ECT Saved My Life

In a previous post I mentioned having another suicide attempt while in treatment. Unfortunately, it’s true. I wasn’t responding to medications. Therapy was a joke at the second place I was sent. Somehow the pain multiplied in that environment, and I hit rock bottom. I sank further into depression and reached a pit I had fallen into many times before. I kept thinking, “I’m broken, and I have nothing to live for anymore.”

I stopped eating and slept all the time. There were periods of time where I sat and stared at nothing, because I was dissociated. I walked slowly, my hair was a mess, and I had given up on showering or brushing my teeth, because I didn’t see the point. The depression got so bad that I began hallucinating. Then miraculously one day my mood shifted drastically for the better.

Sometimes crippling depression looks like happily dancing with a dinosaur

After my fourth course of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)  I looked up at the nurse upon waking up from the anesthesia. He sent me into a fit of giggles by gasping, saying, “My god, she’s smiling!” I hadn’t smiled or laughed genuinely in quite some time, so it was a big deal. My whole demeanor had changed in a few minutes from the deep depression I was in prior to getting put to sleep for the procedure.

So what is ECT? How does it work? Watch the video below to learn more:

Still depressed, but doing better.

From my perspective, ECT was a godsend. I became a human again. The procedure itself was not painful. In fact the thing that hurt most was getting the needle inserted while the nurse set everything up for the anesthesiologist. Otherwise, the procedure felt like taking a very good nap. Waking up from the anesthesia took longer than the ECT did. After the procedure, I took naps and experienced a little jaw pain. I’m not afraid of ECT at all anymore, despite how it’s been shown in the media. It saved my life.

All in all, I had seven rounds of ECT, but need to continue once the Coronavirus outbreak is contained.  The only real side effect I have from it are eye twitches and forgetfulness. Prior to ECT, my memory was very reliable. Heck, I’ve been called creepy for recalling the smallest details of things even years later. My memory is why I love to learn. However, the months of December, January, and February are very fuzzy. I don’t remember trying to harm myself or anything I said to anyone in that timeframe. I also forget things almost instantly. It’s a little frustrating to not be able to hold onto information like before. Now I forget that I’ve written down reminders and to do lists. It’s going to get better with time, plus I’m eating leafy greens and taking fish oil vitamins to help. 

I still have depression, so let’s not say that I’m cured. It’s more like I have the energy and all the resources from the treatment center to actively manage my depression. I feel better in a way that I haven’t felt in my entire life. Sometimes the things that scare us are the things that make us stronger.

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Letter to Inner Child

Dear Inner Child,

I am sorry that I wouldn’t acknowledge you before this healing journey began. I didn’t want you to see me, because I was ashamed and scared. I remember you as a curious and fearless little girl. You loved hugs and wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer. Let me be the first to remind you every day: You are so precious and a beautiful little girl. You are worthy of being cherished, loved, and celebrated. You are amazing. Chase your goals. Laugh freely. Live out loud. Some people won’t appreciate you while they have you. Let them go. Keep living, learning, and doing your thing!

school picture day
Preschool picture day with a familiar smile

I remember all the times that you were frightened, like when you learned to ride a bike a few days after surgery. And the fear each time we moved to a new place because Mom got orders. Or when you experienced repeated sexual abuse, but didn’t have the right words to explain what was going on to your parents. Forgive them with love. You didn’t know what to say, and your parents were doing their best to provide you with a life they never had. You learned not to trust them or yourself in that time. Here’s good news. We continue to trust and love hard regardless of what happened to us so many times. We remained kind, gentle, and sweet instead of becoming bitter and hardening against the world.

siblings
My baby brother and I have been besties since birth

For years you will think that you don’t deserve love or happiness because of all the things you went through, even into adulthood. But you’re surrounded by love. Your brothers share an inexplicably close bond with you. You learned how men should treat you because you had your brothers. You protected and defended each other. You have love, because you are loved. I love you forever, little girl. Don’t ever forget that either.

Life will get hard, but it has its moments. You’ll make mistakes, and have successes. There will be times that you laugh so hard that you cry, and you go into silent giggle mode, clapping like some sort of drunken sea lion. There will be times that you cry so hard that you can’t breathe, and no sound comes out, because a silent wail is all you have to express the grief and pain. You’ll get lost, then think you’ve found yourself, only to become more lost. But it’s all part of the journey. One day you’ll be 31 and some things will make sense and others won’t. You’ll have given up plenty of times leading up to 31, and each time you give up, you survive. I’ll make a promise. I won’t give up on us. I promise to keep trying every day, because you refused to give up as a child. We are here for reason, even if we haven’t quite figured it out yet. We’ll know in time.

