Five Years

flat lay photography of calendar

 

2014 – I tried to take on too much without proper energy or support for it. I wasn’t aware of what was going on or what I was doing and ended up, in a way, giving up on myself. I was struggling real bad without knowing how to cope. I didn’t know how to talk about it because I didn’t really understand what was going on. I was breaking down and fucking up real bad. It was when I was starting to hide from the world and myself. Instead of growing, I was breaking down.

2015, I was in denial about everything that was going on. I was being self-destructive and reckless. I pretended I was having fun when I was feeling empty inside. I knew there was something wrong with me but I didn’t know what it was. I thought I was going crazy at one point. I used a broken friendship to help lie to myself even further. I tried desperately to escape the emptiness without really know how. I was wearing myself thin and feeling emotionally exhausted. I was researching like crazy to figure out why I was the way I was. I hated myself and my body.

2016, I was a shell of a person and felt like I had to start over. I didn’t trust myself anymore but I was starting to get some help. I was seeing a counselor here and there. I started trying to connect with the world again and fumbling. I still didn’t have a sense of self though. I was still trying to escape myself by fucking around. It felt like I was groping around in the dark trying to find something. I had a lot of pent up anger about the way my life was going and didn’t know how to let it out. I was pretty negative. I was really mean to myself. I hated my body. I can’t believe I almost got fucking married to someone who I threw a blender at because that’s how much I started snapping. I went through some heavy family stuff that I had to shoulder and awful support from someone who I was going to get married to. I was really stupid. Oh my god, so stupid.

2017, I finally admitted to myself that I needed help. Like serious help and I had to get over the shame of it. I finally had to come to terms that I was putting myself through a lot because of the trauma that happened to me when I was younger. I couldn’t keep living how I was living anymore. I needed to learn to connect properly and get out of my own head. I started seeing a counselor more seriously and that helped. I was learning to open up. I started sharing myself with the world more instead of just hiding. It felt awkward. It felt weird. I had to do it though. I had to challenge all the bad stuff I convinced myself about myself. Maybe I wasn’t as dumb as I told myself I was all these years. Towards the end of it, I was improving but I still felt empty. I went on anti-depressants and it helped me but didn’t fix me. I snapped in a couple of ways but good ways. I was ready to do good for myself.

2018 was tough. I was going to weekly trauma therapy because I realized what was going on with me was pretty bad. It was so tough because I had to be raw in a way I’d never been in my life. I had to admit and talk about things I’d never told anyone. Suddenly there was an unexpected death that affected me deeply and I found myself crying in a way I’d never done. I had a breakdown that was, in hindsight, a healthy one. I learned how to not repress feelings like I once did. I still wasn’t learning to cope properly. It didn’t help that I got roofied in May and woke up in an alleyway. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life and left a hole in my invincibility shield I thought I had. I dated someone briefly who showed signs of being emotionally abusive. I started to recognize the signs even though I didn’t process them well at the time. At that point, I had stopped seeing my therapist and was off my antidepressants. But I went back to my counselor who helped me with clarity. I was going through some same old experiences but started to cope better. I stopped trying to escape and started opening up to people who made me feel safe about what I was going through. I started to learn things like love and trust properly. I started to believe in the value of myself. I stopped tolerating inconsistency and confusion. My old coping mechanisms were no longer working, no matter how I tried to go back to them. I made the decision to go back on anti-depressants after a bad workplace experience left me shutting down for a good while and I couldn’t even get out of bed. I’m not sure if I’m only going to need them temporarily or forever. I don’t really want to think about it. I’m just glad they’re helping. My friends let me learn not to rush the emotional recovery I needed and I learned to accept their support without feeling like a burden.

2019, I feel more self-oriented than ever. I’m learning to love the body I have even though it’s not as lean as I was chasing to be. I don’t feel the loneliness or emptiness I once have. I don’t escape anymore because I can face things better than I once did. I don’t hide anymore and have learned to show the world who I am because I’ve learned to show it to myself first. I like taking care of myself and have never felt as good as I do lately. It’s only a couple of months in and I’m still an embarrassment but you know, I’m not harsh at myself about it. I don’t drink as often or even close to what I used to. I’m less earnest and am starting to see the world in the way I’d like to see it. I don’t feel like I’m recovering anymore and feel like I’m finally starting to live. I can be myself and not feel like I’m stupid for it. I let other people accept me for me. I’ve got the right kind of love. I recognize what’s the effect of trauma and what’s actually normal. I know who can sit with me and who can’t. I feel like a person.

I’m feeling life.

CLEAAAAAAN SLATE

Just in time for the New Years. I’m not really one for traditions or taking it very seriously but there’s still a part of me that believes in it. I feel more compelled to get in touch with that side. I feel like it’ll be good for me to do so.

