This isn’t the woman I’m going to be…

She is obsessed with her family/husband/kids; constructing a profession through this life. Of course she appears popular and successful because her entire social network makes for an impressive patronage. To me this isn’t the same as having one’s own trade. This is taking everything she already has and using it to build “me” up: according to a mission that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have everything else she does! Why not just admit that she needs all of those things to be held together, instead of perpetuating herself?

Five professional and five personal accomplishments I achieved at 24

Five professional

1. Passed a certification test to further my fitness/wellness career

2. Featured in the following media outlets:

  • Montgomery College Germantown newspaper
  • rebellesociety.com (“Rebelle SocietyTM“)
  • LA Talk Radio
  • Beutiful Magazine
  • American University Magazine ~ class notes
  • San Diego County Library
  • helloperfect.com (“Hello Perfect®”)

3. Collaborated with graphic artist(s) on design & materials. Additionally made strides in reaching out/distributing products.

4. Presented at:

  • two educational institutions ~ SDSU and Montgomery College Germantown
  • two businesses ~ SoulScape Gift and Bookstore & Glimpse Living
  • two libraries ~ Del Mar Library and Cardiff Library

5. Improved my writing and received new interest in various aspects of my work

I furthermore stayed consistent with keeping up this website; focusing on my second book; training/teaching and my overall direction independently and professionally. Per “non-accomplishments,” I deleted most social media accounts and attended only one networking event. At that event, at least three people took away copies of my book.

Five personal

1. Spent time at the water

2. Visited meaningful places more regularly, including a park from growing up for the first time in 14 years

3. Dedicated myself to gaining closure on and ultimately outgrowing my seemingly failed and out-of-date childhood (most noticeably basketball, high school, friendships)

4. Admitted my feelings or impressions separately to two people; learned to keep my options open for what I want instead

5. Went for my first Brazilian wax

The topic of “period”

The topic of “period” is one I revisit every couple months. In Sick, I share the pressure I experienced to try and force a period. By my late teens, the message was, if you don’t get it now, you never will. I wanted to share some special details continuing beyond the end of Sick, here.

I got my period “naturally” late, late 20 to early 21. I remember because I was working on swimming lessons. Before then, I had my worst relapse of anorexia. At 18, I reached my lowest weight of around 77 pounds. I got really low again the summer I turned 19. A couple years later, I reached my high of around 156 in December 2010/January 2011. Over six months to a year I got that down to 150. Then 145 and finally mid to upper 130′s. I’ve probably been/might be/could get a little below that; I don’t know what I weigh now but am in a good range.

Before gaining “excess” weight, I got my period between 125 and 135. Initially I continued to work out hard, like trying to throw the blood away rather than let it spill. I assume a lot of ladies who don’t like themselves do that, and a lot of girls with feelings for boys who mock menstruation…

In the beginning, the process of gaining weight was slow. Reaching 90 pounds was a really big deal. With varied and experimental professional assistance I got to 100, 115, even an inadvertently impressive trim and muscular 120. The more people liked my unfinished size, the harder it became to help myself. After around ten months of being 120-110 from May 2009 to February 2010  and getting more and more fit, I started to have severe difficulties. I quit my job at the gym, needed to get treated for sensitivities and worked with a chiropractor on hormonal issues as well.

By the end of March I was healthier and gaining weight. By May 2010, I slowed down a little physically and in July halted everything except yoga, walking and massage (to a certain extent). When summer started people thought I looked really good. But I continued to gain weight–a lot piled on quickly– until about January 2011, when I finally weighed myself then freaked out and joined a gym.

The bulk of my weight was thus gained between late 20 and mid-21. At 22, I caught a bug in the process of pushing too hard in a non-conducive environment. My digestion became totally thrown off. I also had been experiencing debilitating cramps/nausea with my period and hence began work with an acupuncturist, additionally to provide assistance emotionally.

Finally, I returned to moving and being able to enjoy my physicality in winter 2011-2012. Exercise came quickly when I was well. I even took various running and aerobics electives my senior year of college, which was a big deal since I first became anorexic as a cross-country runner.

Today I don’t run or do conventional training, but I like exercise that keeps me stable. Not only do I benefit, but I also teach. And my cycle is regular. There’s still progress to be made in understanding hormones and deficiencies, but I’m on the right path, overall, with my body and healing.

“Laura” stuck underneath “there”

Today I received sugaring on my skin and body for the first time. The esthetician played music I listened to as an eighth grader, which made the experience laughable and clearing. When it comes to health and appearances, I generally focus most on the face. Each time I make contact with the remnants of “Laura” stuck underneath “there,” she emerges a little more. The face is different than designing my hair or make-up. Although these things are fun and relevant, they are also more superficial.

Disappointment regarding childhood friendships

Disappointment has hit me hardest in the area of childhood friendships. This is why in my second book, the main character’s friends let her down. In Sick I share how, when visiting the east coast during high school, my childhood friends didn’t understand the seriousness of my eating disorder. I only told a few people and responses I received reiterated the same story in which she tried to make me feel better by sharing about her temporary diet and weight loss. The main difference is that she didn’t receive the official diagnosis of various mental disorders. I WAS TRAUMATIZED BY MINE. If she did have something, whatever, she still had a life and boyfriend separate from it! Many of these girls had good intentions, but most of them wanted to make me like them. I tried so hard to be grateful and to be normal and to forget about food when they invited me out but let’s face it none of this was fun. As for guys, they just asked about basketball. Now that I didn’t play, nobody needed me; I didn’t matter.

Some of my disappointment isn’t at all tied to the eating disorder. It comes in, more, with a few people I was really close with before. I took what we had so seriously, and they just needed a replacement for high school or, maybe, were relieved that I left and was no longer there to contend with academically, athletically and socially.

Basketball, boys and family

Being a basketball player “made” my interactions with boys in elementary school. I was friends with almost every boy, “liked” by several and the only girl to ever eat lunch at their table. But I remember when a group of boys came to the house I made up an excuse for why I couldn’t participate in their game because my parents didn’t like it. When I moved and gave up basketball, I didn’t feel the same kinship. Part of this has to do with being inordinately allured and intimidated by southern California. Another part has to do with puberty. Mostly, I think, boys seeming far off is representative of my superficial associations with men, beginning in the family. As an adult today, I don’t want more there. I’m not stuck in this phase anymore.

Some dreams to post about

The notes begin long, then I get into brief symbolism. Different dreams refer to a him or he, but often I don’t mean the same person.

I’m at a mall. From a distance, I look out the window and see ominous mountains. As I get closer, I realize there are buds and bushes. One of my friends–a famous actress in reality–offers support. Once more, at the mall, this time near a stairwell. On one side is a food store, the other a lingerie shop. I feel stuck then take the stairs. Later, I go grocery shopping. There are green beans. The parking lot is underground, gray and slanted. I find my way back to sunlight and feel relieved. Yet in another dream I offer a demonstration related to food. A teasing dude drives away with two others.

Continue reading

Three things I’m doing at 25

1. Come out with my second book. After that, I would like to continue presenting about my work but take a break from writing books. Instead, I will focus on writing articles, interviews and solidifying my skill set.

2. Begin massage school. On some level I would like to combine massage with esthetician, while still continuing along my current teaching path.

3. I’m already at the water to walk, which is highly inspiring and enjoyable! I’ve surfed and swum in the past, and look forward to doing more.

I turn 25 July 18!

Consistent qualities in guys “I like” who are wrong

I put “I like” in quotations because I don’t like because I want, it’s more that I feel compelled to get this bug out of my system.

