Category Archives: Inner Demons

Embracing The Journey

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Sugar coating my story may make it more comfortable to read and digest, but then what point would there be in sharing it?

Like many girls, I grew up in a home that idealized the “model” body and so perpetuated that as what was beautiful. This meant that from a very young age, when I hit puberty to be exact, I began to hate my body. This hate created a cycle of criticism and degradation.

I’m sure I’m not the only girl who stood in front of the mirror and said to herself,
“You’re fat.
“You’re ugly.
“You look like a boy.
“You should starve yourself.
“Or throw up your food.
“Your thighs are too big.
“Your hips are too wide.
“Your arms are too flabby.
“People are disgusted by your presence.
“I’m sure they can’t even look at you.
“Or they make fun of you behind your back.
“Why don’t you look like her?” and the list of criticism never ends.

My family perpetuated it. I remember my mother telling my sister she couldn’t have any new clothes until she lost weight. And when we would workout, the family would stick around and poke jokes at us and make fun of us. Laughing at how we jiggled as we exercised or making running commentary and criticism at whether or not we were following the video workouts correctly.

It’s no surprise, I developed a very bad relationship with my body that resulted in no self-esteem to speak of and a total of zero on the self worth scale.

At the age of nineteen, I moved out on my own. I developed the vicious cycle of dieting, working out and binging.

The goal was always to become skinny.

Oct 2016

My relationship with food was one of reward and then punishment. I’d look at people who were skinny because they had eating disorders and wished I was one of them, not realizing the severity of those disorders or the fact that I may already have one.

To top it all off the self degradation continued around the clock. It led me to date a man seventeen years older than me- who I had no attraction to- just because I believed I didn’t deserve better. It led to wearing clothing I hated because they covered all the body parts I despised. It led me to seclude myself from others because I was sure they saw me through my eyes as well.

Shopping focused on how much the outfit covered because I didn’t want people to look at me and gawk at my fatness and my cellulite. I’d wear pants with a knee length dress over it because I hated my knees and thighs. Shopping led to more binge eating because it was such a miserable experience and I’d go home thinking there was never an end to this misery and so who cares anymore?

I considered suicide multiple times. Often while driving I would think to myself that I could just drive off the ramp, or into that tree at top speed.

Oct 2016

The degradation didn’t stop at my physical appearance, but seeped into my emotional and mental state as well. My life felt pointless. I mean, who feels purposeful when they can’t stand the body they are born in; they can’t stand the mind they have; they can’t handle the emotions they feel? All of which put them in a cycle of self loathing.

Now that I think on it, I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I started to turn things around. A number of things happened in my life that began to show me that I was worthy. Body Positive memes, pictures of beautiful plus size models, learning how to wear makeup, finding one or two outfits that made me feel good, starting a romantic relationship with my crush. All these things gave birth to the faint whisper in my mind, “Maybe you aren’t all that bad.”

Four years pass. I broke up with my boyfriend who had been my crush all those years ago. I no longer had a man who complimented me and loved me even when I felt fat and ugly. I no longer had my rock to keep me from diving into the deep end of my pool of self degradation.

April 2016

I joined a crossfit gym.

It had a six week introductory program that held their members accountable. I still wanted to be skinny. I still looked at the other women in my program and wished I looked like them. It was something to do. To keep me distracted from my personal life that was falling apart.

Joining this gym exposed me to women who were muscular and strong. They flew on the bars and lifted weights I never imagined a woman could lift. I remember staring, wide-eyed at these women. They were beautiful. Not Victoria’s-Secret-model-skinny-beautiful. But strong-fit-kickass-beautiful.

I believe that’s when I started to shift my views on what beauty I wanted to embody. I don’t think I’ll ever not want to be skinnier- that’s imprinted into my psyche so deeply it’ll take a lot more time and effort to be rid of that, but I now want something more- I want to be strong.

With this mindset my dedication to Crossfit was iron clad. I started off working out three days a week. After the six week program was up, it became 5-6 days a week. Crossfit showed me how to measure my progress beyond the numbers on the scale and I became addicted. I created a spreadsheet of all my personal records or PRs and consistently updated it, seeing that I was getting stronger and the weights kept getting heavier. Before I knew it, I had also lost over twenty pounds. Though the scale was a victory, the other measurements of my progress were my focus.

