Anxiety Erica // Self Love Jamz

For the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize how important music is to my healing. To growing, and to emotionally exploring.

Wherever I am, I’m usually listening to music. Whether it’s in the car, in my apartment, or at work, I’m tuning into some sweet jams that speak to my soul.

Life is full of different – albeit unpredictable – chapters and we tend to listen to different music based on what stage of life we are in. For example, post-breakup I tend to listen to a lot of empowering, emotional and inspiring music to build myself up. As a rule, I do tend to listen to that music a lot, but during times like this it’s more frequent.

That doesn’t mean you can’t listen to an incredibly sad song when you’re happy as fuck, or a really angsty song when you have nothing to be angsty about. You do you. 

I’ve always said that you can tell how a person thinks by what they focus on when hearing a song. For me, I focus on the words. Sometimes, I can get addicted to a sick beat – I realize I’m not cool enough to say phrases like that but also I don’t care – but mostly, it’s the lyrics that get me going.

For others, it might be the melody or instruments, but I find that my heart seeks out certain words, lines or refrains in a great, emotional song.

In the past, I created an Anxiety Playlist, which has a healthy combination of lyrics and just music. From time to time, I do go back and listen when my anxiety spikes. More recently, I’ve been creating another playlist.

What’s funny is that it started out as a post-breakup playlist to get me past all of the anger I have, but it’s morphed into more. I entitled it Self-Love Jamz because that’s exactly what they are. They are a wide range – I like all kinds of music, man – and each one has a purpose.

I thought I would share a few of my favorites, and the specific lines that mean the most to me. Here we go.

Free to Fly, Betty Who

I lost my identity, I was wrapped in you, it was absolute
Now I’m finally seeing, yeah
That I’m a brand new queen, I don’t have to ask, I’m the quarterback
Of my own damn team, yeah

When I hear this song, I will forever be brought straight back to discovering it with my best friend. We had just jumped back into my car from being out in the pouring rain, and I randomly tapped on this song. Just so everyone is clear, Betty Who is a goddess. Listen to her everyday, all the time. I do.

That one moment hearing her empowering words of self-discovery was everything. Realizing that I have my own identity outside of a relationship, and it’s time to get back to that was much needed. Plus, jamming in the car with my very best friend while she came to visit was a major plus.

Best Thing I Never Had, Beyoncé

I wanted you bad
I’m so through with that
‘Cause honestly you turned out to be the
Best thing I never had
You turned out to be the
Best thing I never had
And I’m gon’ always be the best thing you never had

Without fail, this song seems to pop up when I’ve had my heart broken. And every time, it changes my perspective. It always reaches into the depths of my soul, and pulls out the confidence I always keep locked up.

I have been through three breakups, and all of them have certainly been the best thing I never had. Every time I get some space from the hurt, I realize just how much I wanted them at the time – and how much I benefited from not having them around anymore.

Dear No One, Tori Kelly

So if you’re out there I swear to be good to you
But I’m done lookin’, for my future someone (oooh)
Cause when the time is right
You’ll be here, but for now
Dear no one, this is your love song

This one took me awhile to understand, but I think I finally get it. Everyone always says, “the right person comes when you aren’t looking for it.” Commence the eyeroll. But, they are right in a sense.

For me, I’ve learned that I’m done searching for someone. It’s time to work on trusting myself, and being the best Erica. That’s more important and like the song says, when the time is right, they will be here. Dear no one, I’ll be ready for you when I’m ready. 

Dancing On My Own, Robyn 

I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her, oh oh oh
I’m right over here, why can’t you see me, oh oh oh
And I’m giving it my all, but I’m not the guy you’re taking home, ooh
I keep dancing on my own

Okay, so the lyrics of this song don’t exactly apply to me, but it’s the feeling that I connect with most. When I hear this song, it feels like being young, 20-something, and lost when it comes to love. I also think of the scene in Girls where Hannah and Marnie just dance in Hannah’s room to this song, no fears. Nothing stopping them. I’m even getting emotional thinking of the scene, because the first time I watched it, I really understood it.

