My Mountain

This weekend, I went on the most peaceful, beautiful, and adventurous trip to the Smoky Mountains with the most patient, kind, and wonderful human being–who I love to call my boyfriend.

The first morning there, I was bright-eyed, cheerful, COLD–but too happy to care. My boyfriend, Michael, and I walked around for 2 hours searching for a store that sold the kind of jacket I wanted and needed to endure the cold. (I know, I was so unprepared for the mountains in the winter!) Michael looked on google maps at every apparel store nearby, and he led me to every one–each one leaving me disappointed, and anxious, and cold. (Surprisingly, mountain stores aren’t big on selling jackets!) I kept looking over at Michael to see the frustration build up on his face, but it never appeared. He just grabbed my hand, smiled, and said “We’ll find one, babe! I have a good feeling about the next one!” And on we went. About 8 stores later, we finally found a store with an overwhelming amount of jackets–I found one, bought it, and we went along our merry way–finally starting our day at about 1:00! The rest of the day was magic in the city.

The second morning, I woke up, and I couldn’t seem to find energy. I was slumped over and just bleh. There was so much to look forward to this day, and I was pushing myself pretty hard to just get dressed and move forward. Baby steps. Michael would come over and kiss my forehead and my hand and let me take my time. At one point, I looked up at him and said, “I’m sorry, I’m really struggling this morning.” He pulled me into him, hugged me, and said, “That’s okay.” And he held me. He said nothing else. Just held me.

I finally finished getting ready, and off we went to the hiking trails. We, of course, chose the trail less taken to avoid a crowd of other hikers, but lemme tell ya, there was a reason there were hardly any hikers on our path, because it was HARD! I’m not a fit person whatsoever, so this hike up the mountain was NOT an easy task. But Michael let me take the lead and move forward. Onward and up. We had to stop (for me) to catch my breath approximately…way too many times, but we took in the beauty of the scenery along the way. The once large, busy city of Gatlinburg, where we were staying, was now nothing but an anthill. Onward and up–we continued. We were out of water (because ya girl was thirsty okay?!) and the sun was just glaring down on top of us. The closer we got to the top, the more articles of clothing I tore off. At this point, I was just angry at this mountain. How dare this mountain be so big and hard to climb?! I began to yell to Michael about being over the whole thing, and he calmly pointed to the man-made stack of rocks, explaining, “We’re here. This is the end of the trail.”

LAWDDDD, when I tell you I could have cried tears of happiness. I was proud of myself. I pushed myself beyond what I thought were my limits. And in the amount of time it took to look over the breathtaking view of the Smokies, I had also forgotten any prior feeling of despair or hopelessness. I made it up my mountain that day.

Monday morning was a little different, I woke up and I felt nothing. I felt numb. Michael didn’t have to ask. He didn’t say anything. He just let me go through the motion of putting my clothes on. He’d kiss my cheek and he’d give me pecks on the lips. I felt loved; I felt cared for; I felt safe, but mostly, I felt nothing. He started playing music and I recognized all the songs, but I thought maybe it was a coincidence. But then Leon Bridges started flowing through his speakers, and I said, “is this my playlist?” He said, “yeah, I thought your music would cheer you up.” I kissed him, told him I loved him so so much, and I was ready to just push through again at that moment. But unfortunately, I couldn’t. I was silent the whole drive up the beautiful mountains and I just let my tears fall down my face, and then down my neck. Michael took my hand, squeezed it, and sat in silence with me.

We were headed to another high point at Clingman’s Dome. Although the trek wasn’t as treacherous, my legs were so sore from the day before and I just really had no interest in making the climb in the freezing cold. But I grabbed Michael’s arm, and we began. Onward and up. We made it with little to no complaining from me and the view was just stunning at the top. Michael hugged me, told me he was so proud of me, and then he took my hand–after offering to carry me back down–and we descended back down the mountain.

That hike down just destroyed my lower back, my hips, and my feet. And it somehow also took what little high spirit I gained from the hike up.

The long drive back home was filled little conversation, but a whole lot of hand squeezes, head scratches, and ‘I love you’s’.

I uploaded pictures from the trip, and my family and friends are led to believe that the whole trip was rainbows and sunshine. “Alex and her boyfriend are off again on another adventure! They look so happy!”

Depression does not discriminate.

Just like the hike up and down those mountains, my depression comes and goes in waves. Sometimes it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, but then that light smacks me right in the face.

Currently, as I’m writing this, I’m trying to make it up my mountain again. And I’m trying to do that by counting my blessings. Michael is a blessing, and my inspiration to write again. I’m forever grateful for the healing hands he provides me.

(Attempts at) Relationships After Abusive Relationships

I’ve never known just how to tackle this subject. Because it isn’t an easy one–not because it’s hard to discuss the past or the abusive relationship itself, but because I’ve wanted to pretend like the relationship only changed me for the better. It only made me stronger. It only made me more aware of red flags. It only made me a better person. And while this is all true, I’ve failed to also acknowledge the hardships it brought me. In doing this, I’ve lived in denial about destructive parts of me, but the more I look for relationships with other people, the more those parts scream out and eat me alive.
I never wanted to be THAT person that brought old tendencies into new relationships. I never wanted to be THAT person that seemed to use his or her past as an “excuse” for the shitty qualities they bring to newfound relationships. But honestly, the more I dive into the realm of intimacy, the more I realize how much those qualities are out of my control. They’re ingrained into my texts, my voice, my defenses, my thoughts, and in my good intentions.

I guess I’m hoping to gain a sense of acknowledgement in writing this–speaking it into existence–to maybe become better aware of the toxic traits that I bring to any table, and maybe find ways to correct those traits before they consume any relationship prior to even having the chance to bloom.

Here we go:

  1. Overthinking.
    My anxiety contributes to this a lot, of course, but in my past toxic relationship, I was constantly having to reword my thoughts and phrase my words in ways that I knew would not make my ex mad. I would avoid saying how I really feel in hopes of avoiding fights or anger. Now, I overthink every single word that comes out of my mouth (or through my fingers into a text). Did I come on too strong? Do I complain about this too much? Am I talking about myself too much? Should I even talk about the things happening with my family? Nah. He doesn’t care. Am I being too transparent? Is this considered bragging? Should I be more modest? No? I love myself and the person I am. Why am I even questioning any of this shit? I’m dope, dude, and if he doesn’t see that, then he sucks. Duh.