Precious little girl, hold on to your light. You are someone that I’m so proud of each day. What a sweet little girl. You deserve everything that you set your mind to and more. I remember that once you decided on something, you put your whole being into making it happen. I might’ve lost that along the way, but I know I can do it again. I am still you, fearless and dedicated. Now that I’m older, I have some more knowledge and wisdom under my belt. We will make it to whatever goals we decide on, and we will flourish. I’ve worked hard putting so many of our monsters and inner demons to rest. My hope is that you are proud of me for conquering the bad and embracing the good finally. I’m still fighting each day. We did it, and we did it together.

fire truck
My favorite fire truck
white dress
Curious little girl thinking hard.

Asking for Help

Before asking for help, I got overwhelmed and hit a wall. I hit a point where I knew no matter how much work I did on my own, I was flailing at best. I tried everything I could, and many of those things were not working out. It was very discouraging, because the more positive I tried to be, the worse things got. I hit my breaking point near Christmas time.

My car got totalled after this little fender bender
My car got totalled after an accident in December

Going to a VA hospital was out of the question, because I actually wanted to get better. I wanted to be more than stable and feel alive, instead of feeling so overwhelmed that I wanted to die. Yes, I was suicidal. No, I’m not afraid to admit it. It wasn’t because I wanted to hurt anyone; I wanted to stop my pain. I had been through too much, and I couldn’t go through anymore. A quick Google search for Trauma Treatment Centers led my to a place called The Refuge. It seemed like the best place to go, because treatments were trauma focused. Although I had kind of dealt with my traumas over the years, I understood there was much more going on that had never been addressed.

I was admitted December 22 and discharged March 26. A separate hospitalization also happened during January and February so I could receive Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). After the fourth round, I did something I hadn’t done in months: I smiled. It was hard work and digging through my past to learn about my extensive history of unresolved traumas, the roots of my anxiety, and battling bout after bout of severe depression throughout the process. I even remembered bits of a huge event that happened while I was in the Air Force that my mind had totally blocked out to protect me. 

All that stereotypical, “It gets worse before it gets better,” stuff was very true in my case. I have another suicide attempt under my belt, because of all the pain that came up during treatment. Turns out I was traumatized mere weeks into my life, and it caused major issues in my future. I also learned that I had over 80 traumas since I was about 3 or 4 years old. It’s been a life time of trauma, but I am healing and ready to leave all of that behind.

healing still but better
A genuine smile from healing past traumas

Asking for help is one of the bravest things I have ever done. I am not cured, because depression is a disease that doesn’t go away. It gets managed, and for right now, I’m on the right medications and continuing ECT. But I am counting my blessings that I decided to get help, even though I tried to harm myself in the process. I came out tougher, happier, and more compassionate than before, which I didn’t think was possible. Now I really understand that you never really know what’s going on with people. I didn’t know what was going on with myself! I learned an important lesson:

    Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.

I am taking a hiatus from blogging.

I am taking a hiatus from blogging.

“The world tests those who are going to contribute the greatest gifts.” A kind stranger on the internet said this to me when my whole world was imploding this past week. The words touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I am taking a hiatus from blogging, because well…

I have been going through it this week. It’s just been a rough few days. Actually I don’t want to sugarcoat it. It’s been a rough few months. The most recent problem solved itself with the help of many kind strangers reaching out, and a therapist that was determined to help me reduce my stress level. Even with the help, I became overwhelmed. I’m beginning to understand that I am struggling with carrying what life is handing me.

I think it would be incredibly wrong of me to ignore what I need. My posts preach self-care and loving yourself. This is the best way I know how to show that I love myself enough to do what is necessary to heal. I’m taking a hiatus from blogging, because it’s time to ask for help.

I don’t know how long I will be gone, but I hope with every heart beat, that I will get the help that I need. I’m going to a safe place where I can heal with help from professionals. After receiving help, something great will happen, and my life will turn the corner toward happiness and peace that lasts. To me, asking for help is a sign of strength and courage.