First, his identity is more social/approval/place oriented than individual. He’s very caught up in his own life, which includes perpetually showing it (personal, professional, whatever) off on the Internet. I’m too real for him, yet, end up feeling tiny and unwanted in comparison to the world he “belongs” in and, ultimately, associates himself as being!

Second, he is convenient and that somehow makes him seem like the only option. I meet him through school, a business relationship, or the past in general makes him familiar. If he comes from the past, he may be inconvenient in terms of location. Either way, focusing on him hinders my ability to meet someone new, such as through an activity I enjoy doing or would like to pursue. In this way, he doesn’t let me acknowledge how much I’ve grown.

I get along with him because we’re similar now or, more so, because he resembles someone I used to be. In reality, he doesn’t move me closer towards what I would like to see for myself.

“She isn’t the same person to me.”

I wish people had noticed more, instead of feeding off my tom-boy phenomena. She isn’t the same person to me. Others saw it as a joke. Like, you should wear “real” clothes and not just basketball stuff, Laura. I thought that sport was supposed to be for me. Then, why did it take so much away?

A mental illness I still had

My new routine, somedays, is to get up early and walk before breakfast. I drive to a tranquil place where I can walk with the sounds and scenery, before traffic. When I had an eating disorder I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I would have obsessed over not eating and hence becoming repossessed (by a mental illness that, unfortunately, I still had). At the same time I couldn’t stop measuring. For instance, “If I didn’t eat this morning, then I can’t eat the next morning.” I’d calculate my walking distances and have to go more each time, then push my after-walking-food off until brunch became waiting to eat until lunch, etc. In my book, Sick, I wrote about following a similar pattern, such as in ninth grade. Mom made me a turkey sandwich. First, I asked that she change the type of bread to something more whole-sounding. Then, I started to tear the crust–no matter what kind of bread. Next, I scraped away the turkey edges. I took everything apart until finally deciding, “No more sandwiches! I can’t eat bread!”

(Too bad barren turkey tormented me too.)

Interview with Paula Carrasquillo

Recently, I spoke with yogi and writer Paula Carrasquillo. Paula is the author of Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath. During our interview and in writing, Paula shared with me about Escaping the Boy and, also, a new book that she is coming out with. Additionally, Paula is soon to be certified as a yoga teacher and through her work is dedicated to making yoga more accessible, especially for women who have struggled in abusive relationships. Finally, we discussed what Paula sees for herself and hopes to achieve in the future.

Paula started writing in college as an undergrad. “I didn’t really write that much,” she said. “I was still really apprehensive. It was a scary idea to really purge myself.”

“I was inspired by author Kate Chopin and her novel, The Awakening,” Paula told me. “This woman finds herself in a place she can’t escape.” Still, Paula never imagined she would want to publish and wasn’t sure people would see the value in what she had to say. “But people are interested,” she realizes today. And although Paula doesn’t put out everything she writes, she has a dedicated group of followers on social media, including her blog paularenee.wordpress.com.

Paula’s writing process for Escaping the Boy began with recording her own story. She was “encouraged by family and people at work” to keep going and share about her reactions to a toxic relationship.

“I was driven to share my reactions and confusion in order to make sense of what made no sense to me. I was suffering from cognitive dissonance without knowing I was suffering from cognitive dissonance. After 12 months of unsuccessful attempts to make sense of my toxic past by talking about it, my only outlet, my last resort, was to write about it, because I didn’t want to continue to burden my family and friends with my ruminations, paranoia and hyper vigilance.”

“Was it this one person or was it me?” At first Paula was unsure because she’s hadn’t experienced a person like this man in her life before. “I stuck it out in the relationship because nothing made sense. I didn’t want to abandon and give up on a person because of a few perceived flaws. In a state of cognitive dissonance, I was unable to analyze these flaws for what they were. His flaws went deep, deep into a pathology and disorder that had the potential to destroy me and my son more if I remained.”

Paula continued to describe more about the boy in her book: “He seemed on the surface to be well-adjusted, but the closer I got to him the more I realized his life was a facade. I grew more and more frightened by him and his rages and his inability to discuss and collaborate. Everything had to be his way or I was considered hateful, unloving and ungrateful. I was made to feel like all of the relationship issues were solely my fault. He took no accountability and would go as far as making claims that I was sick and needed psychiatric help and possibly in-patient treatment.”

Prior to writing her story, Paula conducted research on psychology, narcissists and sociopaths, “as a result of the sociopath claiming I was the one with serious mental defects,” she explained. “Once I started writing, I put down the research so I wasn’t directly influenced as I wrote and recalled instances of abuse and trauma. After I completed the first draft, I read The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout PhD. It was validating and helped me to finalize my novelette’s title and write my introduction with confidence.”

Paula started yoga five months before she started writing her story. “Yoga came first. If it hadn’t been for my yoga practice, I may not have been at a necessary place of self-awareness to write.”

In the last portion of our discussion Paula shared more about her experiences in yoga:

“Yoga helped me gain more self-awareness and an appreciation for all of my feelings and emotions. The sociopath tried to minimize and squash my value. Yoga has taught me that no one, especially ourselves, should be given the power to dismiss us as humans. When we devalue a person’s emotions, we devalue them as a person. I want to help other victims and survivors learn to recognize when they’ve been devalued and to realize that there is an enormous amount of hope for successfully overcoming all of the abuse and trauma just by allowing themselves to feel and not deny what they feel.”

Leftovers without place

This week I visited the neighborhood where I lived from zero until I turned almost 12. Even though I went to college relatively close to this neighborhood, I didn’t actually visit until towards the end of writing my first book, three or four years later. Actually, Monday was the first time I parked the car and got out. Sometimes, doing this type of thing makes me anxious. In one of my jobs, when someone pointed out where the employees park, I remember feeling so embarrassed and ashamed. As though, “I’ll get it wrong,” in a way I thought must sound stupid and not make sense! However, this week I parked the car, got out and ventured towards the park where I used to go with my dad and sister as a child. It was getting dark, so I didn’t actually make it to the park and let myself cry without people around instead. In place I stood, listening to water and leaves and birds, surrounded by magnificent trees and rocks. Finally, I felt nourished. I also felt inspired and open. Of course, I briefly looked at the old house too. And, for the first time, I went back to where I grew up only to realize, “This isn’t real!” There is no “real” place. That neighborhood is no longer where I belong and, in truth, it only felt like home in the very beginning before Grandpa died. Because if it had been my home I would not have feared the forest, my family would have been happier, and we wouldn’t have moved 3,000 miles away in order to make a new life, albeit unlucky. Nothing ever came together in the way I wanted besides, arguably, “anorexia.”

Typical young woman’s diary?

No need to get locked into this more than I already am—he’s the one with god-speed, anyways. He should have made me out like I did him. Should have been there for me when I was struggling and REALLY needed him. Then again, how could he have “known”? His life is mostly about killing sense, after all. Meanwhile, I want to base the glue of our relationship on feelings and visions because we meet in that unique, unfamiliar fashion. To explain the world as it surrounds himself: he doesn’t have my gifts. There is a chance to show I really care and have the guts he lacks without “forcing.” He doesn’t have my answers unless I want for him to. I needed him when he wasn’t there, but I don’t have to be that person (who isn’t there) to him. Still if I really think he doesn’t care, is incapable and will land me in traps, then this is a waste of time.

Differences between being rejected and liking the wrong person

Is being rejected the same as liking the wrong person? Here’s why I don’t think so.

