being in my opinion.

So in an effort to “do me” I’m learning what I am about. Instead of beating myself up like I normally would (which was a result of learned behavior and expected behavior from others close to me) I have chosen to show myself some gratitude and compassion. Gratitude being the key lesson this week. Just working on being grateful for the littlest things that are in MY life makes a huge difference in how I feel and relate to moments. And as crazy as it sounds I’m also working on being grateful for the things that stress me out every now and then. Because it forces me to see some sort of silver lining; right now it’s more gray than silver but it does the job. When I’m focused on the good it’s easier for me to come up with a constructive solution to alleviate the bad. And call me crazy but when I feel good I start noticing more good in my life. And the good keeps getting easier and easier to identify. And that my friends is a result of your brain strengthening the little roads in your head that the little Joy character (you know from the movie Inside Out) likes to visits in your brain. And when your joy on the inside (physiologically) then you can’t help but reflect being joy on the outside. And at the end of it all. That IS what really matters.