Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

First off Mom if you are reading this, don’t cry.

It’s the most unexpected books that you end up loving the most. I didn’t know what to expect when I pulled a 500 page graphic novel off the shelf at Barnes and Noble but I knew I wanted it. I really didn’t know what to expect other than it was a memoir about a girl who dealt with anorexia. That is not the only thing Katie Green dealt with and my heart broke again and again as I read her book. Not only because of what Katie dealt with but because I saw myself many times in her drawings and it breaks my heart to think I will have students like me, like Katie, like countless other students who never got the help they needed.

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My anxiety started around the 8th grade and Facebook has been so kind to remind me of that dark phase of my life. In a way though it is reminding me of how far I have come and how even though that scared little girl is still part of me she no longer defines me.

Katie doesn’t know exactly when her eating disorder started but she thinks it was around middle school. Middle school is a rough time and for me that is when it all started as well. She was looking for control and sometimes eating is the only thing people have control over. She controlled how she ate, how many calories she ate and what she ate. Sometimes she just didn’t eat because she had already eaten too much for the day. This continued for a long time until her parents found out and after several failed attempts with doctors, specialists, dietitians her father took her to a rather unconventional therapist.

It would take Katie years and one incident to reach into her subconscious to remember what was really happening during those sessions but that is when her road to recovery really started. She experienced new problems along the way including binge eating, attempted suicide and depression but she never let those stop her from recovering.

I love the pictures in this book and how Katie depicts her illness like a black cloud hanging over her. It’s a hard book to read but one that is worth it because mental health isn’t something people talk about. So many people have mental health issues that it should be talked about more but sadly it isn’t. I know for me at least I never wanted to burden people with my problems, especially my parents. I would just hide myself in my room and cry for no reason at all. I constantly compared myself to my friends and asked myself why I couldn’t get my life together like them, be more outgoing; be more outside myself.

Being an introvert with anxiety can be extremely difficult sometimes.

Katie constantly looked in the mirror and saw herself as fat, disgusting and spinning out of control.

The road to recovery is long and hard and full of a lot of setbacks but don’t let your problems define you because they are not you. You are not your problems, they may be a part of you but they are not you.

It took me a long time to figure out who I am as a person but the minute I started accepting that I am introvert with anxiety who hates the sun, snow and would love to live in Seattle because of all the rain I started to accept the not so parts about myself as well. I started to notice when anxiety was preventing me from doing something and I started to notice I stop letting anxiety run my life.

I’ve been writing poetry about my anxiety and being able to see it in words and on the page helps. It makes it real and not just in my head. Katie Green drew. She went to Art College and then she wrote a graphic novel. She admits she isn’t perfect either, but she doesn’t have to be. We all have demons we deal with everyday. For Katie Green it was an eating disorder that lead to other problems ( I just don’t want to spoil the book) and for me it is anxiety and insomnia.  We just have to learn to not let them define us.

-A

P.S. If you haven’t watched To The Bone on Netflix yet you need to.

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Learning to Love Myself: In a relationship…with myself

This post has been on my heart for a very long time.

Close your eyes and imagine a little redheaded girl whose favorite movie was Sleeping Beauty because they lived happily ever after. She prays every night before she goes to bed “Dear God, please give me blue eyes and blond hair”. She dreams about her prince charming and cannot wait for the day he will walk into her life. His name was Eric when she was a kid (I always find it strange I liked the name Eric when I didn’t even own The Little Mermaid nor watch it all as a kid. What about Phillip?) and as she got older his name changed to James. He would be tall, dashing, British and completely sweep her off her feet.  They would get married and travel with their six children (I since have amended that number) all over the world. They would grow old together and sit in rocking chairs on their wrap around porch while grandchildren played in the yard.

Realistically as a child I probably didn’t think beyond the guy himself, but the dream was always there. It really hadn’t changed throughout the years. His attributes may have changed but not the dream. I’ll wear a giant poofy dress with lace sleeves and my best friend will be my maid of honor. He’ll cry when he sees me walking down the aisle and I’ll be so blissfully happy I will start crying myself and my mascara will run. We’ll have the giant house, kids, pets, and he’ll play with my hair every night to help me fall asleep. It’ll be perfect.

Jump forward to my eighth grade year. I get my first real serious crush (no matter how much I want my love for Johnny Depp to count, it doesn’t) and it turns out to be a disaster. We ended up breaking each other’s hearts. I wasn’t ready for a relationship plus I wasn’t allowed to date so I broke his heart. He moved and then I found out the kind of guy he was so he broke my heart. I’ve never pursued a guy after that- I just crushed on them from afar and wrote pitiful poetry when they got a girlfriend. I always figured I would just meet him eventually. When I moved in high school I thought I would meet him at my new school and yea, no. I then went to camp to work as a counselor and I had a crush on a guy, who probably saw me as a just a friend. I spent most of that summer trying to get to notice me which frustrates me looking back-I’ll explain in a minute. Summer is over and I go to college. Still no boy. Here I am two years into college, two camp summers behind me and still no boy. Where does that leave me the sad hopeless romantic who cries at every chick flick and romance novel?