As a tween, I liked “Tim.” I was at the top of my class in grades. He was near the bottom. But Tim seemed little–like he could be nice–and at the time I thought of myself as being insufficient and unimportant. However, it is because he was small that Tim did hurt me. Tim didn’t reject me because as I recall we did dance, but he talked behind my back, which for an insecure, vulnerable girl already thinking “I’m fat” at 5’2″ and barely 102 pounds pushed me under the line–in the wrong direction! Maybe, after all, Tim didn’t want me (I assumed he didn’t want me) because of those “extra” few pounds on my stomach! Then again, how could I possibly have expected more? I liked this boy as the consequence of my own quaggy nature–evidently, considering the fact that he had to hurt someone smarter such as myself! Following the incident in which he talked behind my back I never spoke to Tim again or even gave eye contact (besides maybe a mean look, but we barely ran into each other since I took more advanced classes). Because, the truth is, Tim got me excited but I wasn’t actually interested. As I explain in my book, I relied on the feelings crushes stimulated to escape dealing with anxiety.

Just because I didn’t get boyfriends doesn’t mean I don’t take risks with “boys.” People wanted me to go to high school dances, but I never went to a dance again after middle school! For example, I remember a guy my therapist was convinced liked me asked me one day senior year in the parking lot on the way to his truck, “Well, aren’t you going to go the dance, Laura? You should go with us…” But I’d already gone out with his group of friends once, knew the blonde girl he was more interested in, and didn’t want to get involved.

In particular, I think it is chicken when I admit what I experience and own up to my feelings and the other person can’t. So what if he claims to be seeing someone else, then why’d he unnecessarily act interested in me? To me, this is not rejection. This is liking the wrong person. Rejection would come from the right person who apologizes, takes ownership and says, “I didn’t realize I was crossing the line. I appreciate and relate to certain aspects of you but am seeing someone else.” Not the “but we can be friends” bogus when he truthfully doesn’t care.

Elementary school peers or eloquent Laura

I naively overrated my elementary school peers, but, at the same time, they were my “real” friends that made me cool and on top of the world in ways I couldn’t ever find again. Nonetheless I was able to open up to a much softer and more eloquent Laura long after leaving those people behind; she’s the version I started out as anyways, and I mean before doing ballet. That girl who sat on the porch and looked out at the forest as she painted rocks, did bead projects with the babysitter that then got ironed into hearts and made braids out of gimp.

I didn’t “get” boyfriends. Am I smarter because of not having had them?

Beginning in middle school, but especially throughout high school, I felt under considerable pressure “to get” boyfriends. This concept consumed me. As if I’d be unworthy without them! To me, the idea of not formally meeting but potentially being around a new person I might experience an attraction to provides healthy incentive to fine-tune my appearances and demeanor regularly. However, getting a boyfriend is not necessarily a reality I’m inclined to take on. I have more freedom today because younger versions of “Laura” are clear to me without being tied up in “someone else’s.” By college I already felt older and different (enough) due to my experiences with an eating disorder to admit to myself, at least by the end of it, that I don’t want to meet someone (through school) and crave more comfort and familiarity with my own lifestyle before getting involved personally. Just because I didn’t get boyfriends doesn’t mean I don’t admit or explore  feelings, if only for the sake of self-growth and drawing the line professionally. I don’t think of myself as being behind or otherwise inexperienced at life. Furthermore, because I didn’t get boyfriends doesn’t mean I discredit sexuality and don’t want love. It does mean; however, that I don’t concern myself over guys like I used to. I have different priorities than many people my age, and undoubtedly a different vision for myself too!

On the side of Laura

People were so surprised. “This can’t happen to Laura. She’s an A student. She’s a great athlete. Friends and adults like her.” But as I share in my book Sick there is plenty happening earlier that explains why I became so vulnerable to my own body, to the obsessive calculating in my head and to this deadly disease.

Two themes I cover in the beginning of Sick are the death of my grandfather and being a basketball player. The death of Grandpa Sid results in me taking on too many responsibilities. I feel there isn’t a spot for me in the family, which perhaps explains in part why I became so “passionate” about basketball.

There was generally focus on being competitive as in “the best.” This focus is due to several reasons, including the locations where I grew up and the fact that something else in me couldn’t come to fruition, which is why I had to beat others as a way to define myself. At the same time I was really good at getting people to like me but felt unwanted and excessive. I excel and become so obsessed with certain things as a way to prove that slipshod secrets are meant to stay on the side.

He is oceanic and clear

The other day I found myself surrounded by a group of teenagers. Seeing them made me think about the one I would have liked at their age. He appears happy and Californian with darker hair—slow growing like I used to be. By Californian I mean sunny, good-looking but not self-serving, oceanic and clear. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the more I became closed off with anxiety, OCD and anorexia, the less I became interested in “open” guys. I fell for more troubled, secretive and angry underneath types that I didn’t understand as if to express own undersurface of shame. In short, I liked boys who made me feel bad. Thankfully, rather than get involved with someone else, I first learned to stop cheating myself.

Not my middle school

When my family moved to California after sixth grade, I had one friend from Maryland over the years who visited me, “January.” January came twice. Meanwhile, my friend “Angel” and I lost touch. Nevertheless, in writing Sick, I decided to share how Angel took care of me. It was kind of her family to have me at their house a couple nights while my parents sorted out final details with the movers. I still told Angel about my book and think she read it. When January visited, she did not come alone but with family. I invited other people to stay who didn’t, briefly alluded to in Chapter 44. I remember, the first time January came was probably 2002. I used to keep a picture of Dad, January and me at the top of a hill overlooking my favorite water. I wore a sweatshirt from the middle school I, evidently,  no longer attended in Maryland. Is it not sad? Because here I was with this amazing opportunity at a new and better life, but dressing like I didn’t want it!

Growing

I have a history of liking shorter guys. Not necessarily, shorter than myself, but shorter in general. Beginning with a crush in my tweens who acted as a bully against me. Following him, there was a variety of people, I guess, some taller and others shorter. Overall, I got along best with–and felt better about “Laura” around–the taller people. I less easily got (automatically) meshed in with him and kept a more clear sight of myself. Not only is this person taller, though, but different; I don’t feel like I’m turning my own life around to get impressed over him.

I do not hold anything against shorter people. However, I have worked in fitness, where in my experience guys are very into themselves and their muscles. He’s consistently struggling to compensate in some way as if to make up for a (previously) smaller size, which only makes me feel little!

I’ve always desired to be taller myself. When I walk outside, I want to feel tall. I want the people I spend time around to make me want to grow and not hold back.