Asking for help is my refusal to accept that pain and heart ache are my destiny. There has to be more to life than pain, failure, and uncertainty. This is me saying, “I won’t give up.”

Although I am taking a hiatus from blogging, it has been wonderful to go on this journey, and meet such kindness, empathy and encouragement. I felt like I was making a difference with this blog. This is the only time in my life that I haven’t felt completely alone and misunderstood. I have connected with wonderful people and learned so much. I am grateful for everything anyone has done to help me, whether is was just saying something positive or sending a meme. It helped immensely. I’m not used to receiving kindness, but the small and large acts made a world of difference to me. Thank you for helping me feel seen and understood.

xo,
Rachelle

Understanding and ending my toxic cycle

I had a breakthrough in therapy this week! I reached a point of understanding what my toxic cycle is! Now that I have the information, I am ending my toxic cycle this year.

When I was in high school, the only thing that motivated me was getting away from my parents. It was literally the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning. It motivated me to become Student Council President of my high school, chase high grades, and get involved in after school activities and sports. Any second I could spend away from home was a second of relief. My only goal was to get the hell away from them and never be terrorized again. I applied to colleges in London, Australia, and even Colorado, because I wanted so bad to be in places that they would never find me.

Of course that didn’t work out, and I was the last of my siblings to leave the house. I’m also the only sibling that keeps returning. The day that I decided to tell my parents that I was moving out, because I couldn’t take it anymore, was a few days before Christmas in 2010. I was 21 and in college in San Antonio at the time. My younger brother gave me a pep talk, saying that everything would be fine. He went to school in Florida but was visiting for Christmas. My anxiety was visible, even though I had a solid plan. He assured me with, “Just go downstairs and tell them. Nothing bad’s gonna happen.”

He was wrong.

My narcissist father punched me in the face as soon as the words left my lips. I had my glasses on at the time, and was left with a large welt on my cheekbone. My brother got between us and pushed him away from me, but I started sobbing immediately. My mom just looked on without reacting. You’d never know it if you met us in public, but that’s our normal dynamic. It’s horrible. That’s not the first time he’s attacked me as an adult, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Since then, I jumped from relationship to relationship looking for a way away from them. I ended up dating a sociopath, which sent me running back to my parents’ home after six months of being isolated, beaten, and violated every day. From there, I began a toxic career in the Air Force, that resulted in sexual assaults, mental breakdowns, and multiple hospitalizations. When I was medically retired, I ended up back in my parents’ house. I dated a number of toxic guys, ending up in bad situations all because I was looking for an escape from my parents. Each time I ended up back in my parents’ house.

Then I met my ex, and he did not seem toxic in any way shape or form. He was actually kind and honest. I felt something with him I had never felt before. Safety. Feeling safe for the first time in my life caused such a transformation. Suddenly, I believed in myself, and I felt like things could be different. I was genuinely happy, instead of working hard to make people believe that I was. With him, I cleaned up my life, got my career back, and eventually moved. When we broke up unexpectedly, guess where I ended up again? Back at my parents’ house. Shocker.

Guam was the only place i have ever lived where I felt completely safe.
I found peace and safety in Guam’s beautiful sunsets.

This is my cycle. I go from a toxic environment back to the initial environment that harmed me, year in and year out. The only difference was in Guam, I felt safe for a time. I blossomed before a bad situation veered my life back into toxicity again. Recovering from that was so hard, because I had finally had safety, and it was yanked away by a different narcissist’s addiction to chaos and drama. It fucked me up for months, because I thought I had broken the cycle. I hadn’t. Instead I found it in different people. The depressive episode after that realization lasted several debilitating months.

So the cycle continued in Guam. My mental health took a complete nosedive. In that situation, I was confronted with and could not avoid the very trauma I thought I had finally escaped. It was extremely hard on me. I lost about 20 pounds in several weeks, and my mental health crumbled under the stress. I pinged back and forth between mania, depression, and crippling anxiety attacks. I barely slept or slept all the time, bouncing between paranoia and fear at all times. It was exhausting.

When we moved away from that situation, the safety came back. I created a calm, quiet, and inviting space in our new home. It was so peaceful, and I loved being at home. I healed and completely distanced myself from the people that caused my decline. I stopped hanging out without saying anything to anyone. I could breathe again and my mental health settled down, because I didn’t feel stressed. I started doing healthy things, went back to a healthy weight, and stopped drinking, much like how I taking care of myself now.