    But like for real…should I tone it down or….?

  2. Overcompensating for how I never said how I really felt.
    I love when I feel a sense of empowerment within myself, and I tell myself “Hey! You know what! You need to tell this guy EXACTLY how he made you feel when he did or said this somewhat/kinda/probably not too bad of a thing. And you need to ignore the fact that you’re extremely sensitive, and you need to ignore that voice in the back of your head telling you that the guy did not mean it the way that you are taking it!” And I promise you–I write a fucking novel, describing my every thought that ran through my head at the exact time that it did, and every feeling he made me feel from my toes to my soul. “OOOOH he’s gonna hear it from me! He’ll think twice before he ever says or does something like that to me ever again!” And then when he defends his actions or words (with a viable excuse), I claim, “Uh, I was just communicating, duh. It’s the key to any successful relationship OBVIOUSLY.”

    It’s adorable, really.

  3. Constant fear of the new person thinking I’m “Too Much” of something.
    Oh goodness. Don’t even get me started on my empowerment remorse after sending those novels. After my emotions are calm again and I’ve released some tension through my nightly dance rituals, I realize that I may have been a LITTTTLLEEE over-sensitive. And I realize that I may have been a little too much. Too much. I can be too much. And I know, I know, I know how the saying goes–“You will never be ‘too much’ of anything for the right person”, and I truly do believe that. I do. I know that the right person is going to come along and be okay with my rants and he’ll take it all on and he’ll be okay, but honestly, I’m self-aware enough to realize that he shouldn’t have to. Not as much as I do it. I get very defensive and I stand up on my soap box far too much when I don’t have to.
  4. Attachment/Detachment struggle??
    If you’ve known me since I first started dating (at 16), you’d know that I’ve always fallen for guys really hard, really fast. I’ve come to the conclusion that I was constantly trying to find what my parents had at such a young age, yet, I never realized until I was older just how rare and special my parents’ relationship is, and that it just could never be replicated. So anyway, with -said- ex, I was extremely attached (hence one of the reasons I stuck around so long in such a shitty situation). I now have this terrible habit of flipping back and forth between becoming extremely attached and…well…extremely detached. If a guy I meet fits my–now inconceivable–high standards (can you blame me honestly?), I do fall hard really fast still. I immediately want to put my whole heart and soul into making the dude happy (…this really shouldn’t come as a surprise, guys. Ya’ll know me, c’,mon). However, now, the attachment doesn’t feel the same. There’s this constant void that eats at me, and that little voice in the back of my head reminds me to expect them to leave. (YIKES). Because of this, I start detaching myself quickly, and sometimes it feels like I’m trying to self-sabotage anything close to a good relationship in order to avoid getting hurt. Does that even make sense to you? It does to me, and I really think it’s a thing. And ew, gross.
  5. Searching for arguments.
    So that whole self-sabotage thing? Here it is. I think I convinced myself for so long in my past that arguments/fights equaled passion. If someone wanted to be with you, they would fight with you and argue with you because…I dunno… they cared about you so much that they were willing to risk it all?
    I’ve never actually thought about why I thought fighting was passionate until now. I have to remind myself that there’s a difference between fighting for you/communicating and fighting with you/saying really mean shit just to hurt you. Yet I still find myself searching for arguments in relationships. Like…”Okay, this guy really apologized THAT fast for hurting my feelings?! He must not really care. He must just be saying what I want to hear. I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind.” That… and I think I convinced myself that fighting=passion for so long that I actually taught myself that if I was to get mad at someone and started an argument with them…and they stuck around…. that must mean they really like me. Which then makes me the extremely toxic/manipulative person in a relationship.
    And holy shit–no one deserves that.
  6. Making excuses for the shitty things guys do to me because the shitty things weren’t AS shitty.
    This is something that the people closest to me have made me aware of. I always thought that I was just learning to me more patient with guys and I was putting myself in their shoes and being an understanding person. I just never thought of their actions as unfair or unkind or fuckboy-ish because their actions–or rather inactions–were never half as bad as what I was put through for 4 years. I’ve been stood up more times than I can count on my hand (with lame ass excuses each time), but I “excused” them because I knew they were busy people. I’ve been taken advantage of, but I “excused” it all because those guys just didn’t know what they wanted yet. I’ve been told a lot of pretty words, but I haven’t seen a lot of action, yet I “excused” it because, well damn…you trying telling someone who’s love language is ‘words of affirmation’ that actions speak louder than words.
  7. Jumping to tell them my experience in hopes they’d never do it.
    This may be the one I hate most… except for that argument one because..yeah that’s pretty bad. But anyway, you all obviously know that I’m an open book. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I truly believe that you have to “confess your mess” in order to help others. But I have this terrible habit of not waiting long enough to tell potential boyfriends about my story and my struggle with my past. It’s like I tell myself that they need to know where I came from and they need to know why I am the way that I am. And while yes, that’s a really HUGE truth, I know there’s some part of my heart that hopes the guy will be gentle with me if they knew about my past. That’s so unfair.
    I KNOW that I should wait until I can really trust the dude enough to know that he WOULDN’T do those things in the first place before I tell him about my past, but there is a constant battle in my mind, and my hopeful heart wins that battle every time.

There are probably a few more traits that I can think of, but they’re far more personal.

Nevertheless, I know that almost 50% of American men AND women have faced emotional and psychological abuse, and I cannot be alone in this constant battle.

I am blessed to be in a place in my life where I can not only recognize the effects that the abuse had on me, but also tease myself about them (mainly out of discomfort, but still…). Not everyone is there yet. I can only imagine how many people are unaware of the toxic traits they may be contributing to new relationships because of past emotional aggression.
If you’re constantly feeling like every one of your relationships fail now, maybe it’s time to start having an honest conversation with yourself, and maybe start reflecting on some of the things that you believe could be hurting yourself and others within your new relationships.

