Lifeaversary | 7

*If you are new here, each year I celebrate my Lifeaversary – the anniversary of the day that I attempted suicide (August 3rd, 2009). If you or someone you know is having dark thoughts, or is in a black hole of depression that they can’t get out of, there is help here. and here. and here. and here. You are not alone. You are not done. Your depression is lying. The world still needs you.

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I’ve struggled with writing this post. Not because this year has been particularly bad, or even overwhelmingly good. It’s been… a lull. Which, after the crazy 2 years I had a while back, I embrace this lull like you wouldn’t believe. Admittedly, I thought about not writing a post this year because, well, I haven’t really felt inspiration. Writing has taken a bit of a back seat to career choices and Netflix binging. As you do, Internet. As. You. Do.

While nothing huge externally has happened to me this year — I am not married, I haven’t birthed any children,  I haven’t become the heiress to the Pancake empire (yet), it has been a very active year deep in the inside. (TWSS? No? Okay.)

Struggle Does Not Always Equal Crisis

I have noticed a monumental shift in my thinking. In years past, when I was faced with struggles, I would freak out, thinking my world was going to end. I would go immediately into crisis mode, contact my therapist, and go on this downward spiral of fear that I was diving into the dark place again.

This year has not been without its struggles. However, when something has challenged me, my mindset doesn’t go to crisis mode. I worry, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t worry myself to a point of anxiety and panic attacks that have me in some kind of Xanax induced coma of self-medicating. Instead I call up a friend, pour a cup of tea, take a walk, Meditate, or one of dozens of other self-care rituals that I have developed.

I am only human though, I have ugly cried for a few hours over some stuff. That’s what cupcakes are for.

Self Care + Happiness

The thing I am most proud of (and honestly, really freaking stoked about) is learning what self care and happiness mean to me.

For years I’ve read articles, blogs, had coaching calls, had therapy sessions talking about this elusive “Self Care”, how important it is, and how I needed to be practicing it.

I would try endless things, none of them made me happy. I was convinced that I was a real life Eeyore, born without any happy juice in my brain.

Arguably worse, I found myself waiting for someone or something to come along to make me happy. A romantic partner, a job, more money,

It took me 7 years to figure it out, but I learned to be open to happiness, and to experience it in whatever form it visited me. Happiness for me isn’t some huge smile and doing back-flips. So waiting for my happiness to look like every one else’s is going to be a fruitless battle.

For me, happiness is more of an internal feeling of calmness combined with excitement for that present moment. Most times, even when I am with friends or family, my mind wanders to the past or the future where anxiety and depression live and try to steal my sunshine, making my otherwise happy moments dull and cloudy.

But when I make a conscious effort to put aside the shame I feel from my past, and the anxiety I feel for the future, I’m left with a mindful, in-the-moment feeling of all-consuming happiness.

Calm + Peaceful + Hopeful + Open = Happy.

MIND. FREAKING. BLOWN.

This year, it’s been all about getting to know what makes me happy, getting rid of things and distancing myself from people that don’t, and  creating and nourishing new friendships and relationships. I am so grateful to my close friends and family who have made it so freaking easy to be myself in all my imperfect glory AND to be + feel loved at the same time. You are my lifelines.

Year 7 is down in the books. I survived another year. And internet, if you’re reading this, so did you, you little rockstar you.

 

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Wanna visit Lifeaversaries Past?: Read the archives, baby:

Lifeaversary | 6
Lifeaversary | 5
Lifeaversary | 4
Lifeaversary | 3
Lifeaversary | 2

 

Remembering The Why

 

So.Hi.

I don’t think the cleanse cured my funk, but it did bring to light how much what I put into my body affects my mood. Even after the 10 days of required raw eating, I decided to try and keep a 80% green 20% lean mean diet, and I’ve stuck to that mostly with a few bites of a friend’s burger here and there. I opt for salmon over beef, I have at least two vegetables with every meal. I still haven’t had even one soda. Not even a sip. I’ve had pancakes once, and it was a miserable experience.  I learned a lot about food, and what to look for on packages and what’s good for you.

I did realize that over the last few days I was in a foul mood. I was just miserable. Typical Katie would just be miserable and wait for it to pass. This in-transition Katie asked “Why the hell am I in this bad mood and what can make it stop?”

I had no idea what it could be, so I went back over my diet tracker that I use just as a way to calculate calories, and realized that I hadn’t tracked my food in several days. I know I had eaten according to plan because my house doesn’t have anything unhealthy in it. I didn’t know if it was because I was feeling messy since I hadn’t tracked my food, or what, and then it hit me. I wasn’t getting enough water. For the last two days, I’ve gotten over 120 oz of water in me each day and my mood has elevated slightly. We all know I’m naturally lower in the mood realm, but I had no idea that I was so dehydrated. I also suspect that I missed some meals, so my body was probably pissed off at me too. So I’ve been trying to stick to eating every two hours, doing one meal replacement bar per day,, and downing my water. So far, so good.