Just the single refrain, I keep dancing on my own, means something. It means that bad days will come. Breakups will happen, but I’ll keep dancing on my own. I’ll keep going. Unafraid of what’s to come.

Body Of My Own, Charli XCX

Lights out
On my own
Got my darkness
I’m into myself
Don’t need you

Not only does this have a catchy as fuck beat, Charli XCX has always pumped out songs that are all about claiming yourself. I just love the line she keeps repeating. I’ve got a body of my own. It’s a melodic, angsty reminder that I’m whole all by myself. I don’t need someone else to create happiness. To feel joy. To grow, learn, succeed.

Life in Pink, Kate Nash

Wish I could let my brain
Decide and stop the pain
I keep heart-shaped glasses close to me
For when it rains (life in pink)
Rip it up and start again

I’m always a sucker for songs that focus on mental health, and Kate Nash really nails it with this one. Not only does she get into the details of how mental illness makes us feel, she even has moments where she talks about not having the energy to clean her room, or take care of herself.

But no matter how bad it can get, she always has those heart-shaped glasses close to her for the good days. It’s a wonderful metaphor for being ready to stay present for those wonderful, magical days where you are so clear and the thoughts aren’t overwhelming.

Have A Nice Life, Murs

Give it time, let it work itself out
Meditate on the better things, never dwell in self-doubt

For the last song I’ll share, I figured it should be a deep one. I was introduced to Murs from an ex-boyfriend, and for so long after we broke up, I didn’t let myself listen to his music because it didn’t feel like it was mine. It felt like it was the dead relationships’ music. But guess what? They don’t own those songs, go ahead and listen to it. 

Sometimes, people tend to stray away from certain shows, music, art or whatever because it has a painful connotation, but there are times when you can push past that and just enjoy it for it is again. I’m so glad I did that with Murs.

He has such a way of speaking to vulnerability that is heartfelt and authentic. I love it. Lately, his new songs have been very mental health focused and it’s wonderful he’s given it a voice. For this song, I love this specific line because his tone feels very introspective, he has been through so much. The line, Give it time let it work itself out, is almost like an affirmation for me.

 

So, there you have it. Those are just a few – okay, maybe a little more than a few – songs that mean something to me. To me, the right lyrics can be transformed into affirmations for me to repeat, practice and act out in daily life. Believe. 

Here’s my full Self-Love Jamz playlist, give it a listen if you’d like:

 

What lyrics really speak to you? Share them in the comments below! 

Post Therapy Thoughts // Time To Trust Myself

Hi, friends. It’s been awhile. Man, I’ve missed you all. It’s been a whirlwind start to 2018, but it certainly hasn’t been what I thought it would be.

I’ve learned – and unlearned – so many important lessons. I got into a new relationship, and recently, things ended with that relationship. I was broken up with again, but this time it was very different.

In the past, when I’ve been broken up with, I react in pure, overwhelming sadness and grief. I’m a sobbing mess. I think it’s all my fault. That I’m the burden causing this surprising end.

This time, I felt anger. Pure, healthy anger. Wanna know why? Because I did absolutely NOTHING wrong. I was blindsided, and it wasn’t anything I could have done. He wasn’t ready to be in a mature, grown up relationship with someone else, so he skipped out. It’s as simple as that.

As I described to my therapist the night of my breakup, she became more and more proud of me. I’m not used to being direct or confronting my anger, so this was a giant step forward for me

I realized, I’m proud of me too. I’m proud that I didn’t automatically think it was my fault, or that I’m such a burden for having my insecurities or anxiety.

We then unpacked my intuition. Normally, I get a sense when things aren’t going how they usually do. Since I’m an empath, I can get effected by the smallest shifts in emotional behavior. Sometimes, these shifts are so tiny, the people themselves might not even know they are doing them.

But, time and time again – I feel them. Loud and clear. So, when I sensed them in my now ex-boyfriend, I asked him if something was wrong. He kissed my hand, and said everything was fine. This is where my anger started. 

