Category Archives: psychology

when it rains.

I know this can’t possibly be true but it really feels like it has rained nonstop since I moved to Naples.

dangnatureuscary

First, it was your regular ol’ summer-in-Florida situation in which the sky would turn a mean black around 2pm and then vigorously pour buckets for all of ten minutes before clearing back up.

Then, one day, it just kept raining.

And then a tropical storm rolled through.

And it kept raining.

Really put a — wait for it – damper on things around here. (I COULDN’T RESIST. I REGRET NOTHING.)

rain

Yesterday was one of those five-star parenting days in which I was operating on very little sleep and it was all I could do to not burst into tears and so, despite the tropical conditions outside, I took Dax out for a drive hoping the lull of the car and the sound of the rain would calm him.

I told you; five. star. parenting. (It worked, by the way.)

While I was waiting at a red light, enjoying the sound of my baby not crying, I tiredly stared through the windshield while the wipers swish-swished back and forth rapidly to clear away the cascade. My eyes fell upon that triangular space between the wipers that never gets wiped and I remembered analyzing that same spot as a child driving with my mom. I could hear my tiny voice in my head, whining: “Why can’t they make wipers that wipe the WHOLE windshield? There is so much left of the glass that has droplets all over it!”

(I’ve always been a perfectionist, I guess.)

As an adult, I looked at the glass differently. Instead of being upset that, all these years later, they still haven’t made wipers that actually wipe the whole windshield, I felt grateful for those wipers and their persistence. No matter how hard it rains, no matter how many drops (or buckets) fall, those wipers keep on keepin’ on, with no regard for how many drops have already previously fallen or how many will fall in the future. Swish-swish-swish-swish. Dry-not dry-dry-not-dry-dry. 

One of my last days in Tallahassee, I was out wedding dress shopping with my best friend. Toward the end of the trip, though, I got a frantic text from Dan asking me to come home as soon as possible to nurse a very cranky Dax. I headed home as fast as I could which evidently wasn’t legal because I got a speeding ticket.

I was so angry with myself because, I know better. During my twelve years of driving, I’ve gotten more than my fair share of speeding tickets and, until that moment, I had finally cleared all points from my license and was again deemed a “safe driver”. And one stupid misstep of speeding home cost me all that.

When I got home I yelled at Dan and yelled at myself, saying, “I’m just so sick of the fact that I’m such a crappy person.”

“You are not a crappy person,” he said, “you are just a person. Who does crappy things sometimes. Because you’re a person.”

“But I always do this!”

“Just because you’ve done bad things doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You’re forgiven.”

It’s amazing to me how often this happens to me. I make some (relatively) minor mistake and I fall apart because it makes me think I am forever doomed to making mistakes and that I’ll always be bad and nothing can fix that.

It just keeps raining.

If you have the same issue I do — you seem to remember every dumb thing you do and beat yourself up every time you do another dumb thing — just remember the windshield wipers.

What.

Forgive yourself as persistently as my wipers clear away the rain. Forget the drops from the past, don’t anticipate more drops in the future. Just wipe them away as they come, just as fast as you can, so you can see what goodness lies ahead.

Because if I was still angry about all the rain that has fallen in Naples over the past three weeks, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself right now, sitting outside at a Starbucks, warming in the sunshine with the dry sidewalk beneath my sandaled feet.

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Filed under psychology, transformation

naked and unashamed.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you might know that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2007 and have since made it my mission to figure out how to love myself — inside and out — relentlessly. My blog has been instrumental on this journey. I’ve blogged my way through all sorts of self-love hangups, from navigating self-imposed pressures to be the perfect wife to finding my sexy.

I’m thankful to report that, in the past year, I haven’t had many reasons to turn to Ye Olde Blogue in order to make myself feel better about my self or my body. With God’s help (along with the assistance of my sweet husband and faithful mentors) I think that it’s safe to say that I’ve finally made peace with my own body and any chance of ED relapse is behind me.

However, regardless of my own personal growth, a recent chain of unsettling events has made me realize that this world is still, if I may be so bold as to say, effed sideways concerning the ways we women view ourselves:

+ My mom hasn’t had a nice picture of her taken in a while, so a few weeks ago she requested that I take one of her with my SLR. As soon as I was done she pleaded with me to Photoshop away some lines from her face.