How am I ending this cycle now that I recognize and understand it? The same way. Cutting ties and No Contact. I might not be in a place financially to live on my own, but in order to break this cycle, I need to go. I have to do what scares me. There are a whole lot of factors that I either have no options available or scarcity, but I’ll have to deal with it. Another problem presented itself with my little car accident last week. That resulted in the total loss of my car. I just have to add that to my growing problem pile and find a solution.

This same question has presented itself numerous times in my life. Stay in a toxic situation and make the best of it, or leave and try to make it in uncertain circumstances? Each time, I always stayed out of fear of the unknown. I can’t do that this time. I can’t allow this cycle to perpetuate itself any longer.

My understanding is this: there’s a reason it keeps happening. It’s solely life (or the universe) telling me to make a different decision. I’m listening this time. This is the decade of making different choices and ending the cycle that has plagued me for far too long. My main goal now? Putting my full trust in every decision I make, and not letting anyone or anxiety talk me out of what I know is right for me.

Things Not To Say To Veterans

A photo from the day I commissioned into the air force
A photo from the day I commissioned into the Air Force.

I come from a military family. My mom served, I served, and my younger brother is currently Active Duty. I also have a ton of friends and loved ones that serve or have served. Veterans. When people hear this word, they excitedly ask some of the most inappropriate and invasive questions regardless of the environment or setting. I was discussing this with my mom, brother, and a few friends. From those conversations comes this list of what bothered us the most.

1. Did you kill anyone? or How many people did you kill?
Although I never saw combat, I know plenty of people that did. It’s one of the things they won’t (or can’t) speak freely about because of how it affected them. Plus in my experience, a lot of people in Special Operations communities don’t talk about that stuff with just anyone. If you speak to a veteran and they proudly discuss all the people they killed… chances are, they are lying through their teeth. It blows my mind that folks don’t have the common sense to not bring up something that traumatic at the water cooler at work. It’s disrespectful, and absolutely none of your business.

2. Did anyone you know die?
Again, asking a service member to relive their trauma for your entertainment or to satisfy your curiosity is one of the most rude and heartless things veterans encounter. People are changed when life is lost. If you know a service member and they volunteer that information, that is one thing. They have gotten to a point where they have processed their loss, grief, and trauma. But casually asking where it happened and what they were doing at the time is in very poor taste.

3. Do you have PTSD? What happened?
I have PTSD from service, yes. Many veterans do. Why do you need to know how we got it? Would you ask if a man had erectile dysfunction because he rides bulls for a living? Nope, because it’s a really intimate and inappropriate question. If you notice a veteran you know acting differently, it is fine to ask if they are okay or how you can help. They get to choose on their terms if they want to discuss details with you. That lets them take their power back.

4. Do you know anyone that got raped?
Yes, I have been asked this many times. Sometimes people go far enough to ask if it happened to me. It is by far the question that makes me most uncomfortable. Prying into someone’s personal life on such a painful and life changing level as if it did not shake them to their very core is almost unforgivable in my opinion. A simple question can result in night terrors for weeks and flashbacks and upset that you can’t possibly want someone to have. You wouldn’t ask someone about their best sexual experience at work or at the grocery store. So why would you ask about their worst?

5. Do you know [insert name here]? They’re in the Marines.
Y’all. Let’s end this on a humorous note. All military people don’t know everybody else in the military! Especially between branches. That one usually cracks me up. Each service is huge and spread out across the globe. Sure, there’s the off chance we may have crossed paths, but it’s very unlikely unless we’re in the same career field. One of my favorites was when I was stationed in Washington. My cashier at Wal-Mart was like, “Hey, my cousin’s in the Army, too! He’s in Afghanistan right now, do you know him?”

All military people don’t know everybody else in the military!
My reaction. My face tells on me all the time!

I understand that service member’s stories are interesting. They’re unique and unlike what the rest of the population experiences. All veterans need is a little empathy and courtesy, just like anyone else. Remember: every survivor has a story, but not all stories have survivors. Think, before you ask.

Running My Way To Emotional Healing

Days before I left Guam and began this emotional healing journey, I had an emergency session with my psychiatrist. It was to renew meds, but she also knew that my entire world had been rocked. She had just given me the approval to get stationed overseas with my fiancé a week before, because I’d worked hard all summer, and my mental health was stable. Everything was fine. Then, without warning, I was suddenly single and leaving my home. She sat down with me for about an hour, listening, and helping me process the shock and pain. I remember feeling so numb and overwhelmed. At first, I couldn’t get words out other than, “I don’t understand what happened. I don’t know what happened.”