Since I was told everything was fine on that front, I took the “this is my anxiety” path. The one where I go to therapy and unpack why I’m picking at my seemingly fine relationship. I told my ex boyfriend this as well, so he listened as I explained to him my anxiety with this, and let me be misguided. Let me stay anxious about something that was to become my reality. I don’t deserve that. From now on, I need to trust those instincts and let them lead my decisions.

I was disrespected by him, and that’s where the next key point comes in. This is now the third time I’ve been broken up with, and it’s never easy. Yes, I’ll freely admit that I’m always the one being broken up with, but it’s because I put up with a lot of bullshit from my partners.

I’ve recently come to the realization that, in my past, I’ve dated people with addictive behaviors. People that consistently prioritize their addictive behavior before me, and as a result, they are emotionally immature.

When this third breakup happened, I was pissed but when I finally called my friend to tell her, I started crying and said, “Why won’t anyone stay?” 

I told my therapist this and her reply was,

“It’s time to stop thinking no one will stay, and start picking the people who are capable of the long haul.”

Because she’s right. I’ve been settling and tolerating a good deal of bullshit because – in the end – I’m afraid they will leave. And honestly, I have that fear because it happens, and it happened in my childhood. All men did was leave.

But, the time for tolerating is over. The time where I thought I didn’t deserve a higher quality in men is cancelled.

Based on this extremely empowering and productive therapy session, here are my new affirmations:

I am worthy of my own trust.

do not have to tolerate disrespect or something I am not comfortable with in any relationship – I deserve better.

I am loving and worthy of unconditional love.

 

No more forgiving because I’m afraid they will leave. Let them leave. If they don’t want to stay, they aren’t meant for me in the first place. I deserve someone authentic, kind and willing to put in the work for the long haul. Nothing less.

 

What lessons have you learned from a breakup? Share your story in the comments below! 

Rad Reads // The Sun And Her Flowers

Typing out this intro, I’m realizing it’s been a minute since I’ve posted on the blog. Life has been busy – in the best ways.

Life can get into a monotonous funk sometimes, I dread it. Sensing that, I truly feel like the universe has called a few new things into my life, to show me that there are new adventures waiting for me – I just have to have the courage to pursue that path without fear, without listening to my anxiety.

On the brink of all this positive change, I decided to treat myself to Rupi Kaur’s latest body of work, The Sun And Her Flowers. Having read Milk And Honey with an emotional connection so deep that I felt compelled to give it to every single woman I knew at their birthday, I knew I had to pick it up at the bookstore.

Excited to dive into her work, I started a bath, turned on my Anxiety Relief playlist and cracked open the first chapter.

Like turning the pages of my own heartbreak and emotion, Kaur is so authentic in her words that I felt myself intensely moved by her pain. By her ache, by her love for everyone and everything.

Beginning at Wilting and ending in Blooming, her symbolic meaning behind flowers is geared towards all the growth she has done.

Compelled to finish out her story, I stayed soaking in the tub until I read her last words. Pruning and wet in a now cold bath, my soul was on fire. I could feel her passion reaching out in every page – grabbing hold of my heart.

Milk And Honey was another collection I connected with, but this time around it was different. I had grown, and she had grown. It was like I knew her heart, and could understand the ways in which she had bloomed.

As I made waves with my body and soul in the bath, here are a few of the short poems I resonated with in The Sun And Her Flowers:

Wilting

Truly touching, this specific chapter was all about heartbreak. The gut wrenching pain that comes with the grief or loss. Of losing that someone, that connection. A few months back, I had my own heartbreak and while I am in a very different place emotionally, the words from this chapter still call to me.

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This particular poem really resonated with me. When I read the line, “love is figuring out all the kind sweetness we deserve,” I felt tears well up in my eyes. So eloquently strung together into a brief poem, Kaur perfectly explains that love doesn’t look like a certain person – it’s what we do.

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Damn, this one hurt. I won’t lie – this is exactly what I went through with my ex. When the breakup initially happened, I was so overwhelmed with grief that I found myself missing him each day. But, as time went on I asked myself – what exactly do I miss? The constant anxiety, insecurity and lack of communication or any emotion on his end? The foundation and connection I always thought was there was just a mirage. Only growth can open our eyes to these realizations.

