I Want to Live

CW: Suicidal Ideations

Happy October my fellow readers. I can’t believe we are already into spooky season. Especially because it is currently 90 degrees in New York and I can’t even enjoy a PSL (pumpkin spice latte, for you non-basics) because I don’t drink coffee anymore. What is life?

It really is strange this idea of time. I find it moving so fast that I don’t know whether I should start running with it or if I should grab it’s hand and tug real hard to try and slow it down. I was recently thinking about how different I was just 4 years ago. At this point in the year, I would have had a full halloween costume planned out and several parties lined up to go to. This year, I’m like, ugh could take a party or leave it. It sort of just sounds like a lot of work, tbh. I’d rather make a nice meal and have a glass of wine and watch a movie. Is this growing up?

I have been thinking of this idea a lot lately. Of growing up, and change, and the different ups and downs of life. This conversation I had the other day made me think about all the things I felt so sure of in my life and how those desires slowly faded or morphed into something new. I was talking to someone who was asking me about my tattoos. He said that he didn’t have any because he could never commit to one thing. He talked about his changing tastes and his joy that he didn’t get things like a doodle from his friends notebook permanently placed on his body.

I get what he is saying. When I was a teenager I wanted to get “all you need is love” written on the tops of my feet with a lighting bolt and heart underneath. Feeling grateful I didn’t have the money for that one. I also remember saying that I would never give birth to a child. I was adamant about it. Today, I am excited about the prospect of being a mom some day. Shh, don’t tell my teen self I said that.

I think humans are fascinating in the way we morph and change and grow into our environments. My blog 10 years ago would have been a completely different Sarah writing about her experiences. She wanted the Beatles words etched into her skin. She wanted punk rock hair and a nose piercing. She wanted to be a rebel without a cause (even though rebelling was the scariest thing in the world to her). She wanted to be someone else and at the same time she wanted to find out who she was. I would say this is accurate for most teens.

The other thing she wanted 10 years ago was to not be alive. I would write in my journals iwiwd (I wish I was dead), over and over again. I was so convinced that my fat body would never find love and therefore my reason for existing was null and void. I would spend years, literally, dreaming of being someone else. Someone else that seemed lovable- The cool girls from my high school, my friends, my family, the famous people I saw on TV. My cryptic messages in my notebooks though weren’t too hard to decode. My friends would find out I was feeling this way and they would help me get through it. They would sit with me and tell me all the reasons I was lovable.

My therapist told me that we all have stories we tell ourselves and sometimes these stories create a toxic pattern. This became a toxic pattern for me. The more sad I was, the more people told me I was lovable. This story was like wildfire inside of me, it burned bright and strong for a long time. I was so convinced I had to be the sad girl to be shown affection and attention. I didn’t even realized it was a story I was telling myself. I was, without a doubt, sad at the time and had a lot I needed to work through, but it is in this reflection that I have seen how this story plays out.

In my last relationship, I felt a lot of pain and I also felt a lot of love. That love though, was most felt when I was hurting. I hurt so much that I went back into that space. I wanted to be someone else, iwiwd. I would text him these things and he would come and he would show me affection and attention. The story line still worked and the embers that I thought were being put out through our relationship, rose up in a fit of rage when we broke up. I, again, was unloveable, unless I was sad. I like to emphasize that in the moment, this was not the narrative that I knew was happening. At the time I just thought this is depression and this is what happens with depression and even though he is the one that hurt me, he is the one that is caring for me. I want to emphasize this because I think people are often criticized for being manipulative or deceitful, especially when it comes to emotions. I would argue that this is false. I believe that all feelings are valid and have a reason for coming. I think it is only fair to reflect on those emotions when you are out of the situation so that you can get a clear idea of what was really happening. In a moment though, there is not always time to say ‘why do I feel this way? What is making me act this way? Is it from trauma? Is it true pain? Is it both?’ I think the healthiest way to be is to say I am feeling this way and to feel is valid and to reflect at some point will provide me with clarity when I need it.

I finally have some clarity. I sat down and journaled for a very long time the other day. I wrote about my past relationships, past abuses, past storylines, past feelings. I wrote until my hand cramped. It was one of those days where you have an ‘ah-ha’ moment of clarity. I think I actually said ‘damn, that’s it’ out-loud in the coffee shop I was sitting in. At first I felt shame. I thought about how cruel it is not only to the people around me, but to myself. To think I can only be loved if I am sad is a horrible story line to follow and I played the part well. As I have said in previous blog posts though, I get to keep writing and re-writing. This story line is the thing that is null and void now. I still get sad, but it is no longer an emotion that I use to prove I’m worthy of love. I get sad and I sit in it and sometimes I reach out and tell my friends and they sit in it with me and then slowly I move on from the sadness. There is no ‘if, then’ with my emotions.

We as humans are all worthy of love and connection and not just because of one piece of us. The people in your life that deserve your time and attention show you love when you are happy, sad, frustrated, disgusted, and everything in between. Those people that make me feel appreciated for all that I am, well they are the ones that I am holding onto as tight as I possibly can.

It is my hope that as I relearn my story and understand myself better that I don’t feel the need to scribble iwiwd anywhere else in my life. I can’t guarantee that I won’t ever feel that way again, but it is the hope that keeps me going. For the first time in my life it actually feels possible to live a life without suicidal ideation. I don’t know how to even express how that feels, but I will try.

It feels

Like birds flying free;

Like waking up with the sun instead of an alarm;

Like the deepest hug you’ve ever had;

Like floating in water;

Like a deep breathe of fresh, crisp air; 

Like your first bite of food after your stomach has been on empty;

Like crawling into warm blankets from the dryer on a winter day;

Like the subway showing up right when you arrive on the platform;

Like the first day of school; 

Like hope;

Like dreaming;

Like hearing ‘I love you’ for the first time.

