the power of saying “no.”

I recently listened to the new episode of the Dear Sugars podcast on the power of “no,” and I couldn’t help but feel inspired. They interviewed Oprah Winfrey on this episode and asked her what her experience has been in saying “no.” Oprah talked as if she had taken the feelings right out of my own soul.

She talked about this inherent feeling that, I believe, as women, we all have. This need to say yes to everyone and everything in order to please everybody, otherwise we think that they won’t love us.  WE EQUATE PLEASING AND SAYING YES WITH HOW WORTHY WE ARE OF LOVE.  If I say no to my father, the inside of my whole being is screaming at me and is thinking that he “won’t love me anymore” or it is eating itself up inside because it is full of guilt. But guess what, me saying “no” to working a shift at the restaurant doesn’t close the restaurant down. The show continues, and people keep working, and people continue to be served. Without me. And look at that, the world does not crumble.

The world does not crumble when a woman says “no.” Even though we are forced and taught to believe that we have to say yes to everything otherwise, no one will survive. WE, as women, have to fulfill so many roles that are just expected of us, like when did we even start believing this? At what point in our lives did this switch go off in our heads that made us think that we had to spread ourselves so thin to please everyone around us. WHEN!?

When we are so busy trying to make everyone else happy, there is no more space for ourselves. And our hearts. And OUR desires. There is no space for us left. How can we continue occupying a body that is only valued when others are happy? Why can’t we stop. And begin to set boundaries. And allow OURSELVES to breathe. And to value ourselves even when we say no to helping,  and take a fucking nap instead.

this is grief . . .

I either see my father on-the-go at work

Or I see him exhausted. burnt out and fed up with his work.

In both scenarios, he is ignoring me.

Maybe ignoring isn’t the correct word, but let me tell you, for a 5-year-old girl, it sure as hell feels that way. And it feels that way for a 15-year-old. And a 25-year-old.

Everyone feels the liberty to comment on my life, or the way they believe I live my life. You may know a part of my father. But you don’t know me.

I love the way everyone feels like they know who my dad is, and all I can do is smile in agreement and indeed yes I am grateful, but no one actually knows my story. Because I am the oldest and only girl. And in everyone’s eyes, that’s the perfect recipe for “daddy’s girl.”

But I was never “daddy’s girl” because I grew up thinking that work was more important than the relationship my dad didn’t choose to have with me. I grew up neglected. And YES, I will use the word “neglected” because I’m tired of softening up my stories so that it doesn’t hurt your ears. Because I’m tired of making excuses as to why my dad didn’t want to have a relationship with me. I’m done making excuses.

MY DAD CHOSE TO NOT HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH ME.

Because he was too busy with work. And even when he wasn’t, he still didn’t have a relationship with me. And THAT. Is neglect! Get out of here with your justifications of money and materialism – I would have preferred 100 years over to have a relationship – a TRUE meaningful relationship – with my dad over any money in the world.

 …. How can someone abandon you and yet live in the same house?

I don’t know, How can they?

Stop telling me of your immigrant stories. Because I am damn well aware of the immigrant struggle. And I am proud daughter of immigrant parents – and yet, that’s only part of it. Because when I hear people my age talking about immigrant parents, at least they have stories and experiences with their fathers.

I don’t.

 So let me fucking have my raw emotions. And my anger. And my sadness. And my heartbreak. Because I grew up without a strong relational foundation. And it’s not until NOW that I am trying to un-do all the damage. So, let me grieve. As this is what I continue to do …

for you.

you can overlap.

you can continue unweaving the past. and the hurt.

you can erase my memories. with hers.

you can, and you should, as you are allowed to breathe free of me

you can travel to a place I loved. still love.

make memories. with her. make love.

but that city will always be mine.

as hard as you try, continue to try. san francisco will always be mine.

and engrained in your memory, it will be.

 

no one ever taught me

My head gets so wrapped up in who it thinks I need to be.

In these emotions. Anger, frustration, angst. Hatred.