Maybe it’s because I’m ready to switch from “Well, who is Ariel?” to “Hi, I’m Ariel”. I’m not as stuck in trying to find an answer from the past these days. I’d rather look forward to the future ahead. I think I’m ready to talk about the past presently as a reflection and a conversation rather than an issue that needs to be sorted. I’ve looked through my little black box and changed the conversation and perception I’ve had of its content and am at a point where I can bury it in peace instead of burying it to hide. I’m learning to embrace parts of me that I convinced myself was negative. I’ve stopped telling myself I don’t deserve to speak.

Maybe to actually have a clean slate I’ve also put to rest the old me that tolerated inconsistency and confusion. For the first time in six years, I have standards again. I think objectively, my standards are pretty low and reasonable. That said, the failure to meet rate is both baffling and disappointing. Which is fine. I can accept people for who they are and where they’re at, but I can also decide not to fucks with them for the same reason. I’ve stopped caring about being friendly where it’s not needed. It’s a waste of time.

I feel like I’m at a starting point of something new. On a journey instead of in recovery. I’m recognizing that at the start, things need work and aren’t perfect which is why I’m embracing where I’m at right now because I know it’s going to improve. I’m my own glow up project and I’m going to sparkle, damnit.

The seed is planted.

 

 

Kinda Chunky, Still Pretty Funky

closeup photo of primate

 

I’m starting to learn personally that the sexiest thing anyone can wear is their confidence.

About five years ago, I decided to go on a dirty bulk and gained 10lbs. Even though I knew the reason I was doing it, I was so insecure about it and with the emotional history at the time… It wasn’t the best thing to do. Since then my weight has fluctuated around there. For a long time, I felt like I failed my body and myself. Like, how could I so stupidly give up something good?

I’m an impulsive person. When my emotions are on the bad end, those impulses can be reckless. Over the years, I’ve learned to dull the urge to act on them. There are still moments where I’d like to just say fuck it and self-sabotage myself but I’m careful to remind myself it’s because punishing myself is my default. I can spiral deep into that punishment if I’m not careful. My gluttony can be pretty shameful.

I’m very slowly learning to let go of wanting to be leaner. Like, it’s not something I need to chase to feel good and if I do, it should be a positive thing. That it’s okay to accept where I am and stop trying to squeeze into a past that I can’t consistently keep. To not hate or be disgusted at myself for it. To embrace it with confidence.

It’s not easy. I think it’s not easy because my face gets rounder and my tits aren’t big. I convince myself the proportions are off. In reality, they’re not. I’ve just spent more time working against them instead of with them. There are curves. There’s a booty. I work hard at the gym. Why am I mad?

Right now I’m still chunky. I’m waiting for my eyebrows and blush lips to heal from touch ups. My hair lost length to the trim. I’m definitely not turning heads with my physical state but I’m feeling pretty fresh about myself. I’m trusting the process of things while still taking steps forward. I’m genuinely able to look at myself and be feeling it. I feel it in the way I’ve been dressing as well. I think this is what feeling secure with myself is meant to feel like and I’m all here for it.

Then & Now

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I think I wrote that in like, 2013. At the time, this list was astonishing because it was after a bit over a year of learning how to be self-sufficient and independent when I had no clue how to be.

In 2012, I’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship and it was the first time I’d ever been on my own. Before that, I always had someone taking care of me or someone to depend on. I moved into a place with four male roommates and it was the first time I’d ever just randomly lived with strangers. To be honest, it was a great household to live in until some of us started graduating from the place. By then, I figured it was time for me to branch out on my own too.

But that year living there, I worked hard for myself. I pushed myself to the gym after barely/struggling with any form of fitness in my entire life. I was so dumb about anything that I made a friend of mine hold my hand and basically do everything for me but pay when I got my gym membership. I was anxious. What made me sign up was this awkward moment where the group of girls I was friends with at the time all silently agreed that I was chubby. We had taken a photo and I was so surprised by how I looked and said, “ARE THOSE FAT ROLLS ON MY BACK?”. The response I got was silence and no one would look at me. This scene is forever in my memory. After a tough start, I fell in love with powerlifting and the lowkey confidence that manifested through that probably saved my life at the time. Still, I took myself for granted.

During that year, I put all my energy into building myself. It was probably the most disciplined I’d ever been in my life. In the beginning, there were times where I felt so lonely that I would call the suicide hotline just to talk to someone for a bit. I didn’t seek help or support because I was that alone and didn’t have the knowledge I do now. Eventually, I was still living a lonely life but I was getting somewhere with it.

When I wrote that in 2013, I still thought I was getting somewhere. I couldn’t have predicted that my life would go into the downward dark spiral that it did for the next few years. I was doing great in terms of jobs. I was working my regular office job but also serving just to keep myself from being a complete hermit. I ended up dating a guy on and off for seven months and it was such a dumb relationship. He was so dumb. After we broke up and he fucked off to Reno, there began my downfall.

