evie on turning 30

I mentioned on my first blog post that I wanted to start this blog months ago. I had started writing, but I hadn’t set up any way of getting it out to the world. Here is a piece I wrote on the last day I was 29 years old. Warning: there are a lot of F words.

Sometimes, everything sucks. This is me talking about that.

I’m going to be honest, and you may not like it. I’m pretty okay with that. But then again, maybe you will like it, or love it, or really relate to it. That would be awesome (well, maybe not awesome. I’m going to be talking about some pretty unhappy shit. If you relate to it, well, that will suck. But it will be good to know that you’re not alone, and I’m not alone. That’s awesome).

Turning 30

Tomorrow I turn thirty. That means, today is the last day I am in my twenties. That’s pretty significant, in a lot of ways, for a lot of people. It’s sad. It’s a loss. It means you’re old. For them. Not for me. I’m fucking stoked.

Well, I’m just okay. I’m rarely stoked. Unless there’s a new dinosaur movie, or if they ever decide to make Rise of the Guardians II: Grrrl Guardians, that’s when I get stoked. For thirty, I’m okay.

I remember a few years ago thinking that getting old means getting more of your shit together. I thought, “I’ll have more stuff figured out.” That’s what I wanted: stuff figured out. I’m a smart person. I got degrees. I’ve accomplished shit, academically. But I didn’t feel like I had my shit together (and I still kinda don’t). I worried about traffic routes and traffic. I stressed over getting to places, and then stressed over what to do once I got there. I did well with minor things. I had a job (a kickass job at a bookstore), and I did that shit well. But with other things, life things, paying your bills, and cleaning, and getting out of bed in the morning, I was a fucking mess.

As a kid, I felt like an idiot. Life was confusing. I’m not going to get into it now (maybe/probably one day), but I grew up with a man (my lovely dad) who was bipolar, borderline schizophrenic, who had obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and who was undiagnosed and un-medicated my entire childhood. He finally went in to talk to someone when I was 18 years old (and yes, I judgmentally said finally. He was, and is, a father. As an adult who has children who depend on you and need you to have your shit together, you really do NEED to get your brain fucking balanced. Please.), which means that he was not medicated, not balanced, and not fucking okay my entire fucking childhood (side note: I really don’t want kids, and I’m kinda starting to think that this is where that started). After he figured his shit out, I moved out of my parents’ house and officially became an adult (sort of).

As a result of an unbalanced dad (and probably a whole hell of a lot more), childhood was pretty fucking scary. It was confusing, and frustrating, and not something that I would ever want to relive. So, by default, my adulthood has been better (heads up, it’s still fucking scary, and confusing, and frustrating, and weird, and difficult, and shitty at times. Most people’s adulthood is that way. I’m working on dealing). But, as a result of a shitty childhood and a pretty abrupt entry into adulthood, I haven’t stressed out on aging. I think it’s pretty cool. I like to get older. Maybe one day that’ll change. I hear that when a woman gets to a certain age, like 40 or so, she becomes pretty invisible to the rest of the world. As an introvert who doesn’t like people or attention, I feel like that might be really fucking nice. But, time will tell.

For now, right now, I’m 29 years old (which sounds so different from 30, but visually, on my screen, is pretty much the same). For now, today, I keep thinking, “Am I where I thought I’d be by 30?” For the most part, yeah. I’ve managed to get a job. That’s awesome (in theory. In practice, it kinda sucks). It means I have a steady income, which is fucking fantastic. It’s a job in non-profit, which is awesome (in theory. There are better ones out there that are more life-affirming and rewarding and don’t make you hate your life).

I’ve managed to figure out how to stay pretty healthy. I eat my vegetables. Just now, I paused writing to make breakfast. I made a smoothie with kale in it. Fucking kale. I’m crushing it at eating my veggies. Also, I’m vegan, but that doesn’t make me healthier by default, but it was something that I wanted for a long while. Then, one day, I did it. I’ve worked on being healthy. It took me years to sort out. I grew up eating frozen burritos and fast food. Now I eat fresh burritos and fucking kale in the morning! I used to think splenda was good for you and drink diet soda all the fucking time (and other horrible shit that I’ve choose to ignore). Now I drink water!