Summer 2016

As time passed, I saw my friends and coaches constantly getting injured at Crossfit and this scared me. I didn’t want an injury that would force me to stop working out for weeks at a time. I couldn’t go back to my life before this. So, I varied my workouts with weightlifting and yoga.

Creating a variety of workouts and programs for me to choose from was possibly one of the best things I did to keep me motivated and dedicated. I would assess my energy level and my needs for the day. Did I want to be part of a class and workout with others or did I need the solitude with music as my company instead? Do I have the energy for a vigorous workout or do I need to focus on strengthening and stretching? The answer to these questions provided the workout I would do that day.

I fell off the wagon. A number of times. Usually before this point, if I fell off, I never got back on. If I binged after a week of healthy eating, I’d say “Fuck it, I just ruined the whole week. I’m not strong enough to control myself. I love food.” Or if I went a week without working out I’d tell myself, “You weren’t making progress anyways. It’s too much time and you don’t have it.”

April 2016

This time my focus wasn’t on punishing myself. It was on the rewards of getting stronger. So I would miss a few days and I’d tell myself, “I need to get back so I don’t lose all the progress I made. I need to get back so I can keep getting stronger.”

A few weeks ago, I had a friend visit me from out of town. I worked out three times in two weeks. And I missed it. It took me another two weeks to get back on the wagon. But it’s so fulfilling and satisfying to be back and so I refuse to beat myself up over the four weeks of rarely hitting the gym.

I quit crossfit.

It was perfect to get me the motivation and dedication I needed in making an active lifestyle a habit. But I realized I preferred working out in solitude and weight lifting was that for me. I won’t stop there though, because I don’t want to end up getting bored and falling off for good. I plan on getting into boxing and taking martial arts.

Variation is key. A healthy mindset is key. A good relationship with food and and an active lifestyle is key. A good relationship with your body is key.

These are so much to juggle all at once. For me, developing a healthy mindset and building a better relationship with my body were the first things I focused on (following healthy, body positive, plus size models and people on Instagram and Pinterest helped immensely- they were unapologetic of their existence and up until that point my life was one big apology). Then I developed an active lifestyle that became an integral part of my day. My relationship with food followed. I refuse to diet, but I do try to eat healthy for the most part and I am aware of my macros even if I don’t quite track them anymore.

Oct 2016

This doesn’t happen overnight. I haven’t reached my goals yet, but I’m more focused on the journey as opposed to the end results now. I’m embracing every change and every progression I make mo matter no small or insignificant.

This struggle is real. It’s tangible. It’s being felt by more women and girls than we think. Let’s share our stories. Let’s help uplift and support one another on our individual journeys. In the end though, to make any lasting change in our lives I learned that we must find the strength and motivation from within.

My brilliant photographer (IG & Facebook: Sierra Prime) asked me to write a piece about my transformation. This was the result of our colaboration.

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Spring Break Anxieties

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This spring break I’ll be visiting my sisters in southern California. It goes without saying that I’m really excited to see my three sisters. 

So why am I also dreading this family reunion?

I’m anxious mainly because I know we will be judging each other. Whether we like it or not, we have always been competitive to the point we revelled in our siblings’ failures. Though our lives are so different today and there is no reason to judge, the residue of the habit is hard to get rid of. 

I think I’m most anxious because I wonder what they’ll think of me. Will they comment to one another when I’m out of earshot that I’ve gained weight? That my hair’s too thin? Will they remark on my outfits? Will they comment on how deep the circles under my eyes are? 

I think each of them is just absolutely gorgeous and since the last time I really spent time with them was back when they were much younger, I really don’t have much to compare them to. And I don’t want to compare them to begin with. I want to get to know them as adults and work on building a stronger relationship now that we’re older. 

Maybe we’re just more critical of ourselves and I’m projecting my insecurities on to them. I hope I am. Because I just want to have fun with them and build our relationships anew. 

A Letter To My Mom & I Hope She Doesn’t Read It.

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A Letter To My Mom & I Hope She Doesn’t Read It.

My mother asked me a question recently that I conveniently ignored. However, it’s been weighing on my mind for quite some days now.