My body can so easily carry these emotions. I feel them all over my entire body.

No wonder doctors always ask me why I am so tense.

 

No one ever taught me that I didn’t have to carry what isn’t mine.

Instead, it was piled on. Layer, after layer, after critique, after critique.

 I learned that maybe if I took on the pain for them, they would see me. Or value me.

But that wasn’t true.

 Sometimes, I feel that I am the only target of my own hatred, and I weep.

magic of march

March felt like a long month for me.  By “long” I mean that it felt jam-packed with so many things I did, and completed, and was a part of.  “Long” doesn’t always mean boring or uneventful for me. It felt more like never-ending …

 I started off feeling a bit unsettled (as I shared in my first Friday Reflections post), but I was able to quickly nip that in the bud and establish a schedule for myself.  Or establish a space that felt more like me. 

I started the month with a pleasant visit from my good friend, Desi.  We played tourist for a day because that’s the amount of time she stayed. A day!  I established some fitness goals and though I did not completely accomplish them, I did get back on a more mindful eating pattern.  As in: eating from home more, taking lunch from home instead of eating out, and making sure I ate breakfast at home (as opposed to in my car on my way to work).  That has really helped.  I made it a goal to join the gym, yet another month passed and I did NOT.  I don’t know why I keep putting this off, lol.

I worked through some more sadness.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I attended a play!  That was unique and new in my life.  I want to incorporate more art in my life, whether that be plays, or concerts, or museums, or shows, movies…etc. I’ve been craving more creativity.

I settled in a little deeper at work.  I am slowly starting to get into a groove.  It’s starting to feel more like “my life” and not something that I am doing… if that makes any sense at all.

Also, I made decisions regarding my love life.  I have embraced my ideas and my desires about wanting to be a young woman in her mid-20’s, and NOT wanting or even working towards getting married.  I am nowhere near that.  And I am perfectly okay with that right now. I get to be selfish right now.  And I get to do this without having to call it “selfish.”

I am excited for new and exciting things coming in the next few months, but also, I am content with my “boring-ness,” at least for now.

thanks for reading

xx

 

Friday Reflections #2

Hi there,

I really liked what my reflection post did for me last week.  It helped me center and appreciate my week, which is exactly what I needed in that moment. In my life, I often find myself needing to “come back.”

 Coming back, for me, means finding a moment / space / time to sit with myself whether that’s in a room full of others’ chatter or in my quiet room, and reflecting on the last few days I have lived.  It is necessary for me to do this for my own well-being and mental health because it allows me to free up space in my mind and in my soul to continue living, breathing, and opening to new experiences up ahead.

My #1 indicator that I need to take a step back is when I start to feel like I want to stop time.  I want to push back.  I want to physically put up my hands and say, “Stop!”  But of course, we all know days don’t stop coming and the sun (thankfully) continues to set and rise and I want to be open to this because having this breath and these days are a blessing. So, to cope with my hectic daily life I live in this physical world, I reflect.

My highlight this week: I feel like I had more than 1 highlights this week!

1. We celebrated the first day of Spring on Monday.  I didn’t exactly do anything special aside from take a walk with Pepper late in the evening.  That was enough for me.

2. Pay day! Grateful for the opportunity to work and have my own money.  Finally!

3. My cousin and I followed through on our mid-week dinner plans in Long Beach, and I enjoyed every minute of our conversation.  She is a cousin that I feel very grateful for because we’ve been able to maintain a solid relationship as we have maneuvered our 20’s.  I don’t see her very often, but when I do, I always feel heard, supported and loved.