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Again, this very short poem packs quite a punch. Speaking to my intuition, I’ve found – from both therapy and in life – that my body always somewhat knew my previous relationship would end. I experienced what my therapist called intuitional anxiety, which was where I thought the feelings were my anxiety going worse case scenario, but really it was my intuition warning me of events to come. After that, I’ve made a promise with myself to listen to that voice whenever she pops up – it’s time to start trusting my body.

Falling

Chalk full of little lessons in letting go and listening to anger, Kaur spends time speaking about the process of growth in this section. Most don’t quite realize just how long and grueling it can be to grow authentically. It’s lonely, scary and all consuming to change our minds completely. To unlearn. I appreciated the bursts of emotion throughout this chapter – good and bad.

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This was such an enlightening chapter for me. I haven’t ever felt part of a community before starting this blog and when reading this poem, I knew what coming home was. I’ve gotten much better at knowing when to let others help pick up the pieces, and when to trust and rely on myself for navigating the pain.

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Rooting 

An extremely personal, poetic chapter for Kaur, Rooting spoke directly to being a child of immigrants. While I do not know these feelings and emotions in my own life, I felt it was completely necessary to shed awareness and just to understand this life – to have empathy. I truly felt her pain and the sadness in wanting more for her mother while also loving the love her parents felt for each other.

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Rising 

Lifting herself with love, it’s clear this chapter centers around finding a new partner after heartbreak. In this stage of my own life, I really understood the lines from each of these poems. Having found a new sense of what she deserved, Kaur struggles with settling into a new person, and learning to let go of the old. Truer words have never been spoken. 

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Our fear anxiety tells us time and time again that it’s not only scary to start something new, but it’s too soon. Screw all those voices in your head – or toxic people – telling you that it’s too early for a new person, or a new experience. Only you know what works for you and in the end, don’t feel guilty for starting again, especially if it makes you whole.

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It’s as the person I’m currently seeing always tells me – never backward, always forward, always. While it’s a quote from Luke Cage, it still rings very true. I hadn’t prepared to fall into someone new right now, but it feels right and it’s my choice. It’s time for me to start making moments – not hiding from them.

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Learning all about someone new is exciting. Always so sure that the last one is “the one,” we find ourselves falling over and over again into different people. Each has a valuable life lesson. I truly believe that people come and go in life for important reasons. The people who are here right now are here not only because I want them to be, they are teaching me patience, understanding and how to cultivate my growth.

Blooming

Showing us women that it’s okay to heal and speak up at the same time, Kaur ends her second installment of poetry with a clear message of strength. The closer I got to the end, the more I felt a sense of closure. Empowered and fostering an enriched connection to all that I love about myself, Kaur’s words in this chapter – and all of the sections – brought about such an awakening for my soul.

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I’ve lost a good deal of people this year, but in all honesty – is it really a loss? When I find myself saddened by no longer having certain people in my life, I remember why I removed them to begin with. Give yourself to a few and to those few give heavily. Invest in the right people. This poem is currently on my fridge and I read it each morning when I wake up.

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of The Sun And Her Flowers. While I really believe that this collection benefits women, I wouldn’t say men can’t resonate with her words as well – or learn more about women from turning the pages. There are plenty of poems throughout the novel that apply to everyone – speaking to emotion, heartbreak, confusion, growth, and family.

It’s incredibly validating to pick up a work of art and know you’re not alone in your struggle. That all this painful growth has beauty. Beauty in the form of art and poetry. Thank you Rupi Kaur for reaching into your heart and showing us what love looks like on each page of The Sun And Her Flowers. I look forward to the next installment and seeing all your growth and success!

Have you read The Sun And Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur? Share what you thought of the poetry collection in the comments below! 