She asked me why my sisters are straying from our beliefs and faith so much. She asked it as if she had no idea where she went wrong. In my mind, I wanted to shake her and my father as well. Yet, I had no idea how to answer her.

The conservative in me still cringes when I see my sisters’ Instagram posts. Pictures of them in various states of undress- yet no more undressed than your average American. Just in a state that my religion (or those who follow it) would balk at and have a hissy fit. But I couldn’t blame them. They were free to finally make up their mind. To do things their own way. To follow what they chose. Yet, a part of me still cringed at the images and I didn’t know why. I wasn’t any better than them. I wasn’t more religious or conservative.

Then it came to me. In my mind I whispered to her, Do you not see? You and father crushed us. You oppressed us. You took away our sense of individuality. You made us feel shabby and ugly. You made us wish we were like “normal” American families because they had simple freedoms- like the right to formulate their own opinions, like the permission to wear makeup. Don’t you see? You pulled the rubber band so far back that the only path it had was to the ultimate extreme opposite of what you were trying to teach us.

As I spoke, I became more confident in what I was saying, as if the lightbulb of my brain went Aha! I continued with a steadier, stronger voice, We weren’t being taught humility as you thought- we were being taught conformity. We weren’t being taught pride in our faith, we were being taught contempt of others. We weren’t being taught love, we were being taught fear. How else do you expect us to respond when your punishment for not memorizing a passage from the holy book was to threaten taking away our education and marrying us off young (and though you’d never have done that we still believed it)? Isn’t our religion one that preaches balance and peace? Why did we turn our noses up at people who were “less religious” than us, then? Why did we not have balance in our views and our lives? Everything was haram, or forbidden. Everything fun and happy. Even when it really wasn’t. We still turned our noses up and condemned those acts as “weak”. Secretly, I envied them; I wished I could go to the movies with my friends and wear a little bit of makeup and trim back my eyebrows. Yes, these may seem petty and insignificant, but when you live everyday in fear that your mother will tell your father and then you’d get beat, it means a lot. These are just some of the reasons why we have turned out the way we have. It’s time to just accept it and keep us in your prayers.

Though I do not have the heart to tell her this face to face, I know she’ll read it here even though I wish she wouldn’t. I know it wasn’t all on her. She tried. She thought she was doing right. But she still bears part of the responsibility in how we turned out. Yes, my father prophecied, almost every day, that we will become infidels and follow satan. And to a child, hearing that daily, well obviously will negatively affect a child’s psyche. No one ever reassured us and said, “You are wonderful, God would be so proud of you.” The damage is done.

Fin.

It’s In My Nature

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It’s In My Nature

It’s in my nature to want everyone to be happy with me. Which makes no sense when my career is teaching. I will never be able to make everyone happy. If I’m pushing my students to a point they feel is beyond them, because I believe in them, they’ll hate me for it at that moment.

Even in my personal life, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy- if I do I’ll be lying to someone- even if that someone is only me.

It’s in my nature to shun confrontations. I remember nodding my head when my dad would lecture me on how I shouldn’t have the friends I have or how I should be more pious and obedient.

It’s in my nature to try and sugar coat things so that I don’t hurt people’s feelings. Word what I have to say as nicely as I can even when I wish I could just bitch them out. Even my road rage comes across as somewhat motherly.

Because of my nature I may never have the most successful blog, climb the highest ladder in my profession or be the happiest person around. And it’s because of my nature that I have to go against my nature.

The Gymer’s Struggle

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The Gymer’s Struggle

Before going to the gym:

  • I’m so tired.
  • I have a million things to do like wash dishes, do laundry and clean out that bottom drawer in the fridge- something is growing in there that isn’t supposed to.
  • It’s been a long day.
  • I can workout tomorrow.
  • I have to prepare for work tomorrow.
  • I have to cook dinner or grade papers or shampoo the rug.
  • I think I left my laptop plugged in.
  • I’m hungry.

On the way to the gym:

  • I really don’t want to do this.
  • I can turn around now and just go home.
  • Did I forget something?
  • Did I leave a light on, or the stove? I should just go home and check on that.