Because that’s really what it is. It’s telling yourself that you love you for the first time and showing up, saying “I want to live.” 

-i want to live

If you or someone you know is struggling with these feelings please feel free to contact me for some support. I know what it feels like to think there is no way through the pain. And please try and tell the people you care about that you love them and care about them at random times, at times they aren’t expecting, maybe even right now. It can be so powerful to tell people how you really feel. I am also linking to the website Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you would like further support.

And to my readers- I love you, in all that you are, I love you.

A[wo]men

Old Patterns Need New Perspectives

*In the tune of the narrator from Jane the Virgin Welcome back friends!*

It has been a wild last couple of weeks. I apologize for not posting last week, but I was stranded in Myrtle Beach, with no computer, and lots of tears. Such a mess.

But I am back baby and ready to write some more.

This week was pretty exhausting. Traveling can really take it out of you and then work was also pretty hectic. So, it feels good to just be in my apartment, with my PJ’s still on, the taste of an everything bagel lingering, and the creative juices flowing. This is my happy place.

I’ve also learned this week that my happy place is definitely not in front of the camera.

On Sunday I got to be part of a really cool project called The Conversationalist which is currently in its infancy, but I imagine it going very far. The project is a content platform for people to have conversations where voices can be heard. In my interview with Sophie Beren, the amazing human who founded The Conversationalist, we discussed social media, body image, and mental health. It was fascinating because these are all pieces of myself that I write about weekly, but for some reason talking about them in front of a camera added a whole new level of fear.

I walked in and could immediately hear my heart begin to race, felt my mouth get dry, and my voice sound a little shaky. This was not something I was expecting. I thought ‘how hard could it be? I talk about this stuff every week. Easy peasy.’ As it so happens, being out from behind the computer is very different. Sure, 90% of my audience knows who I am, but my words are edited and rewrote and erased and thought through. I can write about my body image while I sit in a sports bra at home. I don’t actually have to visually see my face while I write about my face. It was almost like an out of body experience. I could hear myself answering the questions, but did I answer them the way I wanted to? Was it really how I felt? Was there more that I could have said? The answer to these questions don’t really matter though. The important thing is that I did it.

I have really been pushing myself lately to try new things. To get outside my comfort zone and challenge myself in ways I never have before. This was absolutely no exception.

Following that experience, I did the therapeutic thing I would recommend to any client I am working with- I journaled about it. My journaling process is messy and helpful. I write all the things that comes to my head for about 30 minutes. No interruptions. No distractions. Just free-for-all writing. I don’t journal as often as I would like, but when I do it feels so freeing. No judgement. No guide on what things should look like. And when I am done journaling I page through all my past journals to look for patterns, new feelings, similar feelings, etc.

As I skimmed my journal this week, I noticed a theme that I was surprised I hadn’t noticed before. It starts with a desire to figure out how I am feeling- “Hi. I don’t know how I am feeling right now. I really need to figure it out. I feel like crying, but I don’t know why.” Very common reason for my journaling to start. Following that there tends to be a message about how I am feeling about myself- “I don’t like my body right now. I feel fat. I feel stupid.” Which then leads to a discussion about my desire to find love- “I miss my ex. I wish I had a boyfriend. I hate being alone. Will anyone ever love me?” Of course that leads to my existential crisis about this- “I don’t need a man. What am I talking about? I am great. I am a goddess sent from above. I WOKE UP LIKE THIS.” With a conclusion about how I am going to move forward- “I need to keep going. I need to work out. I need to eat better. I need to take care of myself and the rest will follow. You’ve got this girl. Now go on, stop writing, and make a move.”

Sundays journaling exercise was no different. I felt sad about feeling sad about my body as I sat in front of that camera and talked about body-positivity and self-love. I felt like a hypocrite and confused. I felt like I left out parts of myself because I was in such a panic and desire to come off as cool, calm and collected. I wished I had someone to be there with me. I wanted to call my ex and tell him. I challenged those thoughts. I told myself I was great and even if I don’t remember exactly what I said I am sure it sounded just fine. I wrote about how doing something new is always going to create new feelings, scary feelings, and I am going to want to resort to old ways. “Stop that” I wrote.

All in all, it was a very cool experience and I am glad I was part of the conversation. I feel grateful that I pushed myself out of that comfort zone and I tried something new. As I looked through my journals though I realized I also have to try something new when it comes to writing. I need to break these patterns of thoughts that have been inherent in my writing for so long. Can I write a post without talking about boys or my body? Can I discuss my emotions that aren’t centered around fear? Can I expand my writing to be more? Of course I can, I can break any cycle that I want. I am in control, after all.

So, in order to help me break my cycle I have decided to add a new layer to my blog. I am still going to write and discuss my own life experiences, but I would also like to incorporate other people’s life experiences. Once a month I would like to feature someone else’s narrative. I will interview the person and find out what story they want me to tell. New perspectives, I believe, is the best way to break any cycle. Sitting in front of that camera, being front and center, was a new perspective for me. Giving people the opportunity to sit front and center in this blog can be new perspective for me and others that I believe will lead to even more connection. I want this to be a place where new ideas and experiences are shared. This is an concept I have been toying with for awhile and I am very excited to see where it takes me and what stories I get to be a part of along the way.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in sharing their story with me, please follow the contact link here or hit the contact button at the top of this page.

A[wo]men

*For more information on The Conversationalist follow the link*