Therapy Homework

I have been quite conscious of the fact that relationships take work for a long time and I really started being more thoughtful in graduate school when I noticed many of my relationships suffering. I lived far from home and really did not give them the attention and care they deserved. My initial thought was to just research and do better, which helped. Not enough though.

In seeking help lately, I was given the homework to be more assertive and express how I am feeling. Additionally, I need to keep others accountable for what they say or promise to me. It is really breaking an unfortunate habit I have created. And as I write this I am thinking about the fact that I am the gal who is constantly working on herself.

I am not perfect and I never can be, but I want to be a kind and thoughtful person. This homework though, while I feel it is thoughtful… I feel so unkind at times. I am struggling with this part of the homework. I know it is necessary to tell people what you need, however, I feel conflicted with relying too much on others. It takes a lot of reminding myself that sometimes the kind thing to do is to be blunt and clear.

At this moment I feel like I have put too much faith in what I was told, which is why I need to work on keeping them accountable. Everything I am being promised right now for both scenarios of how things could work out, they need to be followed. I can not let anything slide anymore. I am what is at stake here.

I would love to hear the kinds of homework you or a professional have given you to work on. Or maybe your working on the same thing as me, how do you feel you are doing? Right now, I would give myself a B-. I just need to pause to think more before saying, no I do not need anything.

Why Did We Get Married After 9 Years Together?

So not a question I was expecting to get an email about through the blog, but ok. My answer. It is not a crime to want to do something that is perfectly legal. While I may be liberal in many ways, I can be conservative in others. I wanted to marry my partner a long time ago, but we felt that it would have to be something we did not want to make others happy.

Why did we get married now? Insurance and other silly bureaucratic things pushed us to do it before the end of 2018. Our taxes will be better for it. We also say these were great excuses to get the low key wedding we wanted. We were pretty happy with how it turned out.

In my personal life, it also seems to be of interest why I am changing my last name to his. If we have children, I want to have the same last name as them and my maiden name does not hyphenate well. Additionally, while I love most of my family, my maiden name still came from a person who deeply hurt me and I feel like changing it is a symbol of me move on from that pain. I get a lot of, “oh…” responses to that. It is the truth, though.

My opinion is that as long as I am not doing something unethical or illegal, then what is the problem? What does it really do to your life that I am making choices that only impact myself (and my partner who is consenting to them)? People fuss way to much about what other people are doing, especially when it has no affect on them at all. I am not angered by these questions, just expressing my thoughts on the matter.

Treat People How You Want to Be Treated

I touched on this a bit in my last post. Since gaining some weight, I have been fat shamed. People ask me why I stopped working out and say things like, “oh no, you have gained weight,” or “maybe you should seek a second opinion because I do not know why a doctor would ever want you to gain weight.” I also had a family member point out to another family member that I looked much thinner last year, thanks Facebook for those walks down memory lane. It makes me feel horrible.

Then after being put down so much, I start shaming myself. You should never put yourself down. I gained weight and that does not make me a bad person. It was the result of going through a tough time and hormonal issues. It is ok. I am working on the problems and feeling better. No one deserves to be treated poorly because of their physical appearance.

When I hear someone say, “they look disgusting,” I think, “no, your disgusting.” We should be bringing each other up, not putting people down because think about what it really does for your life to treat someone that way. I was bullied heavily as a child and what I regret the most are the times I bullied others. Even right after I did it I felt horrible about it because I knew what it was like to be in their shoes. I did not know how to handle myself though and had way too much going on at home to become self aware until I went away to college.

I am deeply sorry for the times I have passed judgement on or hurt others. I sometimes meditate on how I have moved on from these negative past behaviors and what I still need to work on. If we have children, I already know there is so much I am going to teach them. So much that I feel I was not taught that is valuable to becoming a great human being.

While their are still these negative attitudes in society about certain physical appearances, I have to say I am really loving some of the steps that have been taken to opening up everyone minds and expectation. Such as the inclusion of women of all shapes and sizes in clothing advertisements. I think the more we normalize things that no one should feel ashamed of, the happier everyone can me, and therefore, the healthier we all can be.

Just some food for thought. You are beautiful.

2 years with a Copper-IUD, My Experience

Disclosure, I have some TMI (Too Much Information) level stuff in this blog post. Nonetheless, I feel it is very important to share this information for women’s health reasons.

Before the IUD

Two years ago, I decided to change my method of birth control. I have been on 3 different brands of birth control pills since I was about 18.5 years old. Back then, I was a dysfunctional human being one day a month because my cramps made it impossible to stand unless I overdosed on analgesic and strapped a heating pan to my lower abdomen. Also, I had my first irregular cycle ever (likely due to the stress of my first semester in college) and  I was thinking about becoming sexually active.