Start now. Save yourself some pain further down the road, and start working on bettering the traits and qualities that you don’t like to see.

Lord knows I will.

5 Things To Do When You Have a Broken Heart

So it’s that time again–you found someone you know is different, someone you think could never hurt you, someone you think will actually stick around, and you’re ready.


Annnnnd well, you were wrong. Again. I know, I know, you really thought. And sometimes it’s not their intention to hurt you. Maybe it was just bad timing and they had to let you down easy.  Maybe things just didn’t work out. Maybe the spark fizzled out. Maybe geography became an issue. Maybe him and his other girlfriend decided three’s a crowd (Yikes). Maybe the person was just always a jackass and you genuinely didn’t see any red flags, or you chose to ignore the red flags. Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t matter how or why it happened, because the truth is, no matter the way, shape, or form your heart was broken, it hurts. It really really hurts.

With that being said, these are my suggestions for you:

  1. Believe him or her.
    When they tell you they’re not good enough for you; when they tell you they can’t give you what you deserve; when they tell you they can’t commit; when they tell you it’s the wrong time in their life–believe them.
    And you wanna know why you should believe them? Because the right person for you will have no limits or boundaries with you. The right person will be JUST as sure about you as you are about them. The right person will make time for you. The right person won’t give a second thought to committing to you. And it will always be the right time for the right person. Don’t believe me? Okay, think about it like this: When you were happily infatuated with this person that you seemed to believe could actually be the one–did you not make time for them out of your busy schedule? Did you ever even tell them that you too are in fact quite busy, or did you not even mention it because it didn’t matter and you were determined to create the time? I’ll bet it’s the latter. Did you go above and beyond for this person to make them happy to the very best of your ability? Did you ever, for one second, think about trying to get the attention of somebody else? Of course not. Because you were confident in your relationship and future with this person. So I am sorry to break it to you–they weren’t the one. The right person will reciprocate everything you are putting in.

2. Cry.


Dude, I’m talking full-on sobbing. Cry until you tear ducts can literally no longer produce tears. You know the worst cries? When you’re laying in bed at night and you’re feeling okay, but then all of a sudden you remember something, and this lump just thrusts itself and makes home in your throat? Don’t swallow it. Let it out. Take those ghastly gasps for air and let your tears run down your face, into your mouth, down your chest, and let yourself be a hot mess. Who cares? It’s not like anyone is laying down next to you anyway. Yikes. Too soon? If that made you cry, that’s okay too. Clearly, you haven’t worked out all of your emotions. Cry in your car. Cry on your bathroom floor. Cry in your shower. Cry at the freaking park with your sunglasses on (or off, who cares what other people think? They know damn well they’ve been in your shoes). But here’s the real kicker–advice from a wonderful friend of mine: You can cry for as long as you want. A day, 2 days, a week, a month, however long it takes–but the minute you stop crying about that person, you better not cry about them again. It’s done. You’ve put your crying energy to good use. Don’t let them make you cry again. NOBODY is worth that.

3. Don’t overthink it


There are going to be a million thoughts running through your head. “Did I really do something wrong? Is there someone else? Was I just a fling? Should I say something? What if they move on? I feel like I need to say something. I feel like I need to say something else. What if they think I’m crazy? I should find blogs on the internet that tell me what I should and shouldn’t do.”
And this is where I come in. I’m gonna go against the grain a little bit regarding what most people are going to tell you. If you have something to say to the person that broke your heart, say it. If you have something to ask, ask them. Will they always respond? No. Will their response hurt you? Probably. Will you be able to lay in bed at night without regretting not getting everything off your chest? Absolutely.
I think we’ve grown so accustomed to caring about what others think about us that we drive ourselves insane trying to fit this “fresh break up” mold, ensuring that we don’t seem “crazy” and that we have all our shit together. What’s crazy about needing to know if you did something wrong? Is it really crazy to ask if they’ll be seeing other people? We’re all thinking it anyway. Is it really crazy to express how badly this person hurt you? I personally don’t think so. Putting myself in the shoes of someone who plays the role of heartbreaker–I would and could never think any less of you if you expressed to me how you feel. If you have questions. If you need reassurance. I freaking broke your heart, dude. I get it.
HOWEVER, I give this questioning period up to a week. You get one week to get out all of your frustration, ask all of your questions, and make your feelings be known. After that, you already found out everything you needed to know. Now you’re just not wanting to let go, which I understand. I have compassion for you. But it’s time to let it go. Respect yourself enough to move forward.

4. Let yourself smile and laugh


You are going to have friends and family surrounding you, and they are going to do their absolute best to make you smile and laugh. Why? Because they miss your smile. They want to see you happy again. Why? Because these are the people that care and matter most in your life. These are good people. People that you DO need and DO deserve. When they say something that curls the ends of your lips just a tad–don’t fight it. Smile. Sometimes we feel some sort of guilt for smiling when we’re heartbroken. Like…hmmm…if we smile, that means we’re gonna be okay. And if we’re gonna be okay, that means we really didn’t need that person in the first place. And if we really didn’t need that person, that means it’s really over. Mhmmm, don’t worry, I see you. I just speak the truth that everyone is too afraid to admit. But seriously, let the smile collapse on your face. Let your laughter echo. Let yourself be okay. This is how healing begins, and I promise you the people that genuinely care about you only want to see you happy. And if that person that broke your heart was a good person, they’d only want to see you happy too.

5. Engulf yourself in yourself


Love yourself. Throw yourself into your passions and hobbies. Dance around in your underwear. Sing at the top of your lungs in your room or your car or your backyard (and when your neighbors scream at you to shut up, just tell them you’re gracing them with your presence). Feel yourself. Get dressed up, take selfies, post that shit. Reflect on yourself. Reflect on all of the wonderful qualities that make you who you are. Some of us were born to love with every ounce of our heart. Some of us were born to care for others in a way that might not ever be fully reciprocated. And that’s okay. You are what the world needs. Take the same amount of attention and care that you invested in that person who was not meant for you, and invest that shit into yourself. You are wonderfully and beautifully made, and it’s time you start falling in love with yourself.