Cooking with one label

Thanks to my eating disorder I became quite skilled in the kitchen. To get well, I learned to cook, which is shared in my book Sick. Basically, I was eating all raw foods and then my body became too cold and weak to digest them. Then, I got too habitual with the foods I was able to eat so my eating disorder resurfaced. It did not help that I began to exercise  frequently as soon as I gained some strength, which made me need to eat (the same things) more. Often, I did not eat for this reason and stayed anxious, hungry. I stopped liking cooking because I felt I had to do it, couldn’t eat out or enjoy myself. Slowly, with some professional help, I added more in and started to experiment. Today, I’m lazy on cooking sometimes. Soon, when I feel more settled and ready, it will come back. I didn’t just drop doing cooking totally and start watching TV, or something like that. Instead, I opt to do more of the other healthy activities that make me feel good, such as taking care of my face or driving somewhere special to walk. I still spend plenty of time in the kitchen. When I became “obsessed” with cooking, my eating disorder did not come back seriously compared to where I had been before. Nonetheless it happened badly in the sense that, once again, everyday folks thought I was just thin or small. I felt like such a nothing and didn’t want to share “anorexia.” Although I was trying to get better, I felt incarcerated as ever. I don’t like that people seem to think I’ve had more than one eating disorder. Then again, things seemed unclear in my book based on the well-meaning medical “threats” I received and what people said was going to happen! I didn’t have eating disorders. One label is more than plenty, mind you! A doctor said I’d probably become bulimic, but I’ve never made myself throw up. Maybe I was “exercise bulimic” while anorexic, but nobody used that term. I gained a lot of weight in a short period of time, yes, yet that was nothing new! The point is, I cut through and found therapies, such as new types of movement. Also, I know what binge eating is and have met various people with that condition. I do not have it. Moreover, the fact that I am no longer anorexic doesn’t make it right for people to wonder, in light of my history, What’s next. What more is wrong with this woman?

My blogging reasons

As a published author, it would be easy to lose myself in promotion work, speaking or coaching, but I still come back to writing as my focus.  When not on lauraauthor.com, I’m in the process of working on a separate article or otherwise occupied writing and editing. Nonetheless, here’s to why I blog and the way I do!

Number one, blogging regularly shows I’m a versatile writer. Furthermore, blogging often challenges me to become more fluent and dynamic as a writer. My goal is not to master a particular genre or form, but rather to make writing more natural to my processing. Not only am I an author, but I’m also a scientist who blogs about her personal and professional experiments; an anthropologist in the field; a journalist required to crank out articles under deadlines. Although I don’t have a boss, I do have discipline and experience. I participated in two journalism-related activities at different points in high school, including the school newspaper and San Diego Union-Tribune (for which I volunteered as a children’s critic). I discontinued the school newspaper because in order to do that students stayed after school. I needed to workout after school (which I do think is healthy after a long day)! Otherwise I had therapy and then exercised or just wanted to go home. Plus, the social “pressure” with food was more than I could take. I did; however, enjoy learning about the design aspects of the paper and remember feeling a sense of accomplishment when an article I wrote came out.

Next, writing regularly keeps stats and conversations with followers running more smoothly. My topics are relevant; tone stays more consistent. My blog doesn’t read like a novel because it shouldn’t. Still, the more I write, the more people get a general sense of my style and, hopefully, the more they want to come back and visit! Part of the reason I am able to make time to blog often is because I don’t lose myself on other social media sites. I also don’t consume myself with shorter updates, or feel a need to prove things about my personal life through the Internet. Lauraauthor.com is like a laboratory to me, instead.

Learn more about my experience as a writer, here.

Too many sinews

I used to weight train impressively–thirteen or fourteen is when I first got started. In fact, my entire existence revolved around fitness and healthiness, hence the title of my book: In The Name Of Being Well, I Made Myself Sick.

Since stopping conventional training almost four years ago and changing my approach to intensity, I’ve been able to menstruate on a regular cycle. This is more important for my well-being and sense of rhythm than having big or even attractive muscles. Actually, in my experience it is still possible to achieve nice or fair muscles without weights through diligent self-care and regular massage. I don’t have as many guy “friends” or men impressed, but would rather be cozy alone in my writing cottage anyways!

Today, I have the freedom to move my body whenever and however I feel like, without feeling confined by the need to exercise or even follow a certain “recovery” regimen. I keep focused on growing spiritually and energetically through nature and the physical, as opposed to finding “Laura” solely through this body and personal life.

Nevertheless, I did benefit from becoming a personal trainer at age eighteen. There’s far more to training than weights. I know all about foam rolling, which I do everyday, for instance. I walk outside, stretch, dance, take baths and inevitably do weight bearing exercises. I helped a lot of people when I worked at gyms, especially those who needed more confidence in their balance, wanted to build strength and improve flexibility.

When to end a professional relationship

As soon as “feelings” get involved, I think it is important to seriously consider ending a professional relationship or changing one’s position. Although a desirable ending is achievable, in this post I share two examples of mistakes in first person.

First, I was working at a museum. That is when I met “Saul.” Saul seemed to like me, but then he went away. Still, Saul said he was going to come back. After Saul left, my schedule became overcrowded with my other main job. But I kept up at the museum longing for Saul. Meanwhile, I never connected with my work, remained fully distracted by Saul and couldn’t imagine ever being interested in someone else. Eventually, I quit the museum. Although Saul came back later, he didn’t stay long anyways!

“Quentin” is “above me,” a person I’m working with directly, have hired or some combination. Quentin is either friendlier than I am used to or purposely leads me on. The specifics don’t matter; I’ve experienced both. Although I don’t agree with Quentin’s approach on something work-related, I want to keep seeing him and begin to wonder if feelings will develop. But Quentin isn’t actually interested in more; things begin to get awkward. Maybe Quentin doesn’t take me seriously as a co-worker or client (i.e. all women in x-y-z category are “game”). Or, maybe Quentin’s work is not meaningful or important and he wants to keep me interested by getting personal instead. The fact is, I didn’t hire or begin work with Quentin for him to be my friend slash therapist. Now, the combination of feelings and awkwardness gets in the way of work and inhibits me from developing a relationship with someone (else) or just focusing period. In short, I keep paying Quentin or working with him for the wrong reasons–all the while unclear if I truly want him or plainly got set-up–and lose on all fronts. My advice in this example is to disconnect totally; don’t fool yourself. Although, of course, he loves the idea of you being hooked.

Swimming in baggy clothes

Last night I dreamt I was swimming in baggy clothes. More specifically, I wore a particular pair of black capris that I own, except in the dream they were baggier and covered my entire leg. Although a bit scared and unsure, I wasn’t actually drowning because I remember coming up for breath. Two of my childhood girlfriends were “teasing” me. They were touching me while I was under the dark ocean water, making fun. My friends were wet too, but walking rather than swimming. Also featured in the dream was a guy I associate with this time in my youth. I couldn’t tell if he was close or far-off. There’s a chance he was looking for me. But I couldn’t get more near without my friends slash bullies.

Why to admit feelings

If he’s not the person you would have chosen for yourself, you have to admit feelings! This proves you’re still in the place you started from—he hasn’t turned into some type of “calling” or “answer”—these are “just” feelings. The only rule about feelings is, in my opinion: Don’t fight liking someone because you “think” that person isn’t right unless he is obviously dangerous or the situation is clearly inappropriate. Lay it out. That’s why games aren’t worth it to me. This isn’t about getting someone else or winning a particular person, being mysteriously attractive or something like that. This is about having the courage to put my own desire on the table. Until then “he’s” nothing special. That’s the entire point in admitting desire; to create the opportunity for specialness.

There are, of course, some people in my life I’ve decided are special without admitting anything. This was me being a little girl. Take “Frank,” for example, I remember talking to Mom and my closest friends about him. Following Frank, I got completely consumed in someone else. That is when I gained my most weight. Some of that weight was necessary. Ultimately, I gained too much.

Now, back to Frank. It’s hard to realize how true my feelings were. Because at the time I was living from a more hidden and sub-conscious place. Then again, it was evident I liked Frank, I think, but once I finally did get to know him I realized he wasn’t right.

I’ve made up stories about past lives related to various guys. One I decided was my father (ironically, this is the only one that is my age). Another (i.e. Frank) I met at a market. The last is a former relative from a different village! Mostly; however, I think this is little girl’s stuff–like “my anorexia.” Yet none of these guys were particularly mature either, regardless of how youthful or aged.

