Tag Archives: Self Awareness

NaNoWriMo (Day 1): Different kinds of love.

1 Nov

My parents are very different people. I guess you could call them polar opposites in a lot of ways. However, they compliment each other, and I also know that without them being very different, I would have had an even harder time dealing with the struggles related to my Cerebral Palsy throughout my childhood. In connection with my parents being very different, they also have very different ways in which they show love. I like to think that I got lucky and am able to show others how I feel through how each of my parents behaved (and still do behave) towards me regarding love.

My mom has always showed affection through tough love. During my childhood years, I couldn’t understand that this was even a form of love. The toughness hurt. It made me cry. Most days, it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Especially concerning the exercises that I had to do in order to get stronger and be more independent, my mom was the pusher. The goal was to get me to be more independent, and in my mind, I felt like that is all she could really see. For much of my life, I didn’t want a tough love mom. I wanted a mom who would show me she loved me in the obvious ways. I wanted a mom who would see me in pain and instantly hug me and rock me, continually telling me that it would all be okay. I wanted a mom who would welcome me into her arms, welcome me into the place that I fit and would always belong. I didn’t understand how my mom could push me to complete all the really painful exercises and not even be phased when the tears began to fall. I didn’t understand why she didn’t tell me she loved me more often. For much of my life, I doubted my mom’s love for me. Since we were often butting heads, I couldn’t allow myself to see the ways in which my mom was showing me love. I just knew that I was in pain, and instead of making it stop, she was making it worse. In my mind, that was so far from love. Though my mom was pushing me so that I could be a more independent person and fight through what was bringing me down, I couldn’t see that. All I knew was that what I did end up doing never seemed to be good enough. As soon as I completed one exercise, using all my strength to push through the really painful parts, there was another exercise to do…and another after that…and another after that. It was a never-ending stream of pain and tears, and at the center was my mom, telling me to bend my knee up just one more time.

My dad was the complete opposite. He has always been incredibly sympathetic and has always showed his love for me in ways that I could relate to. For instance, I remember the first few weeks I was home after my first surgery. Throughout those weeks, I was in an incredible amount of pain, which often made it really difficult for me to sleep at night. Therefore, I’d call out for my dad, and even though it would take some time for him to hear me, eventually he’d come to my room. In those moments, there was nothing he could do to ease my pain except give me some pain medication. However, the ability for him to just sit at my bedside and brush my hair with his fingers was enough. Though I was still hurting, it was obvious that all he wanted to do was take away my pain. I could tell from how he looked at me that it was so hard for him to not be able to do anything. However, in those moments, his love for me was obvious. The simple fact that he just came to sit beside my bed through my tears said so much. Even if he never said anything to me, I could feel the love that was held in those moments.

My dad has always been an incredibly empathetic person, and I know that’s where I get my ability to empathize with others and relate to the pain that other people have felt, though I may have not felt that specific kind of pain myself. Though my dad has always been empathetic, that doesn’t take away the fact that for my entire life, I have longed to have someone to understand my pain. I’ve wanted someone to be able to come up to me and say, “I know exactly how you feel.” However, in a situation such as mine, that’s not an easy thing to find. My dad’s love for me has filled many of the gaps that a person who knew my pain normally would. Though he doesn’t know what my pain has felt like it, he (as well as my mom) lived through it with me. They were with me every day, watching as I went through unimaginable pain that they couldn’t take away no matter how much they longed to do just that. Also, since I’ve always been incredibly close with my dad, he’s grown to understand many of the parts of myself that I don’t show to many people. Since we’re so similar, he probably knows me better than anyone else. In so many different ways, we understand each other, and my ability to be incredibly open and honest with my dad has allowed us to have the kind of parent-child relationship that I know many people wish they could have.

In much of my teenage years, during the times that I was going through intense physical therapy but also beginning to become my own person, I began to doubt my parents’ love for me. Though I have no doubt that my parents had told me they loved me countless times before, I feel like my own low self-esteem impacts the way I imagine others feel towards me. Though that may seem sad, I think it’s something that any of us who are different struggle with. In a childhood that is filled with a great deal of emotional and physical pain, where is the love? How can we feel like others love us if they are pushing us to do things that are incredibly physically painful? Isn’t love supposed to be a warm feeling? Isn’t it supposed to be the kind of emotion that has no boundaries or limits and is able to lift us out of the hardest times in our lives? Doesn’t love conquer all? Regarding my ability to doubt that others love me, I have realized that I have always been one of those people who needs reassurance, which I feel like is another trait I get from my dad. Therefore, even though I have friends and family who may tell me they love me on a regular basis, I often wonder when I will allow myself to believe them. I wonder how long it will take to stop doubting how much they care. I wonder…I wonder…I wonder.