The pill was what my doctor recommended and I figured it was the obvious choice because it seemed like the most reliable option. After I started taking the seasonal birth control pill though, I noticed a lot of negative changes. My sex drive was non-existent, I became anemic and my cycle slowly disappeared completely. I went from having a 5 day cycle to a 4 day to a 3 day pretty quickly. Slowly it dropped down to a 2 day cycle. Then as I was losing weight in 2015, I had a one day cycle and then no cycle for 2 whole years.

I was scared, especially after Googling all sort of things in regards to losing your period. On top of that, a conversation with my cousin about birth control pills made me connect the lack of sex drive, anemia and lack of cycle to the pill I was on. After doing more thorough research, I learned being on the pill for more than a decade is not well research and most of the experience others documented were similar to mine. So it was not just was type of pill I was on…

Making the Decision

Next step was to begin researching a new method of birth control, since now I am sexually active and hoped my sex drive would return as soon as I discontinued the use of the pill. I wanted something non-hormonal, which did not leave me many options that were easy to obtain and something that worked for my partner and I. I decided upon the Paragard copper intrauterine device (IUD) for the following reasons:

  • affordability (It did not cost me anything, but a doctor’s copay.)
  • non-hormonal
  • easy of use (in that once your doctor implants it you are good to go)
  • few and manageable side-effects
  • length of effectiveness (it protects you for 12 years).

Also, I had a friend who loved hers and it is the only copper IUD available in the US. However, with ALL forms of birth control there are risks. The risks associated with an IUD are serious and should not be taken lightly. The biggest risks in my opinion was the possibility of the IUD perforating your uterus and the rare chance of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

The first few months to year should be thought of as a trial period. Many woman get an IUD each year, but have them removed within a few months due to many reasons that I sum up to being just not the right birth control for them. It is common for women to experience discomfort with the device, birthing of the device (meaning your body expels it on its own), severe cramps for weeks, and more. That was not my experience, however.

My Experience

The insertion was not very comfortable, but neither is having my cervix scraped once a year for my pap smear. I mild cramping, in my opinion because the cramping during my teenage years was many times for painful, for less than 24 hours. I spotted a little, but it was not your normal cycle like spotting. I was discharging rubbery like tissue that was not as dark as blood and was tan in color at times.

The real test to me was how well it would work for my partner and I during sex, especially since my issue with my previous birth control was resolved with the fact that Paragard in non-hormonal. Here is where my over self-awareness came into play. Our first moment of intercourse with the IUD was very distracting. I was thinking about every sensation and suddenly wondered if I would know or more like feel if the IUD perforated my uterus. Needless to say, I did not get off. My partner said he could feel the strings (the strings that are attached to your IUD and allow your IUD to be removed eventually), but now does not feel them.

I could even feel the strings rubbing against the walls of my vagina for the first year. After half a year past I stopped over thinking everything completely. Sex is more enjoyable than it has ever been for me and my sex drive is more reminiscent to my teenage years. Additionally, it feels so good not to have to worry about taking a pill every day around the same time and about whether what I am consuming might effect my birth control.

Overall, I am happy with my choice. I do not regret it. I am going to end this post answering the 3 most common questions I had received from talking to friends about this. Please leave ANY questions you have below in the comments and I will respond as soon as possible.

Does it hurt?

Insertion was painful, but only for the brief moment they opened my cervix. I might have a highly tolerance for pain though due to having extremely painful cramps as a teenager. For the rest of the day after insertion (I had a late afternoon appointment), I experienced mild lower abdominal cramping. Since then I have not experienced any unusual pain. I am slowly getting more painful cramps with each cycle, but it is still a vast improvement over the cramps of my teenage years.

Are your periods painful and heavy?

Oh, yes they are heavy. The pain as I explained in the last answer is manageable compared to my teenage years. I have been going through 8 regular tampons plus 2 overnight pads in the first day of my cycle. Day 2 is more like 5-6 regular tampons and 1 overnight pad. Things greatly decrease from there. This is heavy for me and my previous cycle experiences. After I use up my current supply of feminine products I will be using a mental cup and period panties so reduce waste and save money.

When are you going to get it removed?

When my partner and I are ready to start trying to have children. Simple as that. Just have to make a doctor’s appointment to have it removed and can start trying immediately.

Refocusing My Negative Efforts

I do not want to be negative. This week I was reminded of a time when I can be quite negative and felt like I was wasting my energy doing so. I think valentine’s day a bullshit, commercial holiday, which causes people to focus way too much on what is not important (high expectations for “expressions of love”). Maybe this negativity toward this holiday is not just due to commercialism, but also from many poor experiences in my past relationships.