“His” game in six steps

One.  If he doesn’t take his own feelings seriously, someone he “feels” for isn’t serious either. Duh!  Two.  Spending time around this person (any person, per example) makes me doubt myself in direct proportion to “his” own artificiality.  Three.  Almost everything “he” tells me, I can’t help but wonder: “Did you study me beforehand? Is this rehearsed?” It doesn’t matter if he actually likes me, or merely the idea! He NEEDS to play; to get “you” into “him” because he lacks sense of self. That makes the dude a con.  Four.  Working with someone who is curious in learning about my personal life before following through on important (professional) tasks I’ve pointed out need to be done. In short, he asks for favors without finishing the job. I feel guilty and needy about “demanding” too much when, in fact, I am the co-worker or client. But he seems interested in me and I don’t want to ruin that; I want to impress him.   Five.  He’s clearly trying to plug into me  through conversation—yet continues to test and walk tightropes rather than providing a genuine invitation, offer of support or giving me a real chance. Meanwhile, I “can’t” want him because then he loses his game! In the end, that’s what this is all about–his game.

~ Six:  Ladies, don’t degrade yourselves.  It’s not your game. So don’t play! ~

When to “admit” feelings and when not

I put “admit” in quotations because by that word I mean, in a general sense, bring them up. Explaining where you stand and what your interpretations are without a profuse confession or implying any kind of commitment.

As a 15 year-old girl, if I had a crush on my 30 year-old coach, that seems inappropriate to admit. The coach should not be playing with me or teasing, either. He is considered the adult in charge and there could be grave consequences.  This would be, like, a little girl’s crush for a teenager who knows she is better off with people in her own age bracket.

However, if I am age 21 or in my early twenties in a non-personal relationship with my coach in his late twenties to early thirties, this is very real and not a game.  Over the past four years, my reoccurring experience is that men seven to 12 years older think it is okay to play with me like a little girl. To come in without an invitation, ask questions, talk about himself and have what I would consider an intimate conversation related to family, personal life, etc. This is what I call a tease or playing. Perhaps he finds me intelligent in an intriguing way–my achievements are impressive; I am mature . But I don’t come off as sexual (enough) or amount to a woman he wants to “be mine” or brag about.

In the latter case, you admit feelings. You admit feelings that were not there initially. This is not, for example, the type of person, you’d have noticed at the supermarket. Regardless, this is someone who drew you in, maybe he didn’t do it on purpose but that just proves he is unaware. To conclude, there is only one solution, which is: Get a different coach!

Men older than me taking advantage

Last week someone gave me a lecture over e-mail when I didn’t get back soon enough. Immediately, I included another person in the loop, letting the first person know it was unacceptable to corner me in. Because in fact I should have received a call or text before a second e-mail telling me, “Laura, you’re rude.” E-mail can be fickle. Before getting mad at someone over e-mail try other forms of communication. If this person’s goal was to get close, that chance is ruined.

***

When you’re working with someone, gage the other person’s comfort level before getting personal. In Sick, the story ends with a man who makes me feel very used, and it starts because of how he crosses the line in a professional situation. Then again, how could this man have considered “my line”–he was far too full of himself! In these types of situations, no matter how clear I make my line, he is going to “innocently” dig his nails in. All along, I get more mushy. Recently, I found myself in a similar situation, came out and said to the person: “I like you and am interested.” I wanted to let him know, “Good job, you win!” And, at the same time, I guess, Shame On You! Deal with your own insecurities–don’t waste my time, ideas, money. 

Family

Growing up, Mom talked about family. The family was supposed to be bigger since the grandparents died on Mom’s side, my Yochelson grandfather got a heart attack (one of several) in the airport before my parents were even married and not everybody got along well with Grandma Kay. Despite the turmoil, I was seen as this kind of “pure” anchor. Looking back, adults should have paid more attention concerning why I felt so responsible.

Today I see people with their big families. Each child stays part of the family. Or at least it looks that way in pictures–they all still seem so similar; it’s kind of boring.

When it comes to family, if someone uses the word love, is it because of the blood relation and innocent memories? To me, family is something to be grateful for but it is also an exchange. I have a close relationship with my mom although often feel a need to convince her of my feelings. I regularly go intervals without seeing my dad but he’ll still text me about his work and the weather with an xox or call. I make a point to update him on the professional stuff that I think will, similar to Mom, persuade him of my progress. My sister and I have had one real conversation on the phone over the last three-four months. We “like” each other on Facebook but she is much more social and busy with work.

To me, this is family. Family is about proving myself. Not proving that I am one of us but rather proving that I am a capable independent and don’t “need” them. Perhaps that sounds harsh. But it’s how I’ve been raised and learned to think. Toughen up–or you won’t make it in this cold world.

Laura doesn’t

I don’t drink soda. I don’t think any of my (closest) friends drink soda, either. This isn’t a coincidence. Because I “judge” people who do and think it is unhealthy.

I don’t smoke. I don’t have any friends who smoke. Part of me feels sorry for people who struggle with this addiction because I’ve had my own (eating disorder). I don’t feel sorry for people who smoke just to be cool or don’t try to get help.

I don’t drink coffee. I don’t hold anything against people who drink coffee and know how to savor/enjoy it. I think that is wonderful. It’s people who live off coffee, use it as a substitute for food or go crazy without it that I think need a slower pace.

I don’t drink alcohol. Of course most people drink alcohol. Similar to how my grandmother tried pressuring me into soda, I’ve been warned by older adults in a way that implies people won’t like me because of this, I should just be more normal and drink some wine as part of the social atmosphere. (You won’t get any friends or boyfriend, Laura.) As if I abstain from alcohol on purpose to selfishly draw attention! When I see pictures with a guy wrapping his arm around a girl and holding his beer up in front of her body or close to her face that feels so wrong and disgusting.

She rejected hugging him, and it felt so good

In my second book, the main character experiences hugging. As of seventh or eighth grade girls started to give each other hugs. I guess I played along, although not a fan. Hugging used to be very hard (with the opposite sex, especially), then I gave too much. Be aware of whom, how and under what circumstances hugging occurs. Even though hugs were supposed to be just cool in middle school, they aren’t a joke. Giving is unnecessary; don’t get fooled! The last time someone asked for a hug, and I rejected him–it felt so good. Because that forced him to hug me first! All he could manage was wrapping an elbow around my neck in a way that almost choked. And there I had been, putting far more into it, and getting so little back.

Basketball in review

My perception of becoming an adult (in childhood)

Life was supposed to pick me up, make me change but I was not supposed to have feelings about it all. If a guy didn’t save the day, basketball would. This process should mostly happen “unconsciously.”

Something I wish people noticed in childhood before “anorexia”

All of the little ways in which I kept making myself smaller, such as by not smiling with teeth, until eventually the entire coloring surrounding me turned pale.

How I feel about myself sometimes

This was not supposed to be who I am. You do not know (Laura). That “successful” basketball star I was at nine, ten, eleven years old with all of her friendsShe stole me.

Just a tom-boy with OCD no one really knows

Had my family not moved, the plan was to keep playing and maintain my secrets. When it came to boys, I couldn’t let the people I wanted “attract me” because I lacked self-trust. I didn’t need anybody to think I liked him or had a crush, I just wanted the right to follow my feelings and curiosities without being judged or making mental prophecies!