3. I attended an amazing training for work on Thursday on Trauma-Informed Practice.  I already do enjoy trainings and learning, but this training was AMAZING.  I love when I attend trainings that are given by passionate people.  I love when I can just feel their love for the work that they do, especially in this mental health field.  I think it is crucial for us newbie therapists to see older professionals that are NOT burnt out and still passionate about this work because let me tell you, this work can easily drain you.  So, this training was focused on trauma-informed care for children and families.  A lot of this information was provided for me throughout my traineeship in downtown los angeles – and that’s ANOTHER thing I feel grateful for.  I feel grateful for having trauma-informed supervisors as my first supervisee experience because I feel that it really set the bar high for the kind of work that I want to do with children and families.  In that talk with my cousin, I spoke about feeling like I needed to find my passion – my niche – and I think I am slowly finding it in trauma-informed care.

Wow! I have a lot to be grateful for this week!

Biggest challenge:  I have no idea if I am sick … or have allergies … or WHAT.  But I’ve had this pesky stuffy nose all week.  My ears feel extra sensitive and I continue to have an itchy nose and headaches.  WHY! I’m not trying to be a complainer, but when my job requires me to constantly talk to people, having these symptoms is not a pleasant thing to manage. Blah! Also, this week I finally stepped back and gave my eyes some space because I have been experiencing blurry vision and I was getting frustrated as I do NOT like wearing my glasses. I decided to have a little more patience and compassion for myself as my sight is something that I cannot take for granted. Once my medical benefits kick in, I am finding myself a new quality-care Optometrist!

Happy moment: My happy moment happens every day when I come home and greet my baby Pepper. I know this is sappy to the extreme, but hey, it is true.

Personal passion goal: Followed-up with Denim Day preparations for April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month! I have my advocate packet paid, downloaded, printed and saved!

**New Addition to this post:

#Adulting: I sat down with my father’s accountant (who is slowly also becoming mine) for a one on one lesson on budgeting and planning.  I am so grateful for having her guidance in this process as I am beginning to really handle my own finances.  She helped me plan out a monthly budget based on my new income and helped me plan for my future financial goals.  I’m going to be honest – it is SO scary to actually plan this out because it really puts this responsibility on ME, you know. I am so grateful for the opportunity to slowly figure things out … with patience… and guidance from someone other than my family.  It helps me see the possibilities and the hard work I need to put in to get to where I want to be.

 

Have a blessed, relaxed, and rejuvenating weekend.

Thank you for reading, xx

Friday Reflections #1

It’s the end of the week and I have had this strong urge to just sl o o o o w down. This week, I have felt scattered, uneasy and exhausted by the time I leave my home to go to work. In an effort to reflect and process, I wanted to share these moments:

My highlight this week: Yesterday, I got the opportunity to take an afternoon drive to Dana Point to celebrate a very special someone’s birthday. His 27th birthday to be exact. I love exploring new towns, especially beach towns. There is something about these sleepy beachy towns that feel familiar and peaceful.

Biggest challenge: I took a mid-week yin yoga class this week and O – M – GOOOOSH. Through the many yoga classes I have taken, I have never felt the strong urge to leave a class. This was a first for me. What amazed me was that despite the strong urge to leave and the desire to just cry and break down, I stayed. I felt so grateful for this yoga instructor because I don’t know if she sensed my energy and my struggles, but she was able to talk me through the entire class and help me come back to my breath. Even though this class was filled with other people, when I closed my eyes, it felt as though she was only speaking to me.

Happy moment: My dog, Pepper, turned 2 this week and I am so happy to continue having this little baby in my life 🙂 I love her so much.

Personal passion goal: April is Sexual Assault Awareness month so my goal is to start finding ways to become involved in activities around awareness. Maybe even plan my own event?

 

Thank you for reading xx

Feminine

The thing about being a young woman, or an older woman, a mature woman, or, a young girl

Is that everyone thinks they have a say in what you do, how you dress, what you can and cannot say, what your body looks like, how you choose to spend your time

Like, “why are you so angry?”, “why don’t you smile?”, “what’s wrong?”, “why are you so serious?”, “where are you going?”, “where do you work?”, “how much do you make?”, “what are you doing with your life?”, “do you have a boyfriend?”, “WHAT! You don’t want to have children?!”