I was burnt out from working all the time. I was heartbroken over such a stupid relationship. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to so instead I slowly started to self-destruct in ways that I masked as trying to be better. I bullshitted on the outside while being empty on the inside. I was pretty promiscuous because I thought I’d enjoy myself and you know, expand my sexual horizon. To be honest, most of it sucked and I didn’t really enjoy myself. I also went into this weird perverse phase that still baffles me to this day. I think it was because I kept what I wanted sexually on the inside and felt I had to sneak around about it. I also did another thing secretly that I actually enjoyed because it’s not as bad as people say. The only thing that sucked was the emotional abuse from a messed up man and the loneliness I felt about it.

Everything around me was pretty toxic. I gave up on opportunities out of anxiety. There were days I was so paralyzed that I couldn’t function but I pretended and it made things worse. I was drinking all the time. My relationships were fleeting and such headaches. I was trying to get guys who were emotionally unavailable to love me. Who weren’t interested in me and I convinced myself to believe their empty words. Or I’d date guys who I gave the feels to but they couldn’t handle them like an adult so I’d try to handle it for the both of us and those didn’t end well. The more I kept consuming myself in all the mess, the more I was losing myself. Even with the breakdowns, I would manage to lie to myself enough to keep pretending.

My only friend that knew anything was broken as well. That friendship seemed like the greatest love story but it was empty because we were. It was the equivalent of a toxic relationship that we both thought we needed. I would end up in another one when I moved in with a girl roommate. Most of my female friendships have been damaging or superficial. I struggle to feel the sincerity of it. I’m learning how to properly let a genuine connection happen but it’s not easy.

I started become lowkey scared of everything. I felt like an alien. I had isolated myself and pretended so much that I didn’t really know how to socialize anymore. When I had to, I faked it pretty well. I became so fucking broken and while I knew the truth, I couldn’t admit it to myself. There were nights where I would cry and pray for things to get better. They didn’t get better.

Though I do give big ups to the one guy I dated who is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. We only dated for a month and a half because he moved to Australia to become a doctor. What we did briefly have was pure and genuine. He was super caring and thoughtful and made me feel valued. Even when he was gone and busy with studying, he would still make time for me when he could. He was always there when he could be and he never left me hanging. I messed up our friendship when I got into an emotionally abusive relationship and became scared of guys. I’ve apologized to him years later but it’s not the same. I still remember our time together from time to time fondly. Sometimes it makes me tear up.

By the end of 2015, I stopped living my life for myself. It felt like all my options were dead ends. I was having frequent panic attacks but had nowhere to hide. I started investing in an emotionally abusive relationship to escape. The four months it lasted left me a shell of a person. It was cruelty through loyalty. It really fucked me up emotionally and to an extent, I let it happen. It only ended when he shoved me against a wall and I told him if he didn’t let go of me I would kill him. After that, I gave notice to my place and slept on a friend’s couch for three weeks because I didn’t trust myself to be alone. I started looking for a place with a roommate because I didn’t want to be alone.

The fucked up part was I tried to date during this time. I wanted to block out that relationship from my head and this was my way of moving on. Didn’t work.

I moved in with a girl and lived with her for a year and a half. It started out great but by the end of it, we hated each other. We were both pretty messed up in our own ways and were no good for each other. I still don’t like her and besides writing this about her, I barely think of her. To be fair, I did some dumb shit too. She had to put up with a lot of my bullshit, especially when I got into a relationship that almost resulted in eloping. It was the relationship that would make me realize that I needed to get help and I needed to be better. I started seeing a therapist but I was still hiding out about myself. There were moments where I felt so empty that I wanted to stab myself with a kitchen knife. It was a dull urge but it was there. I tried to push that down because hey, it was an upgrade from wanting to drown myself in a bath the year before.

Near the end of 2017, I worked through enough to start allowing myself to feel angry and take control of my life more. I quit my shit job and moved out into my own place. I was still feeling empty so I made the decision to get on anti-depressants.

2018 wasn’t a great year in terms of shit that happened. A lot happened behind the scenes and what felt like every aspect of my life. I struggled a lot. But it didn’t feel as exhausting as it once did. Towards the end of the year, I learned to not struggle alone. I started to learn to genuinely talk about what was happening to people I trusted. I haven’t learned to fully cope with certain things but I’m getting there. I don’t talk to douchebags anymore. I let my friends love me when I can’t love myself. I’m learning to accept their love without feeling like it’s trouble. I let them hug me and let me know it’s okay when it feels like everything is falling apart. I’m no longer lonely in that sense.

And here we are at 2019. I’ve been several months douchebag-free. I don’t count the last guy I hung out with amongst the trash. I understand the value of myself and know how I’d like to be treated. At first I was going to quit drinking but lately, I’ve been trusting myself with handling it and I’m confident it’s doable. I only think this because I’m learning to embrace the core of me and it takes away from the escape or distraction of just drinking. I’m slowly shedding that desire to be a version of myself that’s not really me. I’m getting down with my way of fun and what’s fun for me and I can see shining that path is. This glow up game is real and I’m beginning to see my sparkle.

I hope by the end of this year I can make another successful “in this past year”. I know this time around there won’t be another downward spiral. Not if I don’t ever try to downplay my sparkle again.