+ During prayer requests at my bible study a week ago, a girl asked for a way for her to use her body to get ahead in life.

+ There are hundreds of leaders (male, of course) in the church community that have come out recently speaking against women for what they wear for being the cause of men to lust after them and even cheat on their wives. (Yes, read that again. The women are at fault for the men who cheat.)

+ Someone told me that of course I’m happy with my body because I’m beautiful. And there’s no way they can be happy because they’re not.

You know me — I can’t just sit back and not blog about how much these events (particularly the last one) infuriate me.

I’m currently fumbling my way through the book of Esther and trying to make sense of it; a story about a Jew girl who was integral to saving God’s chosen people because, quite frankly, some batshit crazy pseudo-king thought she was hot and, for that reason alone, wanted to “know” her. (This is, of course, the New Lindsay Translation of the story. I suggest you read it for your own context, even if you aren’t a believer.)

The other day, I hopped in the shower ever-so-quickly while my son was napping and gave myself the New-Mom-Speedy-Scrubdown, my ears tuned to the static sounds coming from the baby monitor in my bedroom. When I finished actually washing and found that, surprisingly, my child was still asleep, I stood very still and watched the streams of water race each other down my body.

For a while, I just stared blankly, sure my child would rouse any minute. But each second that passed with no sounds from the monitor, I would turn the COLD knob just a bit more toward the OFF position to allow the stream to increase in heat. As soon as my skin adjusted to the temperature change, I’d turn the knob just a little bit more.

I did this until the COLD knob was completely off and, though the water was scalding, my skin was comfortable (albeit considerably more pink).

Under the stream, my eyes surveyed my exterior and — as bizarre as it sounds — I marveled. I couldn’t believe that this vessel at which I was staring had done so much in its 27 years of life — danced its 10,000 hours, learned scales on the piano, grew and sustained another human life — and, yet, took the brunt of my own abuse for the better part of two decades. And then I thought about Esther.

And my mom.

And that girl from my bible study.

And men who blame their missteps on their victims.

And all the girls in this society that think their bodies are as deep as their worth goes.

And I got mad. Like. Really mad.

I think the main reason I got so mad is because I feel like I can’t do anything. I’m just one person in this giant effed up world and, as these recent events have pointed out, this issue is much bigger than me.

I said what I could say in bible study in order to encourage that girl. Ultimately I don’t know if anything I said made one bit of difference; I left feeling like something had been stolen from me. Perhaps that something was the notion that this problem is suddenly gone just because I’m not suffering from it anymore.

You know that played-out Goo Goo Dolls song from the 90s? You know, from the City of Angels soundtrack? Meg Ryan and that other dude? I can’t remember the name of it, but there is one line that sticks out to me:

“And you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

I think these events have served their purpose to cut me open and remind me that there is still work left to be done and that lots of people are still bleeding. And we’ve got to speak the truth to those people.

Because God knows no one else is going to.

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Filed under God, life, psychology, rants, the media, transformation

what i learned from a social media fast.

It’s as if I’m waking up from a long nap. I’m rubbing my eyes and stretching and grunting, recoiling from the blinding sunlight that’s screaming through my window.

But that’s not what I’m doing at all. I’ve been awake this whole time. The sun has risen. It has set. Numerous times, in fact. But I just haven’t tweeted about it.

My social media fast is officially over. 

As I’m slowly starting to ease back in to the world of status updates, tweets, and likes, I am also carefully redefining what it means for me to live in an over-connected yet under-personal world.  And, like any good blogger, I’d like to thrust upon you my new-found knowledge.

Free of charge, of course.

four things i learned from my social media fast:

1. posting on the internet is like getting a virtual tattoo.

I know you can technically “delete” posts and photos and tweets and whatnot, but honestly, nothing is ever really gone once it’s on the internet. It’s as forever as a butterfly tramp stamp, so it’s important to be really intentional and (gasp) think before you post/tweet/Instagram. (This was really convicting for me to learn, actually. I still haven’t re-downloaded the Twitter app for this reason. I’m pretty sure that 90% of my tweets were like bad tattoos I can’t get removed. I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to go under that needle again just yet.)