Handling Heartbreak With Anxiety

Recently, I wrote an article for Inpathy Bulletin about dealing with a breakup with anxiety, and it made me realize that I haven’t dedicated a post to handling heartbreak. Now that I’ve had a few weeks to distance myself from the more intense emotion and pain that comes directly after a breakup, I feel comfortable talking about it in depth.

Although it’s become clear by now, a few weeks ago my ex boyfriend broke up with me. The reasons were scattered, but in the end it came down to this: he just couldn’t come with me. By this, I mean he wasn’t the right match to go down the same road I’m on in my own mental health journey. While that’s hard to accept, it’s something I must. Like myself, he has issues and they just became too much to handle, so it was time to part ways.

Most people think breakups are the stuff of sad songs and romantic comedies, but in reality it’s a visceral and sometimes even suffocating pain to end a relationship in which you’ve most likely invested all of your emotional energy. Cue anxiety, depression, and other mental illness and it can be almost impossible to breathe.

Healing a broken heart is difficult for anyone, but for those of us who are constantly battling mental illness, it can cause us to question our self worth or even trigger. While this is not my first breakup, each one comes with its very own set of memories, which in the beginning, can be painful to relive. Even though I did not feel like anything was my fault during the breakup, it can be easy for anxiety to latch onto such a traumatic event and start to poke at your self worth with thoughts of whether this is your fault or you could have done something differently: maybe he/she would have stayed if….

Stop that thought process before it turns into a spiral. As someone who is hyper sensitive, I see you and feel that pain wholeheartedly. Fear the stress of this breakup could lead to a breakdown? Here are some tips I’ve learned while navigating my heartbreak.

Take Care of Yourself

Healing always starts with self care. No matter the form of loss, you must nurture your emotions and heart. Whether that means going to bed early, taking a day off to lounge on the couch, of reading your favorite book for the 20th time, do what you need to do to soothe your mind, body, and soul.

While you used to have someone to take care of you all the time, now you don’t. That person is gone but it doesn’t mean you stop the care. You are always first priority, relationship or not.

Feel It Out

If you want to cry, cry. If you feel like screaming, whip out a pillow and do the damage. Feeling relieved, or even happy? Don’t bottle those emotions up. Meet them, don’t feel guilty for having happy moments – it doesn’t diminish the time you had together. 

It’s okay to not be okay, which is something we hear a lot in this community. More recently, I’ve learned that it’s also okay to be angry. Anger is an emotion I’ve always had trouble with, so it’s important to feel all the range of emotions. It will help you move on in a healthy way.

Learn to Let Go

Change is a bitch. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to shake her. Grieving is random, it comes in waves but you have to learn to let it go. We struggle to accept loss. We constantly fight reality and avoid the truth of the situation: they aren’t a part of our lives anymore. Try not to dwell on what could have been, or if you should have done something differently because in the end, it happened how it happened. You can’t control it. If you find yourself spiraling and ruminating, write it down. Battle with reality.

Protect Your Emotions

While we have to let our emotions, I truly believe that it’s important to protect those hyper sensitive souls from trivial things that will only cause suffering. A good example is social media. In the aftermath of a breakup, social media is toxic. It’s a space where – in a way – you can still be in each other’s lives without actually speaking. If it’s too triggering to see your ex over social media, unfollow. Unfriend. Block. Whatever you need to do, do it so you can be in a safe space and move forward.

Little things will hurt the most. Although I’ve been in a much better place lately, something small crept up on me and brought me to tears. I was lugging something gigantic up the stairs to my studio and while my neighbor was coming down, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “you dropped this.” I looked down and the keychain my ex boyfriend got me had broken off my keyring. While it’s trivial, it still really hurts. It’s a memory. Even though it’s a sweet one, it’s painful right now. I let myself feel the sadness, and afterwards I realized it was a sign. It needed to go. Time to shed that memory in order to create new ones.

Lean On Your People

Although you must deal with grief and loss at your own pace – there is no set timeline for moving on – there are plenty of people who understand what you’re going through. Let them help. Yes, you must deal with this emotionally on your own, but support is healthy too. In the first few days after my breakup, I had an outpouring of support from close friends and family. Sometimes it can be unexpected, but it can help ease anxiety to know you have a support system who is on your side – no matter what you’re feeling.