One thing from that appointment sticks firmly in mind, and I think about it every day.

She asks if I liked running. I hate it, but I force myself to because my meds cause weight gain. She smiles at my response, but presses further, asking if I run for time or distance. I shrug, saying distance, but wondering where she’s going with these questions.

She says, “You’re going to be doing some emotional healing, and that is like running for time.”

I ask what she means by that. She says, “Say you’re running two miles. That run can be any amount of time you choose. You can run slow or fast and that two miles gets knocked out. When you’re running for time, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run. That thirty minutes is going to be thirty minutes. That’s what emotional healing is like. It’s going to take time.”

I nod, thinking, “Well shit, this is going to be a long process whether I want it to be or not.”

Maybe I took her words a little too literally, but I began running when I got to Florida. I ran for time instead of distance. It hurt much more than running for distance. I stopped to walk a lot the first time, but by the second time I had worked out a pace. Over the weeks, I’ve gone farther and farther every thirty minutes. I’ve even lengthened the time to forty-five minutes and an hour for the extraordinary reason of feeling good and not wanting to stop.

My first 5K in Orlando. I tripped and fell about 1.5 miles in, but I had so much fun. Running is about emotional healing now, as well as physical fitness.
My first 5K in Orlando. I tripped and fell about 1.5 miles in but it was fun!

My doctor’s words are with me during each run. I’ve always hated running, but I enjoy it now. I visualize myself getting closer and closer to my goals of acceptance, wellness, and happiness. Running doesn’t result in feeling like death anymore. It’s a release. A lot of times tears mix in with the sweat as I let go of one thing after another. I feel lighter afterward. My fitness goal for 2020 is running the Disney Princess half marathon.

My doctor encouraged me before I left her office. She said I probably wouldn’t see it right away, but heart break was handing me one of the greatest opportunities to evolve and grow. The chance to become the woman that I was meant to be stood right there in front of me. I had the means to be fulfilled and healed on my own. She hoped I’d take it.

All I needed to do was put in the effort and keep going.
Just like a timed run.

I am enough – Week 3 of Short Affirmations for anxiety

Last week’s affirmation, I am open and ready to receive proved itself to be exactly what I needed. I was met with quite a few unexpected challenges throughout the week. It was enough to make me really put my affirmation to the test.

The biggest challenge was getting into a small car accident. There were no injuries, thank goodness. My car suffered some damage, and it was a daunting task to ask, “How can I look at this situation positively? There’s nothing positive about a car accident.” Eventually I stumbled upon it after pouting for fifteen minutes.

I became grateful for what I had instead of fearing what I could lose. I counted my blessings. No one was harmed. My insurance covered a tow and repairs, as well as a sweet rental car. I also had money in emergency savings to cover my deductible. My dad came to help immediately. By the time the tow truck driver came, we were giggling about two squirrels playing tag.

Having an unexpected setback didn’t ruin my day, week, or month. The old me would ruminate over how the world conspired against my happiness and growth and couldn’t let me have either. New me is like, “Wellp! It’s a challenge, but I can meet and surpass it.” I can tell that I’m actually changing, because I didn’t sprint to negative self-talk. I forced myself to see the good, and reached out to people that would encourage me. Slowly, but surely, I am letting go of thoughts and ideas that do not serve me. The war with a negative self-identity is not won yet, but I am winning each battle as they arise. Little miracles and victories!

This little affirmation also led me on a path to understanding what I needed to do concerning my relationship with my parents. That’s another post for another day.

I am enough. My weekly lock screen. Feel free do download and use this as a reminder each day.
Click to save lock screen

How are we cruising into this week? In style on the S.S. Confidence. I’m starting each morning with the phrase, “I am enough.”

I am enough for any and every challenge that presents itself. My thoughts are enough to create happiness and resilience. I am good enough and smart enough. All past experiences and mistakes make me strong enough to change. My heart is big enough to squash self-hatred and negativity. Every bit of me is enough.

My message to you?
We are enough for what we attract in life.

6 Blogs & Podcasts that helped me get back on track

know yourself, know your worth!