2. boundaries are important.

Social media is built on relationships. In IRL relationships (oh yeah, busting out the internet lingo) it’s important to have boundaries, so why would social media be any different? Before, I had absolutely zero boundaries regarding social media. People I hadn’t talked to in ages could post something that would ruin my entire day. That’s not fair to the people with whom I actually do maintain real relationships. Coming back into the world of social media I’ve set my own personal boundaries to make sure I’m in control of the consumption and not the other way around. (For example, I have disabled push notifications on my iPhone. I found that if my phone told me I had notifications on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, I would put everything on hold until I checked and cleared them. With push notifications off, I can check my social media at designated times during the day, when I’m not doing anything else that is more important, to make sure I’m intentional, timely, and still engaged with what’s going on around me. This also discourages mindless scrolling through updates, which is important because…)

3. i don’t really care.

Yep. I don’t. This is probably the most valuable lesson I learned on my fast. The truth, no matter how harsh it may sound, is that I really don’t care if one of my 900-some Facebook friends posts a status about doing laundry or making dinner. I just don’t care. I have better things to do with my time than scroll through countless empty updates of the mundane. The people with whom I have real relationships? I know what’s going on in their lives because we intentionally seek each other out through phone calls, texts, and (wait for it) coffee dates and lunches.

4. real life is so much better.

It seems like this should go without saying, but life is so much more fun to live when you don’t have to worry about whether or not you need to post about it. A few weeks ago, my phone fell behind the couch a few minutes before I was to leave for bible study. I almost left it there because I really felt like I didn’t need it. But I did retrieve it in the event that I were to get in a horribly debilitating car accident on the way across town. I also intentionally left my phone at home last night when Dan, Dax, and I went out to dinner. It was so liberating to know I really, truly, didn’t need it because the only people with whom I needed and wanted to engage were right there with me.

I feel really good now. Really good. I feel refreshed, renewed, and like I have a handle on this again.

Have you ever done a social media fast? Are you considering it? Why or why not?

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to be known and, yet, LIKED.

A while back I wrote this post on being fully known and also loved at the same time. There is something so beautifully freeing about being able to let your hair down and let out an exhale and just be in the company of those who, even in your darkest moments, love you.

But what about being liked? That’s a completely different ball game.

This week, as we’ve finally let the craziness of Holy Week and Easter pass us by, three different sources in just as many days have all independently of each other communicated the same message to me: Jesus knows me. And of course he loves me. But maybe he even likes me, too.

That notion is worth celebrating, no doubt. Even outside of the context of my faith, the idea that I’m known by people and also liked is definitely a good thing. But it’s hard for me to believe right now, so I don’t really want to hear it. I don’t want to hear that anyone (let alone the savior of the world) knows me because, the way I see it, if you DO know me, you probably know that there isn’t much to like about me right now.

I can already see the stream of comments I’m going to get for this post. Relax. I’m fine. No need to talk me off the bridge (unless chocolate rivers are involved).

The thing is, though, my situation isn’t fine. In a little less (!!!) than a month, my family will be somewhere new. Somewhere foreign. We might have jobs or we might not. We might move back in with my mom or we might not. Whatever is on the other side of this is completely unknown to me. The only thing I do know right now is what I’m losing.

My faith community.

My friends.

My comfort zone. 

I am still Jonah. Through and through. I want to hide out on a boat and hope I’m not found out.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that three independent sources have all sought me out to convey the message that I am known and also loved. It’s the thing I need to hear right now. But I hate hearing it because if I do, I can’t spend my days like this. Hanging out with me must be the pits lately. Sorry, guys.

Have you ever felt this way? Like, you might be loved but aren’t exactly likable at the moment? 

 

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Filed under life, psychology, rants, transformation

if a tree falls in the woods and you don’t tweet about it…

I know. I need to blog. But what’s a blog? I don’t even know. I’ve been spending so much time pretending the Internet doesn’t exist that I don’t even remember how to interact with it anymore. I haven’t Facebooked, Tweeted, or Instagrammed anything in weeks. What am I doing? Where am I going? I have no direction in life!

And this is what befalls a blogger who goes on a social media fast.

