Sunday, July 19, 2015


Life is messy sometimes. You feel helpless and useless and confused a lot of the time. Problems and challenges arise you never imagined would, then strength and resiliency appear you had no idea existed. You find yourself thinking you are weak, small, insignificant, and unworthy. Then something way bigger than you happens and you think to yourself, Wow, everything I have worried about until now has been in vain or due to possible inconvenience. I haven't really known pain or worry on such an absolutely real level before.

What I'm learning is strength doesn't have to be something you know you possess and carry with you at all times. It doesn't have to be something you flaunt or something you prove yourself with. Strength can (and usually is) subtle, quiet, unassuming. It's sort of like vanilla extract in your cupboard; there when you need it, but usually reserved for special occasions.

Strength and resiliency is something most of us don't think we have enough of, but yet we are here-fighting the good fight, pushing through pain, and coming out on the other side. We don't stop to give ourselves enough credit, nor do we acknowledge our healthy coping skills. We chalk it up to many variations of "I had no choice, but to push through" and don't stop to say, "I really showed my strength, my resiliency, my will in that situation."

At a time where we are constantly told we aren't "enough" (by media, employers, our own inner dialogue...), there is no better time to embrace our strength than when we see it working in full swing. Embrace it. Appreciate it. Love it. Honor it.

There is an interesting and empowering movement happening right now which some may already be familiar. "Project Semicolon is a faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire" as their website states. Their vision is powerful and reminds me just how important it is to embrace strength and resiliency, even when you feel you have little to give. Little is still some. Little is still someTHING. Little is more than nothing.

I know this post is short and about 2 weeks late, but there are important reasons why. I will be back in full swing soon. I leave you with this quote from one of my favorite poems by one of my eternal spirit guides: "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Always the Ex-Girlfriend, Never the Bride

Hi. My name is Melissa and I am a love addict.
Hi Melissa.

I have been intentionally uninvolved in romantic relationships for about a year. This is the longest I have gone-in adulthood-so it was very new...and strange..and lonely. Very lonely. The idea of being intentionally uninvolved arose after I realized my relationship-jumping was leaving visible marks on the people I was with. I was tornado-ing into their lives, turning things upside down, and then hurricane-ing back out just as quickly. I wasn't being practical, instead I was allowing my "hopeless romantic" side get the best of me, even when there were red flags nearly popping out and punching me in the face!

My self-esteem (which I think we can all agree is fairly critical when dating) has always been somewhere on the scale between low and medium, making it easy to accept things I don't want to accept, later breeding resentment and bitterness. I essentially have the perfect recipe for relationship disaster, if anyone wants it. Pens ready?
  • 15 Cups unrealistic expectations
  • 5 Cups of "love can conquer all" attitude
  • 10 Cups martyrdom
  • 9 Cups seething resentment gone unchecked
  • 5 Cups of jealousy, insecurity, and anxiety mixture (pre-made from previous relationships)
  • 2 Cups of each (optional): financial issues, location issues, living environment differences, and scheduling conflicts.
  • Pour into bag, make sure bag is open on one end, and twirl around until everything in your sight is covered.  
You're welcome.

So, to say I needed some time to reflect and reevaluate is an understatement. I didn't want to do any more harm to myself, or anyone else for that matter. I instituted a year of celibacy. No dates, no hook-ups, no sex, no friends with benefits. Nothing. And it was first.

After a few months of loneliness, the thrill was gone. And I began creating scenarios in my head of a future life with former crushes, high school sweethearts, anybody really. I'm not proud of this, but it deserves its place, because that is what popped the balloon I have carried with me since my first date at age 15: The Fantasy Balloon.

The Fantasy Balloon is something, I believe, we all carry with us. And it doesn't necessarily have to be about romantic relationships. Some might view this balloon as the answers to their problems with parents, siblings, career, addiction, ANYTHING. It's that certain something that keeps us denying the truth about ourselves. Denying there is an quick fix or perfect person to make everything better. For me, my Fantasy Balloon was filled with ideas about "The One."

This harken back to my high school days spent writing pages upon pages of criteria my "dream boyfriend" would fulfill. They would be kind and smart (but not pretentious) and funny (but the right kind of funny) and attractive and compassionate and...the list goes on...literally for-fucking-ever. It's unrealistic, yet I held on tighter with each relationship ending. A few months into my celibacy, it popped and after dragging the remains around for a few more weeks, I let go.

You may be asking: What exactly does this mean? Are you through with dating? Do you no longer believe in "The One"? WHAT IS HAPPENING, MELISSA?! TELL US!!

My answer is I don't know. And I'm okay with that. Uncertainty is becoming my friend and I am embracing her winning charm and his incomparable humor. What I do know is I am no longer bogged down by the idea that I have to search for "The One." I know plenty of people who have "The One" in their lives and are incredibly (if not annoyingly so...kidding!) happy. I also know plenty of people who believe they are with "The One" and face nothing but shit-storms of constant unhappiness. This leads me to believe that it really comes down to individual belief and, therefore, I need to come up with my own definition of love, dating, "The One", marriage, etc. I am not ready to do that.

What I am ready to do is begin dating again and I intend to do that Alanis-style. I recently watched an interview with Alanis Morissette and Oprah on Super Soul Sunday where Alanis discussed her own love addiction and how she finally broke that cycle by taking one year off from dating (check!) and one year to date casually. Well don't mind if I do. I have never dated casually, not even in high school. Everyone I ever went on a date with turned into a relationship. I would love to know what it's like to have dates without expectations. I imagine my Fantasy Balloon will try to re-inflate itself very quickly and I suspect many learning experiences to abound, maybe even some face plants, before I get it right. Thankfully my self-esteem is slowly rising from medium to high-adjacent...stay tuned, as I anticipate this next phase to be quite blog-worthy!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Am Exactly The Person That I Want To Be

I am fat.