At school, my friends could be unkind. It was easy to find my place in the group by letting them make fun of me and call me silly names. Still, I couldn’t give basketball up or people would stop caring. I’m like this nobody inside without basketball and yet I supposedly loved it so much, how could that sport have become the problem?

In childhood I got “lucky” because guys liked me; I didn’t have to find my feelings. If things kept going on as they had in sixth grade, most likely, I would have had more of a peer group and high school boyfriend. Not that any of these people would come close to knowing the truest version, but because I was in. My sporty successes made me cool. I was smart. I’d known these people since first grade and we got here together! Life and guys and other good things happened because of my “basketball” reality.

How was I ever going to make it without basketball; the sport was supposed to be for “Laura”–like just deal with her, because no one wanted more. I was merely a child, anyways, and adults did not pick up on how serious my need for change was and how unhealthy it was for basketball to get SO built up. Until therapists entered the picture and it was too late–I had to be fixed back into the better tattered version of who I used to be! All of a sudden everybody forgot how much pain basketball brought me because the label “anorexia nervosa” sounded that much worse.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in the past and have my basketball awesomeness but, today, unless I actually became a WNBA player, SO WHAT? I didn’t do basketball, but I became a personal trainer at 18, learned all about yoga and write books! If I’d stayed in Maryland and things worked out, people would continue to think “basketball” (and maybe teacher’s pet) when they think Laura Yochelson. But that was never me; Laura simply couldn’t play (or have feelings) without her court.

Later, looking back

Recently, I stopped by the community center on my way home. I watched a group of kids practice and walked. What I realize about basketball today is this: I was talented and the culture was cool. That’s about it. To those kids, they were just having fun. A guy enjoyed the ego boost of making a three pointer. It certainly did not appear that any of these boys were undergoing the paralyzing anxiety that secretly defined my life at that age. When basketball failed to materialize I felt like nothing was worth it and realized how little my life mattered. Although other opportunities could have opened up without such pressure, all people seemed to believe was that I needed another basketball!

Laura versus Ginger, a character in my book

As a child, I was just “little.” Little Laura, like in SickNobody considered me “skinny.” Everybody used the word small. “Athletic,” better yet. I meshed well. My name resembles that of my older sibling (L and L) in a way that makes us seem attractively sisterly. In childhood, parents of my friends also complimented me and compared me to their daughters.

“Who is five feet yet? Ginger or Laura? You girls are so alike…”

But, in my own head, Ginger was always a little bit skinner. A smidgen smarter. A centimeter or two taller. Perhaps she only liked me because basketball made me cooler (until she found her own). In short, Ginger was that much more of everything I wanted to be. Yet, Ginger never knew I had thoughts like this, and neither did her mother. In fact, Ginger’s mom wrote my mom a thoughtful note before we moved about what a good friend and person I am.

So, what made me different? Maybe Ginger tried a diet and resisted her period at first but she never struggled with a full-blown EATING DISORDER. She earned academic success and athletic distinction plus got a boyfriend, when all I had was secrets and more doctors and talk about death. Somewhat unfathomable for such a once upon a time joyous Susanne.

In the end, I do admit, I’ll probably get more out of life than Ginger. Not that anybody is comparing, of course!

Reading relationship advice

I don’t like to read general relationship advice anymore. People whose work I follow regularly might write about relationships–that’s a little different. I went through a phase about reading books on intimacy, relationships, etc. a couple years ago. I read books by popular self-help gurus, phDs, and articles on the Internet. It helped, somewhat, but also got me thinking too much.

I have nothing against authors, books and articles on relationships. However, I find it much more valuable to draw and share my own conclusions instead of posting about other people’s work or trying to memorize a professional’s formula. I process things in my own way, and have been looked down upon by others in the family for that. I don’t mean to blame my parents, who meant to facilitate such processing by putting me in therapy, but at the same time this shows they didn’t trust me. There was always something wrong with my own processing (“You need a lot of time,” in the words of Dad); a professional being “required” to lead my way.

Communication can make me quite anxious. Later I’ll wish I’d acted sooner or said more. Just this morning this happened with someone who noticed me. I couldn’t let myself talk (more) because the first thing I thought was I don’t look good enough, I don’t deserve it. I might go as far as putting words in the other person’s mouth through my head and think, He can’t be interested. I’d just come from exercising, wasn’t wearing make-up, hadn’t done my hair. Somehow the other person seems so perfect to me and no matter if he’s drawn to me first in my own head I’m never right or worthy enough. Automatically, I tend to think in terms of getting things over with and “rushing” through life in this way because I am anxious.

I mostly process things alone but am close with my mom; we’re not quite as close as we used to be, which for me is healthier and will allow for other people in my life. Having been “anorexic,” “seclusion” is familiar. I know very well how to hide away and survive on my own. I’ve gotten by for long periods of time, just me, caught back and forth between places like the family ping-pong ball, not knowing anybody particularly well or having my own social life. I’m learning to stand up for what I want a little better. Plus, I often do activities around people. Rather than get caught up in relationship advice, the best thing would be for me to get involved without worrying. Because nothing is worse than not being connected to “anybody.”

Relationship versus my head

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone that didn’t work? So you ended the relationship knowing it was the right thing to do. But in your head there was still so much to figure out. Once you figured that stuff out you wanted to show your face again and prove it. Then all of a sudden being back in communication specifically around this person you realize “Shoot, I haven’t changed!” Well, actually, I have, but not around “him.” Because the issue is bigger than ME. To conclude, don’t get caught up in these types of situations and relationships that bring shame. Focus on figuring things out in your own head (and heart) being enough. Don’t worry about proving anything to someone who isn’t right in the long run, anyways.

My second book

For the last 12-13 years (maybe more than that) I’ve been associating with times in life that no longer “exist.” This idea is carried on through the main character of my second book. There have been some aspects of realism (i.e. my “eating disorder”) but it is just those things that, historically, I’ve been rejected for. Often, I catch myself getting stuck in my head over tiny things that seem to have enormous importance. Then, there is a trigger that makes me realize the body is holding. I’m learning to work with the clues and not get so trapped by my own thinking.

Unlike Sick, my second book is fiction. However, pieces of the second book are inspired by my first, including role of male authority figures, tumultuous change in early life and personal relationships. I have decided not to write directly about eating disorders because “eating disorders” limits my reading audience to those interested in the subject. Thus, even though eating disorders are prevalent in society today, I understand why people wouldn’t choose a book on the topic to read for fun because it is quite serious! In my second book, the main character’s eating and exercise habits are irrelevant. This is not about describing an intense struggle and how the main character makes her way through but, rather, the desire to lose one’s self in love and healing. The story still involves romance, although the main character must grow a lot to get what she wants, rather than “who” she thinks!

Something different between the first and second books are names I chose. For the first book, I chose pretty and flowery names such as Hibiscus to lighten up serious situations, or names that directly connected to the nature of someone’s personality and appearances such as Ginger or their symbolic meaning in my life like January or Dr. Graves. In the second book, I do not repeat any names used in the first book. The antagonist, for instance, has a name that sounds very pure and innocent. Nobody would expect someone with his name to be a trickster!

In my second book, “love” turns against the main character. A man takes advantage of her. But is he truly the root cause of her suffering, or merely a vain and convenient object to desire:

People create this other life that isn’t “who” (you’d like to think) they are. How much do they have “that” and you just don’t want to know? How do you trust if who “he” is around you is really who he is? Or if he just likes the person he becomes around you:

And it is all me.