When my life took an extremely painful and unexpected detour, I went looking for answers and advice on how to know if I should move on, how to stop the pain, and how to create a life that made me happy. I needed to learn the qualities of a truly healthy relationship. New habits needed to be instilled while old ones needed to be broken. I wanted to heal in a real way, not just the “Look at me, I’m doing better now” fake facade that most people post on social media. Most importantly, I wanted to make permanent positive changes. I understand most that staying the same will result in the same problems. I won’t allow that any longer. Here’s a list of podcasts and blogs that have helped me the most:

Therapy for Black Girls
The wonderful Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a clinical psychologist based out of Atlanta, is my hero for creating this podcast and website. Mental health is still kind of taboo in the African-American community, but she and her interviewees are working hard to change the stigma. The topics discussed are everything from relationships, work-life balance, trauma, and so much more. The episodes “Taking Care of Yourself After a Breakup”, “Finding Your People”, and “Reimagining Single Life” gave me perspective, tools, and a calm that I don’t think I would’ve had otherwise. They assured that no matter how things worked out, I would be okay.

Girl Be Free
Siobhan Sudberry actually reached out on Instagram and told me about her online community the Be Free Family. She is so inspiring and has such a calm, but powerful voice. The first episode I listened to “Forgive Yourself made me cry. I’m not avoiding my emotions anymore, so if tears come, they fall, I understand and appreciate them and move forward from them. I’m trying out these new things called grace, self-awareness, and self-compassion instead of being hard on myself which was the part of the core message of that episode. Siobhan and I had a whole conversation on Instagram, and she sent me a guide called “101 Resources That Every Woman Needs To Live Her Best Life”. A cool lesson that keeps making itself known is that kind people with clear intent to help keep showing up unexpectedly, but it’s exactly when I need them.

HER – Healthy Empowered Relationships
Imagine my surprise when I found out that Barry Price’s podcasts laid out the very framework of what a healthy relationship looks like. After a few episodes, I realized that I haven’t had very healthy romantic relationships, but that was partly because I didn’t have a very healthy relationship with myself. It was an upsetting, but necessary realization. The episode that caused a breakthrough was “Is This Relationship Worth Saving?”. I answered each question in the episode out loud and honestly, which prompted me to look at the situation with forgiveness instead of sadness or anger. One thing I needed to do was apologize and forgive the pain. The first part was hard to do, but the second part is taking time. I honestly think that’s a good thing.

My Seven Chakras
AJ is all about self-healing and bringing people onto his show to help listeners get in touch with their energy. The podcast features thought provoking books and interesting guests. I finally understood that I kept attracting the same kind of men, because my negative and insecure energy beckoned them. I didn’t feel good about myself, and attracted those that felt the same or preyed upon it. The episode that opened my eyes was “Uplifting and Fulfilling Relationships with Guy Finley”. Guy spoke passionately about love, pain, fighting, and blame in ways I’ve never heard. His books The Secret of Letting Go and Relationship Together: Waking Up Together are on my upcoming reading lists.

Post Male Syndrome
Natasha Adamo and her team of bloggers are so insightful about heartbreak, self-doubt, and relationships, which are all things that I needed help with. Many of the posts deal with narcissists, selfish, and emotionally closed off men, and the trauma they inflict on women. Reading these posts had to come from a place of forgiveness instead of blame, because they hit very close to home with a number of my past relationships. The posts “How to Respect Yourself When You Have No Self-Respect” and “How To Get Over Someone Who Broke Your Heart” taught me about boundaries and embracing the pain by using it to create actions and goals that give pain purpose. I have never once considered pain as a tool for growth, because I avoided it at all costs. I am still wrestling with pain, because I’m using it to become my best self. I’m spending a lot of time reading the self-improvement category at the moment. Natasha also recently got engaged, and I couldn’t be happier for her!

Afam Uche
This blog is everything I needed to find some direction and really get to know myself. Afam Uche has shared so much about her life, written poetry, and even made personal development tools. The thing I want the most for myself is commitment to permanent positive change instead of commitment to another relationship. I found what I was looking for in this blog to really begin healing. The post “Important Steps to Take In Order To Change Your Life” was the gentle nudge I needed. I am prone to getting deeply depressed and discouraged when things don’t go the way I think they should. Because I wasn’t finding happiness the exact way I wanted it, I wasn’t open to all the other ways it could be found. I have to let go of those negative habits to embrace what else is out there.