In the words of Kehlani, “Can’t nobody love somebody that do not love themselves. You are what you choose to be, it’s not up to no one else. So be great, be kind, don’t let them dim your light. A woman (or man) like a sun should always stay bright.”

Shine on, my dudes.

An Open Letter to my Mom

Hi Mama,

I’m writing this because I need you to know how appreciated you are. And so every time you feel under appreciated, misunderstood, or defeated, you can come back here and be reminded how much of a kick ass mom you really are.

First of all, you literally gave me life. And I know I don’t need to remind you that–I’m pretty sure you were there. You were the first person to ever hold me in your arms, and I think it’s the coolest thing that you knew me before anyone else did. You looked into my eyes and you had faith in me–that I would grow up to become someone wonderful and capable of changing the world.

And then I grew up a bit, and I was clumsy and crazy, but you always knew the words to say to make me feel better. The band-aids you put on my scrapes were always a little bit more magical than just any normal band-aids. I’m so grateful that you let me be a child though. You let me explore, even if it meant that I was bound to fall down. You let me pick myself back up and try again. You let me play in the mud and make mud pies. You let me climb trees, and then you let me figure out how to get myself back down–we both knew it wasn’t gonna end without a bandaid. But you believed in me. You had faith in me–that I would grow to learn the best ways to climb down from trees and the best ways to avoid getting hurt. And I did.

Then I grew up a little more and I made friends that weren’t so nice to me. You’d always tell me that you didn’t like the way they talked to me, and you’d remind me that I deserve friendships that were kind and true. But you never stopped me from seeing those friends. You never banned them from coming over. You let me figure out my worth for myself. You let me decide when I had the last straw. You let me decide that I was done being walked all over. And you let me do this all by myself, for myself because you believed in me. You had faith in me–that I would begin to love myself enough to walk away. And I did.

Then I grew up a little more and fell in love for the first time. Not all the fake ones, mama. You know the one. There you were again, telling me you didn’t like the way he treated me. You reminded me again of my worth. And I know you never did it in front of me, but I know you cried for me. However, you never stopped me from seeing him. You never banned him from coming over. You took him in and loved him for me because you wanted me to be happy. You let me decide when enough was enough. You let me figure out my self-worth again. You let me decide that I was done being walked all over. And you let me do this for myself, by myself AGAIN because you believed in me. You had faith in me–that I would fall in love with myself instead again and walk away. And I did.

Now here I am, Mama. I grew up, and I know not to climb in trees, period. I know now that there is no one on earth except you that can put magical band-aids on me that fix any and everything. I now know the value of true friendships and the value of kindness. I now know that self love is the best love, and the only way to love others is to love yourself first. I now know that I have the strength to walk away from anyone or anything that does not make me happy. I now know that I deserve nothing but happiness. The kind of happiness and peace I feel when I’m sitting next to you.

You have had faith in me since the day you held me in your arms for the very first time. I can only hope to be half the woman and mom you are so that my children can then too believe they’re capable of changing this world. I’m forever grateful for you.

You’re my best friend, Mama. I love you with every fiber of my being.

Thank you for believing in me.

con•fi•dence, /känfədəns/

Yo, so my whole life I’ve been told that confidence is key. “Businesses look for confident candidates.” “Men like confident women.” “You have the whole package and a wonderful voice, but you’re just missing confidence!” –okay, so that one is a jab at American Idol when they turned me away like 6 years ago, and I’m still a bit salty. *rolls eyes*

Okay cool. So what exactly is confidence? Is it knowing you’re a badass with an awesome work ethic? Is it being able to look in the mirror and see nothing but a fine ass person looking back at you? Is it being aware of your intelligence and your problem-solving skills? Is it knowing you’re gonna change the world? Is it just your presence in a room–like people just KNOW? Is it your ability to dance like no one is watching? Is it being unapologetically you?

If at any point you found yourself thinking, “Yeah for sure! That’s exactly what confidence is!” Well then I’m pretty sure I can be classified as a confident person. Like, I’m pretty proud of my work ethic. I don’t hate looking in the mirror, I’d say I’m intelligent and good at solving problems. I want to change the world, I love to make conversation with everyone in a room, I dance like no one is watching (okay in my own room–pantsless–every night…but really I’m just sparing your eyes), and I’d like to think that I’m unapologetically me. I like me. I like the person that I am.

Okay, and also, I have to admit that people tell me that they see me as a confident person, so that helps too.

But uh, I have a confession to make, homies. I’m a freakin human being.

There are days that I really dislike myself. I look in the mirror as a 23 year old girl and some days, I really really hate that I only weigh 105 pounds. It shows dude. I’m skinny. I don’t have curves. It’s hard to hear people tell me I need to eat or that I need meat on my bones.

Sometimes I’m also really hard on myself about my own personality. My anxiety doesn’t help in this case AT ALL. But I’ll have a conversation with someone and walk away so self conscious because I wonder if I was too forward. If I was too bubbly. If I was too boy-ish. If I didn’t say the right words, or if I did say the right words, I wonder if the right words were even welcomed. And I end up wondering if I just made a fool out of myself.

I doubt myself as a friend, also. I’ve been blessed with such incredible friends, y’all. I feel so undeserving sometimes because there are days where I beat myself up for maybe not putting in the effort that I should to communicate. Or maybe I wasn’t there for someone in the same way they were there for me. This is a constant battle that plays through my head every single day.

I embarrass myself a lot by saying things or acting before I think, and I’ll sit in my car by myself, red in the face, biting my lip, thinking about something I said or did from like 5 months ago.

And really, I’m an awful dancer. There’s no getting around that. Sorry.

But my point is this: sometimes we forget that everyone we encounter in our lives are also human beings.

Whether you’re a girl or guy–that person you’re trying to impress by your confident demeanor, more than likely goes home and over thinks everything he or she did or said too. And they most likely have looked in the mirror atleast once within the past year and thought to themselves, “Damn. I’m really not feeling good in my own body right now.”