Something I’ve been struggling with recently is staying focused during my work day. I’m doing my own thing again so I have to have a lot of self discipline. I work best alone, with music on and zero distraction. But times I get really unfocused and end up having to stay up much later than necessary. While the nature of the projects that I have do require me to pull a few late nights, I wonder how much of that could be slashed in half if I just focus more. Again, Typical Katie would have just continued to work as late as it took, put things off that she could, and would wait for things to get better. In transition Katie asked “Why”

And then I had a breakthrough.

Throughout any given day, I’ll lose focus of why I’m doing something and that’s the exact point where I give up doing it or let some of the passion out of my balloon, get lazy, etc.

  • I’m eating healthy, not drinking diet soda, and working out —WHY?

Because I like the way I feel when I’m healthy. 

  • I’m choosing to release certain people from my life.–WHY?

Because they bring me down rather than raise me up. I want to feel inspired.

  • I’m writing a 10,000 page e-book on something I’m not passionate about.–WHY?

Because this is what I need to do to make ends meet right now. I want to feel secure.

  • I’m picking up side jobs for much less money than I would usually charge.–WHY?

Because I have a vacation in October that I am so desperately craving that I can’t even stand it. Every dollar saved beyond the bills that I pay goes into my vacation fund. I want to feel excited and carefree when I go on vacation.

 So, in order to remind myself of why I’m sitting at my desk for 16 hours a day, I have a photo of the sunset in Indian Rocks Beach, where I’ll be in just over 6 months. It keeps me going. It keeps me focused. It literally shows me the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

This is the point in my life where I strip down to the bare bones and rebuild.

(I even changed all of my profile photos to a completely bare faced picture of me from last night to show the world. This is me. Right now. Bare. Vulnerable. In the trenches. Fighting the battle. Moving forward. Actually, a little hopeful.)

I’ve had a rough few years, but I’m ready to stop hovering so close to the bottom so that the next fall doesn’t hurt so bad. I want to rise higher because  I can rise higher. The risk of being that high, content, happy is worth the fall. And honestly, the people that I have met and reconnected with so far on the way back up have been absolutely fantastic, so I know that any fall won’t be as bad with the support.

I think I’m not stuck anymore. I’m finally pulling myself out of the sludge and while it’s hard sometimes, It’s worth it. So worth it.

 

 

What I Mean When I Say I Love You

 

Whenever I log into Facebook, it’s typically a crap shoot of whether I’ll see 20 consecutive selfies, a client embarrassingly ‘liking’ see through yoga pants, or a racially driven political rant. But today I logged in and hit the jackpot.

One of my dear friends shared this article, “Love Is Not Enough“. I recommend you go right now, ditch this blog post and make that one your read of the day.

But if you must stay, let me tell you that this article was probably one of the best things I’ve read this year. It got me to thinking about that little word LOVE, how much it means, and how much I use it.

If we’re friends, I tell you I love you. And if I haven’t recently, please know that I love you. (More on what that means soon.)

I’m a love whore. I love a lot of people. Granted, a lot of them are the wrong people that I shouldn’t love. I still love an ex boyfriend that is such a pain in my ass, but alas, I love him. But that love doesn’t rule my life, make it impossible for me to love other people, or more importantly, prohibit me from loving myself. It doesn’t take up enough space in my heart to be all consuming, but he has and always will have a little pesky place.

I feel like when we fall in love with someone, often times that relationship takes over our lives, and not always in a good way. We lose sight of the little things. Plans with your friends become fewer and farther between. You’re focused on spending every available moment with your new boo that you forget to go grocery shopping, mail out that bill, wish your friend a happy birthday. (Thank God for Facebook on that one!) We don’t realize this is even happening mostly because we’re so love drunk on the feelings of, well, love. It feels so good to be around him/her. Before you know it, when you’re not at work, you’re with them. And one day you realize you haven’t texted your BFF back in 6 weeks, all you have in your fridge is expired milk, and you’re paying some shitty interest on that credit card bill you forgot to mail out.

I don’t know about your credit card company, but they don’t buy it when I call and say “Oh, I’m just so in love, I forgot to mail it!” And my girlfriend would shit and entire brick if I said “Oh, I’ve been so in love I haven’t called you.”