Most days, I don’t even know if that’s my true answer anymore. I just do it to get a rise out of people. Because out of all the wonderful things I have achieved, not achieving “children” and “a family” is somehow the most important.

Then, there is the “seriousness” of my face. I was maybe 13, or even younger, when an older woman told me I should smile more as I cleaned up after others at my parents’ restaurant.  I looked up at her confused. Man, maybe something was wrong with me. Maybe I should smile more.

You see, it’s not just older men, mature men, young men, or, little boys that tell you to smile more

It’s everyone.

Because everyone feels so entitled to your body all the time, like, “you are so skinny!”, “don’t you eat?”, “comes bien poquito!”, “how do you eat so much and not gain any weight?”, “I’ve never seen you as fat!”

Yes. These are actual comments people make. People. Everyone.

Because for 25 years I have seen the eyes of strangers scan me from head to toe, sometimes pausing to stare at some places longer, taking more time at others, staring a little too long

fuck you, for thinking that my body or my face is yours to judge.

I have been so intertwined in the confusion of what it means to be little girl, a young girl, and now a young woman.

It’s like, at one point I felt confused because I liked the attention from men, I craved their glances and their admiration, and then I felt shame or self-doubt when I somehow didn’t “meet their beauty standards.”

Why? Because I NEVER WILL. I will never be your cookie-cutter version of standard beauty because my nose and hands are my dad’s and his are his grandmother’s, so I have my great grandmother’s nose, and for some people, that’s not beautiful.

And I have my mother’s butt and people felt like they can freely comment on it all my life, and because for a long time as a teenage girl, I thought this was the only “positive” quality I had.

Because my face is round, and asymmetrical, and I have a slight lazy-eye, and my hair is poof-y, and I’m not that tall, and I constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY find flaws in my whole PHYSICAL BEING every time I look in a mirror or at a picture of myself.

And then I hate myself. Because I come to believe that I cannot be beautiful.

And yet, I still care. I care because sometimes I like to pick out a nice outfit that I feel pretty in, that hugs my body in all the ways I want it to be hugged

Or because I put on eyeliner and lipstick and I do my hair.

And just when I think it’s over…. it’s not.

Like, “Why do you look so cute today?”, “who are you going to go see?”, “Who did you get ready for?”, “ugh! You’re so pretty!”, “Did you get a boyfriend?”

As if whatever I do can’t ever just be for me.

Going for it… yet again.

I have found myself at an angry place again.

Apparently, angry places make me want to re-visit blogs.

An angry place is not a good place to start anything from, but for me, this has been my motivation. It is almost as if I’ve just grown so annoyed and frustrated with myself for not going after what I truly want.  Yesterday, I realized that in my entire life, I have never gone after anything that I truly want.  My entire life has been a sequence of events that I’ve followed in accordance to someone else’s expectations. Never my own.

In order to get raw and brutally honest real quick: I’ve spiraled down this form of depression in the last few weeks. And honestly, I think I have experienced depression my entire life – at varying levels – but, this time feels different.  This episode of my life feels so much more raw. And painful. And emotional.  Maybe it’s because I’m currently a graduate school student pursing a degree in marriage and family therapy (ha!) and I’ve just learned so much more about depression. But really, my heart just feels broken.  My body feels heavy every morning.  And every.single.thing. I do takes so much effort.  Lots of things that previously used to bring me joy, don’t at this point in my life.  I’m finding that my nights are less and less about sleep and more about rummaging thoughts just swirling through my head.  I feel sad.  And hopeless.

And all of this led me here.  I’m currently laying face down on my bed, I have incense burning to my right and music playing to left.  I won’t tell you what’s playing because it’s something that reminds me of my ex-boyfriend.  I don’t know why I’ve been listening to this for the past 2 days.

I want to utilize this as a tool for me to express myself.  I hope to find connection.  I hope to find love.  Not in a romantic way, just a humanistic kind of real love.  I want to learn to love myself so that I can regain composure and get out into the world that I was so incredibly excited about when I was a little girl.