What I’m trying to accomplish is hard, but I’m committing to positive change, instead of committing to continued pain and heart ache. I know made great strides in the last month, but it’s going to take much more time. I’m treating myself with honesty and forgiveness, while also being realistic about how long this process may take. Small changes are my goal for each day. Each decision I make comes from a place of love and trust. I’m caring for my body by exercising, not drinking excessively, and doing kind things for myself. I’m doing what feels right for me. Whether it’s going to bed early or having an extra cup of water, I’m doing it. I’m taking responsibility for my happiness, my future, and everything in between. I feel empowered. My healing journey is far from complete, but things will get better from here on out.

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Music is helping me connect with my emotions again

Rachelle at an EDM festival when she's hurt and upset? What an amazing and unheard of concept. LOL,.
Little MerQueen at yet another EDM festival, where I was running away from my feelings

Music is such a great way to process emotions, which is probably why I avoided it like the plague. I started listening to EDM a few years ago, because all the beeps, bops, and drops didn’t make me think. I didn’t have to connect to it and feel anything. There’s few emotions in music without lyrics. It was an escape. I just moved my body, and that was that.

Since I’ve been on this healing journey, I’ve started listening to something else. I’ve been acknowledging my feelings and thoughts. In doing so, I’m opening the door to forgiveness. Here’s what I’ve been listening to for introspection:

Soulmate by Lizzo
“I know I’m a queen but I don’t need no crown
Look up in the mirror like damn she the one”

Lizzo is an absolute goddess. I love her. She is unapologetically herself, no matter what anyone says. It’s empowering to watch her move through life doing what makes her happy and fulfilled. She deserves every award and accolade coming her way. This song was such inspiration for me really embrace myself and appreciate everything great about myself. I’m kind, sweet, and funny, and damn it if I don’t absolutely enjoy that every day.

Sorry by Beyonce
“Today I regret the night I put that ring on
He always got them fucking excuses”

Oh Queen B. What is there to say about this woman that hasn’t been said already. She is unstoppable. I’ve never been a huge Beyonce fan, but her album Lemonade captured every feeling, thought, and question that’s run through my mind in the last couple months. This song in particular helped me work through my anger, betrayal, and shame in a healthier way. This one comes on every time I’m stretching and warming up to run.

Worthy by India.Arie
“Worthy of love, worthy of life
Worthy of saying no when something don’t feel right”

India.Arie has the most beautiful soul. This woman is everything I aspire to be in terms of being inspirational, loving, and true to myself. I look up to her so much. Her latest album Worthy is everything someone with a broken heart needs to hear. Every song feels like she’s handing the listener a little brick of self-esteem to stack until their shaky foundation is steadier. This album has caused a lot of tears, but also smiles and nods.

I Shall Be Released by Nina Simone
“Any day now, any day now
I shall be released”

I listen to this one every morning. This is the first song I listen to as soon as I get up. There is something about Nina Simone. It’s sadness in her voice. It resonates with me. I feel like we share the same soul at times. Each time I listen to this song, I feel like I let go of some of the pain that I’ve held onto for so long.

Brand New Me by Alicia Keys
“I’m not expecting sorry
I’m too busy finding myself”

Y’all, when I say this song is POWERFUL. It is everything. Alicia Keys has been a part of my life since middle school. Her ups and downs were my ups and downs, even when I was 13 and didn’t know nothing about nothing. This is the anthem for my healing journey. I have changed, and what hurt me neither matters to me or controls me any longer. A metamorphosis is happening. You can either help in that process or get the hell out of my way. Queen Alicia reigns supreme.

These artists reached into my mind, heart and soul. Their music gave me all the strength, kindness, and love that I needed to really feel my emotions. Their words provided understanding and a feeling of being understood. I think that’s was the worst part of having a broken heart. Feeling so damn misunderstood when I was trying so hard to be seen, heard, and loved by the one I was seeing, hearing , and loving with ease.

The best part of healing, is of course, beginning to understand myself. I have clarity about who I am, what I want and need, and who I need to be around to feel safe, happy, and inspired. I feel safe and whole on my own. Finally, I don’t feel as lost and confused as I did this whole year.

What music helps you connect with your emotions? I’d love to start a playlist to share! Let me know in the comments. And as always, connect with me on social media! The links are below.