I know this might make me sound like the girl who has been hurt by people who love this hard and forget their friends, but I’m honestly speaking as the person who historically loves someone else so hard and forgets to love herself first. My hair gets cut. My waxing gets done. I get a shower. But is that for ME? Or is that to ensure my dude isn’t like “Yo, you smell like a foot, and can you please move your leg hair braids? They’re in my frozen TV dinner.”

As the years have passed, I’ve become more aware of how I love, and making sure I keep myself in check, especially during that amazing obsession / honeymoon stage where everything that the other person does makes you feel like a million electric sparks are going through your body. Nothing else matters because DING DING DING, he just texted you and life is instantly better. About to get fired because of bad work performance. Who cares? Boo just sent me a selfie! Rent late? Life goes on, we’re going out for sushi tonight.

Love doesn’t solve anything. Love doesn’t fix broken lives. Attention and action  fix broken things. Some of my most healthy relationships have failed because I didn’t focus on the other part of my life – my life outside of the other person.

And that was a hard lesson for me to learn. But once I did, I realized that I truly do love the people in my life, no matter how miniscule their role is. If it wouldn’t make me look like a freak, I’d tell my barista I loved her every day.

Even if you’re not comfortable with saying “I love you”, or if you reserve the word for those really serious times, that’s okay too. I, myself am a writer and I feel like I can be more creative with “I love you” and make it more meaningful. For me, I use the term a lot. But it isn’t any less important. Nor does it mean that I want to intertwine my body with you forever and ever.

What I want you to know, internet, is that if I ever tell you I love you, here’s what I mean:

I love you. I love that I can love you and love myself at the same time and not feel guiltily pulled in either direction. Your mere existence makes my life better in either a big way, or a little way, but no matter, you’ve changed my life and are a part of my journey. I’ve learned something from you. I love you.

Even to the asshole ex that I still love, that entire statement still applies. I love that I don’t love him obsessively, nor does that love prevent me from loving myself or others. I love the lessons he taught me, and I love who I’ve become as a result of those lessons.

So, I love you and stuff. That’s all I’m trying to say.

 

Same Old Me, Some New Feelings

It’s been nearly an entire month since my big emotional crack. I can hardly believe it’s been that long.

In some ways, I feel like absolutely nothing has changed and it was just yesterday. I feel like the same old Katie, with the same old personality and same old craziness.

In other ways, I can see an entirely new Katie evolving. After the shock of learning what had happened to me and what likely caused it, I knew that I had to make some changes, or else nothing would change and this would happen again.

Duh.

So change I did. Radically. Drastically. I lived in denial for quite a while. I ignored feelings of discontent. I buried feelings of ‘warning’. I focused on what others needed instead of what I undoubtedly needed.

Eventually, it stopped being so easy to ignore the feelings. Eventually, I had to see my life for what it was, not what it looked like through rose colored glasses.

Seeing my life for what it was was… hard. It was like sitting in the dark for hours and having someone suddenly turn on the light. Sure, it’s light. Sure, you can see. But you close your eyes because it’s so painful until you can adjust to it.

So, I’m adjusting. I’m learning a new normal now. My days are comfortably filled with a combination of work, ‘me’ time, quality time with my family and friends, and staying active. I can be honest and tell people how I’m really feeling. I’m experiencing a lot of new feelings that I haven’t felt in a long time. Some of them don’t feel so good. I’ve buried a lot of gross feelings that I haven’t wanted to feel for a while.

But some of the feelings? They’re amazing.

Connection – I’ve taken the opportunity to open up to friends and let them be there for me. I’ve let new people into my life, which is so freakin’ scary, but so great. I love being able to make a phone call, send a text, and get an instant, honest connection with someone I care about and know cares about me.

Accomplishment – I’ve lost 18 lbs. Eight. Teen. Pounds. Since I’ve been peeing like crazy, I know a lot has been water weight. But at the same time, I see a major difference in my clothes. I don’t really have a weight loss goal since losing weight isn’t really something I’m trying to do. But getting stronger comes with losing weight, so I see pounds lost as strength gained.

Endorphins – I’m always on the hunt for a workout that I actually like. Friends,  I’ve found Zumba. Oh. My. God. Amazing. I love Zumba for the first 15 minutes. For the remainder 35, I look at my classmates and we all make the faces of pure torture because Zumba is fun, but Zumba is hard. But afterward? I almost cry out of happiness. The endorphins kick in and for the next few hours, I feel incredible.

Endurance- I am a product of what has happened to me, but what has happened to me doesn’t define me. I could easily be in bed right now sleeping, taking off of work, opting out of plans with friends, and blame it on ‘going through a hard time’ and people would totally understand. I’m not doing that, though. I’m getting up every day. I’m going to work. I’m working out. I’m eating well. I’m dealing with my emotions. It’s a whole lot of work, but I know that 6 months, a year, two years from now, I’ll look back on this period of my life and remember it as a time of intense work and soul shaking realization.