I’ve managed to figure out how to have pretty clear skin. This used to drive me nuts! I’d read all these things about eating clean and detoxing and how the junk I put in by body is clogging my pores. Okay, I just admitted that I ate garbage food and drank shitty, artificially sweetened soda, but I stopped that shit a long time ago. I eat kale now, and I still have breakouts. I’ve learned that there are things I can do to clear my skin and that sometimes, so what, I breakout. I’m human. I’ve accepted it.

I also run. I love to run. When I was in high school (chubby evie with her awkward everything), I wanted to be a runner. I figured it out as an adult. It took me years to figure out what it meant to be a runner. It was intimidating as hell. I thought, as a runner, you had to be fast or be able to run for a really long time or be able to run nonstop. Now I know that running means you run. You, sometimes, whenever you feel like it, get up and run. It can be outdoors. It can be around a track. It can be on a treadmill. It can be daily. You can take weeks or months off and still start up again and be a runner. Now, I sometimes wake up and go for a quick two or three mile run before work (damn, that sounds like I’m hella crushing it!)

Also, I’m in an awesome relationship. I’ve been with John for nearly TWELVE years you guys. That’s nuts to me. Mostly because it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, and mostly because it’s so awesome. I didn’t realize that relationships can last this long and still be pretty great (now, I’m being pretty sappy here, but just give me this one). I also have one awesome cat who bit-kisses you, and one awesome dog who loves everything and everyone. I have a pretty great relationship with my parents. My sister is my best friend. I’m pretty close with my brothers. I have 5 nieces and 5 nephews. I love them and look forward to them growing up and being awesome human beings.

Okay, so these are all the things that I’m doing fairly well with. But there’s a fuck load where I’m crashing. I have anxiety. Most days I feel like I can’t breathe. Yesterday, I tried to think of a good way to explain this feeling. While it feels like I can’t breathe, I am breathing and pretty much getting enough oxygen to keep myself alive. But it FEELS like I can’t breathe. It feels like I take in air for two seconds, pause, and then exhale. Try to do that. Breathe in for two seconds. Pause. Then exhale. Keep doing that for like, a minute. That’s the way I feel for hours at a time. I practiced this yesterday. It was a rare day that I was feeling good and could breathe. I wanted to make sure I had an accurate description of this feeling (just in case I ever try to explain it to some professional type person who can, maybe help me feel better). I did this breathing for about three seconds and had to stop because I felt like I was going to induce a panic attach (which I get from time to time). It gave me anxiety for the next few hours. Fuck.

Speaking of anxiety, I get panic attacks. I had one the other day at the idea of going to my partner’s pod cast’s one-year anniversary. It was at an awesome brewery in Rancho Cucamonga. The people there are super nice. They make great beer. I like nice people and great beer. But the last time I was at this brewery I experienced such anxiety that I had to leave, quick. It was crowded. Not good. It was loud. Not good. And there were people playing games, specifically cards and Jenga. For some reason, the card-playing people kept tapping their cards against the table. It was part of the game, but it made my bones ache. And then, like it does, the Jenga game would fall over and crash to the table. I felt a jolt of panic in my body every time it happened. And, apparently those people were fucking terrible at the god damn game because it happened, like, three times in the roughly ten minutes we were there. What the fuck people? Get better at playing Jenga!