An ex-boyfriend put so much pressure and expectations on this holiday with anticipating his favorite chocolates in a larger package than the previous year, something made from the heart in the same manner as he would compile special mix CDs for me and a expensive meal out even though we were both struggling to pay college tuition. The important thing to him was that it top the previous year. When I did not meet his untold wishes I only felt horrible and stressed out from his harshly expressed disappointment. I see this theme with many couples each year.

Frankly, I feel we should show love everyday and a couple who are committed to one another should clarify early on in the relationship what they need to feel loved. My partner and I were honest from the git go the anxiety this holiday induces in us and do not celebrate valentine’s day. Although it was a few years into our relationship that we had a chat about what we need to feel loved, we do not regret our choice to disconnect ourselves from it.

I would would say my only regret is how I have been rude to others who wish my a happy valentine’s day or have something to say about our choice to not celebrate. I want to handle that differently. Sure it is not great having someone tell you, “You are ruining the holiday for the rest of us!” However, I know that is not true. Then, I can wish them a good holiday and be done with it. I want to take more opportunities to be a good person.

Hope everyone enjoyed Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s day, Lunar New Year or whatever they had going on this week!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

My partner received a job offer and we officially have accepted it on Thursday. We will be moving to the Hudson Valley area of New York in late Spring. I have never been to that area of the country and I am really elated to explore it for the first time. It is a relief that we have this figured out. We are also hoping to buy our first home when we move, whoa! So much excitement!

In March we will go scope out the area to look for housing. Then in May, after graduation, we will drive both our cars over to New York to get settled in and learn the area before he starts his position in June. There is plenty of time. I can also start looking into jobs for myself!

It just feels like life is coming together. We are in one place together. We will both be out of school. We can settle down. We can save more money. It is the beginning of the next chapter of our lives. I just keep breathing a sigh of relief and in disbelief that I will be a New Yorker. Life just keeps getting more interesting.

Additionally people can finally stop asking us when he will be finished. Something that is an anxiety inducing experience because a PhD can feel like it will never end at time. Regarding most questions though, if you think about it there will always be a question they will be asking. They likely have not seen you in a while so they are asking to catch up with you. So be nice, likely it is not their goal to make you feel like you are behind in life. That feeling is all on you.

Look for more posts regarding this in the Spring. 😉

Changing Myself

I have lectured my family on how to live their lives more than I ever should have. I have come to understand that has caused issues in our relationship and I am trying not to provide input when they did not ask for it.

I had a lot of thoughts, “Who am I to tell them how to live their lives?”, “Are they really hurting me with these actions?”, “Would they not learn a lesson on their own without me stepping in?” and “I love them and need to be more supportive.” I am seeing positive changes in our relationship and their lives. Butting out also has made me feel less stressed all of the time. Although, holding back a lot of thoughts makes me anxious and therefore have moments of binge eating.

On Friday, I wanted to give suggestions about how to plan out the day, my partner and family can feel overwhelmed by my desire to plan everything out. I ended up eating small bits of everything in sight and would pace the kitchen because I could not calm my mind. It is not always this challenging though. I am getting better with going with the flow.

I know my planning can be useful, but sometimes its nice to be spontaneous and open to change. Are you working to change anything about yourself to better your relationships?

Bulking is the Worst

I mentioned a while back that I had been bulking, see that blog post here. I was trying to build muscle and thought I should try bulking because to gain weight as muscle or fat, you must eat more. So I figured the best time to try it out was over the holiday season when I would be eating more anyway. Unfortunately, I do not have the healthiest relationship with food, particularly sweets.

From indulging in sweets over the holiday season, I went right back to my sugar addicted ways. Worst part was I was trying to hide it from my partner. Granted I did not try hard hide, all he would need to do is walk out into the kitchen and there I would be standing over the pint of ice cream. These unhealthy habits were not aided by the anxiety I was feeling from the transitions going on in my life.

Thus, my digestion has been up and down all 2017. I say bulking is the worst mainly because I did it wrong and allowed myself to develop a mindset of, “oh it is ok if I have this extra food because I am bulking.” The extra food should have been extra produce or grains or protein, not cupcakes, pints of ice cream, cookies and fried foods. I am not sure if I will try bulking ever again. I really just want to get back to eating when I am hungry and stopping when I feel satiated.

When my cycle is back to being regular and I feel I have regained a healthy relationship with food I would like to gain muscle again, but we shall see when life takes me. 😉

 

Natural Product Review – Shea Moisture Mascara

Sorry if you do not use makeup, but this is a product I really have fallen for and want to review it. I have to say, this is the most difficult beauty item to change for me. Mascara is something I have struggled with the idea of living without (I mean… I know I could, but I just do not want to). I use mascara 5-6 days a week and am strict about replacing mine every 3 months, especially after seeing friends get sties and pink eye from using questionably old eye makeup. Three months for using one tube of mascara is what my eye doctor recommends and seems to be the general consensus in the beauty community.