The business manager/employer you’re trying to impress–yeah dude. They struggle too. I guarantee there were times when they questioned their position of power.

And the thing is, if people weren’t like this–if someone literally never reflected on themselves and thought to themselves, “Man, somethin has got to change.” THEY’RE FREAKING WEIRD. And also, they would never progress in life. Ever. Never.

Being able to recognize something within yourself that you aren’t happy with is not weak. Granted, yes, you’re gonna have to do something about it. Otherwise, you too will never progress.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that the definition of confidence is this:

a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something. : a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something. : the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true.

So ACTUALLY, I see nothing in there that states you’re not allowed to have bad days. I see nothing in there that states you have to feel good about yourself every single day. Why? Because you’re a human being.

The common pattern I see within that definition is belief. Believe in yourself. Believe in those around you.

So it’s okay to fall down as long as you have the courage to believe that you can get back up and make a change. But don’t make the change for anyone except yourself. Like I said before, EVERYONE is dealing with their own demons–big or small. But YOU are in control of your happiness.

So if you’re someone (which I know you are, don’t lie boo) that struggles with yourself some days–your body, your image, your personality, your sanity, your strength, your job, your place in society, your place in this world, I see you. I’m with you. I am you.

We were given the ability to reflect on ourselves whether the reflection is good or bad, but we were also given the ability to believe in ourselves. Which is something I’m STILL working on.

So this is my challenge to you (I know…who does this girl think she is trying to give you homework–you were here to read which was enough work as it is!) but just hear me out! When I was taking private voice lessons, I’d always tear my performances down. I was so mean to myself. But my professor started making me limit my self-constructive-criticism down to two things. JUST TWO! Good lawwdd that was hard because I was a hot mess! But then she made me say at least FOUR things that I LIKED about my performance. That way, I was recognizing at least double the amount of good things I had to bring to the table.

I have used this strategy with everything in my life since. On my bad days, when I tear myself down, I limit myself, ex.: Okay, Alex girl, your skin is AWFUL AND IDK WHY YOU DIDN’T START TAKING SKIN CARE SERIOUSLY UNTIL NOW. And ALEX YOU HAVE THE BODY OF A 12 YEAD OLD BOY WITH A SLIGHTLY PLUMPER BUTT. Lol I wanna say I’m exaggerating, but these are real thoughts!

But then I also have to find 4 things I love about myself (and I know you’re thinking this is going to be a struggle, but you HAVE to. It’s apart of the rules! Don’t cheat!!)…anyway: Alex, your legs are super long and that’s really cool because when they’re smooth, you have more surface area to show off and touch! Also, your hair is pretty awesome too. Like it’s pretty smooth and it really never gets frizzy! Oh and your eyes are super big and look pretty in the sunlight! (Brown eyes, y’all get me.) And lastly, uhh your makeup skills have gotten a lot better, so kudos to you for being able to cover up the skin that you don’t YET like.

See? Pretty cool right?

Make it apart of your daily routine when you NEED it, and I promise you, you’ll develop that confidence thing that everyone wants but acts like they don’t struggle with!

So, in conclusion, you’re not alone. Literally almost every human being struggles with themselves sometimes (and remember, if they don’t, they’re weirdos and stay clear of them). What’s important is that you recognize the things about yourself that you don’t like and believe in yourself enough to either make a change or embrace yourself for the beautiful, hot mess you are (yes I’m talking to myself).

Also, while it’s okay and perfectly normal to have bad days, remember to be nice to yourself. Use the technique I gave you. After all, God made you the way you are for a reason, and I heard that dude like never makes mistakes.

Y’all, I was supposed to get married tomorrow.

Okay, before I start this, please know that this was extremely hard to write. And it’s not because of what you’re thinking. No, I’m no longer heartbroken or sad. It seems to be assumed a whole lot that when you talk about a past relationship at all, you’re still hung up on the person, but that is a myth. A lie. And you’ll find out why in just a little bit. Also, I had to think of my audience–the people this post might affect or hurt. There was a lot to take into consideration, but I have to remind myself that this is a place to write down my thoughts, despite what anyone says. This is my truth. And it’s more-so about the strength I’ve gained in the last 7 months, and the reason God has been the real homie ever since. If you do not wish to read because you feel awkward, PLEASE do not continue. But if you would like to gain insight and maybe find your own strength within a toxic relationship you are in now, please keep reading.

On a Thursday night, the person who was my fiancé (I feel weird referring to him as anything else) texted me informing me that he was going out with friends who just got back from deployment. Of course I was ecstatic for him and never thought twice about it. I ended up falling asleep, and the next morning, I woke up to nothing. No text, no call, nada–which was extremely out of character. There was a small part of me that began to worry. I checked his Twitter to see if he had posted anything about the night before–and his Twitter was gone. I checked his Instagram–gone. Facebook–gone. At this point. I knew something was wrong, but I thought it had something to do with the guys he went out with, like maybe they weren’t as safe to be around. I tried calling him multiple times, texting him telling him that I was worried, because I knew something wasn’t right. My instinct kicked in and I just KNEW.

I ended up getting a **text** from him later on in the morning telling me that he was on his way to work. That was it. No explanation. And if you think I just sound like a crazy person at this point, well then just keep on reading, dude. I tried calling again to try and reach him before he got into work, and he wouldn’t respond. To make a long story short–he ended up refusing to talk to me all weekend, until Sunday night when he texted me asking me how much he owes for the wedding, stating, “You’ll get your money.”

That was it. That was how he chose to end a 4 year relationship and 2 year engagement.

But the sad part is that it wasn’t the first time. It was maybe the 10th? 15th? I think I lost track. He constantly tried breaking up with me within the 4 years we were together. But I fought for him because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do. And because he’d break down every time, and make me promise that no matter how many times he tried doing it, I’d never leave him. Because he needed me. I was needed. I was his cure. I was his answer to every problem, and sadly, I began to feel special.

I never told my parents when he did it… because if I did, then it would be real. And I always knew that I could change his mind. But this time… this Sunday. I told my mom and dad. I sat on my bathroom floor sobbing with my mom. Screaming on her lap. Holding my chest while she cried into my matted hair. I was exhausted. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t ‘fix’ him anymore. I remember sitting on the bathroom floor with her, telling her over and over again, “But he was good to me, he was so good to me.” As if I was trying to convince her. Trying to convince myself.