All of this combined resulted in us (my partner and me) leaving and getting into a fight. He didn’t know what my problem was. I thought he was being insensitive because clearly that place was a fucking war zone, and I was going to die! But I didn’t communicate that to him AT ALL. We just left. We fought most of the way home, and then I broke down crying in his arms once there. Then, weeks later, at the idea of going back there, I broke down again. I started crying at the thought of being back in that environment with potentially more people. I had been frustrated all day. I don’t remember what, but I’m pretty sure it was anxiety building up in my body over the whole anniversary party. I told him that I was having anxiety about going. He, like the wonderful human being that he is, told me that I don’t have to go. I thought that I would. I figured I could at least stop by, stay as long as I was comfortable, and then leave when I needed to, but later, at the thought of leaving the house, I just couldn’t go. Instead, I stayed home, watched the entire 7th season of Parks and Recreation, had a fucking blast doing that, and then felt guilt later for not going. Fuck.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I still don’t have everything figured out. Yeah, I eat kale for breakfast (some days). I run. I brush and floss and adult well most days. But I still have some shit to figure out. I’m pretty confident I will. Maybe by 40 I’ll be a balanced, fully functional human being.

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Stop Shoulding on Yourself

I should run more.

I should wake up earlier.

I should go to bed sooner.

I should meditate.

I should stop eating junk food.

I should be eating more salads.

I should write more.

I should read more non-fiction.

I should stop wasting time on my phone.

I should clean out the hall closet.

I should organize my office.

I should be saving more money.

Someone really smart (okay. I can’t lie to you guys. It was my therapist) told me recently that I need to stop shoulding on myself. Not only is this hilarious, but it’s sound advice.

I’ve heard many times over the years that you shouldn’t talk negatively to yourself (once more with the shoulds!). I never really understood that. I mean, I do understand it. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t internally say stuff to yourself like “you’re fat,” “you shouldn’t wear that outfit,” or “you’re a loser.” You wouldn’t say those things to someone else, so why are you saying them to yourself (and if you would say them to someone else, then we’re not friends. Stop reading this. Please).

There are people who speak that negatively to themselves. And that’s sad, and heartbreaking, and terrible, and I wish they wouldn’t. I wish they had stronger self-esteem. I wish they saw value in themselves and understood that they are wonderful and beautiful and smart and capable.

But I didn’t realize that all of those shoulds are also negative talk. It’s a way to bring myself down. All of those thoughts are heavy, and make my brain feel dead.

So I’m working on not shoulding on myself.

First thing: I’m going to give myself a break. In all honestly, life is fucking hard. No one warned me. No one told me that life was a big ball of stress and reports and deadlines and shitty people and being tired and worrying that you’re not good enough. I’m not unique with these feelings. Everyone has them.

But movies made me think that being a grownup meant lots of sex, and friends, and money, and sex, and vacations, and sex.

So when real life is stress, I’m going to be more flexible. If I’m too tired to wake up early to run, then I’ll sleep in and not run that day. Or I’ll work to fit a run into a later part of my day if I can. If not, then oh well. There’s always the next day.

If I’m too busy to go to the store to buy fresh veggies, then oh flipping well. Maybe I’m gonna eat fast food once (or twice) a week. That doesn’t make me a monster. Or fat. Or gross. Or ugly. Or any of the other things eating junk makes me feel.

If I just can’t bear to read a non-fiction book, then I read a fiction one. I’ll read another awful Buffy novel, or a classic children’s book that I somehow missed as a kid, or a spicy murder mystery. Maybe I’ll listen to the groundbreaking non-fiction as an audio book. That seems to be the only way I can get through those since grad school. At least I’m still reading something, even if it isn’t award-winning literature.

And If I don’t get around to cleaning out my closet, then who cares? It’s been messy for a while now. What are a few more weeks (or months or a year)?

BUT, I am still going to work on the things I want for myself. I want to run more. So I am. I’ve committed to running at least three times a week. I don’t need to run fast. In fact, Matt Fitzgerald, author of 80/20 Running: Run Strong and Race Faster by Training Slower, straight up told me I can run slow (Okay, he didn’t so much as tell me, but rather wrote a book about it, but I’m reading it as if he’s speaking directly to me because that doode gets me!).