However, finding a natural mascara without all the junk for less than $10 is difficult. Most are over $10 and for how often I buy mascara, that is just not budget friendly. After narrowing down the natural mascara options due to price (which left less than 10 to chose from), I thought about what I really loved most about the Maybelline mascara I had been using for the past 8+ years.

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Top: with makeup, Bottom: no makeup

My natural lashes are ok, but I really like how my eyes look with more voluminous lashes. Since my hair is dark brown, I use black shades to help them stand out even more. I also appreciate a formula that never flakes because having your cheeks dusted with black specks is not cute.

After reading a lot of reviews and hemming and hawing over the 2-3 options I had to choose from, I purchased the Shea Moisture Absolute Volumizing Mascara in black. I figured Shea Moisture got it so right with my shampoo, how could they go horribly wrong with makeup. So far, no regrets! Here are my pros and cons:

Cons

  • Silicone brush/wand. I know some ladies love them, but I do not. I have sort of become use to it, but honestly I still prefer a bristle brush.
  • Ball tip. The ball tipped wands seem to hold a lot more product than you need so they really just make you a gloopy mess.
  • Not as much volume as my old mascara. I realize it is better for me and it does improve the volume of my lashes, but I do not get ladies asking me where I get such natural looking fake lashes from anymore. Sad.
  • The brush of the Ultra Curl and Define mascara from Shea Moisture is the WORST. One time, my subscription of the volumizing mascara could not fulfilled since they were out of stock. So I opted to try the other mascara from Shea Moisture and that brush… messy is the best way to put it. I had to clean up so many smudges and my lashes clumped together a lot. I looked like Raggedy Ann. So much lash coaming needed. I used it for 2 weeks and pulled the wand from my old tube out, washed and disinfected it throughly and switched the wands. I feel like the formula must be the same and it is just the brushes that are different.

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Pros

  • The formula/look it provides. I like how smooth and thick the formula is, so I can get the added volume I like. It also does not flake, or at least it has not done that to me. There was one comment I read where they stated it flaked.
  • Affordability. With the subscription online at Target (so that I have it automatically delivered to me every 3 months) it costs $8.62, which is the cheapest natural mascara I have found.
  • Accessibility. Always available at Target and Ulta, but I have seen it in a few other stores as well.
  • Cruelty free. No animals were harmed in the making of this product.

Relationships Take Work

Maintaining healthy relationships is important to having a healthy life. Now, I am not saying all my relationships are perfect. I have relationships that are in complete shambles, but I try to focus on maintaining a loving, supportive connection with my family and friends.

For example, my relationship with my father is not good. We currently do not talk. This relationship has brought me great stress and at times depression. I really wanted to move past the turbulent and abusive years of my childhood. However, I have come to realize I worked hard on that relationship for years and feel that he chose to not do the same. His actions and decisions hurt me and made me feel unloved for so long.

I made the choice to a few years ago to stop putting so much energy into one relationship that after decades was only progressing into a weaker state. It was a burden on my other relationships and myself. To be honest, it still has negative impacts, but in a diminutive way. I no longer feel drained of everything I have to be able to provide other people with love.

I appreciate those who somehow stuck through all my drama with this and I became aware of how much a relationship can influence your daily life in so many ways. Healthy relationships are critical to a happy life. Maintaining these take work. I am a firm believer that you get what you put into something. I can not expect for people to keep in touch with me if I just sit there. Is it easy to connect with everyone, no.

I use to think Facebook and other social media was the best way, but who is to say that a post will be seen by everyone in your networks on such platforms. I also stopped really using Facebook years ago. I want to call or video chat with people more if I can not meet with them in person. I also want to try to figure out how best to communicate with people, maybe decipher their love language so I can speak theirs.

The thing is, if you do nothing there is no relationship. So all relationships take some work. Then to keep some relationships that are important to you healthy you may need to do things that you do feel are your strong suit to maintain them. For example, I feel I am terrible at giving physical gifts and showing my appreciation for the physical gifts I am given. Stuff is just not on the top of my list for what is most important to me.

By list I mean, if the house caught on fire what would I take with me. My loved ones and the memories with them are so much more valuable to me, but who is to say that for someone else it would not be their grandmother’s handmade tablecloth or husband’s leather jacket that they wear to feel connected to them when they are away or after they have passed.

To get back on track, I see that some of the people need my appreciation in ways that I feel are part of my weaknesses. I am working to improve that though because I care about them and want to show that. This is the work I am talking about. It may not seem easy to me, but completely worth it.

How do you work to maintain relationships?