 

I will leave you with this quote from Becca Lee, an inspiring poet who beautifully states the true purpose of pain:

“So often we associate pain with darkness because that is how it tends to feel – all-encompassing, overwhelming and never-ending. But pain is not sent into our lives to drown us; pain illuminates the parts of us that need our attention and it makes us acutely aware of the parts that are broken, hurt and sore. Not so that we may suffer, but so we may heal and grow. So that we may give our wounds the love, care and treatment they so desperately need and deserve. Pain shows us where we do not want to be. It holds up the parts of our lives that are not aligned with our spirit and soul and creates discomfort so as to bring about the desire to change. Our pain moves us towards the light, towards who we truly are – but only if we are brave enough to look beyond the darkness and allow it to do so.”

The aftermath of heartbreak is intense. That pain is real. The sorrow is real. Your anxiety invading your mind, telling you you aren’t good enough or how you could have done better, is not. Breathe, and remember these feelings won’t break you – they can only make you stronger. Move towards the light, towards who you truly are. 

Everyday, I get closer and closer to my true self. If you’re suffering from a broken heart, I hope you realize it’s not your fault, and that real change can come from this. Be patient with yourself – grow from the pain. 

 

 

How do you handle heartbreak with anxiety? Share your tips or stories! 

Post Therapy Thoughts

Going into therapy after work today – I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and safety. It’s been an emotional, draining weekend and I was looking forward to getting those intense feelings off my chest. Since I had cried myself silly the past few days, I really thought I was finished with the waterworks, but that wasn’t the case. And that’s okay. 

Since I’ve been through heartbreak before, I know this feeling and lately I’ve been preventing myself from feeling fully sad because it’s a hard emotion to constantly feel, but I have to. When I got into therapy and felt comfortable, I told my therapist what happened and it wasn’t until I read her the letter I ended up writing and sending to my ex boyfriend that I started to cry.

It was through talking it out with my therapist that I realized just how proud of myself I should be. Throughout the rough weekend I experienced, my anxiety did not raise its voice. Yes, I cried so hard that I almost couldn’t breathe and it felt like someone was consistently punching me in the stomach but guess what? I knew it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t personalize and I’m proud of myself. Just a year ago, my anxiety could easily have latched onto a highly stressful and triggering event like this and told my mind that everything was my fault, but through my own personal growth and self-awareness, that anxiety never roared. It will likely spike down the line, but I’m ready for it – I have the tools to handle whatever is thrown my way.

From listening to me talk about my anxiety and feelings for the past week or so, my therapist discussed the possibility that I have intuitional anxiety, which means I have a sense of what is to come before it actually occurs, but I label those feelings as anxiety, rather than embrace them as reality. I’ve done this with almost every relationship I’ve been in and it’s about time that I view this as a gift for myself. When I’m feeling worried or insecure in a relationship, that’s a red, flashing NEON sign that I should be paying closer attention to. Lesson learned. 

The last thing my therapist had me do was an exercise where I generate a list of what I’ve learned about qualities I look for in the right match. Here’s the list I’ve come up with:

What I’ve learned about the right qualities for me in a partner: 

  • Respectful of my time
  • Ability to compromise
  • Healthy work-life balance
  • Emotional communicator & insight

As I continue to think about it, I will learn more from this entire experience and have a better handle on what the right match looks like for me in the future.

For now, it’s all about self-love. I need to allow myself to feel whatever I need to. It’s never easy saying goodbye to something or someone – there’s no deadline for moving on or “bouncing back.” It’s okay to not be okay. 

I don’t regret one minute of my relationship. I learned important lessons from it and will hold some very special memories with a person I still truly believe is a wonderful human being. It’s like I said in my letter to him:

We all slip and fall, sometimes we just need a new plan for getting back up.

Here’s to more personal growth and finding even more of myself in these next few months. I welcome it.

 

Have you gone through a breakup recently? How are you handling the anxiety associated with it?