And I am going to try to eat better. I’m working of cutting out oil from my cooking (if I’m eating out, whatever). I’m trying to bring raw fruits and veggies to snack on during the day. I can only think of carrots and a raw veggie options. I tried eating cucumbers, but then I was honest with myself and stopped buying them because cucumbers are gross you guys, and I don’t want to eat them! I also tried celery (meh) and radishes (big nopers). I guess raw lettuces and leafy greens count, so good on me every time I eat a flipping salad. But when the inevitable day come when I’m stressed, and late, and running around with a million things to do, I may go through a drive-thru. Big deal. I’ll work to plan ahead and avoid those pitfalls, but I’m only human.

There are more things that I can work on, but for right now, those are my two. Well, I guess this blog is three. I’m going to write. I’m going to write a post at least once a week, maybe twice. I’ll keep you lovelies up to date on my physical and mental health. So I’ll eat, and run, and write, and I’ll give my self a break on the rest of those other shoulds for now.

It’s Not Bad News, but it still Made Me Cry.

When I was a kid, I watched ALL of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. All of them (I still do). And the movie. And I read the graphic novels and the terrible novelizations. Why? Because she rocks. Buffy. Sarah Michelle Gellar. Kristy Swanson. Even Faith/Eliza Dushku pre- and post-her being evil, and Willow/Alyson Hannigan pre- and post-her being evil (why were practically all of the women on that show evil at some point? I’m going to have to get into that later).

My point: it was awesome watching ladies kick ass. It made me want to be able to do it, too. I wanted to be able to do the things Buffy did. I wanted to be able to do flips or jump off stuff and kick people. I wanted to be able to do single-arm hand stands flawlessly. I wanted to rock killer outfits with great hair and clear skin and perfect makeup. I wanted to fight bad guys and save the world and look great while doing it.

Whatever. I don’t know if it was from watching those badass women fight people, but I wanted to be a badass woman who fought people. Well, not really. Mostly I’ve wanted to simply kick box. Nix the whole actually fighting people, but I wanted to be able to fight people. I wanted to be strong as shit.

But I never got into it. For years, I wanted to take kickboxing classes, but I was always too intimidated to go to any of them. I’d see the big punching bag, but I’d be too nervous to even get close to it. I’d see martial arts school and get curious about what was inside. Some of my friends would tell me how they were taking karate classes or something else like that, and I’d get jealous. But I didn’t take the next step of doing it myself until I turned 30.

I turned 30 last summer, and that night I called a martial arts school to start taking classes. A few weeks prior, I took a class at a different school with a great reputation. I took a 45-minute Muy Thai kickboxing class, and I was bored as hell. I didn’t even start to sweat. We did simple drills, barely moving our bodies, for forty-five fucking minutes. Honestly, if that’s what Muy Thai is about, then I want nothing to do with it. (Heads up, it’s not. It was just a weird class. Or maybe just that day was weird. I dunno.)

After that first weird class, I got really discouraged. I thought martial arts just weren’t my thing. But I kept looking. I thought maybe I should try jujitsu or something. I looked into other schools. I googled other places. It was really confusing, because I honestly don’t know the differences between all the different kinds of martial arts. Should I try Tai Kwan Do or join a boxing gym? The reasons why I tried Muy Thai:

  1. I heard that it was the best type of kickboxing.
  2. They offered a free one-week trial.
  3. They had a ladies only class, which, at the time, made it seem more accessible for me. (Turns out, fighting dudes is really fun).

When that school didn’t work out, I didn’t know where to turn next.

Then I found my school.

On their website, they had a bunch of pictures of people fighting and taking classes. They had pictures showing people who had passed their belt tests. Serious looking dudes stood in what I now know is horse stance with their fists raised like they are permanently ready to fight a wall. It all seemed a little silly to me (and, honestly, it still is. And, full disclosure, I’ve totally had my picture taken doing that pose. I could barely keep a straight face). So, I decided to try this place.