Some days really suck. Sometimes I want to reach through the phone and hug my dad. I want to play an endless game of Hand and Foot with my grandmother.  I want to go back to when things were comfortable. Comfortable is great, but in a lot of ways, comfortable was in no way healthy for me and it was my own way of tricking myself into thinking I was happy.

I was quite comfortable eating horrible food. I was quite comfortable choosing to sit and watch crime dramas all day instead of getting even a little active. I was comfortable being the strong rock, and never showing weakness. I became so comfortable in being unhealthy physically and emotionally that I tricked myself into thinking I was okay.

DING DONG. WRONG.

The last month has been filled with harsh truths, tough conversations, raw emotion, and letting go. It has also been filled with self love, strengthening friendships, making new connections, and crystal clear realizations.

This is a hard journey. But I have the absolute best people in my corner, pushing me harder, not letting me give up, and reminding me of my strengths. I have no idea how people do this alone. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to ever know what it’s like to do it alone.

And it makes me feel good to hear things like this from friends:

“You earned this support. You deserve this support. I will always be there for you. I don’t care what you do, how hard you fall. Fuck, you’ve caught me thousands of times. It’s not that I was waiting for you to fall, but I’m glad I can reciprocate. That’s what love is all about. I’m sorry that you’ve had mixed experiences with this. But this is the real thing. Welcome to unconditional love. Enjoy your stay.”

Naked. Alone. Happy. + A Christmas Thing That Made Me Cry.

I woke up this morning alone, happy, and naked in my own bed.  The sun was shining through my window and I didn’t hide under the blanket trying to will it back behind a cloud.  I huge stretched, squinted my face, scratched my head, and sat right up.  “Time for work”, I said out loud.

As I walked the 6 paces from my queen sized pillow top to my door, I passed by my mirror. I gazed over and saw myself in all of my glory. I chuckled, smiled, and proceeded to put on a robe to begin my commute from my room to my (shared) bathroom.

Maybe this morning seems like your every morning. It’s definitely not mine. Just the fact that I woke up alone + happy is enough to make me take a second look.

Did I have a late night caller who brought me to this morning of extreme bliss?

Did I drink an abundant amount of alcohol last night and wake up dodging a hang over?

Did I grow a 6 pack of rock hard abs and a body made for magazine covers overnight?

Nope. Nope. Hell Nope.

I woke up today feeling happy to be Katie Colihan. Happy to have the home that I do, the friends that I do,  the family that I do.

Things have been extremely complicated recently. That partly explains why I’ve been so absent. I’ve mentioned before that my life has taken an interesting turn, and I’m learning how to navigate a relationship   that is unlike any other I’ve ever had. My grandmother is now on morphine, completely immobile, and we’re not sure if it’s her last Christmas. I’m spending the first Christmas ever without my father, and my cousin. My emotions have been all over, but I’m learning how to rope them in, process them, and more importantly feel them.  Then, once they’ve been felt, letting them go if they serve me no purpose. Who needs to hold onto the remnants of yucky feelings?

I’ve been up and down on the scale – eating really well for a week, and then falling off the wagon and downing a cheesesteak. (I live in Philadelphia, COME ON!) I run for 3 days, and then I stop for 10. I have a love-hate relationship with my body and have for years.  I appreciate what I do have, but I’d sure like that 6 pack I’ mentioned.

With all of these confusing feelings, it was amazing to wake up feeling happy today. Nothing spectacular happened to trigger it.  No one said anything to me to make me feel this way. No heart-to-hearts, no successful client negotiations, no Christmas bonuses. Just me, just sleep, just naked.

And that was enough to make me happy.

So I’m running with it. Or, sitting at my desk with it.

And I have a special little bonus for you, my little love muffins. Someone shared this little Christmas narration with me yesterday, and I expected it to be obscene and talking about snow blowing and other inappropriateness. I was wrong.

This here little morsel of awesomeness is a little Christmas Story narrated by an older man and he talks about ice skating. And love. And loss. And communication. And memories. And music.  I think everyone takes something different from this, but what I took was the beauty and tragedy of love unspoken. It’s beautiful because whether you speak it or not, you still feel it, and if you’ve ever felt love for anyone, you know it’s unlike anything else. And still, the tragedy lies in that if you never say it, you never get to share that love, that beauty, with the other person. And love really is best when it’s a two person emotion, yeah?

That’s what I got, among many other things. Would love to hear what you get.

Warning: It’s 45 minutes. But you can easily just listen for a bit, and then tune in again later. Totally worth it.

You can listen right now, in fact. I’m done talking.