Many of you may be experiencing a knee-jerk reaction to say:
  • "No, you're not!" 
  • "You're perfect the way you are!"   
  • "It's only temporary!" 
And many other well-intentioned things my mother has said when I'm in a shame spiral about my body image. (But maybe some of you are thinking, "Yeah, you are.") Either way, I am not saying the words "I am fat" to gain attention, fish for compliments, or drag myself through a fitting room meltdown. I am stating it as fact. I am neutral about this statement. I see these three words as describing part of my being, not defining it. To understand how I came to accept this seemingly simple fact, one must have some understanding of my journey.


This is new for me. I have hidden (or at least attempted to) my weight and weight issues as long as I can remember. In middle and high school, I wore baggy jeans and large tops to hide my stomach-the FORMER bane of my existence. Thank goodness I came of age in the grunge era!

It was in middle school I unknowingly started what would become a lifelong battle of eating disorders, namely Non-purging Bulimia and Binge-Eating Disorder (BED). My first "paycheck" from babysitting at age 12 was eagerly spent on three packages of Pepperidge Farm cookies and crackers. I excitedly raced home on foot, the anticipatory high fueling me, making a 20-minute walk fly by. I closed and locked my bedroom door and spread the packages out in front of me before ravenously attacking, shoving handfuls of carbs into my mouth. The immediate sugar rush and excitement of doing something "taboo" was enough to sell me. Proving, to me, that food addiction is as serious as any other. Needless to say, I was hooked for life.

From that pivotal moment, my dysfunctional relationship with food took many forms:
  • Ages 12-17; compulsive overeating/excessive exercise (i.e. Non-purging Bulimia) interspersed with just plain compulsive overeating (i.e. BED).
  • Ages 17-21; compulsive overeating; weight fluctuates between 135 lbs and 200 lbs/size 6-18.
  • Ages 21-28; very little compulsive overeating; weight settles between 145 lbs and 160 lbs/size 8-12.
  • Ages 28-present; spike in compulsive overeating; weight steadily increasing from 140 lbs/size 8 to 200 lbs/size 18.

At age 21, I experienced a turning point in my disorder, one that I've lost track of in recent years. The turning point came upon me by accident. I was perusing for books on diets and the latest fads, when I came across a book that offered me insight to my disease, but more importantly insight to something called self-empowerment.

I am not a paid sponsor for or the authors of this book, BUT if you want to purchase this gem, you can do so here. This book encourages those who suffer from Binge-Eating Disorder, to say a big "Fuck You" to the insatiable diet industry and reclaim our bodies. It was revolutionary to me. This book allowed me to eat again. The authors gave me the permission I was so desperately craving (pun intended). These women were telling me to eat WHATEVER I WANTED and assured me, in time, my body would naturally find its way back to its original and comfortable state. And it did.

This book, coupled with the slew of women's and media studies courses I took my last year of college, made me recognize my inner feminist. That fat was a feminist issue. Thank you, Susie Orbach

Taking control back reminded me that I was in charge of my body image and what it said about and to me. But, like everyone, I hit tough times in my late 20's and my disease is an opportunistic bitch. She is cunning, permitting me one pint of Ben & Jerry's to ease the pain of heartache or quiet the anxiety of career uncertainty. She held on through failed attempts to "diet myself" into a jump-start. To trick my body into remembering how free it was not thinking about food constantly. To encourage my excessive exercising in an effort to compensate for my binges.

This setback was a blow to the progress I had made as a feminist and "ex-dieter." I was shocked at how quickly I could revert old habits, thinking I was somehow "above that." It was humbling, to say the least. My body image took a plunge, my self-esteem nose-dived, and I was practically back where I had started.

Having the past month to reflect, has granted me time to take stock of the things that matter most. Family, friends, travel, adventure, love, kissing, books, water, strawberries, cook-outs, parades, hugs. And guess what? It doesn't matter if I am a size 6 or 26, I can (and will!) enjoy life. It's not easy getting out of the "I'll do that when I lose 20 lbs" mindset. It's not easy, BUT it's not impossible. I am reclaiming my body, my voice, and my feminism (with a side of wit and sarcasm!).

While this has been my journey, I realize many others have successfully come to the same conclusion while choosing diet or lifestyle changes, whether it be a food or fitness plan. I commend and applaud those who are able to travel that road and maintain their sense of self and positive body image along the way. Though there are many roads to empowering ourselves, the end result is essentially the same: self-love, self-care, and self-respect.

Unfortunately, my brain (from experience) has permanently enmeshed dieting/weight loss plans with immediate rebellion and binging. I am even super careful not to use the empowering self idea as a way to "trick" my brain into losing weight. I am 12 years older from the first time I chose body acceptance and I may not garner the same physical results. Truthfully, I don't really care! If I never lose another pound, but I can face myself in the mirror everyday and say I love who I am, I love how I treat myself (my WHOLE self), then that is fucking fabulous.

I leave you with a song I listen to every single day. It is my anthem. It is my support group. It is my therapy. This song reminds me that NOW is the time I should be concerned with and that "20 lbs from now" is not a date I can circle on the calendar.


*Title creditL: Song "In My Mind" released by Amanda Palmer feat. Brian Viglione in 2011