My brother got married last summer, my best friend got engaged and is getting married in January. I have friends from high school married with kids and everywhere I look I see relationships. I started writing this post a long time ago and it has taken me a long time to write it simply because my heart is fickle. Just recently three people I know ended their relationships, relationships which I thought were going strong. It made me start to doubt once again whether or I wanted to engage myself in the messy world of relationships. A quote about relationships that has always stuck with me is “You are either going to marry the person you are currently dating or break up”. That quote alone makes me nervous about dating.

I have never had a boyfriend.

I hate telling people that because, to me at least, it makes me feel immature and unexperienced. I also hate it because I feel awkward giving relationship advice when I have never been there myself. I have been living with my brother while the both of us are going to college and I set him up at my other brother’s wedding with a friend of my sister-in-law’s. They got pretty serious pretty quick and I had reservations because this girl had just gotten out of a long relationship and I wasn’t sure if she was ready for another serious relationship. I thought they would take it slow and enjoy each other. This is all said with a little bias however because I only get my brother’s side of the conversation and he is pretty serious about her.

Every time my brother talks to me about his relationship I feel the need to comment because if I don’t he will directly ask me for my advice or think I’m “holding back” or something. However when I do give my advice it’s not usually something my brother wants to hear and comes back with the same retort every time “You’ve never been in a relationship so how would you know what it is like?”. True I have never been in a relationship, but I have lived on this Earth for some time and had a lot of friends in relationships. I have seen those relationships rise and sink like the Titanic. They were great on the outside and inside, but something was lurking in the deep that would eventually destroy them. Yes, I have never had a boyfriend but I have set standards and I am not backing down from them. If you ask for my advice about relationships I will give you advice based on those standards because I would expect nothing less.

Where is this going?

Last summer I worked at the same summer camp I worked at for the last two summers. Once again I found myself crushing on a guy who saw me as a friend. The crush didn’t last long (that being the same summer my brother was getting married so I think I had wedding fever or something) and once again I found myself frustrated with myself. Why did I keep doing this to myself? Was I really interested in this guy or was I more interested in the idea of a relationship? Did I want to be in a relationship for the actual person or just to be able to say I was in a relationship and I had a boyfriend? After I that summer I came back to college, moved into a house, and got a job as a cashier at Wal-Mart (that is a post for another time). I was suddenly independent for the first time in a long time and honestly I love it. I love only being accountable for me and not having to worry about texting someone all day or having to call/face time at night. I don’t have to worry about seeing them, date nights or whatever else people do in a relationship.

I am learning who I am as a person and it has been the greatest thing I have done for myself. I was so concerned for the longest time about appearances and what I look like to other people that I stopped loving myself. I was creating a persona of myself that I didn’t even recognize any more. I genuinely love spending time by myself and would rather spend the evening home alone, in comfy clothes, eating pizza and watching Netflix, rather than going out with friends. I DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR THAT! I love who I am and I love exploring who I am as a person. Two years ago if I had been in a relationship I would have defined myself by that relationship, but that’s not the case anymore. I am learning what I want out of a relationship and I am waiting. My aunt waited until she was in her thirties because she knew what she wanted and she wasn’t going to settle. I don’t want to settle either. Sure I want to do fun couple stuff and have those adventures with my best friend, but not until I am ready and not until he is ready.

I keep a box of letters that I write to my future husband. It’s helped me a lot especially when I am feeling lonely and that old pressure of needing to be married and having kids comes pressing in on me after I have looked at Facebook and see pictures of my friends kids. I call it my alabaster box because there is a story of a woman in the Bible who poured perfume on Jesus’s feet. The perfume was expensive and was most likely her dowry or some kind of saving. Either way this woman gave up her dreams of a future just to wash Jesus’s feet. It has always been a dream of mine to get married but it’s no longer a goal or a priority. It’s a blessing. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul gives some advice on marriage. There is a lot there to process but what I love about that chapter is that Paul advises against marriage. Wait, did I just contradict myself? Paul says it is better to be single than to be married because then your work for the Lord isn’t corrupted by the needs and demands of the marriage. I would advise you to read that passage for yourself because I am doing a terrible job of summarizing it. When you are single you are more free to do the Lord’s work because you don’t have the demands of the family. Of course Paul isn’t saying don’t get married. He is saying if you don’t feel the need to get married then don’t get married; ignore the pressure of the world around and spend your time serving the Lord. No one should have to think they have to get married because that is what everyone else is doing. If you want to get married (like my brother does) then get married, but if you are like me and realize that while marriage is a possibility it’s not a priority then don’t worry about it. It will happen on it’s own time and if it never happens then you will have saved yourself the trouble of constantly wondering why you aren’t married yet.