Can’t I just tap dance for you? I’m really good at it. Promise. Took lessons for so many years.

Speaking of lessons, here’s something I’m slowly learning on this social media fast.

You know those people who put pictures of their food on Instagram? Or post a Facebook status about finally being able to fit into their skinny jeans? Or tweet about getting a promotion? 

I’m not so far removed from the social sphere that I don’t understand the appeal of doing any of those things. Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows I love me some food (but not as much as my baby). But I think now that I’ve stepped back a bit, I have a better grip on the why behind this behavior.

Before I go on, I’d just like to dust my shoulders off and say that I do have a degree in mass communication with a minor in psychology from a Florida state school so I obviously know what I’m talking about to an extent. (I also know which bars you should go to and on which nights in order to get the highest volume of alcohol for the lowest amount of cash.)

The old adage asks the question, “If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?” I’d argue that today the question is, “If you do something in life but don’t tweet about it, did it really happen?”

While I don’t know for sure if this is the root of our Internet addiction and our need to be virtually affirmed, I definitely know that our culture does suggest that if it isn’t on social media, it isn’t real.

How sad.

That’s why when you tell your best friend that you’ve started seeing someone, she immediately asks why it isn’t “Facebook official” yet. Or why you upload a picture of your baby smiling to Instagram (but not a picture of them screaming). Or why the first thing you do when your alarm goes off in the morning is sleepily scour your Twitter feed.

I’ve been struggling a lot with this. Inner parts of my being are wracked with guilt over the fact that only a handful of people (those who I can show it to in person) have seen my baby say “dada” because I haven’t uploaded the video to Facebook. So, like, what if no one believes me? Or cares? I can’t gauge the world’s affirmation of my personal life because no one can like or comment on this video! It’s terrible!

I don’t think I’m ready to come back just yet. But I’m really enjoying re-learning how to process things and experience life in private.

That said, if you’re struggling with being affirmed by trolls on the Internet, just look at this gif.

i_can_typing-26439GOD IT JUST GETS ME EVERY TIME! I CAN’T STOP LOLLING RIGHT NOW.

 

 

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words to live by: beth stoddard.

Oh, snap. A WTLB by a good friend.

sunrise

I want to release this ridiculous notion that to be a successful feminist – or woman – or pastor – or friend - I must fix what is broken. I want my first response to be respect, born of love and listening and honor of every person’s journey. Learn to live in the midst of the mess. See the beauty in the broken…

- Beth Stoddard

Embrace the mess, friends. Only in the midst of brokenness can we find true healing.  I can say that because I’ve seen it.

Have a messy weekend.

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Filed under psychology, transformation, words to live by

three things i learned from counseling.

I just left my last counseling appointment.

Mind you, this is only my last counseling appointment in this season of life with this particular counselor. My counseling journey isn’t over, by any means. But for now, as of 5PM today, this chapter of my journey has come to a close.

So. What did I glean from the past few months of counseling? A couple things. Let me share them with you! Sharing is caring, after all… especially when mental health is at stake.

1. I am not broken.

I’ve written about this before, but it deserves a second mention because it is so important. A lot of people associate counseling or therapy with the notion that you are in need of “fixing”. Sometimes, I guess that could be the case. But for me, it isn’t. And hasn’t been. I am not broken. I just need help processing things in a constructive and objective way.

2. I’m pretty well adjusted even though, by all accounts, I shouldn’t be.

According to my counselor, my upbringing should have yielded me a permanent residence within an insane asylum with my very own padded room and straight-jacket wardrobe. However, in the words of Dr. Maki, I’m “really put together”. Holla at your healthy boo.

3. Being open and honest about what struggles I have has been a huge asset.

I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it again — no one, including you, benefits from you hiding your hurts. Opening up about the things I’ve dealt with, to not only counselors but also mentors and friends, has been more effective in my growth and health than anything else. And yes, that includes medicinal treatment.

So. I’ll say it again. If you are considering counseling but are afraid of any stigmas attached, take it from me: do it. See a counselor. Invite an unbiased professional into your life to help walk you through what you’re going through. See how it changes you for the better!

Have you ever gone to see a counselor? How did it work out for you?

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