I've considered the fact that my vulnerability in discussing my mental health online may discredit me in some eyes later down the line. I know this to be true, as my honesty about my experiences has been used against me before. I also know it to be true that people have found comfort in my candor. The traumas that once hardened me, built my walls high, made my skin thick and tongue sharp, have now opened my heart and given me the gifts of great understanding, compassion and connection.
It can be very lonely to heal. Talking about things most people keep to themselves can be very isolating. People look at you some type of way when you share a negative experience; it's like there will always be a question mark next to my name on a guest list because nobody knows what to expect from someone that is candid about their struggles.
In a recent conversation with a friend, I expressed my gratitude to have found her: someone who I felt truly saw, heard and understood me. Our paths crossed at a pivotal point in both of our lives; we were both at low points and we have slowly embraced the path of healing, like phoenixes from the ashes, we have risen. Through the years we have seen further hardship and experienced more pain, but we always rise. As we talked, I realized the reason that there aren't many people like us is because doing the work to heal is so difficult and inaccessible. I am committed to doing what I can to heal the collective and make this path more accessible.
There is something so beautiful and intimate about the connections I have been able to make as I have released the desire to control how others perceive me. I have also noticed other, more superficial friendships fade away as I learn to protect my energy. I am content with the handful of intimate, deep connections that I have today, whereas an older version of me felt a much stronger need to be the grandiose center-of-attention-cool-party-girl-that-everyone-was-obsessed-with.
I used to think I was such a mess, but now I realize that I was just born into one. Maybe I got a little bit messy somewhere along the way, but I am not a mess. I'm simply untangling layers of guilt and shame and disarming the defenses that I created to isolate myself. I'm letting go of my own expectations for who I am meant to be, and allowing myself to be free.
Oh and here's an addition for the photo-menu series:
Cilantro pesto pasta
For this recipe, I'm not planning to write out all of the nutrients and such like last time, but I may still follow that format in the future. However, this week I want to use this space for a different anecdote instead. First though, the sauce recipe is as follows:
1 bunch cilantro
3 cups spinach
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 jalapenos or serranos
1 small white onion
1/2 cup of pepitas
1 tsp salt + 1tsp black pepper+1tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
*option to add a little pasta water if too thick to blend*
Then just blend it up, mix into already cooked pasta, and add some halved cherry tomatoes to enjoy a bunch of vitamins hidden in the sauce. Raw vegetables hold the most nutrients; this is a great way to get the most out of your spinach & tomatoes. I made this Monday night with three friends. I baked some garlic crostinis for a little mushroom brie/honey goat cheese appetizer, and my roommate air fried some spicy brussels sprouts to serve on the side.
I was excited to share this meal with my friends, as this is a recipe I learned from one of my best friends who has taught me a lot about nutrition and nurtured my relationship with food as she shared her love of it. Some days she would come drop off extra food she made for dinner, other days she would come cook with me at my house, or I would come cook with her at hers. On days that I was struggling to eat, I would just show up at her house with a Cheese N Stuff sandwich for the two of us and ask her to split it with me so I didn't have to eat it alone. During the early days of the pandemic, when we couldn't eat together in person, we started a group chat with another friend of ours where we shared different foods we learned to cook with all of our newfound free-time at home. Support from the people like this in my life have been the only reason I've survived to see this day.
I am so grateful for those who have held space for me and been patient through my growth. I am also so happy that they've stuck around long enough to meet this version of me. I guess my point in all of this is to say that these battles cannot be waged alone, and they are not meant to be. It is a core human desire to connect, yet our wounds often prevent us from opening ourselves to honest connection. Releasing the mentality that I had to do everything myself was a terrifying threat to my rejection wound from childhood, but it has opened me up to so much love, friendship and support. It can be so worth it to share your story with the world. Even if 99 out of 100 people can't relate, finding that one person who does relate can change your life. Because you're not alone, and you don't deserve to feel that way.