God is going to bring someone into my life when I am ready and if he never does I don’t think I’m going to look back on my life and cry because I never found “the one”.

-A

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brother is getting married this summer and every one of my close friends is in a relationship. I should probably be feeling sorry for myself right? WRONG!

This post is for you. The girl who thinks she needs a guy to complete her. His love will fill her and she will be happy. WRONG!  This has been something I have been trying to figure out my entire life and it took me until I was a Junior in college to figure it out.

Only God is going to fill that hole in your heart. That spot you reserved for your future husband only God can fill it. Only God will love you unconditionally. Only God will love you at your worst and at your best. Don’t make finding a husband your idol. That’s what I did and it kinda wrecked my relationship with God. I spent two summers at camp worrying about boys and not worrying about my campers. I will admit I got better the second summer but I still had boys on the mind even when I was telling my campers, “We’re not here for boys. We are here to learn about God.” I was a hypocrite for so long. I was lying to myself for so long.

I am not sure the exact year but when I was in high school I think I went with my cousin to a bible study.

10 Things I have Learned about Myself now that I am 21.

The other day I turned twenty-one and I must say other than being able to legally buy alcohol I don’t feel much different but I do feel different than I felt at the age of 13. Why 13? That was when I officially became a teenager and I remember that birthday being a big deal because soon I would be in high school and things were changing.

10 Things I have learned about myself between the age of 13 and now (I was going to do 21 but I couldn’t think of that many without getting really nitpicky):

1. The biggest thing I have learned about myself since the age of thirteen is that I am a huge introvert. I always used to think there was something wrong with me when I preferred the company of myself to others but I am totally ok with that now. Discovering that I am an introvert and that there is nothing wrong with that really helped my self-esteem. I no longer consider myself weird and force myself to socialize if I don’t feel like it. I am totally ok with staying in, watching Netflix, and eating pizza.

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2. I want to get married someday but that is no longer a life goal. There was a point in my life where all I wanted was to get married and have a ton of kids and be a house wife. That was my big dream down to my wedding vows. I had a big crush on a guy a few years ago and seriously wondered if he was the one but God was like nope. He  had been trying to tell me this the whole time to wait,  especially when I was part of a bible study where we talked about giving God our Alabaster box of dreams. It was in reference to the story of the woman who washed Jesus’s feet with a bottle of perfume. This bottle was most likely made out of Alabaster and could have been her dowry if she ever got married. She literally gave God her future marriage and even then I wasn’t seeing the big picture. I met some incredible women three years ago who talked about when they finally decided to wait and let God control their lives he brought someone to them. It took me another year to realize what God was telling me: give Me your alabaster box-give me your biggest dream. However, every once in a while when I feel weepy about not being married and having kids (this usually happens when yet again another relative or friend posts a pregnancy announcement or wedding announcement or wedding pictures, you get the picture), I write a letter to my future husband and stick it in my alabaster box (which is really this cute box I got from Michaels craft store). Someday if I get married I will give this box to my husband and show him how I finally learned to wait and realized that serving God with my life should be my number one goal and not getting married.

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3. I like wearing shorts. This may seem a little weird but I have always been extremely self conscious so I hated wearing shorts because I hated my legs. I love my legs now because of something my mom’s cousin told me once: “Carlie, I have ugly legs and I know that. It doesn’t stop me from wearing shorts however”. I took a look at my legs realized they aren’t toned like Cary Walsh-Jennings but I love them anyway so I wear shorts now. Having ugly legs isn’t worth dying of heat exhaustion.

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4. If I don’t eat, I get low blood sugar and will eventually pass out (I haven’t yet because I always catch myself but there have been some close calls). There is a term for this: Hypoglycemia but I don’t think I am there yet. I know lots of people who get low blood sugar from not eating but knowing this about myself helps me realize why I get tired sometimes around meal times or when I don’t eat a high protein breakfast and I feel like passing out at ten o’clock in the morning.

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5. I have an obsession with books and by obsession I mean I own over 600 books. I love books however, so I wouldn’t change for the world. Someday my library of books is going to inspire a love of reading in teenagers, who I personally feel spend way too much time on social media.