But he wasn’t.

He hurt me in so many ways. Made me feel stupid. Constantly saying, “Use your brain, Alexandra.” Talking down to me, as if I was 4 years old. I wasn’t allowed to be mad at him, otherwise, he’d find a way to flip the victim and throw a pity party for himself. He’d make me feel guilty for spending time with my family when he wasn’t around, so I began to revolve my every movement around him. But then he made me feel like a terrible daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, cousin, friend, etc. because I isolated myself (with him and only him) away from them. He’d get mad at me for making plans without his consent. He would say horrendous things about my family, even though they treated him like their own family. And he’d always tell me, “I can’t wait to get you away from them.” Away. Far far away. He was wishy-washy. One day he’d be in such a good mood and say so many nice things about me and the people I loved, but then as soon as he was in a bad mood, it all came crashing down. Full force. To understand this rollercoaster, just listen to Taylor Swift’s “Dear John”. It describes it perfectly. “You’d paint me a blue sky, then go back and turn it to rain. And I lived in your chess game, but you changed the rules every day. Wondering which version of you I might get on the phone tonight.”

He’d make me feel worthless when I wasn’t in the mood to satisfy him. ‘I never did anything for him’. He’d delete every picture with me in it off of his social media any time he was mad at me, even though I literally did nothing. He liked to do it most when I was hanging out with my family or friends without him. But that’s how I was supposed to catch the hint that he wasn’t happy with me and that he ‘no longer wished to be with me.’ He’d lie about small things. About big things. I remember I went on twitter randomly one night and saw that he tweeted that he was being deployed around the same time as our wedding. He tweeted it. Didn’t tell me, didn’t even discuss anything with me. And then I was made to feel crazy for being angry with him. And the thing was, it wasn’t even true. He made it up. He would lie about things that he didn’t even need to lie about. He’d tell me that I’d have no choice but to work out and eat healthy as soon as we were married. The list goes on.

Well, on the Tuesday after the Sunday night I spent naked on my bathroom floor (because I needed to feel the cool tile on my sweat-soaked body)…I was sitting in the Starbucks on my campus. I received a message from a girl on Facebook. And as soon as I saw it, I knew. I knew everything. She went on to ask me if I was engaged to him. She told me that he’s been talking to her best friend for over two weeks–while we were still ‘okay’ and Skyping each other every night *BECAUSE HE WAS JUST STATIONED IN EL PASO MAYBE THREE WEEKS BEFORE THIS WENT DOWN* She then went on to tell me that he’s been staying at their house every night for over a week. Okay so to catch you up…this is on a Tuesday. This whole thing began on the Thursday night before, so an entire week would be from the Tuesday before, cool? Cool. So anyway, I found out.

All the while, he was emailing me (because my dad was a dad and did what any dad would do and told him to never contact me again.) But he was asking for forgiveness. Throwing pity parties. The whole shabang. While he was still sleeping with her and making her feel like the only girl in the world. Blah blah blah. It wasn’t the first time he cheated, so it just didn’t surprise me at this point. He was so good at coming up with excuses. He was so good with keeping his cool when he was confronted every time…because he knew that if he acted defensive, he’d sound guilty. He was so good at having a story prepared.


The weekend that he was ignoring me, I prayed to God. I asked him for guidance because I wasn’t sure if I was on the right path. I wasn’t sure if he was who I was supposed to marry. I begged God for answers because I was at a loss.

The moment I asked God for help, He answered my prayer. He brought darkness into light. Not only that, but He gave me the strength to walk away.

No matter how many times the guy tried pulling me back in. I began ignoring him. The guy thought it was because I needed time and space. But he soon realized that I was being serious. And he began to get angry. He was furious. He started to lose control of his ‘cool’ because he began to realize that he was losing control over me. I was no longer at his beck and call. I was no longer his puppet on strings. I was no longer his.

Please. Walk away. Pray to God. Ask Him for help. There were SO many nights within the 4 years I was with that guy where I’d find myself sobbing on my bathroom floor because I was so hurt. I was just too scared to ask God for guidance. I knew how He’d help me, but I never wanted to believe He was right.

Please remember that you have no clue what’s happening behind closed doors. It took me being outside of that toxic relationship to realize how much I was hurt and destroyed. Over and over again.

It always bothers me when people say, “Find someone who takes your makeup off when you’re drunk.” “Find someone who buys you [insert nice gift] or pays for a nice night out on the town” “Find someone who will call you beautiful even when you look your worst” “Find someone to laugh with” , as if those things (that any gentleman would do without needing recognition) are the most important things in relationships. Guess what? He did those things for me. He called me beautiful every day. Told me he loved me. Calmed me down when I was having an anxiety attack. Told me he was proud of me. Did everything he could to look good.

Those things mean shit if they don’t respect you.

Hold out for someone who is honest. Hold out for someone who doesn’t even care about who you’re texting or Snapchatting or talking to because just the thought of you two even flirting with other people is baffling. Find someone who lets you be you. Find someone that lets you be you by yourself, and lets you flourish on your own, while supporting you. Find someone who never makes you feel guilty or worthless for being too tired to have sex. Find someone whom your soul adores and desires, but doesn’t make you feel like they should be everything to you. Find someone who would move mountains WITH you. Not for you. Usually they end up feeling like you owe them something in return. Hold out for someone who is your genuine best friend, but also has other great friends that he/she goes out with while you go out with yours. Hold out for someone that understands that you are an emotional person. Someone that gives you the space you need when you need it, but someone who also knows when you just need a hug and shoulder to cry on. Hold out for someone that isn’t trying to fix you. Or trying to fix every situation you’re in. Find someone who is patient. Who is kind. Who would also fight for you when life gets hard. Hold out for someone that you don’t have to worry about how he or she might talk to you in front of your future kids (or current kids). Someone who you know will be respectful of you and your entire family. And all of your friends. Someone who respects their parents and family. Someone who complements (not just compliments) you. Someone who lets you be an independent woman or man. Who lets you have your own political opinions, and admires your intellect.