While parked outside the gym:

  • Do I have to go in?
  • *Checks email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, looks up sports bras at Victoria’s Secrets, checks the weather, bank account, and creates a meme about going to the gym*

While at the gym:

  • I am already out of breath and I just walked in.
  • Does that count as a workout?
  • I miss my couch.
  • Ok, ok! This isn’t so bad.
  • Sweating actually feels good.
  • Just one more squat. Ok, now one more.
  • I can do a few more minutes on the bike.
  • My legs feel like jelly, oh yes!
  • Stretching is heaven.
  • Am I already done with all my workouts?

After the gym:

  • I feel so good!
  • That wasn’t so bad.
  • I’m so full of energy now.
  • I love the gym!
  • I can’t wait to come back tomorrow.
  • Why did I not want to come here to begin with?

Regret Me Not

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Regret Me Not

I don’t regret things. Or at least I’m trying not to. I’d rather learn from my mistakes instead of look back and say “I wish such and such never happened” or “I wish I never did such and such” or “I wish I didn’t accept such and such”.

I used to resent the choices my parents made: to continue their marriage long after it was over, to move to and live in certain places in the world, to accept giving/receiving abuse, and to have so many children. But now, when I look back at their choices, I am grateful because without them, I wouldn’t have learned and decided on what I will and won’t accept in my own life as an adult.

Yes, some things just aren’t necessary and can easily be regretted, like the time I stayed in a relationship for three years when I knew it was over a year into it. Or when I had zero self esteem and confidence and let people walk all over me. Or boiling a bag of frozen chicken pieces with the bag still covering the chicken. Or the time I said something insensitive to a friend and realized it too late. But some of these mistakes I have to learn and grow from on my own.

Sometimes our mistakes are so painful, they’re easy to regret. We don’t understand the lessons behind them. But one day, they won’t hurt as much. One day we will understand.

Regret just hurts. It’s the disease of the mind. It brings us down, depresses us. It quells our desires and passions. It casts a shadow over everything we do. It makes us only a sliver of who we really are. Regret isn’t worth the damage it causes our minds and souls.

I’m working on looking back at my past choices and mistakes and saying, “I learned never to do such and such again” or “Such and such isn’t happening again” or “I won’t accept such and such anymore”. It’s worth the effort; to look at our mistakes as kernels of wisdom. If we didn’t experience them we wouldn’t have grown wiser from the lessons they taught us.

To Listen or Nah?

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To Listen or Nah?

It’s come to my attention (over the last three years) from someone who is as close to me as close can be (ehm) that when I listen during a conversation I don’t actually listen.

He loves to talk in complex and lengthy monologues with endless analogies. The king of analogies. I usually get what he’s trying to say within the first handful of similes and metaphors, and so I start to tap out or make a personal connection with what he is saying and eagerly cut the monologue short in order to not forget what I want to share by the time he moves on to yet another analogy.

Now these monologues are quite creative and often interesting, but I believe I may have the attention span of a teenager and it is really difficult to stay engaged. I don’t think I choose to stop listening- it’s just an off switch that my mind makes automatically.

He’s in the middle of describing how difficult grad school is and what new things are being thrown at him (and its hard) and suddenly I’m wondering about dinner, or I remember I didn’t check my emails or I start to play Words With Friends.

I know it’s rude, I just don’t know how to fix it. I tell myself I’ll try harder next time, but I forget my resolve when next time comes.

I have started to pay attention to the flow of conversations. They do interrupt. That’s how the current moves and the conversation shifts from one person to the next. The person talking more often than not gets interrupted. Not in a rude or disrespectful way. The person listening notices a slight pause or finds a strong connection with something the speaker just said and jumps in. That’s how a conversation is made.

If we waited until the speaker is done speaking before we take a turn, the conversation becomes stagnant and disengaging. In one 30 second monologue, the listener may end up having 5 connections. But if we wait until the end of the spiel we’ll forget the past four connections and only talk on the last one (unless your memory is that of an elephant). Plus, the flow, the current that the conversation rides on, becomes a one way stream that switches course abruptly and randomly.

I do believe that conversations require the delicate balance of appropriate interjections and interruptions. That’s the way it should flow: back and forth, like the waves of an ocean. My problem is knowing when to interrupt to say my part and to do that I must actively listen to the whole conversation- not disengage randomly.

Conversations are tricky and I’m still learning.