The first thing I did was go inside. I went on a Saturday with my partner, Johnny Lovely, to just look at it. I wanted to see what it offered. I was not super impressed. It’s a small school. The first school I went to is huge in comparison. But the guy who showed me around was cool. He used to be a trainer at a big chain gym where I used to go, so that gave me a sense of familiarity. I’d never talked to him before, but the familiar face was nice. And he was nice. And he told me two cool things: before I could start taking classes, I’d have to take an introductory course of 4 or 5 one-on-one sessions to make sure I liked the school, and, if I decided I wanted to join the school, I could come in anytime I wanted, take a small training room to myself, and shut the door. Privacy. YAS.

Side note: I’m a solo person. I hated the gym because there are too many people. I don’t like going to the park near my house because there are too many people. I love to run because you can do it all alone. Alone is the best. The idea of being able to practice martial arts alone was beautiful to hear.

After doing that walk-through of the school, I decided I’d try it out. I loved the idea that I’d get to do a one-on-one introduction to the school before committing to anything. And then I promptly forgot that they required that. Which is why, on the 30th birthday, I called to see if I could come in for a class. Mark #2, the guy who answered the phone when a called, not Mark #1 who did the walk-through of the school with me (yes, they’re both named Mark. And that’s not even the weirdest part of that story), told me that I couldn’t come in on my birthday. Instead, we scheduled a one-on-one, and that’s how Mark #2 became my coach.

Two weeks later, I got my first introduction to Kenpo. It was basic. Mark #2 was nice. The next week he introduced me to boxing basics. That’s when I fell in love. I was boxing you guys! I got to hit stuff! It was great. Soon, I finished my intro sessions, and I began to take classes.

Second side note: I have hella anxiety. As I explained in a previous post, I get panic attacks. I get scared easily. I’m super sensitive to my surroundings—noise mostly. It’s sometimes really difficult and really shitty being me. This anxiety is one huge reason why I’ve never taken a martial arts class before. The idea of it really freaked me out. The only group classes I’ve ever done were Zumba, and the only reason I did those was because I was with my sister. She’s like my real-life safety blanket. I can be brave when she’s around. Alone? Nopers.

This is to say that the idea of group classes at my school really freaked me out. Honestly, walking into the school for my private lessons freaked me out. Every time Mark #2 and I started my private lessons it freaked me out.

It was more than just anxiety, though. It was sadness, or a profound sense of being alone. Third side note: I have depression. Turns out, lots of people have anxiety and depression together. It’s super common. So, on any given day, I’m either freaking out or barely able to function. I also have ADHD. I get distracting very easily. I can’t sit still. Plus a whole bunch of other stuff (it’s what I affectionately call my bad brain). Once again, really shitty being be. I’ve found out that staying active helps me feel better. But just walking into school gave me anxiety. Once I got there, I felt so lonely I wanted to cry and run away.

Why the fuck did I feel lonely? I have no idea. I felt weird. I felt alone. I felt like I didn’t belong. I’d get a pain in my chest every time I walked to the front door of the school. I’d feel like crying while waiting for my class. Then I’d get in class, and I’d feel great. I felt strong. I felt like I was learning. And martial arts are tough, guys. I really struggled at first. I don’t do well with struggling. Usually I don’t do hard things, but I stuck with kenpo.

In fact, as alluded to above, I passed my fricking belt test! I’m an orange belt now. With the help of Mark #2, and my dope skills, I learned new stuff. I learned and improved my kicks and punches and blocks. And I learned cool moves like the Sumo and Striking Asp and other ones that I can’t remember what they’re called. I also learned Kata 1, the Four Shields. I hate katas guys. They’re hard. Whatever. Moving on.