Though my parents showed their love to me in very different ways, they’ve always complimented each other. If I had 2 parents who demonstrated tough love or 2 parents who were incredibly soft, caring and empathetic, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through my struggles. Though sometimes it’s still hard that my parents show love in 2 very different ways, it’s helped me define my own definition of love. It’s also helped me understand that since my parents have two very different personalities, the way they show affection is definition, and that’s just the way it is. However, it’s helped me see that there isn’t just one way to show someone who you care about them or love them. Though I am only 20 and I still have a lot to learn regarding love, I know that the love I have received from my parents has shaped me into how I show my love to other people. Though I don’t solely demonstrate tough love or solely demonstrate softness and empathy, I know that having a mix of the two is probably the best way to be.

[Word count: 1380 of 50,000]

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Give yourself emotional gifts.

11 Oct

Stress is a funny thing. When it reaches high amounts, it is overwhelming, often causing us to cry, scream or give up on our project altogether. However, in small amounts it can be good. It can help us be more productive and help us to get things done quicker than we might have if there was no deadline in place. However, more often than not, it’s not one of these extremes. Often, our stress levels fluctuate, and I know from personal experience (in college especially), it’s not always easy to prepare yourself for the massive stress days. In my experience, it’s better to focus on the aftermath that the stress creates rather than trying to trick yourself into not getting stressed. As it turns out, that increases the chances of you getting equally worked up about something that is close to meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Today I hit an incredibly high level of stress because I had a Humanities exam this morning. Unfortunately, stress didn’t work in my favor on this particular exam. I completely freaked. I blanked when I got the exam and only felt confident about the essay portion of the exam (since that was the part that I spent most of my time preparing for). Therefore, after I turned in my exam, I knew the aftermath was coming. I could feel it. I knew that I’d just have to let it out. So I did. I cried. I yelled. I got frustrated (first at my professor and then more at myself for over-studying and not focusing on the right things). I ran into 2 friends of mine and thankfully they let me vent, which was just what I needed. However, even after venting and going to a Psychology talk on autism that I wanted to attend, I was still feeling a bit overwhelmed. The aftermath was still lingering, and I needed to find a way to get it out of my system.

I came home and considered giving myself some emotional gifts, or some things that I knew would help me relax and make me feel better. I settled on 3 things: a bubble bath, Gilmore Girls re-runs, and chocolate. First off, I don’t know what it is about bubble baths that makes them so amazing. However, I just know that it always seems like my stress melts away whenever I take a bubble bath. That could partly be because the bubble bath formula that I use is specifically for stress relief and ache relief. Though I definitely do think the actual bubble bath formula is part of it, the simple act of soaking in warm water with bubbly soap just makes me feel better. I’m smiling just thinking about it. The Gilmore Girls re-runs and the chocolate added to an already much more relaxed me, which was perfect. However, though I chose 3 specific things that I thought would make me feel better in the moment, I know that on a different day with a different situation I may have needed something completely different.

Often times, I just feel like I need to remind myself that I deserve treating myself to emotional gifts, or doing something that has no purpose other than to make me happy. Though I think of treating myself most often when I have rough days, I think we should all remember that sometimes we just need a little treat every once in a while. Due to the fact that I’ve been in more physical pain over the last few months, the realization that I need to treat myself more often so that I can feel better is incredibly strong. Even though today’s bubble bath, Gilmore Girls, and chocolate was all wonderful, tomorrow is restorative yoga, bubble bath, and pleasure reading (after class, obviously). I’m smiling just thinking about it. 🙂

Let’s talk about the weather.

14 Aug

When I was in Ireland for my summer study abroad program earlier this summer, I took an Irish language class that met twice a week. I was hoping to learn some Irish phrases so that I could come back to the States and impress my friends and family with some Irish, or maybe an accent. Unfortunately, I came back with neither. However, I did learn one interesting thing: The Irish love to talk about the weather. One of my language professors said that in Ireland it’s typical to spend about 15 or 20 minutes every day just talking about the weather, as if it is as important as something that happened at work or an interesting conversation you overhead while standing in line at the grocery store. I found the importance of the weather as a conversation piece very interesting mainly because that’s not how the topic of weather is viewed in the States.