Above all, hold out for someone who believes in God with his or her whole heart. Someone God-fearing. Someone who puts God before you. Someone who prays with you and for you.

If you see red flags, stop giving them excuses because of the “good” things they do for you.

“How cool is it that the same God who created mountains, and oceans, and galaxies, looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too?” He didn’t create you to be anyone’s punching bag (physically or verbally). He didn’t create you to allow someone else to make you feel worthless. He didn’t create you to dedicate your life to fixing or forgiving someone who sins over and over again. That’s His job. He created you so that you can fulfill your OWN purpose on this Earth. For Him. And for you.

So let go. Let yourself breathe. Let yourself cut the strings that control your every move. Let yourself pick up YOU. Regroup YOU. Restructure YOU. Make yourself happy. Stand by an ocean, close your eyes, breathe in, breathe out, and let yourself feel peace again.

I promise you, it will be the greatest and bravest decision you’ll ever make.

Tomorrow, I would have been putting on my wedding gown, stressing over the finishing touches, walking down the aisle to a stranger.

Instead, I will be sitting in the rocking chair on my front porch reading. Knowing that I just graduated with a Bachelor degree, magna cum laude. Accepted my first teaching job for the Fall. Considered a highly qualified North Carolina teaching graduate. Holding my head up high. And living my absolute dream life, surrounded by family and friends that love me unconditionally.

This. This is what God created me for.

Dating? Yeah, Dating.

So you know that moment in Legally Blonde when Elle Woods realizes she needs no man, and she starts working her ass off to kill it in her firm and get her law degree? Well, that’s the moment I’m at in my life.
—Although, I’ve always gone to college and gotten an education for ME and not just to impress some sleazy, good-for-nothing guy.
However, you get the point…right? Right.
Okay, but also, you know how, out of the blue, she ended up falling in love with the cute, quirky, sweet dude that always had her back? She never saw it coming! That’s also where I’m at currently–if something happens, sweet… if not, (you’re missing out), but also, sweet.

With that being said, there were a good couple of months where I was actively searching, and I think I learned quite a bit just within those couple of months…about me… about guys… and about the (non-shallow) things that I hope to find in the next guy that I’m actually in a relationship with. Brace yourselves.

First and foremost, me: I am worth more than 2 am text messages. I’m worth your support. If you don’t respect me, why are you even talking to me? Why are you even talking to women in general? I’m worth consistency. I’m worth learning about. I’m worth your time (I get it. You work. Okay, boo. I DO TOO. About 70% of my day is spent thinking about the 20 kids who are in MY care. You are not the only one, honey.) However, I am worth thinking about when you get off of work and you run to the store to grab a gallon of milk. You see those flowers in the aisle shelf? I’m worth you buying them for me–just because.
Wanna know why? Because I’ll take those flowers, cut the stems at a 45-degree angle, place them in a vase with tap water (because tap water is usually the perfect temperature for fresh-cut flowers), follow the directions on the flower food instructions–pouring the exact amount…no short-cuts. Then I will spend about 15 minutes placing the vase of flowers in different spots around the house so that I can find the spot where the sunlight hits them JUST perfectly. Why? It’s not because I’m a perfectionist by any means. It’s because YOU got them for me. Because YOU were kind enough to go out of your way to think of me while you were out grabbing a gallon of milk. Therefore, I will invest my time in taking care of them, in keeping them alive.

First, guys like to talk about the money they make, or rather, a lack of? I get it. It’s a pride and ego thing. However, in the words of the ever-so-wise Tim McGraw and Faith Hill; “She don’t give a damn about your Benjamin Franklins, she wants Aretha.”
Elaboration: money is awesome. It’s a way that we can enjoy the ‘finer’ things in life. However, let me be clear. The REAL finer things in life involve:
Stolen glances from across a crowded room.
Sitting on a park bench feeding the pigeons until you two are under attack and you are forced to run away, hand in hand, screaming because birds can get pretty hostile.
Dancing around the kitchen to R. Kelly’s “Ignition”.
Slow dancing in a silent room while the person you love is serenading you with “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Crocker.
Kissing in the pouring rain.
I know. Money can become a problem. It causes arguments when you can’t pay the bills–it is STRESSFUL. But you realize that the only good thing that comes out of stressing about the bills is the way that you two DE-stress yourselves, which again, is among the finer things in life. If you catch my drift.

Also, guys who care about the gym REALLY  care about the gym. Do not roll your eyes. I ADMIRE YOU FOR WORKING OUT AND BEING FIT AND HEALTHY. But dear Lord, please desist from introducing yourself like: “Hi, I’m Chad, I just benched 1973846 yesterday, and you can practically eat your meals off my washboard abs.” If you think that I’m going to spend the rest of my life re-feeding your ego and listening to how many dead-lifts you can accomplish in the gym–you are sadly mistaken, my friend. But guess what, boo?! There IS someone out there for you that is JUST as obsessed with the gym as you are, but it is NOT me.
However, do not mistake this for me not caring for people who are passionate. PASSION IS MY BIGGEST TURN-ON. I’M  a passionate person–I’m very passionate about my career, and I put 110% into being the very best teacher I can be. But I did not have to introduce myself like: “Hi, I’m Alex, I just wrote 5 math lesson plans yesterday for the whole week and I found a super engaging activity that ALL of my students will just absolutely LOVE.” It’s more like, “Hi, I’m Alex, I’m a teacher. What do you do for a living? …Wow …What exactly do you do in a field like that? …That’s awesome! …What is your favorite part about it?!”
There is a time and a place. You squeeze those accomplishments in throughout the day in relevant conversations. I WANT to hear about your day and your accomplishments, but I expect the same attention in return. Tracking? Good.