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6. I want to be a high school English teacher! You would think after two years worth of education classes later I would realize this but it wasn’t until this last summer of being a camp counselor to a cabin full of pre-teen and teen girls that I realized this where I wanted to be. A lot of people have told me I am great with little kids and that they see me as an elementary teacher but what they don’t realize is I like little kids in doses. If I had to work with little kids all day every day I would go insane. I want to be able to build relationships with my kids and joke with them on a more mature level, if you know what I mean. I love my sassy teenagers :).

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7. My love language is gifts. I never did take a test, or maybe I did but whatever, I know in my heart of hearts that my love language is gifts. I love giving gifts and I love receiving them. It is not because I like material stuff it is rather the thought that goes into the gift giving process. I pick out presents based on the person and their interests. A gift shows that person that I know them and have taken the time to know them well enough to get them something without asking them what they like. Gifts are just very personal to me.

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8. I never want to live somewhere with humidity. After having lived in the south and moving to the north I realize that I HATE humidity and will never go back! I do miss my childhood home some days more than others but I could never go back because I am not that person anymore. God knew what he was doing when he moved me half way across the country. I couldn’t see who I would become at the time but as always He is amazing and knew the kind of woman I would become some day and He knew that required me moving. I am a planner, which is another thing I learned about myself but I am lumping it into this one. I had a whole life plan and God was like nope, I have even greater things imagined for and it will be painful because growing is never easy but the end result will be beyond beautiful. I am going to do great things in the name of God.

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9. I am learning to let go. There are a lot of things in my past that at one time I was very bitter about but that was in the past and I am a different person now. I am learning to let go of those old hurts and see how God used them for my good. I am learning to let go of old friendships and old pains so that God can work in me and through me.

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10. Last of all I am learning how to adult. I still haven’t scheduled a doctor’s appointment by myself but I am learning to work a “real job” (it’s in retail), pay rent and bills, budget my money (haha), schedule my time, and be dependable. For the first time in a long time I feel more like an adult and less like the child I was. That is terrifying because a lot about my childhood defines who I am today, but as God has been teaching me, change isn’t all that bad and sometimes it is necessary.

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-A

Learning to Love Myself: Introvert

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This will hopefully be the first blog in a series of blogs about learning to love myself/oneself. I read a blog post today by a classmate about a TED talk video that focused on introversion. It caught my attention immediately because I am an introvert. Watch the TED talk please because it’s great even if you don’t consider yourself a introvert.

When I was a kid I was painfully shy. I hated meeting new people and being in crowds. I would hide behind my mom and simply refuse to talk to people. I seriously thought something was wrong with me until I started a board on Pinterest called This is me and started figuring out that in addition to being shy I was also an introvert and I wasn’t alone. All my friends in school were extroverts so I always felt left out when I said I’d rather stay at home and read then hang out. I seriously thought I was just weird and anti-social. I didn’t understand the concept of me time and that being social tired me out mentally. I thought I needed to be more social and out going and it was making me seriously depressed. Pinterest isn’t just for recipes, fitness and planning the perfect wedding, it helped me learn to love my introverted self. It helped me to realize I am not the only one that would prefer to stay at home in a blanket fort and watch Netflix until 1:00 in the morning or reading a really good book (I have done both :).

This doesn’t mean I don’t like to socialize because I do but I would rather socialize with a small group of really good friends than a large group of people I don’t know. Socializing for me is all about personal connections and getting to know other people really well. My ideal conversation would focus on deep life issues or a book rather than boys, who posted what to Facebook or the latest gossip.

For the past two summers I have worked at an amazing camp in Western NE. The first summer I was there, I worked with two guy counselors who were the craziest extroverts I ever met (they were also best friends, which made it all the more crazier :). I was exhausted at the end of every day from hanging out with them because they didn’t understand the concept of alone time. They had to be doing something all the time or get sad whereas I would rather be alone and have a little fun time or I get sad. That summer taught me that I love to socialize but I need alone time as well or I become crabby and sad.

It’s been a crazy journey learning to love me as I am, introverted and all. I most certainly have had my fair share of sob moments and comfort food. I thought my only regret would be that I hadn’t figured that being an introvert was ok sooner, but one of my favorite quotes is “The Journey is the Destination”. Learning that I was an introvert was the ultimate result. If I hadn’t taken the time to learn to love me I might not have liked the immediate me. Instead of learning to accept who I was and stop trying to change I might have continued to try and change myself. I love that I am introvert, and the fact I can watch five seasons of Netflix and not feel sad that I didn’t actually do something with my time. Ok, maybe that is a little weird, but the point is I like being alone and that doesn’t make me weird, that makes me, me. God created me to be an introvert with a wild side and I love me.

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I had to share this because this describes me every time I finish a series on Netflix or I finish the most current season.