Martial arts or kenpo or my school or Mark #2. They all helped me with my anxiety. I still have anxiety, but walking through the door isn’t as hard anymore. I attribute a lot of this to Mark #2. He’s helped me when I was feeling weird. He’s told me (many times) that I don’t have to be perfect. I’m just starting with this new practice, so I’m going to mess up. I’m going to get it wrong. I’m going to fall over or not get a move right. But I’ll get better if I keep it up. It’s been a big boost for me.

Which is why it seriously sucked when I learned that he was moving. It has something to do with his wife being awesome and getting a new job. There’s more to it, but bottom line, he’s no longer my coach. The way he phrased it: it’s not bad news, but…it sucks.

Really, it’s cool. His wife getting a new job is rad. Blah blah blah. I don’t care. I miss that goofy guy. I felt a sincere sense of support from him. I felt like he understood my bad brain. He was pretty patient when I’d get too in my own head. He knows, even in a small way, my struggles with anxiety. And he’s super supportive.

When I found out he was leaving, I wanted to cry. I wanted to leave the school before my private lesson. I’d gotten there early to warm up, and instead I was freaking out in my head. In our lesson, I couldn’t think. I even talk at first. I didn’t know what to say. I only started to loosen up when we got to some boxing drills.

On my way home, I tried to be okay with it. I made it a few minutes. Then I started crying. I didn’t sob or anything, but I let some of my shit out. I understood that, in addition to simply missing Mark #2 because he’s a cool guy, and honestly being upset because I just met him and now was he’s leaving, I felt like I was losing the person who helped me with my anxiety. Even if it’s just to small degree, I’m a better person. I can walk into my school and not feel totally overwhelmed. I still feel weird and lonely sometimes when I’m inside, but I’m working through that. Now I’ll have to do it without him.

Now I get to practice with Mark #1. It’s great. He tells great, sometimes long-winded, stories and is supportive. Hopefully, he’ll continue to push me to continue to work through kenpo and my bad brain. Maybe it’ll be good for me. So, I guess it’s not bad news, but…damn, it made me cry.

Hello

Okay, you guys. Here’s the deal. I’m been putting this off for well over a month now. Really, since last summer.

I’ve got a lot of stuff in my brain. There are things I’m trying to work through. There are things I’m trying to understand about myself and the world. There are things about myself that I’m trying to improve or accept.

Thing blog is the space where I’m going to work it out.

So, who am I? My name is Yvonne, but you can call me evie. I’m 30 now. I have ADHD. I struggle with depression and anxiety, especially social anxiety. I’m sensitive. I have a lot of emotions, but I’m also highly sensitive to noises and light and other weird things like that.

All of these things (except my age) make me feel really bad about myself. They make me feel flawed and different, but I bet a lot more people have these things, or a combination of these things, than I realize.

Other things about myself: I like to run. I do kenpo. I’m currently an orange belt in White Tiger Kenpo (honestly, I don’t really know what the whole white tiger part is about). I’m vegan. I love that about myself. I love animals. I currently have two cats and a dog—all either rescued or adopted. I love to cook. I’m in a relationship with a man, Johnny Lovely. We’ve been together for nearly 13 years. He’s pretty great.

I work for a non-profit, but my education isn’t geared for that specifically. I wanted to teach at a college level. I have two bachelor’s degrees (English and History) and a Master’s Degree in American Studies. I felt like a fraud there. I went into non-profit. I love it, but I feel under prepared for the field. That’s something I need to work out.

Over the years (and it may be work induced), my anxiety has gotten worst. I’ve always had anxiety, but I was having more and more panic attacks. Those are not fun. I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember—maybe since I was 15 years old or something. I think at first I thought I was just hitting that part of being a teenager where everything sucks. Well, I’m 30, and I still often think that everything sucks.

I’m in therapy. And I run and do kenpo to help my brain. Physical stuff helps keep my ADHD from getting too bad. Medicine has been helping my depression. My anxiety is not too much in check.

Simply writing this is giving me anxiety. What will you think of me? Am I being too open? Well guess what! No one is reading this, so who the flip cares?

So let’s do this!