Third, either men forget A LOT, or they really really really DO NOT LISTEN, OR RATHER, READ. If we’re texting and you ask me something silly like, “What are you doing?” (Which you should only be asking me if you’re wanting to make plans with me to do something.) But anyway, if I tell you what I’m doing and then you ask me the same question 10 minutes later….dude. What..? I literally JUST TOLD YOU I WAS WATCHING FRIENDS AND STUFFING MY FACE WITH ICE CREAM. 10 minutes later and I am STILL WATCHING ROSS AND RACHEL ARGUE OVER IF THEY WERE ON A BREAK OR NOT AND LICKING CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM OFF MY SPOON.
Also, if I told you something about a huge event in my life, and on the day of that huge event, you call me or text me asking me AGAIN  about what I am doing… BYE, I NO LONGER WANT YOU IN MY LIFE. If you can’t remember something that is important to me, then I really just don’t need you taking up my time. Especially because if you tell me about something that’s important to you, I’ll remember the date that the event takes place, and I’ll even call you wishing you good luck, congratulations, or listen to you talk about how it went.
There is absolutely nothing better than when a guy remembers a story that I told him (most likely about my students), and he follows up on that story later on down the week. Be still, my heart. It’s the little things.

There are obviously a lot more things that guys do that I just don’t understand, and really, it’s okay. Those same guys that I don’t understand–some other girl (or guy, ya never know) will. And that is the beauty of it. I always tell myself with every heartbreak or minor bump in the road that EVERYBODY IS MADE FOR SOMEBODY. I am definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay! Because I wasn’t made to be with that person!

Point being, trust your gut, and don’t get caught up on someone who you know won’t follow up on one of your stories a week later, or who won’t ask you about what you’re passionate about, or who doesn’t give you the time that you deserve, or who doesn’t sing “We Belong Together” by Ritchie Valens to you.

Anywho, what does this 20-something-year-old know about dating?

Did I really just write my first blog post about my anxiety?

So, I’m Alex and I’m starting a blog because I have about 10,342,342 thoughts running through my head a day, and I am an open book. I never intentionally wanted to be an open book, but it’s just who I’ve become as I have gotten older.  So this is me:
I am a complete hopeless romantic–like I whole-heartedly believe in soulmates and kissing or fighting in the rain. Both? Both would be cool? But do we really have to fight? Can we just make out in the rain because we can and it just makes everything dramatic and romantic?
Anyway, no matter what I have gone through in my life, I never lose faith in love–I crave it…I crave giving it.
I truly believe that God created me to love–to love with every ounce of my being, whether you are my family, friend, or significant other.
I believe in being kind. If I know you, whether I know you really well or you are an acquaintance, I will somehow find a way to make you realize that you have such a wonderful and beautiful purpose on this Earth and that I am SO grateful to have you in my life (and the best part is…you don’t HAVE to reciprocate it! I’ll be okay! I promise! I mean…if you want to reciprocate it, that’d be cool. But like you don’t HAVE to. Can phrases in parentheses even last this long? Should I have done double parentheses? Because none of this is really relevant…? Whatever, it’s my blog. MOVING ON.)
I believe that one day I will change the world, even if it’s just something small–I know I’m destined for something great!

Okay, so here’s the thing: I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder about 5 years ago–and lemme tell you–it’s a bitch. So basically, I feel like a chicken with its head cut off floating through space all day every day. Oh, God. Why did I even write that? Does that even make sense? Wow. People are going to read that and think that I’m a freaking weirdo. Am I a weirdo? Maybe I like being weird. What if a school that is going to hire me reads this and thinks I’m too weird to teach their kids? What if I don’t get hired? What if I never get to actually teach?! What!? That can’t happen?? It’s my passion! I love kids! What if I never get to make a difference in another child’s life again?! All because of this blog?! What a stupid decision. Why does my chest feel tight? Why can’t I turn off my brain? I just KNOW something bad is about to happen.

Ya’ll. That’s anxiety. And THAT is how my brain works about 70% of the time that I am awake. So, I’m starting this blog to start writing my thoughts somewhere. To organize my thoughts. To write them down and get them out of my head.

When I’m in a room with more than 3 conversations going on–my anxiety is triggered.
When I’m surrounded by people giving each other attitude–my anxiety is triggered.
When I’m driving at night and I see the lights of the car behind me moving up and down because of the road and it looks like they’re flashing me–my anxiety is triggered.
When I feel like I’ve disappointed someone–my anxiety is triggered.
When plans change last minute (for example, we decide to leave at 10 instead of 9)–my anxiety is triggered.
When I plan things out and imagine them playing out in my head for so long, and then those same plans turn out NOTHING like I pictured–my anxiety is triggered.
When I leave a place and I feel like my “goodbye” was awkward or I could have stayed to help clean or talk longer, I now feel like you think I’m rude or awkward– and my anxiety is triggered.
When I have to take a left-hand turn on a busy street–my anxiety is triggered.

SO BASICALLY, I get anxiety a lot. Like A LOT a lot. I promise I’m not a freak though, dude. Like I’m actually pretty cool. Okay, so my mom actually just thinks that (sometimes). However, luckily, I’ve gotten to the point where I can manage it pretty well, and get my shit together before I have an anxiety or panic attack.
I have gone the past 5 years trying to find out how my anxiety works because everyone’s is pretty different, and everyone handles theirs differently. And anxiety really does change over time. About 4 years ago, when I would have anxiety, it would feel really dark and morbid, and everything around me would move in fast forward while I sat suffering, struggling, trying to breathe. Thankfully, I’ve moved past this, and I’ve sort of just learned how to adjust and adapt my life to avoid things that give me anxiety. For example, instead of making a left-hand turn on a busy street, I’ll just turn right and drive until I get to the next light where I can make a U-turn. (Which is no way to live, I know, but it works for me. For now.)

Furthermore, this blog is one of the strategies that I’m using to keep my anxiety under control as I undergo several changes in my life. AND I PROMISE THIS WON’T BE A BORING BLOG BECAUSE I’M A TEACHER AND I HAVE HILARIOUS STORIES AND I’VE BEEN THROUGH SOME RELATABLE SHIT, SO JUST BARE WITH ME. Everyone has to get that boring first blog out of the way. Ya know? So until next time, this is the life of a 20 something-year-old, just trying to live life and enjoy it every single day.