***

Trying to send secret messages across the Internet without owning it. Yet wants to show off and is dying for all to see. Just looking for what he wishes out of my actions without putting a foot down. I have to be the one who wants; his only job is to pull out “my” desire and gobble it like a pig.

Now, I’m grossed out!

~ The main character in my second book might say ~

“I gave him an opportunity to take control of the situation and recognize me. He was so into it—but made assumptions rather than do the assertive thing. It’s got to be all about him; if I don’t go out of my way to demonstrate immediate, intense interest—he doesn’t care enough and draws conclusions instead of communicating.”

 

Pasted in shame

Last weekend I walked through the shops on an unsuccessful search for sandals. I gave the same look “away” to the person I was interested in and the one who creeped me out. In both instances, I reacted immediately because of that feeling in my chest. I couldn’t go into the shoe store because a man was working there. Not a man I was interested in but, still, I worried about my feet being unappealing. In fact, it could have been almost any man; I feel a need to placate EVERY man and, often, women. More recently I had a very clear dream. I woke up pasted in shame. Another interesting thing: Before I got labeled as sick, people really liked certain qualities about me, such as my sensitivity and even my polite quietness! Around food, people joked around and thought my strange peculiarities were cute and fun. Then when I was diagnosed with mental disorders everybody thought I should get rid of those pieces as if they were bad. I do not think that is fair.

Let’s all focus on Laura’s problem!

Ever feel like there’s too much going on and how did it all happen? Something in my chest has to be let out! I remember trying to explain a similar feeling to the psychiatrist my parents made me see when I was fourteen. I told him I don’t understand, the problem starts here (in my chest), why are you just focusing on the head component? Apparently, adults missed the point. I cried and screamed in the car when my mom drove me to the shrink. Often, she cried too. But she still made me go.

I have to, Laura.

So tell me, who was making her? What was making her? Why was she disconnected from me? Because going to the psychiatrist only made things worse. I think if people had listened to me more. If people had let me have more of what I want outside of me that would have loosened my need to hold onto anorexia inside. I get this goes against yoga. But think about it. I was always that “good” child. My sister “wanted” far more material items. I gave her the front seat. The restaurant choices. And constantly empathized with my mother who in her own way ended up turning against me when I got sick. Of course Mom only wanted me to be better, and I love her very much. But she too was unhappy and didn’t know what to do. Everyone was unhappy.

Plain and simple, it was easiest to point all fingers on anorexia and focus on Laura’s problem in this way. Lisa’s childhood wasn’t golden, but she got variety. For me there was a limit: basketball. Basketball made me so cool! Most importantly it proved me to Dad and gave him a favorable opinion of his daughter in addition to drawing other boys at school. Basketball made me that special girl who isn’t needy like the rest. Basketball not because I wanted it or because it was ever truly mine but because basketball let me existI was just like this little dot that didn’t deserve anything unless she was really good at it and planned on becoming the next Shaq.

Without basketball I was such a nobody! Of course, my disease stole the prize. She’s so selfish. The formerly almost perfect Laura who becomes a waste basket for collecting everyone else’s anger when all of a sudden she is human. 

Big apple, or sandy pear?

I was born at George Washington University Hospital. According to Mom I wanted a move on, so she opted out of drugs. Thankfully, I came right on time. My family; however, did not live in DC. In my book, Sick, I share about our house in Bethesda. Nevertheless, I somewhat “grew up” downtown because my grandmother lived there and Dad’s office was located there along with the pro basketball teams. For sports games we drove and then took the metro. When I came to my dad’s office we drove all the way.

I don’t understand people who grew up in Bethesda or Potomac and are mesmerized by downtown Washington. Maybe it’s because I’m not a political person or corporate person. I appreciate convenience, but big cities make me feel distant although, funnily enough, they’re so busy! Growing up, my parents wanted a yard, a nice house they could afford, and the best public school system (by rating).

I furthermore do not understand young people who want to live in New York City. I want to be close to nature–everyday! I’ve been to New York. I’d visit again. Both Mom’s and Dad’s side have a history there. For me, New York is TOO loud. I get some people need their job in NYC, find good opportunities and jive with the fast pace and culture. But I want people to look at me and see beautiful forests, mountains and lakes–not think of big buildings! I don’t get people who do something in NYC they might as well do in Vermont, for example. Just to be cool, eh? Whatever. Obviously some writers thrive in “the big apple.” I’ll eat a pear with sand instead.

Last year I confessed to my sixth grade crush

Last year I confessed to my sixth grade crush. I did not remember my sixth grade crush until I saw a random picture online in 2013. I’m not sure I considered him a crush at the time but later realized he was.

In truth the picture wasn’t exactly random. Basically, I was researching on the public high school I would have attended had my family not moved. At one point I came across a picture of my crush via someone else’s profile. I remembered the feelings he uncovered in me. So I said I liked you. Who knows if I’d like him today! But I felt something for him then and decided to show myself I’m not that girl who forgets herself anymore.

As it turns out, I had two sixth grade crushes. The one I confessed to, and another with totally different looks and personality. The second one I was friendly with; we played sports. With him there could have actually been something. The first sixth grade crush was more like the seventh grade crush in the sense that I couldn’t touch. The only reason I maybe did was because my peer group at the time overlapped with his. But I couldn’t get into it and didn’t know what to make of what he brought up in me. There wasn’t space in my life with basketball and friends. I never told anyone, not even Mom! Although I did kind of have an elementary school crush early on, he was cute but not particular to me. The sixth grade crush was completely different, closer inside (even from a distance) and the first of a specific type. Nonetheless, a completely different boy ended up asking me out in sixth grade. His friend approached me for him. Or maybe his friend approached my friend in the cafeteria at lunch.

10 memorable pieces from the first 110 pages of SICK

  1. “Whereas others tried to distract themselves from acknowledging the tension at home, I could not help but notice it, and usually found myself caught in the middle of the mess.” page 18
  2. “More than being curious about boys, I was scared of what I might want to know about them.” page 32
  3. “…some type of energy I experienced difficulty translating into words to try and explain.” page 33
  4. “I worried that January would neglect me too.” page 35
  5. “Even if Dana was not as athletic-looking as I was, and even if Dana did not eat healthfully, Dana was pretty.”  page 37
  6. “Everybody was watching…” page 50
  7. “Shadow always soaked up the spotlight that was supposed to belong to ME.” page 52
  8. “My petty problems seemed liked nothing compared to the type of tough stuff I knew Breeze had been through.” page 57
  9. “I wanted so badly to be a San Diego girl.” page 89
  10. “I picked at my skin. I pinched myself. I pulled my hair out.”  page 109

Read directly from the interior on Amazon here!

Let’s “talk” e-mail

How much does e-mail matter? How much does the way a person composes an e-mail say about that individual?

Some things are obvious. Education level, most likely. Additionally, whether or not somebody exhibits a clear ability to think things through or demonstrates carelessness.

Is the recipient’s name used in e-mail? It definitely makes an e-mail more personal, but in a friendly and professional manner.

Do one write e-mail like text messages? I don’t write an e-mail like a text message unless it is something quick, the conversation has continued for a while, and it seems appropriate to maintain the flow. But I don’t use “fun” abbreviations unless in a joking or personal context.

I think e-mail says quite a bit about a person. Spelling and word choice–okay, this isn’t school. I’m more concerned about tone. In any kind of relationship, do you want to get closer, or not? Is that how you talk to people? Because, generally, I pick up on the way someone else writes and begin to respond in a tone that resembles theirs.