Here if someone brings up the weather as a conversation topic, they’ve done it for 2 reasons: 1. The conversation is so boring or awkward that they’ve settled for discussing the weather or 2. Something big is happening in terms of the weather (i.e there’s a severe storm coming their way or it’s been unseasonably hot). Normally, I think that if the weather is brought up as something to genuinely discuss, the conversation has already been shot to hell. However, imagine how things would change if we put the same emphasis on the topic of the weather as the Irish do. Though we normally view the topic of the weather as a mundane discussion, taking the time to actually sit down and comment on the weather could help us slow down a little bit. It could give us a break, even a small one, to discuss something that seems as simple as brushing our teeth in the morning. When I was in Ireland, I noticed the slow and overall relaxed nature of the Irish. They don’t rush. If the bus is 15 minutes late, it’s not a big deal. The earliest classes begin at 9am rather than 8am. However, forbid them to go into their favorite pub as soon as they get off work at 5pm, and you’ve got trouble.

I know that if I took a few minutes every day to talk about (or at least observe) the weather, it would be a daily reminder to slow down. Though I know that it is a common saying to “Stop and smell the roses,” how many of us really stop and take the time to notice the little things? Maybe today each one of us could try to connect to our Irish roots (that we may or may not have) so that we can be reminded to take things just a little bit slower.

Become Aware.

25 Mar

I went to my first early morning meditation class today at Asheville Community Yoga. Even though it was raining most of the day, it was nice to be leaving campus before much of the campus was awake. I love the quiet that comes with the rain in the mountains, and I’m happy I got to experience it “by myself” this morning. There were only me and 3 other people at ACY for the early morning meditation (not including Michael, the instructor), which was actually kind of nice. For the first part of the class, we spent time “waking up our bodies” so that when we sat for meditation we’d be awake and focused. The beginning exercises felt good, especially the stretches and the movements that allowed us to make our bodies feel as comfortable as possible (like massaging our neck and back).

We then sat down, and we began by counting our breaths. We’d inhale and count 1-2-3 and then count again on the exhale. After about 5 or 6 breaths this way, Michael rang a bell in order to signal the beginning of our meditation. Michael said that we’d sit and meditate for 20 minutes, and then the ringing of the bell would indicate the end of the meditation. Michael reminded us throughout to concentrate on our breath when we started to get lost/when our mind began to wander. In the beginning, I thought that 20 minutes of sitting and breathing would feel like forever. However, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Though I did have to return to counting my breaths a good bit, the experience was quite eye-opening.

Through the simple act of sitting and breathing in and out, I became more aware of myself….more aware of my body…and more aware of the world around me. It was a great way to start my morning, especially since I felt refreshed and prepared to begin my day of studying and homework. I can’t wait to go back in a week!

I hope you all have had a happy Sunday.

Sink Or Swim.

29 Feb

Last night I listened to “In My Veins” by Andrew Belle on repeat for a while. Though this is an incredibly sad song, it got me in the right mood to write…or really just read through what I’ve written so far on my book. Though I’ve been neglecting working on my book for the reason of being in midterms week, I don’t think that’s the full reason. I’ve written down lots of ideas (in terms of certain memories) that I want to include in my book that I haven’t yet. However, I’ve come to realize that these memories are some of the really hard ones. Ones that either brought me incredible amounts of pain or just stick out because I remember every detail when I’d rather not.

Though I understand that a huge part of my book is facing all of these memories again in order to find some “closure” of sorts, it’s not easy. It takes insane amounts of courage on my part. And even though people have told me all my life how courageous I am, I never really know how to respond to that. I mean, I faced what I did because I had to. In my mind, it was the only choice. Sink or swim. So, I don’t exactly view it as courageous, but more along the lines of necessary. Writing about these difficult memories not only brings them out of the box that I’ve kept hidden for so long, it brings out who I really am…which is defined by what I’ve been through and how I’ve overcome it all to get to where I am today.

In a way, this book feels like another “sink or swim” moment. I’ll either be able to flesh out all these memories and get them written down, or I won’t. Though I don’t want to even give myself the option of failure, I’m just taking things one day at a time. Though my hope is to get my book published one day, if I don’t it’s not the end of the world. Even though I want my book to impact others, I think the biggest impact I’m looking for is the changes that I’ll see within myself. I’m writing this book for me and no one else, so if I end up understanding myself better but not being able to get my book published, then that’s okay. If anything, I will have proved to myself that even though my childhood was rough, I needed to face it all in order to get to where I am today.