Something that annoys me is when someone writes an e-mail and makes a paragraph out of a sentence or two (three tops). The e-mail ends up to be about five paragraphs; short, crisp and personal but not really. Again and again (s)he communicates in the same way and is only available ONLY via e-mail. The relationship feels completely cut off with too many blank spaces. An e-mail should be like natural talking, ideally. If the person shows a completely different face on e-mail than in the real world, I think that is a warning. And especially if (s)he is closed off when it comes to talking or communicating further.

Of course, there are numerous cases when the most important thing is just to get back to someone, no matter how. Nevertheless, I pay attention to my reactions. If the way someone writes e-mail’s or other messages to me makes me feel great…terrific! If not, that is important. This is 2014 and e-mail, text messaging, etc. are–for better or worse–an essential aspect of communicating that, sometimes, “set-up” our in person reactions. To put it simply, if I don’t like the way a person talks to me via e-mail, I don’t need to hear or say much more.

On a social person being with a less social person

In my experience, a social person being with a less social person is not a good solution for the less social person. The more social person thinks the less social person is artistic in a mysterious and cool ways. Perhaps the more social person is envious of the less social person’s rich spiritual side “beyond” people.

But the less social person is kind of embarrassed and ashamed. Who does she have to fall back on when the more social person is out with all his friends socializing and flirting? To the more social person this behavior is regular. He’s not going to share the details with the less social person who begins to feel second-rate and unimportant.

It is hard for the more social person to understand the less social person. Being the less social person, I no longer find those social people attractive. I feel I have to change me in order to keep up with that person’s life and become part of it. Yet there is no way to invite the other person into my life in an equal way. The thought of turning “my world” into a tool to impress somebody else is disenchanting.

I think people today–guys and girls–think they are being attractive when they post pictures of themselves with friends, going out, probably with alcohol. Really this person is trying to prove he or she is normal and desirable: “See, women and men like me…I’m cool…I go out and have a life.”

Overall, I prefer my quiet, simple ways. I’m no longer interested men who lure me mostly because other people are into it without thinking, Is he actually right for me? I have my own life. In fact, he doesn’t have what I do and my world is not his for the taking!

“California was mine!”

Drove the old neighborhood yesterday. Here’s what I wrote in the car:

“An unimaginable, spectacular new beginning! It was supposed to be totally phenomenal. Nothing could ever mean as much; California was mine! Today, I feel terribly sorry and bad things failed (here).”

I remember quite a bit about that house. The details of the landscaping and design. Parts of putting the place together were fun and, overall, neighbors liked me. But it never seemed real. Some part of me never came. I kept wondering, “When are we going to go back home (to Maryland)? I love having all this, but that ‘first’ life will follow through, right World?”

How foolish and sad! No wonder I felt so alone.

I tried with a strong determination to make it work. Yet, no one noticed me–I could never prove her enough. “Giving up” hasn’t ever been my problem but, rather, not being appreciated and feeling neglected inside.

Why it’s ignorant to live on the east coast and want to claim California

Perhaps such a title makes my answers too obvious.

But who doesn’t know folks on the east coast…folks who say they want to move to southern California and claim to be that kind of “different” species?

Maybe some of these people have visited or already have a connection through work, friends or family to the place. Yet they fail to separate from their east coast roots entirely, like I was forced to do when my family picked up and left for California before I became a teenager.

I think it is natural for someone to imagine Southern California in his or her mind, especially during winter. Plus, the culture is pervasive and constantly romanticized in our environments–take a look in your closet and kitchen cabinets or just turn on the television and walk around the mall.

It bugs me when people come out and claim southern California without making some pretty big sacrifices, like I did in childhood. The first time I visited California was probably when I was three. I have family in different parts of southern and northern California, which made these areas convenient to visit. My dad is that culture guy, so we generally spent time at museums and historic places. But my sister and I got our share of fun stuff too. Over a period of almost ten years we checked out the various amusement, water and animal parks. Later, I visited some of these places again with children I babysat for!

Regardless of how much time I’ve spent here previously (almost a decade when you add up the back and forth), I still think it is easy to get lost in southern California. The place is humungous and distances widespread. Sure, the beach towns have a special energy/community but this place is full of (incredible) canyons and originally belonged to the coyotes. There can be a dry, desert and deserted feeling if you lose touch with the water (in my personal experience). People live very individualized lives and you’re bound to hear transplants from any other place in the country complain about their flaky-ness.

In southern California, there’s the old-school folks who have been here forever, can’t imagine being anywhere else and might not understand “other” types but already have tons (or a tightly-knit group) of similar-minded friends. Don’t expect to be included with them! Then, there’s the newer people with their east-coast intelligence who think it’s cool to live here, show-off but aren’t in touch with the celebration of ocean creatures.

Southern California can also be a very competitive area academically; think of all the California universities and sports! I got into the various UC’s and seriously considered Claremont-McKenna; it didn’t feel great at my high school graduation when the principal announced I was going to an east coast school that wasn’t ivy league. I didn’t apply to ivy league because of my parent’s conflicting influence. People here don’t seem to know or care for DC unless it’s Georgetown basketball.

Folks unfamiliar with southern California don’t seem to think there’s an actual culture here beyond “gnarly” and “dude” but in fact the sea is a most powerful, nurturing and creative force that runs through it all. I wasn’t ready for such an “awakening” at age 12; I think this explains in part why I felt suicidal near the water. The ocean is incredible. But how many people who live here–besides the hardcore surfers and regular walkers (who don’t wear headphones)–truly notice and marvel in “her” beauty on a regular basis?

The weather is nice, yeah, still there’s a lot more going on than that. My point is people from the east coast who complain about it there would most likely end up looking at the water from a distance and go back to their same superficial lives in fitness or super-busyness or behind office doors within a matter of months. The only reason to come here, honestly, would be to open up to something entirely different and new. Plan on giving a lot up to let the sea all the way in and experience her gems. This is not an easy task.

To conclude, southern California is one of the most superficial places. Perhaps, unfortunately, that explains exactly why it’s perfect for some of those people “we” all know on the east coast?! Plus, the traffic is terrible. Not to mention the smog or pollution in certain areas. It is also quite expensive, so you’d better learn to save gas and walk places or win the lottery! Stop idealizing California just because of how movies, songs, clothing shops, food chains, advertisements, etc. have come to portray the place and its hyper-attractive, overly tan people. There’s a lot of hiding, shame and fake-ness going on to maintain such a perfected beauty.

My “puberty” depression

Ages 13-14. I started to get really heavy feeling, even as I lost weight. I couldn’t get excited about things–like the weekend–or look forward to stuff like I used to. I remember a pool party I attended at the end of eighth grade with, overall, the high-achieving kids. I wore a bikini but not the showy kind and wasn’t nearly fully developed. I felt incredibly self-conscious but people didn’t know me that well and seemed to think, perhaps, this is just how she gets. Inside I realize there are people all around but something is onto me they aren’t experiencing…

Go away!

I cannot explain what was beginning to overtake me. I looked good, arguably, but could not mold with my peers. I wanted to be here and for boys to like me but in the moment too much was going on. I felt terribly ashamed and embarrassed too. People laughed; I feared their lack of compassion.

The more I couldn’t count on the ability of a boy to make me happy and realized the answer wasn’t as simple as getting someone else the more I lost interest in the opposite sex and the whole world became ugly to me. People are this interruption; I feel very invaded. Nobody knows me but at the same time you can’t know me. You can’t see. What you see isn’t who I am; I am not this sick girl so do not judge!